Here’s the top tech news for Wednesday, January 25th, 2023.
Three months ago, electric vehicle company Lightyear said that it had started production of its €250,000 (around $270,000) Lightyear 0, which boasted an expansive array of solar panels capable of adding up to 44 miles of range to the car. Well, the company has now announced that it’s halting production of the 0 in order to focus on the sub-$40,000 Lightyear 2 coming in 2025. It’s not great news for the fledgling startup, whichever way you cut it.
Meanwhile, a Bloomberg report has shed new light on Apple’s long-rumored AR / VR headset, which is expected to launch this spring. The good news is that it’s expected to be packed with premium technology like advanced hand tracking and face-tracked FaceTime calls. The bad news is that this technology apparently won’t come cheap, with the headset expected to cost around $3,000. Sounds like it’ll be an early-adopter product for the foreseeable future. If you’re after something more affordable and current, why not check out the Meta Quest 2, which now uses more advanced hand-tracking software by default.
For now, here’s a silly tweet to start your day:
Stay tuned, as we continue to update this list with the most important news of today: Tuesday, January 24th, 2023.
Though Adult Swim initially had little to say about recent news reports that Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland is facing two felony charges for domestic battery and false imprisonment by menace, violence, fraud, or deceit, the channel now says it has cut ties with him.Read Article >
In a statement provided to The Hollywood Reporter, Adult Swim / Cartoon Network communications senior vice president Marie Moore announced that the network has “ended its association with Justin Roiland.”
Tesla is investing more than $3.6 billion into its Reno, Nevada Gigafactory, and with part of the cash, it plans to build its “first high-volume Semi factory,” according to a blog post published Tuesday.Read Article >
The company officially delivered the first of its long-delayed electric Semi trucks to PepsiCo in December, but it appears Tesla is ready to significantly expand its production of the new vehicle. However, Tesla’s blog post doesn’t specify how many trucks the factory might make on a regular basis or when it’s expected to open, so it might be awhile before that high volume kicks in.
Lyft is cracking down on late passengers. The ridesharing company quietly updated its support page with new wait time fees that it’ll charge at a per-minute rate, a policy that’s been around since December 2022, according to Lyft spokesperson Katie Kim (via TechCrunch).Read Article >
The wait time fees start two minutes after a driver arrives at your location or five minutes for Lux Black and Lux Black XL rides. If a driver reaches your location ahead of time, the wait time fees won’t kick in until two minutes after your scheduled pickup.
Another week, another round of layoffs. This time, it is Spotify. CEO Daniel Ek informed employees yesterday morning that the company would be cutting 6 percent of its workforce and said he took “full accountability for the moves that got us here today.” The most high-profile change is the departure of chief content and advertising officer Dawn Ostroff. And while no additional shows have been cut, advertising and business employees, particularly under Podsights and Chartable, were laid off nearly a year after Spotify acquired both companies.Read Article >
Plus (and I am fully aware of how incongruous this is, apologies), we have some more announcements for Hot Pod Summit.
Microsoft has just posted the second quarter of its 2023 fiscal financial results. The software maker made $52.7 billion in revenue and a net income of $16.4 billion during Q2. Revenue is up 2 percent, but net income has dropped by 12 percent. The results come just days after Microsoft announced 10,000 layoffs.Read Article >
Microsoft previously forecast a tough quarter for Windows OEM revenue and hardware, and the results are clear on the state of the PC industry right now. PC shipments fell by 16 percent in 2022, according to analysis by Canalys, and Gartner reported a nearly 29 percent year-over-year drop in Q4 — the largest quarterly shipment decline since it began tracking the PC market in the mid-1990s. Microsoft’s Windows-related revenue has been hit hard as a result.
GoTo, the remote collaboration and IT software company that owns LastPass, has confirmed that, along with LastPass’ password vaults, it had customer data taken by attackers during a November 2022 security breach (via TechCrunch).Read Article >
The company, which was formerly known as LogMeIn, is updating its blog post about the breach for the first time since November 30th, when GoTo confirmed “unusual activity” within its development environment and cloud storage service.
