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Friday’s top tech news: a pair of DIY projects for the weekend

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Upgrading an SSD might not normally be newsworthy, but we’re usually not talking about the difficult-to-obtain components used in Valve’s handheld gaming PC. There’s now an easier way to get your hands on a 2TB SSD upgrade for the Steam Deck thanks to Framework, makers of the excellent repairable laptop of the same name. Compatible SSDs have been tricky to get your hands on, because the specific component size isn’t used in many products with user-upgradable parts.

Or, if you’re looking for a more software-based project, why not try setting up your own Mastodon instance with Cloudflare? It claims that someone who knows what they’re doing could get themselves set up in “minutes.” Meanwhile, over at the other microblogging service, things are somehow getting even more chaotic and petty.

And finally, Chrome’s picture-in-picture mode looks set to get an upgrade in future versions, allowing it to continue to display non-video elements like widgets even when you move away from a specific page. I just really, really hope there are safeguards in place to stop websites abusing the feature like they already do with browser notifications.

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: Friday, February 10th, 2023.
  • Fitbit might be working on blood pressure tech, but its future is murky

    View of the Fitbit Sense 2
    The Fitbit Sense 2 didn’t inspire much confidence in the future of Fitbit smartwatches.
    Photo by Victoria Song / The Verge

    Fitbit recently filed a patent application (pdf) for a force-sensitive display that would enable blood pressure readings on wearables. But even if patents did guarantee success — which they don’t — the past few months make it hard to be confident in the future of Fitbit smartwatches.

    First things first, you shouldn’t read too hard into any patent filing. While it can give you a sense of what a company’s working on, it’s a legal tool for companies to effectively call dibs on a particular innovation. In the claims section of this filing (via Wareable), Fitbit outlines a force-sensitive screen combined with a photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor that, when pressed, can estimate your blood pressure.

    Read Article >
  • Reddit thinks AI chatbots will ‘complement’ human connection, not replace it

    An illustration of the Reddit logo.
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Reddit doesn’t seem to be too worried about the AI-powered conversational chatbots like the ones Google and Microsoft revealed this week, based on a statement the company shared with The Verge. Shifting from traditional search to ChatGPT-like bots could erase the strategy of appending “reddit” to your searches to find human-sourced information instead of SEO-optimized garbage.

    But Reddit believes the chatbots won’t replace actual human connection.

    Read Article >
  • Meta found a leaker who shared details about its unannounced VR headsets with a YouTuber

    Close up of Meta Quest headset
    Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    A version of this story was first published in yesterday’s edition of my Command Line newsletter.

    A monthslong leak investigation by Meta has uncovered the source behind renders of the company’s unannounced VR headsets that were published last year by a YouTuber named Brad Lynch. 

    Read Article >
  • Vergecast: We tried Bing powered by ChatGPT AI and things got dark

    Nilay has access to Bing’s new AI powered search, so we took some of your prompts from Twitter on today’s show. The crew discuss whether this version of search will reshape the way we use the web, and whether or not this can beat Google.

    Also on this episode: Disney layoffs, OnePlus announcements, and Elon’s Twitter reach is dropping.

  • PS VR2, unboxed.

    Let Sean’s calming voice guide you through this unpackaging and setup experience. Ahhh.

  • Nowatch review: a chic stress tracker for the Goop faithful

    Nowatch device on its charger while an alternate agate disc is propped up next to it.
    That’s no watch.

    Modern life is stressful. The past three years have been particularly stressful thanks to a global pandemic, a worsening economy, and an aneurysm-inducing news cycle. But while most wearable companies have introduced features meant to help with mindfulness, recovery, and stress reduction, that’s not their main focus. But with the Nowatch, that’s the entire purpose.

    You can tell from the name. Nowatch — pronounced Now-watch — centers on the idea that “time is now.” (You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s pronounced “no watch” given that there’s no watch.) The idea is to help you stay present and connected to the current moment. You get zero notifications, and you can’t even tell the time because there’s no screen (no watch, if you will). Instead, there’s a swappable disc made of gemstones or machined metal. But the Nowatch’s crown jewel is a Philips electrodermal activity (EDA) sensor, which gauges stress levels by measuring electrical changes in minuscule amounts of skin sweat. Using this sensor, Nowatch can purportedly predict when your stress levels will spike and send a gentle buzz to your wrist as a signal to reset and refocus.

    Read Article >
  • Let the PlayStation VR2 testing begin.

    We’re trying out Sony’s new PlayStation VR2 headset this week. The $549.99 headset is due to launch on February 22nd with an OLED screen, a 110-degree field of view, and 4K HDR support. Stay tuned for our full review soon, and until then check out our initial hands-on from September.

    Sony’s PSVR2 packaging.
    Sony’s PSVR2 packaging.
    Image: Tom Warren / The Verge
  • Feb 10

    Emme Hall

    GMC Hummer EV review: bummer EV

    If you want an EV that makes sense, you should not buy the GMC Hummer EV. If you want an EV that’s affordable, you should not buy the GMC Hummer EV. If you want an EV that’s efficient or luxurious, you should not buy the GMC Hummer EV. 

