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Wednesday’s top tech news: Section 230 on trial

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Yesterday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Gonzalez v. Google, which is a case with potentially huge ramifications for Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (aka, “The Twenty-Six words that Created the Internet”). My colleague Adi Robertson has a great writeup of the day’s proceedings, which centers around whether YouTube’s video recommendation algorithm represents a form of speech that shouldn’t have Section 230 protections.

Next up, Elon Musk is continuing to lay off dozens of employees at Twitter, despite claiming last November that the bulk of the firings were over. He’s also set a week’s deadline to overhaul the platform’s ad targeting to work more like Google’s.

And finally, Microsoft has announced a partnership with Nvidia as it attempts to lobby regulators to allow its acquisition of Activision Blizzard to proceed. As with Nintendo, the deal centers around offering Xbox games on Nvidia’s platform for 10 years. Note that the “platform” in this case is Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud gaming service rather than a specific piece of hardware.

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: Wednesday, February 22nd, 2023.
  • Netflix’s new NFL docuseries starring Patrick Mahomes debuts this summer

    Netflix is getting into football. On Wednesday, the streaming giant announced a new sports docuseries, Quarterback, that will focus on three NFL quarterbacks: Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs (who just collected his second Super Bowl win and second Super Bowl MVP award); Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings; and Marcus Mariota of the Atlanta Falcons. The series is set to debut this summer.

    “For the first time ever, the NFL allowed quarterbacks to be mic’d up for every single game of a season,” Netflix wrote in a post about the series. “The upcoming show will feature behind-the-scenes access to some of the biggest moments of the season, as Mahomes set an NFL record for total offense on his way to winning the league and Super Bowl MVP awards; Cousins engineered the greatest comeback in NFL history and led the Minnesota Vikings to an NFC North Division title; and Mariota took over as the starting quarterback in his first season with the Atlanta Falcons.”

    Read Article >
  • The US Copyright Office says you can’t copyright Midjourney AI-generated images

    A reproduction of the cover page of Zarya of the Dawn, showing an AI-generated drawing of a young woman with braids behind the book’s title.
    A reproduction of the cover page and the second page of Zarya of the Dawn, from the US Copyright Office’s letter.
    Image: Zarya of the Dawn — Kris Kashtanova / Midjourney

    The US Copyright Office has reconsidered the copyright protection it granted last fall to Kristina Kashtanova for her comic book Zarya of the Dawn, reports Reuters. It featured pictures created by feeding text prompts to Midjourney, an artificial intelligence image generator.

    According to this letter (PDF) sent to her lawyer by Robert Kasunic, the associate Register of Copyrights, the US Copyright Office has decided that Kashtanova “is the author of the Work’s text as well as the selection, coordination, and arrangement of the Work’s written and visual elements.”

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  • Google resolves 10-hour issue that prevented Gmail from syncing with Outlook

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

    If you typically access your Hotmail or Outlook account using the Gmail app, there’s a reason you probably didn’t see any new emails last night: Google had an issue syncing with Microsoft’s servers. According to Google’s status page, the company had been working to figure out what was wrong since around noon ET on Wednesday, before fixing it several hours later.

    At 9:57PM Wednesday evening, Google said it had resolved the issue. “The Gmail sync issue with Microsoft servers when using IMAP is now resolved. Thank you for your patience while we resolved the problem.”

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  • A nice reminder to audit the code of the DeFi protocol you’re using.

    The founders of Forsage, a alleged Ponzi purporting to be a DeFi protocol have been indicted for fraud. That’s not the funny part.

    This is:

    Analysis of the computer code underlying Forsage’s smart contracts allegedly revealed that, consistent with a Ponzi scheme, as soon as an investor invested in Forsage by purchasing a “slot” in a Forsage smart contract, the smart contract automatically diverted the investor’s funds to other Forsage investors, such that earlier investors were paid with funds from later investors.

  • Notion’s now letting anyone use its AI features

    Screenshot of the Notion interface with a button that says “Start writing with AI”
    You can use Notion AI to generate text from scratch, and to re-write or summarize existing text.
    Screenshot: Mitchell Clark / The Verge

    You can now try out the AI features of the Notion note-taking app, which are meant to help you write and refine text, summarize key points in existing notes, and generate task lists, according to an announcement from the company. Notion started testing its AI offering in November, but now it’s available to anyone with an account, and there’s no waitlist required.

    While the AI integrated into the app can write articles from whole cloth (I asked it to write a blog post about the Notion AI announcement, and it spat out 385 words, only some of which were accurate), the company is pitching it more as a “thought partner.” In its announcement post, the company says one of the features alpha testers used the most was asking it to improve text they had written. For example, you can highlight text and ask Notion to rewrite it in a different tone, use simpler language, or simply pad out or cut down a sentence.

