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LinuxSecurity - Security Advisories

  • [$] Completing the EEVDF scheduler
    The Earliest Virtual Deadline First (EEVDF)scheduler was merged as an option for the 6.6 kernel. It represents amajor change to how CPU scheduling is done on Linux systems, but the EEVDFfront has been relatively quiet since then. Now, though, schedulerdeveloper Peter Zijlstra has returned from a long absence to post a patchseries intended to finish the EEVDF work. Beyond some fixes, this workincludes a significant behavioral change and a new feature intended to helplatency-sensitive tasks.

  • Security updates for Thursday
    Security updates have been issued by AlmaLinux (kernel, less, libreoffice, nodejs:18, nodejs:20, rear, thunderbird, and varnish), Debian (pillow), Fedora (dotnet7.0), SUSE (sngrep, texlive-specs-k, tomcat, tomcat10, and xorg-x11-server), and Ubuntu (nss, squid, and util-linux).

  • Gentoo Linux becomes an SPI Associated Project
    The Gentoo Linux project has announcedthat it is now an Associated Project of Software in the Public Interest(SPI), which will allow it to accept tax deductible donations in theUS and reduce its "non-technical workload":

    The current Gentoo Foundation has bylaws restricting its behaviorto that of a non-profit, is a recognized non-profit only in NewMexico, but a for-profit entity at the US federal level. A directconversion to a federally recognized non-profit would be unlikely tosucceed without significant effort and cost.

    [...] SPI is already now recognized at US federal level as afull-[fledged] non-profit 501(c)(3). It also handles several projects ofsimilar type and size (e.g., Arch and Debian) and as such has exactlythe experience and background that Gentoo needs.

    According to the announcement, the goal is to "eventuallytransfer the existing assets to SPI and dissolve the GentooFoundation". How to do that is still under discussion. This willnot affect FördervereinGentoo e.V., which has public-benefit status in Germany and canaccept tax deductible donations in Europe.

  • [$] Book review: Practical Julia
    A recent book by LWN guest author Lee Phillips provides a nice introduction to the Julia programming language.Practical Juliadoes more than that, however. As its subtitle ("A Hands-On Introductionfor Scientific Minds") implies, the book focuses on bringing Julia toscientists, rather than programmers, which gives it something of adifferent feel from most other books of this sort.

  • [$] Continued attacks on HTTP/2
    On April 3 security researcher Bartek Nowotarskipublished the details of a new denial-of-service (DoS)attack, called a "continuation flood", against manyHTTP/2-capable webservers. While the attack is not terribly complex, it affects many independentimplementations of the HTTP/2 protocol, even though multiplesimilar vulnerabilities over the years have given implementers plenty of warning.

  • Security updates for Wednesday
    Security updates have been issued by Debian (gtkwave), Fedora (dotnet7.0, dotnet8.0, and python-pillow), Mageia (apache, gstreamer1.0, libreoffice, perl-Data-UUID, and xen), Oracle (kernel, kernel-container, and varnish), Red Hat (edk2, kernel, rear, and unbound), SUSE (apache2-mod_jk, gnutls, less, and xfig), and Ubuntu (bind9, linux, linux-aws, linux-aws-5.4, linux-azure, linux-azure-5.4, linux-bluefield, linux-gcp, linux-gcp-5.4, linux-gkeop, linux-hwe-5.4, linux-ibm, linux-ibm-5.4, linux-kvm, linux-oracle, linux-oracle-5.4, linux-raspi, linux-raspi-5.4, linux, linux-aws, linux-azure, linux-azure-6.5, linux-gcp, linux-gcp-6.5, linux-hwe-6.5, linux-laptop, linux-lowlatency, linux-lowlatency-hwe-6.5, linux-oem-6.5, linux-oracle, linux-oracle-6.5, linux-starfive, linux-starfive-6.5, linux, linux-azure, linux-azure-5.15, linux-azure-fde, linux-azure-fde-5.15, linux-gcp, linux-gcp-5.15, linux-gke, linux-gkeop, linux-gkeop-5.15, linux-hwe-5.15, linux-ibm, linux-ibm-5.15, linux-intel-iotg, linux-intel-iotg-5.15, linux-kvm, linux-lowlatency, linux-lowlatency-hwe-5.15, linux-nvidia, linux-oracle, linux-oracle-5.15, linux-raspi, linux-azure, and xorg-server, xwayland).

  • The "branch history injection" hardware vulnerability
    The mainline kernel has just received a set of commits mitigating thelatest x86 hardware vulnerability, known as "branch history injection".From this commit:
    Branch History Injection (BHI) attacks may allow a malicious application to influence indirect branch prediction in kernel by poisoning the branch history. eIBRS isolates indirect branch targets in ring0. The BHB can still influence the choice of indirect branch predictor entry, and although branch predictor entries are isolated between modes when eIBRS is enabled, the BHB itself is not isolated between modes.
    See this commit fordocumentation on the command-line parameter that controls this mitigation.There are stable kernel releases (6.8.5,6.6.26,6.1.85,and 5.15.154)in the works that also contain the mitigations.

  • [$] The first Linaro Forum for Arm Linux kernel topics
    On February 20, Linaro held the initialget-together for what is intended to be a regular Linux Kernel Forum forthe Arm-focused kernel community. This gathering aims to conveneapproximately a few weeks prior to the merge window opening and prior tothe release of the current kernel version under development. Topicscovered in the first gathering include preparing 64-bit Arm kernels forlow-end embedded systems, memory errors and Compute ExpressLink (CXL), devlink objectives, and scheduler integration.

  • OpenSSL 3.3.0 released
    Version 3.3.0 of the OpenSSL SSL/TLS implementation has been released.Changes include a number of additions to its QUIC protocol support, someyear-2038 improvements for 32-bit systems, and a lot of cryptographicfeatures with descriptions like "Added a new EVP_DigestSqueeze()API. This allows SHAKE to squeeze multiple times with different outputsizes." See the releasenotes for details.

  • [$] Diagnosing workqueues
    There are many mechanisms for deferred work in the Linux kernel. One of them,workqueues, has seen increasing use as part ofthe move away from software interrupts. Alison Chaiken gave a talkat SCALEabout how they compare to software interrupts, the new challenges they pose forsystem administrators, and what tools are available tokernel developers wishing to diagnose problems with workqueues as they becomeincreasingly prevalent.

  • Security updates for Tuesday
    Security updates have been issued by Debian (expat), Oracle (less and nodejs:20), Slackware (libarchive), SUSE (kubernetes1.23, nghttp2, qt6-base, and util-linux), and Ubuntu (python-django).

  • Rivendell v4.2.0 released
    Version 4.2.0 of the Rivendellradio automation system has been released. Changes include a new datafeed for 'next' data objects, improvements to its podcast system,numerous bug fixes, and more.

  • Introducing Jpegli: A New JPEG Coding Library (Google Open Source Blog)
    The Google Open Source Blog is carrying anannouncement for a new JPEG library called "Jpegli". There are anumber of advantages claimed, including:
    Jpegli can be encoded with 10+ bits per component. Traditional JPEG coding solutions offer only 8 bit per component dynamics causing visible banding artifacts in slow gradients. Jpegli's 10+ bits coding happens in the original 8-bit formalism and the resulting images are fully interoperable with 8-bit viewers. 10+ bit dynamics are available as an API extension and application code changes are needed to benefit from it.
    The library is BSD-licensed.

LXer Linux News

  • Automation through Accessibility
    In this article you will see how we are using Accessibility as an automation tool to test desktop applications just like a real user would using keyboard key presses and mouse clicks. Although this topic and all of its parts can be talked about for hours to exhaust everything, I will attempt to describe how […]

  • 7 Useful Free Static Web Servers
    The purpose of this roundup is to focus on web servers that are designed for mostly static content. For example, these types of web server are well placed to serve the content of a ftp server via http.

  • Cost-efficient Renesas RZ/G2L based Remi-Pi SBC available for $55.00
    Cost-efficient Renesas RZ/G2L based Remi-Pi SBC available for $55.00MYIR's newly launched Remi Pi, a Renesas RZ/G2L-based SBC, merges cost-efficiency with advanced capabilities, priced at $55.00. It is tailored for both product development and hobbyist pursuits, boasting features like dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, support for dual displays, and camera integration. 

  • Canonical launches Ubuntu Pro for IoT Devices
    Canonical has launched Ubuntu Pro for Devices , a comprehensive offering emphasizing security and compliance for IoT device deployments. This initiative aims to provide 10 years of security maintenance for Ubuntu and thousands of open-source packages, along with device management capabilities through Landscape , a systems management tool by Canonical. Ubuntu Pro also ensures that IoT devices receive reliable security patches from a trusted source.

Linux Insider"LinuxInsider"


  • New Advances Promise Secure Quantum Computing At Home
    Scientists from Oxford University Physics have developed a breakthrough in cloud-based quantum computing that could allow it to be harnessed by millions of individuals and companies. The findings have been published in the journal Physical Review Letters. Phys.Org reports: In the new study, the researchers use an approach dubbed "blind quantum computing," which connects two totally separate quantum computing entities -- potentially an individual at home or in an office accessing a cloud server -- in a completely secure way. Importantly, their new methods could be scaled up to large quantum computations. "Using blind quantum computing, clients can access remote quantum computers to process confidential data with secret algorithms and even verify the results are correct, without revealing any useful information. Realizing this concept is a big step forward in both quantum computing and keeping our information safe online," said study lead Dr. Peter Drmota, of Oxford University Physics. The researchers created a system comprising a fiber network link between a quantum computing server and a simple device detecting photons, or particles of light, at an independent computer remotely accessing its cloud services. This allows so-called blind quantum computing over a network. Every computation incurs a correction that must be applied to all that follow and needs real-time information to comply with the algorithm. The researchers used a unique combination of quantum memory and photons to achieve this. The results could ultimately lead to commercial development of devices to plug into laptops, to safeguard data when people are using quantum cloud computing services. "We have shown for the first time that quantum computing in the cloud can be accessed in a scalable, practical way which will also give people complete security and privacy of data, plus the ability to verify its authenticity," said Professor David Lucas, who co-heads the Oxford University Physics research team and is lead scientist at the UK Quantum Computing and Simulation Hub, led from Oxford University Physics.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • China Moving At 'Breathtaking Speed' In Final Frontier, Space Force Says
    China is rapidly advancing its space capabilities to challenge the United States' dominance in space, as evidenced by its significant increase in on-orbit intelligence and reconnaissance satellites and the development of sophisticated counterspace weapons. reports: "Frankly, China is moving at a breathtaking speed. Since 2018, China has more than tripled their on-orbit intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance satellites," Gen. Stephen Whiting, commander of U.S. Space Command, said here on Tuesday, during a talk at the 39th Space Symposium. "And with these systems, they've built a kill web over the Pacific Ocean to find, fix, track and, yes, target United States and allied military capabilities," he added. And that's not all. China has also "built a range of counterspace weapons, from reversible jamming all the way up to kinetic hit-to-kill direct-ascent and co-orbital ASATs," Whiting said. Indeed, China demonstrated direct-ascent ASAT, or anti-satellite, weapon technology back in January 2007, when it destroyed one of its defunct weather satellites with a missile. That test was widely decried as irresponsible, for it generated thousands of pieces of debris, many of which are still cluttering up Earth orbit. Such activities show that China is now treating space as a war-fighting domain, Whiting said. And so, he added, is Russia, which has also conducted ASAT tests recently, including a destructive one in November 2021. Russia has also been aggressively building out its orbital architecture; since 2018, the nation has more than doubled its total number of active satellites, according to Whiting. The U.S. government has taken notice of these trends. "We are at a pivotal moment in history," Troy Meink, principal deputy director of the National Reconnaissance Office, which builds and operates the United States' fleet of spy satellites, said during a different talk on Tuesday here at the symposium. "For the first time in decades, U.S. leadership in space and space technology is being challenged," Meink added. "Our competitors are actively seeking ways to threaten our capabilities, and we see this every day." The U.S. must act if it wishes to beat back this challenge, Meink and Whiting stressed; it cannot rely on the inertia of past success to do the job. For example, Meink highlighted the need to innovate with the nation's reconnaissance satellites, to make them more numerous, more agile and more resilient. U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu also emphasized the importance of increasing resilience, a goal that she said could be achieved by diversifying the nation's space capabilities. "We must assess ways to incorporate radiation-hardened electronics, novel orbits, varied communication pathways, advancements in propulsion technologies and increased cooperation with our allies," Shyu said in another talk on Tuesday at the symposium.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Why CISA Is Warning CISOs About a Breach At Sisense
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from KrebsOnSecurity: The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said today it is investigating a breach at business intelligence company Sisense, whose products are designed to allow companies to view the status of multiple third-party online services in a single dashboard. CISA urged all Sisense customers to reset any credentials and secrets that may have been shared with the company, which is the same advice Sisense gave to its customers Wednesday evening. New York City based Sisense has more than 1,000 customers across a range of industry verticals, including financial services, telecommunications, healthcare and higher education. On April 10, Sisense Chief Information Security Officer Sangram Dash told customers the company had been made aware of reports that "certain Sisense company information may have been made available on what we have been advised is a restricted access server (not generally available on the internet.)" In its alert, CISA said it was working with private industry partners to respond to a recent compromise discovered by independent security researchers involving Sisense. Sisense declined to comment when asked about the veracity of information shared by two trusted sources with close knowledge of the breach investigation. Those sources said the breach appears to have started when the attackers somehow gained access to the company's code repository at Gitlab, and that in that repository was a token or credential that gave the bad guys access to Sisense's Amazon S3 buckets in the cloud. Both sources said the attackers used the S3 access to copy and exfiltrate several terabytes worth of Sisense customer data, which apparently included millions of access tokens, email account passwords, and even SSL certificates. The incident raises questions about whether Sisense was doing enough to protect sensitive data entrusted to it by customers, such as whether the massive volume of stolen customer data was ever encrypted while at rest in these Amazon cloud servers. It is clear, however, that unknown attackers now have all of the credentials that Sisense customers used in their dashboards. The breach also makes clear that Sisense is somewhat limited in the clean-up actions that it can take on behalf of customers, because access tokens are essentially text files on your computer that allow you to stay logged in for extended periods of time -- sometimes indefinitely. And depending on which service we're talking about, it may be possible for attackers to re-use those access tokens to authenticate as the victim without ever having to present valid credentials. Beyond that, it is largely up to Sisense customers to decide if and when they change passwords to the various third-party services that they've previously entrusted to Sisense. "If they are hosting customer data on a third-party system like Amazon, it better damn well be encrypted," said Nicholas Weaver, a researcher at University of California, Berkeley's International Computer Science Institute (ICSI) and lecturer at UC Davis. "If they are telling people to rest credentials, that means it was not encrypted. So mistake number one is leaving Amazon credentials in your Git archive. Mistake number two is using S3 without using encryption on top of it. The former is bad but forgivable, but the latter given their business is unforgivable."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Students Are Likely Writing Millions of Papers With AI
    Amanda Hoover reports via Wired: Students have submitted more than 22 million papers that may have used generative AI in the past year, new data released by plagiarism detection company Turnitin shows. A year ago, Turnitin rolled out an AI writing detection tool that was trained on its trove of papers written by students as well as other AI-generated texts. Since then, more than 200 million papers have been reviewed by the detector, predominantly written by high school and college students. Turnitin found that 11 percent may contain AI-written language in 20 percent of its content, with 3 percent of the total papers reviewed getting flagged for having 80 percent or more AI writing. Turnitin says its detector has a false positive rate of less than 1 percent when analyzing full documents.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Harvard Reinstates Standardized Testing Requirement
    Harvard College is reinstating the requirement for standardized testing, reversing course on a pandemic-era policy that made them optional. It follows similar moves from elite universities like Yale, Dartmouth, and MIT. Axios reports: At Harvard, the mandate will be in place for students applying to begin school in fall 2025. Harvard had previously committed to a test-optional policy for applicants through the class of 2030, which would have started in fall 2026. Most students who applied since the pandemic began have submitted test scores despite the test-optional policy, the university said. Reviewing SAT/ACT scores as part of a student's application packet helps an admissions decision be holistic, the university said in a statement. "Standardized tests are a means for all students, regardless of their background and life experience, to provide information that is predictive of success in college and beyond," Hopi Hoekstra, a Harvard dean, said in the statement. "Indeed, when students have the option of not submitting their test scores, they may choose to withhold information that, when interpreted by the admissions committee in the context of the local norms of their school, could have potentially helped their application."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Amazon Owes $525 Million In Cloud-Storage Patent Fight, US Jury Says
    A federal jury in Illinois on Wednesday said Amazon Web Services owes tech company Kove $525 million for violating three patents relating to its data-storage technology. From the report: The jury determined (PDF) that AWS infringed three Kove patents covering technology that Kove said had become "essential" to the ability of Amazon's cloud-computing arm to "store and retrieve massive amounts of data." An Amazon spokesperson said the company disagrees with the verdict and intends to appeal. Kove's lead attorney Courtland Reichman called the verdict "a testament to the power of innovation and the importance of protecting IP (intellectual property) rights for start-up companies against tech giants." Kove also sued Google last year for infringing the same three patents in a separate Illinois lawsuit that is still ongoing.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Hackable Intel and Lenovo Hardware That Went Undetected For 5 Years Won't Ever Be Fixed
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Hardware sold for years by the likes of Intel and Lenovo contains a remotely exploitable vulnerability that will never be fixed. The cause: a supply chain snafu involving an open source software package and hardware from multiple manufacturers that directly or indirectly incorporated it into their products. Researchers from security firm Binarly have confirmed that the lapse has resulted in Intel, Lenovo, and Supermicro shipping server hardware that contains a vulnerability that can be exploited to reveal security-critical information. The researchers, however, went on to warn that any hardware that incorporates certain generations of baseboard management controllers made by Duluth, Georgia-based AMI or Taiwan-based AETN are also affected. BMCs are tiny computers soldered into the motherboard of servers that allow cloud centers, and sometimes their customers, to streamline the remote management of vast fleets of servers. They enable administrators to remotely reinstall OSes, install and uninstall apps, and control just about every other aspect of the system -- even when it's turned off. BMCs provide what's known in the industry as "lights-out" system management. AMI and AETN are two of several makers of BMCs. For years, BMCs from multiple manufacturers have incorporated vulnerable versions of open source software known as lighttpd. Lighttpd is a fast, lightweight web server that's compatible with various hardware and software platforms. It's used in all kinds of wares, including in embedded devices like BMCs, to allow remote administrators to control servers remotely with HTTP requests. [...] "All these years, [the lighttpd vulnerability] was present inside the firmware and nobody cared to update one of the third-party components used to build this firmware image," Binarly researchers wrote Thursday. "This is another perfect example of inconsistencies in the firmware supply chain. A very outdated third-party component present in the latest version of firmware, creating additional risk for end users. Are there more systems that use the vulnerable version of lighttpd across the industry?" The vulnerability makes it possible for hackers to identify memory addresses responsible for handling key functions. Operating systems take pains to randomize and conceal these locations so they can't be used in software exploits. By chaining an exploit for the lighttpd vulnerability with a separate vulnerability, hackers could defeat this standard protection, which is known as address space layout randomization. The chaining of two or more exploits has become a common feature of hacking attacks these days as software makers continue to add anti-exploitation protections to their code. Tracking the supply chain for multiple BMCs used in multiple server hardware is difficult. So far, Binarly has identified AMI's MegaRAC BMC as one of the vulnerable BMCs. The security firm has confirmed that the AMI BMC is contained in the Intel Server System M70KLP hardware. Information about BMCs from ATEN or hardware from Lenovo and Supermicro aren't available at the moment. The vulnerability is present in any hardware that uses lighttpd versions 1.4.35, 1.4.45, and 1.4.51. "A potential attacker can exploit this vulnerability in order to read memory of Lighttpd Web Server process," Binarly researchers wrote in an advisory. "This may lead to sensitive data exfiltration, such as memory addresses, which can be used to bypass security mechanisms such as ASLR." Advisories are available here, here, and here.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Launches AI Teaching Assistant For Grades 6-10 In Stanford Partnership
    theodp writes: From a Wednesday press release: ", in collaboration with The Piech Lab at Stanford University, launched today its AI Teaching Assistant, ushering in a new era of computer science instruction to support teachers in preparing students with the foundational skills necessary to work, live and thrive in an AI world. [...] Launching as a part of's leading Computer Science Discoveries (CSD) curriculum [for grades 6-10], the tool is designed to bolster teacher confidence in teaching computer science." EdWeek reports that in a limited pilot project involving twenty teachers nationwide, the AI computer science grading tool cut one middle school teacher's grading time in half. is now inviting an additional 300 teachers to give the tool a try. "Many teachers who lead computer science courses," EdWeek notes, "don't have a degree in the subject -- or even much training on how to teach it -- and might be the only educator in their school leading a computer science course." Stanford's Piech Lab is headed by assistant professor of CS Chris Piech, who also runs the wildly-successful free Code in Place MOOC (30,000+ learners and counting), which teaches fundamentals from Stanford's flagship introduction to Python course. Prior to coming up with the new AI teaching assistant, which automatically assesses students' JavaScript game code, Piech worked on a Stanford Research team that partnered with nearly a decade ago to create algorithms to generate hints for K-12 students trying to solve's Hour of Code block-based programming puzzles (2015 paper [PDF]). And several years ago, Piech's lab again teamed with on Play-to-Grade, which sought to "provide scalable automated grading on all types of coding assignments" by analyzing the game play of students' projects. Play-to-Grade, a 2022 paper (PDF) noted, was "supported in part by a Stanford Hoffman-Yee Human Centered AI grant" for AI tutors to help prepare students for the 21st century workforce. That project also aimed to develop a "Super Teaching Assistant" for Piech's Code in Place MOOC. LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, who was present for the presentation of the 'AI Tutors' work he and his wife funded, is a Diamond Supporter ($1+ million). In other AI grading news, Texas will use computers to grade written answers on this year's STAAR tests. The state will save more than $15 million by using technology similar to ChatGPT to give initial scores, reducing the number of human graders needed.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Humane AI Pin Review Roundup
    The embargo has lifted for reviews of Humane's AI Pin and the general consensus appears to be that this device isn't ready to usher us into the all-but-inevitable AI future. Starting at $699 with a pricy $24-a-month subscription, the wearable device is designed to incorporate artificial intelligence into everyday scenarios, with the ability to make calls, translate languages, recommend nearby restaurants, and capture photos and videos. "The best description so far is that it's a combination of a wearable Siri button with a camera and built-in projector that beams onto your palm," writes Cherlynn Low via Engadget. While full of potential, the AI Pin creates more problems than it solves and many of the features you'd intuitively expect from it aren't supported at launch. Here's a roundup of some of the first reviews: Engadget: The Humane AI Pin is the solution to none of technology's problemsThe Verge: Humane AI Pin review: not even closeWired: Humane Ai Pin Review: Too Clunky, Too LimitedThe Washington Post: I've been living with a $699 AI Pin on my chest. You probably shouldn't. CNET: Humane AI Hands-On: My Life So Far With a Wearable AI Pin

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • US Lawmaker Proposes a Public Database of All AI Training Material
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Amid a flurry of lawsuits over AI models' training data, US Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has introduced (PDF) a bill that would require AI companies to disclose exactly which copyrighted works are included in datasets training AI systems. The Generative AI Disclosure Act "would require a notice to be submitted to the Register of Copyrights prior to the release of a new generative AI system with regard to all copyrighted works used in building or altering the training dataset for that system," Schiff said in a press release. The bill is retroactive and would apply to all AI systems available today, as well as to all AI systems to come. It would take effect 180 days after it's enacted, requiring anyone who creates or alters a training set not only to list works referenced by the dataset, but also to provide a URL to the dataset within 30 days before the AI system is released to the public. That URL would presumably give creators a way to double-check if their materials have been used and seek any credit or compensation available before the AI tools are in use. All notices would be kept in a publicly available online database. Currently, creators who don't have access to training datasets rely on AI models' outputs to figure out if their copyrighted works may have been included in training various AI systems. The New York Times, for example, prompted ChatGPT to spit out excerpts of its articles, relying on a tactic to identify training data by asking ChatGPT to produce lines from specific articles, which OpenAI has curiously described as "hacking." Under Schiff's law, The New York Times would need to consult the database to ID all articles used to train ChatGPT or any other AI system. Any AI maker who violates the act would risk a "civil penalty in an amount not less than $5,000," the proposed bill said. Schiff described the act as championing "innovation while safeguarding the rights and contributions of creators, ensuring they are aware when their work contributes to AI training datasets." "This is about respecting creativity in the age of AI and marrying technological progress with fairness," Schiff said.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • America's Chip Renaissance Needs Workers
    An anonymous reader shares a report: Last week South Korea's SK Hynix announced it would partner with Purdue University on a $3.9 billion semiconductor complex here, the largest single corporate investment in state history. Now comes the hard part. SK Hynix must not only build the fabrication plant, or fab, which will package high-bandwidth memory chips used in artificial intelligence, and a connected research-and-development center. It also has to staff them. "We need several hundred engineers to operate our advanced-packaging manufacturing fab -- in physics, chemistry, material science, electronics engineering," Kwak Noh-Jung, chief executive of SK Hynix, said in an interview following last week's announcement. Staffing a fab is harder in the U.S. than in South Korea, where SK Hynix has contracts with local universities and its own in-house university. Nonetheless, Kwak said, "the final goal is very clear. We need to have very good engineers for our success in U.S." The U.S. is trying to do something unprecedented: reverse a shrinking share in a key manufacturing sector. Between 1990 and 2020, the U.S. share of world chip making shrank to 12% from 37%, while the combined share of Taiwan, South Korea and China grew to 58%. The federal CHIPS program has showered billions of dollars on Intel for fabs in several states, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Arizona and GlobalFoundries in New York and Vermont. SK Hynix hopes for support as well. Subsidies alone won't guarantee a sustainable industry. Fabs need customers, a supply chain and, above all, a skilled, specialized workforce. From 2000 to 2017, U.S. employment in semiconductor manufacturing shrank to 181,000 from 287,000. It has since recovered to about 200,000. Why did the U.S. share of semiconductor production shrink? As in other industries, the U.S. became an expensive place to manufacture. Susan Houseman of the Upjohn Institute, who has studied outsourcing, said this wasn't "primarily a story about offshoring." U.S. companies still lead in chip design: Nvidia in artificial intelligence, Qualcomm in communications and Apple in smartphones. Over time they mostly contracted out fabrication of their chips to foundries such as TSMC who benefited from generous domestic subsidies. The theory behind CHIPS is that, by matching Asia's subsidies, the U.S. can again be competitive in chip making. Nonetheless, there is a chicken-egg problem. Fabs need a ready supply of skilled workers. But without fabs, America's best and brightest have little incentive to pursue careers in the sector.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Android 15's First Beta Release is Out
    Android 15's first public beta is available to download now, provided you have a Pixel phone. From a report: It's the first consumer-facing release after two developer previews, and while we have a good idea of what to expect from Google's next mobile OS version, we'll certainly hear more at the company's annual developer conference soon enough. The blog post highlighting updates in today's release covers some pretty pedestrian stuff. Apps will scale edge to edge by default and will draw behind translucent system bars on the top and bottom of the screen, rather than around them. There's OS-level support for app archiving and unarchiving so third-party app stores can take advantage of this feature. Android 15 will also provide better support for Braille displays.M

