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Tuesday’s top tech news: Hands-on with the HomePod

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Here’s the top tech news for Wednesday, February 1st, 2023.

We have a review of Apple’s new smart speaker as Chris Welch and Jennifer Pattison Tuohy evaluate the “all-new” $299.99 HomePod.

They praised its sound quality, useful set of sensors, and deep integration with Apple TV, but noted it’s a bit more expensive than similar smart speakers, and said you’ll really need two of them to get the best experience.

The E3 video game trade show, which has traditionally served as one of the year’s major press events, could be a much smaller affair in 2023. A new report from IGN suggests that the three major console manufacturers, Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft, are all skipping out on the June convention. There’s a chance they could still hold press events that month that aren’t officially part of E3, but it’d be very bad news for the Entertainment Software Association’s flagship event itself.

Elsewhere, GM’s Hummer EV SUV has entered mass production, and the first customers are expected to receive their gigantic electric cars by the end of Q1. The SUV joins the truck version of the Hummer EV, whose deliveries started in late 2021.

And finally, Paramount is reconfiguring its streaming offering to combine Showtime with Paramount Plus. The resulting streaming service will be called, inventively enough, “Paramount Plus with Showtime.” It’s part of a wave of changes coming to streaming players that also include the merger of HBO Max and Discovery Plus.

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 31st, 2023.
  • Meta is inexplicably shutting down one of the best Oculus games

    We’ve called it a cross between the Battle School from Ender’s Game and ultimate frisbee. We’ve called it Final Fantasy X blitzball meets VR. It made two of our Best VR Games lists — three, if you count the one I did for CNET before returning to The Verge. It convincingly sticks you into a robot body inhabiting a zero-G arena, where you have to use your wrist jets, obstacles, teammates, and even foes to catapult yourself to victory. It even became its own esport.

    But now, Echo VR (née Echo Arena) is getting killed off by Meta (née Facebook). Facebook purchased its developer Ready At Dawn in 2020, after making Echo VR one of the flagship games for the Meta Quest (née Oculus Quest) and Rift S launch. Meta will not be offering any refunds on in-app purchases, in-game currency, or DLC.

    Read Article >
  • AMD thinks the PC sales slump will end after one more rough quarter

    AMD banner
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    People aren’t buying as many computers, and chipmakers are getting hit hard — but AMD thinks that should improve long before the year is out. “The first quarter should be the bottom for us in PCs,” AMD CEO Lisa Su said today on the company’s Q4 2022 earnings call.

    Su predicts that the total addressable market for PCs will shrink 10 percent this year, down to around 260 million units. (IDC reported this month that 292.3 million PCs shipped in 2022, and both IDC and Gartner suggested it might take until 2024 to recover.) Su says AMD is expecting “a softer first half and a stronger second half.”

    Read Article >
  • EA’s free-to-play Lord of the Rings mobile game is set to launch this year.

    The Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-earth was announced in May and entered testing in August, and EA expects to fully launch it this year, COO Laura Miele said on the company’s earnings call on Tuesday. Hopefully EA keeps the game around longer than Apex Legends Mobile.

  • Rode added a removable microphone to its headphones

    A new microphone attachment added to Rode’s NTH-100 headphones.
    Rode’s NTH-100M headset
    Image: Rode

    Rode is packaging the NTH-100 headphones with a headset microphone for broadcast, streaming, and other voice operations and calling it the NTH-100M. 

    There is virtually no difference between last year’s NTH-100s and the new $189 NTH-100M outside of the new removable boom microphone and the required TRRS cable for allowing devices to utilize the microphone, but it’s a welcome addition to the crowded headphone space. 

    Read Article >
  • The US government wants to ban gas stoves? Good luck fighting Hank Hill.

    Breaking news: Deadline reports that King of The Hill will return, and there’s no way in hell the lord of propane is going to allow lawmakers to seize gas stoves from the people.

    Welcome to America. We sell propane and propane accessories.

