Skip to main content

Filed under:

Wednesday’s Top Tech News: Chips born in the USA

The worst of the global chip shortage may now (thankfully) be behind us, but the desire to get more processors manufactured in the US hasn’t gone away. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that both Apple CEO Tim Cook and POTUS himself Joe Biden saw fit to attend the launch of chip-maker TSMC’s upcoming Arizona facility. Cook confirmed that Apple plans to use chips made at the facility in iPhones and Macs. “These chips can be proudly stamped ‘Made in America,’” he said.

Speaking of tech companies playing politics, Microsoft is still trying to get its Activision Blizzard deal over the line. Its latest move is the announcement of a 10-year deal with Nintendo to bring Call of Duty to the Japanese company’s consoles, putting pressure on Sony (which is opposing the acquisition) to accept a similar deal.

Finally, if you haven’t checked out the comic we published yesterday, then I highly recommend it. It’s called “How to Replace the Sky” and it’s about... well... I’ll let you discover it for yourself.

Anyway, here’s a silly tweet:

Stay tuned, as we continue to update this list with the most important news of today: Friday, December 7th, 2022.
  • Your home security system may now be a little smarter

    Woman in bed sleeping with a notification that her alarm has armed.
    A new feature from Alarm.com knows when to arm and disarm your security system so you don’t have to.
    Image: Alarm.com

    Millions of smart home security systems are getting a bit smarter this week. A new feature called Smart Arming brings a little flexibility to Alarm.com systems’ arm and disarm settings, making you less likely to trip the alarm by mistake and more likely to actually use it. 

    Smart Arming is available now on systems powered by Alarm.com, a company that provides both hardware and software to hundreds of local and national home security companies. Instead of a rigid on / off schedule, Smart Arming lets you schedule arm and disarm windows, then uses information from security sensors in your home that you select to determine when to set the alarm or disarm it within those windows. It’s like the difference between a programmable thermostat that follows its schedule no matter what and a smart thermostat that can modify its behavior depending on whether anyone’s actually home. 

    Read Article >
  • Umar Shakir

    Dec 7, 2022

    Umar Shakir

    Now Telegram users don’t need a phone number — they can buy a fake one with crypto

    A picture of Telegram’s paper airplane logo surrounded by yellow triangular shapes
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Telegram released a new version of its encrypted messaging app today that allows for account signups using purchasable blockchain-based identities instead of real phone numbers. In addition, version 9.2 includes the ability to auto-delete messages on a timer for new chats, and there’s an upgrade to the forum-like Topics feature.

    Users had been required to use their mobile phone number to sign up for Telegram, similar to other end-to-end encrypted messaging apps like Signal and WhatsApp. While Telegram maintains that your phone number is never visible to unknown people, it’s still an identifier that inherently stops you short of full anonymity.

    Read Article >
  • Mitchell Clark

    Dec 7, 2022

    Mitchell Clark

    Former Theranos executive Sunny Balwani is sentenced to almost 13 years in prison

    Former Theranos president Ramesh Balwani
    Photo: Getty Images

    Ramesh Balwani has been sentenced to 155 months, or just under 13 years, in prison, according to The New York Times. Like his former business partner, Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, he’s due another three years of supervised release after he gets out. Balwani will have to surrender to custody on March 15th.

    In July, Balwani, also known as Sunny, was convicted on 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for his actions while he was president and COO of Theranos. Unlike Holmes, who was found guilty of only defrauding investors, Balwani was found guilty of deceiving both investors and patients.

    Read Article >
  • Makena Kelly

    Dec 7, 2022

    Makena Kelly

    Indiana sues TikTok for misleading users on child safety and data security

    The TikTok logo on a black background with repeating music note motifs
    Illustration by Nick Barclay / The Verge

    Indiana’s attorney general filed a pair of lawsuits against TikTok on Wednesday, accusing the company of misleading users about its ties to the Chinese government and showing mature content to minors, as first reported by The New York Times.

    In his first complaint, Attorney General Todd Rokita claimed that TikTok deceived parents on the amount of sexual and drug-related content accessible to young users of the app. In a second complaint, Rokita’s office argued that Chinese-owned TikTok wrongfully misled users about the Chinese government’s authority to view sensitive user data obtained through the app.

