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Microsoft reverses Xbox Live price hike, will add free multiplayer for some games - Engadget
Microsoft won't raise the price of Xbox Live, and it's adding free multiplayer for free-to-play games like 'Fortnite.'
In one of the first positive Friday night news dumps I can remember, Microsoft has not only reversed course on its poorly-received plan to raise the price for Xbox Live, it’s adding a treat. Soon, for free-to-play games (like Fortnite or Apex Legends), multiplayer access will be free, making the Xbox a much more attractive platform for gamers on a budget. Playing a game like Fortnite on PlayStation Network or PC has always been free, and now Xbox Live will handle things the same way. The plans announced earlier today would’ve doubled the annual price for an Xbox Live Gold subscription that adds a number of benefits, but is mostly required for online multiplayer. Microsoft is pushing its expanded subscription that includes access to the Netflix-like Xbox Game Pass library, and the move would’ve brought the prices closer together for new members, but made it a lot more expensive to play on Xbox as a result. Now things are staying the same, but better.
SpaceX's first 'rideshare' mission will launch a record number of satellites - Engadget
The SpaceX Transporter-1 mission set to launch today will put 133 commercial and government spacecraft, as well as 10 more Starlink satellites, in orbit. SpaceX says that’s “the most spacecraft ever deployed on a single mission” — the previous record holder,…
The SpaceX Transporter-1 mission set to launch today will put 133 commercial and government spacecraft, as well as 10 more Starlink satellites, in orbit. SpaceX says that’s “the most spacecraft ever deployed on a single mission” — the previous record holder, an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, ferried only 104 satellites to space. In addition to having a record-breaking payload, Transporter-1 is also the first dedicated launch under the SmallSat Rideshare Program SpaceX announced back in 2019. Launching many small satellites for a wide range of customers tomorrow. Excited about offering low-cost access to orbit for small companies! https://t.co/NrXmBML747 — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 22, 2021 The SmallSat program offers companies and government agencies an affordable way to get their CubeSats, microsats and other small spacecraft to orbit. Its prices start at $2.5 million for payloads up to 150 kg (330 lbs). The program’s customers typically just hitch a ride on other Falcon 9 launches, and this is the first time they’re the main point of a mission. As for the Starlink satellites aboard the flight, they’ll be the first in the constellation to deploy to a polar orbit.
The first big 'Cyberpunk 2077' patch has arrived - Engadget
The 1.1 patch for 'Cyberpunk 2077' lays the groundwork for future updates, while also addressing memory management and crashes right now.
As promised, the first of two early-2021 patches for CD Projekt Red’s troubled Cyberpunk 2077 has arrived. This updates the game to version 1.1 on PC, consoles and Stadia, and according to the notes it lays the groundwork for future updates, while also addressing memory usage and crash problems. The patch, which is available now, comes in at between 6-9 GB on Steam, about 1GB via GOG, 16GB~ on Xbox or PS4.
The View40 is Honor's first phone after splitting from Huawei - Engadget
Honor has unveiled the flagship View40 5G, its first phone since it was sold off by Huawei.
Honor has unveiled the flagship View40 5G, its first phone since it was sold off by Huawei,Engadget Chinese has reported. Released in China as the V40, it could well come to Europe and elsewhere at a later date under the View brand. The V40’s headline feature is the 6.72-inch OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and 800 nits of maximum brightness. It’s powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 1000+ processor and offers 8GB of RAM, up to 256GB of storage, and a 4,000 mAh battery. The “Mahong-card” rear camera array offers a 50-megapixel main camera, 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle and 2-megapixel macro camera, along with a laser module to improve focus. The 16-megapixel front camera is lodged in a pill-shaped cutout.
The Morning After: LG might get out of the smartphone business - Engadget
Samsung's new flagship Galaxy phones are here, and Apple might bring back MagSafe on the next MacBook Pro.