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Microsoft Begins Showing Full Screen Windows 11 Ad on Windows 10 PCs as End of Support Date Looms
    Microsoft has started showing full screen warnings about the upcoming end of support date on Windows 10 PCs. From a report: Users on Reddit have reported seeing the prompt, which began appearing after this week's Patch Tuesday updates were installed, and encourages the user to learn more about how they can transition to Windows 11. Windows 10's end of support date is currently set for October 14, 2025. After that date, Windows 10 users will no longer receive critical security and bug fix updates, leaving any Windows 10 PC connected to the internet vulnerable to any newly discovered security exploits. The full screen prompt that is now appearing on some Windows 10 PCs thanks the user for their loyalty using Windows 10, and warns that this end of life (EOL) date is approaching. It also wastes no time advertising Windows 11, encouraging the user to learn more about how they can transition to a new Windows 11 PC. Notably, there's no button to tell the prompt to never show again.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Apple Plans To Overhaul Entire Mac Line With AI-Focused M4 Chips
    Apple, aiming to boost sluggish computer sales, is preparing to overhaul its entire Mac line with a new family of in-house processors designed to highlight AI. Bloomberg News: The company, which released its first Macs with M3 chips five months ago, is already nearing production of the next generation -- the M4 processor -- according to people with knowledge of the matter. The new chip will come in at least three main varieties, and Apple is looking to update every Mac model with it, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans haven't been announced. The new Macs are underway at a critical time. After peaking in 2022, Mac sales fell 27% in the last fiscal year, which ended in September. In the holiday period, revenue from the computer line was flat. Apple attempted to breathe new life into the Mac business with an M3-focused launch event last October, but those chips didn't bring major performance improvements over the M2 from the prior year. Apple also is playing catch-up in AI, where it's seen as a laggard to Microsoft, Alphabet's Google and other tech peers. The new chips are part of a broader push to weave AI capabilities into all its products. Apple is aiming to release the updated computers beginning late this year and extending into early next year.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Computer Scientist Wins Turing Award for Seminal Work on Randomness
    Computational scientist and mathematician Avi Wigderson of the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton has won the 2023 A.M. Turing Award. From a report: The prize, which is given annually by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) to a computer scientist for their contributions to the field, comes with $1 million thanks to Google. It is named in honor of the British mathematician Alan Turing, who helped develop a theoretical foundation for understanding machine computation. Wigderson is being honored "for foundational contributions to the theory of computation, including reshaping our understanding of the role of randomness in computation and for his decades of intellectual leadership in theoretical computer science." He also won the prestigious Abel Prize in 2021 for his work in theoretical computer science -- the first person to be so doubly honored.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The Register

  • Linux Foundation is leading fight against fauxpen source
    Shifts its transmission from vendor neutral into open source gear
    Opinion Since its founding, the Linux Foundation has been a vendor-neutral supporter of Linux and open source software. Now, though, it's actively promoting such open source projects as OpenTofu and Valkey.…

  • OpenAI CEO wants UAE Dubai into his plan for a global AI cabal
    Asking for emir few billion bucks to pay for lots of fabs, datacenters, and nuclear power plants
    OpenAI CEO Sam Altman's latest stop on his AI emperor roadshow was in the United Arab Emirates, where he floated the idea of a global consortium of governments and private interests to fund, power, and supply the artificial intelligence industry.…

  • Where there's a will, there's Huawei to develop one's own chipmaking kit
    Export restrictions and sanctions working well, we see
    A sprawling industrial complex being built by Huawei near Shanghai will be used to research and develop chipmaking equipment to help the tech giant overcome restrictions imposed on it by the US, local sources are reportedly saying.…

  • 96% of US hospital websites share visitor info with Meta, Google, data brokers
    Could have been worse – last time researchers checked it was 98.6%
    Hospitals – despite being places where people implicitly expect to have their personal details kept private – frequently use tracking technologies on their websites to share user information with Google, Meta, data brokers, and other third parties, according to research published today.…

  • We never agreed to only buy HP ink, say printer owners
    Complainants smack back after hardware giant moves to dismiss lawsuit
    HP "sought to take advantage of customers' sunk costs," printer owners claimed this week in a class action lawsuit against the hardware giant.…

  • AWS must pay $525M to cloud storage patent holder, says jury
    Computing giant will appeal ruling, which found infringement was not 'willful'
    Updated A jury has ordered Amazon Web Services to pay $525 million for infringing distributed data storage patents in a case brought by a technology outfit called Kove IO.…

  • Fancy building a replacement for Post Office's disastrous Horizon system?
    £75 million in the offing in government tender
    The Post Office, the UK government-owned retail organization for post and banking, has kicked off procurement to help build the system replacing Horizon, the disastrous EPOS and back office system at the heart of one of the country's greatest miscarriages of justice.…

  • Netherlands arm of KPMG fined $25M for cheating in exams
    Staff followed US lead and shared answers after move to online testing
    KPMG Accountants NV, the Netherlands-based arm of the global professional services firm, has been fined $25 million (€23 million, £20 million) by America's Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) for failing to prevent its financial auditors from cheating on exams.…

  • US 'considering' end to Assange prosecution bid
    Cryptic Biden hint came ahead of April 16 deadline for next step in extradition case
    The Biden Administration is contemplating Australia's request to end its bid to prosecute WikiLeaker-in-Chief Julian Assange, an Australian citizen.…

  • Next-gen Meta AI chip serves up ads while sipping power
    Fresh silicon won't curb Zuck's appetite for GPUs just yet
    After teasing its second-gen AI accelerator in February, Meta is ready to spill the beans on this homegrown silicon, which is already said to be powering ad recommendations in 16 regions.…

  • Healthcare AI won't take jobs – it'll make nursing easier, says process automation founder
    Something's gotta give in short-staffed, overworked healthcare industry, reckons Thoughtful cofounder and CPO
    Interview Companies are sticking AI everywhere they can right now - including injecting it into frontline healthcare. The benefits of healthcare AI are still up for debate, but Dan Parsons, cofounder and chief product officer at process automation firm Thoughtful, believes healthcare is the perfect place to start trialing new uses of the tech. …

  • TSMC sees semiconductor bounce as Q1 revenues rise 16.5%
    Early figures post a $18.44B haul for industry bellwether
    Semiconductor giant TSMC looks to have rebounded from last year’s doldrums with revenue up 16.5 percent for the first quarter of this year, compared with the same period in 2023.…

  • Peter Higgs, daddy of the Higgs boson, dies at 94
    The particle bearing his name lives on
    Obituary In a world dominated by instant gratification, Peter Higgs, who died earlier this week, had to wait more than half of his 94-year lifetime to see his theoretical predictions confirmed, thereby changing our understanding of the universe.…

  • US-EAST-1 region is not the cloudy crock it's made out to be, claims AWS EC2 boss
    It's the region where stuff gets stressed at scale first, says Dave Brown, as he plots variants of Amazon's Outposts
    Amazon Web Services' US-EAST-1 region is not a problem child – it's the region where the cloudy colossus often runs things at bigger scale than elsewhere and therefore stresses services the most, according to Dave Brown, global veep for compute and networking.…

  • Chrome Enterprise Premium promises extra security – for a fee
    Paying for browsers is no longer a memory from the 1990s
    Cloud Next Hoping to upsell freeloading corporate users of its Chrome browser, Google has announced Chrome Enterprise Premium – which comes with a dash of AI security sauce for just $6 per user per month.…

  • Innovation as a Catalyst in Telecommunications
    Innovation—a term often tossed around but rarely dissected for its true impact, especially in the ever-evolving world of telecommunications. At its core, innovation is about breaking new ground; it’s about moving beyond traditional methods to create novel solutions for old problems and to anticipate challenges in an ever-changing industry. Innovation in telecommunications isn’t just about [0]

    The post Innovation as a Catalyst in Telecommunications appeared first on

  • Linux Foundation Newsletter: January 2024
    Welcome to the Linux Foundation’s January newsletter! In this edition you’ll find new research reports, key LF Project updates, and our first Training 8 Certification deal of the year. Also, if you missed it, we published our 2023 Annual Report in December, “Rising Tides of Open Source.” We thank you for your continued support of [0]

    The post Linux Foundation Newsletter: January 2024 appeared first on


  • SDL 3.0 Will Now Prefer PipeWire Over PulseAudio
    For the widely-used SDL hardware/software abstraction layer that is commonly used by cross-platform games, the upcoming SDL 3.0 release now has the logic to be able to prefer using PipeWire directly rather than PulseAudio when successfully detecting the presence of PipeWire...

  • Intel9s Newest Software Effort For Achieving Greater Performance: Thin Layout Optimizer
    Intel's software team is today sharing their newest innovation for achieving greater performance on Linux systems: the Thin Layout Optimizer. Intel's Thin Layout Optimizer is inspired by the likes of the Meta/LLVM BOLT optimizer and Google's Propeller but aims to be much easier to use while still delivering measurable performance gains for optimized binaries...

  • Ubuntu 24.04 Brings Some Performance Gains For AMD Threadripper 7980X / System76 Thelio Major
    With Ubuntu 24.04 LTS due out later this month and the beta now available, I9ve been spending more time recently testing out the latest development state for this next Long Term Support installment of Ubuntu Linux. Similar to seeing some Ubuntu 24.04 performance gains on server class hardware both from Intel and AMD, testing on workstation hardware is also showing some gains over the current Ubuntu 23.10 release. Here are some comparison tests of the System76 Thelio Major with AMD Ryzen Threadripper 7980X.

  • GCC 14 Compiler Adds AArch64 GNU/Hurd Support
    While GNU Hurd continues having a tough time on x86 support and GNU Hurd x86_64 is being worked toward, the GCC 14 compiler has been working on compiler toolchain support for GNU Hurd AArch64...

  • KDE9s KWin Merges Wayland Explicit Sync Support
    A day after explicit sync support was merged for XWayland, a week after explicit sync support for Mesa Vulkan drivers hit Mesa 24.1, and GNOME's Mutter enabling explicit sync at the end of March, KDE's KWin compositor has now merged its Wayland explicit sync support!..

  • Turbostat Becomes Semi-Useful To Non-Root Users
    The turbostat utility is useful on Linux systems for reporting idle/power-state statistics, temperatures, and other useful metrics for modern CPUs. It's also able to dive deeper and provide various MSR values and counters and other intriguing CPU bits. For much of these features root access is required and thus turbostat has bailed out up to this point if not running as root. But as a number of the metrics can still be obtained without root access, turbostat is finally being adapted to handle running better as a non-root user...

  • Intel FFmpeg Cartwheel 2024Q1 Brings New Filter To Transform Old Content
    Intel's FFmpeg Cartwheel is where they maintain their various yet-to-be-upstreamed patches for the FFmpeg multimedia library either to enhance/enable new Intel graphics hardware support or improve/add extra functionality to this widely-used open-source library. With the Intel FFmpeg Cartwheel 2024Q1 release they are shipping a new filter for dealing with older content as well as several other new features...

  • Gentoo Linux Now An SPI Project
    While the Gentoo Foundation has long existed, to reduce the organizational complexity and overhead as well as becoming effectively a tax deductible non-profit at the US federal level, Gentoo Linux has become an associated project with Software in the Public Interest (SPI)...

  • Intel Updates OpenCL Intercept Layer With New Abilities
    For several years Intel has been developing the OpenCL Intercept Layer to assist in debugging OpenCL software. It's been nearly two years since the last release of this open-source OpenCL interception layer while today brings v3.0.4 with a number of optimizations and new features...

  • Linux Kernel Patched For Branch History Injection "BHI" Intel CPU Vulnerability
    Disclosed back in March 2022 was Branch History Injection (BHI) as a new Spectre vulnerability affecting Intel and Arm CPUs. Then in July of 2022 were patches for Intel working on hardware-based prevention for Spectre-BHI attacks. Now two years later the Linux kernel is seeing mitigations added for the native Branch History Injection vulnerability given a new "Native BHI" variant...

  • SiFive HiFive Premier P550 Announced As New RISC-V Developer Board
    Since SiFive ceased production of the HiFive Unleashed developer board we've been clamoring for a new and more powerful RISC-V developer board... Today SiFive announced the HiFive Premier P550 as a new developer system offering that will be available this summer...

  • Intel Announces Gaudi 3 AI Accelerator, Intel Xeon 6 Brand
    Intel is using its Vision 2024 conference in Arizona today to announce the Gaudi 3 AI accelerator. With Gaudi 3 comes some rather bold AI claims from Intel: 50% on average better inference and 40% on average better power efficiency than the NVIDIA H100. All while costing "a fraction" of the NVIDIA H100. Gaudi 3 sounds quite promising and will be interesting to see how its adopted in the marketplace. In addition, Intel also is disclosing the new Xeon 6 branding for their upcoming server processors formerly codenamed Sierra Forest and Granite Rapids.

  • Google Announces Axion ARM-Based CPUs For The Cloud
    Similar to Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure spinning their own Arm-based processors for their data centers, Google Cloud today announced the Google Axion Processors that will be available in the future...

  • Nouveau/NVK Driver Lands NIL Library Rewrite In Rust For Mesa 24.1
    In addition to working on NOVA as a Rust-based, GSP-focused NVIDIA open-source kernel graphics driver being developed as the eventual successor to the existing Nouveau DRM kernel driver, over in user-space Mesa developers have begun landing a portion of their Nouveau/NVK driver library code rewritten in Rust...

  • Explicit GPU Synchronization Merged For XWayland
    One year in the making, NVIDIA's code for explicit GPU synchronization in XWayland along with the X.Org Server DRI3 and Present extensions has now been merged! This is a big culmination of all the recent work around Wayland explicit synchronization and notably takes care of a number of NVIDIA driver problems on Wayland in the process...

  • Canonical Announces Ubuntu Pro For Devices
    Complementing Canonical's existing Ubuntu Pro subscription service for expanded security maintenance, live kernel patching, compliance and hardening, real-time kernel flavor support, and other enterprise/support add-ons, Canonical today announced Ubuntu Pro For Devices...

  • Nouveau GSP Fix On The Way For Regression That Broke Ampere GPU Support
    An earlier fix to the Nouveau open-source NVIDIA kernel graphics driver with the new GPU System Processor (GSP) code path had fixed RTX 20 "Turing" GPU support but inadvertently broke the RTX 30 "Ampere" support. David Airlie sent out an urgent new fix today for addressing that regression in the NVIDIA GSP display code...

Engadget"Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics"

  • Engadget Podcast: Does Humane’s AI Pin live up to the hype?
    Humane’s hyped up AI Pin is finally here and, unfortunately, it stinks. This week, Cherlynn and Devindra are joined by Michael Fisher (AKA MrMobile) and Wired Reviews Editor Julian Chokkattu to chat about the AI Pin and the many ways it fails. It’s often inaccurate, it takes crummy photos, and it gets way too hot. Not so great for something you’re supposed to wear all day! Is there any hope for AI-dependent gadgets? Also, Washington Post columnist Christopher Velazco joins to discuss Apple’s approval of used iPhone components for repairs.

    Listen below or subscribe on your podcast app of choice. If you've got suggestions or topics you'd like covered on the show, be sure to Engadget News!
    Too much heat, too few features: Humane’s AI pin doesn’t live up to the hype – 1:09

    Other News: Apple will allow devices to be repaired with secondhand parts soon – 44:08

    Google’s Next 24 event announces AI video generation tool, ARM-based CPU for data centers, and Google Photos tools for all subscribers – 53:10

    Working on – 1:00:59

    Pop culture picks – 1:05:40


    Pocket Casts


    Google Podcasts
    Hosts: Cherlynn Low and Devindra Hardawar
    Guests: Michael Fisher (MrMobile) and Julian Chokkattu
    Producer: Ben Ellman
    ''' Dale North and Terrence O'Brien
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • The best tablets for 2024
    A tablet can make a great addition to your tech toolkit. It can replace an e-reader, serve as a more portable laptop replacement or simply be a shared device for watching movies or checking social media at home. However, with four different families of iPad, a plethora of Android options and Windows-based alternatives like the Surface Pro, it can be difficult to figure out which will serve you best. We at Engadget have tested and reviewed dozens of tablets over the years, and we continue to try out the latest models asa they hit the market. Below, we9ve solidified our current top picks, plus all of the information you should know before picking up the best tablet for you.

    Editor9s Note (April 2024): For anyone thinking about buying a new tablet, you may want to hold off for another few months. Interesting Android options like the TCL NXTPAPER 14 Pro which we saw back at CES have yet to go on sale. Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for Apple to release a new generation of iPads after not updating or refreshing any of its tablets in 2023. This is really unusual as this is the first time Apple hasn’t released a new iPad in a calendar year since the original came out back in 2010. There isn’t an exact timetable for when new models may appear, but rumors suggest we should learn more between now and WWDC in June. Finally, while Microsoft did recently update the Surface family with a new Surface Pro 10 model, that device is specially targeted at enterprise buyers and it won’t be available from traditional retailers. So if you’re hoping to avoid buyer’s remorse after purchasing a new tablet that might get replaced real soon, you’ll want to exercise patience until new products get announced later this spring and summer.
    Which OS is right for me?
    Before you even start looking at specific devices, consider how your new tablet will fit in with the gadgets you already own, and how you plan to use it. For example, if everyone in your house uses Macs and iPhones, it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to buy an Android tablet, even if you’ve been tempted by the massive 14.6-inch screen on the new Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra. This goes double for anyone with an extensive library of purchased videos and music that might be harder to access after switching platforms.

    Another consideration is the kind of work you’ll be doing. That’s because while most modern tablets are adept at browsing websites or playing games, some operating systems like iPadOS and Windows 11 are better designed to support multitasking and productivity than Android or even Chrome OS. It’s a similar situation for software, because while most popular apps and games are available on both Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store, more specialized software may only have proper support on desktop platforms like Windows or macOS.
    What size screen should I get?
    Figuring out the best screen size for you will also be related to the kind of work (or play) you intend to do. Larger displays make it much easier to view two apps side by side, and big screens also deliver a more immersive movie viewing experience. But at the same time, the larger the tablet, the less likely you’re going to want to move it around. That means you’re not only going to want to take stock of your workspace (i.e., if you have a desk or instead plan to work from a couch or even your bed), you’re also going to want to think about how the device will fit into your everyday routine or commute (if you have one).
    Potential accessories
    Finally, you’ll want to consider any add-ons or accessories you’re planning to use, which can range from detachable keyboards to things like external mics or a stylus. The good news is that many of the best tablets nowadays offer some kind of keyboard accessory, which allows the device to function more like a 2-in-1 instead of simply being a content consumption device. Some tablets also feature things like microSD card slots that support expandable storage, or optional 4G or 5G connectivity, which can be a real boon to frequent travelers. And if you’re planning to use the tablet mainly for work, you might want to grab a USB hub for connecting all your favorite peripherals.
    How we test
    When evaluating different tablets, there are a few important things we look for above all else: solid performance, a good screen and long battery life. For performance, we run a handful of synthetic tests like Geekbench 6, while also performing a number of real-world use cases such as editing photos and playing games. And with tablets often serving as hybrid devices, we also consider how easy it is to multitask and switch quickly between various apps. The more responsive a device feels, the better.

    Because a tablet’s display is such a critical component, we also view a wide range of content to gauge things like brightness, color gamut and dynamic range. It’s important to take into account the difference between various panel types like OLED, which typically produce richer colors and excellent contrast but may not be as bright as a mini LED display. Recently, refresh rate has become an increasingly important spec as 90Hz and 120Hz screens can make scrolling smoother and graphics appear sharper in games.

    We also consider a tablet’s design (including things like size, weight and water resistance), its connectivity (WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, 5G, et cetera) and special features like stylus support or the ability to serve as a secondary display. That’s because, while tablets were often viewed as content consumption devices in the past, higher-end devices like the Surface Pro and iPad Pro are more than capable of replacing a laptop for a lot of people.

    Finally, we test battery life by running our standard local video rundown test, which involves playing a single video on a loop from 100 percent until it runs out of juice. Ideally, a tablet should be able to last an entire working day, but longer runtimes are always welcome.

    Other tablets we tested'Apple iPad Air
    While the iPad Air is the best iPad for most people, the iPad Pro is the model that showcases the best of what Apple has to offer in the tablet space. The Air has a similar design to the Pro, but it runs on an M1 chip and the base model comes with only 64GB of storage. Those with tight budgets can consider the Air a good alternative to the Pro, and it9ll be particularly tempting if you see it on sale.
    Google Pixel Tablet
    The Google Pixel Tablet excels as a smart display rather than a simple tablet. As the latter, it9s unexciting, but when paired with its speaker/charging dock, it becomes much more useful. It could be a good option for those that already live within the Google ecosystem and use the Google Assistant often, or those who like the idea of a tablet that can be docked and used as a smart display as well.
    OnePlus Pad
    The solid OnePlus Pad is let down by Android because there aren9t many Android apps designed to be used on a large display like this model9s 11.6-inch panel. Otherwise, the hardware is well-designed, its companion stylus is comfortable to use and it has an excellent battery life.
    'What is the best brand for tablets?
    The best brand for tablets is really the brand you feel most comfortable with. We recommend taking stock of the gadgets you already have — do you live in the Apple ecosystem already? An iPad might be best for you then. Do you have a Samsung phone? If so, a Galaxy Tab will likely be the most convenient choice. There is no one "best brand" for tablets; you’ll find good options made by companies including Apple, Google, Samsung, Microsoft and Amazon.
    Can a tablet replace a laptop?
    It’s possible for a tablet to replace a laptop, but you’ll need a few accessories to truly make the experience as close as possible to that of a traditional notebook. A keyboard is a must, be it a keyboard case or a Bluetooth accessory that you keep with you. Some keyboard cases, like apple’s Magic Keyboard for the iPad, have a built-in trackpad, which will be more ergonomic than tapping on your tablet’s screen for input. Additionally, you could go one step further and use a wireless mouse that connects via Bluetooth to your tablet. If you’re primarily looking for a tablet to replace your laptop, consider buying a 2-in-1 laptop since those systems typically consist of high-powered tablets that are designed to work well with (and without) keyboards.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • The best laptops for 2024
    We’ve kicked off 2024 with a slew of new processors from Intel, NVIDIA and AMD, which means there should be plenty of refreshed laptops on the horizon. This year, the term you’ll probably hear the most is AI PCs, that is, computers with neural processors designed to speed up AI tasks. While it’s not necessary for you to buy a laptop just for the sake of AI this year, it’s a good thing to keep an eye on for future-proofing as more companies bring the likes of Microsoft’s Copilot or ChatGPT to their systems. Some notebooks even have dedicated Copilot buttons on the keyboard to make it easier to summon generative AI help.

    Even if you’re willing to wait out the AI hype while you shop for your new laptop, there are still plenty of other specs to consider. Should you pay extra for more memory, or get a notebook with a larger screen? We9ve tested and reviewed dozens of the latest laptops, including Apple9s latest M3 MacBook Air, to come up with top picks for the best laptops you can buy right now, along with buying advice that will hopefully help demystify the market.
    What to consider before buying a laptop'Price
    You probably have an idea of your budget, but just so you know, most modern laptops with top-of-the-line specs cost between $1,800 to $2,000 these days. That doesn’t mean you won’t find a good system for under $1,000 — a grand is the base price for a lot of premium 13-inch ultraportables, with chips like Intel’s Core i3 or i5 series. And if that’s too expensive, you’ll still have respectable options in the $600 to $800 range, but they might come with older, slower processors and dimmer screens. You could also consider configurations with AMD’s processors, which have become more reliable and speedy in recent years, while sometimes costing less. I’ve included our favorite budget-friendly model in this best laptop buying guide but we have a list of more-affordable laptop picks that you can check out as well.
    Operating system: Apple, Windows or Chrome OS
    After working out how much money you want to spend, your next decision is what operating system to choose. As expected, that’s slightly easier for people who prefer an Apple MacBook. Now that the company has brought its M-series chips to the whole lineup, with the Pro models sporting the third generation of those processors — your only real considerations are budget, screen size and how much power you need.

    Over on Team Windows, however, the shift to ARM-based chips hasn’t been as smooth and it’s quite unlikely you’ll be considering one in 2024. Though Apple laptops have been able to bring huge increases in battery life while maintaining (and in some cases improving) performance with their own silicon, PC makers have been limited by Windows’ shortcomings. For now, it’s still safer to stick with an Intel or AMD processor.

