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Google wants employees to return to the office on April 4th

After nearly two years working from home, Google employees in the Bay Area and several other cities will be back at the office on April 4th. The announcement came in an email from John Casey, Google's vice president of global benefits, reported CNBC. Casey cited the steady drop in COVID-19 cases in the Bay Area, advances in treatment and improved safety measures as reasons behind the return's timing. Google, along with much of Silicon Valley, initially planned a January return-to-work date, but was forced to delay it due to the Omicron surge. Since then, the company has allowed workers to voluntarily return to its Mountain View and San Francisco offices if they agree to wear a mask and are fully vaccinated.

Google is taking a slow approach to transitioning its entire workforce back to the office. Last year CEO Sundar Pichai laid out a "hybrid work" plan, with most employees having the option to work remotely for at least part of the week. We'll see this plan in action in April, with most Google employees still working from home two days a week. Employees can work at the office more often if they choose, or file for an extension of their work-from-home arrangement if they're not ready to return.

Springtime seems to be when much of Big Tech is eyeing a return to campus. Microsoft employees returned to work at the Redmond, Washington headquarters this week, but with the expectation that most employees will spend about 50 percent of their time working remotely. Most Meta employees will be returning to the office on March 28th. Twitter employees can opt to work remotely forever, but has allowed employees access to their San Francisco and New York City offices if they show proof of vaccination.

President Joe Biden called for the "vast majority" of federal employees to return to the office in his State of the Union Speech on Tuesday. So it's likely we'll see even more companies announce their re-opening dates soon, especially if cases continue to decline and cities drop mask mandates.

Qualcomm's X70 5G modem has an AI processor to improve signal strength

Over the past few years, Qualcomm has announced 5G modems that have consistently pushed download speeds to new heights, culminating with the X65 in 2021, the company's first 10-gigabit 5G modem. In 2022, the company is taking a different tack. The X70, its latest modem, is fast, but it's also more consistent and power-efficient, and it's all thanks to AI.

The X70 isn't the first Qualcomm modem to use a machine learning algorithm to improve performance. Last year, the company leveraged the technology to make its X65 modem better at adapting its antenna tuning to changing hand grips. But what makes the X70 different is that includes a dedicated 5G AI processor – a first for a cellular modem, according to the company.

In addition to improving average speeds, Qualcomm claims the processor makes the X70 better at mmWave beam management, allowing it to establish a more robust link when using the notoriously finicky spectrum. It also utilizes that processor for network selection and antenna tuning, leading to better coverage and link strength. Qualcomm claims all of that makes the X70 capable of making the most of whatever spectrum resources a device has available to it at any one moment.

Naturally, the X70 is fast too. It's capable of theoretical download speeds of 10Gbps. That said, you're unlikely to see X70-equipped devices achieve those kinds of speeds in real-world use. A lot of that will depend on your carrier and the state of their 5G network.

Qualcomm expects to start providing Snapdragon X70 samples to commercial customers in the second half of 2022. The company didn't name customers but did note it expects X70-equipped devices to launch by late 2022, suggesting its Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 successor could integrate the modem. Once it becomes available, devices that come with the X70 will carry the company's new Snapdragon Connect branding, a badge that indicates the product you're about to buy comes with its latest and greatest connectivity technologies.

Honor launches the Magic 4 and Magic 4 Pro

Honor is today announcing its latest flagship smartphone, the Magic4, which refines the general template laid down by its predecessor, the Magic 3. Not that you could actually buy the Magic 3, because despite the promise of a global rollout, the handset never officially left China. This, the company says, was down to the growing pains associated with escaping Huawei's shadow after their sanctions-mandated divorce. This year, however, we're told that things are going to be better and we might actually see these handsets here in the West.

The Magic 4 and the Magic 4 Pro are being positioned as equivalent handsets to Samsung's Galaxy S22. Honor is hoping that you'll appreciate the shopping cart's-worth of features that the company has piled onto these devices in the hope of making you switch. And the Pro model has the sort of spec list that, on paper at least, would make you think twice about where you put your cash.

Both devices come with a 6.81-inch LTPO (Gen 3) display with a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, although the Magic4's 1,224 x 2,664 (430 ppi) screen looks inadequate compared to the Pro's 1,312 x 2,848 (460 ppi) equivalent. Both are offering a backlit brightness of 1,000 nits, with 1,920Hz Pulse-Width Modulation dimming, HDR10+ and 100 percent DCI-P3 color. The company says that the benefits of LTPO over OLED include more efficient power usage, better refresh rate control and a reduction in eye strain.

Honor is also dumping a bucket-load of sensors into its "Eye of Muse"-branded camera setup, with both handsets getting two 50-megapixel cameras. An f/1.8 wide lens is sat across from a f/2.2 ultra-wide lens with a 122-degree field of vision. But while the vanilla edition gets an 8-megapixel periscope telephoto lens, the Pro is packing a 64-megapixel beast with a 3.5x optical zoom and 100x digital zoom. The more expensive unit also gets an 8x8 Direct Time of Flight (dTOF) sensor to help with focusing and improving image quality.

But, in all honesty, the company would much rather talk about its work harnessing "Multi-Camera Fusion" computational photography to blend together snaps from each of these lenses for sharper, better pictures. For instance, a shot taken between 0.6x and 1x zoom will likely be a composite of shots taken with those 50MP wide and ultra-wide lenses. Between 1x and 2x zoom will be the wide camera on its own, while anything after that will use the telephoto as well. Once you get to 3.5x and beyond, you'll get "Multi-Frame Fusion," mashing all of the lens inputs for, it's hoped, far better zoomed images.

In terms of video, please forgive me for not wanting to repeat a chunk of what I wrote last year about the Magic3. Last year, Honor made a capital-B big deal about that model's ability to shoot cinema-quality video in a custom, mobile-friendly version of (pro film standard) Log: MagicLog. This year, Honor says that MagicLog will crank out 10-bit 4K video running at 60 fps, which if accurate, would make this phone one hell of a tool for hobbyist filmmakers. The company adds that stills taken while recording video will be of far better quality than previous generations of handsets.

Both handsets are toting Snapdragon's 8 Gen 1 SoC, the same 4nm 5G chip that you'll find inside the Galaxy S22. Both come with an Adreno 730 GPU and the option of either 8GB or 12GB RAM, while storage options include 128GB, 256GB or 512GB on the Magic 4 and 256GB or 512GB storage on the Pro. There's also a custom "dedicated security chip" designed to hold biometrics, passwords and payment data, although it's not clear what security this offers over what Qualcomm already promises.

Rounding out the important news is at least one quality-of-life tweak for the Magic 4 Pro called AI Privacy Call. This, as the name doesn't entirely suggest, is designed to dynamically adjust the volume of a call depending on the ambient noise. If you're in a busy, noisy environment, it'll boost the volume of the loudspeaker to help you hear what's going on. If you're in a pin-drop quiet elevator and would rather your fellow passengers not hear your most intimate conversations, it'll dial it down.

The next OnePlus phone can reach full charge in 15 minutes

Every now and then, a phone maker comes up with a new charging speed claim. The latest company to do so is Oppo, which unveiled its 150W SuperVOOC flash charge — a leap from the 80W version on the recently launched Find X5 Pro and OnePlus 10 Pro — at MWC. This will offer a mere 15-minute charge time for a 4,500mAh dual-cell battery, but a quick five-minute charge can already get you back up to 50 percent. If you like the sound of this, you may look forward to it on the next OnePlus flagship phone, which is due in Q2 2022. At the same conference, Oppo's sister brand Realme even announced that its upcoming GT Neo 3 will be the world's first phone to support 150W SuperVOOC, so chances are OnePlus' next phone will arrive after Realme's.

Oppo's 150W SuperVOOC is a tad faster than the current 120W offerings from the likes of Xiaomi and Vivo iQOO — ranging from 17 to 20 minutes, depending on the battery size. But it's not just about speed. This fast charge tech is supported by Oppo's "Battery Health Engine" (or "BHE" in short) which claims to double the battery lifespan, and this is already available on the recently launched Find X5 series. In a nutshell, "BHE" comprises of a dedicated battery management chip, smart battery health algorithm and some sort of battery healing tech — mainly by way of improving the cells' electrolyte formula.

According to Oppo, the industry standard for conventional flash charge is 800 charge cycles before reaching the 80-percent battery health deterioration threshold. With the "BHE" enhancements, however, the battery lifespan can be prolonged to 1,600 cycles — or as long as four years for a phone with daily recharging. The company added that "BHE" will be a standard feature for all flagships from Oppo and OnePlus (and likely Realme as well) moving forward, irregardless of their charging speeds.

It's also worth noting that this new 150W SuperVOOC charger is almost just as compact as its 65W counterpart. The latter has been bundled with most flagship and mid-range phones from Oppo, OnePlus and Realme over the past two years.

With Oppo setting a new benchmark in terms of both charging speed and battery lifespan, it'll be interesting to see how its competitors respond. Xiaomi had already demonstrated 200W fast charging which achieved an eight-minute charge time for a (smaller) 4,000mAh battery, but as we've seen on its latest flagships, it has yet to offer anything beyond 120W to its users. To stay further ahead of the game, Oppo will be showing off a "200W+" SuperVOOC demo at its MWC booth, so stay tuned for more details on this.

Apple's latest women's health study results focus on PCOS

Apple continues to release findings from its ongoing Women's Health study, and is announcing updated results today ahead of International Women's Day (March 8th). The report, published on Harvard's website, reveals some insights on polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and cardiovascular health, based on data from more than 37,000 participants.

Apple and Harvard found that its participants who had received PCOS diagnoses tended to be diagnosed between ages 14 and 35, with the median age being 22 years old. They were also more likely to report a family history of the syndrome and have unpredictable menstrual cycles after their first periods.

According to the report, more than 70 percent of participants without PCOS diagnoses said their menstrual cycles became regular within four years of their first period, while just 43 percent of those with PCOS experienced the same. In fact, 49 percent of participants with PCOS diagnoses never had regular menstrual cycles or only got regularity after using hormones.

The study also looked at the health conditions related to PCOS. It reported that participants with PCOS diagnoses were four times more likely to have pre-diabetic conditions, three times more likely to have Type 2 diabetes and twice as likely to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It also said irregular heartbeats or arrhythmia was more common among participants with PCOS diagnoses than those without.

Apple did caution that these were preliminary insights. Data was gleaned from medical history surveys completed by more than 37,000 participants enrolled from November 2019 through December 2021. Of those who completed the medical history surveys, about 30,000 also filled out reproductive history surveys and answered questions about their menstrual cycles over time.

According to co-principal investigator Dr. Shruthi Mahalingaiah, "The Apple Women's Health Study is one of the first studies where we can look at the connection between menstrual health, polycystic ovary syndrome, and heart health at a population level."

Mahalingaiah also said "Despite the association between PCOS and heart-related conditions, historically, research studies about heart health have not included information about menstrual cycles," adding that the study "is important for having a better understanding of PCOS and its health impacts, including for people with PCOS and those that might have PCOS, but do not know."

Looking forward, Apple and Harvard want to "create a larger foundational data set on PCOS, with self-tracked variables, and its connection with heart health."

"Our hope is that by expanding the understanding of the public health burden of PCOS, we can create research models that can be applied to further scientific understanding of other health conditions and the burden of other diseases," Mahalingaiah said.

Tesla offers free EV charging near Ukraine for those fleeing conflict

Tesla Superchargers close to the Ukraine border will offer free electric vehicle charging to support those leaving the country following Russia's invasion. Owners of Tesla and non-Tesla EVs will be able to use stations at Trzebownisko, Poland; Košice, Slovakia; and Miskolc and Debrecen (both Hungary) at no cost for a limited time. It's unclear whether Tesla plans to expand the program to other Supercharger sites.

"We hope that this helps give you the peace of mind to get to a safe location," Tesla wrote in an email to local owners, according to Elektrek. It's said to be the first time Tesla has offered free charging to owners of third-party EVs.

Tesla doesn't currently operate in Ukraine, though some people there are said to have imported its EVs and the company wants to open Supercharger sites in the country (it's not clear how the conflict may have impacted those plans). The company has offered free charging during other times of crisis, including when hurricanes struck the US.

OnePlus 10 Pro is headed to the US, Europe and India in March

While most OnePlus phones had been made available globally before "reaching" China, that wasn't the case with the OnePlus 10 Pro, which has so far been China-exclusive since its early January launch. That's about to change, as the company announced at MWC that its latest flagship phone will finally be headed to the US, Europe and India "by the end of March."

But what's more interesting is that OnePlus appears to have reversed its decision — at least for now — to share a unified OS with Oppo. In today's announcement, the company confirmed that "global OnePlus devices will continue to run OxygenOS," whereas their China counterparts will stick to ColorOS after their switch from HydrogenOS since last year's OnePlus 9 series. In the case of the global OnePlus 10 Pro, it will launch with OxygenOS 12.1 but will soon receive the OxygenOS 13 update. No word on the model after that, though, except for the fact that it'll launch with Oppo's upcoming 150W SuperVOOC fast charging some time in Q2 2022.

OnePlus stressed that both OxygenOS and ColorOS already share a "clean and lightweight" unified OS codebase, with the main differentiation being the "lighter" stock Android experience on the former to cater to global users. That said, the company acknowledged that some users weren't happy with OxygenOS 12, not to mention the OnePlus 9 rollout which was so buggy that it had to be temporarily suspended. OnePlus will have to prove itself worthy with OxygenOS 13.

Samsung's 1TB T7 Touch SSD drops to a record low of $140

While the Samsung T7 SSD has been on sale for a week or two, the T7 Touch portable drive has now joined it in being discounted. The palm-sized SSD in 1TB is down to $140, or 26 percent off its normal price. Only the black model is this low — if you really want the silver version, it'll cost you an extra $20 — but now's a good time to grab an extra drive and save $50 at the same time.

Storage gadgets can get expensive, especially when you want a 1TB or more of digital space, so we always recommend waiting for a sale like this one before buying. Samsung's T7 series has become one of our favorites in the portable SSD space for their pocket-friendly yet durable designs, fast performance and extra features like Dynamic Thermal Guard, AES 256-bit encryption and optional password protection. On top of all that, the Touch model has a built-in fingerprint reader for an extra layer of security.

The T7 Touch comes with both a USB-C to C and a USB-C to A cable, so you can use it with nearly any device you have — smartphone, tablet, laptop, some game consoles and more. If you have a tighter budget, you can still grab the 1TB Samsung T7 — which is identical to the Touch model, with the exception of the fingerprint reader — for $110, which is 35 percent off and the best price we've seen. And if you're looking for an internal SSD that will work with the PS5 you just got your hands on, Samsung's 980 Pro in 2TB is down to an all-time low of $280 right now, too.

Google disables Maps live traffic in Ukraine following Russian invasion

Google is once again modifying its services in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The company has confirmed to Reuters and Vice World News that it temporarily disabled some live traffic data in Ukraine, including the general live traffic layer as well as activity info for stores and other locations. The move is meant to protect the safety of locals and follows consultation with Ukranian authorities, according to Google. The data is still available during turn-by-turn navigation sessions.

While Google didn't outline the exact reasons for deactivating the features, it follows discoveries by Middlebury Institute professor Jeffrey Lewis and others that live traffic info reflected troop movements as civilians were stuck at roadblocks. While that could help pinpoint Russian incursions, as Lewis noticed, the Russians could potentially use the traffic info to spot Ukranian military actions or a fleeing population.

The initiative comes as other tech giants have taken a series of actions in response to the Russian invasion. Meta has restricted the Facebook accounts of Russian state media in Ukraine, while Twitter has temporarily halted ads in both Russia and Ukraine to curb the spread of misinformation. Russia has retaliated in some cases, such as limiting access to Facebook. The actions show how relatively innocuous internet services can pose serious risks during a conflict, whether it's to distort reality or provide military intelligence.

Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro, Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360, and More Laptops Unveiled at MWC 2022

Samsung at its MWC 2022 event on Sunday unveiled the Galaxy Book 2 Pro, Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360, and Galaxy Book 2 360, apart from the Galaxy Book 2 Business and Galaxy Book 2. The new lightweight business laptop series is part of the company's continuing partnership with Intel and Microsoft and comes with Windows 11 out of the box. The South Korean company had previously launched the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 in April 2021, followed by the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Book, Galaxy Book Odyssey, and the Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G in October 2021.

Samsung Galaxy Book 2 360, Galaxy Book 2 Pro, Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360 price, availability
The Samsung Galaxy Book 2 360 is priced at $899.99 (roughly Rs. 67,600), while the Galaxy Book 2 Pro has a price tag of $1,049.99 (roughly Rs. 78,800) and the Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360 price starts at $1,249.99 (roughly Rs. 93,900). The laptops will be available from April 1, according to Samsung. Samsung is yet to officially reveal pricing for Galaxy Book 2 and Galaxy Book 2 Business models, though the latter will be available from April, the company announced.

The new Samsung Galaxy Book 2, Galaxy Book 2 360, and Galaxy Book 2 Pro will be available in Silver and Graphite colour options. Meanwhile, Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360 will be sold in Burgundy, Graphite and Silver, and Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Business will be available in a single Graphite colour option. The company is yet to reveal pricing and availability details for India.

Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro specifications
The newly launched Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro runs on Windows 11 and comes in 13.3-inch and 15.6 full-HD+ (1,920x1080 pixels) AMOLED display options. The laptop is powered by the latest Intel Core i7 and Core i5 processors, along with up to 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM. There are two options in the 15.6-inch model - with internal or external graphics. The laptop features up to 1TB NVMe SSD storage

The laptop comes with ports including a Thunderbolt 4 port, a USB Type-C port, a USB 3.2 Type-A port, an HDMI port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a microSD card reader, according to Samsung. The 13.3-inch model packs a 63Wh battery, while the 15.6-inch model comes with a 68Wh battery, with support for 65W charging over a USB Type-C port. The 13.3-inch model's weight starts at 0.87kg, while the 15.6-inch model starts at 1.11kg.

Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360 specifications
The newly launched Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360 runs on Windows 11 and is available in 13.3-inch and 15.6-inch full-HD+ (1,920x1080 pixels) Super AMOLED touchscreen display options with up to 500 nits of brightness. The laptop is powered by the latest Intel Core i7 and Core i5 processors, along with up to 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM. The laptop features up to 1TB NVMe SSD storage.

Meta reportedly disbands team creating a new OS for AR and VR (updated)

Meta might be rethinking plans to build a new operating system for its AR and VR devices. The Information understands Meta recently disbanded a team of 300-plus people working on its long-in-the-making XROS. The team will reportedly share its experience with other parts of Meta. Some will move to the AR glasses unit, while others will work on future Quest headsets and the "XR Tech" team responsible for eye tracking, hand tracking and other machine perception features.

Rumors surfaced in January that Meta had halted most or all work on XROS in favor of refining the Android-based VROS platform used in the Quest 2 headset. Meta appeared to deny the move in a statement to Engadget at the time, claiming that it was "not halting or scaling back" its reality OS development.

We've asked Meta for comment on this latest report. In a statement to The Information, spokesperson Sheeva Slovan didn't confirm or deny the state of XROS but did reference the disbanding. Meta could "speed up" work on technology for each product line by placing OS engineers "directly" into its AR and VR teams, she said, adding that the company was still devoted to making "highly specialized systems."

A decision like this might produce mixed results. While it could help Meta launch new AR and VR products that much faster, it would also keep the company tied to Android despite attempts to drop Google's software. If those are true, you might see more frequent but iterative headset releases than if Meta continued work on XROS.

"We are always evolving our team structures to help us bring great products to market quickly. By embedding more OS engineers directly into our AR and VR teams, we can speed up the development of solutions that are hyper-tuned for each product line. As we've said before, there are several technical directions we're pursuing to build these and we remain committed to building highly specialized systems. We continue to invest and optimize to move fast so we can deliver against the aggressive goals we've set."

Faraday Future is preparing to actually sell its FF 91

Despite a litany of financial struggles and botched factory plans, Faraday Future has built its first production-intent car. This week, the EV startup unveiled the FF 91 at its Hanford, California-based plant, and announced it would begin production in Q3 of 2022. Since the best-laid plans of Faraday Future often go haywire, we won't hold our breath for the time being.

Here's what we know about the FF 91 so far: Faraday Future's flagship car is intended to be an "ultra-luxury EV" that can compete with the likes of Jaguar, Tesla, Polestar and other brands. It has three motors, which means that at least in terms of power, it would beat out even the newer Tesla models (except for the Cybertruck) and ostensibly be in the same league as Audi's E-tron crossover. The system horsepower is a jaw-dropping 1050, and it can go from 0 to 60 mph in 2.39 seconds. The seats are zero gravity (meaning they recline in a fashion that makes you feel weightless) and ventilated. They also double as massage chairs.

The FF 91 can go 300 miles per charge, putting it roughly in the same league as a Tesla Model 3. It also includes a huge 130 kWh lithium-ion battery, which will no doubt be one of the reasons behind the vehicle's inevitably large price tag.

Drivers who can't wait to join in on Faraday's vision of a future can reserve an FF 91 now. There's a waitlist to join the FF 91 Futurist Alliance (which costs $5,000 but guarantees you a priority reservation), but you can still pay $1,500 for a standard reservation. Given the company's poor track record with deadlines, prospective early adopters should be cautious. The company's troubles don't seem to be over. Just earlier this month, the company restructured its leadership board after an internal investigation found that employees were lying to investors. Given that production of the FF 91 is about four years late; it's likely we shouldn't hold our breath for a timely release.

'Pokémon Scarlet' and 'Violet' head to Switch in late 2022

Pokémon fans won't have to wait long to play the next entry in their favorite gaming series. On Sunday morning, the Pokémon Company announced two new mainline titles, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, and said it expects them to launch sometime in late 2022. Building on the recently released Pokémon Legends: Arceus, developer Game Freak said the games would offer an "open-world adventure" for players to discover.

Judging from the teaser the studio shared, players can expect to explore a mix of pastoral countryside and bustling urban landscapes. You can see the three new starters at the end of the clip. From left to right, they're Sprigatito, Fuecoco and Quaxly. As you might expect, all three look adorable, and you might have trouble picking one over another. I know I will.

While fans wait for Scarlet and Violet, they can look forward to a new "Daybreak" update for Pokémon Legends: Arceus. Available to download later today, the update adds a new quest for players to complete and additional opportunities to battle Legendary Pokémon. Oh, and a new anime based on the game's Hisui region is coming later this year.

Some Russian bank cards no longer work with Apple Pay and Google Pay

Following Western sanctions on Russia's financial institutions in response to the invasion of Ukraine, customers of several of the country's largest banks can no longer use their debit and credit cards in conjunction with Apple Pay and Google Pay. Among the affected organizations include VTB Group, Sovcombank, Novikombank, Promsvyazbank, and Otkritie FC Bank, according to a press release from the Central Bank of Russia spotted by Business Insider.

Customers with those banks can still use their cards to make contactless payments, provided they support the feature. However, they won't work overseas, and they can't be used to make online purchases from retailers registered in countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia.

As The Verge notes, Apple Pay and Google Pay aren't as popular in Russia as homegrown options like YooMoney. According to data from 2020, only 29 percent of Russians reported using Google Pay at the time, while 20 percent said they had used Apple Pay. As such, those restrictions aren't likely to impact Russian consumers too much given they have access to alternatives. However, the possibility of excluding Russian banks from the SWIFT interbanking system could lead to things like currency volatility that would further hurt the country's economy.

Huawei's new MateBook X Pro has six speakers packed inside it

Huawei's top laptop series has gone through a few iterations, but the company has made some notable upgrades to its 2022 MateBook X Pro, without losing what we've liked from these laptops over the last few years. Yes, it's still slim, yes it's still understated. Yes, we don't know if it'll ever appear in the US.

The 2022 model will land with 11th gen Intel U series processors (a spokesperson added that 12th-gen MateBooks would arrive later this year), and a bigger screen. Huawei has expanded the screen up to 14.2 inches from the 13.9 inches of its predecessor, while simultaneously making the body even slimmer. Above the 3,120 x 2,080 display, there's a HD micro camera – fortunately Huawei hasn't moved it back to the peek-a-boo webcam keyboard button.

This is also Huawei's first laptop to support the P3 color gamut and over 1 billion colors and reaches refresh rates of 90Hz too. And for those into touch displays, there's 10-point multitouch compatibility too.

Inside the new wedge design, there are now triple air intakes, up from a single intake last year, including one built into the keyboard. Huawei says this results in 60 percent more airflow through the device. And it might be put to use. The new MateBook X Pro has a new 'performance mode' — accessed through a keyboard shortcut. Huawei says this boosts the CPU's thermal design power (TDP) to 30W for a "performance uplift".

The MateBook X Pro comes with a 90W SuperCharge function that can give 3 hours of use on just a 15-minute charge. (And this all comes from a tiny 180-gram charger that looks more like a phone charger.)

Plug a phone into one of the four USB-C ports and you'll get up to 50 watts of charge, too. Huawei has also upgraded the sound in its latest laptop, with six speakers dotted around the MateBook X Pro. That's a lot. There are also four mics dotted around the perimeter to improve audio recording and conference calls.

These are the big changes, but a lot is staying the same. There's still a large trackpad (with some new "free touch" gestures, including one for swiftly scrobbling through video), a chiclet keyboard and Huawei's Mobile App engine (for running Huawei's mobile... apps on your laptop).

Alongside a new e-ink device, Huawei is also launching a new OLED hybrid PC. The 2-in-1 MateBook E comes with two keyboard options — alas likely to be sold separately or bundled with the PC, depending on region.

Alone, the 12.6-inch MateBook E weighs just over 700 grams (1.5 pounds) and is a slender 7.99mm thick. It will run on 11th-gen Intel Core processors with Intel's embedded Iris X graphics. Huawei's second-generation stylus will also work with the hybrid — the first time it's been compatible with the MateBook series — supporting 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and 2ms responsiveness. A magnetic keyboard folio, seen above, will allow you to adjust the view of the 2-in-1 while working, while a new Glide keyboard peripheral, adds an extra USB port to the device and will, according to Huawei, allow you to hold it in one hand. For spreadsheets on the go?

In Europe, the MateBook E will start at €649, while the MateBook X Pro will cost €1899.

Huawei's MatePad Paper is half e-reader, half tablet

A lot of Engadget readers – and to be honest, Engadget editors – are obsessed with e-ink devices. Whether they're productivity workhorses or digital canvases, the tech has slowly continued to inch beyond the one-handed e-readers of the last decade.

The latest addition is a substantially-sized e-ink tablet from Huawei. The MatePad Paper has a 10.3-inch grayscale screen with an anti-glare, reflective display to aid low-light use. The Paper can reproduce 256 shades of greyscale to display text and images – and even video — although I'm not sure why you'd want B&W video.

You probably already noticed it's got surprisingly small bezels for an e-ink device. Huawei says it's honed the tablet down to an 86.3 percent screen-to-body ratio, with a book spine-inspired design ensuring there's something for you to hold. All that e-paper, coupled with the size of the thing, sets it apart from pretty much every other e-ink device we've seen so far. (The Kindle DX was a long time ago.)

Alongside 32 levels of backlighting, the device is also compatible with Huawei's M Pencil, which usually launches alongside its more typical tablets. This means you can scribble, annotate and edit your documents and books, which is a very useful tool when it comes to e-ink devices. Notably, Huawei has been able to refine the sensitivity of the textured screen to 26ms. It might not be quite as super smooth as an S22 Ultra – or even Huawei's other tablets, but it's notable on a matte e-ink surface. Is this the perfect digital note-taking device?

Continuing Huawei's push to connect all of its devices as seamlessly as possible, you can connect the MatePad Paper to the company's laptops, PCs, tablets and phones. Huawei says the tablet will appear like a USB drive, and you can drag and drop your notes and annotated PDFs across to your laptop. This is possible thanks to the company's propriety operating system, HarmonyOS.

Huawei product announcements come with the usual proviso, however. The hardware is exciting – and tempting for anyone who works with lots of books, documents and digital paperwork — but you'll be constrained by HarmonyOS.

The company says it's still growing out the ecosystem, but the onus remains on app creators and companies as to whether they'll offer support. For example, There are a few ways I could check out my Kindle books on the MatePad Paper – maybe I could use the web-based reader? – but it won't be as seamless as Amazon hardware. Then again, the MatePad Paper is also capable of more than a simple Kindle.

With M-Pencil and folio cover included, the MatePad Paper will cost €499 in Europe.

TCL's latest concept phone folds inwards and outwards

TCL seems to love showing off eye-catching prototypes at shows, and today it's doing the same for MWC 2022. Alongside an array of new phones and tablets, the company just debuted a concept device tentatively called the "Ultra Flex" — a phone with a 360-degree rotating hinge and a flexible display that bends along with it. That means this thing can fold in on itself as well as out towards the world.

This is a technically challenging proposition, since the screen has to undergo much more flexing than those that only bend one way. The strip that's right above the hinge, in particular, would probably suffer the most stress.

