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Wednesday’s top tech news: Google showcases its own AI search experiences

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Microsoft made a big splash yesterday with new ChatGPT-powered upgrades to its Bing search engine and Edge browser. Today, in what feels unlikely to be a coincidence, Google responded, presenting several AI-enhanced features for Search, Maps, and Translate during an event in Paris and giving a preview of its own “Bard” AI chatbot.

However, investors may not have been impressed — or they were scared off by an embarrassing AI flub — as the stock price for Google’s parent company, Alphabet, dropped after the presentation.

Now, we’re waiting to see what’s revealed during the first Nintendo Direct presentation of 2023 that’s scheduled for 5PM ET.

Meanwhile, in the world of politics, President Joe Biden once again railed against Big Tech in his Second State of the Union address. “Pass bipartisan legislation to strengthen antitrust enforcement and prevent big online platforms from giving their own products an unfair advantage,” Biden said and went on to call for legislation to protect children from data tracking and targeted advertising.

And now, here’s a silly tweet to start your day (click through to the tweet it’s quoting for the context):

Stay tuned, as we continue to update this list with the most important news of today: Tuesday, February 8th, 2023.
  • Most people can tweet again, but Twitter still has issues

    A black Twitter logo over a red illustration
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Twitter appears to be recovering from having technical issues that prevented people from tweeting, though problems with DMs, and accessing TweetDeck are still seemingly persisting. Downdetector reports that the problems started around 4:30PM ET, and the unfettered ability to tweet came back around an hour and a half later.

    The company has said it’s aware of the existing issues, and is working on fixing them.

    Read Article >
  • Sonos CEO says Amazon, Google aren’t ‘doing anything interesting’ in audio

    A graphic illustration of the Sonos logo.
    The Verge

    During Sonos’ Q1 2023 earnings call, CEO Patrick Spence expressed the usual optimism about his company’s financial performance, sales momentum, and upcoming product roadmap. This man really loves the word “flywheel,” folks. But he also took clear jabs at Big Tech competitors, including Amazon, Google, and Apple, for barely putting up a fight in recent months.

    With Amazon rumored to be taking a hard look at its ambitions surrounding Alexa and Echo products and Google largely focused on all things Pixel, Spence said that Sonos faced no serious competition during the crucial holiday quarter. “We’ve gone through fiscal Q1, which is the height of the consumer electronics and audio season and, you know, it was... we’ve seen some of the traditional players go heavy discounting and, kind of like a traditional playbook for C.E. that, you know, we’ve always fought against and don’t really believe in,” he said. “And then, you know, the big tech players, we just haven’t seen them active and we haven’t seen them, you know, doing anything interesting.”

    Read Article >
  • Now Twitter Blue subscribers can write 4,000-character tweets

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

    Twitter has launched a longer tweet feature, giving Blue subscribers in the US the ability to post up to 4,000 characters at once. If someone you follow uses the feature, the tweet in your timeline will have a “show more” button to keep it from taking up your entire screen.

    Currently, there are a few limitations to the feature (besides the big one that it’s behind a paywall). If your tweet is over the standard 280 characters, you can’t save it as a draft or schedule it for later. However, most other normal features should work as usual — you can add hashtags or pictures, and non-Blue subscribers will still be able to interact with the posts as normal.

    Read Article >
  • Big tech switched up the US’ first ‘right to repair’ bill just before it was signed into law.

    A trade group that represents Apple, Google, Samsung, and HP asked Governor Kathy Hochul to make sweeping changes that would water down New York’s landmark bill.

    You can see how they essentially rewrote chunks of the legislation thanks to documents obtained by Grist.

  • Get it together Fitbit!

    Once again, Fitbit isn’t working as it should. Things fell apart Monday morning, with thousands of users asking each other on social media if the Fitbit app was completely borked. A fix was pushed out, only for the same issues to crop up on Tuesday.

    It’s now Wednesday and things still aren’t working right for a handful of users. DownDetector shows it’s not nearly as bad today, but it’s the principle of the matter.