In the US, today is Inauguration Day, and as Joe Biden prepares to take the oath as our 46th president, it’s worth taking a look back at the discussions four years ago. Back then, the “most tech-savvy” president exited as all eyes turned to Donald Trump trading in his Android Twitter machine for a secure device. We know how things went after that. Donald Trump isn’t tweeting anymore (at least not from his main accounts), and the country is struggling through a pandemic. The outgoing president just saw his temporary YouTube ban extended and, in one of his last official acts, pardoned Anthony Levandowski for stealing self-driving car secrets from Google’s subsidiary Waymo. On the other hand, the new chief executive is coming under scrutiny for owning a Peloton. Security of his exercise equipment aside, Biden’s administration will take over the designated social media handles after he’s sworn in, and Twitter has already provided a breakdown of how that will go down. — Richard Lawler You know you’re curious. So what’s inside a pair of $599 headphones? Apparently, lots of screws. You can almost feel the implicit praise in the “both intricate and overbuilt” description of the electromechanical hinge, which serves as a justification of that hefty price. Even better is knowing you can pop out the headband from the ear cups with a SIM tool or paperclip to further aid repairability. Check out the full teardown for more information, plus some bonus looks at the innards of competing headphones from Sony and Bose.Continue reading. After nearly six successive loss-making years and a $5 billion commitment. The Korea Herald reports that CEO Kwon Bong-seok said in a message to staffers it’s “about time for LG to make a cold judgment” on the ailing mobile division. Citing fierce competition in the handset market, the CEO said he’s looking at “sale, withdrawal and [a] downsizing of the smartphone business.” In 2016, Engadget asked when LG would finally lose patience with its loss-making mobile division after it fell into a second deep slump. The company had managed to claw its way back to profitability after a loss-making 2013, but after slipping again in 2015, it never seemed close to a recovery.Continue reading. Ten more patients are approved for trials in Israel. Developed by a company called CorNeat, the KPro is the first implant that can be integrated directly into the eye wall with no donor tissue to replace scarred or deformed corneas. Immediately after the surgery, the 78-year-old patient was able to recognize family members and read numbers on an eye chart. The CorNeat transplant is a relatively simple procedure compared to existing implants and uses a biomimetic material that supposedly “stimulates cellular proliferation, leading to progressive tissue integration.”Continue reading. ViacomCBS is ready to make a real streaming push. On the same day Netflix revealed it has over 200 million paying customers, ViacomCBS revealed a rebranding for its streaming service. This spring, CBS All Access will become Paramount+ in the US, before it launches in Nordic countries, Australia and Canada later in the year. Where All Access was originally focused on CBS and internet-only originals, the new offering includes shows from a host of ViacomCBS channels as well as Paramount’s movie library. In theory, you should have more reasons to subscribe beyond following the latest Star Trek series.Continue reading.
The Morning After: Your smartwatch might detect signs of COVID-19 before you do - Engadget
Your wearable, whether it’s an Apple Watch, Fitbit, or another fitness tracker, might offer an early detection system for COVID-19, based on your heart rate variability (HRV).