In fact, it's so prone to breaking that the unit we saw at our hands-on in New York never did turn on. Its 8-inch, 2,480 x 1,860 PLP AMOLED screen remained disappointingly dark, though TCL reps did show us photos of it working earlier that day. For now, we can only take their word for it.

The display wasn't the only engineering challenge for this prototype: The 360-degree hinge also needed some finessing. Each time I folded and unfolded the device, most of the movement was smooth until the screen's halves were close to touching. That's when it made unsettling noises and felt like crunching cereal under a membrane. TCL has not shared any specifics on how the hinge and display work, either, keeping those details confidential for now. It's clear that this prototype is nowhere close to being a real product.

Why would we even want a device that can fold both ways? TCL reps said it would offer the benefits of both inward-folding devices like the Galaxy Z Fold as well as those that bend outwards like Huawei's first Mate X foldable. Having a panel you could fold outwards could offer a preview for your camera subjects to see how they look while you frame them up, for example, or let you present slides to someone facing you. Given that Huawei has since adopted Samsung's approach instead of sticking with an outside-facing flexible screen, it appears that style of foldable might not be very feasible.

Still, I liked the Ultra Flex prototype's matte blue finish and the mock quad-camera array on the back. The pliable, corrugated backing for the hinge also added an interesting touch to the design, and a slot on the bottom left indicates potential for the inclusion of an onboard stylus.

Samsung's new Galaxy Book laptops get better webcams and brighter screens

Samsung may be best known for its Galaxy phones, TVs and household appliances, but I think its laptops deserve more recognition. At MWC 2022 today, the company unveiled the next generation of its Galaxy Book series of PCs. Last year's models brought vibrant AMOLED panels while maintaining strikingly sleek profiles. This time around, the new Galaxy Book 2 series offers upgraded webcams and processors, improved S Pens and a gorgeous new burgundy color option

At the moment, there are three models in the lineup: the convertible Galaxy Book 2 360, the clamshell Galaxy Book 2 Pro and the Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360, which is not only a mouthful of a name but also a high-end 2-in-1. They all sport 13-inch screens, with the Pro and Pro 360 also coming in 15-inch versions. A fourth "Business" model is coming later this year, and it's the only 14-inch option of the lot, which is interesting given the laptop industry has generally been moving towards that size.

Like most computers launching this year, the Galaxy Book 2s run Windows 11 and come equipped with Intel's 12th-gen Core i5 or i7 processors. But Samsung's strength is, as always, in its displays and this year's AMOLEDs can hit up to 500 nits of brightness, making for easier viewing in challenging lighting conditions. At a recent hands-on one evening in New York, I wasn't able to take the machines out to read under direct sunlight as the sun had already set. In the brightly lit demo space as well as under our spotlights, though, it was easy to watch videos on the Galaxy Books.

Like I said last year in my review of the Book Pro 360, the new model's 16:9 aspect ratio feels outdated in an era where most laptops have shifted to 16:10 screens. This leaves a thumb-wide bezel below the display that could otherwise display a few extra lines of text at least. Still, they all run at 1,920 x 1,080 which is probably a more power-efficient option than 4K for machines that are this thin and light.

I also enjoyed the vibrant colors on the AMOLED panels (which support HDR), almost as much as I enjoyed scrawling "I love cake" on them. The Book 2 Pro 360 comes with an S Pen, while the 360 supports it but doesn't ship with one. The Pro, meanwhile, isn't touch-enabled and doesn't work with the stylus. There's not much new about the S Pen here — Samsung says it's improved the latency, though it hasn't shared details beyond that. The pen is still a separate accessory that you might leave behind by accident. I miss when Samsung included a smaller version of it in an onboard slot in the Galaxy Book Flex.

Besides the new chips and brighter displays, the main upgrade for this generation of the Galaxy Book is higher-resolution webcams. Specifically, all three models now offer 1080p cameras that, based on my limited experience so far, already take better pictures than their predecessors. Samsung had aggressive beauty filters built into last year's Galaxy Book Pro 360 for some reason, resulting in poorly exposed pictures from its 720p camera. This time, thankfully, the camera app looked like the stock Windows version with no strange filters on my face.

Watch Huawei's MWC 2022 keynote in under 10 minutes

With everything that's going on in the world right now, you may have glossed over the fact there's a big tech conference underway in Spain. After the pandemic sidelined Mobile World Congress in 2020 and pushed it to June in 2021, the trade show returned to its usual timeslot as one of the first major tech events of the year. Huawei was one of the first manufacturers to present at the conference, announcing the MatePad Paper and a refresh of its MateBook X Pro ultraportable laptop. If you missed the keynote, fret not: we've condensed the company's entire presentation into a video you can watch in under 10 minutes.

Investigation of VRChat finds rampant child grooming and other safety issues

One of the more popular VR apps you can download through Steam and Meta's Oculus Quest Store has a child safety problem. If you're unfamiliar with VRChat, the app styles as "the future" of social virtual reality. "Our vision for VRChat is to enable anybody to create and share their own social virtual worlds," the game's developer says on its Steam store page. With some understanding of Unity, players can create their own social spaces and avatars. That means you can see a lot of creativity on display in VRChat, but there's also a dark side to it as the BBC found out.

Posing as a 13-year-old girl, BBC researcher Jess Sherwood said she entered a virtual strip club where she saw adult men chase a child while telling them to remove their clothes. In many of the rooms Sherwood visited, she frequently saw condoms and sex toys on display, and on one occasion even saw a group of adult men and minors simulating group sex. She also saw instances of grooming.

"It's very uncomfortable, and your options are to stay and watch, move on to another room where you might see something similar, or join in — which, on many occasions, I was instructed to do," she said.

"Predatory and toxic behavior has no place on the platform," VRChat told the BBC. The developer added it was "working hard to make itself a safe and welcoming place for everyone." Part of the problem stems from the fact nearly anyone can download and play VRChat. For instance, to download the app from the Oculus Quest Store, all you need is a Facebook account. Sherwood created a fake profile to set up her account and access VRChat, and users of all ages can mingle freely without age gating.

When we contacted the company, a spokesperson for VRChat told Engadget user safety was its top priority. "It is likely that, if it were reported, much of the content that you described would be removed immediately," they said. "Likewise, the users you described were acting in a way that would almost certainly lead to the termination of their accounts had they been reported to our Trust and Safety team."

The spokesperson added VRChat includes a number of tools for reporting harassment. The company's Trust and Safety team has the ability to use metadata to track down problematic users. Depending on the severity of someone's actions, that team can hand out suspensions and permanent bans.

Sherwood isn't the first person to notice VRChat has a child safety problem. While the game has a "Very Positive" rating on Steam, the presence of predatory adults is something you see referenced frequently in both positive and negative reviews. "Enjoyable social VR slowly being ruined by horny degenerates and ddosers," said one player with more than 2,300 hours spent in the game.

"The amount of 'people' around the age of 30 attempting to do stuff like flirting all the way to trying to have e-sex with clearly underage users is alarming," said another player.

VRChat isn't the only metaverse app dealing with what amounts to a harassment problem. At the start of February, Meta added a Personal Boundary feature to Horizon Worlds to give users the ability to prevent people from entering their personal space. More recently, Microsoft took the dramatic step of removing Altspace VR's social hubs.

Oppo Find X5 Pro hands-on: Hasselblad help and a new AI chip

Oppo's latest phone looks and sounds like an expensive, powerful flagship. With a 6.7-inch WQHD+ screen that can hit 1,300 nits of brightness, adaptive refresh rates, and a new AI chip, made in-house to amp up low light camera performance – even at 4K. There are also two 50-megapixel primary camera sensors, a new (but familiar-sounding) Hasselblad collaboration and, well, just look at this beautiful thing.

So far this year, Oppo already announced its MariSilicon X neural processing unit (NPU), its intriguing attempt at foldables, but not a new flagship phone. But that's where MWC comes in, which so far is shaping up to be a relatively quiet mobile show. It's good news for Oppo. Barring any leftfield surprises (Samsung and Huawei both have press events this week) it can take center stage. Fortunately, Oppo has provided a device ahead of the public reveal, so I've got some early impressions and thoughts to add to proceedings.

The Find X5 Pro borrows heavily from the Find X3 Pro's shape and style from last year, but I think it looks even better. The camera unit now has a diagonal slope at the bottom, so it should fit in your hand better. There's no space-age, hyper-reflective silver color option this time, just glossy black or ceramic white. It was a bit much.

This black one picks up fingerprints and smudges with a little too much ease, but I didn't fear scratching it before I had to film this preview or grab photos for my story. Oppo says the ceramic body is actually nanometer microcrystalline ceramics. The material takes 168 hours to produce but Oppo says results in a phone that can resist scratches over 1200 HV – Vickers Pyramid number that registers hardness. For comparison, stainless steel scores 200 HV, while diamond reaches around 10,000 HV. In summary, you might not need the protective case that also comes in the box. There's also Gorilla Glass Victus on the screen.

I think it looks great. And while it might not be quite as unique as the Pixel 6's cyclops look, it at least looks different to the army of phones with their squarish camera arrays. There's a little originality to the design here. There are also some (reliably?) familiar specs. It's another phone arriving with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip – arguably the most powerful Android phone chip available in phones at this moment. There's also a 5,000mAh battery – bigger than the one found in its predecessor. Bigger batteries are always better in my opinion.

Cameras seem to be Oppo's focus with the Find X5 Pro. The company has made changes across camera hardware, processing, user interfaces and everything in between. Like its last Find X device, the X5 Pro has dual 50-megapixel primary sensors, but each has a few different specs, lens layouts and even materials.

The ultrawide camera, at the top of the Find 5X, includes a freeform lens. Oppo says this should reduce image distortion – that weird stretched effect at the edges of an image – when putting those wide angles to use. It has a f/2.2 aperture and can cover a 110-degree field of view. It's a 50-megapixel sensor, which uses pixel binning techniques to offer what Oppo says is "2um binned pixel size".

Just below it, the second 50MP camera taps into the same pixel binning techniques but has an f/1.7 aperture with a glass and resin combination lens. Using glass in just a part of the lens array should improve color accuracy up to 77 percent, according to Oppo. This camera also features five-axis optical image stabilization to boost your chances of a clear shot, and improve imaging performance across low-light settings. All of those axes of stabilization mean this sensor takes up a lot more space inside the Find X5 Pro, but there was still room for a 13-megapixel telephoto camera with f/2.4 aperture and a new 13-channel spectral sensor. Last year's Oppo flagship had a mere 5-channel sensor, but this upgrade will improve color accuracy and the precision of white balance settings.

On the front, there's a 32-megapixel selfie cam, with a new RGBW sensor that should offer, again, more accurate color capture and improved dynamic range. The selfie camera will also monitor whether you're looking at your phone, keeping the screen lit if you're still watching or reading.

That's half the hardware story. Oppo is debuting its Marisilicon X NPU chip in its new phone. During my briefing, the company walked through how the chip enables a new "night-mode" video recording, even at 4K resolution with HDR enabled. There's a barrage of specs and numbers to explain what Oppo's homemade NPU is adding, but a lot of it distills down to better and faster signal processing and even improved power efficiency, which could be important if you're capturing a lot of 4K content.

I briefly tested out 4K Ultra Night Video, Oppo's take on low-light video recording. While it does certainly help to amplify detail in the dimmest situations, at least when I've used it so far, the NPU hasn't translated to 4K video notably better than its competition.

I tried filming last night with the Find X5 Pro and Pixel 6 Pro, and Google's footage seemed more natural and less harsh than what Oppo's processing produced. Foliage detail was a little too excessively blown-out to the point of turning gray – it appeared to tune out the green.

There's also the new collaboration with Hasselblad. Which isn't quite so new. We've already written about it when OnePlus revealed its Hasselblad-infused camera software in the 10 Pro.

But for the sake of consistency, let's go over what Hasselblad is adding, aside from cachet.

The phone's Pro mode offers users some Hasselblad-seasoned fine-grain controls. That means a big orange shutter button and three Hasselblad approved filters for stills and videos. I can't explain why, but I really liked what each of these 'special' filters did to my video and photos. You even get Xpan Mode, where you can shoot video in 65:24 ratio. If you don't care to do the math, it's just a very wide, cinematic aspect ratio. For reasons I can't fully explain, I loved this too.

Google relaxes COVID-19 rules for its US employees

Google delayed its employees' return to office a few times over the past year, but it looks like the tech giant is truly gearing up to welcome workers back this time. According to CNBC, the company is easing some of its COVID-related mandates as part of those efforts, including relaxing its vaccine requirements for employees.

CNBC reported back in December that Google will place employees who don't comply with its vaccine mandate by January 18th on leave unless they secure a valid medical or religious exemption. The report also said that those employees will eventually be fired if they continue refusing to be inoculated against the virus. Google spokesperson Lora Lee Erickson told the news organization that the company dropped the requirement last month, though they refused to discuss the reason behind the decision.

Based on an email from Google Real Estate and Workplace Services VP David Radcliffe that CNBC has obtained, the company is also dropping its testing requirements that also applied to vaccinated employees. It's lifting its mask and social distancing requirements for vaccinated employees, with the exception of its offices in Santa Clara County where its Mountain View headquarters are located, as well. That said, unvaccinated employees must still be approved to work in offices, and they'll still have to wear masks and get regularly tested if they're coming in.

On top of easing up its COVID mandates, Google is also reopening its amenities for employees, including its fitness centers with massages, full shuttle service, more places to eat, as well as lounges and music rooms. Erickson told CNBC:

"We're giving employees who welcome the chance to come into the office the option to do that wherever we safely can, while allowing those who aren't ready to keep working from home. Based on current conditions in the Bay Area, we're pleased that our employees who choose to come in now have the ability to access more onsite spaces and services to work and connect with colleagues."

Google still doesn't have an exact date for its return to office, but Radcliffe's note reportedly said that the company will begin its 30-day transition to its hybrid work week plan if conditions continue to improve. Under the plan, employees will be required to physically come into the company's offices at least thrice a week.

The new Moto Edge+ wants to be a more affordable Galaxy Note

Following its release back in 2020, the Moto G Stylus quickly became one of the company's most popular phones. But now, Motorola is stepping up its ambitions with the new Edge+, which is essentially a more affordable take on a Galaxy Note.

With a starting price of $1,000 (or $900 at launch thanks to a limited-time discount), the Moto Edge+ combines strong performance from Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip with native stylus support. That said, unlike a Galaxy Note or the new Galaxy S22 Ultra, Motorola's Smart Stylus is an optional extra that will come bundled with a folio cover, the latter of which addresses the phone's lack of built-in stylus storage. Meanwhile, recharging the stylus is taken care of using the phone's 5-watt reverse wireless charging.

Elsewhere, the Edge+ comes with a number of premium features including a 6.7-inch 2400 x 1080 OLED with a 144Hz refresh rate, 15-watt Qi wireless charging and dual stereo speakers with support for Dolby Atmos. Base specs include 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and a 4,800 mAh battery, though you can bump that up to 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage if you like. And while Motorola's software and security support still doesn't match what you get from Google or Samsung, the company has committed to two years of Android OS upgrades and three years of bi-monthly security updates.

The Moto Edge+ also sports a decent selection of cameras headlined by its 50MP main cam and 50MP ultra-wide cam which also pulls double duty for macro photography, with an even higher-res 60MP selfie camera in front. Unfortunately, because the phone's third rear "camera" is merely a 2MP depth sensor, that means you don't get a dedicated zoom lens like you do on Samsung's latest Galaxy S handsets.

In addition to serving as your mobile drawing and notetaking device, Moto envisions the Edge+ as a part-time work device thanks to support for the company's Ready For platform. When the phone is connected to a nearby TV or monitor (either over USB-C or wirelessly), Ready For provides a more desktop-like UI similar to Samsung's Dex mode, while the company's Thinkshield security platform helps protect any potentially sensitive data.

As an added bonus, the Edge+'s rear cameras can even be used as webcams during video calls when connected to a nearby PC, with Motorola also claiming the device is the first phone to support Qualcomm's Snapdragon Spaces VR platform when paired with Lenovo's A3 Think Reality smart glasses.

All told, the Edge+ looks like an intriguing mix of specs and features for the price, especially when compared to the $1,200 S22 Ultra. The one thing I'm not quite sure about its is design, most notably that camera module and its surrounding pebble-like glass housing. But for anyone who's fancied a Galaxy Note but couldn't stomach Samsung's super premium price tags, it's definitely nice to see Motorola offer a more affordable alternative.

The new Moto Edge+ will be available soon (exact date still TBD) as an unlocked device from Motorola and third-party retailers including Best Buy and Amazon, followed by wider availability from carriers such as Verizon, Boost Mobile and Republic Wireless sometime later this spring.

'OlliOlli World' is a great Switch experience, despite a few flaws

OlliOlli World, the delightfully offbeat skateboarding platformer, launched a few weeks ago on basically every gaming console you could ask for. It's a clean break for the series, taking familiar gameplay but putting it in a totally redesigned world that allows for more exploration, competition and tricks.

You may not recall, but the original OlliOlli was released in 2014 exclusively for the PS Vita before hitting more platforms over the following years. That was my first exposure to the game, and I played it non-stop whenever I traveled; for a few years, the Vita was a constant companion on work trips and vacations alike.

I sunk untold hours into the two OlliOlli games on the Vita, mastering almost everything they threw at me. (I was never able to hack the insane "Rad" mode, where you had to make every single landing perfectly or else you'd slam and have to start the level over.) So while I was thrilled to try OlliOlli World on the PS5, I've also been wondering how it works on the Switch — would this be my new on-the-go gaming addiction, or do the compromises of playing on aging hardware degrade the experience?

After a couple weeks, I'm happy to say that OlliOlli World looks and plays great on the Switch. Still, there are a few things you'll want to know as you decide which platform to buy it on. Of course, the game gives up some visual fidelity on the Switch — as with all games, 1080p when docked to a TV and 720p on the console's built-in display is as good as it gets, a far cry from the beautifully detailed 4K visuals you'll get on the PS5 or Xbox Series X. OlliOlli World on the Switch does target 60 fps, similar to other consoles.

None of these changes are surprising; we all know the Switch is less powerful than modern systems. But fortunately, these changes largely don't make a difference. The character models of your skater, as well as the many people you meet across the skateboarding haven of Radlandia, are indeed less detailed on the Switch. What's most important is that the game's gorgeous art style still shines. OlliOlli World is one of the most vibrant games I've ever played, and it looks especially vibrant on the OLED Switch's screen. While it took me a few minutes to adjust to the lower-resolution experience here, I mostly didn't think about it once I got down to the game's core skateboarding action.

The difference in frame rate is more noticeable. OlliOlli World is an extremely fast game, one that really benefits from running at 60 fps. But despite the fact that developer Roll7 targeted 60 fps for the Switch, there were times that I felt like it dipped even below 30 fps. Roll7 did a great job of making the Switch version feel smooth enough that gameplay isn't usually impacted, but sometimes the game would drop frames in a crucial moment that led to me unceremoniously slamming after a trick. The vast majority of the time, things stayed steady enough that it didn't impact my gameplay. But there's no doubt that you'll notice dropped frames compared to how the game plays on the PS5.

I also came across frame rate drops in other parts of the game, like the animation that happens when your skater kicks off a run, or the loading screen transitions that take place when moving from the map into a level. These don't affect gameplay, but they're hard to ignore and add to the feeling that the Switch struggles a bit to keep up with the action. But the fact that the frame rate usually stays solid when you're on a course is far more important.

Probably the most significant compromise that comes when playing on the Switch are the Joy-Con's relatively tiny analog sticks. Compared to the spacious sticks on PlayStation and Xbox controllers, it's a bit harder to pull off the game's more complex tricks when playing on the Switch. Again, though, it's not a deal-breaker. I've thrown down plenty of impressive runs and beat nearly every single challenge the game has thrown at me over the course of dozens of levels.

Lightning eMotors expansion boosts production of fleet EVs for brands like GM

It's not just passenger cars and big rigs receiving the EV treatment — the vehicles in the middle are getting some TLC, too. Lightning eMotors is doubling its production capacity just weeks after partnering with GM to electrify medium-duty vehicles like delivery trucks, school buses and shuttles. The company's Colorado factory will make up to 1,500 fleet-worthy EVs per year by the end of 2022, with plans to produce 20,000 per year by 2025. Those figures might not sound like much, but Lightning is targeting a relatively niche audience.

The recent team-up will see Lightning "upfit" GM's medium-duty platform with electrified versions. While GM will provide the chassis, Lightning will produce the end product destined for commercial use. Lightning is GM's first specialty vehicle maker to offer full EVs in this category.

The combined efforts might not be as exciting as from-scratch electric cars headed to your driveway. Even so, it represents an important part of a broader effort to reduce transportation emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency notes that 29 percent of US greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, and more than half of those emissions originate from road-going vehicles that include medium-duty machines. The more companies like GM and Lightning can electrify fleets, the closer they can get to eliminating transportation emissions as a factor in climate change.

Nikola plans to ramp up production of the Tre electric semi-truck in March

Nikola is "laser-focused on delivering vehicles and generating revenue," according to CEO Mark Russell. To help it reach those goals, the embattled company is preparing to ramp up production of the battery-electric Tre semi-truck. Russell said Nikola expects to start "series production of the Tre BEV on March 21." The company plans to deliver up to 500 production Tre BEVs this year, starting in the second quarter.

It delivered the first two Tre BEVs to a port trucking company in California in December as part of a three-month pilot. It says the trucks have logged more than 4,500 miles between them and hauled multiple loads per day. One completed a 204-mile trip on a single charge. Anheuser-Busch, meanwhile, is testing two fuel-cell electric variants of the Tre.

Nikola says its Coolidge, Arizona plant currently has a production capacity of 2,500 trucks per year. Work is underway on an expansion that would increase the capacity to up to 20,000 trucks per annum. Work on Phase 2 of the facility should be completed in early 2023. Meanwhile, Nikola's plant in Ulm, Germany is currently capable of producing 2,000 trucks per year, though that figure is expandable to 10,000 trucks.

In its latest earnings report, the company touched on some of the controversies that have plagued it over the last few years. It reached an agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission in December to settle civil charges that it defrauded investors. The company is paying a $125 million civil penalty over two years. Nikola is seeking reimbursement from founder Trevor Milton for costs and damages it incurred in connection with government and regulatory investigations.

A grand jury indicted Milton on fraud charges last year. Nikola's former CEO and executive chairman allegedly lied to investors about "nearly all aspects of the business" in attempts to increase Nikola's share price. Milton, who has denied the charges against him, is set to go on trial in April.

'Knockout City' is going free-to-play in June

Dodgebrawl brawler Knockout City will be free-to-play on all platforms, starting with the launch of its sixth season later this year. Game developer Velan Studios will also be publishing Knockout City in-house, instead of through its original publisher, Electronic Arts. According to an announcement published today on the game's website, this will give Velan the ability to grow Knockout City's global audience and carry out its vision for the future.

"We couldn't have introduced Knockout City to the world without the incredible support of EA Originals, but now as we switch to free-to-play, the natural next step is for us to take over publishing responsibilities and work even more closely with our community. We have exciting plans for Knockout City, and bringing publishing in-house will allow us to fully realize our vision for the long-term future of this game. There's so much to look forward to, because this is just the beginning," wrote the studio, based in Troy, NY, in its announcement.

As a consequence of Velan focusing on Season 6's rollout, Knockout City fans can expect Season 5 (to released on March 1) to be a lot lighter. There will be no Brawl Pass, fewer bundles and no new cosmetics. There will also be no new map or new ball. But expect Season 6 to be packed with new features, including a new special ball and multiple maps.

Velan revealed little else about Knockout City's future, but promised there would be more announcements to come. While the multi-player dodgeball game was a knockout success after launching in May 2021 (it drew roughly 5 million new players in a month), the enthusiasm has died down a bit. Players have complained about the amount of time it takes to match with other players. Going free-to-play will likely reignite the game's popularity for some time, but players will likely have to tolerate ads or fork over for additional features. For now, Knockout City's future looks uncertain, but fans should stay tuned.

iPhone Face ID repairs may soon no longer require a whole device replacement

Apple reportedly told employees its stores and authorized third-party repair shops will soon be able to resolve Face ID hardware issues without having to replace an iPhone entirely. Technicians may have access to a TrueDepth camera part that includes the Face ID and front-facing camera modules. They'll be able to swap it into an iPhone, according to an internal memo obtained by MacRumors.

The company reportedly said the part may lower the number of whole-device replacements, which will help reduce the company's carbon footprint. Although Apple didn't mention pricing for such repairs in the memo, it would make sense for a new part to be less expensive than a replacement device. What's more, consumers wouldn't have to be concerned about losing or having to restore their data.

The report notes that the part will be compatible with iPhone XS and newer devices. As such, iPhone X owners might miss out.

If Apple does offer authorized technicians the part, it seems like a good move for all involved. It should bolster Apple's repairability efforts a few months after the company said it would sell iPhone and Mac parts to consumers and offer repair guides to help them resolve hardware issues by themselves.

Shortly after the iPhone 13 was released, it emerged that Face ID stopped working in some cases if the screen was replaced by a third-party repair shop. Apple seemed to have resolved that issue with the rollout of iOS 15.2 in December.

Facebook, Google and other tech firms must verify identities under proposed UK law

The UK government is introducing a bill that will require Facebook, Google and other tech platforms to verify the identities of users. The measure is part of the government's Online Safety Bill announced last year and is ostensibly designed to help users block anonymous trolls online.

"Tech firms have a responsibility to stop anonymous trolls polluting their platforms," said UK digital Minister Nadine Dorries in a statement. "People will now have more control over who can contact them and be able to stop the tidal wave of hate served up to them by rogue algorithms."

Tech firms would need to decide how to carry out the checks when users create social media accounts. Some options proposed by the government include facial recognition via profile pictures, two-factor authentication and government-issued ID. The UK's media regulator Ofcom would be in charge of laying out the rules.

Tech firms have a responsibility to stop anonymous trolls polluting their platforms.

The government has also proposed measures that would force companies to filter out "legal but harmful" material. That would allow parents, for instance, to apply settings stopping their kids from receiving search results about certain topics, or putting "sensitivity screens" over them.

Tech firms in violation could face fines of up to 10 percent of their global annual revenues, which could be in the billions with companies like Google and Facebook. The government could also block services from being accessed in the UK under the proposed rules, which would need to be approved by parliament to become law. 

"We are reviewing the details of the new proposed duties," a Twitter spokesperson told CNBC. "Our focus remains on a safe internet for all — whether or not someone is able to or chooses to verify themselves." It add that it sees anonymity as "a vital tool for speaking out in oppressive regimes."

The UK government said it would introduce online safety rules back in 2018, and the idea has gained impetus following recent racial abuse of Black England soccer players by anonymous trolls. On top of that, a petition in favor of the idea has gained nearly 700,000 signatures. However, critics of identity verification have said that anonymity can help protect LGBTQ+ and other oppressed minorities, whistleblowers and critics of oppressive regimes.

Kia EV6 owners will get up to three years of (limited) free charging

You might not have to pay to charge the Kia EV6 if you take it on a road trip — but you might want to dial back your expectations. Kia and Electrify America have launched a deal that gives EV6 buyers 1,000kWh of free charging at any of EA's US stations for up to three years. That offers around 3,500 to 4,000 miles of driving, depending on your model and road conditions.

The promo might be helpful if you're in a hurry. If you happen to find one of Electrify America's 350kW chargers, you can reach an 80 percent charge as quickly as 18 minutes.

As you might have guessed from the numbers, though, the deal isn't quite as sweet as it sounds. If you're driving the longest-ranged EV6, the 310-mile "Wind" trim, you'll get around 11 to 13 full charges before you start paying. That's fine for cross-country jaunts, but it won't help much if you're hoping to save money during your commutes. You might want to spring for the Ioniq 5 (which promises unlimited 30-minute charges for two years) if you want a Hyundai group EV without paying for frequent top-ups.

Nonetheless, this might be a useful offer. It could soften the initial blow of EV ownership, particularly if you're unsure about the costs of driving long distances. To some degree, it's also a competitive necessity — Tesla's Supercharger network is still larger than Electrify America's equivalent, and this may persuade you to buy the Kia if you were otherwise hesitant.

GM is shutting down its in-car shopping app

GM has told its customers it's shutting down the Marketplace app, which allowed drivers to pay for goods and services through the infotainment system. The app, which arrived in 2017, let them buy things like gas and coffee and make hotel and restaurant reservations via the dashboard. The company will wind down Marketplace starting in March.

"We routinely evaluate our services to ensure they provide the best experience for our members," GM told owners in an email. "In this spirit, we have decided to discontinue our Marketplace services."

The automaker brought the app to millions of its vehicles in the US, but it seems drivers didn't really take to it. According to CNBC, an engineer said that after the feature launched, the active user rates were in the "thousands."

'Fall Guys' finally adds full cross-play support

Last spring, Mediatonic added partial support for cross-platform play to Fall Guys. At the time, PlayStation and PC players could create custom lobbies to play against one another, and you would see people on other systems when matchmaking. But amidst all that, you could not form cross-platform parties. That's changing with the game's latest mid-season update.