    Read Article >
  • Mitchell Clark

    Dec 7, 2022

    Mitchell Clark

    Dish’s $25-a-month Boost Infinite plan is now out in beta

    Illustration of the Dish logo with a white and red background.
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Dish has launched the beta for its Boost Infinite postpaid cell plan, which promises “Unlimited data, talk, and text” for $25 a month. When Boost Infinite was announced in May, Boost Mobile CEO Stephen Stokols pitched the plan as a way to embrace “web 3.0 trends” that would pay its users back and let them convert unused data into “a real digital currency.” Its website currently doesn’t mention any of that, instead mainly focusing on the appealing price.

    For the $25 a month, a price point that isn’t dependent on having multiple lines, you’ll get 30GB a month of unthrottled data, as well as mobile hotspotting, calling and texting to 80 and 200 countries, respectively, and 1GB of data while traveling in Canada or Mexico. To sign up, you will have to go through a soft credit check, but if you do, Dish is promising you’ll get to keep the $25-a-month plan for as long as you keep your line active.

    Read Article >
  • Ash Parrish

    Dec 7, 2022

    Ash Parrish

    Elden Ring adds new hairstyles, still forgets the Black ones

    Screenshot from Elden Ring highlighting the new hairstyles
    Image: From Software

    It’s a dangerous endeavor to boot up Elden Ring right now. There’s a short lull in the holiday release season, so it would be very, very easy for me to be lured back to the Lands Between, where I spent over 100 hours mastering katanas and the art of glintstone pebbling things to death from a great distance. In fact, Elden Ring wasted no time reminding me why it will likely be named Game of the Year tomorrow at the Game Awards because the second I loaded in after months of neglect, I almost got myself killed in the dumbest, funniest way. As I was reacclimating myself to the controls, I accidentally aggro’d one of those Ohioan T-rex dogs off-screen and had to quickly remember which button was dodge, then remember the nuances of dodging properly before the thing could eat me to death. There is no equivalent to the chaotic joy that comes with hilarious near-death experiences in this game.

    But that joy soured immediately once I got into my true purpose for booting up the game: Elden Ring has added new hairstyles (and a new PVP combat arena, too). My antipathy for Elden Ring’s lack of diverse hairstyles is well noted. And I thought, with this patch, Bandai Namco and the folks at FromSoftware would throw me a nice 4c-style bone so my Astrologer can at least have a decent ’do when she — eventually — takes down the Elden Beast.

    Read Article >
  • Sheena Vasani

    Dec 7, 2022

    Sheena Vasani

    You can save $30 on Disney Plus by signing up today before the price hike

    The Disney name written in white on a mostly purple background.
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Want to stream She-Hulk: Attorney at Law or Andor? Then you might want to quickly sign up for a Disney Plus subscription. On Thursday, December 8th, Disney will debut a new ad-supported tier that’ll cost $7.99 / month. The existing ad-free plan, meanwhile, will increase from $7.99 / month to $10.99.

    However, the good news is that you can avoid the price hike so long as you subscribe to an annual ad-free plan before the end of today, December 7th. Even better, you don’t need to be a new subscriber, either. Right now, in fact, both new and returning customers can still subscribe to a year of Disney Plus for $79.99 before it increases to $109.99 on Thursday.

    Read Article >
  • Sean Hollister

    Dec 7, 2022

    Sean Hollister

    I checked out a *real* self-flying drone — here’s the video.

    Sorry to keep you waiting! Fresh off the presses, here’s our TikTok about the new Skydio Dock I told you about this AM.


  • Mitchell Clark

    Dec 7, 2022

    Mitchell Clark

    Apple claims a new iMessage can alert you if state-sponsored spies are eavesdropping

    Illustration of a glowing apple on a blue, dotted background
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Apple’s new iOS and iCloud security initiative includes a new way for iMessage users to verify that they’re talking to the person they think they’re talking to. The company claims the new iMessage Contact Key Verification will let people who “face extraordinary digital threats,” such as journalists, activists, or politicians, make sure that their conversations aren’t being hijacked or snooped on.

    According to a press release on Wednesday, if both people in an iMessage conversation have the feature enabled, they’d get an alert if “an exceptionally advanced adversary, such as a state-sponsored attacker, were ever to succeed breaching cloud servers and inserting their own device to eavesdrop on these encrypted communications.” They’ll also be able to compare contact keys via other means — such as a secure call or in-person meeting — to make sure that they’re actually having a conversation with each other and not unknown third parties. That sort of thing has long been a security best practice, whether you’re verifying that software you downloaded is legitimate or setting up PGP encryption for email conversations.