  • Custom build turns the Framework Laptop into a triple-screen powerhouse

    A 3 screen DIY laptop, folded open with a nice handle on a pair of brass legs.
    Open for business.
    Image: DIY Perks

    The Framework Laptop has been a godsend for DIYers. Not only does the modular design allow for quick and easy repair, but the swappable mainboard is a robust platform for all sorts of bizarre builds. Tons of tinkerers have used the modular mainboard design to create their own cyberdeck designs. You don’t even need to buy the whole laptop to do it!

    DIY Perks has taken that to the next level with this triple-screen laptop build. Unsatisfied with the lack of screen real estate and poor ergonomics in most laptops, they used their skills to cobble together a portable cyberdeck workstation.

    Read Article >
  • AMD made just $21 million last quarter.

    Profits dropped 98 percent — and yet it’s actually a rosy quarter since AMD is weathering reduced PC demand relatively well (client processors admittedly down 51 percent). AMD says the losses are “primarily due to the amortization of intangible assets associated with the Xilinx acquisition.”

    Gaming revenue only dropped 7 percent because AMD-powered console sales (PS5, Xbox, Steam Deck) are actually up. It’s largely the same story as last quarter.

  • Mia Sato

    Jan 31

    Mia Sato

    Twitter ends CoTweets, its collaborative posting feature

    Twitter bird logo in white over a blue and purple background
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Twitter is shutting down CoTweets, its collaborative posting feature that was one of the last big product updates introduced before Elon Musk’s takeover. A notice was posted on Twitter’s help center announcing the end of the feature.

    CoTweets allowed two accounts to co-author posts that appeared simultaneously on users’ profiles. As of last July, select users in the US, Korea, and Canada were able to use CoTweets after the company began testing the idea last spring. While CoTweets were still limited in rollout, many people anticipated they’d be helpful for brands doing collaborations or announcements.

    Read Article >
  • ChatGPT’s creator made a free tool for detecting AI-generated text

    An image of OpenAI’s logo, which looks like a stylized and symmetrical braid.
    Image: OpenAI

    OpenAI, the company behind DALL-E and ChatGPT, has released a free tool that it says is meant to “distinguish between text written by a human and text written by AIs.” It warns the classifier is “not fully reliable” in a press release and “should not be used as a primary decision-making tool.” According to OpenAI, it can be useful in trying to determine whether someone is trying to pass off generated text as something that was written by a person.

    The tool, known as a classifier, is relatively simple, though you will have to have a free OpenAI account to use it. You just paste text into a box, click a button, and it’ll tell you whether it thinks the text is very unlikely, unlikely, unclear if it is, possibly, or likely AI-generated.

    Read Article >
  • Hyundai’s Ioniq 6 EV can keep it rolling with its new EPA-estimated 361 miles of range

    Hyundai’s Ioniq 6 is driving at high speed down a highway. The camera is ahead of the car in a lane to the left of the Ioniq 6. Ioniq 6 is silver and the background has grass and hills with a cloudy sky.
    The 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6.
    Image: Hyundai

    Hyundai’s new Ioniq 6 has had its playdate with the EPA, and now the automaker is revealing that its electric “streamliner” sedan can travel an estimated 361 miles on a full charge. While the calculation is specific to the SE Long Range RWD trim, the AWD version is no slouch, either, with a maximum range of 316 miles.

    Compared to the similarly sized RWD version of Tesla’s Model 3, the Ioniq 6 SE Long Range RWD could go a whole 89 miles further based on the EPA estimates. Although, Hyundai’s AWD version of the Ioniq 6 isn’t topping the 358-mile Tesla Model 3 Long Range AWD.

    Read Article >
  • PayPal is laying off 2,000 employees.

    The latest mass layoff event in tech is happening at PayPal, where CEO Dan Schulman announced:

    I’m writing to share the difficult news that we will be reducing our global workforce by approximately 2,000 full time employees, which is about 7% of our total workforce.

    If you’re wondering why we’ve seen so many of these and why the 7 percent figure is so familiar, Elizabeth Lopatto can try to explain.

