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Monday’s top tech news: the chip war ramps up

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Over the weekend, news broke that Japan and the Netherlands would be joining the USA in restricting exports of critical semiconductor manufacturing tools to China. The move reflects growing anxieties about China’s domestic chip production efforts (here’s a well-produced explainer), and is designed to cut it off from essential tools supplied by the likes of ASML in the Netherlands, and Nikon and Tokyo Electron in Japan.

If you’re counting down the days until the release of The Super Mario Bros. Movie on April 7th, then the film has just received another trailer that you might want to check out. The focus this time is on Donkey Kong, played in the movie by noted Verge fan Seth Rogen. And yes, you get to hear Rogen deliver his iconic laugh.

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: Monday, January 30th, 2023.

  • GM has started producing the Hummer EV SUV

    Image of the Hummer EV SUV
    Image: GM

    General Motors has started production on the Hummer EV SUV at its Factory Zero in Michigan, according to Nicole Schmitz, a spokesperson for the company. The Detroit Press reported Monday that customers could start receiving their orders by the end of Q1. That lines up with GM’s FAQ stating that the SUV will be available in “early 2023.”

    I won’t blame anyone who’s thinking, “wait, haven’t they been making these for a while,” because GM started delivering the truck version of the Hummer EV, which sports a five-foot-long bed, in December 2021. In October 2022, the company announced that it had made 782 of the vehicles during 2022, and said it had around 90,000 reservations for both the truck and SUV versions. Last summer, The Wall Street Journal reported that GM was only making around 12 Hummer EVs a day.

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  • Samsung’s chip profits dropped by 90 percent in Q4.

    The Korean electronics giant still recorded over $3.49 billion in operating profit, but as Reuters notes, that’s its lowest quarterly profit since 2014.

    As indicated by recent results and some dire guidance, it’s mostly tied to a sharp plunge in memory chip prices that slashed profit in the chip division to just $220 million. However, Samsung also reported weak demand for smartphones in Q4 — putting even more emphasis on this week’s Galaxy S23 launch event.

  • Emma Roth

    Jan 31

    Emma Roth

    Paramount Plus and Showtime become ‘Paramount Plus with Showtime’

    An image showing the Paramount Plus logo
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Paramount’s merging its Paramount Plus streaming service and premium Showtime channel, as first reported by The Hollywood Reporter. In an internal memo, CEO Bob Bakish announced the company’s rebranding its Showtime channel as Paramount Plus with Showtime.

    Paramount confirmed the change in a post on Twitter, noting that the merger is “the natural next step in our evolution.” The company’s also planning to carry over “select” original content from Paramount Plus to the TV network, which could include shows like Halo and Yellowstone spinoff 1923.

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  • Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony are reportedly all skipping E3 2023

    Photo by Nick Statt / The Verge

    Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft are all skipping the revitalized E3 convention in June, according to a new report from IGN. E3 will be back as an in-person conference in Los Angeles after not happening at all in 2022, and I personally was hopeful that the big three console makers would be at the show when it takes place from June 13th through 16th to help make it feel like the big event of years past. But according to IGN’s reporting, that’s not the case.

    That said, it’s not entirely unexpected. Sony first skipped E3 in 2019 and hasn’t been part of the convention since. Microsoft said last week that it would be doing a showcase in LA this summer but didn’t outright say the words E3. Nintendo has proven time and time again that it can drive huge news cycles with its can’t-miss Direct video presentations, so it may not feel the need to share the E3 spotlight. And since the show will be taking place about a month after the release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Nintendo may want to keep the attention of its fans on what could be one of the biggest games of the year.

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  • Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition plays great on console

    Key art of Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition featuring the heads of three men representing the Aztec, English, and Berber civilzations
    Image: Microsoft / World’s Edge

    Age of Empires II is extremely special to me. The game came to me by accident at 16, and it has remained a great gaming love of mine ever since. I played Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition on Xbox to see if, after all these years, I could rekindle my fondness for this PC game on console, and it feels like love at first wololo all over again.

    It is a daunting prospect to play a complex real-time strategy game like Age of Empires without the finely tuned control of a keyboard. There are maps and submenus to click through and units to select and move and control. Yet, the developers at World’s Edge have designed a thoughtful controller interface that, after a couple of hiccups, worked as seamlessly as I remember with a mouse and keyboard.