Your wearable, whether it’s an Apple Watch, Fitbit or another fitness tracker, might offer an early detection system for COVID-19, based on your heart rate variability (HRV). In a Mount Sinai study, researchers followed a group of 297 healthcare workers for roughly half a year and noted heartbeat changes that may indicate someone has the coronavirus, a full week before they feel sick. This would be particularly useful for asymptomatic people who can spread the virus and not appear or feel sick. A similar study by Stanford University of participants wearing trackers from Garmin, Fitbit, Apple and others found that 81 percent of patients testing positive for COVID-19 also saw changes in their resting heart rate up to nine and half days before presenting symptoms. Some companies are even planning dedicated wearables for clinical settings to help treat and monitor COVID-19. — Mat Smith The IEA says the sector's emissions need to drop by over 70 percent by 2030. The COVID-19 pandemic slowed down industry enough to create a small reduction in methane emissions, according to an International Energy Agency (IEA) report. The organization primarily attributed an approximate 10 percent drop in emissions from oil and gas companies to lower production amid reduced demand. However, it claimed those operations still released over 70 million tonnes (77 million tons) of methane into the atmosphere in 2020. Agriculture remains the largest source of human-generated methane emissions (around a quarter), followed by energy. According to the IEA, leaks from the natural gas value chain cause around 60 percent of the industry’s emissions. It’s these leaks that the agency wants to address, suggesting many could be remedied at no net cost after selling the retained methane. Continue reading. But the service is still unavailable. One week since it lost access to Amazon’s hosting servers, Parler’s website is back online, at least in a limited form. For now, it hosts a message from CEO John Matze, saying “We will resolve any challenge before us and plan to welcome all of you back soon.” According to CNN, Parler’s domain is currently registered with a DNS provider known for offering a safe haven to websites like 8chan and The Daily Stormer in the past. Getting a site online is just one of the challenges Parler needs to solve: Without access to the App Store and Google Play, Parler users won’t have an easy way of installing the software on their phones. Continue reading. It's lighter and better suited to modern music production. Last year, Korg announced a limited edition remake of the ARP 2600. Arguably the most iconic synth out there, it weighed about 68 pounds and would basically demand its own table or desk. So Korg has done its best to shrink the 2600 down, resulting in the ARP 2600 M. It’s about half the size and tips the scales at just 13 pounds, though it ditches the keyboard to help make weight. It isn’t a 100-percent faithful recreation of the ‘70s modular synth, but Korg expanded the feature set to make it work better in a modern music-making environment. It also has USB host capabilities, so you can connect any USB MIDI controller if you need the keyboard back. Continue reading. The gravitational wave discovery could help us understand the cosmos. Scientists may have identified the gravitational waves that make up some of the universe’s background, not just those coming from unusual events such as black-hole collisions. The NANOGrav research team discovered a “strong signal” that might represent the gravitational wave background. These are waves from supermassive black-hole mergers across the cosmos. This isn’t a definitive result just yet, but with further research, it could help to pinpoint the sources of those waves and, perhaps, how these ‘hidden’ forces shape the universe. Continue reading.
Samsung heir Jay Y. Lee is going back to jail for bribery - Engadget
Samsung heir Jay Y. Lee has been sentenced to 2.5 years of prison over bribery charges, wrapping up a court battle that started four years ago.
While in jail, Lee may be unable to make major decisions for Samsung at a crucial time when demand for its memory chips and other products are sky high. Korea and Samsung in particular have attained more prominence of late because of rocky US/China relations. In the trial’s final hearing, Lee made a lengthy apology and promised to make a “new Samsung,” and “fix what the court has pointed out as the harms of chaebol [family-owned conglomerate],” he said. He also vowed not to pass power down to his children. The sentence was based in part on the court’s evaluation of an independent compliance committee set up by Samsung to monitor wrongdoing by executives. Lee’s legal woes aren’t over yet, as he’s also on trial for alleged fraud and stock manipulation. He’s still expected to become chairman of Samsung once he goes free, following the death of his father Lee Kun-hee late last year.
Facebook and Google allegedly cut a deal that reduced ad competition - Engadget
Leaks have detailed a deal between Facebook and Google that allegedly reduced ad competition between the two companies, raising antitrust concerns.
Other Google ad partners didn’t get nearly as sweet a bargain, according to partners talking to the newspaper. Texas’ complaint effectively accused Google of guaranteeing a set number of ad wins for Facebook and putting rivals at a disadvantage. Facebook and Google have already rejected notions Jedi Blue was anti-competitive. A Facebook spokesperson claimed that deals like that with Google “help increase competition” in ad bids, and that arguments to the contrary were “baseless.” A Google spokesperson, meanwhile, said that Texas’ lawsuit “misrepresents” the deal and other aspects of its ad business. The search firm has published a blog post outlining its objections. That won’t necessarily sway regulators, though, and there are even suggestions the two tech giants were conscious of the potential for scrutiny. A clause in the deal required that the two “cooperate and assist” if there was an investigation into their practices, and the agreement mentioned “antitrust” at least 20 times. Don’t be surprised if Texas, other states and the DOJ use Jedi Blue to justify regulatory action against Facebook and Google, no matter how much the companies believe they’re in the right.
