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Thursday’s top tech news: Another Theranos exec sentenced to over a decade in prison

After Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes was sentenced to almost 11 years in prison last month, yesterday it was the turn of her business partner Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani. The former COO and president of Theranos was handed a sentence of just under 13 years in prison, following his conviction in July. Theranos infamously claimed to have developed a machine that could test for a litany of diseases using just a few drops of a patient’s blood, but it later emerged that it had vastly overstated what its technology was capable of.

In lighter news, a host of interesting updates have released for some older games this week. Portal’s new ray tracing update is releasing for free today, giving the 15-year old title a high-tech glow-up (provided you’ve got a PC powerful enough to run it), and there’s also new content available for Elden Ring. Personally, I also spent most of last night trying out Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s eight new downloadable tracks, which include the frankly fantastic Rainbow Road from the 3DS entry in the series.

Anyway, here’s a silly tweet:

Stay tuned, as we continue to update this list with the most important news of today: Friday, December 8th, 2022.

  • Jay Peters

    Dec 8, 2022

    Jay Peters

    How to watch The Game Awards 2022

    It’s almost time for gaming’s annual end-of-year awards and announcements extravaganza. The 2022 edition of The Game Awards takes place on Thursday, December 8th, and the opening act kicks off at 7:30PM ET / 4:30PM PT. While the show itself takes place live at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, you can stream the event for free on platforms like YouTube and Twitch. For a more detailed list of where to stream the show, check The Game Awards website.

    We don’t know exactly how long The Game Awards will be, but host Geoff Keighley said in a Twitch stream that the main show will last about two and a half hours. That’s a good thing, if you ask me; the 2021 Game Awards, including pre-show, was a nearly four-hour event.

    Read Article >
  • Dec 8, 2022

    Tom Warren and Jay Peters

    The FTC is suing Microsoft to block its Activision Blizzard purchase

    The Microsoft Xbox game logo against a green and black background.
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    The FTC has filed a legal challenge to try and block Microsoft’s plan to buy Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, according to a press release from the regulator. The lawsuit was filed today after weeks of back and forth between Microsoft, Sony, and regulators over competition concerns and the future of Call of Duty. The FTC argues that the acquisition would “enable Microsoft to suppress competitors to its Xbox gaming consoles and its rapidly growing subscription content and cloud-gaming business.” You can read the FTC’s redacted complaint here or embedded at the bottom of this article.

    The vote from the FTC commissioners today means Microsoft now faces significant hurdles to getting its Activision Blizzard deal complete. Regulators in the UK and EU are also scrutinizing the deal closely, despite Microsoft’s repeated attempts to appease regulators.

    Read Article >
  • Today in “when faculty brats break bad.”

    Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, parents of Sam Bankman-Fried, won’t be teaching at Stanford next quarter.

    The two taught at Stanford Law School. This news was first reported by the Stanford Daily, and Fried told those journalists that it has “nothing to do with anything else going on.” Just a normal retirement, sure.


  • Richard Lawler

    Dec 8, 2022

    Richard Lawler

    From YouTube to HBO: here’s the trailer for Channel 5’s January 6th documentary.

    HBO will present This Place Rules, the report by gonzo-style journalist Andrew Callaghan of an RV journey through America in the months leading up to the mob attack on the US Capitol, on December 30th — here’s the trailer.


  • Allison Johnson

    Dec 8, 2022

    Allison Johnson

    The latest Motorola Moto G Play is a 4G-only phone for $170

    Motorola G Play, in blue, flat on a table with the rear facing up surrounded by breakfast plates and items.
    Motorola skipped a 2022 edition of the G Play and is pole-vaulting straight into 2023.

    It’s an easy bet that most new phones announced in 2023 will come with 5G, but there’s going to be at least one LTE-only device on shelves next year: the $169 Motorola Moto G Play (2023). It’s the latest edition of Motorola’s budget-tier phone since the 2021 G Play, and it comes with an updated screen and camera array — but nary a 5G band on its spec sheet.