    As for whether you want a PC with a dedicated AI button on the keyboard, that depends on how often you see yourself using Microsoft’s CoPilot generative tools. Given we’re only just seeing the first slate of AI PCs, it would be wiser to wait out the hype and see what improvements might come over time.

    Finally, if you don’t really need your laptop for a lot of complicated tasks and mostly want it for Netflix, shopping and Google Docs, it’s worth remembering there’s a third and fairly popular laptop operating system: Chrome OS. If you do most of your work in a browser, then a Chromebook might be good enough, and they’re usually more affordable, too.
    Devindra Hardawar / Engadget Connectivity
    It’s worth pointing out that some recent models have done away with headphone jacks. While this doesn’t seem to be a prevalent trend yet, it’s a good reminder to check that a machine has all the connectors you need (otherwise, you9ll have to spend more money on the necessary adapters). Most laptops in 2024 offer WiFi 6 or 6E and Bluetooth 5.0 or later, which should mean faster and more stable connections if you have compatible routers and devices. While 5G coverage is more widespread now, whether you need support for that depends on how much you travel and your need for constant connectivity sans-Wi-Fi.
    Display size
    Where you plan on taking your laptop also helps in deciding what size to get. Many companies launched new 14-inch machines in the last year, straddling the line between ultraportable and bulkier 15-inch laptops. For most people, a 14-inch screen is a great middle ground. But if you’re worried about weight and want a more portable laptop, a 12- or 13-inch model will be better. Those that want more powerful processors and larger displays will prefer 15- or 16-inch versions.

    See Also:

    This Apple laptop is just a larger version of the 13-inch M3 MacBook Air. It9s still quite portable at 3.3 pounds, and some will appreciating having just a tad more screen real estate all the time. Configuration options are the same as well; you can spec out the 15-inch Air with up to 24GB of RAM and 2TB of storage. But considering it starts off $200 more than the smaller model, it9s primarily best for those who absolutely need a larger screen and are willing to pay for it.
    'What is the average battery life of a laptop per charge?
    Battery life will vary depending on the type of laptop you have and what you use it for. Gaming laptops have some of the shorter average battery lives in the notebook space because playing laborious titles causes battery to drain faster. You can expect between five and eight hours of life on a single charge with most gaming laptops, but don9t be surprised if you actually get less use per charge if you9re doing heavy things with it. As for regular laptops, you can expect roughly ten hours of life on the best models, but some will fall on the lower and higher ends of the spectrum.
    What is the best storage capacity for a laptop?
    There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to laptop storage. Most of the best laptops will have configurations with 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB storage options, and we think most people will be served best by either of the two middle options: 256GB of 512GB. If you use your laptop to store tons of documents and files, or photos and videos, we recommend springing for extra built-in storage or investing in a portable SSD with which you can backup your most important files. It9s also worth noting that Chromebooks tend to come with less built-in storage — 32GB, 64GB or 128GB — since Chrome OS encourages users to save their files in the cloud rather than on a device.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Google One is shutting down its VPN feature later this year
    If you9re — apparently, one of the few people — using the VPN service that comes with Google One, we9ve got bad news for you. In an email you9re going to receive from Google if you haven9t gotten it yet, it revealed that it9s phasing out the perk sometime later this year. The company rolled out Google One9s VPN feature back in 2020, but you could only access it then if you9re paying for a plan with at least 2TB of storage, which costs at least $10 a month. Last year, the company expanded its availability across all One plans, including the basic $2-per-month option, making it more affordable than before.

    At the moment, you can access One9s VPN service if you9re in one of the 22 countries where it9s active, whether you9re on iOS or Android. You can also use it to mask your internet usage on a Mac or Windows computer. Google didn9t say when the VPN service will stop working completely, but it told 9to5Google that it9s discontinuing the feature because "people simply weren’t using it." Instead of trying to drum up interest, it9s redirecting its resources to support other and more in-demand One features. However, you9ll still be able to use the free VPN that comes with Pixel devices even after One9s shuts down through the Settings app on Pixel 7 devices and newer models. 
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • A four-pack of Chipolo One Bluetooth trackers is on sale for $60 right now
    Bluetooth trackers are handy little things that can help you find valuables after misplacing them. Our pick for the best Bluetooth tracker is the Chipolo One, and a four-pack has dropped close to its record-low price. The bundle (which usually costs $75) is currently available for just $60, which makes each tracker just $15 — that's a record low for each unit. Alternatively, you can buy a single tracker for $20 (usually $25) if you really only need one.

    The Chipolo One can't really measure up to the crowd-sourced finding network of AirTags or Tile trackers, so it's perhaps not the best option for monitoring the location of your luggage while traveling. However, it does a more than capable job of helping you find items around the house. It has the loudest ring of all the trackers we've tested, for one thing, and there was no delay between pressing a button in an app and hearing the Chipolo One trill away.

    The One can be easy to spot, since it's a colorful plastic disc. It's fairly hardy too, since it has IPX5-rated splash resistance and a two-year battery life (the battery is replaceable). One other feature in the One's favor is that it's compatible with both iOS and Android, and we found it straightforward to pair with an iPhone and Samsung Galaxy phone.

    The aspect of the One that particularly impressed us was its separation alerts. Once you get around 350 feet away from the tracker, you'll get an alert on your phone asking if you might have left an item somewhere. Through your maps app, Chipolo can guide you back to the location where your phone and the One were last in contact. Of course, you can ring the tracker once you're close by to help you find it.

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    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Prime members can play Fallout 3 and New Vegas on Luna for the next six months
    Fallout games are having a moment in the wake of glowing reviews for the new TV series adaptation on Prime Video. Amazon has added two of the series’ best games as freebies for Prime members on Luna, its cloud streaming service. play Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas on Amazon Luna for the next six months at no extra charge. Like other cloud streaming services, Luna requires a stable and low-latency internet connection since the games you play are processed on remote servers. Amazon recommends a network that can sustain at least 10Mbps for 1080p quality. An ethernet connection works best, but if you’re on Wi-Fi, using the 5GHz band is preferable if your router supports it.

    They join Amazon Prime Gaming free game for April. As long as you claim it this month, you can download and keep it forever. It’s redeemable for both Xbox and PC. In addition, the game has a free-play week for all platforms. From Thursday through April 18, you can play Fallout 76 for free on PlayStation, Xbox and Steam. You only need to download the game and sign in with a Bethesda account.
    The long-delayed big console update for Fallout 4 finally arrives for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S on April 25. The “next-gen” (now current-gen, if we’re being technical) version lets you choose between Performance and Quality modes for prioritizing speed or spectacle. It also supports 60fps and higher resolutions alongside stability improvements and bug fixes. The stability fixes will also arrive in a Fallout 4 update for PS4 and Xbox One consoles to provide a more dependable experience for older hardware users.

    The Fallout TV series is damn good — and possibly the second-best gaming adaptation behind wrote in his review. “It’s a really good show in its own right — an apocalyptically good one at that.”

    Fallout is now streaming on Prime Video. It stars Ella Purnell (Yellowjackets) as Lucy, Aaron Clifton Moten (Father Stu) as Maximums, Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks) as Hank and the scene-stealing master of ornery characters, Walton Goggins (Justified), as The Ghoul.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Taylor Swift’s music is back on TikTok
    Taylor Swift’s music has returned to TikTok after a ten-week hiatus, according to a report by Variety. Her tunes left the platform after negotiations broke down between the social media app and Swift’s label, Universal Music Group.

    It’s unclear what kind of deal Swift struck with TikTok to allow her to return to the platform, but we know one thing. The deal did not include provisions for fellow UMG artists, so Billie Eilish, The Weeknd and Drake, among others, are still missing from TikTok. Taylor Swift, being the most popular musician on the planet, likely worked some magic here. 

    She’s not alone in her return to TikTok. Some songs by other UMG artists have begun appearing on the platform, ready for use in short-form videos. These artists include Ariana Grande and Camila Cabello. Variety suggests that their music was put up either by fans or representatives from the artists. We don’t know if they struck their own deals like Swift may have.

    The return could also be a promotional move for her upcoming album. The Tortured Poets Department comes out on April 19 and will likely have plenty of tracks that will be perfect for TikTok singalongs. It’s worth noting that she partnered with the platform to promote Midnights, her last album of all-new material.

    This all started when UMG threatened to pull songs from the platform after contract negotiations fell apart, with the label writing in an open letter that TikTok wanted to pay a “fraction” of the rate paid by other social media sites. "As our negotiations continued, TikTok attempted to bully us into accepting a deal worth less than the previous deal, far less than fair market value and not reflective of their exponential growth,” the company wrote. “TikTok is trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music.”

    TikTok went full “fake news” in response, writing that “despite Universal9s false narrative and rhetoric, the fact is they have chosen to walk away from the powerful support of a platform with well over a billion users that serves as a free promotional and discovery vehicle for their talent.” It’s worth noting that TikTok’s rebuttal did not mention artist payments, but did say that it has been able to reach agreements with other musicians and publishers.

    Whatever the reason for Swift’s return, the nation’s teens are no doubt rejoicing at once again being able to lip sync to "Cruel Summer" and "You Belong With Me." UMG and TikTok, however, are still battling it out, so this is likely not the last we’ll hear about all of this.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Instagram's status update feature is coming to user profiles
    Instagram’s status update feature, Notes, will soon be more prominent in the app. Up until now, Notes have only been visible from Instagram’s inbox, but the brief updates will soon also be visible directly on users’ profiles.

    The change should increase the visibility of the feature and give people a new place to interact with their friends’ updates. (Instagram added reply functionality to Notes back in December.) The app is also experimenting with “prompts” for Notes, which will allow users to share questions for their friends to answer in their updates, much like the collaborative “add yours templates for Stories.

    Notes are similar to Stories in that the updates only stick around for 24 hours, though they are only visible to mutual followers, so they aren’t meant to be as widely shared as a typical grid or Stories post. The latest updates are another sign of how Meta has used the feature, first introduced in 2022, to encourage users to post more often for smaller, more curated groups of friends.

    Separately, the app is also adding a new “cutouts feature, which allows users to make stickers out of objects in their photos, much like the iOS sticker feature. On Instagram, these stickers can be shared in Stories or in a Reel. Cutouts can also be made from other users’ public posts, effectively giving people a new way to remix content from others (Instagram’s help page notes that users can disable this feature if they prefer for their content to not be reused.)
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Apple may start releasing AI-centric, M4-powered Macs later this year
    It9s only been five months since Apple released the first M3-powered Macs, but we may not have to wait long to see laptops and desktops with M4 chipsets. According to Bloomberg, Macs with M4 processors could start arriving later this year (which isn9t necessarily a massive surprise given the cadence of Apple silicon chips so far). While the M3 lineup didn9t offer a massive upgrade from M2 chipsets, the M4 series could be a gamechanger since Apple is said to be placing far more onus on artificial intelligence this time around.

    There will be at least three main versions of the M4, according to the report, and Apple is expected to update every model of the Mac with one of those chips. As things stand, Bloomberg says Apple will release iMacs, an entry-level 14-inch MacBook Pro, more powerful 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros and Mac minis with M4 chips by early 2025.

    Versions of the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air with M4 chips could arrive by the spring, with an M4 Mac Studio to follow around the middle of 2025 and a Mac Pro to come later in the year. However, the publication notes that plans may change.

    The Mac mini upgrade will be quite a long time coming, as Apple hasn9t upgraded that device since January 2023. The Mac Studio and Mac Pro got M2 upgrades in mid-2023. M3-powered iMacs and MacBook Pros arrived in October (remember the Scary Fast event?). The MacBook Air, meanwhile, got an M3 upgrade just last month.

    With the higher-end Mac desktops, Apple may include support for up to 512GB of memory. The latest Mac Studio and Mac Pro max out at 192GB of RAM, but previous Intel-powered systems supported up to 1.5TB of memory using off-the-shelf components. Apple integrates memory more deeply into its own chipsets, so upgrading the RAM on silicon-based systems is more difficult.

    That said, Apple9s major focus for the M4 lineup is said to be artificial intelligence as it aims to catch up (at least in terms of public perception) with the likes of Microsoft and Google. Bloomberg suggests that Apple will highlight how on-device AI processing capabilities of the M4 chipsets will integrate with the hardware and the latest version of macOS, which will debut at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

    The company is also said to be planning AI-focused upgrades to the processors used in this year9s iPhones. Previous reports suggested that Apple wants to integrate Google9s Gemini AI into iPhones while it works on its own generative AI models.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Apple TV+'s Dark Matter series takes on one of Blake Crouch's best books
    Apple just dropped a trailer for another of its never-ending cavalcade of sci-fi shows. Dark Matter stars Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Connelly. It also happens to be based on a fantastic book by author Blake Crouch, which we recommended in 2021 after publication. The show premieres on May 8 with two episodes.

    I’ve read the book, and love it, but there will be no real spoilers here. Dark Matter follows a physicist as he gets involved with some serious sci-fi shenanigans. The trailer gives a bit of the plot away, enough to understand that these particular sci-fi shenanigans are of the multiversal variety. Again, the book is a rip-roaring page turner, so the show should follow suit. The rest of the cast includes Jimmi Simpson, Alice Braga, Dayo Okeniyi and Oakes Fegley.

    Crouch is actually the showrunner here, which is a first for the author. This isn’t, however, the first TV show based on one of his books. Wayward Pines ran on Fox for two seasons and was based on a series of novels. Good Behavior, also pulled from a book series, aired on TNT back in 2016. The writer has penned a bunch of novels that haven’t been turned into TV shows. We heartily recommend Upgrade, which made our list of the best books of 2022.

    Dark Matter joins an absolutely stacked collection of sci-fi shows on Apple TV+. There are the heavy hitters like Severance, For All Mankind and Silo, but also a bunch of lesser-known programs like Invasion and the put Kurt Russell up against Godzilla and Hello Tomorrow is set in a retro-future wonderland. I’m still not done. See, Schmigadoon and The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey all have sci-fi elements. Finally, there’s that fantasy show about an American college football coach who somehow becomes a soccer sensation in the UK without actually knowing anything about the sport.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Yale unveils its first retrofit smartlock and keypad
    Yale is making it easier to go key-free with a smart lock system that can be retrofitted onto most existing deadbolts. You won't need to replace existing hardware with the Yale Approach Lock with Wi-Fi. It's an interior-only smart lock that Yale says takes just 10 minutes or so to install and you'll only need a screwdriver to help you get the job done. It also has a fairly slim profile as it will sit just 1.6 inches off the door.

    Once the smart lock is installed, you'll be able to use features like Auto-Lock and Auto-Unlock. If you're away from home and want to let in a friend to water the plants or check on your pets, you can unlock the door remotely via the Yale Access app. What's more, the Yale Approach is renter-friendly. It sits on the back of most standard deadbolts and you (and your landlord) can keep using the same keys. In addition, Yale Approach works with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Philips Hue and Samsung SmartThings. Matter support will be added later.

    Also new is the Yale Keypad, which is compatible with the Yale Approach, several of the company's other products and many August smart locks. Using the one-touch locking feature, you can lock the door and unlock it with a personalized code. You can provide guests with unique access codes. The backlit keypad is also IPX5-rated for weather resistance and you can place it anywhere within the lock's Bluetooth range. Yale plans to release a version later this year that will let you unlock the door with your fingerprint.

    Both items are available now in the US from Yale's and August's websites. The Yale Approach, which is available in black suede or silver, costs $130, while the Yale Keypad is $70. A bundle is available for $180. The devices will hit Amazon and other retailers soon. They'll also be available in Canada through Amazon.

    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max is only $40 right now
    The Fire TV Stick 4K Max streaming device is on sale for $40. That’s a record low for Amazon’s top-of-the-line streaming stick, which usually costs $60.

    The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max plugs into your TV’s HDMI port to access all the top streaming services, including (among many others) Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Max, Apple TV+ and, of course, Amazon’s Prime Video.

    The streaming stick has a 2GHz quad-core processor to help make navigation zippy and smooth. The device’s 16GB of storage is double that of Amazon’s cheaper models so that you can download plenty of apps and offline content without worries.

    The 4K Max supports Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and Dolby Atmos audio for a dynamic viewing experience and more immersive audio (with compatible TVs and speakers). It also supports Wi-Fi 6E for smoother streaming with fewer hiccups if your router also supports it.

    It includes Amazon’s latest Alexa Voice Remote. The accessory has four pre-programmed shortcut buttons (for apps like Netflix and Prime Video). It supports Alexa, so you can use it to control the Fire TV Stick 4K Max and other Alexa-compatible smart home devices from your couch.

    If you’d prefer to save money over having Amazon’s highest-end model, the Fire TV Stick Lite is also on sale. It’s Engadget’s pick for the best budget streaming stick. The device doesn’t support 4K, so this is only a good option if your television’s resolution is 1080p or lower. (However, it does support HDR.) Usually $30, you can get the entry-level model today for $20.

    For those who want an upgraded audio setup, the Fire TV Soundbar is $20 off. It supports virtual surround sound with DTS Virtual:X and Dolby Audio. It hooks up to your TV’s HDMI port and only takes up 24 inches (with a 2.5-inch height) on your entertainment center. The device works with anything connected to your TV, not only the devices in Amazon’s streaming devices. As an alternative, you can connect it to other devices via Bluetooth. Typically $120, the Fire TV Soundbar is available today for $100.

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    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Pick up one of our favorite Anker USB-C hubs for only $40
    One of our favorite Anker USB-C hubs is on sale for $40 via Amazon. The Anker 555 is typically $50, so this is a discount of 20 percent. This is one of the best hubs money can buy, even at its original price. It made our list of the best MacBook accessories, but it’s a mighty fine addition to any PC.

    The Anker 555 USB-C hub gives you eight ports to connect just about anything under the sun. There’s two USB-A ports, one HDMI port, SD and microSD card slots, one Ethernet jack and two USB-C ports. One of the USB-C ports provides 85W of power to charge various devices, including laptop computers.

    It can handle up to 10 Gbps file transfers and can connect to a 4K/60Hz monitor via the HDMI slot. It’s also extremely portable, making it easy to just throw in a bag until you need it. To that end, it ships with a nice little travel pouch. We wrote that the Anker 555 “has enough power and versatility to be the only laptop hub you need.”

    The sale extends to other Anker hubs, if the 555 doesn’t do it for you. The simply-named Anker USB C Hub also costs $40, which is a discount of 15 percent. It comes with 10 ports, including 4K HDMI, 1080p VGA, USB-C, USB-A, Ethernet and a 100W USB-C charging port. There’s also a slot for SD cards. The transfer speed is a bit slower here, however, at 5 Gbps.

    Finally, there’s the Anker 565. This hub costs $59 as part of this sale, which is a massive discount of 41 percent. It kicks things up a notch, with 11 available ports. These include a 10 Gbps USB-C data port, a 10 Gbps USB-A data port, a 4K HDMI port, a 4K DisplayPort, a 100W USB-C input port for charging devices, two 480 Mbps USB-A data ports, an Ethernet port, an AUX port and microSD card slots. It also allows for multi-monitor setups, thanks to the aforementioned DisplayPort and HDMI port options.

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    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Sony's new ULT Bluetooth speakers are bringing back the '90s bass boost button
    Sony just announced a trio of new speakers in a new line of audio products called the ULT Power Series. This is an attempt by the company to reduce some of the clutter involved with its naming conventions, so say goodbye to the Extra Bass and XE-Series products. Both lines are being wrapped up into the ULT Power Series branding. To suit this new branding, each of the following speakers include something called the ULT button, which provides a bass boost.

    The ULT Field 1 is your standard portable Bluetooth speaker. It’s compact and comes in a variety of colors, including black, white, gray and orange. The battery lasts around 12 hours per charge and the casing is IP67 water resistant, dustproof and shockproof. Like many of these ultra-portable Bluetooth speakers, the design lets users stand it on its end or lay it on its side, to make use of space. There’s also a built-in mic for hands-free calling. This speaker costs $130 and will be available later this spring at major retail outlets.
    The ULT Field 7 is basically a beefier version of the Field 1. It’s bigger, though still portable, and includes two dedicated ULT buttons. One provides deeper bass in the lower frequency range and the other brings a powerful, punchy bass. There’s also plenty of ambient LED lighting that synchronizes with the music.

    The battery lasts 30 hours, which is a fantastic metric, and includes quick-charging capabilities. It’s also being advertised as a karaoke machine, thanks to the built-in microphone port. Finally, Sony says people can string together up to 100 of these things to make a cacophony of noise that’ll really annoy the pants off of their neighbors. Those neighbors, however, are likely to live in a glorious mansion, as just one Field 7 costs $500. They go on sale later this spring.
    The ULT Tower 10 is, as the name suggests, a Bluetooth tower speaker intended for living spaces. This speaker wirelessly connects to stereo systems and TVs for enhanced audio and includes the same two ULT bass boost buttons found with the Field 7. There’s also a sound optimization feature that detects local noise and adjusts the settings to accommodate the surroundings.

    The speaker boasts omni-directional synchronized lighting, which Sony says “makes listeners feel like they are at a music festival.” There are two microphone inputs for belting out karaoke duets and the speaker actually ships with one wireless mic. Listeners can also connect up to 100 compatible speakers at once, including the Field 7. This is one expensive tower speaker, however, so it’ll set you back $1,200 when it releases later in the season.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Sony ULT Wear headphones review: Brain-shaking bass
    Sony’s Extra Bass line of headphones has given listeners an added dose of low-end tone for years, and was generally cheaper than its high-end 1000X cans. The company is still keen on offering brain-rattling bass to those who want it, but the Extra Bass moniker and its confusing alpha-numeric product names are gone (more to come on that change). Today, Sony is introducing ULT Power Sound, a feature it’s calling the “ultimate step into the evolution” of its portable audio gear. 

    ULT Power Sound will also be available on Bluetooth speakers of various sizes, but the first headphones to feature the new audio direction are the ULT Wear ($200). A direct replacement for the WH-B910, the ULT Wear contains 40mm drivers that Sony says are specifically designed for deeper bass. If the stock tuning isn’t enough, there’s a ULT button for two more levels of low-end boost. Plus, the company crammed in some of its best features from more-expensive headphones: the V1 audio chip, 30-hour battery life, Quick Attention mode, 360 Reality Audio with head tracking and more.

    The first thing I noticed about the ULT Wear is its design. These headphones don’t immediately strike me as less-than-premium cans. The matte white finish on my review unit helps mask the mostly plastic construction which looked cheap on previous products like the WH-CH720N. It’s definitely a more refined aesthetic than the WH-XB910 that’s being replaced. There are certainly some nods to the premium 1000X line in a few areas, like the curves of the ear cups and headband.

    Sony decided on a mix of physical and touch controls for the ULT Wear, which is another way it’s bridging the gap between its most affordable and most expensive headphones. On the edge of the left ear cup is a power/pairing button and a control for cycling between active noise cancellation (ANC) and ambient sound modes. Further up along the bottom is a third button for ULT bass boost. This item switches between off, ULT 1 (deep bass) and ULT 2 (more powerful sound with deep bass). Over on the right, the outside of the ear cup has a touch panel that you can tap and swipe on for playback controls, volume adjustments and calls.

    As the ULT Wear sits in the middle of Sony’s headphone lineup, it has a few of the handy features from the 1000X line that the company’s cheaper options don’t employ. For example, placing your open hand over the right ear cup activates Quick Attention mode that lowers the volume so you can respond to a co-worker or grab your cortado without pausing your tunes. Adaptive Sound Control is here as well: Sony’s long-standing tool that automatically adjusts the headphone’s settings based on your activity or location. General niceties like multipoint Bluetooth and wear detection are present too. The convenient Speak-to-Chat function from more-recent 1000X headphones isn’t available though, which is a considerable omission in terms of overall utility.
    Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget
    Bass reigns supreme for the ULT Wear’s tuning and you certainly get a heavy dose of it. Those new specifically tuned drivers muster a lot of low-end thump before you even start exploring the ULT boosts. The out-of-the-box level was good enough for me for most genres, although the overall sound can get muddy with more chaotic styles like metal and some synth-heavy electronic tracks. For the most part though, the stock bass provides depth and range that complements full mids and cutting highs.

    On Bayside’s There Are Worse Things Than Being Alive, there’s a thundering kick drum to drive the punk-tinged indie rock tunes, but the texture of the crunchy distorted guitars stands out and vocals cut through clearly. Plus, you can add Sony’s DSEE upscaling through its app, a software trick that’s designed to recover sonic elements lost to compression. And if you have access to 360 Reality Audio content, the ULT Wear supports head-tracking so that sounds stay put when you move. This offers a more realistic experience since the immersive audio in this format would otherwise move with your head.

    When you hop into the ULT boost modes, things are a mixed bag. Sony has done bass boost better than most other companies here, as songs are still actually listenable across musical styles rather than just becoming a muffled mess. ULT 1, the option for deeper bass, is the best in my opinion. You don’t lose much detail using it and things like kick drums are still punchy throughout. Hip-hop tracks are a better canvas, with songs like Killer Mike’s “Down By Law” blasting bombastic, yet finessed, amplified bass. His album Michael is one of the better-sounding selections I tested with ULT 1 enabled.

    ULT 2, a setting for more powerful sound alongside even deeper bass, isn’t great. During my tests, I didn’t find a single track where I thought it sounded good across driving low-end styles like hip-hop and EDM. It sounds like you’re standing in front of the subwoofer at a concert where bass is most prominent and everything else gets drowned out. And while I’m sure some people enjoy that extent of brain rattling, it’s not what I’m looking for.

    Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget
    Sony improved ANC from the WH-XB910 by installing its V1 audio processor from the 1000X series in the ULT Wear. The result is noticeably improved noise-canceling performance for a set of $200 headphones, but you shouldn’t expect distraction-blocking as robust as what the WH-1000XM5 offers. It’s good in most situations, but in some scenarios it simply dulls the roar. The ULT Wear does, however, do a decent job with human voices – much better than the Sennheiser Accentum Plus I recently reviewed.