  • Netflix’s password-sharing crackdown hits Canada, but not the US — yet

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

    Netflix is expanding its paid password sharing to subscribers in Canada, New Zealand, Portugal, and Spain starting Wednesday, the company announced in a blog post. The company had already started testing the change — in a few different forms — in some countries in Latin America. Now, Netflix is expanding its efforts ahead of a broader rollout in “the coming months.”

    Last week, Netflix faced pushback after notes about when and how it might block devices used beyond your household popped up on support pages for the US and other countries where the new “paid sharing” setup hasn’t rolled out yet.

    Read Article >
  • Here I am on CNBC talking about Google’s very hard path ahead.

    Google CEO Sundar Pichai is an extremely smart and thoughtful guy, but think about how hard his set of choices is right now: he has to roll out chatbot AI search in order to make investors happy, but rolling that out will instantly cause legal, ethical, and regulatory chaos, all while simultaneously increasing the costs of search and reducing the profits of web advertising. Yikes!

    (Also, to be clear, I meant the end of this era of Google. Forgive me, it was 8am and I was in a hotel room in Bellevue.)

  • Bard 0, Bing 1.

    Google held an AI event this morning, but investors apparently aren’t impressed (just check out this stock graph). It probably hasn’t helped that Bard, its chatbot search tool, made a pretty embarrassing error in a demo. Microsoft’s stock is doing well since it announced a ChatGPT-powered version of Bing yesterday, by the way.

    Image of two stock charts. The top, Google’s, shows a large drop on the 8th. The bottom, Microsoft’s, shows the line starting to climb on the 7th.
    Top: Google’s stock over the past week. Bottom: Microsoft’s stock over the past week.
    Data: Yahoo Finance / Apple Stocks
  • The big League of Legends midseason tournament is headed to London.

    The Mid-Season Invitational, or MSI, pits top League teams from all across the world, and it’s one of my favorite gaming events of the year. MSI takes place over the course of many days in May, and you can buy tickets starting later this month.

  • ‘MetaBirkins’ NFT creator loses trademark fight with Hermès

    A picture of a faux-fur Birkin handbag with polka dots.
    MetaBirkins NFT 43
    Image: MetaBirkin

    A New York jury says that selling “MetaBirkins” non-fungible tokens violates the trademark of luxury brand Hermès. Bloomberg Law reported this morning on the outcome of the trial, a potentially landmark decision in the confusing world of NFT intellectual property. The jury awarded Hermès $133,000 and determined that the tokens aren’t First Amendment-protected speech, contrary to the argument of their creator, Mason Rothschild.

    Hermès sued Rothschild over MetaBirkins in early 2022 during a boom in crypto-related projects. Like numerous other NFT projects, MetaBirkins paired unique digital tokens with themed pictures — in Rothschild’s case, 100 pictures of nonexistent Birkin luxury bags covered in faux fur. Rothschild argued in court that his work hewed to a long-standing tradition of artists depicting branded products, including Andy Warhol’s images of Campbell’s soup and Coca-Cola, and “comments on the animal cruelty inherent in Hermès’ manufacture of its ultra-expensive leather handbags” with its fur design. “These images, and the NFTs that authenticate them, are not handbags; they carry nothing but meaning.”

    Read Article >
  • Did Bowser write this email?

    Today’s Nintendo Direct got one student at California State University Fullerton so worked up that they accidentally triggered a police threat response.

    Campus police said they emailed a professor anonymously asking to cancel class because of a “once-in-a-lifetime event that would occur.”

    The person must have been referring to the possibility of the Advance Wars remakes finally launching since Nintendo Directs happen pretty frequently.

  • Satya Nadella explains why Microsoft is taking on Google now.

    You’ve seen the presentations, so you know what Microsoft and Google have shown when it comes to AI chatbot search.

    Now take 20 minutes and see what Satya Nadella said on Decoder about Microsoft’s big plans for OpenAI and ChatGPT.

  • Chrome’s new update is the first version you can’t run on Windows 7

    The Google Chrome logo in the center of a web-like graphic.
    Windows devices will need to run Windows 10 or later to continue receiving future Chrome releases.
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    If you’re currently using Google Chrome on an old or outdated PC, then you might want to consider upgrading your hardware. With the public release of Chrome 110 on February 7th, the browser will no longer support Windows 7 or Windows 8 / 8.1 and the lesser-used Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2. This follows Microsoft’s decision to definitively end security updates for Windows 7 and Windows 8 / 8.1 on January 10th earlier this year.