Fall Guys now includes full cross-play support. Provided you and your friends have signed up for Epic Accounts and linked them to Fall Guys, you can start inviting one another to form parties. What's more, you can take part in all available playlists, including Squads, Duos and Main Show, while in a cross-platform group.

As part of today's update, Mediatonic also detailed Sweet Thieves, a new game mode coming to Fall Guys "in the very near future." The mode will see your bean cast as either a Thief or Guardian. As the former, you'll need to steal as many candy pieces as possible, while the latter will see you trying to locate and jail the Thieves. Mediatonic promised to share a trailer detailing the mode "very soon."

Volkswagen adds up to 20 miles of range to the 2022 ID.4

Volkswagen has revealed the EPA-estimated ranges for the 2022 ID.4 lineup, and it seems the work the automaker has put in to make the EV more efficient has paid off. All versions have the same 82-kWh battery pack and output motors, and VW has improved the range of every version compared with last year's ID.4 models.

The rear-wheel-drive ID.4 Pro has an EPA-estimated range of 280 miles, 20 miles more than the 2021 model. With an EPA-estimated range of 268 miles, the rear-wheel-drive Pro S has an increased range of 18 miles.

The increased ranges of the all-wheel-drive versions are more modest. The AWD Pro has an EPA-estimated range of 251 miles, while the AWD Pro S range is estimated at 245 miles. Those are increases of two miles and five miles of range, respectively, compared with the 2021 models.

VW attributes the increases to improved MPGe fuel economy. EPA estimates peg the RWD Pro and RWD Pro S as having combined city/highway driving fuel economy of 112 MPGe and 106 MPGe, which are increases of 13 MPGe and nine MPGe respectively. The EPA estimates that the fuel economy of the AWD Pro and Pro S have improved by four MPGe and two MPGe, respectively.

The automaker has also improved the DC fast charging capabilities on all 2022 models from 125 kW to 135 kW. Buyers will get three years of unlimited 30-minute fast charging sessions at Electrify America stations included at no extra cost. A Plug and Charge feature will allow drivers to plug in their car at an Electrify America station and automatically have it charge the battery and, if needed, their account. The feature will be available at a later date.

VW has increased the base price of all ID.4 models this year by $765. The RWD Pro starts at $40,760 and the Pro S is $45,260. For the AWD models, the Pro costs $44,440 and the Pro S starts at $48,940. The destination charge for each model is $1,195.

Google says a fix is on the way for a Pixel 6 WiFi issue

It seems some Pixel 6 users are continuing to have some connectivity problems. Following the February update, users have flagged WiFi problems on Google's support forums and Reddit. Thankfully, they may not have to wait much too longer for a fix.

The Pixel community team wrote on Reddit that a "very small number of devices" have been impacted by the WiFi connectivity issue and that the root cause has been found. The Pixel team has developed a fix for the problem, which will be deployed as part of the Google Pixel Update in March.

That should be welcome news to users who have resorted to finding workarounds for the problem. At least one person appears to have reset their Pixel 6 on the advice of Google support and, although that temporarily resolved their WiFi issues, the problem re-emerged, according to 9to5 Google. Other measures like resetting network settings or deleting a WiFi network from the device might have helped on a temporary basis too.

There have been other issues stemming from Pixel 6 updates. Google temporarily disabled the Hold for Me due to a bug in the December update, the rollout of which was also paused for many users over a problem with dropped calls. Here's hoping the March update will resolve the WiFi issues without introducing another bug.

Apple's 1TB 14-inch MacBook Pro falls to a new all-time low

Apple's 2021 MacBook Pros offer incredible performance thanks to the latest M1 Pro and Max chips, while the return of certain key ports makes them more practical than ever. If you've been looking for one but have been put off by the price, the 14-inch 1TB model just fell to a new all-time low at Amazon. You can pick up the 1TB M1 Pro model with a 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU and 16GB of RAM for just $2,229, or $270 off the regular price.

With an Engadget review score of 92, the 2021 MacBook Pros were among the best laptops of the year. That's due in large part to the 2nd-gen M1 Pro/Max CPUs that can keep up with and even outperform models equipped with Intel and AMD chips, while delivering up to 12 hours of battery life. They also offer good GPU performance for content creation and light gaming.

Along with the three Thunderbolt 4 ports, you get HDMI, MagSafe power, a headphone jack and an SD card slot. Apple has also ditched the butterfly keyboards in favor of more reliable ones, while adding in a high-resolution 1080p Facetime webcam. Finally, the 14-inch Liquid Retina XDR display delivers 3,024 x 1,964 resolution, up to 1,600 nits of brightness and a 120Hz refresh rate. Some folks may not like the screen's notch, however, and the lack of upgradeable memory and storage are also downsides.

If you don't need 1TB of storage (Thunderbolt 4 certainly makes upgrading that easy), Amazon is also offering a deal on the base 512GB model. Apart from the smaller SSD and a slightly less powerful M1 Pro CPU and GPU (8-core CPU and 14-core GPU), it has similar specs to the 1TB model and is considerably cheaper — just $1,799, or $200 off the regular price.

Tesla settles with EPA over Clean Air Act violations in California

The US Environmental Protection Agency has reached a settlement with Tesla after the agency found that the automaker violated the Clean Air Act at its factory in Fremont, California. In particular, the EPA determined that Tesla violated the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Surface Coating of Automobiles and Light-Duty Trucks from October 2016 to September 2019.

Tesla, the EPA said, failed to develop and implement a work practice plan to minimize air pollutants emissions from the storage and mixing of materials used in vehicle coating. It also failed to correctly perform the monthly calculations needed to prove that its coating operations complied with the federal standards for hazardous air pollutants. Finally, Tesla apparently failed to keep required records of the calculations for its air pollutants emissions rate. "People living in communities that are near sources of hazardous air pollutants may face significant risks to their health and environment," the agency wrote in its announcement.

According to CNBC, the paint shop at Tesla's factory in Fremont suffered several fires within that period. The news organizations talked to employees back in 2018 who claimed that the company pushed to hit production goals at the expense of fire and environmental considerations. (If you'll recall, Tesla was struggling to hit Model 3 production goals at the time.) Those employees claimed that months before a fire in April that year, the shop's sprinkler heads were clogged and were coated with at least an inch of thick paint. Exhaust systems that were supposed to carry clean air in and out of the building were allegedly coated with thick paint, as well.

"Today's enforcement action against Tesla reflects EPA's continued commitment to ensure compliance with federal clean air laws," EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman said in a statement. Tesla will only have to $275,000 to settle its violations, however, which is a drop in the ocean for a company that reported a $5.5 billion in net income last year.

Apple AirTags gain additional anti-stalking messaging in new iOS 15.4 beta

Apple's latest anti-stalking features for AirTags announced earlier this month have started to appear in iOS, MacRumors has reported. The latest beta 4 version of iOS 15.4 now includes a warning shown to users when they first set up an AirTag. "Using this item to track people without their consent is a crime in many regions around the world," it reads. "This item is designed to be detected by victims and to enable law enforcement to request identifying information about the owner."

Apple noted earlier that it has already worked with law enforcement on multiple occasions to trace misused AirTags back to their original owners, so it's not an idle threat. At the same time, it obviously wouldn't necessarily stop any stalkers willing to use fake identities .

Another issue has been an "unknown accessory detected" error message that has been confusing users. It's actually caused by certain AirPods models, along with third party devices, but many folks thought it meant that someone had planted an AirTag tracker on them. The latest beta of iOS 15.4 will now make clear that you're traveling with someone else's AirPods, for instance, to reduce confusion.

In addition, there's no longer an option to toggle off "Item Safety Alerts." Rather, the update now offers "Customize Find My Notifications" and "Customize Tracking Notifications" options. Some of these changes may or may not appear in the final version of iOS 15.4, due sometime next month.

The update is part of a larger measure to improve AirTags safety and reduce stalking. Last year, Apple shortened the period of time when an AirTag can be separated from its owner without making noise from three days to between eight and 24 hours. That change was designed to reduce the time a potential victim can be tracked.

Later this year, Apple will update recent iPhone models to add a precision tracking feature that will allow individuals to more easily locate an unknown AirTag. It also plans to change unwanted tracking alerts to notify people earlier. Lastly, the AirTag sound is being tweaked to make it as loud as possible, with a backup iPhone visual alert.

Apple's 2021 iPad mini drops to $459 at Amazon

If you know a small tablet will fit into your life easily, chances are you've considered the iPad mini in the past. Now, you can grab the latest model for $40 less at Amazon, which has the 64GB space gray model for $459. Unfortunately, that's the only color at that price right now — the 64GB starlight model is $25 off and down to $474, while the purple and pink models are hovering around $489-$499. Discounts like these typically don't stick around very long, so we recommend grabbing the mini soon if you've had your eye on it.

The iPad mini may be small, but it packs a lot of power. It's even more capable than the base iPad with its A15 Bionic chip and Neural Engine, 12MP ultra-wide front camera with Center Stage, 5G connectivity and USB-C port for charging. Apple totally redesigned the mini this time around, making it look like a smaller version of the iPad Air. It has an 8.3-inch 2,266 x 1,488 resolution Liquid Retina screen that's almost edge-to-edge, flat edges and a fingerprint-toting power button. Not only does the new mini feel more modern than ever before, but it also handled everything we threw at it, including light gaming, online shopping, video streaming, FaceTime calls and note-taking with the second-generation Apple Pencil.

FaceTime calls are even better on the small tablet, too, thanks to the Center Stage feature on the front-facing camera. It automatically pans and zooms to keep you in the middle of the frame even while you're moving around and chatting at the same time. As far as battery life goes, the iPad mini lasted about 12 hours on a single charge in our testing, which is two hours longer than Apple's estimate. Admittedly, an 8-inch tablet won't work for everyone, but those who know that the e-reader-sized device is exactly what they're looking should consider grabbing one in Amazon's latest sale.

Apple will give Siri a less gendered voice option in iOS 15.4

Apple's iOS 15.4 will bring more than AirTag anti-stalking messages and direct iPhone contactless payments. Axios has confirmed the latest iOS 15.4 beta includes a less gendered Siri voice option for English speakers. The voice, recorded by a member of the LGBTQ community, was meant to increase the diversity of Apple's assistant. This should give users more choices for a "voice that speaks to them," Apple said in a statement.

It's not certain if or when the voice will be available in other languages. Apple also didn't say when the finished iOS 15.4 might be ready, although the company is rumored to be holding an event in early March that might provide a fitting opportunity to release the new software.

The move comes roughly a year after Apple's last big push to make Siri more inclusive. As of iOS 14.5, Siri no longer defaulted to a female voice — you had to pick during the setup process. Apple also added two Black voice options to supplement existing choices. This latest update builds on that formula — it's not clear how long Apple will continue to expand Siri's horizons, but we wouldn't be surprised to see more changes.

Intel claims its 12th-gen ultraportable chips are a huge step forward

After unveiling its beefy H-series 12th-gen laptop chips during CES, Intel is finally ready to shed more light on its new U and P-series CPUs for ultraportables. And, much like AMD's upcoming Ryzen 6000 chips, it looks like Intel is aiming to deliver a huge performance boost, while consuming less power than last year's hardware.

The big takeaway? It's going to be an interesting year for ultraportable PCs, which could offer enough power to play a few games and give Apple's custom processors some serious competition.

With the Core i7-1280P, Intel's fastest 28-watt P-series CPU, the company claims you'll see up to 70 percent faster multithreaded performance than last year's i7-1195G7. Notably, Intel says it also offers better multithreaded performance than the Core i9-11980HK, one of its fastest processors from 2021, while consuming around half as much power. And of course, that also means it beats out the Ryzen 7 5800U from last year (Intel didn't have access to AMD's new processors for benchmarking, naturally).

Like the rest of its 12th-gen lineup, Intel's U and P-series chips are a new hybrid design that combines Performance cores (P-cores) and Efficient cores (E-cores) on a single die. The i7-1280P is a 14-core chip (6 P-cores along with 8 E-cores) that maxes out at 4.8GHz on its P-cores. Its 28-watt base power consumption puts it in thin and light territory, but it can scale up to 64-watts to reach Max Turbo speeds. (That's for when you're plugged in and not worrying about energy consumption as much.)

Intel's 12th-gen U-series processors, which are targeted at the slimmest ultraportables, are spearheaded by the Core i7-1265U. That's a 10-core chip (2P and 8E) that also maxes out at 4.8GHz. Its 15-watt base power consumption is on par with previous U-series chips, but it can go up to 55-watts to reach its Max Turbo speed.

While Intel's hybrid design is clearly a leap forward for the P-series CPUs — the i7-1280P is around 20 percent faster than last year's chips in the Crossmark benchmark — we're still waiting to see how the U-series chips will compare. It's surprising that Intel still isn't saying much about U-series performance, but we'd wager there would be a significant speed bump from the architecture changes alone.

The 12th-gen laptop CPUs will also feature Intel's Xe graphics, though it doesn't seem like much has changed since last year. The P and U-series chips will still offer up to 96EUs (execution units). According to Intel's benchmarks, the i7-1280P hits 82fps in Grand Theft Auto V and 53fps in Chorus while playing with medium graphics settings in 1080p. With high quality settings, it sees up to 115fps in League of Legends and 81 fps in Rocket League—but that's not a huge surprise for less demanding titles.

While we're still waiting to get our hands on new systems with Intel and AMD's latest ultraportable hardware, the landscape feels far more exciting than last year, when Intel's 11th-gen CPUs were a pretty ho-hum upgrade. Perhaps 2022 will finally be the year ultraportables can finally solve most of our gaming needs.

Xbox gamers can now stream on Twitch from the console dashboard

Microsoft is following up on a promise to improve Twitch livestreaming on Xbox consoles. As of today, Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One owners can stream on Twitch directly from the system Guide. Once you've linked your Twitch account, you just have to choose a "go live now" option to start broadcasting. You also have access to some streamer-friendly options, including the bitrate, resolution, title and separate audio levels for your game and microphone.

The integration is smart enough to automatically pause your feed and change show titles if you switch games, and you can decide whether or not you want viewers to hear your party chat. Your Xbox friends can also choose to receive alerts when you go live on Twitch.

This kind of tie-in wasn't surprising. Microsoft shut down Mixer nearly two years ago, leaving Xbox users without a truly integrated livestreaming option. The Twitch app filled that gap, but required significantly more steps to go live. This makes it more viable to stream on an Xbox, and might help Microsoft compete against Sony's relatively strong Twitch support on the PS4 and PS5.

'Apex Legends Mobile' launches in 10 countries next week

It took nearly three years, but Apex Legends Mobile is almost here — for some people, at least. Respawn has announced a "limited regional launch" next week for 10 countries that include Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Colombia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines and Singapore. You're likely out of luck if you're reading this, then, but these early adopters will get to play on both Android and iOS.

The small-scale release will last through the spring and help the team refine gameplay and features before a wider launch, Respawn said. The initial mobile character roster mostly sticks to those available when Apex Legends launched in 2019, although the fast-moving Octane will also be an option.

Respawn stressed that you won't see cross-play with non-mobile platforms. You'll need at least an iPhone 6s to play on iOS, while Android users will need 3GB of RAM and OpenGL 3.0 or higher graphics support. The developers have focused their Android optimizations on popular brands like Samsung, Oppo and Xiaomi.

The limited debut might be frustrating if you're eager to play a Fortnite or PUBG alternative. It's easy to understand the cautious approach, however. Apex Legends is one of the few battle royale games to enjoy lasting success, and the mobile debut represents a major opportunity to expand the title's reach. A careful premiere could be key to competing with other heavyweights and keeping Apex in the spotlight for years to come.

A new Steam tool can check your library for Steam Deck compatibility

Those who were able to lock in an early shipment date for the Steam Deck are perhaps just a few days away from getting their hands on the system. To give a clearer idea of which Steam games will run on the handheld PC, Valve has set up a page where you can check whether titles in your library are compatible.

After you log in with your Steam account, the tool will organize your library into a few sections. If a game is marked as Verified, it should run on Steam Deck with few, if any, hiccups. Unsurprisingly, Valve games such as Half-Life 2 and Portal 2 are deemed Verified, as are third-party games such as God of War, Death Stranding, Tetris Effect and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

Those labeled Playable will run on the system but "might require extra effort to interact with or configure," according to Valve. Valheim, The Witcher 3, Inscryption and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim are among those.

There might be some games in your library that don't currently work on the device at all. One of those, sadly, is Fall Guys. Virtual reality games like Half-Life: Alyx and the VR version of Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice won't run on it either. The tool will also say how many games in your library haven't yet been tested on Steam Deck.

Valve has tested a relatively small number of Steam games thus far. According to SteamDB, 766 games have been labeled Verified or Playable, while 368 are unsupported for now. As of Wednesday, there were 64,679 games listed on Steam. Valve is continuing to test games though, so more will be labeled Verified or Playable in the coming months.

The tool builds on a set of labels Valve has been adding to Steam games over the last few months. Although there are many more untested games than ones Valve has actually checked, this could still be a handy way to see whether buying a Steam Deck might be worthwhile.

Acer's latest Swift 5 laptop features a 16:10 display and 12th-gen Intel Core

Acer isn't wasting any time in making use of Intel's 12th-gen ultraportable processors. The PC maker has unveiled new versions of its Swift 5 and Swift 3 laptops that not only make use of new 12th-gen Core chips, but include a handful of upgrades of their own. Most notably, the new Swift 5 (pictured above) has switched to a 16:10 2,560 x 1,600 display whose taller ratio not only helps with vertical content like documents and websites, but helps eliminate the "chin" present on its 16:9 predecessor. The two-tone aluminum shell gives it a more premium look, too, for those moments when you want to impress executives.

The revamped Swift 5 includes up to a 12-core CPU, 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 2TB of SSD storage. It also meets Intel's Evo specs for 10 hours of real battery life and fast charging that delivers four hours of use from a 30-minute top-up. Two Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports and HDMI 2.1 offer solid connectivity, too. The system is heavier than its predecessor at 2.65lbs, but you might not mind given the upgraded cooling (improved twin fans and D6 heat pipes), a low-noise 1080p webcam and a trackpad made from ocean-bound plastic waste.

The Swift 3 (shown at middle) is a more modest upgrade. You'll have to make do with a 16:9 display (1080p or 1440p) in this 14-inch system, but you can have up to 2TB of SSD space, 30-minute fast charging and a mix of USB-C, USB-A and HDMI 2.1 ports. The 1080p low-noise webcam also makes the leap to this lower-priced model, and you'll have your choice of more colorful bodies.

Be ready to wait. Acer ships both systems in June, with the Swift 5 starting at $1,499 and the Swift 3 at $850. The Swift 5's price is a steep hike from the $1,000 you would have paid for the late 2020 model, but Acer also appears to be targeting a more upscale audience — there don't appear to be many compromises.

New 'Elden Ring' trailer offers one final look before its long-awaited release

With less than a week before Elden Ring's February 25th release date, publisher Bandai Namco has shared a new "Overview" trailer detailing the many systems of FromSoftware's latest action RPG. The clip features nearly six minutes of edited gameplay footage for fans to check out. And if you've been trying to avoid spoilers but still want to see what From's latest project will offer, this is probably your best chance to do so.

Notably, the trailer offers a glimpse of not just the game's open-world environment, but the many dungeons that you'll have a chance to explore during your adventures, including the so-called "legacy" ones that feature the same dense level design that has been a hallmark of FromSoftware games since Demon's Souls. The clip also offers a look at item crafting, player customization and cooperative play, among other elements.

Elden Ring will be available to play on PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC. FromSoftware first announced the title back at E3 2019. A Song of Ice and Fire author George R. R. Martin helped Dark Souls and Bloodborne mastermind Hidetaka Miyazaki create the world of the game. After years of waiting, fans will finally get to see the fruits of that collaboration for themselves.

Epic Games will offer full-time employment to many of its US quality assurance testers

Fortnite developer Epic Games confirmed this weekend it will transition most of its US-based contingent workers to full-time positions with benefits. The news comes after The Verge obtained an internal memo detailing the company's plans. Epic spokesperson Elka Looks said the studio plans to hire "a few hundred" existing contractors, and that most of those workers currently serve as quality assurance testers. Epic will directly employ those individuals and they'll have access to the company's benefits plan.

Looks also noted the company will still hire contingent workers to fill "short-term needs," and the memo The Verge obtained said Epic would not extend the full-time employment offer to some workers. "There are a few exceptions in which it makes sense for both the worker and Epic to maintain contingent worker status," the document said, according to the outlet.

Epic's decision to convert many of its QA testers to full-time employees comes at a moment when workers in similar positions at Activision Blizzard's Raven Software work to unionize. In December, the studio laid off a dozen QA testers, leading to a walkout involving both full-time employees and contractors. Last month, those workers said they would unionize with the Communication Workers of America, and asked the troubled publisher to voluntarily recognize their group. Activision did not do that and instead moved to reorganize the studio in a way that critics of the company claim is designed to thwart those efforts.

'Final Fantasy 14' free trial returns on February 22nd

Late last year, Square Enix suspended sales of Final Fantasy 14 and stopped offering free trials as the game became overwhelmed with new players, following its latest expansion. Now, FF14 producer and director Naoki Yoshida has announced that free trials are returning starting tomorrow, February 22nd, Eurogamer has reported.

The company said at the time that it had to halt sales because the "dense concentration of play hours... far exceed [the game's] server capacity." It addressed that by bringing its Oceania Data Center online and opening five new Worlds from the start so that everyone in Oceania could transfer over. Shortly afterwards (on January 25th), Final Fantasy 14 went back on sale.

The developer must have figured that it still wasn't quite ready for the free trial traffic, but that situation is apparently resolved as well. The company also announced that more deep dungeons are coming to Final Fantasy 14 with the 6.0 series of patch updates, expected to arrive in the coming months. Yoshida also confirmed that "at this point," there are no plans to introduce NFTs to FF14. "We did notice a lot of reactions, especially from the Western [audience] about NFTs, many comments about how [they're] opposed to NFTs," he added.

Lenovo's new Smart Clock Essential with Alexa is 29 percent off at Amazon

Smart clocks are ideal devices for the bedroom, as they give key information like the time and temperature but often have no intrusive cameras. If you're looking for a deal on a good one, Lenovo's Smart Clock Essential with Alexa is on sale right now at Amazon for $50, or $20 (29 percent) off the regular $70 price.

The Smart Clock Essential with Alexa came out early this year to replace the previous model, with the main additions being a new pogo docking pin on the bottom and, well, support for Alexa instead of Google Assistant. It features an attractive, fabric-covered design in colors "Mistry Blue" and "Clay Red," both of which are on sale. On the top edge there are four buttons: volume buttons, a button for activating the assistant, and another for setting an alarm. There's also a USB port for charging.

It neither streams video nor has a camera, though it of course has a mic and speakers so that you can listen to music/podcasts or make voice calls. The entire front face is a dedicated 4-inch LED display, displaying the time, weather, real-time decibel levels and more in white text on a deep black background.

The docking accessories still aren't available, but once they arrive, you'll have two options. One is a basic pad with room for both the clock and another wireless-charging like a phone, while the other is what Lenovo calls the Ambient Light Dock, which doubles as a nightlight. It'll be available for $30 in two whimsical designs with either a sea lion and a squid, along with eight different lighting modes and a rainbow of colors — so it could work great in a kid's room.

The batteries in Google's Nest Cam and Doorbell won't charge in freezing weather

Following months of reports, Google has confirmed its battery-equipped Nest Doorbell and Cam devices won't charge when they're subjected to extreme cold weather. "At temperatures below freezing, the lithium-ion battery in your Google Nest camera or doorbell won't be able to charge," the company said in a recently published support document spotted by 9to5Google.

According to Google, the battery versions of the Nest Doorbell and Cam can operate at temperatures as low as minus four degrees Fahrenheit (minus 20 degrees Celsius), provided their batteries have power left. That said, those cells won't charge at temperatures below the freezing mark. What's more, Google warns they may drain faster than usual in cold weather, with battery life potentially halved when the devices are near their operating limit.

The company recommends you bring your Nest Doorbell or Cam indoors in those situations. The warmer the battery gets, the faster it will charge, according to Google. You can look to the Home app to know if you should take your devices inside. The software will display a notification that says "Charging paused" or "Charging slowly," with a lengthy estimated charging time, when cold weather is negatively affecting them.

One other thing to note is that freezing temperatures may impact your Nest devices even if they're wired to your home's electrical system. That's because the Nest Doorbell still draws on its battery for power even when it has an electrical connection. At temperatures below the 32 degrees Farhenheit mark, the trickle charge coming from the wire won't help the battery. And once it dies, you'll need to bring the device inside to charge it once again. By contrast, the Nest Cam can operate with an empty battery as long as it's wired to your home, but should you lose power and the battery is dead, it won't work anymore until you charge it again. In short, if you're cold, there's a good chance your Nest device is too. Bring it inside for a break from the desolate winter.

Elon Musk accuses the SEC of leaking information against him

Tesla CEO Elon Musk's lawyer has accused the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or leaking information about a federal probe to retaliate against him, CNBC has reported. "It has become clearer and clearer that the Commission is out to retaliate against my clients for exercising their First Amendment rights—most recently by criticizing the Commission on the public docket and by petitioning this Court for relief," said Musk attorney Alex Spiro.

It's the latest shot fired by Musk in his ongoing dispute with the SEC that started in 2018 when he said that he had secured funding for a private buyout of Tesla at $420 a share — something many (including the SEC) interpreted as an attempt at a weed joke. The SEC fined Tesla and Musk $20 million each over that and forced Musk to step down as chairman for at least three years. Tesla also had to implement a system for monitoring Musk's statements about the company on Twitter and other media.

Musk has been chafing against those rules lately, however. Earlier this month he accused the SEC of conducting a "harassment campaign," and "stifling" has First Amendment free speech rights. The SEC responded earlier this week, saying its frequent check-ins with Tesla were effectively required by the court overseeing the 2018 settlement. It also rebutted Musk's other complaint, saying that it was making progress disbursing the $40 million fine to shareholders as it had promised.

Musk's lawyers alleged that at least one SEC member had leaked "certain information regarding its investigation," but it didn't say who or which information. Tesla revealed in its 2021 Q4 earnings report that the SEC subpoenaed the company and Musk, seeking information on how they're complying with the 2018 settlement.

Musk previously ran afoul of the 2018 settlement a year later after tweeting information about Tesla vehicle production that wasn't approved by the company's "disclosure counsel." His lawyers accused the SEC of violating his free speech rights then, too. Musk and Tesla eventually agreed to a revised settlement that required him to get approval in advance for any tweets or other communication from an "experienced securities lawyer." 

Apple's AirPods Max headphones are $100 off at Amazon

Apple's AirPods Max won't leave your wallet feeling quite as light if you pick up the over-ear headphones now. They're on sale on Amazon for $449. While this isn't the lowest price we've seen for AirPods Max (the pink model dropped to $400 on Woot earlier this year), a $100 discount is nothing to sniff at. This time around, all of the color options are on sale.

In our review, we gave AirPods Max a score of 84, citing the terrific balanced sound, good active noise cancellation and solid battery life. The headphones also have spatial audio support, including for Dolby Atmos tracks on Apple Music. We felt the price was one of the major drawbacks, so the discount will alleviate that somewhat. You'll miss out on some features when AirPods Max are connected to an Android or Windows device, and you'll definitely want to buy a sturdier third-party case.

If AirPods Max don't quite tickle your fancy, but you're still looking for an Apple audio product, there's some good news: Amazon has other models on sale too. The second-gen AirPods are currently $100, down $60 from the regular price.

There are more modest savings available on the third-gen AirPods, which have dropped by $10 to $169. If you'd prefer a model with ANC instead, it might be worth paying an extra $6 to pick up AirPods Pro, which are $74 off at $175.

Panasonic's 25-megapixel GH6 is the highest resolution Micro Four Thirds camera yet

After a bit of a delay, Panasonic has finally revealed the 25.2-megapixel GH6, the highest-resolution Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera to date. One can think of it as a mini version of its S1H "Netflix camera," as it's loaded with pro video features like 5.7K ProRes V-Log video, a tilt-swivel display and CFexpress capture. However, it's still stuck with contrast detect rather than phase detect autofocus like most modern cameras. Luckily, I was able to get my hands on a preproduction unit to check out the new features and get an early feel for it.

First, let's talk about the most interesting changes. As mentioned, the GH6 has a 25.2-megapixel sensor with a high-speed readout, though it isn't stacked like its Micro Four Thirds rival, the OM-1. That obviously gives a much-needed image resolution boost, though photo burst performance is actually down a touch from the GH5 II (8 fps with continuous AF compared to 9 fps).

The GH6 still uses a contrast detect autofocus system (what it calls "depth from defocus" or DFD) rather than phase detect like nearly all its rivals. As with the GH5 II, it also includes face/eye/head/body/animal AI recognition. While Panasonic has pretty much perfected its DFD system, it's still not as fast or reliable as phase detect systems.

When shooting people pictures in relatively low light, it sometimes failed to get focus quickly enough to nail the shot, for instance. By comparison, Sony and Canon's latest cameras (the A7 IV and EOS R6) have no such difficulty, even in low light. And I still saw some wobble or hunting with video AF.