    The company didn’t go out of its way to discuss call quality on the ULT Wear, but the performance here is slightly above average. It’s not pristine, but it also doesn’t have the obvious speaker phone sound most headphones do. Low-to-mid-volume background noise is also dealt with nicely. Ambient sound mode on the ULT Wear is more natural that what most headphones offer, save for the AirPods Max. You can hear a good amount of your own voice, so you’re free to speak at a normal volume during calls. And any sounds from your surroundings come through clear, so you don’t have to worry about not hearing alerts or announcements.

    Sony says you can expect up to 30 hours of battery life with ANC on or up to 50 hours with it off. The company doesn’t specify if either of the ULT modes impact longevity, and I didn’t have them on long enough to tell. After 30 hours of use with ANC on, except for several instances of ambient sound for calls, Sony’s app was showing 18 percent battery left. Both audiomodes were used at around 50-60 percent volume, and trust me, that’s plenty loud here. 

    If you crave a deep bassy thump that most headphones haven't been able to deliver, the ULT Wear does a much better job boosting low-end tone than Sony’s previous efforts. The sound out of the box is certainly boomy, but not at the cost of any detail, and the company gives you the option to add two more servings of bass when you crave it. These won’t be for everyone as a lot of people will prefer the more even-handed tuning of Sennheiser’s Accentum Plus in the $200 range. However, Sony has done well to dress up a more affordable set of headphones as a premium product, in terms of both looks and features.

    The ULT Wear headphones are available in black, white and green color options for $200. Sony says they'll start shipping sometime this spring. 

    Update April 11 2024, 5:00PM ET: This review has been updated to add more information about the battery rundown test. 
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • You can now listen to Substack podcasts on Spotify
    Substack shows are now on Spotify. The partnership lets Substack podcast creators add Spotify distribution for their programs with only “a few clicks.” The move could boost the streamer’s library after scaling back its exclusive podcast ambitions last year in favor of broader distribution — including a non-exclusive contract renewal with noted vaccine aficionado Joe Rogan.

    When listening on Spotify, you’ll see a padlock (or “Paid” tag, where applicable) next to Substack podcasts. You’ll need to link your Substack account before you can begin listening.

    Some Substack podcasts are free, and you can listen to those immediately after linking accounts. For paid programs, you’ll still need to pony up for those on Substack before you can hear them on Spotify. (The move is less about giving you freebies and more about expanding Substack’s audience.) But you don’t need Spotify Premium; you can listen to the same Substack content whether you’re on a free or paid Spotify plan.

    Spotify says podcast creators retain complete control of their content, subscriber bases and revenue. When setting it up, podcast makers need to choose an option to sync with Spotify in their Creator Account settings. That will instantly make all of their current and future programming available on the streaming platform.

    The partnership is built on the Spotify Open Access API, which publishers like Calm, The Economist, Freakonomics Radio, Patreon, Dateline NBC and The Wall Street Journal also use to tap into the music platform’s listener base. It’s easy to see the appeal for creators: Spotify reported 602 million monthly active users and 236 million premium subscribers at the end of 2023.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • iPhones will soon be repairable with genuine used components, but parts pairing persists
    Apple, a company that talks a big game about sustainability but would love for you to buy a new iPhone every year, is expanding its self-repair program. Consumers and repair shops will soon be able to employ genuine used Apple parts to fix devices rather than having to order brand-new components. The company claims that used parts "will now benefit from the full functionality and security afforded by the original factory calibration, just like new genuine Apple parts."

    The initiative will start this fall with iPhone 15 and newer models, according to The Washington Post. So if your iPhone has a busted screen and you have one of the same model with a display that's intact, you'll be able to switch in the panel and it should work. As things stand, if you swap in a used screen from another iPhone, certain features, such as True Tone or automatic brightness adjustment, may not work. The upgraded self-repair program should resolve that.

    The program will also cover parts like batteries, cameras and (eventually) Face ID sensors. In addition, consumers and repair shops won't have to provide Apple with a device serial number when ordering most parts from the Self Service Repair Store — they'll still need to do so for a logic board replacement.

    Users are already able to see whether their iPhone has been repaired and, if so, which parts have been replaced. Starting this fall, those who access the Parts and Service History section of their iPhone settings will be able to see if a replacement part is new or a genuine used one from another iPhone.

    Apple will use a "parts pairing" process directly on the phone to detect whether a replacement component is genuine. It says that's necessary to maintain the "privacy, security, and safety of iPhone."

    To that end, Apple will be employing its Activation Lock feature to try and dissuade the use of parts from stolen iPhones for repairs. If a device that's being fixed detects that a replacement part was taken from one where Activation Lock or Lost Mode was enabled, Apple will restrict calibration for that part, so it may not work properly.

    On one hand, this shift could make it easier for folks to repair a busted iPhone (or eventually another Apple product) if they have a spare with the necessary parts on hand. Repair shops often have bits and bobs culled from many different units that they'll be able to use. That said, this could be seen as Apple attempting to exert more control over the repair process by employing pairing and potentially edging out third-party aftermarket parts.

    The company's senior vice president of hardware engineering John Ternus told the Post that while Apple supports the use of third-party parts in repairs (as long as the device owner is aware of that), it doesn't know how to properly calibrate such components as it would for its own parts.

    However, Apple might have to start getting in touch with aftermarket parts manufacturers and figuring out how to do that. A right-to-repair bill that Oregon Governor Tina Kotek signed into law last month bans the practice of parts pairing. The idea is to prevent device manufacturers from using that process to stop consumers and repair shops from using third-party components to fix their gizmos. The law will apply to devices built after January 1, 2025.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Smart rings are meant to be invisible, and that’s the problem
    Sometimes, you’re in bed and the glow from your smart ring’s optical heart rate sensor creeps into your peripheral vision. It got me thinking about how Samsung (and potentially Apple) will join the smart ring market, and why that’s a terrible idea. You see, these companies want devices that make their presence known in your life, embedding themselves in your routine. But smart rings blend into the background on purpose, which limits how much you can, or will want, to do with them.

    Back in February, Samsung announced the Galaxy Ring, a health-tracking wearable baked into a ring. When it launches later this year, it will continuously monitor your sleep, breathing, movement and reproductive cycle. Entirely coincidentally, I’m sure, Oura Ring, the market leader in finger-worn wearables. And I’ve been testing one of these for a long while.

    Oura tracks your sleep, temperature, activity, post-exertion recovery and menstrual cycle. It’s a marvel of engineering to get so much technology into such a small and elegant package. The downside, if you can call it that, is there’s no way to access the data the ring collects, or its insights, unless you have a phone on hand.

    But here’s the thing: It’s not that often I find myself actually opening the app to see what the stats are saying. If I wake up feeling like crap, there’s normally a self-evident reason why that needs no further explanation. And on those rare occasions when I wake up and don’t know why I’m feeling bad, the last thing that would occur to me is to check my phone. Who wants to look at fine-grain data when your head is pounding and your eyes refuse to focus?

    That friction, that small gap between having the information there and it being easily accessible is a problem. Yeah, you can get a notification if your "Readiness Score" — Oura9s proprietary metric for overall health — falls below a certain level. But I’ve been using this thing for long enough that I’ve never taken up the habit, and I suspect others would struggle to do so, too. It’s nice to have that information on those rare occasions when I’m thinking enough about it to look at my data over a longer period of time. But I can’t imagine myself looking at this data once or twice a day.

    It’s also not that useful for workout tracking, principally because you won’t want to risk your $300 gadget in the gym. The first time I took it to work out, I picked up a pair of metal dumbbells, realized their knurled handles were rubbing against the metal of the ring and quickly took it off.

    Because there’s no direct method of input, it’s far too easy to forget it’s there and not make use of its information. If you’re all-in on using a ring to track your fitness because you won’t wear a smartwatch or fitness tracker, and you’re always checking your stats, then it’ll work for you. But, deep down, I prefer a watch with a display that’s easy enough to check as a matter of instinct. And it’s this that I think should be a concern for Samsung and, potentially, Apple, as they look to move into this space. A smart ring caters to a niche inside a niche – quantified self obsessives who refuse to wear a watch. They obviously believe that’s enough of a draw to devote time and money to building their own, but I’m not sure it’ll be a blockbuster.

    Not to mention these rings only have a few hooks to keep users inside their specific corporate bubble. Both Apple and Samsung have dedicated health-tracking apps and it’s likely whoever buys one of these will have one fewer reason to switch providers in future. But compare that to the watches, which offer health tracking, messaging, app interactions and mobile payments. Smartwatches are beneficial to these platforms because they help draw together various features from the phone. Rings do not.

    Perhaps this is another sight tech’s biggest players now just need to copy and destroy their smaller rivals rather than striving for new products. Smart rings cater to a small market, albeit one that big tech could dominate with very little time and effort. Especially given the strength of their relative brands, which means these devices will more or less sell themselves to diehard fans. But is that all a new product can be in 2024, and is that what we could or should expect these companies to be doing?
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • The best gaming laptops for 2024
    Gaming laptops are the true Transformers of the PC world: They’re powerful enough to play your favorite titles, but you can also harness their speed for media creation or extreme multitasking, like streaming high-resolution gameplay to Twitch. Today, you can even find a few that weight less than the smallest MacBook Pro, making them solid options for daily drivers as well. For the demanding budget. In particular, we9re seeing some great entry-level PC gaming choices under $1,000, like Dell9s G15 lineup. A cheap gaming laptop in this price range will definitely feel a bit flimsier than pricier models, and they9ll likely skimp on RAM, storage and overall power. But most cheaper laptops should be able to handle the majority of video games running at 1080p at 60 frames per second, which is the bare minimum you9d want from any system.

    Things get interesting when you start looking at the best gaming laptops in the mid-range space, with prices at $1,000 and higher. At that point, you9ll start finding PCs like the ASUS Zephyrus ROG G14, one of our favorite gaming notebooks. In general, you can look forward to far better build quality than budget gaming laptops (metal cases!), improved graphics power and enough RAM and storage space to handle the most demanding games. These are the gaming machines we9d recommend for most people, as they9ll keep you gaming and working for years before you need to worry about an upgrade.

    If you9re willing to spend around $1,800 or more, you can start considering more premium options like Razer9s Blade. Expect impeccably polished cases, the fastest hardware on the market, and ridiculously thin designs. The sky9s the limit here: Alienware9s uber customizable Area 51m is an enormous beast that can cost up to $4,700. Few people need a machine that high-end, but if you9re a gamer with extra cash to burn, it may be worth taking a close look at some of these pricier systems.

    CPU and GPU
    The answer to this question used to be relatively simple: Just get an Intel chip with an NVIDIA GPU. But over the last few years AMD has stepped up its game with its Ryzen notebook processors, which are better suited for juggling multiple tasks at once (like streaming to Twitch while blasting fools in Fortnite). Intel responded with its impressive 12th and 13th-gen chips, but it’s nice to have decent Ryzen AMD alternatives available, especially since they’re often cheaper than comparable Intel models.

    When it comes to video cards, though, AMD is still catching up. Its Radeon RX 6000M GPU has been a fantastic performer in notebooks like ASUS’s ROG Strix G15, but it lags behind NVIDIA when it comes to newer features like ray tracing. (We’re still waiting to test AMD’s new Radeon 7000 series mobile graphics.) At the very least, a Radeon-powered notebook can approach the general gaming performance of the NVIDIA RTX 3070 and 3080 GPUs.

    If you want to future-proof your purchase, or you’re just eager to see how much better ray tracing can make your games look, you’re probably better off with an NVIDIA video card. They’re in far more systems, and it’s clear that they have better optimized ray tracing technology. NVIDIA GeForce RTX GPUs also feature the company’s DLSS technology, which uses AI to upscale games to higher resolutions. That’ll let you play a game like Destiny 2 in 4K with faster frame rates. That’s useful if you’re trying to take advantage of a high refresh rate monitor.

    You’ll still find plenty of laptops with NVIDIA’s older RTX 30-series GPUs these days, and they’ll still give you tremendous performance. But to be safe, it’s probably worth opting for the newer RTX 40-series systems, since they support the newer DLSS 3 technology and offer a wealth of performance upgrades. (If you’re looking out for the best deals, you can probably find some killer RTX 3070 laptops out there.) The entry-level RTX 4050 is a solid start, but we’d suggest going for a 4060 or 4070 if you’re aiming to maximize your framerates on faster screens. The RTX 4080 and RTX 4090 are both incredibly powerful, but they typically make systems far too expensive for most users.

    It’s worth noting that NVIDIA’s mobile graphics cards aren’t directly comparable to its more powerful desktop hardware. PC makers can also tweak voltages to make gaming performance better in a thinner case. Basically, these laptops may not be desktop replacements — don’t be surprised if you see notebooks that perform very differently, even if they’re all equipped with the same GPU.

    Screen and refresh rate
    Screen size is a good place to start when judging gaming notebooks. In general, 15-inch laptops will be the best balance of immersion and portability, while larger 17-inch models are heftier, but naturally give you more screen real estate. There are some 13-inch gaming notebooks, like the Razer Blade Stealth, but paradoxically you9ll often end up paying more for those than slightly larger 15-inch options. We’re also seeing plenty of 14-inch options, like the Zephyrus G14 and Blade 14, which are generally beefier than 13-inch laptops while still being relatively portable.

    But these days, there is plenty to consider beyond screen size. For one: refresh rates. Most monitors refresh their screens vertically 60 times per second, or at 60Hz. That9s a standard in use since black and white NTSC TVs. But over the past few years, displays have evolved considerably. Now, 120Hz 1080p screens are the bare minimum you9d want in any gaming notebook — and there are faster 144Hz, 240Hz and even 360Hz panels. All of this is in the service of one thing: making everything on your display look as smooth as possible.

    For games, higher refresh rates also help eliminate screen tearing and other artifacts that could get in the way of your frag fest. And for everything else, it just leads to a better viewing experience. Even scrolling a web page on a 120Hz or faster monitor is starkly different from a 60Hz screen. Instead of seeing a jittery wall of text and pictures, everything moves seamlessly, as if you9re unwinding a glossy paper magazine. Going beyond 120Hz makes gameplay look even more responsive, which to some players gives them a slight advantage.
    Steve Dent/Engadget
    Not to make things more complicated, but you should also keep an eye out for NVIDIA9s G-SYNC and AMD9s FreeSync. They9re both adaptive sync technologies that can match your screen9s refresh rate with the framerate of your game. That also helps to reduce screen tearing and make gameplay smoother. Consider them nice bonuses on top of a high refresh rate monitor; they9re not necessary, but they can still offer a slight visual improvement.

    See Also:

    a good mouse,keyboardand headphones.
    How we test gaming laptops
    We review gaming laptops with the same amount of rigor as we approach traditional notebooks. We test build quality by checking cases for any undesirable flexible spots, as well as the strength of screen hinges during furious typing and Halo Infinite sessions. We benchmark every gaming notebook with PCMark 10, a variety of 3DMark tests, Cinebench and Geekbench. We also use NVIDIA’s Frameview app to measure the average framerates in Cyberpunk 2077, Halo Infinite and other titles. For media creation, we transcode a 4K movie clip into 1080p using Handbrake’s CPU and GPU encoding options.

    Displays are tested under indoor and outdoor lighting with productivity apps, video playback and gameplay. We also try to stress the full refresh rate of every gaming notebook’s screen by benchmarking Halo Infinite, Overwatch 2 and other titles. Laptop speakers are judged by how well they can play back music, movies and the occasional game session with detail and clarity, and without any obvious distortion.

    When it comes to battery life, we see how long gaming systems last with a mixture of real-world productivity apps and gameplay, and we also test with PCMark 10’s “Modern office” battery test. In addition, we’re judging the quality of a machine’s keyboard with typing tests as well as relative accuracy and comfort during extended gaming sessions.

    Other gaming laptops we’ve testedFramework Laptop 16
    We were eager to test the Framework Laptop 16 since it promised both modular customizability and a decent amount of gaming power. But while we appreciated just how repairable and upgradeable it is, its actual gaming performance was middling for its high price. You could always buy it without the additional GPU, but that makes it more of a daily workhorse than a gaming system.
    MSI Stealth Studio 14
    On a brighter note, we were pleased to see MSI return to form with the Stealth Studio 14, which is far faster and more attractive than the previous model.
    Razer Blade 16 and 18
    We were amazed to see a genuine 4K/1080p native screen in the Razer Blade 16, but it’s far too expensive and impractical, even for such a pricey brand. Similarly, we found the Razer Blade 18 to be both oversized and overpriced.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Instagram will test nudity protection in messages to fight sextortion
    Instagram is far from a gleaming example of protecting young people online, having failed to prevent its algorithm from promoting child sexual abuse material. But new features bring some (at least a little?) hope that the platform could become a bit safer. Meta announced it9s rolling out new tools meant to protect users against intimate image abuse and sextortion — when a person is digitally blackmailed under threat of sharing intimate media.

    One of the most significant updates is that nudity protection is coming to private messages. Meta first confirmed it was building this technology back in 2022, and it will automatically activate the tool for users under 18. Once switched on, a machine learning tool will detect and blur images it suspects of containing nudity for the recipient. The analysis happens on the user9s device, so messages should remain end-to-end encrypted without Meta ever having access to them. Users will have the option to view the image alongside a pop-up message from Meta that they shouldn9t feel pressured to respond, along with a safety tips button and an option to block the sender. 

    Meta9s new tool — which it will start testing "soon" — also detects if a person is sending a nude image and warns them to "take care when sharing sensitive photos" while outlining potential risks. Plus, it reminds users that they can delete a message before anyone sees it. Then there9s the final warning: a reminder to be responsible and respectful appears when someone tries to forward a message with detected nudity (though it still lets the image be forwarded).

    Then there are the tools designed to detect potential scammers or sextortionists and make it more difficult for them to approach teens. Message requests from these possible bad actors should now go to hidden requests, and anyone already involved in a conversation will receive a warning with boundary reminders and steps to report users. As for young people, Meta previously barred people from messaging users 16 or under if they weren9t mutually connected — even if the other account claimed to be the same age. Now, these potential scammers won9t see the option to message a teen even if they follow each other.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • DJI Avata 2 FPV drone review: A cheaper, more potent tool for creators
    When DJI’s Avata came out in 2022, its agility and people-safe propeller guards made it an instant hit — especially with video pros and content creators. It was hampered by poor video quality, though, and gave users no ability to see the outside world when using the Goggles 2 pilot headset. It was also less maneuverable than other FPV drones and quite expensive.

    Now, the company has released its successor, the Avata 2. The camera now uses the same 1/1.3-inch sensor as the Mini 4 Pro, so video quality is highly improved. The Goggles 3 have passthrough cameras to show the world around you and the Avata 2 can now maneuver more like a real FPV drone. Battery life has improved and it’s cheaper to boot.

    It sounds great, but how is it in the real world? With my drone and FPV pilot friends, we tested it in a variety of scenarios and events. In general, it's much improved from its predecessor, but there are a few things to know if you’re considering buying one, especially around the Goggles 3.
    The Avata 2 has been completely redesigned to improve flight characteristics. It’s more oblong, less top-heavy, comes with a bigger battery and weighs 30 grams less at just 377 grams. It also just looks less toy-like and more professional.

    The updated propeller guards and extensive obstacle detection make it far more crash-resistant than other drones. Updated binocular fisheye sensors cover both the bottom and rear views to detect hazards while increasing flight stability. It also features a “turtle mode” that flips the drone back to a normal stance for takeoff if it hits something and flips over during flight.

    The propellers have the same 3-inch size as before, but engine noise is reduced to 81dB, making it more suitable for events like weddings.
    Steve Dent for Engadget
    The camera unit and gimbal are larger and the protective covering is easier to install and remove. The USB-C and card slots, notoriously hard to access on the Avata, are much easier to get to here. Another welcome update is the generous 46GB of onboard storage, more than double the last model and considerably higher than most other drones.

    The 18-minute battery life was a big issue with the Avata, but the new model now boasts 23 minutes max flight time, up 28 percent. The batteries can be charged quickly using the charging hub, too, from 0 to 100 percent in 45 minutes with a 60W charger — a bit faster than before, considering the higher capacity. The hub also supports DJI’s new power accumulation feature, letting you completely drain the two weakest batteries to transfer power to the strongest.
    Transmission and controls
    Like the Mini 4 Pro and Air 3, the Avata uses DJI’s latest O4 transmission system that boosts range to 13km in the US and 10km in Europe — impressive for an FPV drone. It streams a 1080p video feed at up to 100 fps, with latency as low as 24 milliseconds using the Googles 3.
    Steve Dent for Engadget
    Speaking of, the Goggles 3 have a built-in battery like the Goggles Integra while updating to O4 capability. Along with the improved transmission, they now come with higher-resolution 1080p MicroOLED displays and improved eye comfort compared to the Goggles 2 that shipped with the original Avata.

    The big update, though, is the Real View pass-through cameras. With a double tap on the side of the headset or side button on the RC Motion 3 controller, you’ll instantly switch to a forward view outside the Goggles 3. The resolution isn’t very high, but at least you can see outside without removing them. A setting allows you to see the drone view as a picture-in-picture to boost situational awareness.

    The Goggles 3 now allows you to capture up to 1080p video directly to a microSD card on the headset itself and you can even stream live to another Goggles 3 headset simultaneously. Video quality is still higher when capturing directly to the drone, of course, but it does provide a backup. You can also record a view showing the on-screen controls — handy for reviewing flights.

    Another new feature is head tracking to control the aircraft and gimbal with head functions, allowing better control for experienced pilots.
    Steve Dent for Engadget
    There are a few downsides. It still doesn’t support glasses, so folks with astigmatism will need to purchase custom lenses. If you have the Goggles V2, which does support eyeglasses, it’s unfortunately not compatible with the Avata 2.

    DJI hasn’t quite nailed the comfort part, either. The padding isn’t soft enough, so the edges pushed against the bridge of my nose, creating some discomfort. It was better after installing the additional (included) pad, but still not perfect.

    The RC Motion 3 controller has been considerably revamped for the better. It’s smaller, lighter and has a more comfortable grip. Controls are also more precise, with a new sidelink wireless solution boosting the quality of the joystick’s signal. And for FPV enthusiasts who prefer a classic drone controller, the Avata 2 also works with the new FPV Remote Control 3.
    PerformanceSteve Dent for Engadget
    Where the original Avata dumbed down FPV performance, the Avata 2 goes all in. It’s incredibly maneuverable, and unlike most FPV drones, highly crash-resistant.

    Maximum speeds are the same as the Avata at around 60MPH in manual mode with obstacle detection turned off. That might be slower than purpose-built open-propeller FPVs, but it’s fast for a consumer product and won’t slice up bystanders like regular drones.

    Though it’s not faster, it’s quicker and more precise than the Avatar thanks to the slimmed-down and better-balanced body. It turns on a dime around obstacles and climbs and descends with alacrity. At the same time, you can plow through small twigs or leaves and barely slow down.

    Flying it is truly fun. The improved Goggles 3 with O4 give a clearer view, and the Motion 3 controller allows for precise and intuitive control. For events around people, you can fly in normal or beginner modes for safety, or elsewhere at 35 or 60 MPH in sport and manual modes.
    Steve Dent for Engadget
    The Motion 3 adds a new trigger setting that rotates the Avata 2 in place for easier maneuvers and it now includes a dedicated mode button for normal or sport flying. The joystick is larger and the controller more responsive and precise overall.

    Head tracking is a common feature on FPV and Cinewoop drones, and it now works on the Avata 2. I found it helpful mainly for controlling the camera tilt, as it’s a natural way to adjust that parameter.

    If you want to fly the Avata 2 at top speed in manual mode, you’ll need the FPV Remote Controller 3, which is sold separately for $199.

    The Easy Acro mode is cool, but a bit cumbersome since you have to switch it on and off. Also, it’s so easy to implement with the RC Motion controller that it's almost... boring. Tricks include slides, 180-degree drifts and flips, though you can’t record video in flip mode.
    Steve Dent for Engadget
    The Avata 2 is better than before in stiff winds, but can still get buffeted around and often has to lean against the breeze, causing choppy or unlevel footage. Keeping things smooth, particularly outdoors, requires more practice than with a drone like the Mini 4 Pro.

    It doesn’t have forward-facing sensors, so its main protection is the prop guards and high durability. It does detect obstacles from the rear and below, and that kept me safe in some tight spots. I still crashed it at least four to five times though, luckily just in the grass or against small twigs and leaves — without leaving a scratch. This could make some pilots overconfident, though.

    Battery life is noticeably better than the Avata and eliminates much of the range anxiety typical with FPV drones. However, you only get 18-20 minutes of realistic range. Most serious pilots will want to have at least three batteries with the Fly-More kit, and preferably more.
    The Avata 2 eliminates the Avata’s mediocre video quality via a much larger 1/1.3-inch sensor with 10-bit D-LogM capability borrowed from the Mini 4 Pro.

    As before it offers normal, wide and ultra-wide shooting with up to a 155-degree field of view. It has two stabilization modes, RockSteady 3.0 and HorizonSteady. The latter is best if you want to keep things level, particularly in high winds — it does tend to lean into wind. RockSteady smooths footage more while allowing the camera to tilt, all the better to show off thrilling maneuvers.

    It supports 4K video at up to 60 fps or 1080p and 2.7K at 120 fps. However, it can only capture 12-megapixel JPEG stills, so it’s not ideal for photography.

    All that puts it leaps ahead of the Avata for video. Images are generally sharper and colors more accurate. The 10-bit D-LogM mode allows for higher dynamic range in bright or contrasty conditions. The one quality flaw I noticed was occasionally blockiness in video at 4K 60p when flying fast, likely artifacts due to the 130Mbps bit rate (beware of re-encoding for YouTube).