Bloomberg: 'Cyberpunk 2077' full development didn't start until 2016 - Engadget
In one of probably many dissections of CD Projekt Red’s missteps in making Cyberpunk 2077, Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier just published a piece investigating the game’s development. As the article explains, despite being announced in 2012, the company was still…
In one of probably many dissections of CD Projekt Red’s missteps in making Cyberpunk 2077, Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier just published a piece investigating the game’s development. His reporting doesn’t back up forum thread rumors about Keanu Reeves, instead it’s the more run-of-the-mill issue of unrealistic development timelines and failing to account for console hardware limitations. As the article explains, despite being announced in 2012, the company was still focused on The Witcher 3 and “full development” didn’t begin until 2016 when CD Projekt Red “hit the reset button.” The game’s impressive E3 2018 demo is described as “almost entirely fake.” Despite pledges from leadership that crunch wouldn’t be necessary, developers still felt pressured to work long hours, and when its spring 2020 release date was announced, they started taking bets on when it would be delayed.
NASA's Orion spacecraft is ready to fly to the Moon - Engadget
NASA's Orion spacecraft is complete and ready for its Artemis I test mission to the Moon later in 2021.
Lockheed Martin’s Orion spacecraft is one tangible step closer to taking people back to the Moon. The aerospace giant has completed assembly and testing of the Orion ship, and has transferred it to NASA ahead of the Artemis I test mission later in 2021. At this point, it’s just a matter of final prep work that includes loading propellants, integrating the launch abort system, and mounting the ship atop the SLS rocket. Artemis I is an uncrewed mission. Orion will orbit the Moon to help verify both its own systems as well as those of the SLS and ground teams ahead of Artemis II, the first mission with astronauts aboard. It’s not until Artemis III that people will return to the lunar surface.
NASA abandons InSight mission to crack the surface of Mars - Engadget
Martian soil does not behave in the way NASA engineers expected.
All is not lost, however, since the Mole’s failure has helped engineers develop different strategies for future missions. In addition, now that the InSight arm has been used in this manner, the probe will bury its seismometer to help it get cleaner, more accurate readings of the martian geology. And InSight’s mission isn’t over -- its expected lifespan has been extended until at least the end of 2022. InSight will be tasked with determining if the Martian core is liquid or solid, examining weather data and, when the Perseverance lands, building the first meteorological network humans have built on another planet. Just don’t ask it to help you put up a shelf.
US adds Xiaomi to list of alleged Chinese military companies - Engadget
The Trump administration has added Xiaomi to the US military list under the National Defense Authorization Act of 1999. “The Department is determined to highlight and counter the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) Military-Civil Fusion development strategy, …
“The Department is determined to highlight and counter the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) Military-Civil Fusion development strategy, which supports the modernization goals of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) by ensuring its access to advanced technologies and expertise acquired and developed by even those PRC companies, universities, and research programs that appear to be civilian entities.” Xiaomi, however, denies its connection to the Chinese military and said that it will take steps to protect the company and its shareholders. It said in a statement: “The Company reiterates that it provides products and services for civilian and commercial use. The Company confirms that it is not owned, controlled or affiliated with the Chinese military, and is not a ‘Communist Chinese Military Company’ defined under the NDAA.” CNBC reports that Xiaomi’s shares fell 10.6 percent at the open on Friday (China time) after the news broke. The US military blacklist is separate from the entity list, the country’s trade blacklist that’s been preventing US companies from working with Huawei. Aside from Xiaomi, the administration has also added planemaker Comac to the military blacklist, where it joins state-owned oil giant CNOOC and China’s largest chipmaker SMIC.