In terms of video, things are more positive. The GH6 can now shoot 5.7K video with V-Log at up to 30 fps with internal capture to either ProRes or ProRes HQ, or 5.7K up to 60 fps to MP4 10-bit H.264/H.265 recording (all-intra or longGOP). You can also shoot 10-bit 4:2:0 4K at up to 120 fps using the longGOP codec, or 1080p at 300 fps (240 fps with autofocus). All of the 5.7K and 4K modes (including 120p) use the full sensor width with super-sampled video.

It will also be able to record ProRes RAW to an external Atomos recorder via a future firmware update. More interestingly, the GH6 is one of the first mirrorless cameras with HDMI 2.1 output, so it'll eventually let you record 4K RAW externally at up to 120 fps via a future update. When it first ships, it'll support 4K at up to 60 fps, with simultaneous external and internal recording.

Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Among UP Star Campaigners List

New Delhi: Congress party on Saturday released a list of as many as 30 'star campaigners' for the ensuing third phase of Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.
The list includes names of top party leaders including Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Sachin Pilot, Mohammed Azharuddin and others.

The list also includes names of Congress leaders like Ajay Kumar Lallu, Aradhana Misra "Mona", former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, Uttar Pradesh Election observer and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and Salman Khurshid.

Naseemuddin Siddiqui, Acharya Pramod Krishnam, Pradeep Jain Aditya, Hardik Patel, Ranjeet Singh Judeo, Imran Pratapgarhi, Varsha Gaikwad, Supriya Shrinate, Harendra Aggarwal, Rohit Chaudhary, Tauquir Alam, Satyanarayan Patel, Pradeep Narwal, Vikas Awasti, Mukesh Chauhan, Pramod Tiwari, PL Punia, Rajiv Shukla, Deepender Singh Hooda will also campaign for party candidates.

The polling in Uttar Pradesh will be held on February 10, 14, 20, 23, 27 and March 3 and 7 in seven phases.

In the 2017 Assembly elections, the BJP had won a landslide victory, winning 312 Assembly seats. The party had secured a 39.67 per cent vote share in the elections for 403-member Assembly. Samajwadi Party (SP) had bagged 47 seats, BSP won 19 while the Congress could manage to win only seven seats

Kia Carens MPV India Launch Date Announced

Kia Carens, the new three-row vehicle from the Korean carmaker will be launched in India on February 15, 2022. The Carens, which is being positioned as a recreational vehicle, or MPV, is based on the company popular compact SUV - the Kia Seltos and comes with the same petrol and diesel powertrains as well. The company recently commenced the series production of the new Kia Carens, while pre-bookings opened on January 14, 2022. In fact, in the first 24 hours of opening bookings, the company received over 7,700 pre-orders for the Caren, showing immense demand for the new Kia vehicle.

The new Kia Carens MPV will be the South Korean carmaker's fourth product in India, and the MPV will be offered in 5 trim levels - Premium, Prestige, Prestige Plus, Luxury, and Luxury Plus. The Carens will come with both 6- and 7-seater cabin layout options and employs the company's 'Opposites United' design language. In fact, it will be the first Kia vehicle in India to follow the new design language, which globally made its debut with the Kia EV6.

The Kia Carens will offer a host of features like - LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, a wide airdam, 16-inch dual-tone alloy wheels, roof rails, aggressive-looking wraparound LED taillamps and a muscular rear bumper with chrome details. The cabin comes with a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with the latest gen 'Kia Connect' connected car tech. The MPV also gets Bose premium sound system with 8 speakers, a smart pure air purifier with virus and bacteria protection, ventilated front seats, second-row seats with one-touch easy electric tumble function, and a sunroof. Safety features include - 6 airbags, electronic stability control, VSM, hill assist control, DBC, ABS, brake assist system, disc brakes on all four wheels, Highline TPMS, and rear parking sensors.

Badrinath Portals To Be Opened On May 8+

New Tehri: The sacred portals of Badrinath in Uttarakhand's Chamoli district will be opened at 6.15 am on May 8, priests here announced on Saturday.
Dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu, the Himalayan temple is closed every year at the onset of winter and reopened at the start of summer.

It remains snowbound throughout winter.

The date and timing for the opening of the temple gates were announced on the occasion of Basant Panchmi by the royal priests of the erstwhile Tehri King Manujendra Shah. The date for the opening of the temple gates is decided on the basis of the Tehri King's horoscope, as per traditions.

Badrinath temple priests Rawal Ishwar Prasad Namboodi, Rajesh Namboodiri, Shri Badrinath-Kedarnath Temple Committee President Ajendra Ajay, and Vice President Kishore Panwar were present as the date was announced.
"Ma Saraswati Doesn't Differentiate": Rahul Gandhi On Karnataka Hijab Row

On the occasion of Saraswati Puja, Rahul Gandhi alluding to the decision by college authorities not to allow wearing the hijab in classroom, tweeted "we are robbing the future of the daughters of India"

New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has tweeted on the controversy over Muslim students' demand for wearing the hijab in classrooms in a Karnataka college.
On the occasion of Saraswati Puja, Mr Gandhi alluding to the decision by the college authorities not to allow wearing the hijab in classroom, tweeted "we are robbing the future of the daughters of India".

"By letting students' hijab come in the way of their education, we are robbing the future of the daughters of India. Ma Saraswati gives knowledge to all. She doesn't differentiate," the Congress leader said.

By letting students' hijab come in the way of their education, we are robbing the future of the daughters of India.

Ma Saraswati gives knowledge to all. She doesn't differentiate. #SaraswatiPuja

— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) February 5, 2022
The Karnataka BJP, reacting to Mr Gandhi's tweet, tore into the Congress leader for "communalising education".

"By communalising education, CONgress co-owner Rahul Gandhi has once again proved that he is dangerous to the future of India. If hijab is very much essential to get educated, why doesn't Rahul Gandhi make it mandatory in states ruled by CONgress?" the Karnataka BJP tweeted.

By communalising education, CONgress co-owner @RahulGandhi has once again proved that he is dangerous to the future of India.

If Hijab is very much essential to get educated, why doesn't Rahul Gandhi make it mandatory in States ruled by CONgress?#CommunalCONgress

— BJP Karnataka (@BJP4Karnataka) February 5, 2022
Some 40 women students wearing the hijab protested at the gate of Bhandarkars Arts and Science Degree College in Kundapur, a coastal town in Karnataka's Udupi. The staff had refused to let them in unless they took off their headscarves. They missed their classes for the second day on Friday.

The college has an instruction manual that says: "Girl students are permitted to wear the scarf inside the campus, however the colour of the scarf should match with the dupatta, and no student is allowed to wear any other cloth inside the campus including the college canteen".

The principal, Narayan Shetty, said he wanted to preserve harmony on campus. "I am a government employee. I will have to follow all the instructions of the government. I was told that some students will enter the college wearing saffron shawls, and if harmony is disturbed in the name of religion, the principal will be held responsible," he said.

The Karnataka government allows state-run colleges to frame their own guidelines on the matter. Some government colleges allow Muslim women students to wear the hijab or any headscarf on the campus. But there ambiguity is with whether they can wear it inside the classroom. The students have pointed out that there is no guidelines on this and they can wear inside the classroom.

On Thursday, another college in Kundapur saw identical scenes when a group of hijab-wearing girls stood outside the gates for six hours. The Junior PU Government College had allowed hijabs in class until two days ago, the girls complained.

The hijab protests began weeks ago at the Government Girls PU College in Udupi district when six students alleged that they had been barred from classes for insisting on wearing the headscarf.

Immediate opening in non voice process for videolabeling

Technosoft Global
Chennai, Tamil Nadu

5 days agoFull–time
Job Description
Hi All,Greeting from ApexonUrgent vacancy for video labeling process for freshers

Video labeler app enables you to label ground truth data in a video,in an image sequence,or from a custom data source reader.
Requirements Experience :

Qualification :
Any Under Graduation degree
Notice period :
Location :
CoimbatoreInterested candidates can drop your resume to the below mentioned mail id[Confidential Information]For Further Details,
Contact No: 8807947***

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Customer Support (Non-Voice) Web Chat Process

Teleperformance India
Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Over 1 month agoFull–time
Teleperformance's Non voice Jobs in Chennai with work from home options. Opening for freshers and experienced positions.

Teleperformance India is Hiring for Customer Support Non-Voice Web Chat Process
• Experience Required: 1 – 5 years
• Salary Range: ₹ 1,25,000 – 1,75,000 P.A.
• Location: Chennai
• Role: Associate/Senior Associate -(Nontechnical)
• Industry: BPO / Call Centre
• Job Category: Non-Voice/Voice
• Education: Any Graduate in Any Specialization
• Contact: 9962925321/7305382012

Teleperformance is hiring for non-voice job seeking candidates for the vacancies available in Chennai location. Teleperformance career and placement opportunity for interested applicants. Based on profile shortlisted the eligible candidates will be called for further Teleperformance recruitment process and interview will be conducted accordingly. The candidate must match the qualification criteria as per Teleperformance norms. Salary, Non-voice job category, job description, roles and responsibilities and salary are as per defined polices by Teleperformance.

Apply job – please send your resume to the email id mentioned herewith or contact our recruiter. Subsequently, one of our Teleperformance recruiters will contact you for further rounds of interview process for Chennai based non-voice job vacancies. Please check our other available job vacancies also.


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Access healthcare/ Openings For Non voice freshers

Access Healthcare
Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Over 1 month agoFull–time
Please read all the below points carefully.


Shift: night shift

• Excellent English communication skill
• Good Typing Skill
• Candidates must currently stay in chennai.
• Only candidates with BA, Bsc, Bcom, BBA, BCA, and BBM can apply (Without arrear)

Irrelevant Profile :
• BE/BTech/MBA/MCA or candidates with arrears are not eligible
• Candidates whose current salary or Expected salary is more than Rs.10,000 will not be considered
• Candidates with Poor English communication will not be considered

Walk-in interview;



10.30am to 1pm

Contact Person;

Arvind HR

Mention Arvind on top of resume .carry your resume and aadhar card .


A9,First Main Road Ambattur Industrial Estate Chennai-600058.

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International Non Voice - Chat Process @ Chennai

Chennai, Tamil Nadu

7 days ago₹2L–₹4L a monthFull–time
Candidates interested to work in International Chat Process and to work in night shift is only eligible for this process.

share profile to

Apply Immediate joiners only.

Salary: 2.25 LPA to 3.50 LPA

Required Candidate profile
• Candidate should have Good written Communication skills.

We have Domestic & International Voice Openings as well.

Please refer ur friends

Best Regards,
9398091847 (Only Whatsapp )

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Backend Operation (Non voice)- Chennai

Chennai, Tamil Nadu

3 days ago₹1.62L a monthFull–time
Dear Candidate: Greetings from Trigent Software Ltd. We have an urgent opportunity for Chennai Please find the below JD for the same only graduation Job Description: Freshers with any BSC, BCA Degree( Strictly No PG and Engineering Graduates no backlogs) Good English communication Skill Good typing skills with minimum 30 words per minute!!Mandatory!! To enter the US insurance claims in the system and having those paid on time. To have the insurance claims reviewed and entered in to the system provided by client. Should be accountable for the quality of work done. Fresh graduates with good typing skills. Flexible to work in Night Shift CTC : 12.5K/month Cab : Both side cab will be provided JOB Location : Sholinganallur, Chennai Interview : PAN & Aadhar is must Interested candidate can share their profiles at with below details: Recruiter Name: Rekha Phone: ++91 (80) 22157000 Ext (102) Mobile: +91 7795037579 Education: UG: Any Graduate - Any SpecializationPG: Post Graduation Not Required - Any Specialization

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Fresher Jobs / Non voice process
Feb 05, 2022, 11:57 AM
Non voice process

Tech Mahindra
Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Over 1 month agoFull–time
Tech Mahindra Chennai is hiring candidates for one of the leading International Telecommunication Provider with Good English Communication Skills for NON Voice Process.

Job Description

Non voice process for a very well known telecom process.


Freshers with complete Graduate degree can apply.

Salary: Best in the market
Shift: 24/7 Shits need to be ok with night shifts

6 days working
Cab: Both way cab facilities.

Immediate Joiners only.


Location: Chennai

Kindly send your CV to or send your CV or call on 9782404216(NIMISHA)

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Hiring freshers!! International Voice & Nonvoice Process!! Apply Now...

Firstsource solutions Limited
Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Over 1 month agoFull–time
Job location: OMR Navallur, Chennai Position: CSA Industry: ITES/BPO Category: International Voice & Nonvoice Process Division: Healthcare international Business Shift: Night shift /Flexible to work in any shifts and timings. Key Skills: • Good Communication Skills. • Listening & Comprehension. • Good typing Skills Will be an added advantage. Minimum Eligibility: Only Arts & Science Graduates!! 2021 batch can also apply! Location: 5th floor, 4th block, Bayline Infocity, OMR Rajiv Gandhi Salai, Navalur, near to AGS Bus Stop, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 603103. Direct Walk-in
Walk - in time: 10:30 Am - 12:00 Pm Walk - in date: Monday to Saturday Kindly bring your own lunch and snacks due to pandemic situation. Note: Bring your educational documents, Pan card, Aadhar card (both original and xerox) Contact person: Madhubala - 7305719922 (Call/Whatsapp) Mention reference name(Madhubala) in top of your resume. Kindly share your resume to [Confidential Information]

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Non Voice Process

InfoSearch BPO Services
Chennai, Tamil Nadu

7 days agoFull–time
International - Non Voice Process Roles & Responsibilities : * Provide foundation training to new joiners in the organization. * Ability to maintain current and relevant training materials. * Tracking the performance of the trainees during the training period. * Prepare and maintain a detailed training report for each training batch. * Upgrading the Process content about product to the existing employees. * Report the performance tracker of all employees to the assigned officials on daily, weekly and monthly basis.Job Details : * Experience in handling a team. * Good Communication and Interpersonal Skills. * Ability to understand multiple processes (Voice and Data) * Good knowledge in Excel and Powerpoint. * Assist in developing and implementing training & quality standards and processes to assess people performance

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Back Office Jobs in Chennai Apply Now

Tata Communications
Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Over 1 month ago₹24.3T–₹28.7T a monthFull–time
Back Office Jobs in Chennai Apply Now
Job Responsibilities: Customer Service Executive

Salary: ₹24,300 – ₹28,700 a month

Company: Tata Communications

Location: Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Working hours: 8 Hours

Education requirements: 12th

Roles and Responsibilities:
Document and take accurate action on the Queries.
Perform the back office operations.
Interact with client and provide them the required data.
maintain and handle client information in sheets.
Communicate with our services and clients.
Should clarify customers queries and give an appropriate solution.

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Customer Support executive (Non Voice BPO)

Zealous Services
Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Over 1 month ago₹1L a yearFull–time
Warm Greetings From Zealous Services!!!

We have Immediate requirements for Freshers in BPO Semi Voice Process @ Chennai.

Reference Name : Irfan-HR

Note: Interested candidates can "Walk-in" to the below mentioned address directly and mention your reference as "Irfan-HR" on top of your resume.

Interview Scheduled:

Walk-In Date: Monday To Friday

Walk-In Time: 10.00 AM to 4.00 PM only

Role: Customer Support Executive

Process: US International Non voice (Semi Voice)

Qualification: Any graduation (Arts & Science, Engineering) / Diploma / ITI / Distance Education / Dropouts ( 2017 - 2021 passed outs only)

Age Limit: 18-27 Years.

Working days: 5 Days Working, Saturday and Sunday Fixed Week Off

Please Carry below documents (mandatory):

# Updated Resume Copy.

# Carry an Aadhar Xerox with you.

# Original educational mark lists for verification.

Venue Details:

Zealous Services,

No: 17/7, B Block,Ground Floor,

NRCS Towers, Kodambakkam High Road,

Nungambakkam Chennai-600034.

Landmark: Near to Palm Grove Hotel

Refer to your Friends too!!! Spot Offer: Grab the opportunity Don't miss it

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Fresher Jobs / NON-Voice Opening in HGS
Feb 05, 2022, 11:39 AM
NON-Voice Opening in HGS

HGS - Hinduja Global Solutions
Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Over 1 month agoFull–time
Remote Hiring for freshers in HGS, Chennai-Ambattur(NON-Voice)-(1.68LPA)

Dear Candidate,

Warm Greetings from HGS,Chennai

You can be hired without stepping out,your safety is our priority. Kindly get in touch with us on the below mentioned number.

We will conduct all interview Process through online

Work Location : HGS, One India Bulls Park-Ambattur

Process : US Healthcare (NON-Voice)

Interview Time :9.30 am to 6.30 pm

Interview Days : Monday to Friday only

Open positions : 65
• Arts Science Graduates can only apply (NO BE,B.Tech PG Candidates)
• Graduation is mandatory (2019/2020/2021 passed out only)
• Willing to work in rotational shifts
• Excellent communication skills
• Candidates nearby Guindy would be preferred (20kms radius from office)
• Immediate joiners would be preferred
• Free Transportation ( Pick up drop facility)
• Working days ( Monday to Friday)
• PAN Card E-Aadhar cards are Mandatory

Interested candidates can WhatsApp their resume/call @ 9444644975(Priya HR) 7358374558 (Ilakkiah) , for further round of interview-All interviews will be taken through Telephonic/zoom interviews only.

HR Round

Online Aptitude Test

Final round

Thanks Regards

Sahaya Priyadarashini

Talent Acquisition, HGS


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Accenture Non-Voice Jobs at Chennai for freshers and experience

Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Over 1 month agoFull–time
Accenture Non Voice Jobs at Chennai for freshers and experience.

Accenture offer 100+ non voice jobs in India including cities like Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Gurgaon, Kolkata, Mumbai, etc.

Job Description for Non voice Jobs at Accenture Chennai
• Skill required: Query Management – Service Desk Non-Voice Support
• Designation: Management Level – New Associate
• Job Location: Chennai
• Qualifications: Any Graduation
• Years of Experience: 0-1 years

Chennai Accenture Non-Voice Process Job responsibilities

You could be aligned with our Customer Support vertical and assist us in handling/ resolving customers question, coping with escalations and court cases of the disillusioned clients & giving exceptional resolutions. You will also be liable for final the fault and lawsuits within SLA's. The Query Management group is answerable for the Inbound/Outbound calls and email/chat aid to resolve patron issues. This position is aligned to our Service Desk Non-Voice Support crew that's responsible for recording, diagnosing, troubleshooting, resolving, or assigning incidents and service requests based on a described scope of guide. The crew manages unplanned interruptions to repair regular service operations as quick as viable for non-voice interactions like e mail, internet, and chat.

Roles and Responsibilities
• Non voice jobs in Chennai Accenture include
• You will be given specific instructions on all duties that need to be finished, and the decisions which you make will affect your work
• In this function, you are required to resolve habitual issues, in large part thru precedent and referral to fashionable hints.
• Your number one interaction is within your crew and your direct manager
• You can be operating intently with challenge contributors to effectively deliver at the necessities
• You will want to be properly versed with fundamental records and phrases concerned inside the everyday enterprise and use it whilst discussing with stakeholders
• You will be a person contributor as part of a team with a predetermined cantered scope of work.
• Please observe this role can also require you to work in rotational shifts.


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Hiring For Non voice/ freshers @ chennai contract role


1 day ago₹50T–₹2L a monthWork from homeFull–time
Job description

Dear Candidate,

Greetings from Kelly Services

Excellent job opportunity with MNC


Any freshers can apply

Graduation is a must

Non voice - Backend support Ba Backend, Nonvoice , Data entry ,Freshers ckend, Nonvoice , Data entry ,Freshers

Rotational shift

Location: Chennai

Experience: 0 to 1 year

Salary: 10200 NTH

Contract: 6 months

Interested candidates can share your CV to



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Openings for Non voice process Experienced Sal 3lpa

1 day agoFull–time
Dear Candidate,

Hiring for International Technical Support / Experienced / Rotational Shift / Sal 4.5ctc
• Should be flexible with shifts
• Work from Office
• Technical Support
• Immediate Joining
• Candidates should be residing in Bangalore
• Walk in interview
• Minimum 1 year experience in Technical chat process

Contact HR pooja @ 9538804043

Email Id:

And we are hiring for many other companies and other processes.

Technical Support:(Voice / Non voice)
• Desktop Support
• Troubleshooting
• Java
• IT helpdesk
• Service Desk

Skills Required
• Should be flexible with rotational Shifts
• Good English Communication Skills
• Graduates / Diploma fresher or Experience in BPO (1-4yrs) can apply

Required Candidate profiles

Good Incentives and Night shift allowance

Education: UG, Any Graduate in Any Specialization,

PG :Any Postgraduate in Any Specialization.


Documents Required :
• 10th / 12th / Graduation all semester Marks card
• Aadhaar Card ID proof
• Pan Cad ID

• Previous Companies Offer letter / relieving letter / one month pay slips
• 10th / 12th / Graduation all semester Marks card /PDC/convocation certificate (Mandatory)
• Aadhaar Card ID proof (Mandatory )
• Pan Cad ID (Mandatory )
• Voter ID (Mandatory )
• Passport (Mandatory)

Thanks And Regards

Contact HR Pooja @ 9538804043

Email Id:

Click here
Non Voice Process Jobs in Chennai - A Leading MNC

2 days ago₹10T–₹15T a monthFull–time
Remote Hiring for freshers , Chennai-(NON-Voice)
Dear Candidate,
• You can be hired without stepping out,your safety is our priority. Kindly get in touch with us on the below mentioned number.
• Work Location : CHENNAI
• Arts Science Graduates can only apply (NO BE,B.Tech PG Candidates)
• Graduation is mandatory (2019/2020/2021 passed out only)
• Willing to work in rotational shifts
• Excellent communication skills Immediate joiners would be preferred
• Working days ( Monday to Friday) PAN Card E-Aadhar cards are Mandatory

Click here
India vs West Indies: Virat Kohli-Rohit Sharma Pair 94 Runs Away From Joining Elite List Led By Sachin Tendulkar-Sourav Ganguly Duo

IND vs WI: Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are just 94 runs short of a milestone as a pair ahead of India's ODI series against West Indies starting Sunday


Virat and Rohit are just 94 runs short of a milestone as a pair in ODIs
The duo is eighth in the list of pairs with the highest partnership runs
Virat and Rohit could become the fastest to reach the milestone

Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are just 94 runs short of a milestone as a pair ahead of India's ODI series against West Indies starting Sunday. The duo is eighth in the list of pairs with the highest partnership runs in ODIs with their 4906 runs and needs just 94 runs more to become the eighth pair to complete 5000 partnership runs in the 50-over format. This elite list is led by Team India greats Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, who put together 8227 runs in 176 innings at an average of 47.55 runs.

The pair of Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan is the second set of Indians in the 5000-run list, having scored 5023 runs together in 112 innings at an average of 45.25.

Virat and Rohit, however, will become the fastest to reach the milestone, having scored their 4906 runs in just 81 innings so far, at an incredible average of 64.55 runs.

All other pairs in the 5000-run partnership list have taken more than 100 innings to reach the milestone.

Rohit, who recently took over from Kohli as India's full-time white-ball captain, is the only batter apart from Sri Lanka great Kumar Sangakkara to be in the 5000-run partnership list.

Sangakkara had put up 5992 runs alongside Mahela Jayawardene and 5475 runs with Tillakaratne Dilshan.

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India take on West Indies in a three-match ODI series to be played in Ahmedabad on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.

The Indian team will look to bounce back from the 0-3 loss to South Africa in a three-match ODI series away from home. Rohit had missed that series as he was recovering from an injury.

Strong Tremors Felt In Delhi, Noida, J&K After Earthquake In Afghanistan

New Delhi: Tremors were felt in Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and nearby cities this morning after a magnitude 5.7 earthquake with its epicentre in the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border region was reported.
Some residents in Uttar Pradesh's Noida tweeted the ground shook for at least 20 seconds. People in Delhi also tweeted they felt the tremor.

"I thought my head is spinning and started to shut my eyes when suddenly I looked at the fan and realised it's an earthquake. Strong tremors felt for about 25-30 seconds in Noida," Shashank Singh, a resident of the city neighbouring Delhi, tweeted.

The National Centre for Seismology tweeted the earthquake of magnitude 5.7 occurred at 9:45 am at the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border region. The depth of the earthquake was 181 km, it said.

Earthquake of Magnitude:5.7, Occurred on 05-02-2022, 09:45:59 IST, Lat: 36.340 & Long: 71.05, Depth: 181 Km ,Location: Afghanistan-Tajikistan Border Region, for more information download the BhooKamp App

— National Center for Seismology (@NCS_Earthquake) February 5, 2022

There are no reports of property damage, injuries or deaths.

Snap is finally profitable

Nearly five years after going public, Snap is finally profitable. The company shared the milestone in its fourth-quarter earnings release, where it reported $23 million in positive net income.

That may be a tiny percentage of its $4.1 billion in quarterly revenue, but it's an important step for the company which has at times struggled with user growth. But those challenges appear to be firmly behind Snapchat, as daily active users climbed to 319 million, an increase of 13 million for the second quarter in a row. DAUs were up 20 percent overall in 2021.

The news for shareholders was particularly welcome as Snap's results came a day after Meta reported that Facebook's daily active users had declined for the first time in its history. The resulting stock slide wiped more than $200 billion off the company's market cap. Meanwhile, Snap's stock shot up more than 50 percent in after-hours trading, fueled by news of its profitability and continued user growth.

Snap, like Facebook, has said in the past that Apple's privacy changes had negatively impacted its advertising business, with CEO Evan Spiegel calling it a "frustrating setback" last quarter. But it now seems Snap is navigating those changes a bit more easily. During a call with analysts Thursday, CFO Derek Andersen credited Snapchat's privacy-centric approach.

"We built our business with privacy by design at the core of our products, including our advertising platform," he said. "As a result, the impacts of the changes that we've seen on the iOS platform are likely to be experienced differently for business than perhaps for others." He added that the company was still "very early in the journey."

Spiegel also reflected on how the pandemic has changed Snapchat users' behavior. "We are seeing people post fewer Stories to their friends, view fewer Stories from their friends," Spiegel said. "But at the same time we've seen folks watching more premium content, watching more content in Spotlight."

Spotlight is Snapchat's TikTok-like feature for short-form video. Spiegel credited the feature with helping grow Snapchat's creator community, with more than 12,000 creators receiving payouts from Spotlight in the feature's first year. "Today we see three times as many monthly posts per creator than we did when Spotlight launched a year ago," he said.

Questioning Integrity Of Board Painful: BharatPe On Co-Founder's Accusations

New Delhi: With Bharatpe co-founder Ashneer Grover launching an offensive against the firm's investors after facing a probe over alleged fraud, abrasive behaviour and corporate governance issues, the company on Friday said questioning the integrity of board members and misrepresentation of facts are painful.
"The (company) board in all its actions has followed due process in the best interest of the company. We would urge that the confidentiality and integrity of the governance review and board meetings are maintained by all," BharatPe said in a statement.

The statement followed Ashneer Grover, sent on a three-month leave following allegations of using abusive language against Kotak Mahindra Bank staff and for fraudulent practices, reportedly saying he was "arm-twisted" by the company's investors into going on leave and that he had lost confidence in CEO Sameer Suhail.

While BharatPe has engaged Alvarez and Marsal and PwC to run a fine-tooth comb through its governance practices, Mr Grover has denied all allegations.

"We are deeply pained that the integrity of the BharatPe board or individual board members is being questioned time and again through misrepresented facts and baseless allegations," BharatPe said in the statement.

It requested restraint from everyone including media "and allow the governance review to take place in a thorough manner."

Reports claim that a preliminary investigation by an external specialist has highlighted two egregious instances of fraud at BharatPe - recruitment and paying non-existent vendors - and that Mr Grover's wife Madhuri is linked to both.

The company, however, said it is yet to receive any report.

"The board is yet to receive any interim or final report of the review," it added.

Ashneer Grover in media interviews reportedly stated that the current CEO Suhail Sameer does not have his support and that he is the "investors' puppet".

He has reportedly stated that he will leave the company only if an investor buys out his 9.5 per cent stake for ₹ 4,000 crore.

BharatPe, which serves over 75 lakh merchants across 150 cities, was better known for its QR code aggregator app, service, and surprise bank licence until an audio clip surfaced on social media with claims of Mr Grover abusing and threatening a Kotak Mahindra Bank employee for missing out on share allotment during the initial public offer of FSN E-Commerce Ventures, which operates online fashion and wellness company Nykaa.

Mr Grover was quick to deny the clip, saying it was "fake" and was put out by a "scamster" but he subsequently deleted the post. It later emerged that he and his wife Madhuri Grover had on October 31, 2021, sent a legal notice to Kotak for failure to provide IPO financing for the Nykaa IPO.

On January 9, the Mumbai-based lender had responded saying it will take legal action against Ashneer Grover.