    Read Article >
  • Richard Lawler

    Dec 7, 2022

    Richard Lawler

    Apple drops controversial plans for child sexual abuse imagery scanning

    Apple logo illustration
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Apple has ended the development of technology intended to detect possible child sexual abuse material (CSAM) while it’s stored on user devices, according to The Wall Street Journal.

    That plan was unveiled last fall with an intended rollout for iOS 15, but backlash quickly followed as encryption and consumer privacy experts warned about the danger of creating surveillance systems that work directly from your phone, laptop, or tablet.

    Read Article >
  • Jay Peters

    Dec 7, 2022

    Jay Peters

    Apple is adding end-to-end encryption to iCloud backups

    Image of the Apple logo surrounded by gray, pink, and green outlines
    Apple announced some big new security features on Wednesday.
    Illustration by Nick Barclay / The Verge

    Apple will finally be adding end-to-end encryption to iCloud backups, the company said as part of a major set of security announcements on Wednesday. Under what it calls Advanced Data Protection, Apple will expand the number of “data categories” protected by end-to-end encryption from 14 to 23, with backups, Notes, and Photos now covered.

    Based on a screenshot from Apple, these categories are covered when you flip on Advanced Data Protection: device backups, messages backups, iCloud Drive, Notes, Photos, Reminders, Safari bookmarks, Siri Shortcuts, Voice Memos, and Wallet Passes. Apple says the only “major” categories not covered by Advanced Data Protection are iCloud Mail, Contacts, and Calendar because “of the need to interoperate with the global email, contacts, and calendar systems,” according to its press release.

    Read Article >
  • Sean Hollister

    Dec 7, 2022

    Sean Hollister

    This is the dock that lets Skydio drones truly fly themselves

    The Skydio Dock with a Skydio X2 drone.
    The Skydio Dock with a Skydio X2 drone.
    Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

    Skydio is the only company making drones that can largely fly themselves, able to sense and avoid objects so seamlessly you can hand a toddler the controls. But legally and practically, they need a lot of human oversight. Who’s going to charge the drone, update it, download its footage, and be the oft legally required visual observer to make sure it doesn’t crash into anything nearby?

    But for years, Skydio has been working on the gadget that could eliminate pesky humans from the equation. It’s called the Skydio Dock, and it’s a 72-pound motorized box that can let these drones operate completely autonomously. I drove to Skydio’s headquarters in San Mateo, California, this week to check it out, watch it fly an autonomous mission, and used one to remote control another drone 17 miles away.

    Read Article >
  • Dec 7, 2022

    Lewis Gordon

    Dwarf Fortress is no longer PC’s most inscrutable game

    A screenshot of the newest version of Dwarf Fortress.
    Dwarf Fortress got a new look for its debut on Steam and Itch.
    Image: Kitfox Games

    When Tarn and Zach Adams, the two creators of Dwarf Fortress, were children, their father worked in sewage management just east of Sacramento in the 1970s and ‘80s. Specifically, Tarn explains over Zoom, their dad was the guy who “introduced computers to sewage treatment plants,” helping digitize the measurement of things like “flows, digesters, bacteria,” and grossest of all, “activated sludge.”

    For anyone even vaguely familiar with the strikingly complex settlement sim that is Dwarf Fortress, these could plausibly be components of the game. Alas, despite the community calling for the implementation of poop mechanics for years (check out any number of forum threads on the subject such as “Sanitation Abstraction” and “On poopsmithing and urine”), the brothers have yet to relent. Excrement, to this day, remains a straight “nope,” Tarn says. Manure, though, is a possibility — “since manure is very useful.”

    Read Article >
  • Justine Calma

    Dec 7, 2022

    Justine Calma

    Stop burning trees for energy, scientists urge ahead of UN Biodiversity Conference

    AHOSKIE, NC - May 26: Little remains but stumps and puddles in
    Little remains but stumps and puddles in what was once a bottomland hardwood forest on the banks of the Roanoke River in northeastern North Carolina. The trees were turned into wood pellets for burning in power plants in Europe.
    Photo by Joby Warrick / The Washington Post via Getty Images

    Forests are more valuable alive than dead, at least according to the more than 670 scientists who signed a letter urging world leaders to quit burning trees for energy. The plea comes as delegates gather for the United Nations Biodiversity Conference that begins today in Montreal.