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  • Nvidia is still making billions in Q4 2023 despite a giant drop in PC demand

    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Nvidia just reported its fourth quarter and full-year earnings, and it’s not exactly rosy — at least compared to pandemic highs. Last year, Nvidia had record quarterly revenue of $7.64 billion, including $3 billion in pure profit. For Q4 of its fiscal 2023, the company forecast that it would see just $6 billion in quarterly revenue in today’s earnings results, and that’s just about where it landed: $6.05 billion in revenue, down 21 percent, of which $1.4 billion was profit, down 53 percent. For the full year, it raked in $26.92 billion, almost identical to last year, though profit was down 55 percent.

    Remember: in 2021, $5 billion in revenue a quarter was a new Nvidia record. Now it’s the status quo: the company says it’s expecting to see $6.5 billion next quarter, too.

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  • Realme is working on a Dynamic Island copycat just as the original gets more useful

    iPhone 14 Pro Max in-hand showing Dynamic Island displaying phone call info.
    Apple’s Dynamic Island lacked third-party support at launch. That’s starting to change.
    Image: Nilay Patel / The Verge

    Realme, a subbrand of Chinese phone maker Oppo, might be the first Android OEM to clone Apple’s Dynamic Island, a deleted tweet from a company executive and a leaked animation suggest. It comes at a time when Apple seems like it might prove that Dynamic Island is worth copying, as the mostly ornamental UI fixture is finally getting some real third-party support.

    This doesn’t come as a major surprise. As 9to5Google points out, Realme basically told everyone it wanted to clone Dynamic Island back in September. It appears that a feature called the “Mini Capsule” has been in the works since then. A photo in the removed tweet indeed shows a pill-shaped UI element at the top of the screen with Oppo’s SuperVOOC charging logo displayed. The animation, shared by reliable leaker OnLeaks via Smartprix, shows the capsule expanding and collapsing to display charging status information. Cute!

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  • Razer launches new Blade 15, and it’s still 16:9

    The Razer Blade 15 seen from above on a white background.
    Unlike the Blade 16, the 2023 Blade 15 keeps the same aspect ratio we’ve seen on Blades past.
    Image: Razer

    Razer has launched a new Blade 15 model refreshed with Intel’s 13th Gen processors and Nvidia’s RTX 4000 GPUs.

    The company announced a 16-inch Razer Blade a few weeks ago, and some assumed that it would replace the 2022 Razer Blade 15. The Blade 16 threw a number of new features into the Blade 15’s formula — most notably, a 16:10 Mini LED dual-mode display.

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  • Tesla announces new engineering headquarters in California

    Image: Sean O’Kane / The Verge

    Tesla announced a new engineering headquarters in California, saying it would take over office space in Palo Alto formerly occupied by Hewlett Packard. Tesla CEO Elon Musk made the announcement Wednesday alongside California Governor Gavin Newsom (D), who called the announcement “another proof point of the renewable energy vibrancy that is California.”

    Tesla was founded in San Carlos, California in 2003 and has called the state home for most of its 20 years of existence. In October 2021, the company abruptly moved its headquarters to Austin, Texas, in recognition of its new Gigafactory that was under construction in the state. Tesla also has Gigafactories in Nevada, Berlin, Buffalo, and Shanghai.

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  • Was trading NBA Top Shots actually like trading stocks? A lawsuit will decide

    Image: NBA Top Shot

    NBA Top Shot developer Dapper Labs and its CEO, Roham Gharegozlou, will face a lawsuit accusing the company of selling unregistered securities in the form of its “Moments,” which are non-fungible tokens for sports fans.

    Despite Dappers’ lawyer’s claims that “Basketball cards are not securities. Pokémon cards are not securities. Baseball cards are not securities. Common sense says so. The law says so. And, courts say so,” Judge Victor Marrero decided to let the case go forward.

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  • Feb 22

    Daniel Golson

    The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is getting a giant touchscreen, TikTok, and a selfie camera

    Mercedes-Benz E-Class refreshed interior
    Image: Mercedes-Benz

    Mercedes-Benz unveiled the 2024 E-Class’ interior, and while its cabin is not a radical departure in design from existing Benzes, the new E-Class is packed full of interesting and advanced features that will influence the rest of the lineup — like a selfie camera and built-in apps for TikTok and Zoom.

    One of the major upgrades in the 2024 E-Class is the Superscreen, which combines the large standard central touchscreen with a second display in front of the passenger. (Unlike the EQS’s Hyperscreen, the digital gauge cluster remains a standalone display.) It looks beautiful, with slim air vents that curve around the top of the screen and a row of touch-capacitive buttons sitting below the center display.