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iPhone SE 3, New iPad Said to Launch During Apple Event in March

iPhone SE 3, an update to Apple's iPhone SE (2020) featuring 5G capability, is likely to launch on or near March 8 during a new Apple event along with a new iPad, Bloomberg News reported on Friday, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

According to the report, the new iPhone will be the first update to the iPhone SE model in two years and will feature 5G network capabilities, an improved camera and a faster processor.

Apple in October announced two new MacBook Pro models that run on more powerful in-house chips.

With the expected launch still more than a month away, Apple's plans may change in the face of production delays or other changes, the report added.

The company did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Cupertino, California-based Apple is overcoming the costly global shortage in computer chips and posted record sales over the holiday quarter in January, beating profit estimates and forecasting that its shortfall is narrowing.

On the subject of a new iPhone SE coming, a recent had claimed that Apple has imported three new iPhone models — A2595, A2783, and A2784 — in India along with two new iPad models — A2588 and A2589 — that it plans to launch at its Spring Launch event later this year. iPhone SE 3 will have a price of around $300 (roughly Rs. 22,500) while the tablets will be priced between $500 (roughly Rs. 37,400) and $700 (roughly Rs. 52,400), according to the report.

iPhone SE 3 is speculated feature a design similar to the older iPhone SE (2020) but with 5G connectivity, Apple's A15 Bionic chip and 3GB of RAM.

Will Oppo Reno 7 Pro 5G, Reno 7 5G Face the Heat From Their Homegrown Contenders?

Oppo Reno 7 Pro 5G and Reno 7 5G have debuted in India as the company's latest models in the Reno series. Both new Oppo Reno phones come with a fresh list of features to attract smartphone buyers. The Reno 7 Pro 5G is also designed as a flagship model by the Chinese company to offer specifications including the top-of-the-line MediaTek Dimensity SoC, high-end primary camera, and a thin design. Similarly, the Reno 7 5G is aimed to appeal to people looking for a new phone under the Rs. 30,000 price segment.

On this week's episode of Gadgets 360 podcast Orbital, host Akhil Arora speaks with Deputy Reviews Editor Roydon Cerejo and Senior Reviewer Aditya Shenoy to understand what all are the USPs of the Oppo Reno 7 Pro 5G and Oppo Reno 7 5G.

Oppo 7 Pro 5G price in India is set at Rs. 39,999, while the Reno 7 5G comes with a price tag of Rs. 28,999.

Although the design of the new Oppo phones appears fresh at first glance, Oppo has actually gone for a role reversal and used the same design aesthetic for the Reno 7 Pro 5G as the Reno 6 from last year. And vice versa. The Reno 7 5G's design is similar to what we had on the Reno 6 Pro a few months back.

Nevertheless, Oppo has claimed that it has used a Laser Direct Imaging (LDI) technology for designing the exterior of both new phones. This brings angular micro scratches on the entire back glass to reduce fingerprints and smudges.

The hardware of the Reno 7 series is also different from last year's models. The Reno 7 Pro 5G comes with the MediaTek Dimensity 1200-Max SoC that is a custom-designed version of the original Dimensity 1200 SoC. Oppo claims that the new chip comes with AI Deblur and AI-PQ algorithms to deliver a distinct media experience. The former is designed to reduce blur in images captured using the selfie camera, while the latter is claimed to help improve HDR video content when playing back on the phone.

Apart from the chipset, the Reno 7 Pro 5G includes 12GB of RAM and 256GB of onboard storage as the standard option. This combination brings ample space for multitasking and storing content on the device.

However, the Reno 7 Pro 5G lacks features including an Ingress Protection (IP) rating for dust or water, wireless charging, and even a higher refresh rate of 120Hz. All this makes it an inferior choice when you put it against the competition: the likes of Xiaomi 11T Pro, Realme GT, OnePlus 9RT, and the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G.

Similar to the Reno 7 Pro 5G, the Reno 7 5G has a MediaTek SoC — the MediaTek Dimensity 900 to be precise. The phone also comes with a 90Hz display — just like the Reno 7 Pro 5G — but in a slightly smaller size over the flagship model. The Reno 7 5G also lacks the features that would make it a compelling contender, including a higher refresh rate.

The Reno 7 5G seems to face a tough fight from models including the Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge, Vivo V23, and the OnePlus Nord 2.

Mukesh Ambani's New Rolls-Royce SUV One Of India's Most Expensive Cars

Mumbai: Reliance Industries (RIL), headed by the richest Indian Mukesh Ambani, has bought an ultra-luxury Rolls Royce hatchback that costs a whopping ₹ 13.14 crore.
If Regional Transport Office (RTO) officials are to be believed, it is one of the most expensive car purchases ever in the country.

The car, a Rolls Royce Cullinan petrol model, was registered by RIL at the Tardeo Regional Transport Office in South Mumbai on January 31, officials said.

The base price of the car, when first launched in 2018, was ₹ 6.95 crore, but auto industry experts said customized modifications would have raised the price substantially.

The company has opted for the "Tuscan Sun" colour for the 12-cylinder car weighing over 2.5 tonnes and producing 564 BHP power, and also obtained a special number plate, the RTO officials said.

A one-time tax of ₹ 20 lakh has been paid by RIL for the car whose registration is valid till January 30, 2037, and another ₹ 40,000 has been paid towards road safety tax.

This could even be the most expensive car purchased in India, said one RTO official.

RIL has also paid ₹ 12 lakh for a VIP number for its chairman and managing director's new car. The number ends with "0001", officials said.

Usually, a VIP number costs ₹ 4 lakh, but since the chosen number in the current series was already taken, a new series had to be started, they said.

With written permission from the Transport Commissioner, RTO offices can start a new series for assigning registration mark 0001 for which the applicant has to shell out three times the fee specified for a regular number, they added.

Rolls Royce Cullinan was launched in India in 2018 as a hatchback capable of taking both paved and rough roads, and this will be a third Cullinan model in the Ambani/RIL garage.

Some other industrialists and Bollywood celebrities also drive the same model.

Cullinan is the first all-terrain SUV from Rolls-Royce's stable, as per the British manufacturer's website.

RIL has several high-end luxury cars in its garage. A few years ago, it had procured one of the most sophisticated armoured vehicles for Mukesh Ambani and his wife Nita Ambani.

The company has also given a BMW for the police personnel deployed for the security of the Ambani family besides the latest high-end Morris Garage cars of the Gloster model.

'Pokémon Legends Arceus' sells 6.5 million copies worldwide in seven days

Pokémon Legends: Arceus has sold 6.5 million copies after just one week on sale, making it one of the fastest-selling Switch games yet, Nintendo announced. If the official figures hold up, the game will have outsold both Pokémon Sword and Shield and Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, both of which sold 6 million copies in the first week.

That could make Arceus the second-fastest selling Switch title of all time, a big win for an "experimental" game with a far different look and gameplay than mainline Pokémon titles. It doesn't seem likely to catch Animal Cross: New Horizons, however, which sold 11.77 million copies in just 11 days.

As we've detailed before, Pokémon Legends: Arceus is an open-world action RPG set in the Sinnoh region long before the events of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl and their remakes. The aim of the game is to create the region's first-ever Pokédex, so you need to carry out research tasks to learn more about each Pokémon. The game has generally received decent review scores, and given that it's part of one of the biggest media franchises on the planet, its success is not a huge surprise.


Blizzard confirms 'Warcraft' is coming to mobile this year

In its press release for its fourth quarter 2021 financial results, Activision Blizzard has revealed that it has plans to release Warcraft for mobile sometime this year. Company CEO Bobby Kotick told investors a year ago that the developer made "multiple, mobile, free-to-play Warcraft experiences" that were already in advanced development back then. Blizzard has yet to reveal more detailed information about the games and a more concrete timeline, so it's unclear if its release plans include all those experiences or just few.

The only part of the company's earnings results that mentions the franchise on mobile reads:

"Blizzard is planning substantial new content for the Warcraft franchise in 2022, including new experiences in World of Warcraft and Hearthstone, and getting all-new mobile Warcraft content into players' hands for the first time."

There have been rumors about a Warcraft mobile game since at least 2017. In 2018, reports came out that Blizzard was working on a mobile entry for the franchise that will be similar to Pokémon Go, which presumably means that it's an augmented reality title. According to a Kotaku report, it was being developed by an "incubation" team that was formed when co-founder Allen Adham returned to the company 2016. The team was also behind mobile game Diablo Immortal that's coming out this year, as well.

Apple Watch Series 7 models are up to $60 off at Amazon

Worthwhile Apple Watch deals can be hard to come by, and even more difficult if you're set on a specific size and color. Amazon has a slew of sales going on right now, some of which knock up to $60 off Series 7 models. The 45mm GPS Series 7 in midnight has that precise discount, bringing it down to a record low of $370. Numerous colors of the 41mm GPS Series 7 are down to $350, which is $50 less than usual and only $10 more than the all-time-low price. Finally, those that want cellular connectivity can get it by opting for the 41mm GPS + Cellular Watch, which is $50 off and down to $449 in a bunch of colors.

This is the latest flagship wearable from Apple and we gave it a score of 90 when it came out last October. If you're familiar with the Apple Watch, you'll notice that there's nothing starkly different about the Series 7 in its design. The biggest thing is its larger display, which is 20 percent bigger than that of the Series 6. Apple whittled down the bezels to only 1.7mm, so you'll get a bit more screen area to play with and you may even notice that text on the Watch is easier to read on the Series 7 because of this.

Other noteworthy changes are all under the hood. The Series 7 has a new SiP and performs just as well as the Series 6 did, plus it supports faster charging. The new charging pad that comes with the Series 7 helps it power up 10 percent in 10 minutes, and we reached 100 percent in under an hour of charging in our testing. This will come in handy if you plan on using the Watch to track sleep overnight and need more juice in the morning before heading out for the day.

Apple didn't reinvent its Watch with the Series 7, but thanks to those small hardware features and improvements made in watchOS 8, it'll feel like an upgrade for anyone coming from an older Watch. And if you're new to the Apple Watch, the Series 7 is the model to get if you want all of the features watchOS has to offer. If your budget is tight and you're willing to sacrifice some features, namely an always-on display and an ECG sensor, the Apple Watch SE could do the trick and it's also on sale for $249 right now.

'Ghostwire: Tokyo' is a creepy and quirky paranormal adventure

The magic in Ghostwire: Tokyo is fat and tangible, glowing between Akito's palms and streaming from his fingertips in sturdy golden ropes, binding enemies to one another before exploding them into pieces. From a first-person perspective, Akito rapidly contorts his hands into a series of precise shapes, forming orbs of elemental energy and supernatural strings before unleashing their power on the ghosts and demons sauntering along the streets of Tokyo. Magic isn't the only weapon at Akito's disposal, but it's certainly the most stylish one.

Developers at Tango Gameworks, the studio founded by Resident Evil and Devil May Cry veteran Shinji Mikami, shared a video on Thursday demonstrating the basic gameplay mechanics of Ghostwire: Tokyo, but they also held a private briefing for press where they showed off about 30 minutes of additional beta footage. The private demo focused on world-building, battle strategies and the mind-melting Utena Spaces that turn some buildings into time-sensitive psychedelic death traps.

In Ghostwire: Tokyo, a mysterious fog rolls through the city and devours everyone it touches, trapping their souls in the process, until Tokyo is deserted. Hordes of well-dressed demonic creatures move in, taking the place of the living. Akito is a young man who wakes up in the center of the chaos with a voice named KK inside his head and supernatural powers in his veins, and he begins his mission to save his sister and take back the city.

With a realistic Tokyo as its backdrop, Ghostwire feels like a first-person, paranormal Yakuza. Among the neon signs and abandoned cars, the streets are packed with enemies that resemble Slenderman, floaty tissue-paper ghosts, headless schoolgirls and areas of corruption that Akito needs to cleanse. He travels around the city on foot, but he also has a Tengu ability that allows him to latch onto flying creatures and scale skyscrapers in a single grab.

Ghostwire: Tokyo uses an upgrade system based on soul power, using the spirits Akito saves throughout the city to make his magic hit harder. There's also the shop, which is housed in a small convenience store and operated by a happy, floating cat (whose name is probably definitely not Garfield). Here, Akito can purchase food for health and other perks, or he can just hang out with an entrepreneurial feline for a while.

The newest bit of the press preview is contained to a single, multistory apartment building. After completing a task in one of the rooms, the world around Akito transforms into a trippy house of horrors, with black goo sliding down the walls and an oil-slick barrier keeping him trapped inside the building. A timer begins ticking down in the upper lefthand corner of the screen, offering Akito less than 10 minutes to clear the distortion before it kills him.

The building around Akito flips upside and sideways as he walks through its halls — the walls, floor and ceiling are covered in amoeba-like textures, then they shift to show a city drenched in static, and then they're dotted with black blobs crawling like cockroaches. This section is reminiscent of the Ashtray Maze in Control, with PT vibes and goo styling by Devil May Cry. In the hands-off press demo, Akito finds the sources of the distortion and destroys them with four minutes left on his timer, leaving him free to explore more.

What to expect from Samsung's Unpacked event

In a few short days, Samsung will host its first Unpacked of 2022. While the company is sure to stage many more events throughout the year (too many, if you ask us), the first one is always the most exciting. That's because it's usually where Samsung has announced the next iteration of its flagship Galaxy S line, and Wednesday's Unpacked promises to be no different. On February 9th, the company is expected to unveil the Galaxy S22. No surprise there, but there could be more to that announcement than you might anticipate. Let's break down everything we expect to see from the company later this week.

Much like it did in 2021, Samsung is expected to launch a trio of new Galaxy S phones. As you'll see in a few moments, the S22 Ultra is likely to be a significant departure from its predecessor. But as for the S22 and S22+, the expectation is that they'll be more iterative updates.

Prerelease reports suggest they'll feature a similar design with the same "Contour Cut" rear camera housing that you'll find on the Galaxy S21 and its Fan Edition offshoot. As far as upgrades go, most leaks point to the Galaxy S22 featuring a new glass back and both phones coming with 50-megapixel main cameras. More interesting is what could be inside the phones.

As it's done in years past, Samsung is expected to source two different chipsets for the Galaxy S line in 2022. In North America, the phone will likely feature the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. That would make it one of the first phones to bring Qualcomm's latest flagship SoC to the US and Canada. Meanwhile, in Europe and other parts of the world, the S22 will almost certainly come with Samsung's own Exynos 2200.

Announced in January, the 4nm chip features an "Xclipse" GPU powered by AMD's RDNA 2 architecture. In practice, what makes the Exynos 2200 noteworthy is that Samsung claims it's capable of ray tracing. Early benchmarks suggest the Exynos 2200 could also be faster than its Qualcomm counterpart. All of that would make the potential differences between the North American and European versions of the Galaxy S22 more notable than in years past.

Whoever said S22 series was to be cheaper, didn't think of Covid, parts shortages and inflation.

Actual official EURO prices:
S22 8/128GB = 849
S22 8/256GB = 899
S22+ 8/128GB = 1049
S22+ 8/256GB = 1099
S22 Ultra 8/128GB = 1249
S22 Ultra 12/256GB = 1349
S22 Ultra 12/512GB = 1449

— Roland Quandt (@rquandt) January 22, 2022

What we're less clear on is how Samsung plans to price the Galaxy S22. In a recent tweet, WinFuture's Roland Quandt said the base model S22 and S22+, both with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, would start at €849 and €1049, respectively. Those prices suggest the company won't charge more for the S22 and S22+ than it did for the S21 and S21+. However, a separate leak from earlier in the month suggested every model in the S22 line could cost $100 more than its S21 counterpart. We'll have until the 9th to get a better sense of those details.

The free trial of Apple Music was quietly reduced to a single month

Since its debut in 2015, Apple Music has offered one of the more generous free trial periods in the streaming industry. As a first-time subscriber, you could use the platform to listen to music for free for up to three months before the company asked you to start paying. That's no longer the case.

In a change spotted by Japanese blog Mac Otakara and subsequently reported by MacRumors, Apple now offers a shorter one-month free trial in many countries where the service is available, including the US, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and Japan. You can already see the change reflected on the Apple Music website. "One month free, then $9.99 per month," the US portal says when you visit.

At the moment, Apple Music pricing remains the same, with the $5 per month Voice Plan as the most affordable way to access the platform's library of tracks. The change broadly aligns Apple with competitors like Spotify, which, outside of promos, typically offer one-month free trials to new subscribers.

While we'll likely never know Apple's official reason for shortening the trial, there's a good chance the decision came down to simple economics. When the company first came out with Apple Music, it didn't pay royalties for tracks users streamed during their free trial period. Apple later famously changed that policy after Taylor Swift published a letter criticizing the company. By shortening the trial period, the company can more quickly recoup the costs of attracting new subscribers to the platform.

The Pixel 6's Magic Eraser tool is causing the Google Photos app to crash

The Magic Eraser feature on Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro is a handy tool that does a solid job of removing unwanted objects or people from photos. However, users are experiencing a bug that crashes the Google Photos app when they use it.

Folks have flagged the issue on Reddit and Twitter. As Android Police notes, some have tried clearing the Google Photos cache and restarting their handset, but that doesn't seem to resolve things.

Users have experienced other issues with Magic Eraser and Google Photos. An app update in November accidentally removed the feature, but Google swiftly remedied that. Engadget has asked Google when users can expect a fix for the latest problem.

Magic Eraser was touted as one of the most compelling new features in the Pixel 6 lineup and it certainly didn't hurt device sales. Google parent Alphabet said in its earnings report this week that it set an all-time quarterly sales record for Pixel in the last three months of 2021 even in the face of ongoing supply chain issues.

Apple will reportedly hold its next hardware event in early March

Apple will host its next hardware event sometime on or around March 8th, according to Bloomberg. At the event, the company will reportedly announce the third-generation iPhone SE, a refresh of the 2020 iPad Air and a new Mac computer that will feature an Apple Silicon chip. The date aligns with the March to April timeframe Bloomberg's Mark Gurman previously said Apple had set for the SE's debut but warned potential production delays could force the company to change its plans.

As before, the new phone will reportedly feature a 5G modem, a first for the SE line. It's also expected to include a faster processor and a better camera. However, it will retain the iPhone 8-era design of the current model. As for the new iPad Air, it too will get a processor refresh and the addition of 5G connectivity. Bloomberg didn't say much about the new Mac that Apple may announce at the same event, but most recent reports point to the company unveiling a new 27-inch iMac Pro model.

If the idea of a new iPhone SE isn't too exciting for you, the good news is Bloomberg reports Apple also plans to release iOS 15.4 sometime in the first half of March. Among other enhancements, the update is expected to add a feature that will allow you to unlock your iPhone with Face ID even while wearing a mask.

Realme 9 Pro, Realme 9 Pro+ Unboxing Video Surfaces Ahead of Launch; Key Specifications Tipped

Realme 9 Pro and Realme 9 Pro+ have been leaked in an unboxing video ahead of their launch in India. Apart from the design, the video also reveals the key specifications of the smartphones as well as gives a glimpse at the in-box contents. The video also shows the Realme 9 Pro+ 'Light Shift' colour-changing back panel as teased by the Chinese company, and the phone's optical under-display fingerprint sensor that can measure the heart rate of the user. Both the Realme phones will be launched in India on February 16.

The video has been released by a Toronto, Canada-based YouTube channel called The Box. You can watch the video below.

Realme 9 Pro and Realme 9 Pro+ specifications
Some key specifications of Realme 9 Pro and Realme 9 Pro+ were teased by the dedicated microsite on Realme India website. This includes the information regarding the triple rear cameras of the phones and the Light Shift Design on the back panel that will change colours in sunlight.

The webpage reveals that Realme 9 Pro+ will have a 50-megapixel Sony IMX766 primary sensor with optical image stabilisation (OIS) and will be powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 920 SoC. It is tipped to come with 60W SuperDart Charge fast charging, Super AMOLED display, under-display fingerprint sensor, and NFC support.

Realme 9 Pro will sport a 64-megapixel Nightscape primary camera, Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 SoC under the hood, and a 120Hz display. The phone is also teased to have a 5,000mAh battery with 33W Dart Charge fast charging and NFC support.

The presenter in the video reveals the same specifications as well as provides a few more details. He says that the Realme 9 Pro+ is lighter and is more comfortable to hold than the Realme 9 Pro owing to a smaller screen size. They both have a similar rear camera design and Light Shift back panel. Although the phones have different primary sensors, they both have an 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The presenter also says that the Realme handsets will be available in multiple colour options, as previously reported. The boxes of both Realme smartphones have a clear case, 60W Dart Charge power bricks as well as a USB Type-C cable.

The differences between Realme 9 Pro+ and Realme 9 Pro are in the camera department mentioned above, display technology, fingerprint sensor and battery. While the Realme 9 Pro+ gets an AMOLED panel with 90Hz refresh rate, the Realme 9 Pro comes with a 120Hz LCD display. There are dual speakers on the Pro+ model, and a single speaker on the Pro variant, the presenter shows.

The presenter says that Realme 9 Pro+ comes with a 4,500 mAh battery with 60W fast charging support, and the Realme 9 Pro is teased to pack a 5,000mAh battery with 33W fast charging. In terms of biometric security, the Pro+ will come with an under-display optical fingerprint sensor that can also measure heart rate, which was previously tipped in a report. The Pro model is said to come with a side-mounted fingerprint sensor.

Furthermore, the Realme 9 Pro+ is tipped to come with two SIM slots but the Realme 9 Pro will get a single and a hybrid SIM slot which can be used to expand storage via microSD card. Both the phones have a 3.5mm headphone port, USB Type-C port for charging and run Android 12-based Realme UI.

Oppo Watch Free With Up to 14 Days of Battery Life Launched in India; Oppo Enco M32 Get Green Colour Option

Oppo Watch Free was launched in India today (Friday, February 4) alongside the Reno 7 5G and Reno 7 Pro 5G smartphones. The new Oppo smartwatch comes with 14 days of battery life and is equipped with an AMOLED display. It also carries fast charging support that is rated to deliver a day's battery life in just five minutes of charge. Alongside the Oppo Watch Free, the Chinese company has brought the Oppo Enco M32 in a new Green colour option. The neckband-style wireless earphones were originally launched in India in Black last month.

Oppo Watch Free price in India
Oppo Watch Free price in India has been set at Rs. 5,999. The smartwatch comes in a single Black colour option. The company is yet to reveal the sale date of the Oppo Watch Free.

The Oppo Watch Free first launched in China in September last year with a price tag of CNY 549 (roughly Rs. 6,400).

In addition to the Oppo Watch Free, the Oppo Enco M32 in Green colour will be available starting February 9 at an introductory price of Rs. 1,499 — a Rs. 300 discount from its retail price of Rs. 1,799 — from February 9 to 11.

Oppo Watch Free specifications
The Oppo Watch Free is a smartwatch featuring a 1.64-inch (280x456 pixels) AMOLED display with touch support and DCI-P3 colour gamut support. The display is also protected by a 2.5D curved glass. Oppo Watch Free comes with Bluetooth v5.0 connectivity and is designed to connect with devices running on Android 6.0/ iOS 10.0 or above.

On the part of fitness tracking, Oppo Watch Free has more than 100 sports modes, including badminton, cricket, and skiing among various others. The smartwatch also has a heart rate sensor and is said to be capable of measuring blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) levels. Additionally, there are features to monitor sleep and snoring. The watch also provides sedentary reminders.

Vivo T1 5G Price in India, Specifications Leak; Snapdragon 695 SoC, 50-Megapixel Triple Cameras Tipped

Vivo T1 5G price in India and specifications have been tipped ahead of the phone's debut in the country. As per the leaked information, the smartphone will come with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 SoC under the hood and sport a triple rear camera setup. This is different from what the Chinese variant has to offer. In fact, the Indian variant could be a completely different handset when compared with the one that was launched in China. Vivo T1 5G will be launched in India on February 9.

Vivo T1 5G price in India (leaked)
Without revealing the exact price, tipster Yogesh Brar tweeted that Vivo T1 5G will be priced under Rs. 20,000. The smartphone was launched alongside Vivo T1x in China in October last year. Its price starts from CNY 2,199 (roughly Rs. 25,800) for the base 8GB + 128GB storage variant.

Vivo T1 5G specifications (leaked)
Vivo T1 5G Indian variant is claimed to come with a 6.58-inch full-HD+ LCD display with a 120Hz refresh rate. Under the hood, the smartphone is said to be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 SoC paired with up to 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM. It is also said to be offered with 4GB and 6GB RAM options with 128GB of UFS 2.2 storage. In comparison, the Chinese variant of the Vivo T1 5G sports a 6.67-inch display. It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G SoC paired with up to 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and up to 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage.

For photography, the Vivo T1 5G is tipped to feature a 50-megapixel primary sensor, and two 2-megapixel cameras. For selfies, the phone is expected to come with a 16-megapixel front camera. The Chinese variant, however, carries a triple rear camera setup that houses a 64-megapixel primary sensor with an f/1.79 lens along with an 8-megapixel ultra-wide shooter and a 2-megapixel macro shooter. The front camera is said to be the same as the Chinese version.

Furthermore, the Indian variant of the Vivo T1 5G is tipped to pack a 5,000mAh battery with support for 18W charging. There is said to be a side-mounted fingerprint sensor as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack. The Chinese variant gets the same 5,000mAh battery but with 44W fast charging support and also offers a 3.5mm headphone port.

Oben Rorr Electric Bike Debuts With 200km Range, Launch Next Month

Foraying into the Indian EV space is yet another homegrown startup, called Oben Electric, based out of Bengaluru, as it revealed its upcoming Oben Rorr electric bike, set to debut in the Indian market next month while deliveries will commence from Q2' 2022. The Oben Rorr electric bike claims a top speed of 100kmph and a range of 200km from its class-leading battery pack. Additionally, the company said the price bracket for the new Oben Rorr electric bike will be competitive and range between ₹ 1 lakh – ₹ 1.50 lakh.

The new Oben Rorr electric bike is said to be a high-speed electric motorcycle, with a claimed 3-second sprint to 40kmph from zero. Additionally, the company also revealed that the new Oben Rorr electric bike will have a charge time of 2 hours from a fast charger. The company, however, did not reveal any other details regarding its charging capability. Nevertheless, the Oben Rorr electric bike will feature a fixed battery pack and not a swappable system, meaning it could impact on conveniently charging it at home, offered by a few other electric two-wheeler makers.

Besides, the company also revealed its plan to reveal 3-4 new products, which will be spawned from the Oben Rorr electric bike. These new electric motorcycles will cater to different segments and would be introduced over the span of the next two years. However, without divulging much information, the company said it plans on installing its own charging stations across India, most likely developed by strategic partnerships with established players. The company also plans to set up its own dealership & service network, but the details are undisclosed for now.

Suzuki Motor And IIT Hyderabad Partner To Develop New Innovation Centre

IIT Hyderabad and Suzuki Motor Corporation have joined hands to start a new innovation centre for knowledge exchange. Both parties have signed a three-year contract to start Suzuki Innovation Centre (SIC) with the vision of "creating innovations for India and Japan" by way of providing a platform for exchange of knowledge between the two organizations. SIC will function as a new platform for open innovation among Industries, Academia, and Start ups. The new centre will also support skill development and exchange of human resources between India and Japan.

Speaking on this initiative, Prof. B S Murty, Director of IITH said "It is a result of cumulative success stories between Suzuki Motor Corporation and IITH over the years. The philosophy of this program is to create inclusive value for the Indian and Japanese societies. IITH will work closely with Suzuki Motor Corporation and other upcoming stakeholders to identify and address broad challenges on and beyond mobility, in India and Japan, on top of the synergistic combination of technology and design. The Centre is also a testament to the leaders we are producing at our campus. Very young & dynamic alumni of IITH: Vipul Nath Jindal and Prathyusha Thammineni, who have led the whole initiative from ground-up."

The detailed activities in Suzuki Innovation Centre are planned to be publicly launched in the second quarter this year. SIC will play an important role in strengthening the India-Japan relationship and is another milestone for IITH. As a part of this initiative, IITH has offered the necessary support for the Centre within the Technology Research Park.

India Rejects Elon Musk's Calls For Tax Breaks In Fresh Blow

India turned down a demand of Elon Musk's Tesla Inc. for tax breaks to import electric cars, saying rules already allow bringing in partially-built vehicles and assembling them locally at a lower levy.
"We looked at whether the duties need to be re-jigged, but some domestic production is happening and some investments have come in with the current tariff structure," Vivek Johri, chairman of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, said in an interview Thursday. "So, it is clear that this is not a hindrance."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration has encouraged Tesla to produce locally, while Musk wants India to lower taxes -- as high as 100% on imported EVs -- to enable the company to first sell vehicles built elsewhere at competitive prices. However, it levies import duties of between 15-30% on parts shipped for assembly in the nation.

Tesla has yet to present a plan for local manufacturing and procurement from India, even after the government asked for it, Johri said. The federal budget earlier this week didn't mention any tax breaks for cleaner but imported vehicles, even though the western state of Maharashtra -- home to financial capital Mumbai -- publicly backed Tesla's demands.

Politicians from at least five Indian states have invited Tesla to set up shop in their provinces after Musk said last month the U.S. electric-vehicle pioneer was still facing a lot of challenges with the federal government. India has asked Tesla to consider importing so-called knocked-down units or partially built vehicles, which attract a lower import levy, instead of fully-built units.