    The scientists want to stop to the industrial burning of wood for electricity and heat, referred to as forest bioenergy. The practice needs to be replaced by wind and solar energy, they write, to protect forests and creatures that make a home there.

    Read Article >
  • Jess Weatherbed

    Dec 7, 2022

    Jess Weatherbed

    Xbox brings gaming soundscapes to Calm app for sleeping and meditation

    Two mobile phones displaying artworks for Calm soundscapes. The music is based on Sea of Thieves and Halo Infinite game franchises.
    Soundscapes based on the Sea of Thieves and Halo Infinite video games are now available for Calm premium subscribers.
    Image: Microsoft

    Microsoft has announced a partnership between Xbox and Calm, a popular sleep, meditation, and relaxation app, that will bring video game-themed soundscapes to the Calm app for the first time. Available from today, Calm Premium users can access two new soundscapes based on Sea of Thieves and Halo Infinite which can be used as background audio for sleeping, or general relaxation.

    According to a press release for the collaboration, Calm premium users can “enjoy the meditative sounds of whirling waves and chattering birds from the ocean expanse of Sea of Thieves and the ambient alien sounds of Zeta Halo from Halo Infinite.”

    Read Article >
  • Alex Cranz

    Dec 7, 2022

    Alex Cranz

    Would you like to see a wookie with a lightsaber?

    Disney Plus has a new trailer for the second season of Star Wars: The Bad Batch. This time the clone Clone War veterans do a heist while they continue to reckon with the super evil nature of the Empire under Palpatine.

    Also, there’s a small wookie child with a lightsaber. The new season starts streaming on January 4th, 2023.


  • Jon Porter

    Dec 7, 2022

    Jon Porter

    This year’s roundup of the top Google searches includes super local trends

    Screenshots of Google’s local search data.
    Google will show the top searches from your part of the US.
    Image: Google

    Let’s jump straight to the chase: “Wordle” was Google’s most searched term globally in 2022. The stat was revealed as part of Google’s annual Year in Search report, which highlights the top trending search terms in both individual countries as well as globally. This year, Google is offering an even more granular look at searches in the USA with a new hub that lets you type in your city or ZIP code and see what people in your area specifically are searching for.

    As you might expect, the year’s top searches were dominated by terms relating to 2022’s big news events, with “Ukraine” and “Queen Elizabeth” both featuring in the top five. But there were also a surprising amount of searches for specifically Indian (and presumably cricket) sporting fixtures, with “India vs England,” “Ind vs SA,” and “India vs West Indies” all featuring in the top 10. Remember, these are global search rankings, which makes it all the more impressive that Indian-related searches are so highly represented.

    Read Article >
  • Richard Lawler

    Dec 7, 2022

    Richard Lawler

    Now Amazon’s Echo Show 15 has a Fire TV inside.

    A few months ago, Amazon announced its wall-mountable Echo Show 15 would get a software update to add Fire TV streaming capabilities with YouTube TV, Disney Plus, Prime Video, Netflix, and more, and now it’s here.

    That upgrade alone won’t address all the issues Jennifer Pattison Tuohy noted in her review, but she’s giving it another try with the Fire TV remote to see how things have evolved.


    Echo Show 15 smart display shown mounted on the wall with a Fire TV remote sitting in front of it, the screen displays icons for video apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video.
    Amazon Echo Show 15 running fire TV software
    Image: Amazon
  • Richard Lawler

    Dec 7, 2022

    Richard Lawler

    Green light.

    The San Francisco government is apparently walking back its killer robot plans, Tim Cook and Joe Biden popped up in Arizona, and Call of Duty could come back to Nintendo. It’s that kind of day, but here are a few other stories you might have missed.

    Now the Chrome omnibox uses @ shortcuts so you can quickly search tabs and history.

    Apple’s electric car plans could have a starting price under $100k, and keep any “self-driving” features restricted to the highways.

    If you want to pay a little less for Disney Plus, today might be your last chance.

    Say goodbye to Gwent.


  • James Vincent

    Dec 7, 2022

    James Vincent

    Companion robot ElliQ can ask users about their childhood to create a digital ‘memoir’

    An upgraded version of ElliQ — a robot designed to act as a companion for older adults — is now available for anyone to buy. The bot has been under development by Israeli startup Intuition Robotics for years, but a first version (launched in March) was only built in limited capacity. The new ElliQ 2.0 comes with upgraded features including new conversation prompts, virtual experiences, and an app for family members and carers.