    The 2023 Moto G Play sticks with a 6.5-inch LCD screen but increases the refresh rate to 90Hz. It’s still a low-res 720p panel, which is likely to have more of an impact on viewing experience than a slight boost in refresh rate. The main camera gets a meaningful boost to 16 megapixels (up from 13 megapixels) with a brighter f/1.22 lens (compared to f/2.0).

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  • Umar Shakir

    Dec 8, 2022

    Umar Shakir

    That gold-plated Dolby Atmos lifestyle.

    It’s one that French audio company Devialet could sell you on, with its new $2,900 Dione Opéra de Paris soundbar.

    This version has a 22-carat “moon gold” finished layer that its weird orb center channel speaker is nestled into. Considering you’re getting something “inspired by the gilded interiors of Paris’ Opéra Garnier,” it’s probably worth it, right?

    Add gold versions of the new Mania and Phantom to complete your life.


    The Dione has a gold top and is oriented as a wall mount with the orb speaker at the top and facing forward.
    Devialet’s $2,900 special edition Dione Opéra de Paris soundbar.
    Image: Devialet
  • Alice Jovanée

    Dec 8, 2022

    Alice Jovanée

    Sega superstars ToeJam and Earl are finally getting a movie

    That’s ToeJam on the right, alongside Earl, in case you didn’t know.
    That’s ToeJam on the right, alongside Earl, in case you didn’t know.

    Nothing can possibly prepare us for the all-encompassing funk of a movie starring ToeJam and Earl. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a ToeJam & Earl movie is currently in development at Amazon Studios in partnership with Unanimous Media and Story Kitchen.

    ToeJam & Earl is just the latest video game franchise getting a movie tie-in. In addition to bigger names like Super Mario Bros. and Sonic the Hedgehog getting contemporary adaptations, we’re also slated to see an anime version of Tomb Raider coming to Netflix as well as a live-action version of It Takes Two, which are also being handled by Story Kitchen.

    Read Article >
  • Jay Peters

    Dec 8, 2022

    Jay Peters

    Pixel Fold renders arrive with detailed size and spec rumors for Google’s foldable phone

    A render of Google’s rumored Pixel foldable in white.
    This is what Google’s foldable Pixel smartphone might look like.
    Image: OnLeaks and HowToiSolve

    New leaks appear to reveal what to expect from Google’s long-rumored foldable phone. Leaker OnLeaks has teamed up with the website HowToiSolve to share renders, a 360-degree video, and measurements of the foldable Pixel device.

    According to OnLeaks and HowToiSolve, the phone will apparently have a 5.79-inch cover screen and a larger 7.69-inch inner screen, meaning it will function more like Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4, which has a cover screen, than Microsoft’s Surface Duo phones, which do not. Unfolded, the Google’s device will be “roughly” 158.7 x 139.7 x 5.7mm. For comparison, the Z Fold 4 is 155.1 x 130.1 x 6.3mm, so the Pixel foldable could be a bit bigger than Samsung’s.

    Read Article >
  • Mitchell Clark

    Dec 8, 2022

    Mitchell Clark

    Tech companies fueled the rise of Homeland Security and domestic surveillance, report finds

    Illustration of the seal for the US Department of Homeland Security on a red and tan background.
    Kristen Radtke / The Verge

    Big tech companies including Microsoft, LexisNexis, and Palantir have helped fuel the militarization of local police forces and the Department of Homeland Security’s demand for high-tech surveillance, according to a new report from The Action Center on Race & the Economy (ACRE), LittleSis, MediaJustice, and the Surveillance, Tech, and Immigration Policing Project. Researchers working on the project dug into how these companies benefit from a hidden and misunderstood source of funding, which requires states to dump money into law enforcement activities if they want to receive money for things like emergency medical and response services.

    The report is specifically concerned with FEMA’s Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grants, which the government has spent billions on in the years since 9/11. “The way that the grant program actually works is that DHS has an approved list of equipment that can be bought with the grant funding, but at least 30 percent of that money has to be used on law enforcement activities,” said Aly Panjwani, a senior analyst who worked on the report. And as Panjwani and his colleagues point out in their analysis, those activities usually have a disproportionate and negative impact on people of color.