Tesla should follow the lead of domestic companies like Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. and Tata Motors Ltd., which are investing in building local capacity for electric vehicles, Johri said. "There are others importing completely built units. That route is open," he said.

Tesla is also up against the likes of Mercedes-Benz, which will roll out a locally assembled EQS -- the electric version of its flagship S-Class sedan -- in India by the fourth quarter of this year. Indian roads are still dominated by cheap, petrol- and diesel-powered cars made by the local units of Hyundai Motor Co. and Suzuki Motor Corp, with electric vehicles accounting for less than 1% of total sales, underscoring a huge opportunity for EV-makers in the world's second-most populous nation.

Tesla first disclosed definite intent of entering India as early as 2019, but Musk said local rules prohibit him from testing the waters first with imports, as high duties make Tesla cars "unaffordable." In October, an Indian minister said he had asked Tesla to avoid selling China-made cars in the country, and urged the automaker to manufacture, sell and export vehicles from a local factory.

"Some investment has already come in with the current tariff structure. So why can't others also come in?" Johri said. "There are other foreign brands also which are being sold in the country with the current tariff structure."

Samsung Galaxy A53 Images, Specifications Tipped; India Support Page Hints at Upcoming Launch

Samsung Galaxy A53's alleged images have been leaked showing the design of the smartphone. The specifications and colour options of the rumoured handset have also been shared online. Meanwhile, Samsung Galaxy A53, along with Galaxy A33, has reportedly been listed on the company's India website. A report also says that another Galaxy A-series phone, Samsung Galaxy A73 5G, has been spotted on the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) certification website. These listings suggest that Samsung is planning to launch a series of mid-range smartphones in India.

The images said to be of Samsung Galaxy A53 come from German website The publication has also shared colour options as well as specifications of the Samsung Galaxy A53 smartphone. As per the report, the Samsung smartphone will be available in Black and White colours. Its design is tipped to be similar to its predecessor, Galaxy A52, "except (for) a modernised design language around the camera module" (translated). It will have a centrally-aligned hole-punch cutout for the selfie camera and a quad rear camera setup on the back. The images show that the phone will have power and volume buttons on the right spine.

Samsung Galaxy A53 specifications (rumoured)
The Samsung Galaxy A53 is claimed to come with a full-HD (1,080x2,400 pixels) 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display with a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz. The smartphone is tipped to be powered by a Samsung Exynos 1200 SoC, paired with either 6GB or 8GB of RAM. As per the report, the phone may get at least 128GB storage, which could be expanded up to 1TB via a microSD card slot.

For photography, the rumoured Samsung Galaxy A53 is said to sport a 64-megapixel primary sensor, a 12-megapixel sensor paired with ultra-wide-angle lens, and two 5-megapixel depth and macro cameras. There will be a 32-megapixel front camera for selfies and video calling, the report said.

Samsung Galaxy A53 may pack a 5,000mAh battery with 25W fast charging support. There is said to be an under display fingerprint sensor on the phone, while connectivity options are tipped to include 5G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and NFC.

Interestingly, some of these specifications have been tipped by multiple certifications websites. The information about display, battery, and fingerprint sensor were shared by its purported TENAA listing. However, the certification website said that there will be three cameras on Galaxy A53 and not four as suggested by the Winfuture report.

The phone's Geekbench listing suggested that the phone will be powered by an octa-core Exynos 1200 SoC paired with 6GB of RAM. The phone's US FCC certification listing suggested the phone will have 5G support, NFC, and come with a 25W charging adapter. While its Bluetooth SIG listing said the phone has Bluetooth v5.1 connectivity support.

Meanwhile, a new MySmartPrice report says that Samsung Galaxy A53 and Galaxy A33 have also been spotted on Samsung's official India website with model numbers SM-A336E/DS and SM-A536E/DS, respectively. These model numbers are similar to the ones spotted on the BIS listing mentioned above except for the 'DS' part which could mean dual-SIM support. Gadgets 360 was able to independently confirm the India support pages of the SM-A336E/DS and SM-A536E/DS smartphones on the Samsung website.

In related news, a third phone in the Samsung Galaxy A series has been spotted on BIS certification website, as per the MySmartPrice report. It is said to be the Galaxy A73 5G with model number SM-A736B/DS.

Oppo Reno 7 First Impressions: A Lukewarm Upgrade

The Oppo Reno 6 is a very good smartphone that was launched with a slightly misguided price, and even nearly seven months after going on sale, it's still holding on to its launch price. This could change with the introduction of the Oppo Reno 7, the successor to the Reno 6. The Reno 7 gets a big design update, double the internal storage, and a larger battery compared to its predecessor. It also shares quite a few features with the Reno 7 Pro. Oppo has priced the Reno 7 at Rs. 28,999 in India, which is slightly lower than the Reno 6's launch price, but is this enough to help it fight the competition? I've spent some time with the retail unit and here are my first impressions.

Let's start with design, since this has always been one of the biggest highlights of the Reno series. The Oppo Reno 7 ditches the flattened aluminium frame of the Reno 6 for a more traditional rounded shape. This would have been fine had Oppo not used plastic instead of metal, which is a downgrade from the previous model. The glass back has curved sides and a new laser-etched finish. It looks very cool and does a good job of resisting fingerprints. The Reno 7 is lighter than the Reno 6 at 173g, but is also slightly thicker.

Apart form this, the Oppo Reno 7 has a larger 4,500mAh battery than the Reno 6's 4,300mAh one. It still supports 65W SuperVOOC fast charging, and the required charger is included in the box. A new feature which many will appreciate is the dedicated microSD card slot in the SIM tray, which was absent with the Reno 6. However, these seem to be the extent of the hardware upgrades, as everything else is either similar to or exactly the same as they were with the Oppo Reno 6.

Norwegian Startup Fresco Unveils 8-seater 1,000 Km EV

Fresco which was last heard off in 2019 because of its first EV - the Reverie - is back again, this time around, with a car that has to accommodate eight passengers and has a range of 1,000 km on a single charge. The car is called the Fresco XL which is a carrier type of vehicle whose battery pack is not part of a separate skateboard but a part of the main structure. Fresco is taking $1,128  deposited for the final product which will be at around $112,860.

Fresco hasn't revealed how big the battery is but the company also has revealed it will have V2L capabilities and its cells will be double stacked for maximum storage capacity. There will be two motors, one on each axle and it has been designed in such a way that it works well in harsh climate conditions. This is a logical decision considering Fresco is from Norway which has an extremely cold climate.

Looks-wise, it almost looks like a giant Apple Magic Mouse that comes with an iMac. It gets a light rail on the front but there are no images of the interior of the vehicle. Overall, Fresco still needs to come out of the gate with more information about the car before it can be taken seriously as something that will actually make it to production and will be delivered to customers.

Oppo Reno 7 5G, Reno 7 Pro 5G With 90Hz Displays, MediaTek SoCs Launched in India: Price, Specifications

Oppo Reno 7 5G and Reno 7 Pro 5G were launched in India today (Friday, February 4). Both Reno 7 5G and Reno 7 Pro 5G were initially unveiled in China in November. However, the India variant of the Reno 7 5G is different from its Chinese counterpart and, instead, is similar to the Reno 7 SE 5G that debuted alongside the Reno 7 5G and Reno 7 Pro 5G in China. Oppo Reno 7 5G competes against the likes of the Mi 11X, Realme GT Master Edition, and OnePlus Nord 2. Reno 7 Pro 5G, on the other hand, competes with Samsung 20 FE 5G, Mi 11i HyperCharge, and Realme GT.

Oppo Reno 7 5G, Reno 7 Pro 5G price in India, availability
Oppo Reno 7 5G price in India has been set at Rs. 28,999 for the lone 8GB RAM + 256GB storage variant. The phone will be available for purchase starting February 17. In contrast, Oppo Reno 7 Pro 5G carries a price tag of Rs. 39,999 for the sole 12GB + 256GB model. The phone will go on sale from February 8. Both Reno 7 5G and Reno 7 Pro 5G will be available in Starlight Black and Startrails Blue colours.

Launch offers on Oppo Reno 7 5G and Reno 7 Pro 5G include up to 10 percent cashback for customers using ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Standard Chartered, IDFC First Bank, Bank of Baroda, and Federal Bank cards. There will also be EMI cashback and no-cost EMI options.

Oppo Reno 7 5G specifications
The dual-SIM (Nano) Oppo Reno 7 5G runs on Android 11 with ColorOS 12 on top and features a 6.4-inch full-HD+ (1,080x2,400 pixels) AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate and up to a 180Hz touch sampling rate. The display also has Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection on top. Under the hood, the phone has an octa-core MediaTek Dimensity 900 SoC along with 8GB of RAM. Oppo Reno 7 5G comes with a triple rear camera setup that carries a 64-megapixel primary sensor, along with an 8-megapixel wide-angle shooter and a 2-megapixel macro shooter.

For selfies and video chats, Oppo Reno 7 5G carries a 32-megapixel selfie camera sensor in the front.

Oppo Reno 7 5G comes with 256GB of onboard storage. Connectivity options include 5G, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth v5.2, GPS/ A-GPS, NFC, USB Type-C, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Sensors on board include an accelerometer, ambient light sensor, gyroscope, pedometer, and a proximity sensor. There is also an in-display fingerprint sensor.

Oppo has packed the Reno 7 5G smartphone with a 4,500mAh dual-cell battery that supports 65W SuperVOOC fast charging. Besides, the phone measures 160.6x73.2x7.8mm and weighs 173 grams.

Oppo Reno 7 Pro 5G specifications
The dual-SIM (Nano) Oppo Reno 7 Pro 5G runs on Android 11-based ColorOS 12 and features a 6.5-inch full-HD+ (1,080x2,400 pixels) AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate and up to a 180Hz touch sampling rate. Its display also has Gorilla Glass 5 protection. Oppo Reno 7 Pro 5G is powered by an octa-core MediaTek Dimensity 1200-Max SoC along with 12GB of RAM. There is a triple rear camera setup that includes a 50-megapixel Sony IMX766 primary sensor and an f/1.8 lens. The camera setup also carries an 8-megapixel secondary sensor with an f/2.2 ultra-wide lens and a 2-megapixel sensor with an f/2.4 macro lens. The camera setup is also paired with a dedicated colour temperature sensor.

Oppo Reno 7 Pro 5G has 256GB of onboard storage. Connectivity options include 5G, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth v5.2, GPS/ A-GPS, NFC, and a USB Type-C port. Onboard sensors include an accelerometer, ambient light sensor, gyroscope, pedometer, and a proximity sensor. There is also an in-display fingerprint sensor.

Just like Oppo Reno 7 5G, Reno 7 Pro 5G packs a 4,500mAh dual-cell battery with 65W SuperVOOC fast charging support. The phone measures 158.2x73.2x7.5mm and weighs 180 grams.

Moto G Stylus (2022) With 90Hz Display, Triple Rear Cameras Launched: Price, Specifications

Moto G Stylus (2022) has been launched as the company's latest model bundled with a stylus pen. The new Motorola phone comes with a 90Hz display and is equipped with triple rear cameras. The Moto G Stylus (2022) also includes a preloaded Moto Note app that lets you write notes using the bundled stylus, even without unlocking the phone. The stylus can also be used for capturing and editing screenshots using a pre-installed Screenshot Editor and drawing sketches on a preloaded Coloring Book app. The Moto G Stylus (2022) is also rated to deliver up to two days of battery life on a single charge.

Moto G Stylus (2022) price
Moto G Stylus (2022) price has been set at $299.99 (roughly Rs. 22,400) for the lone 6GB RAM + 128GB storage variant. The phone comes in Metallic Rose and Twilight Blue colours and is available in the US through Amazon, Best Buy, and It will also be available through Consumer Cellular and Cricket in the coming months, the Lenovo-owned company said in a blog post.

Details about the launch of the Moto G Stylus (2022) in other markets are yet to be announced.

Last year, the Moto G Stylus (2021) was launched at $299 (roughly Rs. 22,300) for the sole 4GB + 128GB model.

Moto G Stylus (2022) specifications
The Moto G Stylus (2022) smartphone runs on Android 11 with My UX on top and features a 6.8-inch full-HD+ (1,080x2,460 pixels) Max Vision IPS display with a 20.5:9 aspect ratio and a 90Hz refresh rate. The display also comes with a 396ppi of pixel density. Under the hood, the phone has an octa-core MediaTek Helio G88 SoC, along with 6GB of RAM. The Moto G Stylus (2022) carries a triple rear camera setup that houses a 50-megapixel primary sensor with an f/1.9 lens, along with an 8-megapixel ultra-wide shooter and a 2-megapixel depth sensor.

For selfies and video chats, the Moto G Stylus (2022) comes with a 16-megapixel selfie camera sensor at the front, with an f/2.2 lens.

The Moto G Stylus (2022) comes with 128GB of onboard storage that is expandable via microSD card (up to 512GB) through a dedicated slot. Connectivity options include 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth v5.0, GPS/ A-GPS, USB Type-C, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Sensors on board include an accelerometer, ambient light sensor, gyroscope, and a proximity sensor. There is also a side-mounted fingerprint sensor.

Motorola has packed Moto G Stylus (2022) with a 5,000mAh battery that supports 10W fast charging. The phone also includes two microphones. Besides, it measures 170.21x75.90x9.45mm and weighs 216 grams.

Snap Posts Quarterly Profit for the First Time, Analyst Says Much of Growth Likely Came From India

Investors are snapping up shares of Snap after the owner of the disappearing message platform Snapchat surprised Wall Street by posting a quarterly profit for the first time. The stock jump came Thursday after Facebook parent Meta saw its worst one-day stock price decline in its history, showing that while internet and social media companies are sometimes lumped together by Wall Street, their fortunes often diverge.

Shares of Snap were up $14.30 (roughly Rs. 1,000), or 58 percent, to $38.89 (roughly Rs. 2,900) in after-hours trading. The stock, which tends to be volatile, lost nearly 24 percent in the regular trading session following Meta's plunge.

"Snapchat is clearly not as prone to the 'TikTok effect' as Meta, with strong daily active user growth in all regions, including North America," said Insider Intelligence analyst Jasmine Enberg. She referred to the decline in user growth at Facebook that is in large part due to competition from TikTok, the popular video sharing app.

Even so, Enberg added, much of Snap's growth likely came from India, where TikTok is banned.

Snap, which is based in Santa Monica, California, said Thursday its fourth-quarter profit was $22.6 million (roughly 170 crore), or 1 cent (roughly 75 paise) per share, compared to a loss of $69 million (roughly Rs. 500 crore), or 8 cents (roughly Rs. 6) per share, a year earlier. Analysts had been expecting it to report a loss of 9 cents (roughly Rs. 7) a share in the latest quarter, according to FactSet.

Revenue grew 42 percent to $1.3 billion (roughly Rs. 9,716 crore). Snap's average daily user count also continued to increase, up 20 percent year-over-year to 319 million in the fourth quarter.

Oppo Reno 7 5G, Reno 7 Pro 5G India Launch Today: How to Watch Livestream, Expected Price, Specifications

Oppo Reno 7 5G and Reno 7 Pro 5G India launch will take place today (Friday, February 4). The smartphones belong to the Oppo Reno 7 5G series that debuted in China last year. The Oppo Reno 7 5G's India variant is tipped to pack a different set of specifications compared to its China version. The India variant could include a MediaTek Dimensity 900 SoC. Oppo Reno 7 Pro 5G, on the other hand, is expected to be similar to the Chinese model and will be powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 1200 Max SoC. The Chinese company will also launch Oppo Watch Free smartwatch alongside the smartphones.

Oppo Reno 7 5G, Reno 7 Pro 5G, Oppo Watch Free India launch livestream details
Oppo Reno 7 5G and Reno 7 Pro 5G launch in India will be held at 12pm (noon) today. Oppo will also launch the Oppo Watch Free smartwatch alongside the phones. The virtual launch event will be livestreamed through Oppo's social media channels. You can also watch the Oppo Reno 7 series India launch live from the video embedded video below:

Oppo Reno 7 5G, Reno 7 Pro 5G, Oppo Watch Free India price in India (expected)
Oppo launched three smartphones under the Oppo Reno 7 5G series in China, and the Chinese company will launch two phones in India.

Recently, a report suggested that the Oppo Reno 7 5G price in India will be set at Rs. 29,990 for the lone 8GB RAM + 256GB storage variant. The Reno 7 5G was previously claimed to cost Rs. 31,490 for the 8GB + 128GB version. Meanwhile, the Oppo Reno 7 Pro 5G is said to be priced at Rs. 39,990 for the single 12GB + 256GB model.

Oppo Reno 7 5G India variant specifications (expected)
Oppo Reno 7 5G India variant could sport the same 6.43-inch full-HD+ (1,080x2,400 pixels) AMOLED display with a 20:9 aspect ratio and a 90Hz refresh rate present on the Chinese variant. The phone is said to include a MediaTek Dimensity 900 SoC instead of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G SoC available on the Chinese variant. The India variant is said to pack 8GB of RAM and 5GB of virtual RAM expansion. For photography, the Oppo Reno 7 5G could come with a triple rear camera setup highlighted by a 64-megapixel OmniVision OV64B primary sensor. It could be paired with an 8-megapixel ultra-wide shooter and a 2-megapixel macro shooter. The phone is reported to have a 32-megapixel Sony IMX615 selfie camera sensor in the front.

Oppo Reno 7 5G may get a 4,500mAh battery with 65W SuperVOOC fast charging in India. The phone is claimed to have a USB Type-C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack, and include an in-display fingerprint sensor.

Oppo Reno 7 Pro 5G specifications (expected)
The Oppo Reno 7 Pro 5G's India variant is expected to be the same as the Chinese variant. It could feature a 6.55-inch full-HD+ (1,080x2,400 pixels) AMOLED display with a 20:9 aspect ratio and a 90Hz refresh rate. The phone will be powered by a custom-designed octa-core MediaTek Dimensity 1200-Max SoC, coupled with up to 12GB of LPDDR4x RAM.

Oppo Reno 7 Pro 5G could come with a triple rear camera setup that has a 50-megapixel Sony IMX766 primary sensor with an f/1.8 lens, along with a wide-angle shooter and a 2-megapixel macro shooter. For selfies, the phone may come with a 32-megapixel Sony IMX709 selfie camera sensor in the front with an f/2.4 lens in India.

The Oppo Reno 7 Pro connectivity options include 5G, 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth v5.2, GPS/ A-GPS, NFC, and a USB Type-C port. The phone comes with an in-display fingerprint sensor. The Chinese version packs a 4,500mAh battery that supports 65W fast charging and it is expected to be the same in the Indian model.

Oppo Watch Free specifications (expected)
There is no information whether there will be two different versions of Oppo Watch Free. The Indian variant is expected to be the same as the one that was launched in China. The wearable comes equipped with a 1.64-inch AMOLED touchscreen display with a resolution of 280x456 pixels and 2.5D curved glass. It offers over 100 workout and sports modes including badminton, skiing, cricket, kayaking, and more. The smartwatch is waterproof up to 5ATM (50 metres) and can be used for swimming, according to the company.

Oppo Watch Free also comes with an optical heart rate tracker and an SpO2 (blood oxygen) sensor. It also features an e-sports mode that delivers all notifications to the watch instead of the smartphone while gaming. The smartwatch is claimed to offer up to 14 days of battery life on a single charge and takes 75 minutes for a full charge, according to the company.

Elon Musk's Tesla Recalls Over 800,000 Vehicles in US for Seat Belt Chime Problem

Tesla is recalling more than 817,000 vehicles in the US because the seat belt reminder chimes may not sound when the vehicles are started, and the driver hasn't buckled up. The recall covers the 2021 and 2022 Model S sedan and Model X SUV, as well as the 2017 through 2022 Model 3 sedan and 2020 through 2022 Model Y SUV, according to documents posted Thursday by safety regulators. Federal motor vehicle safety laws require the chimes to sound when vehicles are started, and the sound stops when front belts are buckled.

The recall documents posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say the problem happens only if the driver left the vehicle in the previous drive cycle while the chime was sounding.

Tesla will fix the problem by sending out an over the air software update early this month. The safety agency says without the chime, a driver may not know their seat belt is unbuckled, increasing the risk of injury during a crash.

The company says in the documents that it's not aware of any crashes or injuries due to the problem. A visual seat belt reminder is still displayed.

The problem was discovered by South Korea's Automobile Testing and Research Institute on Jan. 6. Tesla investigated and determined that a recall was needed on January 25, the documents say.

The chime still sounds if the vehicles go over 22 kilometres per hour and the driver's belt isn't buckled.

The US recall is the largest in the Austin, Texas, company's history and comes as the company faces increasing scrutiny from NHTSA, the nation's road safety agency.

The agency this week said that Tesla would recall nearly 54,000 cars and SUVs because their "Full Self-Driving" software lets them roll through stop signs without coming to a complete halt.

Recall documents posted Tuesday say that Tesla will disable the feature with a software update. The "rolling stop" feature allows vehicles to go through intersections with all-way stop signs at up to 5.6 miles (9 kilometres) per hour. The feature would work as long as the owner chose to activate it and the car didn't detect any "relevant" moving cars, pedestrians, or bicyclists.

Tesla's "Full Self-Driving" software is being tested by selected owners on public roads. It cannot drive itself, and the company warns that drivers must be ready to intervene at any time.

NHTSA also is looking into a driver's complaint that "Full Self-Driving" software caused a crash in California.

It's also investigating why Tesla cars using the company's less-sophisticated "Autopilot" driver-assist system have repeatedly crashed into emergency vehicles parked on roadways.

The newest recall covers all four models in its lineup. Estimates by show Tesla has sold just over 1 million vehicles in the US since 2013.

Winter Olympics 2022 Opening Ceremony Celebrated by Google With Animated Doodle

Winter Olympics 2022 opening ceremony is celebrated by Google with an animated Doodle on its search homepage. The Google Doodle features animals playing different games on ice. Being hosted by Beijing, China, the 17-day multi-sport event will conclude on February 20. It will feature as many as 109 events in seven sports and 15 disciplines. Winter Olympics 2022 will see a participation from over 2,800 athletes from 91 nations. The new Google Doodle aims to portray that convergence through a mix of animation effects and graphics.

To give a glimpse of the games being played at the Winter Olympics 2022, the Google Doodle features competitive critters playing games such as Bobsleigh, Ice Hockey, and Snowboard.

Hovering over the mouse over the animated Doodle shows a message that reads, "Winter Games 2022 Begin!"

Once you click the Google Doodle, it takes you to the search page carrying the query "winter olympics" to show the latest updates from the ongoing games. The search page also lists featured events on top to help you with the games schedule and decide what you can watch.

As per the details available on the Doodles page, the fresh Google Doodle is visible in various parts of the world, including India, Australia, Canada, Russia, and the US, among others.

The opening ceremony of Winter Olympics 2022 — also called Beijing 2022 — is taking place at the Beijing National Stadium.

India has decided to not participate in both opening and closing of the event at the diplomatic level over the Galwan Valley clashes in June 2020. As a result of the decision announced by the External Affairs ministry, Doordarshan will also not telecast the opening and closing ceremonies of the games.

Microsoft has reportedly killed its plans for the HoloLens 3

The future of Microsoft's HoloLens is reportedly uncertain as the company struggles to put together a coherent mixed reality strategy. According to Business Insider, the tech giant has scrapped its plans for what would've been the HoloLens 3 in recent months. At least one of the publication's sources believes it's the end for the headset. In addition, the sources said Microsoft inked a deal to team up with Samsung to develop a brand new mixed reality device, which has caused an internal divide within the mixed reality division.

Microsoft spokesperson Frank Shaw denied that the HoloLens is dead, however, calling it a "critical part of [the company's] plans for emerging categories like mixed reality and the metaverse." Shaw added: "We remain committed to HoloLens and future HoloLens development." The company declined to talk to Business Insider about the reported Samsung partnership.

The employees within the mixed reality unit that the publication talked to said different factions within the team are arguing about which area to focus on. Some believe the team should double down on its own hardware, while others think it's better to develop a software platform for the metaverse other companies can use, like the Windows OS.

There are also people arguing whether Microsoft should continue focusing on creating products for enterprise customers or whether the tech giant should also create products for consumers. Some also argue that Microsoft's mixed reality team should fulfill military contracts. Rubén Caballero, the former Apple executive Microsoft hired to head up device engineering for the HoloLens and other projects back in 2020, reportedly wants to focus on consumers and the metaverse. There's apparently such a confusion on what the team's focus should be that Microsoft lost 25 mixed reality employees to Meta in 2021, including veterans who'd been with the company for over 20 years.

One thing's clear, though: Microsoft has big plans for the metaverse. When it announced that it's purchasing Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, it said the acquisition will provide building blocks for the metaverse. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said: "Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms.

Tesla recalls more than 817,000 cars over faulty seat belt chimes

Tesla is once again grappling with large-scale software quality issues. The Associated Press reports Tesla has issued a recall for 817,143 cars over a flaw in seat belt chime functionality. All Model 3 and Model Y cars, as well as 2021 and newer Model S and Model X cars, have a "software error" that prevents the chime from sounding on startup if the chime was interrupted and the seat belt wasn't fastened. You could run into the problem just by closing the door just after leaving the vehicle, according to the recall notice.

The automaker plans to fix the seat belt chime bug by releasing an over-the-air update sometime in early February. There are no reports of injuries, and the visual seat belt alert still appears properly. South Korean testers first discovered the problem on January 6th, and Tesla decided a recall was necessary on January 25th following an investigation.

While this recall is relatively minor, its timing couldn't be much worse for Tesla. It comes just a few days after a recall for a Full Self Driving bug, and while the NHTSA is investigating a string of incidents where cars using Autopilot crashed into emergency vehicles. A driver is facing felony charges for an Autopilot-related crash, too. That's on top of recalls for physical problems like camera, trunk and suspension defects. Tesla doesn't have a stellar reputation for quality at the moment, and the seat belt chime fault only reinforces that image.

Apple's AirPods Pro are on sale for $180 today only

The AirPods Pro may not have received the major update that the standard earbuds did last year, but they're still the model with the best sound quality. Plus, they now come with a MagSafe charging case, which is a great perk. Today only, you can grab a pair of AirPods Pro for $180, or 28 percent off their normal price. While not the all-time low we saw last Black Friday ($159), it's still a good deal for this time of year — and lower than Amazon's current going rate of $197.

You probably know the deal about AirPods Pro by now, but in case you need a refresher: these earbuds have a more comfortable design thanks to their interchangeable tips and the sound quality is much better than other Apple earbuds. They have a built-in amplifier and support Adaptive EQ, which automatically tunes frequencies to each user's ear. Their active noise cancellation does a good job of blocking out most surrounding noises and you can use Transparency mode to jump in and out of conversations when necessary. We also like that audio automatically pauses when you take one of the buds out of your ear, so you won't miss a beat.

And like other Apple earbuds, the AirPods Pro have the H1 chip inside, which enables things like hands-free Siri access and quick pairing. If you use a lot of Apple devices, the AirPods Pro will also automatically switch to the gadget you're currently using — that means you can take a call from your iPhone and go back to listening to music from your Mac seamlessly. You can expect the Pros to last about five hours before needing a recharge, and their MagSafe case lets you use magnetic wireless chargers to power them up.

They may not be as cheap as they were on Black Friday, but those deep discounts are hard to come by outside of the holiday shopping season. Woot's one-day sale is a good one to consider if you've had your eye on the Pros for a while. Just remember to check out the site's return policy, as it differs greatly from that of its parent company, Amazon.

Adidas' FWD-02 Sport earbuds are now available for $170

Last October, Adidas partnered with Swedish headphone maker Zound, best known for its work with Marshall, to announce three sets of new true wireless earbuds. One of those was the FWD-02 Sport earbuds, which were supposed to launch last year. Following a delay, however, they're finally available starting this month.

As a refresher, the FWD-02 Sport are a pair of runner-friendly earbuds with swappable ear tips and wings, and a force sensor so you can control them while wearing gloves. They're also IPX5 certified so they're resistant to sweat and water. Adidas and Zound claim you can expect up to 6 hours of playtime from the earbuds, with the charging case providing another 19 hours of battery life before you need to head to an outlet.

The case features a mesh top layer, which Adidas said helps the buds dry faster when you need to store them. The FWD-02 also include an Awareness mode that allows ambient sounds to filter through so you can stay safe while using them for outdoor workouts.

At $170, the FWD-02 earbuds face some stiff competition, particularly from Apple's Beats Fit Pro. While they're $30 more expensive, they include active noise-cancellation, a fit a lot of people like and Apple's H1 chip for hands-free access to Siri, one-touch pairing and other iOS-specific features. The lack of ANC isn't a dealbreaker for a pair of sport-focused earbuds like the FWD-02, but it's a feature that more and more people are looking to get on their next pair of headphones.

Ford starts 2022 with its highest EV sales numbers to date

If the bonkers preorder numbers for both the hybrid Maverick and the EV F-150 Lightning weren't enough of an indication, Ford's Q4 earnings results are plenty proof that the company's electrification efforts are already paying dividends.