    ElliQ consists of a digital display and a light-up “bobble head” that moves and reacts to users’ conversation. Intuition Robotics describes the bot as a way to combat many nations’ “loneliness epidemic,” or the increasing number of older adults living alone. The company says ElliQ can act as a proactive tool to combat loneliness, interacting with users in a variety of ways. The bot can remind people about health goals, like taking daily exercise and medicine; it can conduct video calls with family members and loved ones; and can play simple games or media like audiobooks.

    Read Article >
  • Tom Warren

    Dec 7, 2022

    Tom Warren

    Microsoft Teams adds free communities feature to take on Facebook and Discord

    Microsoft’s new communities feature inside the Teams mobile app
    Communities inside Microsoft Teams.
    Image: Microsoft

    Microsoft is launching a new communities feature for Microsoft Teams today, designed for consumers to use the best parts of Teams free of charge to create and organize groups. The new community feature will allow groups to use the calendar, meeting, and chat features of Teams.

    Features like group chat, calling, and file / photo sharing are all supported, and groups will also be able to use a shared calendar (which includes Google Calendar integration) to organize community events.

    Read Article >
  • David Pierce

    Dec 7, 2022

    David Pierce

    Snapchat’s big new augmented reality feature is letting creators make money

    Snap logo
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Augmented reality isn’t really a thing yet. But you know what is? Face lenses. Millions of users across Snapchat, Instagram, Zoom, TikTok, and countless other apps are already used to tapping a button and having dog ears suddenly attached to their skull, rainbows fired out of their mouth, or their makeup subtly — or not so subtly — transformed into a new style. Most users don’t think of this as AR or view these features as evidence of some revolutionary new technology. But whether you call it lenses, filters, or something else, it’s all augmented reality.

    At its Lensfest developer event this week, Snap announced that it now has more than 300,000 developers building AR products for its platform and that together, they’ve built more than 3 million lenses that have been viewed a staggering 5 trillion times. All those numbers are up over a year ago, and for Snap, they’re proof that AR is already finding some product-market fit.

    Read Article >
  • Dec 7, 2022

    Patrick George

    BMW thinks it can turn speed bumps into energy for its EVs

    Traffic Sign In San Juan Capistrano, California
    Photo by Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images

    A new patent from BMW may unlock the energy-generating potential of one of America’s most defining modern features: a woefully inadequate and underfunded road infrastructure. 

    Car enthusiast news site CarBuzz unearthed a document from the German national patent office that reveals a new suspension design, which, if developed and put into production, would allow a car to gather electricity generated from bumps in the road. 

    Read Article >
  • James Vincent

    Dec 7, 2022

    James Vincent

    San Francisco reverses plans to allow police robots to kill suspects

    A picture showing law enforcement officers standing next to a bomb disposal robot in Thailand.
    The policy allowed the SFPD to arm bomb disposal robots similar to the one seen here with explosives to incapacitate and even kill suspects.
    Photo by Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

    San Francisco officials have voted against allowing the police to kill suspects with remote-controlled robots. The city’s board of supervisors reversed the policy it approved last week, following outcry and protests from citizens and civil rights groups. However, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, the new ban is not necessarily permanent, and the issue has been sent “back to a committee for further discussion.”

    The board originally approved the policy to let the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) use remote-controlled robots “as a deadly force option when risk of loss of life to members of the public or officers is imminent and outweighs any other force option available.”

    Read Article >
  • Jon Porter

    Dec 7, 2022

    Jon Porter

    Twitter advertisers aren’t happy with ads appearing on pages of white nationalists

    Elon Musk stands in front of Twitter’s logo.
    Laura Normand / The Verge

    Ads for around 40 high-profile brands and organizations have been spotted on the Twitter pages of white nationalists, according to a report from The Washington Post. Ads from brands including Amazon, Uber, Snap, and GoDaddy, media companies like USA Today and Morning Brew, and even one government organization, the US Department of Health and Human Services, were seen on the offending Twitter pages.

    The ads were spotted on the profiles of Andrew Anglin and Patrick Casey. Anglin is the editor of neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, while Casey previously led white nationalist group Identity Evropa (later rebranded as the American Identity Movement). The two were banned from Twitter in 2013 and 2019 respectively. After Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, the CEO polled his followers on whether they’d like the platform to offer a “general amnesty” to suspended accounts, with over 70 percent of respondents voting in favor. Shortly afterwards, Anglin and Casey openly returned to the platform. 

    Read Article >