    Read Article >
  • Mia Sato

    Dec 8, 2022

    Mia Sato

    Amazon is adding a TikTok-like feed of shoppable content to its app

    Four phone screens showing how the Amazon feed will work. Users can click topics/categories they’re interested in, scroll a feed of pictures and images, and make purchases directly.
    Image: Amazon

    Amazon is the latest tech company to take a page out of TikTok’s playbook. The e-commerce giant announced it was launching a new feed in the Amazon app with photos and videos of items users can purchase, first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

    The feed, which Amazon is calling Inspire, is the company’s attempt at getting app users to make purchases as they’re seeing products in online content — something other tech companies are also attempting to do. TikTok has long been working on its own in-app shopping features, including livestream shopping, and YouTube added affiliate marketing and shopping to its TikTok copy, Shorts.

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  • Monica Chin

    Dec 8, 2022

    Monica Chin

    Broadway’s K-pop musical showed how hard it is to create internet fame

    “KPOP” Opening Night Celebration
    KPOP cast members Min, Abraham Lim, and Luna take their bows on Broadway.
    Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images

    F8 (pronounced like “fate”) is an eight-member, all-male K-pop band signed to RBY Entertainment. A look at their official Instagram page shows the group performing in concerts, posing for shoots, and smiling on rooftops in eclectic but color-coordinated outfits. The group advertises an upcoming show and profusely thanks its fans, which it refers to as “F8 Nation.” It looks very much like the Instagram page of many other K-pop groups that a scrolling fan might stumble across.

    Except: F8 isn’t real. It’s a fictional band from KPOP, a musical that opened on Broadway on November 27th and is now, following mixed reviews and low ticket sales, set to close after just two weeks. In the month leading up to its opening and in the weeks since, KPOP has marketed its characters over social media, leveraging some of the same tools and tactics that brought K-pop’s biggest names to widespread fame. Unfortunately, KPOP’s fictional groups haven’t yet reached the same success. Creating internet fandom, it turns out, is hard to do.

    Read Article >
  • Jess Weatherbed

    Dec 8, 2022

    Jess Weatherbed

    Google’s latest Chrome browser modes can boost battery life and free up memory

    An illustration. On the left, a representation of a computer chip is linked to a power gauge, while on the right, a leaf with a lightning bolt is connected to a seemingly drained battery.
    Google is introducing new Memory Saver and Energy Saver modes to its Google Chrome web browser.
    Image: Google

    Google’s Chrome desktop web browser has two new performance modes —  Memory Saver and Energy Saver — available starting today. The new modes allow users to reduce Chrome’s memory usage by up to 30 percent and extend battery life when a device is running low on power, according to Google.

    Memory Saver mode frees up memory from tabs that aren’t currently in use, which should provide a smoother browsing experience. You can also mark important websites as exempt from Memory Saver to keep them operating at max performance.

    Read Article >
  • Cameron Faulkner

    Dec 8, 2022

    Cameron Faulkner

    Audeze’s $300 gaming headset promises comfort and multipoint Bluetooth

    Audeze’s Maxwell gaming headset. This image shows off its plain design along with its detachable boom microphone.
    The Maxwell has a more subdued design than Audeze’s previous gaming headset, the Penrose.
    Image credit: Audeze

    While Razer, Logitech, and other companies are working on their 2023 gaming headsets, Audeze has announced its new Maxwell wireless model that starts at $299 with support for PlayStation, Windows, macOS, Nintendo Switch, and mobile — everything but Xbox. There’s an Xbox version that costs $30 more and makes up for some of the cost increase with a Dolby Atmos license that activates automatically. It’ll start shipping in late December 2022.

    Audeze typically makes big promises about great audio quality, which is fine because the products usually back them up. The Maxwell has 90mm planar magnetic drivers, which are slightly smaller than the ones in its 2021 Penrose headset. Through them, you can listen to hi-res audio when connected via the included USB-C cable or when you’re wirelessly tethered to its USB-C dongle.