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  • HBO’s The Last of Us is pushing all the right buttons by telling new stories

    A bearded man wearing a flannel and holding a book of music while sitting at a piano. In the background, another bearded man wearing a sweater, and holding his hands on his hips is looking on.
    Nick Offerman as Bill and Murray Bartlett as Frank
    Image: HBO

    HBO’s The Last of Us has been very careful to stick to the source material for the most part — a smart but also rather logical choice, given how cinematic the original game was. The painstakingly crafted similarities between Naughty Dog’s survival shooter — which was already great — and HBO’s show have been a major part of why people were quick to call The Last of Us the best video game adaptation ever. But it’s by shifting away from the game in favor of telling new stories that The Last of Us has really been able to blossom the way it does in “Long Long Time,” the series’ third episode that introduces Nick Offerman’s Bill and Murray Bartlett’s Frank.

    As it’s introducing two of The Last of Us’ most memorable supporting characters, “Long Long Time” adds so much new depth and dimension to them that they almost end up feeling like different people. But the real magic of “Long Long Time,” and the reason it’s one of The Last of Us’ strongest episodes yet, lies in how spiritually true to the game it feels even while it’s doing its own distinct thing.

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  • Is SBF witness tampering now? His lawyers say no.

    “Bankman-Fried’s use of Signal to reach out to the current general counsel of FTX US, who is a witness, was ‘merely an innocuous attempt to offer assistance in FTX’s bankruptcy process and does not reflect misconduct that warrants the restriction the Government proposes here,’” Bloomberg reports.

    At this point, I wonder if the government has let him out on bail just so he’ll further incriminate himself.

  • Some BMW EVs aren’t making their pedestrian warning sounds

    Photo of the BMW i4’s grille.
    As Jalopnik jokes, the cars are being recalled because they’re too quiet.
    Image: Roberto Baldwin for The Verge

    BMW is recalling almost 3,500 EVs due to issues with the artificial sound generator that’s meant to warn people when the vehicles are backing up or traveling at low speeds. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website, the recall applies to some 2022 and 2023 BMW i4 and iX models.

    Federal safety standards require EVs or hybrids to make a certain amount of noise so that pedestrians can tell that there’s a car coming. Since electric motors are generally pretty quiet, especially at low speeds (the tires will likely be pretty loud on their own when you’re going faster), auto manufacturers usually have their cars make artificial sounds. That often ends up being a futuristic hum or whir; for performance models of the i4, BMW even worked with Hans Zimmer to create a sound meant to evoke the idea of a gas engine.

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  • The merging of Showtime and Paramount Plus means more disappearing TV.

    Right now when you subscribe to Paramount Plus you have the option to tack on Showtime for a relatively small fee, but the partnership is about to get a lot more intimate as The Hollywood Reporter says the two services are getting combined and rebranded.

    Unfortunately, this means layoffs and cancellations too. Deadline claims Let the Right One In, Three Women, and American Gigolo may all be canceled and pulled from the combined streaming service.

  • You can compost your grandmother in six US states now.

    A few months back, Eleanor Cummins wrote a terrific story about Return Home, the facility outside Seattle where you can have a body turned to soil, rather than just buried in it. Legally, human composting is gaining more steam, and Cummins talked about it with our friends at Today, Explained for their most recent episode.

  • Meta is testing members-only worlds for its social VR platform

    Some Horizon Worlds avatars hanging out around a virtual campfire.
    Some Horizon Worlds avatars hanging out around a virtual campfire.
    Image: Meta

    Meta is starting to test members-only worlds in Horizon Worlds, its social VR platform, which will allow people to build curated worlds for a select community of users.

    These members-only worlds will offer something of a middle ground for creators on the platform. You can currently make public worlds for lots of people to go to, and the company is also testing what it calls personal spaces, which function like a private home in VR where you have tight control over who visits. Members-only worlds, on the other hand, are limited to 150 members and 25 concurrent visitors.

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  • More Electrify America EV chargers are coming, this time at TA rest stops

    This TravelCenters of America 3D rendering shows a rest stop location with four EV charging stalls lined up in front of the building. the parking lot is empty.
    An example of a TravelCenters of America EV charging station built by Electrify America
    Image: TravelCenters of America

    TravelCenters of America is working with Electrify America to get much-needed EV fast chargers installed at its rest stops across the US. The agreement has Electrify America deploying a sizable 1,000 charging stalls across 200 TravelCenters of America (TA), TA Express, and Petro shopping center locations nationwide.