    It’s much improved in low light for cityscapes or interiors as well thanks to the larger sensor. It’s not up to the level of a mirrorless camera, but as with the Mini 4 Pro, it’s fine for well lit night scenes in most cases. ISO levels are usable up to 12800 with noise reduction, with the 25600 max setting being for emergency use only.
    Wrap-upSteve Dent for Engadget
    The Avata 2 is bound to be another hit for DJI. It eliminates nearly every flaw on the Avata, boosting picture quality, FPV maneuverability, battery life, range and more. Video quality, in particular, will make it even more desirable for content creators, event videographers and others (my pro friends, who already own the Avata, are planning to order one). At the same time, it’s a fantastic FPV drone for beginners — just super fun to use.

    It’s also more affordable. The Avata 2 is priced at $1,000 with a single battery in the Fly-More kit with the Goggles 3 and Motion 3 controller, or $1,200 with three batteries, the two-way charging hub and a carrying case. You can also purchase it alone at $490.

    That compares to original $630 price for the Avata. That model also cost $1,388 for the Avata with Goggles and Motion Controller, plus another $279 for the 2-battery/charger Fly-More kit (for $1,667 total) — so the Avata 2 is nearly $500 cheaper in that configuration. As mentioned, the FPV Remote Controller 3 is $199, while the ND Filters Set is $79.

    The Avata 2 doesn’t have much competition, as regular FPV drones generally lack propeller guards and rivals like Autel don’t offer similar products. That doesn’t really matter, though, as DJI’s latest drone is both powerful and attractively priced — making it a highly desirable product for creators of all stripes.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Uber makes its safety tools easier to access and customize
    Plenty of women who use rideshare services regularly send details of their trips to loved ones and take other precautionary measures, especially at night. Now, Uber is putting all its safety tools in one place, making them easier to access and allowing users to customize them so that they9d automatically switch on. In the app9s new safety preferences section, passengers can choose to schedule when its safety tools should automatically get activated, whether it9s for every ride after 9PM, on the weekends or only for rides that begin within 50 meters of a bar or a restaurant. They can also ensure that Uber9s safety features are active for every single ride they take if they want to. 

    One of the tools passengers can activate in the new portal is audio recording, which the company introduced some time ago. Uber assures users that those recordings are encrypted and can9t be accessed by anyone, even by the company. However, if something happens during the trip, passengers can choose to report an incident and share the recording with Uber for proof. Users can also switch on PIN verification so that they can be sure they9re getting into the right vehicle, as well as RideCheck, which helps Uber detect if a ride goes off-course or stops unexpectedly. Finally, there9s Share My Trip, allowing passengers to automatically share their live location and trip details with trusted contacts. 

    At the moment, the new safety preferences page is only live in the US, Canada and Latin American countries, but the company plans to expand its availability to more regions. To access the new portal, users can go to Settings and find a link to it or tap the Safety Toolkit blue shield while on a trip and then tap "Set up safety preferences."

    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • DuckDuckGo unveils a $10 Privacy Pro plan with a no-log VPN
    Many web browser companies offer VPNs these days, including Google, Mozilla and Opera. DuckDuckGo is the latest to join the fray, with a Privacy Pro plan that includes three services. Along with a VPN, you'll get personal information removal and identity theft restoration services for $10 per month or $100 per year. The subscription is only available in the US for now. The Privacy Pro features are built directly into the DuckDuckGo browser, so you won't need to install separate apps.

    DuckDuckGo says it won't keep VPN logs in order to help maintain user privacy. As such, it says it has "no way to tie what you do while connected to the DuckDuckGo VPN to you as an individual — or to anything else you do on DuckDuckGo, like searching." DuckDuckGo is using the open-source WireGuard protocol to encrypt your traffic and route it through VPN servers. As it stands, the company has VPN servers across the US, Europe and Canada. It plans to add more over time.
    One subscription will cover up to five desktop and mobile devices. Rather than using an account, you'll have a random ID that you'll need to keep safe. If you wish, you can add an email address for easier authorization across devices. Still, you won't need to hand over any personally identifiable information to DuckDuckGo — the company is using Stripe, Google Play and the Apple App Store to handle payments.

    DuckDuckGo's focus on protecting user privacy extends to the personal information removal tool, which removes details such as your full name, home address and birthday from people search sites and data broker services. The details you provide during the setup process stay on your device and requests to remove your personal information start directly from your desktop (for now, you need a Windows or Mac computer to set up and manage the personal information removal tool).

    DuckDuckGo says this is a first for a service of its ilk, as your details aren't stored on remote servers. To help it build the tool, DuckDuckGo bought data removal service Removaly in 2022. The personal information removal service will regularly re-scan people search sites and data brokers to see if your info pops up again, and deal with it accordingly.

    As for the identity theft restoration service, DuckDuckGo will connect you with an advisor from Iris, its partner, if your identity is stolen. The advisor will help with restoring any stolen accounts and financial losses, as well as fixing your credit report. Moreover, they can help you cancel and replace important documents such as your driver’s license, bank cards and passport. Iris can also provide you with a cash advance if you're far from home and stuck due to identity theft. 

    Again, you won't have to provide any of your personal information up front. You'll only need to provide an advisor with those details if you need help after having your identity stolen.

    Expanding privacy protections through these services is a logical way for DuckDuckGo to try and boost its bottom line. Privacy Pro seems reasonably priced compared to some of the alternatives too — Mozilla's personal information removal service alone costs $9 per month.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • The Humane AI Pin is the solution to none of technology's problems
    I’ve found myself at a loss for words when trying to explain the Humane AI Pin to my friends. The best description so far is that it’s a combination of a wearable Siri button with a camera and built-in projector that beams onto your palm. But each time I start explaining that, I get so caught up in pointing out its problems that I never really get to fully detail what the AI Pin can do. Or is meant to do, anyway.

    Yet, words are crucial to the Humane AI experience. Your primary mode of interacting with the pin is through voice, accompanied by touch and gestures. Without speaking, your options are severely limited. The company describes the device as your “second brain,” but the combination of holding out my hand to see the projected screen, waving it around to navigate the interface and tapping my chest and waiting for an answer all just made me look really stupid. When I remember that I was actually eager to spend $700 of my own money to get a Humane AI Pin, not to mention shell out the required $24 a month for the AI and the company’s 4G service riding on T-Mobile’s network, I feel even sillier.
    What is the Humane AI Pin?
    In the company’s own words, the Humane AI Pin is the “first wearable device and software platform built to harness the full power of artificial intelligence.” If that doesn’t clear it up, well, I can’t blame you.

    There are basically two parts to the device: the Pin and its magnetic attachment. The Pin is the main piece, which houses a touch-sensitive panel on its face, with a projector, camera, mic and speakers lining its top edge. It’s about the same size as an Apple Watch Ultra 2, both measuring about 44mm (1.73 inches) across. The Humane wearable is slightly squatter, though, with its 47.5mm (1.87 inches) height compared to the Watch Ultra’s 49mm (1.92 inches). It’s also half the weight of Apple’s smartwatch, at 34.2 grams (1.2 ounces).

    The top of the AI Pin is slightly thicker than the bottom, since it has to contain extra sensors and indicator lights, but it’s still about the same depth as the Watch Ultra 2. Snap on a magnetic attachment, and you add about 8mm (0.31 inches). There are a few accessories available, with the most useful being the included battery booster. You’ll get two battery boosters in the “complete system” when you buy the Humane AI Pin, as well as a charging cradle and case. The booster helps clip the AI Pin to your clothes while adding some extra hours of life to the device (in theory, anyway). It also brings an extra 20 grams (0.7 ounces) with it, but even including that the AI Pin is still 10 grams (0.35 ounces) lighter than the Watch Ultra 2.

    That weight (or lack thereof) is important, since anything too heavy would drag down on your clothes, which would not only be uncomfortable but also block the Pin’s projector from functioning properly. If you9re wearing it with a thinner fabric, by the way, you’ll have to use the latch accessory instead of the booster, which is a $40 plastic tile that provides no additional power. You can also get the stainless steel clip that Humane sells for $50 to stick it onto heavier materials or belts and backpacks. Whichever accessory you choose, though, you’ll place it on the underside of your garment and stick the Pin on the outside to connect the pieces.
    Hayato Huseman for Engadget
    How the AI Pin works
    But you might not want to place the AI Pin on a bag, as you need to tap on it to ask a question or pull up the projected screen. Every interaction with the device begins with touching it, there is no wake word, so having it out of reach sucks.

    Tap and hold on the touchpad, ask a question, then let go and wait a few seconds for the AI to answer. You can hold out your palm to read what it said, bringing your hand closer to and further from your chest to toggle through elements. To jump through individual cards and buttons, you’ll have to tilt your palm up or down, which can get in the way of seeing what’s on display. But more on that in a bit.

    There are some built-in gestures offering shortcuts to functions like taking a picture or video or controlling music playback. Double tapping the Pin with two fingers will snap a shot, while double-tapping and holding at the end will trigger a 15-second video. Swiping up or down adjusts the device or Bluetooth headphone volume while the assistant is talking or when music is playing, too.
    Cherlynn Low for Engadget
    Each person who orders the Humane AI Pin will have to set up an account and go through onboarding on the website before the company will ship out their unit. Part of this process includes signing into your Google or Apple accounts to port over contacts, as well as watching a video that walks you through those gestures I described. Your Pin will arrive already linked to your account with its eSIM and phone number sorted. This likely simplifies things so users won’t have to fiddle with tedious steps like installing a SIM card or signing into their profiles. It felt a bit strange, but it’s a good thing because, as I’ll explain in a bit, trying to enter a password on the AI Pin is a real pain.
    Talking to the Humane AI Pin
    The easiest way to interact with the AI Pin is by talking to it. It’s supposed to feel natural, like you’re talking to a friend or assistant, and you shouldn’t have to feel forced when asking it for help. Unfortunately, that just wasn’t the case in my testing.

    When the AI Pin did understand me and answer correctly, it usually took a few seconds to reply, in which time I could have already gotten the same results on my phone. For a few things, like adding items to my shopping list or converting Canadian dollars to USD, it performed adequately. But “adequate” seems to be the best case scenario.

    Sometimes the answers were too long or irrelevant. When I asked “Should I watch Dream Scenario,” it said “Dream Scenario is a 2023 comedy/fantasy film featuring Nicolas Cage, with positive ratings on IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. It’s available for streaming on platforms like YouTube, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. If you enjoy comedy and fantasy genres, it may be worth watching.”

    Setting aside the fact that the “answer” to my query came after a lot of preamble I found unnecessary, I also just didn’t find the recommendation satisfying. It wasn’t giving me a straight answer, which is understandable, but ultimately none of what it said felt different from scanning the top results of a Google search. I would have gleaned more info had I looked the film up on my phone, since I’d be able to see the actual Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic scores.

    To be fair, the AI Pin was smart enough to understand follow-ups like “How about The Witch” without needing me to repeat my original question. But it’s 2024; we’re way past assistants that need so much hand-holding.

    We’re also past the days of needing to word our requests in specific ways for AI to understand us. Though Humane has said you can speak to the pin “naturally,” there are some instances when that just didn’t work. First, it occasionally misheard me, even in my quiet living room. When I asked “Would I like YouTuber Danny Gonzalez,” it thought I said “would I like YouTube do I need Gonzalez” and responded “It’s unclear if you would like Dulce Gonzalez as the content of their videos and channels is not specified.”

    When I repeated myself by carefully saying “I meant Danny Gonzalez,” the AI Pin spouted back facts about the YouTuber’s life and work, but did not answer my original question.

    That’s not as bad as the fact that when I tried to get the Pin to describe what was in front of me, it simply would not. Humane has a Vision feature in beta that’s meant to let the AI Pin use its camera to see and analyze things in view, but when I tried to get it to look at my messy kitchen island, nothing happened. I’d ask “What’s in front of me” or “What am I holding out in front of you” or “Describe what’s in front of me,” which is how I’d phrase this request naturally. I tried so many variations of this, including “What am I looking at” and “Is there an octopus in front of me,” to no avail. I even took a photo and asked “can you describe what’s in that picture.”

    Every time, I was told “Your AI Pin is not sure what you’re referring to” or “This question is not related to AI Pin” or, in the case where I first took a picture, “Your AI Pin is unable to analyze images or describe them.” I was confused why this wasn’t working even after I double checked that I had opted in and enabled the feature, and finally realized after checking the reviewers9 guide that I had to use prompts that started with the word “Look.”

    Look, maybe everyone else would have instinctively used that phrasing. But if you’re like me and didn’t, you’ll probably give up and never use this feature again. Even after I learned how to properly phrase my Vision requests, they were still clunky as hell. It was never as easy as “Look for my socks” but required two-part sentences like “Look at my room and tell me if there are boots in it” or “Look at this thing and tell me how to use it.”

    When I worded things just right, results were fairly impressive. It confirmed there was a “Lysol can on the top shelf of the shelving unit” and a “purple octopus on top of the brown cabinet.” I held out a cheek highlighter and asked what to do with it. The AI Pin accurately told me “The Carry On 2 cream by BYBI Beauty can be used to add a natural glow to skin,” among other things, although it never explicitly told me to apply it to my face. I asked it where an object I was holding came from, and it just said “The image is of a hand holding a bag of mini eggs. The bag is yellow with a purple label that says ‘mini eggs.’” Again, it didn9t answer my actual question.

    Humane’s AI, which is powered by a mix of OpenAI’s recent versions of GPT and other sources including its own models, just doesn’t feel fully baked. It’s like a robot pretending to be sentient — capable of indicating it sort of knows what I’m asking, but incapable of delivering a direct answer.

    My issues with the AI Pin’s language model and features don’t end there. Sometimes it just refuses to do what I ask of it, like restart or shut down. Other times it does something entirely unexpected. When I said “Send a text message to Julian Chokkattu,” who’s a friend and fellow AI Pin reviewer over at Wired, I thought I’d be asked what I wanted to tell him. Instead, the device simply said OK and told me it sent the words “Hey Julian, just checking in. How9s your day going?” to Chokkattu. I9ve never said anything like that to him in our years of friendship, but I guess technically the AI Pin did do what I asked.

    Hayato Huseman for Engadget
    Using the Humane AI Pin’s projector display
    If only voice interactions were the worst thing about the Humane AI Pin, but the list of problems only starts there. I was most intrigued by the company’s “pioneering Laser Ink display” that projects green rays onto your palm, as well as the gestures that enabled interaction with “onscreen” elements. But my initial wonder quickly gave way to frustration and a dull ache in my shoulder. It might be tiring to hold up your phone to scroll through Instagram, but at least you can set that down on a table and continue browsing. With the AI Pin, if your arm is not up, you’re not seeing anything.

    Then there’s the fact that it’s a pretty small canvas. I would see about seven lines of text each time, with about one to three words on each row depending on the length. This meant I had to hold my hand up even longer so I could wait for notifications to finish scrolling through. I also have a smaller palm than some other reviewers I saw while testing the AI Pin. Julian over at Wired has a larger hand and I was downright jealous when I saw he was able to fit the entire projection onto his palm, whereas the contents of my display would spill over onto my fingers, making things hard to read.

    It’s not just those of us afflicted with tiny palms that will find the AI Pin tricky to see. Step outside and you’ll have a hard time reading the faint projection. Even on a cloudy, rainy day in New York City, I could barely make out the words on my hands.

    When you can read what’s on the screen, interacting with it might make you want to rip your eyes out. Like I said, you’ll have to move your palm closer and further to your chest to select the right cards to enter your passcode. It’s a bit like dialing a rotary phone, with cards for individual digits from 0 to 9. Go further away to get to the higher numbers and the backspace button, and come back for the smaller ones.

    This gesture is smart in theory but it’s very sensitive. There’s a very small range of usable space since there is only so far your hand can go, so the distance between each digit is fairly small. One wrong move and you’ll accidentally select something you didn’t want and have to go all the way out to delete it. To top it all off, moving my arm around while doing that causes the Pin to flop about, meaning the screen shakes on my palm, too. On average, unlocking my Pin, which involves entering a four-digit passcode, took me about five seconds.

    On its own, this doesn’t sound so bad, but bear in mind that you’ll have to re-enter this each time you disconnect the Pin from the booster, latch or clip. It’s currently springtime in New York, which means I’m putting on and taking off my jacket over and over again. Every time I go inside or out, I move the Pin to a different layer and have to look like a confused long-sighted tourist reading my palm at various distances. It’s not fun.

    Of course, you can turn off the setting that requires password entry each time you remove the Pin, but that’s simply not great for security.

    Though Humane says “privacy and transparency are paramount with AI Pin,” by its very nature the device isn’t suitable for performing confidential tasks unless you’re alone. You don’t want to dictate a sensitive message to your accountant or partner in public, nor might you want to speak your Wi-Fi password out loud.

    That latter is one of two input methods for setting up an internet connection, by the way. If you choose not to spell your Wi-Fi key out loud, then you can go to the Humane website to type in your network name (spell it out yourself, not look for one that’s available) and password to generate a QR code for the Pin to scan. Having to verbally relay alphanumeric characters to the Pin is not ideal, and though the QR code technically works, it just involves too much effort. It’s like giving someone a spork when they asked for a knife and fork: good enough to get by, but not a perfect replacement.
    Cherlynn Low for Engadget
    The Humane AI Pin’s speaker
    Since communicating through speech is the easiest means of using the Pin, you’ll need to be verbal and have hearing. If you choose not to raise your hand to read the AI Pin’s responses, you’ll have to listen for it. The good news is, the onboard speaker is usually loud enough for most environments, and I only struggled to hear it on NYC streets with heavy traffic passing by. I never attempted to talk to it on the subway, however, nor did I obnoxiously play music from the device while I was outside.

    In my office and gym, though, I did get the AI Pin to play some songs. The music sounded fine — I didn’t get thumping bass or particularly crisp vocals, but I could hear instruments and crooners easily. Compared to my iPhone 15 Pro Max, it’s a bit tinny, as expected, but not drastically worse.

    The problem is there are, once again, some caveats. The most important of these is that at the moment, you can only use Tidal’s paid streaming service with the Pin. You’ll get 90 days free with your purchase, and then have to pay $11 a month (on top of the $24 you already give to Humane) to continue streaming tunes from your Pin. Humane hasn’t said yet if other music services will eventually be supported, either, so unless you’re already on Tidal, listening to music from the Pin might just not be worth the price. Annoyingly, Tidal also doesn’t have the extensive library that competing providers do, so I couldn’t even play songs like Beyonce’s latest album or Taylor Swift’s discography (although remixes of her songs were available).

    Though Humane has described its “personic speaker” as being able to create a “bubble of sound,” that “bubble” certainly has a permeable membrane. People around you will definitely hear what you’re playing, so unless you’re trying to start a dance party, it might be too disruptive to use the AI Pin for music without pairing Bluetooth headphones. You’ll also probably get better sound quality from Bose, Beats or AirPods anyway.
    The Humane AI Pin camera experience
    I’ll admit it — a large part of why I was excited for the AI Pin is its onboard camera. My love for taking photos is well-documented, and with the Pin, snapping a shot is supposed to be as easy as double-tapping its face with two fingers. I was even ready to put up with subpar pictures from its 13-megapixel sensor for the ability to quickly capture a scene without having to first whip out my phone.

    Sadly, the Humane AI Pin was simply too slow and feverish to deliver on that premise. I frequently ran into times when, after taking a bunch of photos and holding my palm up to see how each snap turned out, the device would get uncomfortably warm. At least twice in my testing, the Pin just shouted “Your AI Pin is too warm and needs to cool down” before shutting down.
    A sample image from the Humane AI Pin.Cherlynn Low for Engadget
    Even when it’s running normally, using the AI Pin’s camera is slow. I’d double tap it and then have to stand still for at least three seconds before it would take the shot. I appreciate that there’s audio and visual feedback through the flashing green lights and the sound of a shutter clicking when the camera is going, so both you and people around know you’re recording. But it’s also a reminder of how long I need to wait — the “shutter” sound will need to go off thrice before the image is saved.

    I took photos and videos in various situations under different lighting conditions, from a birthday dinner in a dimly lit restaurant to a beautiful park on a cloudy day. I recorded some workout footage in my building’s gym with large windows, and in general anything taken with adequate light looked good enough to post. The videos might make viewers a little motion sick, since the camera was clipped to my sports bra and moved around with me, but that’s tolerable.

    In dark environments, though, forget about it. Even my Nokia E7 from 2012 delivered clearer pictures, most likely because I could hold it steady while framing a shot. The photos of my friends at dinner were so grainy, one person even seemed translucent. To my knowledge, that buddy is not a ghost, either.
    A sample image from the Humane AI Pin.Cherlynn Low for Engadget
    To its credit, Humane’s camera has a generous 120-degree field of view, meaning you’ll capture just about anything in front of you. When you’re not sure if you’ve gotten your subject in the picture, you can hold up your palm after taking the shot, and the projector will beam a monochromatic preview so you can verify. It’s not really for you to admire your skilled composition or level of detail, and more just to see that you did indeed manage to get the receipt in view before moving on.
    Cosmos OS on the Humane AI Pin
    When it comes time to retrieve those pictures off the AI Pin, you’ll just need to navigate to in any browser and sign in. There, you’ll find your photos and videos under “Captures,” your notes, recently played music and calls, as well as every interaction you’ve had with the assistant. That last one made recalling every weird exchange with the AI Pin for this review very easy.

    You’ll have to make sure the AI Pin is connected to Wi-Fi and power, and be at least 50 percent charged before full-resolution photos and videos will upload to the dashboard. But before that, you can still scroll through previews in a gallery, even though you can’t download or share them.

    The web portal is fairly rudimentary, with large square tiles serving as cards for sections like “Captures,” “Notes” and “My Data.” Going through them just shows you things you’ve saved or asked the Pin to remember, like a friend’s favorite color or their birthday. Importantly, there isn’t an area for you to view your text messages, so if you wanted to type out a reply from your laptop instead of dictating to the Pin, sorry, you can’t. The only way to view messages is by putting on the Pin, pulling up the screen and navigating the onboard menus to find them.
    Hayato Huseman for Engadget
    That brings me to what you see on the AI Pin’s visual interface. If you’ve raised your palm right after asking it something, you’ll see your answer in text form. But if you had brought up your hand after unlocking or tapping the device, you’ll see its barebones home screen. This contains three main elements — a clock widget in the middle, the word “Nearby” in a bubble at the top and notifications at the bottom. Tilting your palm scrolls through these, and you can pinch your index finger and thumb together to select things.

    Push your hand further back and you’ll bring up a menu with five circles that will lead you to messages, phone, settings, camera and media player. You’ll need to tilt your palm to scroll through these, but because they’re laid out in a ring, it’s not as straightforward as simply aiming up or down. Trying to get the right target here was one of the greatest challenges I encountered while testing the AI Pin. I was rarely able to land on the right option on my first attempt. That, along with the fact that you have to put on the Pin (and unlock it), made it so difficult to see messages that I eventually just gave up looking at texts I received.
    The Humane AI Pin overheating, in use and battery life
    One reason I sometimes took off the AI Pin is that it would frequently get too warm and need to “cool down.” Once I removed it, I would not feel the urge to put it back on. I did wear it a lot in the first few days I had it, typically from 7:45AM when I headed out to the gym till evening, depending on what I was up to. Usually at about 3PM, after taking a lot of pictures and video, I would be told my AI Pin’s battery was running low, and I’d need to swap out the battery booster. This didn’t seem to work sometimes, with the Pin dying before it could get enough power through the accessory. At first it appeared the device simply wouldn’t detect the booster, but I later learned it’s just slow and can take up to five minutes to recognize a newly attached booster.

    When I wore the AI Pin to my friend (and fellow reviewer) Michael Fisher’s birthday party just hours after unboxing it, I had it clipped to my tank top just hovering above my heart. Because it was so close to the edge of my shirt, I would accidentally brush past it a few times when reaching for a drink or resting my chin on my palm a la Levi’s jackets that serve the very purpose of dropping pins to revisit places later. If your product is meant to be smart and revolutionary, it should at least be able to do what its competitors already can, not to mention offer features they don’t.
    One singular thing that the AI Pin actually manages to do competently is act as an interpreter. After you ask it to “translate to [x language],” you’ll have to hold down two fingers while you talk, let go and it will read out what you said in the relevant tongue. I tried talking to myself in English and Mandarin, and was frankly impressed with not only the accuracy of the translation and general vocal expressiveness, but also at how fast responses came through. You don’t even need to specify the language the speaker is using. As long as you’ve set the target language, the person talking in Mandarin will be translated to English and the words said in English will be read out in Mandarin.

    It’s worth considering the fact that using the AI Pin is a nightmare for anyone who gets self-conscious. I’m pretty thick-skinned, but even I tried to hide the fact that I had a strange gadget with a camera pinned to my person. Luckily, I didn’t get any obvious stares or confrontations, but I heard from my fellow reviewers that they did. And as much as I like the idea of a second brain I can wear and offload little notes and reminders to, nothing that the AI Pin does well is actually executed better than a smartphone.
    Not only is the Humane AI Pin slow, finicky and barely even smart, using it made me look pretty dumb. In a few days of testing, I went from being excited to show it off to my friends to not having any reason to wear it.

    Humane’s vision was ambitious, and the laser projector initially felt like a marvel. At first glance, it looked and felt like a refined product. But it just seems like at every turn, the company had to come up with solutions to problems it created. No screen or keyboard to enter your Wi-Fi password? No worries, use your phone or laptop to generate a QR code. Want to play music? Here you go, a 90-day subscription to Tidal, but you can only play music on that service.

    The company promises to make software updates that could improve some issues, and the few tweaks my unit received during this review did make some things (like music playback) work better. The problem is that as it stands, the AI Pin doesn’t do enough to justify its $700 and $24-a-month price, and I simply cannot recommend anyone spend this much money for the one or two things it does adequately. 