Google plans to end a controversial pilot program that allows political groups to bypass Gmail’s spam filters later this month, as first reported by The Washington Post Tuesday.Read Article >
Google launched the program last September in response to Republican accusations that the company’s algorithms disproportionately flag conservative fundraising emails as spam. The program allowed candidates, political party committees, and leadership political action committees to sign up with Google to make their messages exempt from the company’s spam detection systems.
Google’s facing a lawsuit from the US Department of Justice and eight states over its alleged monopoly on the digital advertising market. The agency accuses the company of abusing “monopoly power” at the disadvantage of websites and advertisers who use other advertising tools, according to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday (PDF).Read Article >
“Google’s anticompetitive behavior has raised barriers to entry to artificially high levels, forced key competitors to abandon the market for ad tech tools, dissuaded potential competitors from joining the market, and left Google’s few remaining competitors marginalized and unfairly disadvantaged,” the lawsuit reads.
The iPhone 5S got its last OS upgrade in 2018 with the release of iOS 12, but it’s not totally down for the count. As AppleInsider points out, the 2013-vintage device got a security update this week: a bump to iOS 12.5.7, to be precise. Even if you don’t have an iPhone 5S, that’s good news for anyone who’s a fan of getting the most out of their device.Read Article >
There’s not much to iOS 12.5.7, but it’s an important update if you own one of the phones it supports. It closes a nasty-sounding security loophole in which “processing maliciously crafted web content may lead to arbitrary code execution.” Apple’s support documentation also says it “may have been actively exploited” in devices running iOS versions earlier than 15.1. Sounds like a real bad time. The 5S is the oldest phone to get the update, but the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are eligible, too. If you happen to own one of those devices, then you should probably go ahead and download that update. We’re begging you to, actually.
Twitter should now be less annoying about pushing its “For You” algorithmic timeline. The company announced that the web version will now remember which timeline you were using last and default to it when you open it again. The feature should also be coming to iOS and Android soon.Read Article >
The update brings back functionality that existed before the tab UI was introduced — there used to be a button that let you choose which version of the timeline you wanted to see. If you’re the type of person who occasionally pops over to For You from Following or vice versa, the new version with the ability to remember which tab you left off on should make that easier. This change probably won’t do much to appease users who would rather just set it and forget it, though.
- Your HomePod Mini is now a thermometer.
The update that unlocks the HomePod Mini’s temperature and humidity sensors is finally here, and you can download it now. Here’s our rundown of how it works, as well as the other features added in 16.3.
Jan 24Time to get your Black Girl Magic on.
Forspoken is out today. Folks can finally play it for themselves and hopefully see what I saw in it. Or they could instead flood the internet with complaints about cringey dialogue that has flown with literally every male MCU protagonist for the last 15 years.
Jan 24The Senate Judiciary hearing over Ticketmaster’s Taylor Swift debacle is starting now.
The Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing “That’s the Ticket: Promoting Competition and Protecting Consumers in Live Entertainment” will have Joe Berchtold, the CFO and president of Ticketmaster’s parent company Live Nation, and others testifying.
B&H Photo has a great deal on the 11-inch iPad Pro that has the new M2 processor. The 128GB Wi-Fi version of the tablet in space gray costs $729 (originally $799), which matches the lowest price that we’ve seen so far. We last saw this price cut in mid-December right before the holidays, and B&H Photo is currently the only place you can get it (unless you ask, say, Best Buy to price match).Read Article >
We’ve hosted several iPad deals recently because they’ve been very good, even though some of the lower-cost options have caveats. This deal, however, is mostly caveat-free. The iPad Pro is for people who want The Best iPad in terms of performance, design, and features. It has the same M2 chip that’s found in Apple’s latest range of computers, though my colleague Dan Seifert says a majority of iPad users probably won’t perceive a difference between how this year’s model runs compared to last year’s.
- People really, really like HBO’s The Last of Us.
The second episode of the videogame-inspired TV series brought in 5.7 million viewers on Sunday, an impressive 22 percent increase from the premiere’s 4.7 million viewers last week.
The first episode is also currently tracking 18 million viewers since airing, edging towards HBO’s wildly popular House of the Dragon viewership numbers. Check out our full review for The Last of Us here.