    Chrome 110 patches some known cybersecurity issues and includes a few new features, such as customizable network error pages and the option to use biometric authentication on supported computers to autofill stored passwords. The release of Chrome 110 also marks the beginning of Chrome’s new release cycle, which will now include an early stable preview of future updates one week before the full scheduled stable release date.

    Read Article >
  • The making of surprise hit Hi-Fi Rush

    A screenshot from the video game Hi-Fi Rush.
    Hi-Fi Rush.
    Image: Tango Gameworks

    Hi-Fi Rush is a slick and stylish action game — but it’s also a game about what it feels like to play music live. The rhythm hack-and-slash title from developer Tango Gameworks is rooted in John Johanas’ own history with music. The game’s director was the guitarist in a band with friends in high school, playing Radiohead covers as a self-taught group. His experience onstage during the school’s battle of the bands as well as a few one-off shows later is one he remembers fondly.

    “A lot of this game is influenced by the feeling of nailing it with other people playing in a band,” Johanas says. “Obviously, it’s single-player, but there’s this weird visceral feeling that’s extremely hard to describe: that reaction of a couple of people sticking together and playing something to the rhythm, and it hits and it lands perfectly. That feeling itself was kind of the initial inspiration for what I wanted to get across in this title.”

    Read Article >
  • MSI Titan GT77 HX review: Intel’s most powerful laptop chip, tested

    The MSI Titan GT77 HX displays a desktop with the MSI logo.
    This is a powerful, expensive, and surprisingly long-lasting gaming laptop.

    Okay, now this is just ridiculous.

    For those of you just tuning in, Intel announced an absolutely monstrous mobile processor back in January — the Core i9-13980HX with 5.6Ghz of turbo frequency, 157 watts of maximum turbo power, and 24 cores (eight performance, 16 efficiency). It is, on paper, the most powerful laptop CPU in history. So, naturally, I had to get my hands on one.

    Read Article >
  • Where are the good Android apps for Mastodon?

    A group of icons representing Mastodon third-party apps.
    Image: Mastodon

    Recently, I started looking for an alternative to Twitter (somehow, I suspect I’m not the only one) and landed on Mastodon. I like it there: most of the residents seem smart, friendly, and less likely to blow up than on Twitter. But after I started getting used to the interface, I realized that the mobile app, while usable, left something to be desired. So when I heard that there was a new one in beta called Ivory that, according to several accounts, provided a much better experience, I was eager to try it out.

    And then I hit a familiar problem: Ivory is only available for iOS devices. I use Android.

    Read Article >
  • How to watch the February 2023 Nintendo Direct

    The first Nintendo Direct of the year is almost upon us — and it sounds like it might be a big one. While Nintendo hasn’t provided any real details, the company did say to expect “roughly 40 minutes of information” about games coming out in the first half of 2023.

    It’s important to note that this year is shaping up to be a big one for Nintendo. The Super Mario Bros. Movie comes out in April, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is coming to the Switch in May, and next week will see Super Nintendo World open up at Universal Studios Hollywood. We could get updates on all of those, and there’s also a possibility we’ll hear about Pikmin 4 or the long-dormant Advance Wars reboot. If we’re really lucky, maybe there’ll even be some kind of news about Metroid Prime 4.

    Read Article >
  • Google’s AI chatbot Bard makes factual error in first demo

    A screenshot of Bard’s interface, saying “Introducing Bard, an experimental conversational AI service powered by LaMDA.”
    Google has been scrambling to launch a competitor to ChatGPT — but perhaps rushing a little too hard.
    Image: Google

    On Monday, Google announced its AI chatbot Bard — a rival to OpenAI’s ChatGPT that’s due to become “more widely available to the public in the coming weeks.” But the bot isn’t off to a great start, with experts noting that Bard made a factual error in its very first demo.

    A GIF shared by Google shows Bard answering the question: “What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope can I tell my 9 year old about?” Bard offers three bullet points in return, including one that states that the telescope “took the very first pictures of a planet outside of our own solar system.”