    TA’s goal is to install the chargers over the next five years, with the first ones showing up in 2023. The first installations are slated for locations in Texas and Ohio, according to TA’s senior director of communications, Tina Arundel.

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  • You can still get a $50 credit when you reserve Samsung’s Galaxy S23

    A pink Galaxy S23 Plus next to a beige Galaxy S23.
    A leaked image claiming to show the Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus
    Image: WinFuture

    The clock is ticking if you want to take advantage of Samsung’s ongoing promotion for the Galaxy S23 and its forthcoming Galaxy Book, both of which are expected to be unveiled during Samsung’s Unpacked event later this week. Now until 12PM ET on February 1st, you can score $50 in Samsung credit when you reserve one of the new Galaxy Book laptops online or any phone in the Galaxy S23 lineup. Reserving both, meanwhile, will get you $100 in credit.

    There are a couple of caveats to take note of before jumping on this deal. First, to get the credit, you’ll have to commit to preordering the devices once Samsung opens preorders, which is likely to happen following their announcement. The current promotion ends an hour before the start of Unpacked, which means you’ll have to make your buying decision sight unseen. That may not be much of an issue if you’re interested in the S23, though, given how much has already leaked regarding the S23, S23 Plus, and S23 Ultra, as well as Samsung’s new line of Galaxy Book laptops.

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  • Meta’s Account Center came with a 2FA-defeating bug

    Meta logo in white on red background
    Illustration by Nick Barclay / The Verge

    Meta’s Accounts Center feature had a bug that let hackers brute force SMS two-factor authentication, allowing them to bypass the additional protection (via TechCrunch). The vulnerability, which Meta says it fixed in December, was reported by Nepalese security researcher Gtm Mänôz, who detailed the exploit in a Medium post earlier this month.

    It was a significant find, as Meta seems to be putting more and more focus on its Accounts Center feature, letting you manage settings and security information from it, as well as use it to switch to your other accounts. According to Mänôz, the attack was relatively simple; if you knew the phone number the other person used for two-factor authentication, you could link it to your own account, which would remove it from the victim’s.

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  • You just activated my Snap card.

    Marvel Snap’s long awaited Battle Mode, which allows players to directly challenge others in a new game mode, launches tomorrow. Consequently, also launching tomorrow is Ash’s campaign to make new friends as all her old ones leave in disgust and shame after getting beat by her in Marvel Snap.

  • Sex, drugs, and emoji law.

    I will never get tired of legal battles hinging on interpreting emoji. So it’s a treat watching acknowledged expert Eric Goldman hash out a case based on two of my other favorite topics: cops trying to interpret drug references and awkward sexts showing up in court.

  • Instagram’s AIM-like text status feature is expanding to Europe and Japan

    A screenshot of Instagram’s Notes feature.
    These Notes are all wasted opportunities to post vague lyrics that are definitely not targeted toward your crush.
    Image: Meta

    Instagram Notes, the social network’s recently launched text status feature that reminds me of the AOL Instant Messenger away messages of my youth, is expanding to the EU, UK, and Japan this week, Instagram head Adam Mosseri announced Monday. The rollout is beginning on Monday, spokesperson Christine Pai said in an email to The Verge.

    Notes are short text posts of up to 60 characters that float above your profile icon and disappear after 24 hours. The feature officially launched in December, and Mosseri says it’s done “really well” in Asia, North America, and Latin America and “specifically with teens.” The later launch in Europe and Japan was to ensure the feature complied with local regulations, Mosseri said.

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  • The Meta Quest Pro is $400 off this week

    The Quest Pro headset from the side.
    Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    Meta has given its professional Meta Quest Pro headset a temporary $400 discount, bringing its cost down to $1,099 in the US. The deal, which, according to CNET, runs for one week in the US and two weeks in the UK at a price of £1,299, at least temporarily mitigates one major point of criticism for the high-end headset.