    Maybe in time, the AI Pin will be worth revisiting, but it’s hard to imagine why anyone would need a screenless AI wearable when so many devices exist today that you can use to talk to an assistant. From speakers and phones to smartwatches and cars, the world is full of useful AI access points that allow you to ditch a screen. Humane says it’s committed to a “future where AI seamlessly integrates into every aspect of our lives and enhances our daily experiences.” 

    After testing the company’s AI Pin, that future feels pretty far away.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • The Morning After: Amazon stops paying bonuses to Alexa developers
    Amazon has cut paid perks for Alexa developers. With a bigger focus on generative AI, the voice assistant’s third-party apps (skills) aren’t a priority. An Amazon spokesperson told Engadget that the “older programs have simply run their course, so we decided to sunset them.”

    Launched in 2017, when Alexa was all the rage, the program paid developers bonuses for skills that resonated with users. It was part of Amazon’s quest to turn Alexa Skills into a booming app store. (Did that happen?)

    At the company’s fall 2023 devices event, Amazon previewed its next-gen version of Alexa, with ChatGPT-like generative AI abilities. With AI powers, Alexa appeared versatile enough to address all sorts of queries and requests without creating apps and skills manually. Alexa isn’t going anywhere; Amazon is just making it think for itself.

    — Mat Smith
    The biggest stories you might have missed'
    Google Photos’ enhanced editing tools will no longer require a subscription
    Magic Eraser, Photo UnBlur, Magic Editor and more will be widely available in May.
    Free Google Photos users get enhanced editing features without paying $20+ annually. This means all users will get a few of Google’s AI-powered tools, such as Photo UnBlur, Magic Eraser, and Magic Editor. I can attest: Photo UnBlur is a game-changer when taking shots of toddlers that will. Not. Stay. Still.

    Knock another $74 off the Nothing Phone 2It works on T-Mobile and AT&T’s networks.Vampire Survivors hits PlayStation this summerThe game is also getting Contra DLC in May.'
    Hit retro bullet-hell-rogue-ish Vampire Survivors is coming to PlayStation — possibly the only platform it hasn’t been on yet. The game is also getting a batch of crossover DLC on May 9. Vampire Survivors: Operation Guns brings Contra characters and weapons, so expect a lot more guns. 22 of them, in fact.

    Continue reading.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • iPhone users in 92 countries received a spyware attack warning from Apple
    Some iPhone users got a very concerning alert to their devices on Wednesday. Apple sent notifications to individuals in 92 countries warning them that they may have been the target of mercenary spyware attacks, Apple's alert went on to share additional information about the incident. "This attack is likely targeting you specifically because of who you are or what you do. Although it's never possible to achieve absolute certainty when detecting such attacks, Apple has high confidence in this warning — please take it seriously," the alert continued. Apple explained that it couldn't provide any information about what prompted the message out of concern that additional information would help attackers avoid future detection. The company uses internal information and investigations to pinpoint attacks.

    This instance is hardly the first time Apple has had to send this sort of notification. Since 2021, individuals in over 150 countries have received similar messages, including a warning to some journalists and politicians in India last October. However, it's unclear which countries individuals received alerts in this time around.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Mercedes’ new EQS looks a lot more like an S-Class
    Mercedes-Benz has released a preview of its 2025 EQS electric vehicle model that comes with a new grille design featuring chrome slats against a deep black background along with a standing star on its hood. With just those changes, the upcoming EQS more clearly resembles Benz9s S-Class vehicles, its counterpart in the automaker9s non-EV lineup, than its predecessor does. In addition to the more traditional Benz look and upgrades that make its seats more comfortable, the 2025 EQS will also come with a larger battery. 

    Its new battery has a larger usable capacity of 118 kWh, compared to the older model9s 108.4 kWh. Of course, the higher the kWh, the longer an EV9s range is — the first EQS had an EPA-estimated 350 mile-range, so expect Mercedes to announce a longer range than that. The 2025 EQS will feature new regenerative braking software that the automaker says can recover more energy for use, as well. That will also contribute to a longer range, lesser use of the car9s brake discs and a better pedal feel. 

    The automaker hasn9t announced how much the model would cost yet, but prices will likely start at $100,000-plus when it arrives at US dealerships later this year. 
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • The best cheap Windows laptops for 2024
    Even though we at Engadget test and review a number of new Windows laptops every year, the cheapest notebooks don’t often make headlines. You won’t find pricey panels on these machines, nor will they include the latest high-powered graphics cards or ultra thin-and-light designs. But they have their place and can do a lot of things well. And it’s worth noting that not everyone needs a pro-level laptop — they just need the best machine that will fit their budget.

    Companies like Acer, Dell and Lenovo make plenty of cheap Windows laptops that can be great for those who primarily use a computer to check email, shop online and occasionally video chat with friends and family. They can also be great for kids who have no business touching their parents’ pricey daily driver. We’ve tested a number of budget-friendly Windows notebooks — these are our favorites below, and we outline some buying advice for anyone looking for a cheap Windows laptop that balances capability with affordability.
    What about Chromebooks and tablets?
    You may be inclined to recommend a Chromebook or a tablet to anyone considering a budget Windows laptop. Those instincts aren’t wrong, but Chromebooks and tablets aren’t the best buy for everyone. Tablets have the most portability, but they will only work for the most mobile-competent users like kids who have been grabbing smartphones out of their parents’ hands since they’ve been dexterous enough to do so. Tablets can also be just as expensive as some of the cheapest Windows laptops, and that’s without a mouse or keyboard.

    Chromebooks are a good alternative for those that basically live in a browser, the trade-off being you must give up the “traditional desktop.” And Chrome OS is a more limited operating system than Windows when it comes to the programs you can install and run.
    What Windows laptops do wellWachiwit via Getty Images
    What can you realistically accomplish on a cheap Windows laptop? Quite a bit, especially if you’re doing one thing (or a limited number of things) at a time. They’re great for web browsing, checking email, video streaming and more. All of those things can be done on Chromebooks as well, but Windows laptops have a big advantage in Microsoft Office. While yes, there is a browser based version, the native, desktop apps are considered a must have for many and will run smoothly on even the most bare-bones budget laptop. The only caveat is that you may run into some slowdown on low-powered devices if you’re multitasking or working with large data sets in Excel or a lot of photos and graphics in Powerpoint.

    When it comes to specs, a bright spot for Windows laptops is storage. Even the most affordable devices tend to have at least 128GB SSDs. That will come in handy if you prefer to keep your most important files saved locally on your laptop. In contrast, cheaper Chromebooks often have less storage because they’re built on the assumption that you’ll save all of your documents in the cloud. Not only is that less convenient when you need to work offline, but it also limits the size of programs and files that you can download. So, Chromebooks aren9t the best for hoarding Netflix shows before a long trip or for use as a gaming laptop.

    Windows also has thousands of apps that you can download from its app store. Chromebooks have some Chrome apps, numerous browser extensions and the ability to download Android apps, but quality control is… inconsistent. Android apps, in particular, often haven’t been optimized for Chrome OS, which makes for a wonky user experience. Windows may not have as many apps as Android, but at least the experience is fairly standard across the board.

    Windows also gives you the ability to download and use programs from other sources, like direct from the developer. You can run things like Adobe Creative Suite, certain VPNs and programs like GIMP, Audacity and ClipMate on a Windows device, which just isn’t possible on Chrome OS. Chromebooks limit you to the apps and programs in The Play Store and the Chrome Extensions store, reducing any others to unusable, space-sucking icons in your Downloads folder.
    What to look for in a budget-friendly Windows laptop
    While you can do a lot even when spending little on a Windows laptop, you must set your expectations accordingly. The biggest downside when purchasing a budget laptop (of any kind, really) is limited power. Many Windows laptops under $500 run on Intel Celeron or Pentium processors, but you can find some with Core i3/i5 and AMD Ryzen 3/5 CPUs at the higher end of the price spectrum.
    Specs to look for in a sub-$500 Windows laptop
    Intel Core i or AMD Ryzen 3 processors

    At least 8GB of RAM

    An SSD with at least 128GB of space

    1080p display

    Mostly metal designs

    We recommend getting the most powerful CPU you can afford because it will dictate how fast the computer will feel overall. RAM is also important because, the more you have, the easier it will be for the laptop to manage things like a dozen browser tabs while you edit a Word document and stream music in the background. However, with sub-$500 laptops, you’re better off getting the best CPU you can afford rather than a laptop with a ton of RAM because the CPU will have enough power to handle most tasks that cheap Windows laptops are designed for (If you’re editing RAW images or 4K video, you’ll want to invest in more RAM… and a laptop well above $500).

    When it comes to storage, consider how much you want to save locally. If you primarily work in Google Docs or save most things in the cloud, you may not need a machine with a ton of onboard storage. Just remember that your digital space will also be taken up by apps, so it may be worth getting a little extra storage than you think you need if you know you’ll be downloading big programs. A final side note: SSDs are ubiquitous at this point, not to mention faster and more efficient than HDDs, so we recommend getting a laptop with that type of storage.

    You also don’t have to settle for an entirely plastic notebook either. There are options in the sub-$500 price range that are made, at least in part, with metals like aluminum. Those will not only be more attractive but also more durable. As for screens, there’s a healthy mix of HD and FHD options in this price range and we recommend springing for a notebook with a 1080p display if you can. Touchscreens aren’t as common in the under-$500 space as standard panels, but you’ll only really miss one if you get a 2-in-1 laptop.

    See Also:

    Best Laptops for 2023

    Best Gaming Laptops

    Best 2-in-1 Laptops for 2023

    Best Chromebooks

    Best Laptops for College Students

    A final note before we get to our picks: The best cheap laptop models change all the time. Unlike more expensive, flagship machines, these notebooks can be updated a couple times each year. That can make it hard to track down a specific model at Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart or any other retailer. Also, we’ve seen prices vary widely depending on the configuration and retailer you’re looking at. We’ve listed some of our current favorite models below, but if you can’t find any of them available near you, just keep in mind our list of specs to look for in a cheap laptop – they’ll guide you to the best machines available at the moment.

    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Twitch CEO says DJs will have to share what they earn on the website with music labels
    In an interview with the channel Zach Bussey on X (formerly Twitter), Clancy said that Twitch is working on a "structure," wherein DJs and the platform "are gonna have to share money with the labels." He said he9s already talked to some DJs about it. The DJs, of course, realized that they9d rather not share what they earn. But Clancy said that Twitch will pay part of what the labels are owed, while the DJs hand over a portion of their revenue. 

    Clancy9s statement was part of his response to the host9s question about the copyright situation of music streamers on the platform. The CEO replied that Twitch has been talking to music labels about it in hopes of finding a stable solution so that DJ streamers don9t get hit with DMCA takedown requests. He also said that the website has a "pretty good thing" going on with labels right now — a "thing" that involves Twitch paying them money, apparently — but it9s not a sustainable long-term solution. Plus, the labels are only OK with that deal at the moment because they know Twitch is working on another solution that will make them (more) money. 

    Clancy also clarified that live streams and videos on demand have different sets of rules for playing copyrighted music, and the latter is definitely a problem. That9s why he suggests that DJs should mute pre-recorded videos on their own, because Twitch9s system doesn9t always detect copyrighted songs to mute them. The CEO said Twitch is close to signing the deal with labels, but it9s unclear how the Amazon subsidiary intends to monitor live music streams and if it already has the technology to do so. 

    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Overwatch 2 introduces harsher punishments for players who leave mid-match
    Blizzard is taking mid-match leaves on implementing harsher punishments when Season 10 arrives. People playing Unranked games won9t be able to join a queue for five minutes after leaving two of their last 20 games. And if they leave at least 10 out of the last 20, they9ll be suspended for 48 hours. Players probably want to be even more careful when it comes to leaving Competitive games, though, because doing so 10 times out of 20 will get them banned for the rest of the season. In its announcement, Blizzard said that while it9s aware not everyone abandons a game on purpose, these changes "should help curb those players who deliberately choose to leave a match." 
    The developer is also making it easier for groups of friends to play together in Competitive mode, no matter their rank, by introducing "wide groups." A wide group is defined by having players from a wide range of ranks, from Diamond to tiers up to five Skill Divisions lower. Blizzard admits that opting for the new queue option will mean longer wait times, since it has to pair a wide group with another wide group with similar ranks in order to be fair. But it9s hoping that the new feature will eliminate the need to use an alt account when playing with friends. 

    The company is also adding new features designed to help prevent abuse and harassment in-game. People will soon be able to add up to 10 players in their "Avoid as Teammate" list instead of just three. It9s also making it easy to report disruptive behavior by updating its reporting interface. Finally, Blizzard is blocking a player9s access to text or voice chat in their matches if they were found to have engaged in abusive behavior and have broken the company9s code of conduct. They can only get those privileges back if they spend time playing Overwatch 2 in their best behavior.

    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • You can grab the Nothing Phone 2 for $74 off right now
    Amazon has the Nothing Phone 2 on sale for the first time since its launch. The offbeat mainstream smartphone alternative is $74 off its usual price. The deal includes the version with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, and it’s ready for activation on T-Mobile or AT&T.

    The Nothing Phone 2 has an unusual design, with a transparent back revealing an eye-pleasing arrangement of its internal hardware. The aesthetic is a throwback to tech from the late 1990s and early 2000s, like Apple’s iMac G3 and Nintendo’s Game Boy Color. Meanwhile, the Glyph Interface on the phone’s back uses LED strips to show customizable lights and patterns for your notifications. It’s a charming package that stands out in a sea of smartphone sameness.

    Engadget’s Sam Rutherford reviewed the phone in 2023, and he noted its eye-catching hardware design and Monochrome UI in its software. Nothing isn’t marketing its phone based on record-breaking specs, but the startup still made a phone that “never felt slow” while being “well-equipped with handy features like reverse wireless charging.”

    The phone runs on Nothing OS 2 (currently, it’s on 2.5.3) on top of Android 14. It has a 6.7-inch OLED display, a 4,700mAh battery and a pair of 50MP rear cameras (main and ultra-wide).

    However, note that the phone is only compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks in the US — not Verizon, Sprint, Cricket or other CDMA-based carriers. Nothing only brought its handsets (officially) to America with the current generation of hardware, so perhaps future models will offer broader stateside carrier support.

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    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • A new Prince of Persia game is coming from the studio behind Dead Cells
    Prince of Persia fans are really feasting this year. We9ve already seen the release of the well-received Metroidvania Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, but Ubisoft just announced another game in the franchise. The Rogue Prince of Persia is a team-up with Evil Empire, the developers behind the iconic roguelite Dead Cells. It comes to Steam early access on May 14.

    It’s a sidescrolling roguelite, just like Dead Cells. As you can see from the trailer, the graphics also recall the widely-acclaimed and highly addictive action-platformer. You play as, wait for it, the Prince of Persia, who has been equipped with a mystical device that allows him to resurrect after death. You try your best. You die. You buy upgrades in the hub world. This is the roguelite formula and I am absolutely here for it.

    Despite looking eerily like Dead Cells, the moveset looks to be pulled straight from the Prince of Persia franchise. Players will have access to the iconic wall run and related acrobatic skills to maneuver through the procedurally generated levels. To that end, there are a variety of colorful biomes, each inspired by Persian architecture.

    There are also plenty of weapons to choose from, to suit different playstyles. These include twin daggers, spears, broadswords, axes and more. Additionally, players can equip secondary weapons, like bows and grappling hooks, making each run a unique gameplay experience. Ubisoft says the game will receive numerous updates once it receives player feedback from early access purchasers, promising “new levels, bosses, weapons, enemies and upgrades.”

    The title was unveiled at the Triple-i Initiative event, an indie-themed gaming showcase. Evil Empire is very much an indie developer, but the same cannot be said of Ubisoft. This isn’t the only time Evil Empire has dipped its toes into a long-standing franchise. The developer once made a Castlevania expansion for Dead Cells.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Never Alone 2 teaser shows Nuna and Fox coming face-to-face with giant creatures
    Two years after E-line Media revealed it was working on Never Alone 2, the first look at gameplay emerged at the Triple-i Initiative indie games showcase. The brief clip shows Nuna and her spirit companion Fox running across ice and encountering a pair of giant creatures. There9s not much to the video (it9s a teaser, after all), but it gives a sense of the game9s look and feel.

    You9ll venture through the Alaskan wilderness to look for ways to support your home village. Along the way, you9ll unravel a mystery that poses a threat to the community. While the 2014 original (which nearly 15 million people have played) married 3D graphics and 2D gameplay, Never Alone 2 is billed as a "3D open-map sequel."

    Never Alone included solo and co-op modes (we found the latter made playing the game much better). The follow-up is designed primarily for two players, in either online or couch co-op modes, to place a focus on the theme of interdependence.

    Never Alone 2 has an original story from Iñupiat writer Nasugraq Rainey Hopson, and it was designed with input from Alaska Native elders, writers, storytellers and community members. E-line Media hasn9t revealed a release window for Never Alone 2 yet, but the developer has teamed up with publisher Humble Games to get it out into the wild. In the meantime, fans can wishlist the sequel for updates.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Vampire Survivors hits PlayStation this summer
    Vampire Survivors is preparing to invade a whole new platform. More than two years after breaking through the noise on Steam, Android, iOS and Xbox, Vampire Survivors is due to hit PlayStation 4 and PS5 in summer 2024. Yep, the summer that starts in just a few months. The PlayStation version will include all DLCs and latest updates.

    Alongside the fresh platform announcement, Vampire Survivors is also getting a batch of crossover DLC on May 9. Vampire Survivors: Operation Guns brings Contra characters and weapons into the game with the mission statement, "The President’s cousin’s sister’s dog has been kidnapped by Red Falcon. Are you bad enough to come to the rescue?" We bet you are.

    In classic Contra fashion, the characters added in Operation Guns will encourage min-maxing and stat manipulation, and there will be 11 new players total. The DLC adds 22 guns, a new stage and an old-school arcade difficulty curve. Its soundtrack has six songs that combine Contra jams with Vampire Survivors remixes.

    Who said vampires don9t like sunlight? With two big updates landing this spring and summer, it seems like Vampire Survivors enjoys the light just fine. Of course, that could be because there are no actual vampires in the game, just hordes of other monster types and hours of mindless, bloody entertainment.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Massively co-op game 33 Immortals will have a closed beta at the end of May
    33 Immortals feels like a game that9s going to need a lot of pre-release testing, and thankfully, that9s exactly what developers at Thunder Lotus are setting up. Following a smaller alpha test, the closed beta for 33 Immortals will kick off on May 24 and run through June 2. Interested players can sign up to participate at the game9s official site.

    Aside from the Dante9s Inferno-inspired landscape and retro-cartoony visuals, the unique draw of 33 Immortals is its raid size. The game features 33-player co-op with a cast of seven unique fighters, and each round lasts about 25 minutes. It9s all raids, all the time, and felled players are able to be revived if another warrior takes the time to chase down their ghost.

    UK Bureau Chief Mat Smith got his hands on 33 Immortals at Summer Game Fest 2023 and he saw the potential in Thunder Lotus9 idea, writing, "With plenty of enemies on-screen, especially in the more challenging portal dungeons, it’s a lot of fun just chaotically spamming attacks, helping the rest of your team finish off mid-bosses, or picking off easier foes at a distance before they coordinate their attacks." And that was with just six players at once — now add 27 more, and that9s the base chaos level of this game.

    33 Immortals is due to enter early access on the Epic Games Store, Xbox Series X/S and PC via Xbox later this year, and it9ll be available on Game Pass.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • The EA Play subscription service is getting more expensive
    Electronic Arts just raised the price of its EA Play subscription service. The standard EA Play tier increased from $5 per month to $6 per month, while the annual fee rose to $40 from $30. These updated prices also impact premium EA Play Pro subscriptions, which allows access to the publisher’s games as soon as they launch. This tier now costs $17 per month, an increase from $15, and $120 each year, an increase from $100. 

    EA confirmed the changes to Engadget via email and noted that the prices are increasing in every country the company does business in. According to a report by, the new cost structure was decided on to “bring fees in line with market value.” The price increase is live for new members but pre-existing subscribers won9t get dinged until May 10. 

    For the uninitiated, EA Play is a subscription service that gives players access to a select number of games from the company, along with additional incentives like discounts and DLC. It’s available on Xbox consoles, PlayStation consoles and PC. The service is in line with Microsoft Game Pass, PlayStation Plus and Ubisoft+, among others. As previously mentioned, EA Play Pro takes things a step further by letting subscribers play newly-released games. It9s worth noting that Game Pass Ultimate members still have access to the standard EA Play tier as part of their subscription.

    It’s always a bummer when these subscriptions go up in price, and EA is hardly alone here. Sony raised the price of PS Plus last year and Microsoft did the same for Game Pass subscriptions. Ubisoft+ Premium is likely the closest analog to Play Pro and it costs $18 per month, which is right in line with EA’s updated pricing model.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Amazon will stop paying bonuses to Alexa developers
    Amazon has decided to cut off paid perks for Alexa developers. The company confirmed to Engadget on Wednesday that it will end the Alexa Developer Rewards Program at the end of June. A second program that rewards developers for using Amazon Web Services as the backend for their Alexa apps will wrap up at the same time.

    With the emergence of generative AI, the pioneering voice assistant’s third-party apps (“skills”) no longer appear to be a central focus for the company. The news was first reported by Bloomberg and confirmed by Engadget with the company.

    Amazon described the move as a case of phasing out an old project that had run its course. “These are older programs launched back in 2017 as a way to help newer developers interested in building skills accelerate their progress,” an Amazon spokesperson wrote to Engadget. “Today, there are over 160,000 skills available for customers, a well-established Alexa developer community, and new LLM-powered tools that will help developers build new experiences for Alexa. These older programs have simply run their course, so we decided to sunset them.”

    The company told me the program launched when developers were still learning to make voice apps, and it was designed to help them get started. Amazon told Engadget that fewer than one percent of developers were using the program. It said Alexa developers will still get paid for in-app purchases from their Alexa skills, adding that the cost of making them has gone down while developer knowledge has gone up.

    The Alexa Developer Rewards Program was created to incentivize developers who made high-quality skills for the assistant. Launched in 2017, when Alexa was all the rage, the program paid developers bonuses for skills that met engagement thresholds in specific categories. It was part of Amazon’s quest to turn Alexa Skills into a booming app store for a new generation of voice-first devices, a vision that never fully came to fruition.

    Now, the renewed interest in AI assistants is about generative AI, which can handle many of the same tasks as Alexa’s skills (likely much better in some cases). At its fall 2023 devices event, Amazon previewed a next-generation version of Alexa with ChatGPT-like generative AI abilities. The company has also gradually integrated the next-gen tech into its seller tools and product pages.

    Bloomberg reports that third-party apps weren’t making Amazon much money (unsurprising, given today’s news). The company cut the available funds for Alexa developer payments in 2020. Amazon also laid off several hundred employees in its Alexa division late last year. Meanwhile, Google threw in the towel long ago: It eliminated third-party voice apps for Google Assistant altogether in 2022.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Marshall portable speakers are up to 25 percent off right now
    Marshall portable speakers are up to 25 percent off right now via Amazon. The sale includes the attractive and highly useful Middleton speaker, which is available for $237. This is a discount of 21 percent and marks a record low for the portable Bluetooth device.

    The Middleton made our list of the best portable Bluetooth speakers, and for good reason. It’s the company’s flagship portable speaker, so it’s packed with both bells and whistles. It offers 50-watts of 360-degree sound and a rugged IP67 exterior. There are dual woofers and tweeters for the front and back, in addition to passive radiators along the side. In other words, people attending your backyard barbecue will have no problem hearing the tunes, and the same could be true of your neighbors.

    The speaker also features the company’s Stack Mode, allowing it to easily pair with other Marshall speakers. This includes other Middleton units, the Willen and the Emberton II. We also enjoyed the multi-use joystick that can turn the unit on, change the volume, select tracks and adjust bass and treble.

    Marshall’s Willen speaker is also part of this sale, with a current price of $90. That’s 25 percent off. This diminutive, yet powerful, speaker made our list of the best gadgets of 2023. We praised the sound quality, the reliable Bluetooth connection and the battery, which lasts over 15 hours per charge. It’s just about the perfect little speaker, especially for the price.

    The sale goes beyond portable speakers. Marshall’s Minor III earbuds are on sale for $100, which is a discount of $30. These no-frills headphones feature custom-tuned 12mm drivers, touch controls and IPX4 water resistance. You can expect around five hours per charge, with the included charging case offering an additional 20 hours.

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    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • One of our favorite affordable robot vacuums is on sale for $140
    If you're just looking for a cheap way to keep your floors cleaner and don't need all the top-end features, you may want to check out this deal. Anker brand Eufy's BoostIQ RoboVac S11 is now down to $140 after a 44 percent discount. The sale comes as part of a larger sale on Eufy vacs, including ones with a few more bells and whistles. The S11 Max is our current pick for an ultra budget option in our buyer's guide to robo vacs because it's super affordable (especially after the discount), has good suction power and a long battery life. Probably the biggest caveat is that it's not Wi-Fi enabled. 

    Instead of controlling the unit through your home's wireless network, the 11S Max comes with a remote that handles scheduling and other smart features like cleaning mode selection. It also has a manual button up top to start a session. It has three power modes — Standard, BoostIQ and Max — and BoostIQ provides a good balance of adequate suction and noise level. In our tests, a BoostIQ session lasted about an hour and 15 minutes. The obstacle avoidance is impressive at sidestepping random objects, though it occasionally bumped into walls. The vac is also about an inch an a half thinner than many other robot vacs we tested, which lets it get beneath low-slung furniture for more complete cleaning.  