"Financial performance is obviously critical," President and CEO Jim Farley said in a release Thursday. "We're also proud that customers see how Ford is taking EVs mainstream, and have already ordered or reserved more than 275,000 all-electric Mustang Mach-E SUVs, F-150 Lightning pickups and E-Transit commercial vehicles – and we're breaking constraints to deliver every one of them as fast as we can."

"We started moving with real speed of ambition to build a modern Ford," he added during Thursday's investors call. "Our true breakthroughs are still ahead of us."

In fact, the company reports that sales of its EVs in January "grew almost 4 times faster than the overall electrified segment" (13,169 units in total), making Ford the current number 2 retailer of electric vehicles in the country behind Tesla (and the country's top-selling automaker overall), prompting a promise from Farley to double the company's global production capacity for EVs "to at least 600,000 by 2023." He expects EVs to "represent at least 40 percent of its product mix by 2030." What's more, China is now Ford's largest market for Lincoln-brand vehicles, Farley noted.

In all, Ford saw revenue of $37.7 billion, a net income of $12.3 billion and $2 billion in EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) in Q4 2021. The company sold 6,513 Mavericks in January alone — with 3,549 of these sold as hybrids — along with 2,370 Mach-Es, 27 percent of which were of the GT variety. Ford also saw strong interest in its new Transit line of commercial EVs with more than 300 American businesses placing orders for 10,000 vehicles.

"We plan to take full advantage of our first-mover position in the fully electric pickup truck market starting with lightning," Farley declared. "But there's much more to come. In the coming months, we'll break ground on the Blue City electric truck plant in Tennessee."

"It will be the largest, the most advanced manufacturing complex in our history," he added. "And it will produce Ford's second generation of full size electric pickups in high volumes starting in 2025. At the same time, we have three large-scale battery plants in Tennessee and Kentucky, which will be coming on stream with capacity to produce enough battery cells for more than 1 million vehicles a year."

And, while not wholly electrified, Ford did point out that its pickup lines — the F-150, Ranger, and Maverick — with combined sales of 62,293, outsold GM's pickups in January. The company's mobile Ford Pass and Lincoln Way apps saw their US memberships grow to nearly 8 million uses total.

Due to the strong order and sales numbers, Ford CEO John Lawler said in Thursday's statement that the company "expects full-year 2022 adjusted EBIT to be even stronger [than 2021] – $11.5 billion to $12.5 billion, an increase of 15 to 25 percent over 2021."

"The velocity of change at Ford is increasing," Farley concluded. "We're not seeking half measures.Fear of change and risk has never served legacy automakers well in the past couple of decades. We're done with incremental change."

Senate bill targeting Apple and Google in-app payments moves forward

A bill targeting Apple and Google's app store restrictions has taken a step forward. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 20-2 to advance the Open App Markets Act, with only Sens. John Cornyn and Thom Tillis opposing. The vote showed once again that there's bipartisan support for the bill.

Should the legislation become law as it stands, it would prevent app marketplace owners with more than 50 million users in the US from locking third-party developers into their payment systems. The App Store and Google Play Store, which require third-party apps to use their respective payment systems, pass that threshold.

They wouldn't be able to block or punish developers from offering apps at other prices on different platforms, and they'd have to let developers contact their users with "legitimate business offers, such as pricing terms and product or service offerings." Another provision would force Apple and Google to let users install third-party app stores or sideload apps. This would have a bigger impact on Apple, since Android already allows sideloading.

Apple and Google have opposed the bill, claiming that it would put user security and privacy at risk. They said the same things about the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, a more sweeping tech reform bill that the committee passed last month. Both bills will go to the Senate floor for debate and a vote.

The stakes are high for both companies. The App Store and Google Play Store each take a 15 percent cut of in-app purchases up to the first $1 million developers make in annual revenue. After that, the fees rise to 30 percent.

Google parent company Alphabet reports Play Store revenue under "Google other revenues," which also includes hardware and non-ad income from YouTube. That business segment brought in $8.2 billion last quarter, a year-over-year increase of 22 percent. App Store revenue falls under the Apple's services segment, which raked in $19.5 billion in Q4.

Apple was last year ordered to allow developers to direct users to other payment methods as a result of its legal battle with Epic Games. An appeals court judge granted a last-minute delay before the change was supposed to take effect.

The new Moto G Stylus adds a 90Hz display, a big battery and not much else

Motorola is once again kicking off a new year with a new Moto G Stylus, and this one still offers solid value — if you're willing to make a couple of sacrifices. The newly introduced Moto G Stylus 2022 model still has a 6.8-inch 1080p display (albeit with a centered hole-punch camera) and an otherwise mostly fmiliar design, but makes the leap to a faster 90Hz refresh rate. You also won't be hurting for longevity with a sizeable 5,000mAh battery in place of last year's 4,000mAh pack.

While those are appreciable improvements, this latest Moto G Stylus is oddly conservative in some places. For one, there's no 5G — slightly odd for a 2022 budget phone when devices like Samsung's A32 5G already managed the feat last year. It ships with Android 11 instead of Android 12, for that matter. You do get 6GB of RAM and a higher-resolution 50MP main rear camera (up from 4GB and 48MP respectively), but Motorola has ditched the Snapdragon 678 in favor of MediaTek's Helio G88. That's more of a step sideways in performance than a leap forward. You still get a ultra-wide and macro cameras, though, and the 128GB of expandable storage plus water resistance should help the phone last.

The 2022 Moto G Stylus is available to pre-order now through Amazon, Best Buy, Motorola and Walmart for $300. That still makes it a good value, but it's not an easy choice between this and last year's Moto G Stylus 5G. You'll have a better display and processing power, but you'll lose 5G and the extra built-in storage. The better value could depend on sale prices for each handset, too. Until there's an updated Moto G Stylus 5G, you may need to shop carefully to find the best device.

Amazon is raising the price of Prime to $139 per year

Amazon Prime is increasing in price for the first time since 2018. The company used its latest earnings to reveal that it's raising the fee to $15 per month (previously $13), or $139 per year (previously $119). The higher rates kick in February 18th for new customers, but they won't take effect for existing customers until they renew March 25th or later — if you were thinking of trying Prime, you might want to sign up now to lock in the current price for a year.

Amazon pinned the increase on the "continued expansion" of Prime perks along with higher wages and transportation costs. As with the last time around, you can likely blame Amazon's ever more ambitious Prime Video plans for some of the increase. According to Hollywood Reporter, the upcoming Lord of the Rings series is expected to cost $465 million just for its first season — and that's not including other big productions. Throw in the MGM acquisition and Amazon has plenty of media-related expenses.

The company can't blame the hike on financial hardship, at least. Amazon's net profit jumped nearly 57 percent in 2021 to $33.4 billion — the lingering COVID-19 pandemic has been good for Amazon's core shopping business. A surge in profit from EV maker Rivian's initial public stock offering (Amazon has a 20 percent stake) helped mask lower income in the last calendar quarter of 2021, but it's evident the company doesn't need the Prime hike in the near future.

The Prime increase might also irk people beyond Amazon's customers. The company is raising rates even as it fights workers' efforts to improve working conditions, and as it faces increasing government scrutiny of its pricing and other practices. There won't be much sympathy from some corners, then, even if Amazon does use the extra revenue to help staff.

HitPiece takes its NFT music platform down following artist outrage

A website called HitPiece that has been selling music-related NFTs has temporarily closed after artists accused it of appropriating their work without permission, Rolling Stone has reported. Outraged social media posts were issued recently from artists including Jack Antonoff, Eve 6, and Sadie Dupuis. "Any [Bleachers] NFTs are fake," Tweeted Jack Antonoff. "I do not believe in NFTs so anything you see associated with me isn't real."

The HitPiece website is apparently built on top of Spotify's API. Before shutting down, it appeared to be offering NFTs of songs and albums from the likes of John Lennon and BTS, including photos and album artwork, according to the Internet Archive.

Like many other NFT business models, however, it's not clear what HitPiece was selling, exactly. "This particular grift doesn't really affect artists in that HitPiece wasn't even selling files of the songs — just the receipt of purchase to the general idea of them," Infant Island guitarist and grad student Alex Rudenshiold told Rolling Stone. "It's still copyright infringement. It's re-commodifying the metadata (art, song and album titles, etc.) to make money without permission."

HitPiece, founded by former indie label owner Rory Felton, issued a statement. "Clearly we have struck a nerve and are very eager to created the ideal experience for music fans," it said on Twitter. "To be clear artists get paid when digital goods are sold on Hitpiece. "We are continuing to listen to all user feedback and are committed to evolving the product to fit the needs of the artists, labels and fans alike."

However, artists are skeptical of HitPiece's claim that they will be paid. "They steal your music, auction NFTs of it on their site, and when they get caught they say don't worry you 'get paid,'" the group Deerhoof tweeted. "I get that corporate types are simply greedy and cruel on principle but what kind of mind could even imagine that doubletalk like this could somehow make it OK?"

Netflix will release at least 70 movies in 2022

Just like it did last year, Netflix will release at least one movie a week in 2022. There are currently more than 70 films on the docket for this year, and the company offered a peek at some of them in a teaser.

The three-minute sizzle reel is packed with footage from upcoming films, including a first glimpse at Knives Out 2, the sequel to Rian Johnson's terrific 2019 comedy-mystery movie. There are looks at Enola Holmes 2, Jason Momoa as a half-man/half-beast in fantasy flick Slumberland and a stop-motion take on Pinocchio from Guillermo del Toro. You can also get your first peek at The Gray Man, a big-budget thriller from Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo.

Expect to see projects from filmmakers including Judd Apatow, Noah Baumbach, Niki Caro, Sally El Hosaini, Louis Leterrier, Richard Linklater and Tyler Perry, as well as Dev Patel's directorial debut. Among the other films in Netflix's pipeline are sci-fi movies starring Halle Berry (The Mothership) and Adam Sandler (Spaceman) and a new version of Matilda. There is, as always, a broad range of offerings on this year's slate, including action, comedy, drama, horror and family movies. So, there should be something for everyone as Netflix seeks to make sure subscribers are getting their money's worth from its increasingly expensive plans.

Toyota Temporarily Halts Bookings Of The Hilux In India

Toyota Kirloskar Motors unveiled the Hilux pick-up in India in January this year and while we were quite looking forward to knowing the price of the car, Toyota kept that information under wraps. However, it did announce that bookings for the utility vehicle were open and that attracted a lot of attention. Toyota today announced that because of the overwhelming response received by the Hilux in India, the company has had to temporarily halt bookings of the pick-up truck in the country.

The company said in a statement, "We are delighted with the overwhelming response that the Hilux has received from our customers within a fortnight of its launch. However, in light of various factors impacting our supply, we are unable to meet the heightened demand. Thus, we deeply regret our temporary halt of bookings for the Hilux with a view to avoid any further inconvenience to our customers."

Toyota, however, gave no indication on the number of bookings received for the Hilux in the country and we unable to provide you with a number either. The Toyota Hilux will be offered only in the double-cab variant and it shares its underpinnings with the current Toyota Innova Crysta and Fortuner. It is spawned by the IMV-2 platform and in fact there are quite a few identifiable bits that have been borrowed from the Fortuner.

Under the hood, the Toyota Hilux will source the same 2.8-litre, four-cylinder, diesel engine from the Fortuner that develops 201 bhp and 420 Nm of peak torque in the manual variant, while the automatic variant makes 500 Nm of peak torque. The carmaker will be offering the Hilux only in the 4x4 versions and the SUV comes equipped with all drive-assist features that we expect in an off-roader including hill-assist, brake assist, hill descent control and electronic stability program (ESP), limited-slip differential, differential lock and has water wading capacity of 700 mm.

Vivo Y7x 4G With MediaTek Helio G96 SoC Tipped to Launch in India Soon, Said to Rival Redmi Note 11 5G

Vivo Y7x 4G, tipped to be a mid-range phone that could rival the upcoming Redmi Note 11 5G, has leaked. Vivo recently launched a handful of smartphones as part of its Y-series. This rumoured handset is tipped to be powered by a MediaTek Helio G96 SoC under the hood. Vivo Y7x 4G is said to sport a 6.44-inch display with a refresh rate of 120Hz. Vivo, however, is yet to officially announce any details regarding the smartphone.

According to a report by PassionateGeekz, Vivo Y7x 4G could be launched in late February or early March, and will be powered by a MediaTek Helio G96 SoC paired with up to 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of inbuilt storage. The smartphone is tipped to sport a 6.44-inch full-HD+ display with a refresh rate of 120Hz. It is currently unknown whether Vivo Y7x 4G will sport an AMOLED or an LCD panel. There is also currently no word on Vivo Y7x 4G's camera and battery specifications.

The smartphone will reportedly feature a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, integrated with the power button on top. Vivo Y7x 4G is tipped to run on Android 11 out of the box, with the company's FuntouchOS running on top.

The Vivo Y7x 4G smartphone could be priced under Rs. 18,000 and compete with the upcoming Redmi Note 11 5G handset, according to the report. However, Vivo hasn't revealed anything related to the rumoured handset yet.

Vivo is currently gearing up to launch its Vivo T1 5G smartphone in India. The phone was launched last year in October in China with a Snapdragon 778G SoC paired with up to 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM. The smartphone features a triple rear camera setup, with a 64-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide angle camera, and a 2-megapixel macro camera. Vivo T1 5G is the first smartphone in the company's T-Series in India and will be launched on February 9.

League of Legends spinoff game 'Hextech Mayhem' is now available from Netflix

It took a few months, but Netflix is now offering its first high-profile mobile game. The streaming service has broadly released Riot Games' League of Legends spinoff Hextech Mayhem for Android and iOS. This isn't a MOBA like League, as you might have gathered — instead, it's a "rhythm runner" that has you playing LoL champion Ziggs as you light bomb fuses, disarm enemies and dodge obstacles in sync with the beat.

Netflix has also released Dungeon Dwarves, its first "idle" game. Hyper Hippo's title (available on Android as we write this) lets you explore monster-laden dens even when you're not playing, and upgrade abilities when you are.

Riot's decision to launch Hextech through Netflix isn't surprising. The two unveiled the game just as Arcane began streaming — even if it's not really connected to the animated series, it serves as a plug for both companies. Riot also hasn't been shy about gaming crossovers, having dropped League of Legends characters into games like Fortnite. It's just a question of whether or not a game like Hextech will be popular enough to grow Netflix's fledgling game business and encourage other big-name projects.

WhatsApp Desktop Users May Soon Be Able to Request for Report on Account Information It Collected

WhatsApp Desktop has reportedly added a feature to let users ask the Meta-owned instant messaging app to generate a report of their account information and settings. Called Request Account Info, the dedicated option has so far been available to mobile users on both Android and iOS. It allows users to submit a request to WhatsApp and export the report that contains their activity information, privacy settings, and information about the devices from where they are accessing the messaging app.

According to a report by WhatsApp features tracker WABetaInfo, WhatsApp Desktop beta version 2.2204.1 carries references about the Request Account Info option. The addition has, however, not yet been made available to beta testers.

By bringing the request account information feature, WhatsApp looks to allow desktop users to generate a report carrying their account information and settings.

Similar to what has now been found on its desktop version, WhatsApp added the same Request Account Info option on Android and iOS devices in 2018. It was introduced ahead of the passing of European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law and is aimed to let users see all the information WhatsApp has collected through their account.

Once requested, WhatsApp typically takes three days to make your report available for download and export. Users on mobile devices have the option to permanently delete the downloaded copy.

It is important to note that the report generated using the request account information feature does not allow users to access messages and conversations that they have made on WhatsApp, as highlighted in an FAQ page.

Realme 9 Pro, Realme 9 Pro+ India Launch Date Set for February 16; Price, Specifications Teased

Realme 9 Pro and Realme 9 Pro+ India launch date is set for February 16, the Chinese company confirmed on Thursday. The Realme phones have been a part of the rumour mill for the past few months. The February 16 launch date was also tipped recently. In addition to the official launch date announcement, Realme Vice President Madhav Sheth has indicated the possible Realme 9 Pro series price in India during an ask-me-anything (AMA) session. Realme has also teased some of the key specifications of the Realme 9 Pro series. The phones will come with triple rear cameras and a Light Shift Design.

Realme 9 Pro, Realme 9 Pro+ India launch date
Realme sent out media invites to confirm the India launch date of Realme 9 Pro and Realme 9 Pro+. The launch will take place virtually at 1:30pm on February 16, as per the invite. The company is also teasing the launch on its social media channels. The India launch is aligning with the global schedule of Realme 9 Pro series as the phones are debuting in other markets on the same date.

Realme 9 Pro, Realme 9 Pro+ price in India
Realme Vice President Madhav Sheth held an AMA session, called AskMadhav, on YouTube on Wednesday, where he suggested that the Realme 9 Pro series price in India will be set at above the Rs. 15,000 mark.

"As the brand aims to go premium in 2022, we aim to expand the 9 Pro series above the 15,000 segment, with all the devices in the Pro series being 5G enabled and built an overall enhanced and more premium mid-range experience," he said.

Sheth indicated the same move in a media interview last month.

The AMA session also confirmed that alongside the Realme 9 Pro series, Realme is working on the regular Realme 9 series that would debut at a later stage. Sheth also teased the plans to launch the Realme Buds Air 2 successor this quarter. Further, he suggested the development of a 65-inch Realme TV.

Realme 9 Pro, Realme 9 Pro+ specifications
Realme 9 Pro and Realme 9 Pro+ specifications will include the triple rear camera setup and the Light Shift Design that will change colours in sunlight, as per the details available on a dedicated webpage available on the Realme India site. The webpage also shows that Realme 9 Pro+ in the series will have a primary 50-megapixel Sony IMX766 sensor with optical image stabilisation (OIS) and an octa-core MediaTek Dimensity 920 SoC.

Aside from the details available on the Realme India site, the company's Indonesia site shows that Realme 9 Pro+ will have 60W SuperDart Charge fast charging, Super AMOLED display, under-display fingerprint sensor, and NFC support.

In contrast, Realme 9 Pro is mentioned to have a primary 64-megapixel Nightscape camera, Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 SoC, and a 120Hz display. The phone is also teased to have a 5,000mAh battery with 33W Dart Charge fast charging and NFC support. Moreover, Realme 9 Pro will feature the same Night Shift Design that will be available on Realme 9 Pro+.

2022 Audi Q7 Facelift Launched In India; Prices Start At ₹ 79.99 Lakh

The 2022 Audi Q7 facelift has been launched in India after a hiatus of two years and its prices start at ₹ 79.99 lakh (ex-showroom) for the base variant, going up to ₹ 88.33 lakh for the range-topping trim. The German brand had discontinued its flagship SUV in 2020 and it has now returned with bolder looks, updated cabin, more features and a BS6 compliant engine under its hood. Audi India is offering the new Q7 facelift in two variants - Premium Plus and Technology. It comes to India as a completely knocked down (CKD) unit and it will be manufactured at Skoda Auto Volkswagen India Pvt Ltd.'s (SAVWIPL) plant in Aurangabad.

The new Audi Q7 facelift is quite a departure from the pre-facelift model in terms of looks. The new model has a more macho and outdoorsy demeanour rather than a sophisticated business class appeal. The face particularly looks bold courtesy the massive grille with wide chrome slats. It is flanked by full LED headlights that are standard, while customers also have the option of the HD Matrix LED technology with Audi laser light. The SUV also get larger intakes, new alloy wheels, new sleeker LED taillights and sharper bumpers.

On the inside too the new Audi Q7 facelift is a decent step up than its predecessor and takes inspiration from the Q8's cabin. It now features two new large touchscreens that provide haptic and acoustic feedback and the system also comes with LTE Advanced connectivity, a Wi-Fi hotspot, natural voice control and the extensive Audi connect portfolio. The SUV also comes with a new steering wheel and premium upholstery among a host of other creature comforts.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Series Design, Specifications Leak via Alleged Marketing Material Ahead of Launch

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series is expected to launch next week at a Galaxy unpacked event alongside the company's flagship Galaxy S22 series smartphones. The upcoming Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series is likely to be comprised of three models — Galaxy Tab S8, Galaxy Tab S8+, and Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. And ahead of the launch of the company's flagship smartphones and tablets expected on February 9, official-looking images along with detailed specifications of Samsung Galaxy Tab S8, Galaxy Tab S8+, and Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra have been leaked online, giving enthusiasts an idea of what to expect from Samsung's upcoming flagship tablet models.

Images of the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Tab S8, Galaxy Tab S8+, and Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra were leaked by tipster Evan Blass, shared by GSMArena. The text on the images is in Italian, suggesting that they could have been sourced from Samsung's regional website. The leaked images tip the dimensions, display size, specifications, and accessories for Samsung Galaxy Tab S8, Galaxy Tab S8+, and Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. The tipster recently shared similar images of the Samsung Galaxy S22 series smartphones, which tipped the specifications of the company's next flagship phones.

The upcoming Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 is tipped to feature a 11-inch (2,560x1,600 pixels) WQXGA LCD TFT display with a refresh rate of 120Hz. Meanwhile, Galaxy Tab S8+ is said to sport a 12.4-inch (2,800x1,752 pixels) WQXGA Super AMOLED display with a refresh rate of 120Hz. Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is tipped to get 14.6-inch (2,960x1,848 pixels) WQXGA Super AMOLED display. The leaked images also suggest that all three tablets will ship with an S Pen and USB Type-C to USB Type-C cable in the box, but not a charger.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8, Galaxy Tab S8+, and Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra are claimed to be powered by the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC under the hood. Previous leaks suggest the tablets will be paired with up to 16GB of RAM and up to 512GB of inbuilt storage. The leaked images also suggest that the upcoming tablets will offer expandable storage. Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 is said to be equipped with an 8,000mAh battery, while Galaxy Tab S8+ and Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra are tipped to get 10,090mAh and 11,200mAh batteries, respectively — all three models will support 45W charging.

The tablets were recently spotted on some European e-commerce websites, listed for pre-orders ahead of the official launch expected at the Galaxy Unpacked event scheduled for February 9. Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 has a pre-order price of EUR 970 (roughly Rs.82,100), while Galaxy Tab S8+ and Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra are priced at EUR 999 (roughly Rs. 84,500) and EUR 1,699 (roughly Rs. 1,43,700) on the websites, respectively.

Samsung Galaxy A53 Specifications Tipped via Multiple Certification Listings, 25W Fast Charging Expected

Samsung Galaxy A53 has reportedly been spotted on Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) website and the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) platform. The listings have suggested some key specifications that the rumoured smartphone will feature. The handset was earlier spotted on various other certifications websites, including Bluetooth SIG, China's TENAA, Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), and Compulsory Certificate of China (3C). Samsung Galaxy A53 is expected to be the successor to Samsung Galaxy A52, which was unveiled in March 2021.

The NBTC listing of the alleged Samsung Galaxy A53 has been notified by tipster Mukul Sharma via a tweet, and a report by MySmartPrice has shared some images of the FCC listing. Both the platforms show a smartphone with SM-A536E/DS model number, which is said to belong to the Samsung Galaxy A53. The FCC certification reveals that the rumoured Samsung A-series device will have 5G support and NFC, and come with a 25W charging adapter that will have the model number EP-TA800.

Interestingly, Samsung Galaxy A53 with the same model number was spotted on BIS website, suggesting the upcoming India launch of the phone. The reported Bluetooth SIG listing of the Samsung Galaxy A53 showed two variants with model numbers SM-A536B and SM-A536E. It revealed that both models have Bluetooth v5.1 connectivity.

The 3C certification of the rumoured Samsung Galaxy A53 suggests the phone has SM-A5360 model number, while the Geekbench listing shows model number SM-A536U, suggesting multiple models can be expected. Geekbench also suggests that the phone will be powered by an octa-core Exynos 1200 SoC paired with 6GB of RAM.

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G specifications (expected)
As per the TENAA listing, the alleged Samsung Galaxy A53 will feature a 6.46-inch full-HD+ (1,080x2,400 pixels) display with an AMOLED panel. It is tipped to sport a fingerprint sensor under the display. It is listed with a triple rear camera unit, carrying a 64-megapixel primary camera, a 32-megapixel secondary camera, and a 5-megapixel tertiary camera. The handset is tipped to pack a 32-megapixel camera for selfies and a 5,000mAh battery.

Apple-Accusing Lawsuit Over iPhone Water Resistance Claims Dismissed by US Judge

A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a proposed class-action lawsuit accusing Apple Inc of misleading consumers about how resistant its iPhone handsets are to water exposure.

Apple's advertisements had made various claims about the iPhone's resistance to damage when submerged or otherwise exposed to water, including that some models could survive depths of 4 metres (13.1 feet) for 30 minutes.

The named plaintiffs, two from New York and one from South Carolina, claimed that Apple's "false and misleading" misrepresentations let the company charge twice as much for iPhone models than the cost of "average smartphones."

US District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan said the plaintiffs plausibly alleged that Apple's ads could mislead consumers, but did not show their iPhone units were damaged by "liquid contact" Apple promised they could withstand.

The judge also found no proof of fraud, citing a lack of evidence that Apple intended to overstate its water resistance claims, or that the plaintiffs relied on fraudulent marketing statements when buying their iPhone handsets.

Spencer Sheehan, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said his clients are disappointed with the decision, and no decision has been made whether to appeal.

Neither Apple nor lawyers for the Cupertino, California-based company immediately responded to requests for comment.

In the quarter ended December 25, 2021, iPhone handsets accounted for $71.6 billion (roughly Rs. 5,35,955 crore), or 58 percent, of Apple's $123.9 billion (roughly Rs. 9,27,441 crore) of net sales.

The case is Smith et al v Apple Inc, US District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 21-03657.

2022 Skoda Enyaq Coupe iV Breaks Cover, Adds High-Performance RS Version With 300 bhp

Following the Enyaq iV electric SUV, Skoda adds a coupe version to the range along with a high-performance, sporty Enyaq Coupe RS iV variant. This would be the first time that the Czech carmaker introduces an RS version to its flagship electric SUV, which is equivalent to the Volkswagen ID.5 GTX. Along with two battery sizes, four power outputs, and rear‑ or all‑wheel drive, the 2022 Skoda Enyaq Coupe iV also receives organic seat covers made of wool and recycled PET bottles, and ecologically tanned leather.

The 2022 Skoda Enyaq Coupe iV will be available in four levels with power output ranging between 132kW (179bhp) with the rear-wheel-drive equipped with a 62kWh battery, to 150kW (203bhp) from its 82-kWh battery, also available with the rear-wheel-drive system. In addition to this larger battery, the Enyaq Coupe iV also features an all-wheel-drive variant, with a power output of 195kW (265bhp), and 220kW (300bhp), and a maximum torque of 460Nm for the Enyaq Coupe RS iV. What this means is that the Enyaq Coupe RS iV can accelerate from 0-100kmph in 6.5 seconds and reaches a top speed of 180kmph. Skoda also claims that the Enyaq Coupe iV boasts a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.234, with a significant impact on the vehicle's maximum range, which is up to 545km in the WLTP cycle.

Like the Enyaq iV, the new Skoda Enyaq Coupe iV is also based on Volkswagen Group's MEB modular electric car platform, and so measures 4,653mm in length, 1,879mm in width, 1,622mm in height, sitting on a 2,765mm long wheelbase. While 19 to 21 inches wheels offer an athletic look to the Enyaq Coupe iV, Phoenix Orange, Graphite Grey, and Mamba Green exterior colour schemes offer extravagance. Now, aesthetically, the Enyaq Coupe iV remains largely like the earlier model, however, a few changes to the Enyaq Coupe RS iV help it differentiate from the standard version.

And so, these changes include- a sports chassis which is 15mm lower at the front and 10mm at the rear, contributing to its dynamic stance, whereas surrounds around the Skoda grille, window trim, and rear diffuser are all gloss black, as are the model designations, tailgate lettering and air curtain trim on the front apron. The air curtain trim is C-shaped on the Sportline trim and comes with an additional centerpiece forming an E on the RS variant, along with a full-length red reflector on the rear bumper of the latter. The two variants can also be identified by their model-specific wing badges either displaying Sportline lettering or an RS emblem.

Meta in Focus After Strong Report by Alphabet Boosts Confidence

The holidays were a gift to Alphabet's Google, quarterly results showed. Next up: Facebook owner Meta.

Alphabet's internet advertising, cloud computing, and hardware businesses helped the Google owner soundly beat Wall Street targets for the holiday quarter, sending shares up as much as 9 percent in after-hours trading.

Brian Wieser, global president of business intelligence, at the ad-buying giant GroupM, said Alphabet's results reinforce that the advertising industry as a whole is in a strong position, despite changes by Apple that prevent advertisers from tracking iPhone and iPad users without their consent. That has been a concern for social media companies including Meta and Snap.

Unlike the previous quarter, during which marketers low on product and tech industry privacy changes led to lost sales, Google did not note any particular challenges this time around.

"It sets up well going into Meta Platform's earnings," after the market close on Wednesday, said Gene Munster of investment firm Loup Ventures.

