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.
Dec 8, 2022
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.Read Article >
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.
Dec 7, 2022
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.Read Article >
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.
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.Read Article >
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.
Dec 7, 2022
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.Read Article >
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.
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.Read Article >
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.
Dec 7, 2022
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.Read Article >
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.
Dec 7, 2022
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.Read Article >
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.
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.Read Article >
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.
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.Read Article >
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.
Dec 7, 2022
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.Read Article >
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.
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?Read Article >
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.
Dec 7, 2022
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.”Read Article >
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.”
Dec 7, 2022
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.Read Article >
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.
Dec 7, 2022
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.Read Article >
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.”
Dec 7, 2022Would 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.
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.Read Article >
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.Read Article >
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.
Dec 7, 2022
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.Read Article >
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.
Dec 7, 2022
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.Read Article >
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.
Dec 7, 2022
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.Read Article >
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.
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.”Read Article >
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.”
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.Read Article >
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.