Amazon is launching RxPass in the US, a new drug subscription exclusive to Prime members that charges users a $5 monthly fee to ship eligible prescription medications to their doorstep. Announced on Tuesday in a press release, the Amazon RxPass subscription program provides generic medications to treat over 80 common health conditions, including high blood pressure, hair loss, anxiety, and acid reflux.Read Article >
The $5 charge includes the cost of delivery and is added to Prime customers’ existing monthly subscription fee. The RxPass fee is a flat rate and doesn’t increase even if users require multiple prescriptions each month. Medications can be delivered on either a monthly or quarterly basis depending on the prescription requirements. Conditions covered by the service also include allergies, diabetes (excluding insulin), and anemia. Amazon says that more than 150 million Americans already take one or more of the medications available through RxPass. A full list of generic medications covered by the RxPass subscription can be found on the Amazon pharmacy website.
Polestar has given its Polestar 2 EV a facelift, plus some other improvements for model year 2024. The maker of the fastback electric sedan has improved its drivable range (up to 300 miles on a single charge) and added more powerful motors. It’s also introducing a rear-wheel drive model alongside several smaller changes like wireless phone charging and driver awareness features now included as standard.Read Article >
The new Polestar 2’s most visible change comes in the form of a new flat front grille design, one that matches the look of the automaker’s latest Polestar 3 SUV. Polestar calls this new grille the “SmartZone,” which houses components and sensors that are used for the car’s advanced safety and driver assistant features. SmartZone includes a camera, midrange radar, accelerometers, ultrasonic sensors, and heating wires to keep it all from freezing in colder climates — something this Sweden-based carmaker should understand all too well.
Microsoft has started testing a new split-screen feature for Edge that lets you compare two tabs side by side. The feature was first discovered by Leopeva64-2 on Reddit, and it’s available in an experimental flag in the beta, dev, and canary versions of Microsoft Edge. Once enabled, a new button appears alongside the address bar that lets you split an Edge window into two separate tabs side by side.Read Article >
While you can already compare tabs next to each other in Windows by dragging a tab and then using built-in Windows split views to place them side by side, it can be fiddly to achieve this unless you drag the tab all the way to the right- or left-hand side of your monitor. This built-in split view in Edge makes it easier in a single click, without having to rearrange your tabs or open up a new window of a browser.
In April 2022, Meta released Hand Tracking 2.0, its upgraded system that can detect things like high fives and clapping, but the company is now making 2.0 the default hand tracking technology for Quest apps, according to a Friday blog post. Meta announced in September that it would be deprecating 1.0 in April 2023, and it says the shift to 2.0 as the default is a “first step” toward that deprecation.Read Article >
“Updating to Hand Tracking 2.0 doesn’t require any action from developers, and we believe this change will enhance the quality and capabilities of hand tracking across our app ecosystem,” Meta wrote in the post. “Hand Tracking 2.0 allows you to take full advantage of the many hands-driven interactions available with Interaction SDK.”
Electric vehicle company Lightyear has announced that it’s halting production on the Lightyear 0, its €250,000 (around $270,000 USD) solar-powered car that the company started making just three months ago (via Electrek). The setback is part of a “strategic restructuring,” according to a Monday blog post, and the company will instead focus on making the Lightyear 2, a car that it says will cost under $40,000 and go into production in late 2025.Read Article >
The company says it didn’t take the decision lightly, given that it’ll impact its employees, as well as “investors, clients, suppliers and the government.” It’ll also presumably have an impact on Valmet Automotive, the company Lightyear contracted to build the 0 (and which announced potential layoffs at the facility responsible for making the car earlier this month). As for why Lightyear’s decided to halt production, the company is vague — it says it’s faced several challenges over the past several months and that the move is meant to “safeguard our vision.”
Apple’s long-rumored VR / AR headset could be packed with ambitious technologies, including advanced hand tracking, the ability to see your Mac’s display, and even recreating digital versions of users in one-on-one FaceTime conversations, according to an extensive new report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman.Read Article >
Much of the advanced technologies will be enabled by “several” external cameras that can track your hands as well as “sensors within the gadget’s housing” that can be used to read your eyes, Gurman reports. You’ll apparently be able to just look at something onscreen to select it and then pinch your fingers together to activate it, meaning the headset won’t require external controllers, like the Meta’s high-end Quest Pro and Sony’s upcoming PlayStation VR2. Gurman says that the headset will let users switch between VR and AR by twisting a digital crown, something that was also reported by The Information earlier this month.