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    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Sony is bringing another game to the PS Plus Catalog on its release day
    Sony has revealed the latest batch of games that are coming to the PS Plus Catalog for Extra and Premium subscribers. This time around, there are three titles that will hit the service on the same day they debut on PlayStation. It had already been announced that the terrific Dave the Diver (April 16) and Tales of Kenzera: Zau (April 23) will hit the subscription service when they make their bow on PlayStation consoles. Now it has emerged Animal Well will join them on May 9.

    This sidescrolling platformer is the first game from YouTuber Dunkey's publishing label, Bigmode. Solo developer Billy Basso spent seven years making the eye-catching Animal Well, which is said to be packed with secrets for players to discover. Along with PS5, Animal Well is coming to Switch and PC.

    There haven't been too many games that have arrived on PS Plus on their release day, but the strategy can prove successful. hitting Game Pass on its release day.

    The other titles that are coming to the PS Plus Catalog on April 16 are multiplayer party game Oddballers (PS4), Construction Simulator (PS4, PS5), The Crew 2 (PS4), Indian mythology-inspired action-adventure Raji: An Ancient Epic (PS4, PS5), Lego Ninjago Movie Videogame (PS4), Nour: Play With Your Food (PS4, PS5), Deliver Us Mars (PS4, PS5), Lego Marvel’s Avengers (PS4), Miasma Chronicles (PS5) and Stray Blade (PS5).

    Those with a PS Plus Premium subscription will be able to check out a few extra games through the Classics collection. The original PlayStation versions of Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare, Star Wars: Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire and MediEvil will hit the catalog next week.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 (2024) review : This is the 14-inch gaming laptop to beat
    ASUS’ ROG Zephyrus G14 has been one of our favorite gaming laptops for damn near half a decade. But the 2024 model is on another level. That’s because even without a fresh generation of GPUs from NVIDIA, ASUS went and redesigned the entire thing anyway. And the result is a notebook with a gorgeous aluminum unibody chassis with a more mature design that doesn’t need to throw RGB lighting in your face to get some attention. This edition is also sleeker and lighter while still providing powerful performance. Though ASUS made a few trade-offs when compared to its predecessor, with a starting price of $1,600, the new ROG Zephyrus G14 is not only a better value than almost all of its 14-inch rivals, it’s also simply one of the best pound-for-pound gaming laptops around.

    Compared to previous models that were awash in RGB or had dot-matrix displays built into their lids, this year’s G14 is an exercise in restraint. It’s almost like the line has grown out of its awkward teenage phase and become a stylish but still fun-loving adult. The lid is accented by a simple diagonal slash with white (not RGB) LEDs embedded down the middle. Meanwhile, on the inside, there’s a sturdy deck with a large touchpad and surprisingly powerful speakers.

    The one thing I miss is per-key RGB lighting instead of ASUS’ single-zone approach. After all, this is a gaming laptop and if you’re going to offer multiple colors, it’d be nice to have full customizability.
    Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget
    That said, the G14’s redesign isn’t just about style, it’s functional too. The switch to a unibody aluminum frame has strengthened the whole machine. There’s barely a hint of flex even on typically weaker parts like the lattice between keys. But more importantly, ASUS also reduced the laptop's weight to just 3.3 pounds, which is noticeably lighter than rival notebooks with similar metal builds like the Razer Blade 14 (3.95 pounds). Plus, even with the smaller size, the G14 features a healthy selection of ports including a full-size HDMI 2.1 jack, two USB-C (one of which supports Thunderbolt 4), two USB-A and a microSD card reader.
    DisplayPhoto by Sam Rutherford/Engadget
    Another glowing component of the G14 is its OLED screen. In addition to producing vibrant colors, it has a sharp 2,880 x 1,800 resolution along with a 120Hz refresh rate and a color gamut that covers 100 percent of the DCI-P3 spectrum. Recently, I’ve been watching Three Body Problem and I’ve been absolutely loving the OLED panel’s excellent contrast and deep blacks. Furthermore, because ASUS includes a handful of color-calibrated settings for sRGB, D65 P3, DCI-P3 (but not Adobe RGB), the G14 is a very capable photo- and video-editing machine.

    The one small issue is that because 2,880 x 1,800 is a somewhat uncommon resolution, you may not be able to play all of your games at their native resolution, which is an issue I encountered when playing Returnal.
    A big change for the 2024 ROG G14 is that GPU options now top out with an NVIDIA RTX 4070 instead of a 4080 like on the previous model. That may be a bummer for some, but as I prefer laptops that are easier to carry around, I’m OK with trading out a little top-end oomph for enhanced portability. And with all models featuring an AMD Ryzen 9 8945HS chip along with at least 16GB of RAM (or 32GB like on my review unit) and 1TB of storage, you won’t be lacking in speed.
    Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget
    On Geekbench 6, the G14 matched the performance we saw from a larger XPS 16 with an Intel Core Ultra 7 155H chip. In games, it hit 90 fps in Cyberpunk 2077 on ultra settings, which is just shy of a much more expensive Razer Blade 14 (101 fps). That said, there are some important details you should know. Unlike previous models, the latest G14’s memory is soldered to the motherboard, so there’s no way to add extra RAM later. Additionally, while both ASUS and Razer’s 14-inch systems appear to have the same RTX 4070 GPU, the G14’s is capped at 90 watts versus 140 watts for the Blade, which explains the small gap in gaming performance.

    It’s also worth noting that heat can be an issue in certain situations. In normal use, it’s not a big deal as the fans rarely need to spin up when browsing the web or watching movies. But under load, because the G14’s vents are on the bottom of the notebook, your lap can get toasty fast. Thankfully, this won’t be a major problem if you’re gaming, since you’ll probably want to be at a desk or table to put an external mouse on anyway.
    Battery lifePhoto by Sam Rutherford/Engadget
    While the G14 doesn’t last quite as long as a traditional ultrabook, it still carries enough juice to last nearly an entire workday. On PCMark 10’s Modern Office rundown test, it lasted 7 hours and 29 minutes which is slightly better than the Razer Blade 14’s time of 6:46. And, new for 2024, ASUS has added its proprietary Slim Power Jack, which sort of looks like a USB-C port if you squint (but it isn’t). However, if you want to really travel light, the G14 supports charging via USB-C so you can leave the adapter at home. The one caveat is that USB-PD on this maxes out at 100 watts (versus 180 watts when using the included brick), so the battery may still discharge while gaming or performing other intensive tasks.
    Even though we already loved its predecessors, the 2024 ROG Zephyrus G14 has managed to take another big leap. It’s got an exquisitely crafted chassis along with a vibrant new display and boomier speakers – all while shedding nearly half a pound in weight. On the inside, you still get up to an RTX 4070 GPU. Sure, it’s a touch slower than a similarly equipped Blade 14, but considering our review unit costs $2,000 compared to $2,700 for the closest equivalently specced Razer, I’m happy to trade a tiny bit of performance to get a much more affordable machine. And that’s before you factor in a starting price of just $1,450 for one with an RTX 4060. My biggest gripe is that ASUS’ Amoury Crate app still feels clunky, thanks to settings that are hard to find or toggles that don’t work like you’d expect. But make no mistake, the G14 is a great laptop – for both gamers and content creators – who want good performance in a portable package. So while I appreciate what the Blade 14 and other high-end notebooks can do, ASUS’ latest creation is the one I’d buy.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Google Photos' enhanced editing tools will no longer require a subscription
    In a rare move, Google is extending everyone access to subscriber-exclusive Photos tools. Free Google Photos users are getting its enhanced editing features without paying a minimum of $20 annually. This means all users will get a few of Google9s AI-powered tools, such as Photo UnBlur, Magic Eraser and Magic Editor.

    Photo UnBlur works just as it sounds, giving greater clarity to a photo that9s a bit fuzzy. The Magic Eraser tool lets you remove or camouflage people or things from pictures, like a rogue trash can or photo bomber. Magic Editor uses generative AI to move, stretch and resize objects. You can even bring yourself to the center of a photo or closer to another person. It also lets you make large-scale edits, like changing the sky from gray to blue. Magic Editor Android and iOS Google Photos users will get ten monthly saves, while anyone looking to increase that limit will need either a Pixel device or paid Google One plan with 2TB+.

    The Google Photos features will roll out to non-subscribers over a few weeks, starting May 15. On desktop, they will only be available if you have a Chromebook Plus that has ChromeOS version 118+. To access on mobile, you9ll need at least Android 8.0 or iOS 15 and 3GB of RAM. 
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Physicist Peter Higgs, who predicted 'the God particle', has died at 94
    Peter Higgs, the physicist who predicted the Higgs boson particle, due to a blood disorder. His work proposing the particle — and showing how it helped give mass to some matter — won him the Noble price in 2013. The Higgs boson is informally referred to as the God particle, after a book by Nobel laureate Leon Lederman.

    Higgs came up with the idea in the early 1960s as an attempt to explain why atoms have mass in the first place. The research didn’t get any traction in scientific journals, primarily because few understood the concept, but he was finally published in 1964. This was just a theory at the time, but led to a 50-year race to prove the Higgs boson particle actually exists.

    Scientists hit pay dirt in 2012, thanks to physicists working at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland. It took four years of experiments, but the Higgs boson particle was finally discovered, proving his ideas and adding a major puzzle piece to the corpus of particle physics knowledge known as the Standard Model.

    As a matter of fact, modern theoretical physicists have posited the existence of up to five Higgs boson particles that fill up what is now called the Higgs field. Scientists hope to use the Higgs boson to one day find proof for ever-elusive dark matter.

    The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards the Nobel, wrote about the importance of his discovery ahead of the ceremony in 2013. “Even when the universe seems empty this field is there. Without it, we would not exist, because it is from contact with the field that particles acquire mass.” The Nobel was shared with François Englert, a Belgian theoretical physicist whose work in 1964 contributed to the discovery.

    "At the beginning I had no idea whether a discovery would be made in my lifetime”, Higgs once said. He leaves two sons, Chris and Jonny, his daughter-in-law Suzanne and two grandchildren. His former wife Jody, a linguistics professor, died in 2008.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • How to watch The Triple-i Initiative indie game showcase at 1PM ET

    Summer Game Fest is still a couple of months away, as are major events from the likes of Ubisoft and Xbox. But you won9t have to wait that long for a smorgasbord of gaming announcements. A bunch of notable names in the indie gaming space have come together to host the first showcase from The Triple-i Initiative.

    The stream will start at 1PM ET on April 10 and run for around 45 minutes. You9ll be able to watch it above or on YouTube, Twitch, bilibili or Steam. The showcase will include world premieres, exclusive looks at gameplay, demo announcements and details of a sale.

    The organizers are promising more than 30 announcements with "no hosting segments, no advertisements, no sponsorships, no extra fluff, just games,” according to ​Benjamin Laulan, the COO of Dead Cells developer Evil Empire. That studio came up with the idea of The Triple-i Initiative (Triple-i is a riff on AAA, a signifier of high-budget, high-profile games) a couple of months ago.

    A bunch of notable developers have joined the collective. They include Red Hook (Darkest Dungeon), Mega Crit Games (Slay the Spire), Poncle (Vampire Survivors), Thunder Lotus (Spiritfarer), Re-Logic (Terraria), Extremely OK Games (Celeste) and Heart Machine (Hyper Light Breaker). In other words, the studios behind many of the biggest indie games of the last several years are on board, so this will be a showcase worth paying attention to.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Blizzard games are returning to China this summer
    Blizzard’s games will once again be available in China, over 15 months after titles such as World of Warcraft and Overwatch 2 went offline in the planet's largest gaming market. Blizzard has renewed its licensing agreement with long-time partner NetEase and many of its games will return to mainland China in the coming months.

    NetEase oversaw Blizzard games in China for 15 years, but their agreement expired in January 2023, leading to the likes of Hearthstone and Starcraft shutting down in the country. The two sides had kept discussions going over the last year and they finally reached a new deal.

    It'll take a little while for Blizzard and NetEase to resolve technical issues and get things in place for the relaunch, but the games are expected to come back online in China starting this summer. According to Bloomberg, players will be able to resume progress they’d previously made on their accounts.

    Blizzard could be set for a notable boost to its bottom line with its games coming back to China. Overwatch is one of its more popular games there — the country is said to have made up most of the Overwatch League’s viewership in the circuit’s later seasons. One pro team based in China didn’t play at all during OWL’s final season in 2023.

    In addition, Chinese players will for the first time officially be able to play Diablo IV, which Blizzard released last June and was an instant hit. (Diablo Immortal remained available in China during the spat with NetEase as that game was subject to a separate agreement.)

    Meanwhile, Blizzard’s parent company Microsoft has struck a separate deal with NetEase. They’ll explore the possibility of bringing NetEase games to Xbox consoles and other platforms.

    “Blizzard and NetEase have done incredible work to renew our commitment to players — Blizzard’s universes have been part of players’ lives in the region for many years,” Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming, said in a statement. “Returning Blizzard’s legendary games to players in China while exploring ways to bring more new titles to Xbox demonstrates our commitment to bringing more games to more players around the world.”
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at

  • Apple's 10th-gen iPad returns to a record low of $349
    While the arrival of new iPad Pro and Air models seems imminent, rumor has it we won't be getting a classic update until next year. If you have no interest in waiting and want to explore some of the best iPads on the market, then the Apple 10th-generation iPad's current sale is for you. The 64GB Wi-Fi model is back down to its record-low price of $349 from $449 — a 22 percent cut. The discounted iPad is available right away in the blue version or for an extra dollar when applying a $79 coupon to the silver model. 

    Apple released its 10th-gen iPad in 2022 and garnered an85 in our review. It offered a new look and features, with new design elements such as a 10.9-inch screen and a Touch ID moving to the lock button. It also offers a liquid retina display with a 2360x1640p resolution.

    The 10th-gen iPad comes with an A14 chip — a step up from the ninth-gen's A13 but still not as strong as the M1 and M2 that power the iPad Air and Pro. It comes with a solid battery that lasts 11 hours and 45 minutes if you play iTunes movies on rotation and almost 10 hours when you're working with an attached keyboard. 

    Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.
    This article originally appeared on Engadget at


  • Discord is nuking Nintendo Switch emulator devs and their entire servers
    Discord has shut down the Discord servers for the Nintendo Switch emulators Suyu and Sudachi and has completely disabled their lead developers’ accounts — and the company isn’t answering our questions about why it went that far. Both Suyu and Sudachi began as forks of Yuzu, the emulator that Nintendo sued out of existence on March 4th. ↫ Sean Hollister at The Verge This is exactly what people were worried about when Nintendo and Yuzu settled for millions of dollars. Even though its a settlement and not a court ruling, and even tough the code to Yuzu is entirely unaffected by the settlement and freely shareable and usable by anyone, and even though emulators are legal  the chilling effect this settlement is having is absolutely undeniable. Here we have Discord going far beyond its own official policy, without even giving the affected parties any recourse. Its absolutely wild, and highlights just how dangerous it is to rely on Discord for, well, anything. I wish that for once, wed actually see a case related to console emulation go to court in either the EU or the US, to make it even clearer that yes, unless you distribute copyrighted code like game ROMs or console firmware, emulators are entirely legal and without any risk. You know, a recent court ruling we could point to to dissuade bullies like Nintendo from threatening innocent developers and ruining their lives because of entirely legal activities. And let me reiterate: dont use Discord as for anything other than basic chat. This platform aint got your back.

  • DwarfFS: a read-only compression file system
    DwarFS is a read-only file system with a focus on achieving very high compression ratios in particular for very redundant data. DwarFS also doesnt compromise on speed and for my use cases Ive found it to be on par with or perform better than SquashFS. For my primary use case, DwarFS compression is an order of magnitude better than SquashFS compression, its 6 times faster to build the file system, its typically faster to access files on DwarFS and it uses less CPU resources. ↫ DwarfFS GitHub page DwarfFS supports both Linux, macOS, and Windows, but macOS and Windows support is experimental at this point. It seems to have higher compression ratios at faster speeds than various alternatives, so if you have a use case for compression file systems  give DwarfFS a look.

  • OpenBSD is a cozy operating system
    With the recent release of OpenBSD 7.5, I decided to run through my personal OpenBSD installer! for laptop/desktop devices. The project is built off of the dwm tiling window manager and only installs a few basic packages. The last time I updated it was with the release of 7.3, so its been due for an minor rework. While making these minor changes, I remembered how incredibly easy the entire install process for OpenBSD is and how cozy the entire operating system feels. All the core systems just work out the box. Yes, you need to patch! in WiFi with a firmware update, so youll need an Ethernet connection during the initial setup. Yes, the default desktop environment is not intuitive or ideal for newcomers. But the positives heavily outweigh the negatives (in my opinion). ↫ Bradley Taunt OpenBSD has a very dedicated community, and Ive noticed they tend to be very helpful and friendly. Its making me curious about trying it out, and both this article and the helpful posts it links to will be a great way to start.

  • Android 15 Beta 1 is here, but details are still under wraps
    After two months of developer previews, Google has finally released Android 15 Beta 1. While the beta usually offers more user-facing changes, Google is still pretty light on details with this build, giving us only a few more details on what we can expect. Instead, the company is pointing to Google I/O for more details, which will take place on May 14 this year, basically confirming that this is when we will get the second beta with more features. ↫ Manuel Vonau Theres very little of interest in this beta, so unless youre really into Android development, Id wait out installing any betas until after Google I/O.

  • GNU Hurd ported to AArch64, and more Hurd news
    Hurd, the kernel that is supposed to form the basis of the GNU operating system, is perpetually a research project that doesnt get anywhere close to being a replacement for Linux, but that doesnt mean the project doesnt make progress and has a place in the world of operating systems. Their most recent major improvement has been porting GNU Hurd to AArch64, spearheaded by Hurd developer Sergey Bugaev. Since then, however, I have been (some may say, relentlessly) working on filling in the missing piece, namely porting GNU Mach (with important help 8 contributions by Luca D.). I am happy to report that we now have an experimental port of GNU Mach that builds and works on AArch64! While that may sound impressive, note that various things about it are in an extremely basic, proof-of-concept state rather than being seriously production-ready; and also that Mach is a small kernel (indeed, a microkernel), and it was designed from the start (back in the 80s) to be portable, so most of the buisness logic! functionality (virtual memory, IPC, tasks/threads/scheduler) is explicitly arch-independent. Despite the scary WIP proof-of-concept! status, there is enough functionality in Mach to run userland code, handle exceptions and syscalls, interact with the MMU to implement all the expected virtual memory semantics, schedule/switch tasks and threads, and so on. Moreover, all of GNU Machs userspace self-tests pass! ↫ Sergey Bugaev On top of all this, glibc works on the AArch64 port, and several important Hurd servers work as well, namely ext2fs, exec, startup, auth, and proc, as a do a number of basic UNIX programs. This is an exceptional effort, and highlights that while people tend to make fun of Hurd, its got some real talent working on it that bring the platform forward. While we may not see any widely usable release any time soon, every bit of progress helps and is welcome. Speaking of progress, the progress report for GNU Hurd covering the first quarter of 2024 has also been published, and it lists a number of other improvements and fixes made aside from the AArch64 port. For instance, the console will now use xkbcommon instead of X11 for handling keyboard layouts, which reduced code complexity a lot and improved keyboard layout coverage, to boot. The port of GDB to the 64 bit version of Hurd is also progressing, and SMP has seen a ton of fixes too. Another awesome bit of news comes from, once again, Sergey Bugaev, as he announced a new Hurd distribution based on Alpine Linux. Work on this project has only recently begun, but hes already had some success and about 299 Alpine packages are available. His reasons for starting this new project is that while Debian GNU/Hurd is a great base to work from for Hurd users and developers, Debian is also a bit strict and arcane in its packaging requirements, which might make sense for Debian GNU/Linux, but is annoying to work with when youre trying to get a lot of low-level work done. For now, theres no name yet, and hes asking for help from the Hurd community for name ideas, hosting, and so on. Thats a lot of GNU Hurd progress this quarter, and thats good news.

  • Humane AI pins review confirm what we already expected: its useless trash
    I didnt want to spend too much time on this thing, but I feel like we can all use a good laugh at a stupid product hyped only by the tech media. The Verge reviewed the Humane AI pin, and entirely predictably, its a complete and utter trashfire. But until all of that happens, and until the whole AI universe gets better, faster, and more functional, the AI Pin isn’t going to feel remotely close to being done. It’s a beta test, a prototype, a proof of concept that maybe someday there might be a killer device that does all of these things. I know with absolute certainty that the AI Pin is not that device. It’s not worth $700, or $24 a month, or all the time and energy and frustration that using it requires. It’s an exciting idea and an infuriating product.` AI gadgets might one day be great. But this isn’t that day, and the AI Pin isn’t that product. I’ll take my phone back now, thanks. ↫ David Pierce at The Verge It takes dozens of seconds to reply to any query, the battery is severely lacking, the answers you get are mostly wrong or useless, sending text messages is effectively broken, and tons of promised features dont work because theyre not implemented. In another video review, MrMobile also shows the device overheating all the time, a problem thats common to all of the devices. I dont think trashfire is harsh enough to describe this junk.

  • So it begins: Microsoft starts showing full-screen ads about the end of Windows 10 support
    We are about 18 months away from the end of mainstream Windows 10 support, but Microsoft thinks it is time to start nagging warning Windows 10 users about the inevitable. Users on Reddit report spotting a new full-screen ad with a notification that Windows 10 is about to reach its end of life in October 2025, even though it is still getting new features (there are even rumors about Microsoft re-opening the Windows Insider Program for Windows 10). ↫ Taras Buria at Neowin I mean, I have a long history of crying foul over Windows being adware now, but I dont think warning users that their operating system is losing support and that they should upgrade to a new version really constitutes an ad. Sure, technically it does, but I think we can all agree that such a warning is useful and informative.

  • EUs new tech laws are working; small mobile browsers gain market share
    Independent browser companies in the European Union are seeing a spike in users in the first month after EU legislation forced Alphabets Google, Microsoft and Apple to make it easier for users to switch to rivals, according to data provided to Reuters by six companies. The early results come after the EUs sweeping Digital Markets Act, which aims to remove unfair competition, took effect on March 7, forcing big tech companies to offer mobile users the ability to select from a list of available web browsers from a choice screen.! ↫ Supantha Mukherjee and Foo Yun Chee I cant believe this is even remotely surprising. A lot of especially Apple fans and people from outside of the European Union complained left, right, and centre about the choice screen and how it was ugly, unnecessary, and would just confuse users. These are interesting claims, considering the fact that setting up a modern smartphone such as the iPhone takes the user through 40-50 setup screens chockful of confusing choices to make, so adding one more surely wouldnt make a difference. Of course giving users the option to choose a different default browser would lead to an increase in browsers other than Safari (iOS) or Chrome (Android) being set as the default. Im pretty sure quite a few users learned, through the choice screen, for the first time, that there even are different browsers to choose from, and that some of those might offer features and benefits they didnt even know they could enjoy. Thats the whole point of this endeavour: informing users that they have a choice, something Apple, Google, and others would rather you either do not have, or at least not know about. Its far too early to tell if these spikes are a one-off thing, or if the rise in browsers other than Safari on iOS and Chrome on Android is more structural. I wouldnt be surprised if its the latter, and even if the numbers remain in the single digits or low double digits, it will still lead to an increase in competition, and a more vibrant mobile browser market. Good news, regardless.

  • Microsoft details new features coming in Windows Server 2025
    Microsoft recently held a streaming event in which it detailed a lot of the new features and changes coming in Windows server 2025, and has now followed that up with a blog post, as well. Theres a lot to go over here, and Im anything but a Windows Server specialist, so Ill highlight some of the thing Im certain will be welcomed by Windows Server administrators. First and foremost, the biggest improvement: hot-patching. Security updates can be installed without having to reboot, because Server 2025 will modify code in memory without restarting the processes in question. Quarterly updates, however, will still require reboots. Hot-patching will be free on all versions of Server 2025. Microsoft also promises a massive performance boost for NVMe drives  the company claims a 70% improvement going from Server 2022 to Server 2025. Microsofts other file system, ReFS, is also seeing improvements, and Storage Replicas compression will be available in all editions of Windows Server 2025. A major improvement in Hyper-V is the ability to partition GPUs, so you can use one GPU to power multiple virtual machines. As far as licensing goes, the most important news here is that youll still be able to buy a normal, regular, run-of-the-mill perpetual license for Windows Server 2025, so even though theres various more modern options, you can also just opt for the way its always been.

  • Microsoft may want to add a dedicated Windows 11 button for ads and promos
    The company is seemingly contemplating on whether to add a new Recommended! button on the Taskbar. Interestingly, it is unfinished at the moment, or perhaps Microsoft is just not sure if it should proceed with this button at all. ↫ Sayan Sen at Neowin The beatings will continue until morale improves.

  • Why does part of the Windows 98 Setup program look older than the rest?!
    Well, this is something I never knew. Over on the retrocomputing section of StackExchange, someone asked why the second phase of the Windows 98 installation looked decidedly different from the third phase, even though theyre both graphical phases (the first phase is textual). The answer turns out to be both surprising, and entirely predictable. The first phase is a DOS program called DOSSETUP.BIN, which is the infamous blue part of the installation. The second part, however, is what were interested in here, and if the first phase is DOS, and the third phase is Windows 98 itself0 What do you think the second phase is running? Yeah, exactly. Basically, because it is running under Windows 3.1 at that point. The second uses this minimal Windows 3.1 to run a Windows 3 program, W98SETUP.BIN (specified as the “shell” in SYSTEM.INI). This starts by copying more files to support all the information-gathering during setup, and various other niceties including the 3D look shown in your screenshot (the contents of the PRECOPY CABs); it ends by copying most of Windows 98, setting the system up so that it will boot Windows 98 from the target drive, and rebooting. ↫ Stephen Kitt So, in order to install Windows 98, you first run DOS, followed by Windows 3.1, ending in Windows 98. I have no idea why this is so funny to me, especially since it fits entirely within expectations of how Microsoft does things.