  • James Gunn’s DC Universe will debut a new Batman movie, the Green Lantern Corps, and a Booster Gold series

    We’ve known for some time that DC Studios co-leads James Gunn and Peter Safran were cooking up a big, bold plan to effectively reset Warner Bros. Discovery’s universe of superhero movies in order to get the cinematic franchise back on track in the David Zaslav era. Now, the first details of that plan are starting to be released, and it’s sounding a lot like the new DC Universe is going to be going back to the basics as the studio builds to a new future.

    Though Gunn and Safran almost certainly have more ideas in the pipeline, Warner Bros. Discovery announced today that five movies and five series will kick off “Chapter 1” of the DC Universe. In a press release, the studio described this first chapter as focusing on some of the franchise’s most powerful “Gods and Monsters,” and Safran emphasized how Chapter 1 is being “designed to minimize audience confusion and maximize audience engagement across platforms.”

    Read Article >
  • Microsoft’s post-layoffs Halo studio is smaller and switching to Unreal Engine

    Three Spartans are on the battlefield in Halo Infinite.
    Halo could look a lot different.
    Image: 343 Industries

    Halo developer 343 Industries lost at least 95 people due to Microsoft’s recent layoffs, and the studio is apparently switching from its proprietary Slipspace engine to Epic Games’ widely used Unreal Engine for future games, Bloomberg reports.

    The future of Halo has been somewhat up in the air since the layoffs announced on January 18th. Halo Infinite had a strong launch in late 2021, but over time, fans started to get annoyed by frustrations with multiplayer progression, repeated delays to planned features like network campaign co-op and Forge (which finally launched in November), and no indication that new campaign content was imminent.

    Read Article >
  • Apple Arcade is getting some more mobile classics.

    The February line-up for Apple’s subscription gaming service includes two bonafide classics: Riptide GP: Renegade, a sort of spiritual successor to games like Wave Race 64, and Lifeline, an incredible narrative about texting with an astronaut trapped on an alien moon. They, alongside new releases Castle Crumble and Farmside, will be launching throughout the month.

  • Apple Music’s Replay 2023 playlist is here to track your favorite songs

    The Apple Music iOS logo on a green and white background.
    Excited for my top 10 songs this year to just be the new Boygenius album.
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Apple Music users who love having a playlist of their favorite songs rejoice: Apple has made the Replay 2023 playlist available, letting you see which songs you’ve listed to the most this year. The songs that are on it and their rankings will almost certainly change before the big replay roundup in December, but it’s nice to start using it now as a shortcut to playing music you know you’ll like.

    The playlist has come a bit early this year, as XDA Developers points out. The 2022 version was released around the middle of February. It seems as if Apple is taking the feature a bit more seriously; last year, it apparently decided it should actually compete with Spotify’s Wrapped feature and made its end-of-year recap significantly more appealing and shareable. The jury’s still out about whether it went far enough, but at least it’s something.

    Read Article >
  • Celsius reportedly used investor money to prop up its token price.

    Founders Alex Mashinsky and Daniel Leon also sold the token while this all was going on, according to a court-ordered report on Celsius. If you don’t have time for the full filing, Reuters summarizes its results.

    “When you look at what the banks pay, you say to yourself, ‘Somebody is lying. Either the bank is lying or Celsius is lying,’” Mashinsky said in 2021. Guess we know who it was now!

  • Did you want to know more about the software that’s the excuse for jacking up rent prices?

    If you enjoyed this Curbed article about RealPage Revenue Management Software and its effect on the New York rental market, you will also enjoy this blog about its training deck. Among the slides? In ‘“Manage Lease Renewals for Property Managers,’ you can walk through how to jack up a long-time resident’s rent from $1,188 to $1,5976, roughly a 34% increase.”

  • The next Sims will have both solo play and multiplayer

    Promotional art for The Sims ‘Project Rene.’
    Image: EA

    As promised, EA is teasing out details for its next-generation Sims game, codenamed Project Rene. During a livestream today, EA confirmed that multiplayer will be a major component of the experience — though not at the expense of the traditional single-player that has made the series such a blockbuster. “We think we can be both,” Grant Rodiek, game director for Project Rene, explained.