    Read Article >
  • How to watch Google’s Live from Paris search and AI event

    An illustration of Google’s multicolor “G” logo
    Illustration: The Verge

    Update February 8th, 10:18AM ET: The presentation is over and Google has told us a recording will be available soon, but we have the details from Google’s Bard chatbot demo, as well as its other AI search updates and new features for Google Maps.

    The original post is below.

    Read Article >
  • The battle over AI has just begun.

    Microsoft and Google just announced AI-powered search tools, and Chinese companies are already catching on.

    While ecommerce giant Alibaba tells CNBC that it’s working on a ChatGPT rival, gaming company NetEase similarly says it has goals to develop a generative AI product. It’s going to be a long year.

  • Tesla’s ‘Master Plan 3’ is coming March 1st, Elon Musk says

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

    Elon Musk will present his third “Master Plan” during Tesla’s Investor Day event on March 1st, the CEO announced on Twitter last night. The plan will outline “the path to a fully sustainable energy future for Earth,” he said, adding that “the future is bright!”

    Musk has been teasing the third iteration of Tesla’s strategic vision for nearly a year. Unlike the first “Master Plan” and the cheekily titled “Master Plan, Part Deux,” this version will include updates regarding Musk’s other two companies, SpaceX and The Boring Company, he said in a March 2022 tweet.

    Read Article >
  • Google shows off new AI search features, but a ChatGPT rival is still weeks away

    Google demoed new generative AI features that summarize search results but didn’t say when they’d be available.
    Google demoed new generative AI features that summarize search results but didn’t say when they’d be available.
    Image: Google

    Google demoed its latest advances in AI search at a live event in Paris on Wednesday — but the features pale in comparison to Microsoft’s announcement yesterday of the “new Bing,” which the company has demoed extensively to the press and offered limited public access to.

    In perhaps the most interesting demo, Google showed off how it will use generative AI in the future to summarize information from the web. In the demo, the company showed a search for the question “what are the best constellations to look for while stargazing?” with an AI-generated response highlighting a few key options and how to spot them.

    Read Article >
  • The best TVs to buy for the Super Bowl

    A photo of the remote control for LG’s C2 OLED TV.
    Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

    The Super Bowl comes at a point on the calendar when last year’s TVs are all being heavily discounted and this year’s models — only recently announced at CES — are about to start shipping if they haven’t already. We’ve got you covered on the deals front, but here, I’m going to list off some great TVs that earn our recommendation regardless of whether they’re on sale.

    You’ll be satisfied with any of these picks for many years after Super Bowl LVII, but the thrill of victory is that much sweeter when you’re watching your team win on a shiny new TV. And if your Chiefs or Eagles come out on the losing side, at least you’ll have a nice consolation prize.

    Read Article >
  • Google is adding some new features for EVs with built-in Google Maps

    Volvo EX90 with Google Maps built-in
    The Volvo EX90 is an electric vehicle that includes Google Maps built-in.
    Image: Volvo

    Along with other AI-powered search upgrades, Google announced a slate of new Google Maps features for owners of electric vehicles that have the company’s navigation tool built-in. The aim is to improve the experience of finding the right EV charging station and to plan trips when charging might be necessary.

    Before we get to the new features, a fair warning: only a handful of EVs come with Google Maps built-in, including vehicles from Polestar, Volvo, certain General Motors vehicles, and Renault. (Honda and Ford electric vehicles with Google built-in are coming soon.) EV owners who use Google Maps on their mobile device, or through Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, will not be able to use these new features.

    Read Article >
  • Google is still drip-feeding AI into search, Maps, and Translate

    Image of the Google “G” logo on a blue, black, and purple background.
    Illustration: The Verge

    Google announced a bunch of AI-enabled search, Maps, and Translate updates as part of its Google presents: Live from Paris event on Wednesday.

    While it showed off a brief demo of “Bard,” the ChatGPT-rivaling AI chatbot-style search powered by its LaMDA technology, most of the features focused on features we’ve already seen, like “visual search” implementations that expand Google Lens, a more immersive version of Google Maps, and a Google Translate that is better at understanding context.

    Read Article >