    Read Article >
  • You can now cut Alexa out of Amazon’s multiroom audio equation.

    Love the ease of setting up wireless whole home audio with inexpensive Echo speakers but don’t love having to evoke the Assistant whenever you want to change it up? New features in Alexa multiroom music give you Sonos-like app controls over your audio. Here’s how to set up Alexa multiroom audio and how to use it.

  • Nintendo is creating an entertainment empire, and it all starts with Mario

    A photo of the Grand Opening of Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood in Universal City, California, on February 17th, 2023.
    Super Nintendo World opens up at Universal Studios Hollywood.
    Image: David Sprague / Universal Studios Hollywood

    Over the last few years, video games have penetrated pop culture in a big way. Everyone seems to want a piece: the most popular franchises, like Halo, The Last of Us, and League of Legends, all have hit TV shows, while Netflix is trying to make gaming a pillar of its future. So many gaming properties are being adapted for film and TV that it can be hard to keep track. Nintendo, too, has gotten in on the action. With Switch sales still going strong, the company just opened its second theme park attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood and will soon be releasing the first Super Mario Bros. animated movie. For Nintendo’s leadership, this shift into broader entertainment was a natural one.

    “I think people view Nintendo as a gaming company,” explains Shinya Takahashi, Nintendo’s senior managing executive officer. “But we have always thought of ourselves as an entertainment company.”

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  • Is the shine coming off of the Hyundai Ioniq 5?

    Every car and tech journalists’ favorite EV is reportedly experiencing some worrisome issues with its latest software update. According to Jalopnik, the Ioniq 5 recently received a software update to help with battery conditioning, which resulted in the car’s Eco mode becoming dangerously slow. How dangerous we talking here?

    With Eco mode engaged, and one-pedal driving turned on, I went for a drive where I eventually had to make an unprotected left turn across traffic. I pressed the throttle to the floor and the car crawled forward, right as I started to cross the flow of oncoming traffic. Suddenly, this 320-horsepower crossover was inching through the intersection, barely gaining any speed. I continued on my journey, mindful of the vehicle’s limited performance. Every other drive mode was normal, but in Eco mode, the Ioniq 5 felt more than slow — it felt broken.

    Hyundai says another software update should fix the problem. But until then, enter Eco mode with extreme caution.

  • Amazon closes $3.9 billion buy of membership-based healthcare provider One Medical

    Illustration of Amazon’s wordmark on an orange, black, and tan background made up of overlapping lines.
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Amazon has closed its $3.9 billion acquisition of membership-based healthcare provider One Medical, which was originally announced last summer. For the subscription (usually $199 annually but currently discounted to $144 per year), One Medical offers members an app, 24/7 access to on-demand telehealth services over video, and guaranteed same- or next-day appointments available through more than 125 offices.

    The FTC, which is reportedly considering leveling an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, has been investigating this deal as well as others (like iRobot) made by the company. FTC spokesman Douglas Farrar said to CNBC that the investigation into this acquisition is ongoing, and “The commission will continue to look at possible harms to competition created by this merger as well as possible harms to consumers that may result from Amazon’s control and use of sensitive consumer health information held by One Medical.”

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  • Sony teases 2023 TV lineup news for March 1st.

    Sony broke from tradition and didn’t announce new TVs at CES 2023. Instead, its keynote was used as a showcase for Afeela. But according to the company’s UK Twitter account, you can expect to get the full details for Sony’s latest Bravia XR lineup on March 1st. Prepare yourselves for some very nice screens.

  • Good news if you have a Cochlear hearing implant and an Amazon Fire TV.

    You can now directly stream audio from certain Fire TV devices to Cochlear’s hearing implants! You can find a full list of compatible devices here.

    The goal is to help people with hearing loss more easily enjoy movies, TV shows, and other entertainment. You can do this if you’ve got a compatible Starkey Bluetooth hearing aid, too.

  • The Xbox Game Pass Friends & Family plan is expanding to six new countries

    The Microsoft Xbox game logo against a green and black background.
    Microsoft is allowing its Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers to share account access with up to four other people.
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Microsoft is expanding the availability of its Friends & Family plan for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to six additional countries following its initial pilot in Ireland and Columbia last year. The Friends & Family plan is now also available in New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, Hungary, Israel, and Sweden and allows Xbox Game Pass members to share benefits with up to four other friends or family members.