    He was quick to stress that the new game is “not an MMO,” so don’t expect World of Warcraft with characters speaking in Simlish. Instead, as an example, EA showed off the new game’s enhanced customization tools — where you can tweak every part of a piece of furniture, from its color to the parts it’s made of (see the image below) — saying it’s a feature you can utilize in real time with other players. From the sound of it, these kinds of features will be additive to what Sims players expect. “We know that our players want to have that intimate, personal experience,” Rodiek said.

    Read Article >
  • Discord is slowing down some Nvidia graphics cards

    Illustration of Discord logo
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Update February 3rd, 7:52PM ET: Nvidia has released an update to fix this issue, which should automatically download to your PC.

    Original article below:

    Read Article >
  • Inside the global battle over chip manufacturing

    Chris Miller smiles at the camera.
    Photo illustration by Will Joel / The Verge.

    A few weeks ago, President Joe Biden was in the Netherlands, where he asked the Dutch government to restrict export from a company called ASML to China. ASML is the only company in the world that makes a specific machine needed to make the most advanced chips. Apple couldn’t make iPhone chips without this one machine from the Netherlands’ biggest company. ASML doesn’t just shape the Dutch economy — it shapes the entire world economy. How did that happen?

    Chris Miller, Tufts professor and author of Chip War: The Fight For The World’s Most Critical Technology walked me through a lot of this, along with some deep dives into geopolitics and the absolutely fascinating chip manufacturing process. This one has everything: foreign policy, high-powered lasers, hotshot executives, monopolies, the fundamental limits of physics, and, of course, Texas. Here we go.

    Read Article >
  • NASA’s Martian rover has finished hoarding samples that might contain proof of ancient life

    The NASA Perseverance rover taking a selfie beside a deposited sample tube.
    Perseverance has been depositing secondary samples of rock collected from Mars across the planet’s surface just in case it fails to deliver its onboard samples during a future collection mission.
    Image: NASA

    NASA’s Perseverance rover has dropped the last of 10 sample tubes onto the surface of Mars, thereby completing humanity’s “first sample depot on another world.” The rover began depositing titanium tubes containing samples of rock and dust six weeks ago as part of the Mars sample return mission to collect Martian material and deliver it to Earth for further study.

    Perseverance landed on Mars in February 2021, touching down inside a 28-mile-wide bowl known as Jezero Crater with a core mission to look for signs of ancient microbial life and gather samples of the Martian environment. Scientists believe that, billions of years ago, Jezero Crater may have contained a river that flowed into a vast lake, which could have provided the necessary environment to support microbial life.

    Read Article >
  • January was the worst month for tech layoffs.

    With nearly 100,000 employees pushed out into the cold, January was worse than December and November combined. That’s according to the TrueUp tracker; I know some people prefer

    Why so many layoffs following record-breaking profits? I’ll let my colleague Liz tackle that.

  • This computer was pretty “OK.”

    We’re excited to say that the first piece from our partnership with the Computer History Museum is live today: a look back at the Apple Lisa and its long-lasting impact on our relationship with computers. Stay tuned later this week and beyond for a look inside a rare collection of Polaroids from the Lisa’s development, and an upcoming Verge video documentary on the Lisa’s final act. (Hint: it involves a landfill and lots of security guards.)

    It’s not too late to participate in CHM’s virtual event celebrating the Lisa, happening today at 7PM PT / 10 PM ET. You can register to attend below:

  • Forget Atlas — this is the Boston Dynamics robot that might actually take your job.

    Boston Dynamics is best know for Spot and Atlas, but don’t forget the company also sells Stretch — a machine does what we think of as “proper work,” aka moving boxes in warehouses.

    The latest video from the company highlights Stretch’s appeal, which is less about backflips and more about boring things like safety and usability. Trust me, this is the real scary stuff.

  • Instagram’s co-founders are back with Artifact, a kind of TikTok for text

    A promotional image for the Artifact app.
    A screenshot of Artifact, the new news app from Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger.
    Image: Artifact

    Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger are back.

    The Instagram co-founders, who departed Facebook in 2018 amid tensions with their parent company, have formed a new venture to explore ideas for next-generation social apps. Their first product is Artifact, a personalized news feed that uses machine learning to understand your interests and will soon let you discuss those articles with friends.

    Read Article >