    Is there any reason to spend $110,000 on this ghastly behemoth? I spent a week trying to figure it out, and frankly, I’m still left wondering.

    Read Article >
  • Microsoft to demo its new ChatGPT-like AI in Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook soon

    The Microsoft logo on an orange background
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Microsoft is getting ready to demonstrate how its new ChatGPT-like AI will transform its Office productivity apps. After announcing and demonstrating its Prometheus Model in its new Bing search engine earlier this week, Microsoft is gearing up to show how it will expand to its core productivity apps like Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

    Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans tell The Verge that the company is preparing to detail its productivity plans for integrating OpenAI’s language AI technology and its Prometheus Model in the coming weeks. The software giant is tentatively planning an announcement in March, highlighting how quickly Microsoft wants to reinvent search and its productivity apps through its OpenAI investments.

    Read Article >
  • Windows 11 will soon control your RGB lighting for PC gaming accessories

    Illustration of Microsoft’s Windows logo
    Alex Castro / The Verge

    Microsoft is working to bring native support for RGB PC gaming accessories to Windows 11. The Windows lighting experience will include the ability for PC gamers to configure accessories with RGB lighting without having to install third-party software.

    Twitter user Albacore has spotted early work for integrating this new lighting experience into Windows 11 in the latest public test builds of the operating system. Options for controlling brightness, lighting effects, speed, and colors can all be found in the settings interface of Windows 11. There’s even a feature that will match your accessories to the Windows accent color.

    Read Article >
  • Cloudflare wants to help you set up your own Mastodon-compatible server in ‘minutes’

    A promotional image for the Wildebeest project.
    A promotional image for the Wildebeest project.
    Image: Cloudflare

    Wildebeest is a new project from Cloudflare that’s designed to make it easier for individuals to set up and run their own Mastodon-compatible servers. It highlights one of the key strengths of Mastodon over centralized competitors like Twitter, which is that anyone can host an instance of the microblogging service that’s connected it to the wider network (aka Fediverse).

    “You can quickly deploy your Mastodon-compatible server on top of Cloudflare and connect it to the Fediverse in minutes,” Cloudflare’s Celso Martinho and Sven Sauleau write in a co-authored blog post. “You don’t need to worry about maintaining or protecting it from abuse or attacks; Cloudflare will do it for you automatically.”

    Read Article >
  • Tesla’s Autopilot was not cause of fatal Texas crash, NTSB determines

    The Tesla logo on a red, black, and white background.
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has exonerated Tesla’s Autopilot system as the cause of a fatal and fiery Texas crash involving a Tesla Model S in 2021. Investigators for the NTSB issued their final report this week that determined the driver was operating the vehicle up until it impacted the tree and that they had been under the influence of alcohol and drugs (via Ars Technica).

    Here’s the probable cause as written in the NTSB’s final conclusion:

    Read Article >
  • Google is working on making Chrome’s picture-in-picture more useful

    Illustration of the Chrome logo on a bright and dark red background.
    The Verge

    The latest Chrome beta, version 111, includes a trial for a feature that could make the browser’s picture-in-picture feature significantly more useful. Instead of being only for playing videos, Google’s looking into letting it display basically any web content in a floating window that stays on top of all your other windows.

    There are quite a few ways this feature, which is called Document Picture-in-Picture, could be useful. Some of Google’s examples are mostly just spins on how picture-in-picture already works, such as video players but with custom UI (such as buttons to like or dislike a video, a timeline, or captions), or a miniplayer for video conferences that let you see a grid of people and access controls to mute yourself or raise a hand.

    Read Article >
  • Framework now sells 2TB Steam Deck upgrade drives

    The Steam Deck lies on a wooden table, face down, with a fan and screwdriver resting on its back.
    Ready to open up my Steam Deck.
    Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

    Game recognizes game. Framework, maker of the modular Framework Laptop, is now stocking a part for the other easily repairable portable PC that’s been making headlines — Valve’s Steam Deck. You can now buy a 2TB SSD upgrade from the company, and it might be the easiest way to do so yet.

    See, while it’s fairly easy to replace the Steam Deck’s SSD, it’s not quite as easy to buy the right parts. The Steam Deck uses the smallest kind of modular SSD — the M.2 2230, which measures just 30mm long — and it’s only designed to fit a single-sided one, which has flash memory chips on one side.

    Read Article >
  • Elon Musk’s reach on Twitter is dropping — he just fired a top engineer over it

    Elon Musk shown looking downward in front of upside-down Twitter logos.
    Illustration by Laura Normand / The Verge

    For weeks now, Elon Musk has been preoccupied with worries about how many people are seeing his tweets. Last week, the Twitter CEO took his Twitter account private for a day to test whether that might boost the size of his audience. The move came after several prominent right-wing accounts that Musk interacts with complained that recent changes to Twitter had reduced their reach.

    On Tuesday, Musk gathered a group of engineers and advisors into a room at Twitter’s headquarters looking for answers. Why are his engagement numbers tanking?

    Read Article >