    Each individual on a Friends & Family membership receives their own unique access to the entire Game Pass Ultimate library across Xbox and PC, EA Play, and other benefits like exclusive member discounts. Pricing for each new region will vary and has not been publicly disclosed by Microsoft. For context, though, the plan is currently available in Ireland for €21.99 per month (roughly $23) compared to the typical cost of €12.99 per month ($14.99) for a standard Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription. That works out to less than €5 per month per person to share all the usual Xbox Game Pass Ultimate benefits.

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  • Spotify HiFi was announced two years ago — and it still hasn’t launched

    An illustration of the Spotify logo surrounded by noise lines in white, purple, and green.
    Illustration by Nick Barclay / The Verge

    At this point, it’s fair to assume that something went wrong with Spotify HiFi. Two years ago today, during the company’s Stream On event, Spotify announced a new streaming tier that would let customers enjoy lossless, CD-quality audio from the leading subscription music service.

    Spotify felt the news was worthy of some star power and filmed a promotional video for HiFi with Billie Eilish and Finneas. It remains on the company’s YouTube page, and you can still read the blog post saying upgraded sound would arrive “later this year” — meaning by the end of 2021.

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  • Join us again and listen to the Supreme Court consider the future of the internet.

    The justices will reconvene at 10AM ET and oral arguments will begin shortly after in Twitter v Taamneh. If you need to catch up on the action in Gonzalez v. Google, check out yesterday’s coverage from Adi.

    You can listen along live to today’s arguments here as we post updates throughout the hearing:

  • No Man’s Sky is getting an overhauled VR mode with the launch of PSVR 2

    No Man’s Sky is one of many titles you can play on the now-released PlayStation VR2, but the game’s virtual reality mode on all VR platforms is getting a big overhaul as part of the new 4.1 “Fractal” update, developer Hello Games announced Wednesday.

    One of the biggest changes with the Fractal update is that the game’s HUD and UI have been redesigned for VR. That means you’ll be able to look through your multitool’s options in a menu embedded in the multitool, for example, or look at your inventory on a wrist-mounted display.

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  • Bill Gates snags a 3.76 percent stake in Heineken’s parent company.

    His shares are reportedly worth about 880 million euros ($936 million). Despite being “not a big beer drinker,” it’s a 2007 investment in another brewery, Femsa, that has brought Heineken into the Gates investment fold.

    It’s an interesting arrangement, considering the Melinda & Bill Gates Foundation-sponsored study released last year laying out both potential health risks (particularly for people under 40) and benefits from alcohol consumption:
    These findings highlight the need for tailored guidelines that discourage alcohol consumption among young people, as well as alcohol control policies and interventions that are targeted especially towards young males.

  • Gran Turismo 7 VR hands-on: it might make you a PSVR 2 believer

    Today, Sony is officially launching its PlayStation VR2 headset. It costs $550, and you can read our PSVR 2 review right here. But there are a few key experiences that Sony didn’t distribute to reviewers ahead of time — like a day-one patch for Gran Turismo 7 that makes almost the entire racing game playable in virtual reality.

    I’m beginning to think that was a mistake, because GT7 is easily one of the best things I’ve tried in this headset, and I’m saying that having never played GT7 before. I’m certain a number of gearheads will buy a PlayStation VR2 for this game alone — and quite possibly a PS5, a steering wheel, and a set of pedals to go with it.

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  • Elon Musk keeps laying off Twitter employees after saying cuts were done

    Elon Musk in front of the Twitter logo.
    Illustration by Kristen Radtke / The Verge; Getty Images

    On November 21st, Elon Musk gathered Twitter’s remaining employees at its San Francisco headquarters to tell them that, after forcing out roughly two-thirds of the workforce in a matter of weeks, layoffs were over. He keeps laying people off anyway.

    Dozens of Twitter employees across sales and engineering departments were laid off last week, including one of Musk’s direct reports who was managing engineering for Twitter’s ads business, according to company sources and social media posts from affected employees seen by The Verge. This means Musk has done at least three rounds of layoffs since his promise to stop doing them in November. Meanwhile, he has given a directive internally to revamp how ads are targeted in Twitter’s main feed within a week — part of his plan to fix what he has publically called “the worst ad relevance on Earth.” (The Information first reported that fresh cuts hit the sales team last week.)

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  • The Supreme Court is deciding the future of the internet, and it acted like it

    The YouTube logo against a black background with red X marks.
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    “We’re a court. We really don’t know about these things. These are not the nine greatest experts on the internet.”

    Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan made the wryly self-deprecating comment early in oral arguments for Gonzalez v. Google, a potential landmark case covering Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The remark was a nod to many people’s worst fears about the case. Gonzalez could unwind core legal protections for the internet, and it will be decided by a court that’s shown an appetite for overturning legal precedent and reexamining long-standing speech law.

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