    The Quest Pro offers a few significant features that Meta’s $399 Quest 2 doesn’t. It supports full-color passthrough mixed reality with front-facing cameras, and it comes with new self-tracked controllers that are more compact, plus eye and facial feature tracking. The tradeoff is a heavier design that we had some notable problems with. For anyone who’s specifically interested in those options, the price cut makes it a more attractive choice. Perhaps not coincidentally, the sale price matches HTC’s new Vive XR Elite, which includes similar features to the Quest Pro and ships later this month.

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  • Apple’s M1 MacBook Air for $799 is still easy to recommend

    The 2020 M1 MacBook Air sitting on a desk with a long-exposure light effect happening in the background.
    Even though it came out in late 2020, the $799 MacBook Air should still satisfy a lot of people.
    Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

    Even though Apple’s M1 MacBook Air laptop is well over two years old, we still highly recommend it, especially when stores like Best Buy knock its price down to $799.99 ($200 off its original price that Apple still sells it for). You probably won’t find a faster, more compact, and better-designed machine for that amount of money. Despite being on the lowest rung and the oldest of Apple’s M1 and M2 silicon, don’t count it out. In our review, we came away impressed with its fast performance in most tasks and surprisingly long battery life. That was November 2020, but we still think you’ll be impressed now. Read our review.

    This is far from the first time that this deal has appeared (truthfully, I’ve lost count), but if you’re in the market for a MacBook that needs to be lightweight, semi-affordable, and fast, this might be the right fit for you. It’s possible that power users may need more than its 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, but this configuration should be enough for most people doing everyday stuff like multitasking in a browser.

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  • TikTok CEO to testify before Congress in March

    A TikTok logo surrounded by jazzy lines and colorful accents
    Illustration by Nick Barclay / The Verge

    TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is expected to appear before Congress in March to face questions from lawmakers over US user safety and security on the popular video app, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal

    The Energy and Commerce Committee confirmed the hearing in a press release Monday announcing that the TikTok chief would testify on March 23rd. TikTok chief operating officer Vanessa Pappas has testified before a congressional committee as recently as last September, but this upcoming hearing will be the first time a chief executive of the company has been hauled to Capitol Hill to face questioning.

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  • Nothing’s next phone will launch in the US later this year

    The Phone 1 with its back lights illuminated.
    Last year’s Nothing Phone 1.
    Photo by Allison Johnson / The Verge

    Nothing’s next smartphone, the Phone 2, will be getting an official US release, the company’s CEO Carl Pei has confirmed in an interview with Inverse. Although the Phone 1’s transparent rear design and flashing light strips didn’t see a US release after the company chose to focus its attention on Europe and Asia, Nothing has decided to change its focus for its 2023 flagship. “We decided to make the U.S. our No. 1 priority in terms of markets,” Pei tells Inverse.  

    Hints of a US launch came earlier this month when Nothing announced a beta program for American buyers, which would supply them with a Phone 1 handset for a $299 fee. But the program is a far cry from an official US release, with Nothing cautioning that devices won’t support 5G on AT&T and that coverage on Verizon is very limited. In other words, the program is a way for people to test the hardware, but it’s not ready to replace a primary smartphone for US buyers.

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  • How many quirks and features can you buy with $37 million?

    Doug DeMuro, YouTube’s favorite car reviewer and our foremost expert on automotive quirks and features, is getting a significant cash injection from the Chernin Group. The investment group behind a number of online creators, including Barstool Sports, MeatEater, and Exploding Kittens, said it would invest $37 million in DeMuro’s Cars and Bids website, which under the deal will merge with his YouTube page to form one entity. Congrats to Doug — now buy yourself a fancy knee pillow to celebrate.

    Here’s our Decoder interview with Doug from 2021, where he describes how the business of being Doug Demuro actually works:

  • Aqua forever.

    This live-reflecting update to Apple’s 2000s-era Aqua design language is so cool. Bring it back!

  • Emma Roth

    Jan 30

    Emma Roth

    Apple’s expanding production in India.

    According to Bloomberg, an Apple supplier in the country has started making plastic AirPods enclosures. This comes as Apple continues to shift more production from China to India, where it now makes the iPhone 14 and other devices.

  • Green light.

    Samsung’s big Galaxy Unpacked event on Wednesday will reveal more on its consumer devices phones and tablets, but, as Bloomberg points out, we’ll also keep an eye out for its quarterly earnings results.

    Due to be released Tuesday morning in Korea (around 8PM ET today), they’ll give a clearer look at the plunging market for the memory chips.