    Read Article >
  • Jon Porter

    Dec 8, 2022

    Jon Porter

    Google is bringing together its Waze and Maps teams as it pushes to reduce overlap

    Waze’s app icon.
    Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    Google is merging the team it has working on the navigation app Waze into the same group that oversees Google Maps, the company has announced. The Wall Street Journal reports that the move is not expected to mark the end of Waze as a separate service, and no layoffs are planned as part of the reorganization. However, Waze CEO Neha Parikh is expected to leave the role after the transition, and the move is expected to reduce overlapping work, the WSJ notes.

    Going forward, Waze’s 500 employees are expected to be a part of Google’s Geo organization, which oversees Maps alongside Earth and Street View.

    Read Article >
  • Jess Weatherbed

    Dec 8, 2022

    Jess Weatherbed

    The $949 price for Dyson’s air-purifying headphones is more absurd than the device itself

    A person against a blank gray background. They are wearing the Dyson Zone with the air-purifying visor concealing their mouth.
    The Dyson Zone will initially release in China in January 2023 before being made available for US preorders in March.
    Image: Dyson

    Dyson has released additional details for its Dyson Zone air-purifying headphones, the company’s first audio product we got to test earlier this year. On a new webpage dedicated to the unreleased headphones, Dyson has officially provided the full specifications, alongside a March release date for the US market and an eye-watering price of $949.

    So, what are you getting for your money? The Dyson Zone supports Bluetooth 5.0 and features a 3.5mm audio jack and USB-C port for charging. Dyson claims the headphones can achieve up to 50 hours of battery life for audio-only operation, which is reduced to a maximum of four hours for combined air purification and audio. Dyson does not specify if these runtimes are with ANC enabled. The headphones are wireless and feature a 2,600mAh lithium-ion battery, with Dyson claiming that the device can be fully charged in three hours.

    Read Article >
  • Richard Lawler

    Dec 8, 2022

    Richard Lawler

    Green light.

    Say hello to a long-legged Symfonisk and a deadline for phones to use USB-C in the EU.

    Tonight we’ll be covering The Game Awards, which are scheduled to begin at 7:30PM ET.


  • How CoinDesk’s FTX scoop left a hole in its corporate overlord

    FTX logo
    Illustration: The Verge

    Depending on how you look at it, this is either a cautionary tale about how small and entwined the crypto world is or a cautionary tale about employing journalists. 

    When CoinDesk published a blockbuster scoop on Alameda Research’s balance sheet, it also shot its own parent company in the foot. That story kicked off a series of events that led to FTX filing for bankruptcy. The amount of missing money was so big that the story breached the containment wall around crypto shenanigans and became a genuine mainstream news story, the kind my landlady asks me about. The problem for CoinDesk is that some of the money that’s locked in FTX belongs to their sister company, and that’s just adding to their parent company’s woes.

    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 >
  • 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 >
  • Jon Porter

    Dec 7, 2022

    Jon Porter

    Mario Kart is a godless place.

    The third wave of DLC tracks for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are out, and to celebrate Nintendo has released a new feature for the game that lets players customize exactly which items appear in each race. Naturally, the first thing people are trying are blue shell-only races.
    The results (as you’d expect) are pure carnage.


  • Jon Porter

    Nov 29, 2022

    Jon Porter

    Portal’s free ray-tracing DLC will release on December 8th

    Portal, the first-person puzzle game that spawned a thousand memes, is getting a glow-up on December 8th, courtesy of a free piece of DLC. Portal with RTX was originally announced alongside Nvidia’s new RTX 4080 and 4090 graphics cards and adds ray-tracing support along with remade hi-res textures and models to the game. The result is much more realistic lighting and reflections, making the 15-year-old title look almost brand new.

    Nvidia says the DLC was created with RTX Remix, its new modding platform that’s designed to make it easier to add support for modern technologies like ray tracing, enhanced materials, and DLSS to classic titles. Portal with RTX supports DLSS 3, the latest version of Nvidia’s AI upscaling technology, which is designed to boost resolution and frame rate when used with the latest generation of Nvidia’s graphics cards.

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