  • iXsystems: focusing on Linux makes more sense than FreeBSD
    A few weeks ago we talked about how iXsystems, the company behind TrueNAS CORE and SCALE, has all but confirmed that its FreeBSD-based CORE product will be put in maintenance mode, while the Linux-based SCALE product will get all the attention and focus from here on out. In an interview with Blocks 8 Files, the company gave more insight into this choice. “We had a huge chunk of our engineering staff spending time improving FreeBSD as opposed to working on features and functionalities. What’s happened now with the transition to having a Debian basis, the people I used to have 90 percent of their time working on FreeBSD, they’re working on ZFS features now … That’s what I want to see; value add for everybody versus sitting around, implementing something Linux had a years ago. And trying to maintain or backport, or just deal with something that you just didn’t get out of box on FreeBSD.” “It’s not knocking against FreeBSD. We love it. That’s our heritage. That’s our roots, I was on the CORE team elected twice. So believe me, if I felt like I could have stayed on FreeBSD for the next 20 years, I would have absolutely preferred to do that … But at some point, you gotta read the writing on the wall and say, well, all the the vendor supported-innovations are happening on the Linux side these days.” BSD aficionados don’t like this change. Moore said: “Talk is cheap and complaints are free. You know, everyone loves to complain about it. But … if people wanted to push FreeBSD forward for the last 15 years, they would have.” ↫ Chris Mellor at Blocks 8 Files Above all else, my personal north star is choice, especially in technology, and as such, I want iXsystems to keep focusing on FreeBSD so that not everyone is using Linux for server- and server-like workloads. The fact that TrueNAS was a FreeBSD-based product for this long was amazing, and I would definitely have preferred if it stayed that way for many, many more years to come. However, I dont think the people of TrueNAS are saying anything wrong or outrageous here. Theyve got employees to feed, and the money is in Linux, not FreeBSD. If they spend more money, time, and resources on getting FreeBSD on par with features Linux has had for ages than on actually developing their own product  TrueNAS  then theyre fighting a losing battle. Honestly, Im surprised its taken them this long to take this controversial step. All we can hope for is that the things they work on, the features they develop, will make it to FreeBSD regardless.

  • HP 200LX and related palmtops
    The HP 200 LX was a successful palmtop computer introduced in 1994. HP continued to sell it through 1999, an unusually long run for a 1990s computer model. In this blog post, we’ll dig into this largely forgotten form factor and why it became such a quiet success. ↫ Dave Farquhar These devices are incredibly cool, but I disagree that they disappeared, as the blog post states. Just recently I reviewed my main laptop, a very small Chuwi MiniBook (2023) with the N100, and in that article I also listed some other similar options that are still being made and sold today, from companies like GPD and OneNetbook.

  • Beeper leaves beta, acquired by Automattic
    If you haven’t already heard of Beeper, welcome! Beeper is a universal chat app for Android, iOS and desktop. Our goal is to build the best chat app on earth. Beeper is built on an open source chat protocol called Matrix. Over time, we’ll help people migrate from proprietary, siloed chat networks to an open standard for chat. If you’re interested in learning about this, we’ve written more about our intentions. ↫ Beeper team Beeper is just great. Because Im European and have ties to two different countries with vastly different chat preferences, as well as a number of friends living all over Europe and the US, Ive always had to deal with at least four different instant messaging applications. Beeper, and especially the recent completely redesigned Android version, is so good and seamless that I no longer need to use the individual applications at all. Its not perfect  the new Android version (the iOS version is old and outdated compared to the Android one) still has some issues. If you receive a video and play it, it doesnt maximise unless you perform a very delicate zoom in pinch. Sometimes, sending video fails. Some emoji replies on some services look huge and pixellated. Im sure these are all relatively low-hanging fruit types of bugs thatll get fixes over the coming weeks and months now that the application is out of beta. However, the actual core of the application has been working amazingly well for me. Beeper also has another major announcement. I’m excited to announce that Beeper has been acquired by Automattic. This acquisition marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter as we continue our mission to create the best chat app on earth. ↫ Eric Migicovsky Automattic is the company behind WordPress, Tumblr, Pocket Casts, and a whole load of other products and services. Beeper seems like a good fit, since Automattic recently also acquired, another multi-platform messaging client.

  • Google details privacy and security features of its new Find My Device network
    Yesterday, I posted an item about the updated Find My Device network Google launched for Android, but I forgot to link to an additional blog post by Google about the various security and privacy precautions theyve taken. One aspect in particular stands out as something new that Apples Find My network doesnt do (yet): This is a first-of-its-kind safety protection that makes unwanted tracking to a private location, like your home, more difficult. By default, the Find My Device network requires multiple nearby Android devices to detect a tag before reporting its location to the tags owner. Our research found that the Find My Device network is most valuable in public settings like cafes and airports, where there are likely many devices nearby. By implementing aggregation before showing a tag’s location to its owner, the network can take advantage of its biggest strength – over a billion Android devices that can participate. This helps tag owners find their lost devices in these busier locations while prioritizing safety from unwanted tracking near private locations. In less busy areas, last known location and Nest finding are reliable ways to locate items. ↫ Dave Kleidermacher In addition, when youre at home, your devices wont contribute any information either. Theres a whole bunch of other things in there, too, so head on over if youre curious.

Linux Journal News

  • New 'Mirrored' Network Mode Introduced in Windows Subsystem for Linux

    Microsoft's Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) continues to evolve with the release of WSL 2 version 0.0.2. This update introduces a set of opt-in preview features designed to enhance performance and compatibility.

    Key additions include "Automatic memory reclaim" which dynamically optimizes WSL's memory footprint, and "Sparse VHD" to shrink the size of the virtual hard disk file. These improvements aim to streamline resource usage.

    Additionally, a new "mirrored networking mode" brings expanded networking capabilities like IPv6 and multicast support. Microsoft claims this will improve VPN and LAN connectivity from both the Windows host and Linux guest. 

    Complementing this is a new "DNS Tunneling" feature that changes how DNS queries are resolved to avoid compatibility issues with certain network setups. According to Microsoft, this should reduce problems connecting to the internet or local network resources within WSL.

    Advanced firewall configuration options are also now available through Hyper-V integration. The new "autoProxy" feature ensures WSL seamlessly utilizes the Windows system proxy configuration.

    Microsoft states these features are currently rolling out to Windows Insiders running Windows 11 22H2 Build 22621.2359 or later. They remain opt-in previews to allow testing before final integration into WSL.

    By expanding WSL 2 with compelling new capabilities in areas like resource efficiency, networking, and security, Microsoft aims to make Linux on Windows more performant and compatible. This evolutionary approach based on user feedback highlights Microsoft's commitment to WSL as a key part of the Windows ecosystem.

  • Linux Threat Report: Earth Lusca Deploys Novel SprySOCKS Backdoor in Attacks on Government Entities

    The threat actor Earth Lusca, linked to Chinese state-sponsored hacking groups, has been observed utilizing a new Linux backdoor dubbed SprySOCKS to target government organizations globally. 

    As initially reported in January 2022 by Trend Micro, Earth Lusca has been active since at least 2021 conducting cyber espionage campaigns against public and private sector targets in Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America. Their tactics include spear-phishing and watering hole attacks to gain initial access. Some of Earth Lusca's activities overlap with another Chinese threat cluster known as RedHotel.

    In new research, Trend Micro reveals Earth Lusca remains highly active, even expanding operations in the first half of 2023. Primary victims are government departments focused on foreign affairs, technology, and telecommunications. Attacks concentrate in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and the Balkans regions. 

    After breaching internet-facing systems by exploiting flaws in Fortinet, GitLab, Microsoft Exchange, Telerik UI, and Zimbra software, Earth Lusca uses web shells and Cobalt Strike to move laterally. Their goal is exfiltrating documents and credentials, while also installing additional backdoors like ShadowPad and Winnti for long-term spying.

    The Command and Control server delivering Cobalt Strike was also found hosting SprySOCKS - an advanced backdoor not previously publicly reported. With roots in the Windows malware Trochilus, SprySOCKS contains reconnaissance, remote shell, proxy, and file operation capabilities. It communicates over TCP mimicking patterns used by a Windows trojan called RedLeaves, itself built on Trochilus.

    At least two SprySOCKS versions have been identified, indicating ongoing development. This novel Linux backdoor deployed by Earth Lusca highlights the increasing sophistication of Chinese state-sponsored threats. Robust patching, access controls, monitoring for unusual activities, and other proactive defenses remain essential to counter this advanced malware.

    The Trend Micro researchers emphasize that organizations must minimize attack surfaces, regularly update systems, and ensure robust security hygiene to interrupt the tactics, techniques, and procedures of relentless threat groups like Earth Lusca.

  • Linux Kernel Faces Reduction in Long-Term Support Due to Maintenance Challenges

    The Linux kernel is undergoing major changes that will shape its future development and adoption, according to Jonathan Corbet, Linux kernel developer and executive editor of Linux Weekly News. Speaking at the Open Source Summit Europe, Corbet provided an update on the latest Linux kernel developments and a glimpse of what's to come.

    A major change on the horizon is a reduction in long-term support (LTS) for kernel versions from six years to just two years. Corbet explained that maintaining old kernel branches indefinitely is unsustainable and most users have migrated to newer versions, so there's little point in continuing six years of support. While some may grumble about shortened support lifecycles, the reality is that constantly backporting fixes to ancient kernels strains maintainers.

    This maintainer burnout poses a serious threat, as Corbet highlighted. Maintaining Linux is largely a volunteer effort, with only about 200 of the 2,000+ developers paid for their contributions. The endless demands on maintainers' time from fuzz testing, fixing minor bugs, and reviewing contributions takes a toll. Prominent maintainers have warned they need help to avoid collapse. Companies relying on Linux must realize giving back financially is in their interest to sustain this vital ecosystem. 

    The Linux kernel is also wading into waters new with the introduction of Rust code. While Rust solves many problems, it also introduces new complexities around language integration, evolving standards, and maintainer expertise. Corbet believes Rust will pass the point of no return when core features depend on it, which may occur soon with additions like Apple M1 GPU drivers. Despite skepticism in some corners, Rust's benefits likely outweigh any transition costs.

    On the distro front, Red Hat's decision to restrict RHEL cloning sparked community backlash. While business considerations were at play, Corbet noted technical factors too. Using older kernels with backported fixes, as RHEL does, risks creating divergent, vendor-specific branches. The Android model of tracking mainline kernel dev more closely has shown security benefits. Ultimately, Linux works best when aligned with the broader community.

    In closing, Corbet recalled the saying "Linux is free like a puppy is free." Using open source seems easy at first, but sustaining it long-term requires significant care and feeding. As Linux is incorporated into more critical systems, that maintenance becomes ever more crucial. The kernel changes ahead are aimed at keeping Linux healthy and vibrant for the next generation of users, businesses, and developers.

  • Linux Celebrates 32 Years with the Release of 6.6-rc2 Version

    Today marks the 32nd anniversary of Linus Torvalds introducing the inaugural Linux 0.01 kernel version, and celebrating this milestone, Torvalds has launched the Linux 6.6-rc2. Among the noteworthy updates are the inclusion of a feature catering to the ASUS ROG Flow X16 tablet's mode handling and the renaming of the new GenPD subsystem to pmdomain.

    The Linux 6.6 edition is progressing well, brimming with exciting new features that promise to enhance user experience. Early benchmarks are indicating promising results, especially on high-core-count servers, pointing to a potentially robust and efficient update in the Linux series.

    Here is what Linus Torvalds had to say in today's announcement:
    Another week, another -rc.I think the most notable thing about 6.6-rc2 is simply that it'sexactly 32 years to the day since the 0.01 release. And that's a roundnumber if you are a computer person.Because other than the random date, I don't see anything that reallystands out here. We've got random fixes all over, and none of it looksparticularly strange. The genpd -> pmdomain rename shows up in thediffstat, but there's no actual code changes involved (make sure touse "git diff -M" to see them as zero-line renames).And other than that, things look very normal. Sure, the architecturefixes happen to be mostly parisc this week, which isn't exactly theusual pattern, but it's also not exactly a huge amount of changes.Most of the (small) changes here are in drivers, with some tracingfixes and just random things. The shortlog below is short enough toscroll through and get a taste of what's been going on. Linus Torvalds

  • Introducing Bavarder: A User-Friendly Linux Desktop App for Quick ChatGPT Interaction

    Want to interact with ChatGPT from your Linux desktop without using a web browser?

    Bavarder, a new app, allows you to do just that.

    Developed with Python and GTK4/libadwaita, Bavarder offers a simple concept: pose a question to ChatGPT, receive a response, and promptly copy the answer (or your inquiry) to the clipboard for pasting elsewhere.

    With an incredibly user-friendly interface, you won't require AI expertise (or a novice blogger) to comprehend it. Type your question in the top box, click the blue send button, and wait for a generated response to appear at the bottom. You can edit or modify your message and repeat the process as needed.

    During our evaluation, Bavarder employed BAI Chat, a GPT-3.5/ChatGPT API-based chatbot that's free and doesn't require signups or API keys. Future app versions will incorporate support for alternative backends, such as ChatGPT 4 and Hugging Chat, and allow users to input an API key to utilize ChatGPT3.

    At present, there's no option to regenerate a response (though you can resend the same question for a potentially different answer). Due to the lack of a "conversation" view, tracking a dialogue or following up on answers can be challenging — but Bavarder excels for rapid-fire questions.

    As with any AI, standard disclaimers apply. Responses might seem plausible but could contain inaccurate or false information. Additionally, it's relatively easy to lead these models into irrational loops, like convincing them that 2 + 2 equals 106 — so stay alert!

    Overall, Bavarder is an attractive app with a well-defined purpose. If you enjoy ChatGPT and similar technologies, it's worth exploring.
    ChatGPT AI

  • LibreOffice 7.5.3 Released: Third Maintenance Update Brings 119 Bug Fixes to Popular Open-Source Office Suite

    Today, The Document Foundation unveiled the release and widespread availability of LibreOffice 7.5.3, which serves as the third maintenance update to the current LibreOffice 7.5 open-source and complimentary office suite series.

    Approximately five weeks after the launch of LibreOffice 7.5.2, LibreOffice 7.5.3 arrives with a new set of bug fixes for those who have successfully updated their GNU/Linux system to the LibreOffice 7.5 series.

    LibreOffice 7.5.3 addresses a total of 119 bugs identified by users or uncovered by LibreOffice developers. For a more comprehensive understanding of these bug fixes, consult the RC1 and RC2 changelogs.

    You can download LibreOffice 7.5.3 directly from the LibreOffice websiteor from SourceForge as binary installers for DEB or RPM-based GNU/Linux distributions. A source tarball is also accessible for individuals who prefer to compile the software from sources or for system integrators.

    All users operating the LibreOffice 7.5 office suite series should promptly update their installations to the new point release, which will soon appear in the stable software repositories of your GNU/Linux distributions.

    In early February 2023, LibreOffice 7.5 debuted as a substantial upgrade to the widely-used open-source office suite, introducing numerous features and improvements. These enhancements encompass major upgrades to dark mode support, new application and MIME-type icons, a refined Single Toolbar UI, enhanced PDF Export, and more.

    Seven maintenance updates will support LibreOffice 7.5 until November 30th, 2023. The next point release, LibreOffice 7.5.4, is scheduled for early June and will include additional bug fixes.

    The Document Foundation once again emphasizes that the LibreOffice office suite's "Community" edition is maintained by volunteers and members of the Open Source community. For enterprise implementations, they suggest using the LibreOffice Enterprise family of applications from ecosystem partners.

  • Raspberry Pi OS Debuts New Version Featuring Linux Kernel 6.1, Improved Performance, and App Updates

    Today, the Raspberry Pi Foundation unveiled a fresh edition of their official Raspberry Pi OS distribution tailored for Raspberry Pi computers, featuring component updates, bug fixes, and several performance enhancements.

    The most significant alteration in the Raspberry Pi OS 2023-05-03 release is the transition from the long-term supported Linux 5.15 LTS kernel to the long-term supported Linux 6.1 LTS kernel. This shift is expected to boost the performance of Raspberry Pi devices.

    Indeed, current Raspberry Pi OS users, like myself, were already utilizing the Linux 6.1 LTS kernel when executing the rpi-update command via a terminal emulator. However, Linux 6.1 LTS is now the standard kernel in new Raspberry Pi OS images, available for download from the official website for those planning to install it on their Raspberry Pi computer.

    Various applications have received updates in this new Raspberry Pi OS version. The most notable is Chromium 113, the default browser for Raspberry Pi OS. In addition to incorporating the latest security patches, Chromium 113 introduces WebGPU support by default, potentially enhancing the performance of web apps and overall browsing experience.

    Other updates include Raspberry Pi Imager 1.7.4, RealVNC Viewer, RealVNC Server, Mathematica 13.2.1, and Matlab 23.1.0. Another intriguing update is the revised VLC hardware acceleration patch, designed to enhance video playback performance.

    The libcamera and libcamera-apps elements have also been updated to refine IMX296 sensor tuning, enhance audio resampling and encoding management using the libav library, boost the performance of Qt preview window rendering, optimize thumbnail rendering, support 16-bit Bayer in the DNG writer, manage generalized statistics, and rectify an overflow problem that caused inaccurate calculations in the AGC algorithm.

    The picamera2 library has also been updated, incorporating an MJPEG server example that utilizes the hardware MJPEG encoder, an example showcasing a preview from two cameras within a single Qt app, the capacity for the H.264 encoder to accept frame time intervals for SPS headers, promote the correct profile/level, and support constant quality parameters, as well as introduce new Exif DateTime and DateTimeOriginal tags.

    Several bugs were addressed, including an occasional segfault in the CPU temperature plugin, an X11 server crash when altering screen orientation, X11 server DPMS malfunctions, and the addition of new language translations.

  • Debian 11.7 Released: Seventh ISO Update Brings Enhanced Security and Bug Fixes to "Bullseye" Operating System Series

    The Debian Project has unveiled the release and widespread availability of Debian 11.7, serving as the seventh ISO update to the current Debian GNU/Linux 11 "Bullseye" operating system series.

    Arriving approximately four and a half months after Debian 11.6, Debian 11.7 delivers updated installation media for those seeking to install the Debian GNU/Linux 11 "Bullseye" operating system series on new computers. This ensures that users won't need to download numerous updates from repositories following installation.

    Debian 11.7 incorporates all security and software updates from December 17th, 2022, the release date of Debian GNU/Linux 11.6, up until today. In total, Debian 11.7 consists of 102 security updates and various bug fixes for 92 packages.

    For more information on these security updates and bug fixes, consult the release announcement. The Debian Project emphasizes that this Debian Bullseye point release does not represent a new version of Debian GNU/Linux 11 but merely updates certain included packages.

    The Debian 11.7 installation images can be downloaded from the Debian website or via this direct link for 64-bit (amd64), 32-bit (i386), PowerPC 64-bit Little Endian (ppc64el), IBM System z (s390x), MIPS 64-bit Little Endian (mips64el), MIPS 32-bit Little Endian (mipsel), MIPS, Armel, ARMhf, and AArch64 (arm64) hardware architectures.

    Debian 11.7 live images, pre-installed with the KDE Plasma, GNOME, Xfce, LXQt, LXDE, Cinnamon, and MATE desktop environments, can also be downloaded from the aforementioned link, but only for 64-bit and 32-bit systems.

    Current Debian GNU/Linux 11 "Bullseye" users do not need to download these new ISO images to maintain up-to-date installations. Instead, they should regularly execute the sudo apt update && sudo apt full-upgrade commands in a terminal emulator.

  • What’s New in Debian 11 “Bullseye”?
    Debian is a preferred choice of millions of Linux users for some of the most popular and powerful operating systems, like Ubuntu and its derivatives are based on Debian.
    Debian 11has finally been released, finally, after a long development work of two years. Bullseye – that’s the name given to this latest Debian Linux distro. So what are the updates and upgrades? In this article, let’s check out what’s new in Debian 11.
    Debian 11’s ArchitectureDebian supports a good range of hardware architectures. 
    Supported Architectures
    ARM EABI (armel) ARMv7 (EABI hard-float ABI and armhf) 64-bit ARM (arm64) 32-bit PC (i386) 64-bit PC (amd64) Little-endian MIPS (mipsel) 64-bit little-endian PowerPC 64-bit little-endian MIPS IBM System z (s390x)Not Supported Hardware
    Old MIPS 32-bit CPUsLinux Kernel InformationDebian 11 supports the Linux Kernel 5.10 LTS. Debian 10 Buster, the earlier version to Debian 11, used Linux Kernel 4.19 while released. A newer kernel means a new set of bug fixes, new hardware support, and improved performance.
    This is the perfect kernel for Debian bullseye considering the Debian lifecycle.   
    Supports exFATexFAT is the shortened form of the Extensible File Allocation Table. It’s a filesystem used for flash memory, such as SD cards and USB flash drives.
    Now Debian 11 provides support for the exFAT. For mounting the exFAT filesystem, you don’t need the filesystem-in-userspace implementation provided by the exfat-fuse package additionally anymore. Thanks to kernel 5.10! exFAT comes in handy with it. Tools for checking and creating an exFAT are given in the exfatprogs package.
    Bauhaus Movement Inspired Theme & WallpaperDebian features cool wallpapers and a default theme for each of the major releases. Debian 11’s theme is inspired by the Bauhaus movement. Bauhaus means “building house” and it was an art and design movement from 20th century Germany. The Bauhaus movement revolved around abstract, geometric style featuring little emotion or sentiments. 
    Its modern aesthetic still is immensely influential for designers, architects, and artists. You can see this theme all through Debian 11 whether it’s the installer, login window, or the Grub menu.
    Newer Desktop Environment VersionsDebian 11 offers newer desktop environment versions. Desktop flavors you get here are, KDE Plasma 5.20, GNOME 3.38, LXDE 11, LXQt 0.16, Xfce 4.16, and MATE 1.24. Debian prefers stability and it’s quite clear from the desktop environments. You might not get the latest cutting-edge distributions like Fedora or Arch/Manjaro.
    Updated PackagesDebian 11 consists of more than 11,294 new packages out of 59,551 packages. It also reduced over 9,519 “obsolete” packages and removed 42,821 that were updated. A total of 5,434 packages remained as they were.
    A good number of software applications and package updates are included in Debian bullseye, such as Apache 2.4.48, Calligra 3.2, Emacs 27.1, LibreOffice 7.0, Inkscape 1.0.2, Linux kernel 5.10 series, Perl 5.32, PHP 7.4, Vim 8.2, PostgreSQL 13, and the list goes on. All these ready-to-use software packages are built with over 30,000 source packages.
    With this huge selection of packages and wide architecture support, Debian has always stayed committed to its aim of being The Universal Operating System.
    Improved Printer and Scanner FeaturesDebian 11 presents a new ipp-usb package. It is built with a vendor-neutral IPP-over-USB protocol that is supported by many latest printers. So, many modern-day printers will be supported now by Debian. And you won’t need the drivers for that.
    SANE driverless backend lets you use scanners without any trouble.
    EndnotesWant to try Debian Bullseye? Get it from here. You can also check “bullseye” with Live Images without installing it on your PC. This will load and run the entire OS in read-only mode. These live images are available for the i386 and amd64 architectures in the form of USB sticks, DVDs, and netboot setups. Debian Live has a standard image. So you can try a basic Debian without any GUIs.
    And that’s the ending of this article. Hope you find our Debian 11 guide helpful.
    #Linux Debian News

  • Nvidia Linux drivers causing random hard crashes and now a major security risk still not fixed after 5+ months
    Image The recent fiasco with Nvidia trying to block Hardware Unboxed from future GPU review samples for the content of their review is one example of how they choose to play this game. This hatred is not only shared by reviewers, but also developers and especially Linux users.
    The infamous Torvalds videos still traverse the web today as Nvidia conjures up another evil plan to suck up more of your money and market share. This is not just one off shoot case; oh how much I wish it was. I just want my computer to work.
    If anyone has used Sway-WM with an Nvidia GPU I’m sure they would remember the –my-next-gpu-wont-be-nvidia option.
    These are a few examples of many.
    The Nvidia Linux drivers have never been good but whatever has been happening at Nvidia for the past decade has to stop today. The topic in question today is this bug: []
    This bug causes hard irrecoverable crashes from driver 440+. This issue is still happening 5+ months later with no end in sight. At first users could work around this by using an older DKMS driver along with a LTS kernel. However today this is no longer possible. Many distributions of Linux are now dropping the old kernels. DKMS cannot build. The users are now FORCED with this “choice”:
    {Use an older driver and risk security implications} or {“use” the new drivers that cause random irrecoverable crashes.}
    This issue is only going to get more and more prevalent as the kernel is a core dependency by definition. This is just another example of the implications of an unsafe older kernel causing issue for users:
    If you use Linux or care about the implications of a GPU monopoly, consider AMD. Nvidia is already rearing its ugly head and AMD is actually putting up a fight this year.
    #Linux NVIDIA News

Linux Magazine News (path: lmi_news)

  • Linux Usage Increases in Two Key Areas
    If market share is your thing, you'll be happy to know that Linux is on the rise in two areas that, if they keep climbing, could have serious meaning for Linux's future.

  • Canonical Bumps LTS Support to 12 years
    If you're worried that your Ubuntu LTS release won't be supported long enough to last, Canonical has a surprise for you in the form of 12 years of security coverage.

  • Fedora 40 Beta Released Soon
    With the official release of Fedora 40 coming in April, it's almost time to download the beta and see what's new.

  • Fedora Unleashes Atomic Desktops
    Fedora has combined its solid distribution with rpm-ostree system to make it possible to deliver a new family of Fedora spins, called Fedora Atomic Desktops.

  • System76 Refreshes Serval WS Laptop
    With more and more users turning to AI workloads, System76 decided to raise the bar with its Serval WS laptop by upping the specs on a few key components.

Page last modified on November 17, 2022, at 06:39 PM