Alphabet's results drove a rally across internet advertising companies. Shares of Trade Desk, Magnite, PubMatic, and several more companies that both compete and work with Google all rose in after hours trading late Tuesday.

Recent revenue beats by Alphabet, Apple, and others in the tech industry come amid concerns that software and equipment makers alike cannot hold on to gains in usage from earlier in the pandemic. In a generally jittery market, as inflation kicks in, shares fell last month.

Still, "When you look at markets, when the big companies are doing well, you know it's hard to say that there's a problem with the economy," said Paul McCarthy, president at investment firm Kisco Capital.

In the fourth quarter, Alphabet's advertising revenue rose 32.5 percent to $61.2 billion (roughly Rs. 4,64,634 crore), $4 billion (roughly Rs. 29,928 crore) above Wall Street targets, according to Refinitiv data.

Rahul Gandhi To Visit Chhattisgarh Today; Lay Foundation Stone Of 'Amar Jawan Jyoti'

Raipur: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will visit Chhattisgarh's Raipur today to lay the foundation stone of 'Amar Jawan Jyoti' and inaugurate Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Bhumiheen Krishi Mazduur Yojana.
According to an official statement, Amar Jawan Jyoti will be constructed on the premises of the 4th Battalion, Chhattisgarh Armed Forces Mana, Raipur. The flame of Chhattisgarh Amar Jawan Jyoti will continue to be lit in honour of the martyrs.

"We will honour the martyrdom of the sons of Chhattisgarh who sacrificed their lives for the country by joining uniformed services, as well as the Bravehearts of the country who sacrificed their lives in Chhattisgarh through 'Chhattisgarh Amar Jawan Jyoti'," said Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel.

A wall with names of Martyrs, memorial tower and VVIP platform will also be set up at Amar Jawan Jyoti in Chhattisgarh. The wall will be constructed with brown marble with the names of Martyrs engraved on the same. This crescent-shaped wall will be about 25 feet high having a length of about 100 feet, and the thickness of this wall will be 3 feet.

The memorial tower will be set up of sandstone, brown white marble granite in front of a crescent-shaped wall. A memento will be made on its top. Rifle and helmet will be in the form of insignia on the base in front of the memorial tower. The flame of Chhattisgarh Amar Jawan Jyoti will be lit in front of this symbol which will be ignited 24 hours by fuel supply through underground pipelines.

A fort-like two-storey building will be constructed just in front of the memorial tower, the length of the base of which will be 150 feet and the width will be 90 feet. The height of this building will be 40 feet.

Gandhi will also inaugurate the Chhattisgarh government's Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Bhumiheen Krishi Mazduur Yojana.

Under this scheme, the Chhattisgarh government will give annual financial aid of ₹ 6000 to rural landless families. The registration for the scheme was started last year in September.

Logitech G435 Lightspeed Wireless Gaming Headset Review: The Lightweight Champion

The gaming industry is ever-growing, with people clocking in thousands and thousands of hours in different types of games. Millennials and Gen-Z alike have found solace in gaming, especially during these hard times. At the start of the lockdown in 2020, we saw multiplayer games such as Among Us grow in popularity, and going into 2021, the next-generation PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and Series S consoles were launched.

This is an industry that keeps on rising and one of the many companies that have made their mark here is Logitech. The Swiss manufacturer is well known in the gaming beat for products such as gaming mice, headsets, and keyboards. The company recently launched the Logitech G435 gaming headset in India, priced at Rs. 7,495. Is this the best pair of gaming headphones you can buy under Rs.10,000 right now? I spent around two weeks with the headphones, and here's my full review.

Logitech G435 Lightspeed design and specifications
The headset follows your usual gaming aesthetics for ear cups and the headband, but without much flashiness. Personally, I am not a big fan of RGB on headsets, but many buyers want this feature and may be disappointed to find it absent. The headset is available with online retailers such as Amazon India and Flipkart, and comes in three colour variants – Off White and Lilac, Blue and Raspberry, and Black and Neon Yellow. I have the Black and Neon Yellow colour variant for review. The entire headset is black, while the buttons are neon yellow.

The left earcup has all the buttons and controls built into it, including the power on/off button which is placed just below a battery level indicator light, followed by the Volume Up and Down buttons and a Mute button. You also get dual microphones on the left earcup. Unlike most gaming headsets, Logitech has gone for beamforming microphones instead of a boom arm. There is also a USB Type-C port on the left ear cup for charging. The right earcup only has a Logitech logo and nothing else.

Gaming peripherals, particularly headphones, are notorious for being heavy, and in some cases, almost as big as your head. The G435 aims to be the opposite of that. This is probably the lightest gaming headset I have used, weighing in at 165g; for context, the HyperX Cloud Core 7.1 weighs about 300g without the boom microphone.

The entire headset is made of plastic and that is what helps keep the weight in check. Logitech also states that a minimum of 22 percent post-consumer recycled plastic content has been used in the G435. It has a frequency response ranging from 20Hz to 20KHz with an impedance of 45 Ohms. Inside the box, you can find a Lightspeed USB dongle, a USB A to USB-C cable, some user documentation, and the Logitech G435 headset itself.

The ear cups are adjustable and are installed on rails, so they can be adjusted up and down for comfort and a proper fit. However, there is no swivel. It's worth mentioning that these rails feel a bit too finicky and fragile. The headset did survive some accidental falls from a reasonable height, but I am concerned about whether it will hold up in the long run.

The memory foam on these ear cups is very comfortable, and I did not face any issues with them during long gaming sessions. The inner plastic covering the drivers isn't fabric-coated and has large openings, so you'll need to be careful about dirt entering them. The headband frame is made of plastic and does not have any cushioning, only a smooth cloth covering that pads it slightly.

While this could have been an issue if it was a heavy headset, I never faced any discomfort during my time with the Logitech G435 Lightspeed. It did fit well for me and I didn't have any comfort issues.

Sensex Slips Over 150 Points, Nifty Trades Below 17,750; Tech Mahindra, IndusInd Bank, Bajaj Finserv Top Drags

New Delhi: The Indian equity benchmarks on Thursday paused a three-day winning run and traded lower in opening deals amid weak global cues. As of 9:20 am, the benchmark BSE Sensex slipped 178 points or 0.30 per cent to 59,380, while the broader NSE Nifty moved 50 points or 0.28 per cent lower to 17,731.
Asian shares were mostly weak as Japan's Nikkei index plunged 1.11 per cent and the Shanghai Composite index fell 0.97 per cent.

Mid- and small-cap shares were in the negative zone as Nifty Midcap 100 index was down 0.54 per cent and small-cap shares were trading 0.08 per cent lower.

On the stock-specific front, Tech Mahindra was the top Nifty laggard as the stock cracked 1.26 per cent to ₹ 1,464.30. IndusInd Bank, Bajaj Finserv, Bajaj Finance and HCL Tech were also among the laggards.

In contrast, Tata Consumer Products, Titan, Asian Paints, Indian Oil Corp and BPCL were among the gainers.

On BSE, the overall market breadth was positive as 1,511 shares were advancing while 967 were declining.

On the 30-share BSE platform, HDFC, Bajaj Finserv, Bajaj Finance, HCL Tech, Tech Mahindra, Infosys and IndusInd Bank attracted the most losses with their shares sliding as much as 1.52 per cent.

Also, shares of Mahindra and Mahindra Financial Services (Mahindra Finance) fell as much as 5.18 per cent to ₹ 160.25 after posting weak third quarter numbers on a sequential basis. Mahindra Finance has a profit of ₹ 992 crore for the December 2021 quarter against ₹ 1,103 crore posted in the September 2021 quarter.

Meanwhile, Titan, GAIL India, ITC, Lupin, Aditya Birla Capital and Adani Power are among the companies which will announce their December quarter results later in the day.

Sensex had rallied 696 points or 1.18 per cent to close at 59,558 on Wednesday, while Nifty had moved 203 points or 1.16 per cent higher to settle at 17,780.

YouTube adds easy-to-access controls to its video player on iOS and Android

YouTube has started rolling out a redesigned interface for mobile that includes quick access to Like buttons and other controls. In the past, when you watch full-screen on Android and iOS, you'd have to exit landscape mode to be able to see the thumbs up and down buttons, the option to share the video and the option to add it to your playlist. It was pretty troublesome having minimize what you're watching to see those controls. As The Verge has noticed, though, you can now simply tap on the screen for all those buttons to show up at the bottom of the full-screen video. What you're watching wouldn't stop playing either.

The new controls at the bottom also give you an easy easy way to access the comments section. There's now no need to go back to portrait mode and to scroll down — just tap the comments button and the section will pop up right next to the video in landscape view. You can keep watching while scrolling viewers' comments, as well.

Google spokesperson Allison Toh told The Verge that the new user interface started making its way to Android and iOS devices on Monday, so it'll likely hit your phones soon if it hasn't yet.

Worms NFTs were a great idea for Team17, until they weren't

It didn't take long for Team17 to cancel its NFT plans after they were announced. The British video game developer and publisher has released a statement that it's no longer working on the MetaWorms NFT project after listening to "Teamsters, development partners, and [its] games' communities, and the concerns they've expressed." It added that it has "taken the decision to step back from the NFT space."

As EuroGamer notes, the MetaWorms project was supposed to produce "limited edition" computer-generated collectibles of the company's Worms IP. They were supposed to be sold by the Reality Gaming Group that claims the ability to mint NFTs in an environmentally friendly way. One of the biggest controversies surrounding NFTs is their environmental impact due to the energy needed to sustain their blockchain activity. Team17 said that if it sold 100,000 Worm NFTs, the energy used to register them would equal "the average annual kettle usage of just 11 households."

The backlash against the project came swiftly regardless — because, really, environmental impact is just one of the many issues surrounding non-fungible tokens — and from developers Team17 had worked with in the past. Among the developers that published statements distancing themselves from NFTs are Playtonic, which published Yooka-Laylee titles under Team17, and Overcooked developer Ghost Town Games. Aggro Crab, developer of roguelike game Going Under, released a scathing statement saying it'll never work with Team17 again.

The statement did, however, implore fans not to harass Team17 employees, because they were most likely caught off guard, as well. According to Eurogamer, that's indeed the case. Several teams within the company reportedly didn't know that it had plans to release NFT collectibles, and those who did know voiced their opposition.

Google Maps explains how it tackles review bombing

Review bombing is a practice in which many people (or a few aggrieved folks with multiple accounts) barrage a product, business or service with negative reviews, usually in bad faith. That can severely damage a small or local business that relies on word of mouth. Google says millions of reviews are posted on Maps every day, and it has laid out some of the measures it employs to stamp out review bombing.

"Our team is dedicated to keeping the user-created content on Maps reliable and based on real-world experience," the Google Maps team said in a video. That work helps to protect businesses from abuse and fraud and ensures reviews are beneficial for users. Its content policies were designed "to keep misleading, false and abusive reviews off our platform."

Machine learning plays an important role in the moderation process, Ian Leader, product lead of user-generated content at Google Maps, wrote in a blog post. The moderation systems, which are Google's "first line of defense because they're good at identifying patterns," examine every review for possible policy violations. They look at, for instance, the content of the review, the history of a user or business account and whether there's been any unusual activity connected to a place (like spikes in one-star or five-star reviews).

Leader noted the machines get rid of the "vast majority of fake and fraudulent content" before any user sees it. The process can take just a few seconds, and if the models don't see any problem with a review, it'll swiftly be available for other users to read.

The systems aren't perfect, though. "For example, sometimes the word 'gay' is used as a derogatory term, and that's not something we tolerate in Google reviews," Leader wrote. "But if we teach our machine learning models that it's only used in hate speech, we might erroneously remove reviews that promote a gay business owner or an LGBTQ+ safe space." As such, the Maps team often runs quality tests and carries out additional training to teach the systems various ways some words and phrases are used to strike the balance between removing harmful content and keeping useful reviews on Maps.

There's also a team of folks that manually evaluates reviews flagged by businesses and users. Along with removing offending reviews, in some cases, Google suspends user accounts and pursues litigation. In addition, the team "proactively works to identify potential abuse risks." For instance, it might more carefully scrutinize places linked to an election.

Google often updates the policies depending on what's happening in the world. Leader noted that, when companies and governments started asking people for proof they've been vaccinated against COVID-19 before being allowed to enter premises, "we put extra protections in place to remove Google reviews that criticize a business for its health and safety policies or for complying with a vaccine mandate."

Google Maps isn't the only platform that's concerned about review bombing. Yelp prohibits users from slating businesses for requiring customers to be vaccinated and wear a mask. In its 2021 Trust and Safety report, which was released this morning, Yelp said it removed more than 15,500 reviews for violating COVID-19 rules last year.

Before it killed user reviews, Netflix dealt with review bombing issues. Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic have taken steps to address the phenomenon too.

'Ghostwire: Tokyo' will arrive on March 25th

With Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7 and Sifu on the docket for the next couple of months, PlayStation owners already had a bunch of console exclusives to look forward to in the near future. You can now add another one to your calendar. The delayed Ghostwire: Tokyo at last has a firm release date: March 25th.

The paranormal action-adventure game, which is coming to PS5 and PC, was initially supposed to arrive in late 2021, but publisher Bethesda and developer Tango Gameworks pushed it back until this spring. As spotted by Wario64 on Twitter, PlayStation noted the release date in a YouTube video description.

That video, in case you were wondering, is a Ghostwire: Tokyo showcase, which will premiere at 5PM ET on Thursday (for those keeping tabs, that's 24 hours after a State of Play focused on Gran Turismo 7). We'll soon learn much more about the game, in which you'll team up with a spirit to save a desolate Tokyo from a supernatural threat. Those who pick up the deluxe edition will get three days of early access, as well as some bonus items.

Once it's live, you'll be able to watch the showcase below.

Purdue University sues Google over mobile power management tech

Google is once again facing claims it copied others' code in Android. Purdue University has sued Google over allegations the company is knowingly violating a patent for detecting power management bugs in code. The internet giant purportedly saw an article about Professor Y. Charlie Hu's research on the subject in 2012 and incorporated related infringing code into Android Lint, an error-catching tool in what would become the Android Studio development kit.

The USPTO granted the patent in August 2019. Purdue said it notified Google of the claimed violation in August 2021, but that Google had continued to incorporate the disputed code in Android Studio as recently as this month. The school is asking for unspecified "past and future" damages from Google.

In a statement, Google told Engadget it was still examining the lawsuit, but that it would "vigorously defend" itself and "independently develop

A new competitor to AppleCare offers cheaper insurance for smartphones

Given the steep costs, it's easy to see why some customers forgo AppleCare+, Preferred Care or similar protection plans. Dropping your phone down a stairwell or spilling liquid on it is no longer the end of the world – the newest devices are more resilient. But accidents still happen, and an out-of-warranty fix can set you back several hundred dollars. As an alternative, Zagg, a smartphone case company, unveiled a plan this week that covers repairs on most mobile devices for $99 a year.

Zagg Protect includes a $49 deductible, which you will need to pay any time you take it in for repairs. It covers both accidents and internal failures, including cracked screens, liquid damage, battery failure, power failures and more.

But the third-party plan is still much cheaper than other such device protection plans, such as AppleCare+ and Samsung Care Plus. Samsung offers one year of Samsung Care Plus for free after you purchase your device; after that the cost ranges anywhere from $4 to $13 per month. Even with that plan, a cracked screen for any Samsung mobile phone will set you back $249. The free year of AppleCare that comes with any new iPhone is extremely limited and essentially only covers malfunctions that are the manufacturer's fault. Two years of AppleCare+, which offers screen repairs on most iPhones for $29 and other accidents for $99, can still set you back anywhere between $149 to $199 for the latest models.

While Zagg's plan is significantly more extensive than most, it's not unlimited. The coverage only covers two repairs per 12-month period. You can also only use the plan at a list of authorized repair providers. Finally, the plan only covers repairs up to $500 and requires that you use a phone case.

Is a protection plan for phone repairs worth it? Thanks to the right to repair movement, consumers can opt for cheaper options like third-party repair shops and self-repair kits. While it's harder nowadays to completely obliterate your phone (see this video of a still-functioning iPhone X found in the bottom of a river), any eventual mishap can pose a serious annoyance to your daily life.

That $1,000+ device that most of us carry on our person at all times became our credit card, transportation access and vaccine passport, not to mention our sole means of contacting other humans. All told, whether or not you cough up the extra bucks for AppleCare+ or another protection plan like Zagg largely depends on your lifestyle, as well as how often you plan to upgrade.

Two more AI ethics researchers follow Timnit Gebru out of Google

Google has two lost prominent members of its Ethical AI research group, reports Bloomberg. On Wednesday, researcher Alex Hanna and software engineer Dylan Baker left the company to join Timnit Gebru's Distributed AI Research Institute. Gebru founded the nonprofit in December following her controversial exit from the tech giant in 2020.

Up until the end of that year, Gebru was one of the co-leads of Google's Ethical AI research group. After publishing a paper the company said didn't meet its bar for publication, Gebru claims Google fired her. The company, however, has maintained she resigned. In February 2021, several employees left the unit in protest of Google's handling of the situation. Later that same month, the company fired Margaret Mitchell, the other co-lead of the Ethical AI research group. Hanna and Baker told Bloomberg the dismissals weighed heavily on them, and that they wanted to work with Gebru again.

"I am quitting because I'm tired," Hanna wrote on Medium after announcing her departure from the company. The post is in many ways a call to action. "In a word, tech has a whiteness problem. Google is not just a tech organization. Google is a white tech organization," Hanna writes. "More specifically, tech organizations are committed to defending whiteness through the 'interrelated practices, processes, actions and meanings,' the techniques of reproducing the organization. In this case, that means defending their policies of recruitment, hierarchization, and monetization."

The post also touches on the paper at the center of Gebru's dismissal from the company. Hanna says the claim Jeff Dean, the head of Google's AI division, made about the robustness of the company's publishing process was "laughable." She points to analysis the group Google Walkout for Real Change published in 2020. "Google management remained silent when an article on the Google Walkout page pointed out that there were many counterexamples, like how nearly half of papers in the system were approved within a day or less of the deadline," Hanna said.

Hanna and Baker told Bloomberg they also believe Google has become less willing to listen to employees in recent years. They specifically pointed to the company's pursuit of potential contracts from the Pentagon over the past and the very public objections of its workers.

"We appreciate Alex and Dylan's contributions — our research on responsible AI is incredibly important, and we're continuing to expand our work in this area in keeping with our AI Principles," A Google spokesperson told Engadget. "We're also committed to building a company where people of different views, backgrounds and experiences can do their best work and show up for one another."

Aston Martin DBX707 Breaks Cover; Does 0-100 kmph In 3.3 Seconds

Aston Martin has revealed the ultra high performance DBX707 and claims that it is the fastest and most powerful iteration of the SUV. Aston Martin clearly states that the DBX707 gets 'world-beating power and pace matched by exceptional precision, dynamic flair' and we don't doubt that one bit because what's under the hood is simply exceptional.

The 4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 has been used to its full potential. Led by Aston Martin's Head of Powertrain Engineering, Ralph Illenberger, the DBX707's engine now features ball bearing turbochargers and a bespoke engine calibration to liberate more power and torque. Also new to Aston Martin's flagship high performance SUV is a 9-speed 'wet clutch' automatic transmission. Capable of managing much increased torque loadings compared with a regular torque converter automatic, this high-performance transmission allows output of the 4.0-litre V8 to be lifted to an immense 697 bhp and 900Nm, which is an increase of 155 bhp and 200Nm over the DBX (V8).

The adoption of the new wet clutch transmission brings further benefits. Most noticeably much faster gear changes compared to the torque converter transmission. The feel of the shift is more immediate and direct, which gives the driver an increased sense of control and responsiveness, and a dramatic character change from the DBX (V8). Launch capability is also improved, which contributes towards the DBX707's 0-100 kmph time of 3.3 seconds.

Integral to the DBX707's suite of performance enhancements is the standard fitment of Carbon Ceramic Brakes. Measuring 420mm front and 390mm rear, these CCB discs are gripped by 6-piston calipers and result in a 40.5kg reduction in unsprung weight. Revisions to the braking system's hydraulic sizing and booster tune improve pedal feel and braking response for greater precision and driver confidence. Improved brake cooling has been achieved by taking air from both the main cooling intake and the underfloor, with high performance brake pads delivering excellent friction consistency across a wide temperature range.

watchOS 8.4.1 Released With Bug Fixes for Apple Watch Series 4, Newer Models

Apple is rolling out watchOS 8.4.1 update to Apple Watch users, a week after the company released watchOS 8.4. According to the company, the latest update will only be available to Apple Watch Series 4 and newer smartwatches. Apple's website reveals that watchOS 8.4.1 does not include security fixes but contains bug fixes for these Apple Watch models. The company previously released important security and bug fixes as part of watchOS 8.4 that was rolled out alongside iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3 on January 26.

watchOS 8.4.1: What's new?
The Cupertino tech giant began the rollout of watchOS 8.4.1 to Apple Watch Series 4 and newer smartwatches on February 1 with the build number 19S550. With a size of 71.6MB, the update contains bug fixes for affected Apple Watch models, but the company has not specified which bugs have been fixed in the changelog for this update. Users will need to make sure their Apple Watch is charged to at least 50 percent and in range of their iPhone connected to Wi-Fi in order to install watchOS 8.4.1.

Apple has rolled out watchOS 8.4.1 just days after it released watchOS 8.4 on January 26. With the watchOS 8.4 update, Apple fixed an issue that prevented some third-party chargers from working with Apple Watch models. The previous update also included fixes for security issues on Apple Watch Series 3 and newer models, including ColorSync, Crash Reporter, iCloud, WebKit, WebKit storage, and the watchOS kernel.

Meanwhile, Apple has also been testing the latest watchOS 8.5 beta, which is scheduled to arrive alongside iOS 15.4 beta. While iPhone 12 and newer smartphones will reportedly gain the ability to use Face ID with a mask on (without an Apple Watch) with the iOS 15.4 update, watchOS 8.5 does not appear to have any notable features, according to a report by 9to5Mac.

Sony drops PlayStation 5 sales forecast again due to chip shortage

Sony is still struggling to make enough PlayStation 5 consoles to keep up with demand. During its key holiday fiscal quarter, it shipped 3.3 million units for a total of 17.3 million since launch, the company said in its earnings report. That's considerably behind the 20.2 million units the PS4 had managed at the same point in its life cycle.

Because of that, Sony reported 813.3 billion yen ($7.09 billion) in revenue for its gaming division, down from 883.2 billion yen ($7.703 billion) over the same quarter last year. However, operating profit rose 12.1 percent to $810 million, because Sony actually loses money on each PS5 console sold.

Sony CFO Hiroki Totoki said in an analyst webcast that people want to buy PS5 consoles, but partners can't supply components due to the ongoing chip shortage. Sony expects that situation to continue during the coming year, meaning PS5s may not be any easier to find, particularly in the first half of 2022.

Sony lowered its forecast for PS5 shipments for the fiscal year to 11.5 million units, down from 14.8 million. As such, it dropped its full year revenue estimate for its Game & Network Services (G&NS) division by 170 million yen ($1.48 billion). At the same time, it expects 6 percent more profit despite lower game sales, thanks to the aforementioned unprofitable consoles.

Sony's gaming division is its biggest money maker, accounting for around a quarter of its overall revenue and profits this quarter. However, its imaging division also fared well in fiscal Q3, with a 22 percent increase in revenue year-over-year, thanks to sales of its premium smartphone image sensors. Its movie division, meanwhile, saw a large jump in revenue to $4.02 billion due in large part to the success of Spider-Man: No Way Home.

'World of Warcraft' will finally let Alliance and Horde players raid together

There's always been a strict wall in World of Warcraft between Alliance and Horde players — you can only cooperate with people from your own side. Blizzard is ready to (partly) remove that barrier, though. As Polygon explains, WoW's 9.2.5 update will allow cross-faction dungeon crawls, raids and rated PvP matches. You won't be cut off from your friends just because they chose the 'wrong' allegiance for their characters.

You'll have the option to both directly invite people from an opposing faction or join premade groups in the Group Finder listings for a given event type. Group leaders can limit instances to same-faction players, however. And don't expect to be living in harmony with rivals outside of these controlled circumstances. Guilds, matchmaking-based events and the regular world will behave as usual, so you'll still need to be on your guard most of the time.

The feature is available regardless of level, although there will be a few old instances where multi-faction parties can't enter, such as Battle of Dazar'alor, Trial of the Crusader and Icecrown Citadel. They'll need to be "reworked" to eliminate single-faction elements, Blizzard said.

There's no release date for the 9.2.5 update at this stage. It's a long-requested update, and it's well-timed in a post-Battle for Azeroth environment where the Alliance and Horde have reached a delicate truce. Whether or not it boosts player counts is another story. Dexerto notes Blizzard's total monthly active base dropped by 20 million between 2017 and 2021, and WoW likely played a large role in that drop. Toss in an ongoing sexual harassment scandal and cross-faction WoW may only have a limited effect, even as it fulfills the hopes of many subscribers.

The creator of 'Shovel Knight' is making a new action-adventure game

Yacht Club Games, the developer behind the popular throwback platformer Shovel Knight, has announced a brand new IP. It's a top-down "bone-chilling action adventure" entitled Mina the Hollower that's inspired by Gothic Horror and is set in a bizarre world full of monster. The company has announced the new game at an event, where it has also launched the Kickstarter campaign to help fund its development. According to IGN, Yacht Club Games director and designer Alec Faulkner said the developer is financing a majority of the project, but it's returning to Kickstarter to build a community and get feedback from backers.

Faulkner said:

"We want your feedback, collaboration, and support in making Mina the Hollower the best game it can possibly be. That's why we're returning to our roots and kicking off Mina the Hollower's development as a Kickstarter campaign.

Though we're financing a majority of this project ourselves, we hope we can create a more expansive game this way. More importantly, we want to build a community around Kickstarter, much like we did with Shovel Knight."

Shovel Knight's Kickstarter campaign raised over $300,000 back in 2013. Yach Club has since released various DLCs, expansions and spinoffs for it and brought it to the Switch a few years after it was released.

Mina the Hollower will feature an 8-bit aesthetic in the style of Game Boy Color titles, with 60fps action combat. In it you play as Mina, an inventor who can burrow under her foes to pop up on the other side and take them down with her trusty whip. Mina belongs to Hollower guild, which is dedicated to studying the earth and its latent resources and which has members that can move faster underground.

Yacht Club has yet to reveal a launch window for Mina the Hollower, but it took over a year for Shovel Knight to make its way to backers. You'd have to pledge at least $20 for a digital copy of the game and at least $100 for a physical copy.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Series Design, Specifications Leaked Ahead of Official Launch

Samsung Galaxy S22 series is set to launch next week, bringing the company's latest flagship phones to the market. The Galaxy S22 series includes Samsung Galaxy S22, Galaxy S22+, and Galaxy S22 Ultra. Previous leaks and reports have given enthusiasts a fair idea of what to expect from Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S22 series smartphones. Official looking images of Samsung Galaxy S22, Galaxy S22+, and Galaxy S22 Ultra have now been leaked online along with detailed specifications, ahead of the launch of the smartphone on February 9.

Images of the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S22, Galaxy S22+, and Galaxy S22 Ultra were leaked by noted tipster Evan Blass, and shared by GSMArena. The images appear to be taken from the official Samsung Italy website and include images of the smartphones as well as their dimensions and screen sizes. The leaked images also show the display specifications of all three handsets, along with the chipset, camera, and charging specifications.

According to the leaked images, Samsung Galaxy S22 series will be powered by the 4nm Exynos 2200 SoC under the hood, along with the company's Xclipse GPU based on AMD RDNA 2 architecture. The Galaxy S22 series is also tipped to feature the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC in specific regions. Samsung Galaxy S22 will support 25W charging, while Galaxy S22+ and Galaxy S22 Ultra will offer 45W charging, according to the leaked images, which suggest that none of the phones will ship with an included charger.

Samsung Galaxy S22 will sport a 6.1-inch display, while Galaxy S22+ and Galaxy S22 Ultra will feature 6.6-inch and 6.8-inch displays, respectively, according to the leaked images. All three Galaxy S22 handsets will offer Dynamic AMOLED 2X displays with a refresh rate of 120Hz. Galaxy S22 Ultra's display will reportedly offer a peak brightness of 1,750 nits, while Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22+ offer a lower peak brightness of 1,300 nits.

On the camera front, Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22+ will feature a 50-megapixel primary camera, along with a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera and a 10-megapixel telephoto lens with 30x Space Zoom. Meanwhile, the flagship Galaxy S21 Ultra model will be equipped with a 108-megapixel primary camera, with a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera, a 10-megapixel telephoto camera, and a 10-megapixel periscope camera with 100x Space Zoom. Galaxy S22 Ultra will sport a 40-megapixel selfie camera, while Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22+ will come with 10-megapixel selfie cameras.

Ahead of the launch of the Galaxy S22 series, pricing details of the smartphones in the US have also been leaked. According to tipster Jon Prosser, Samsung Galaxy S22 will be priced at $799 (roughly Rs. 59,800), Galaxy S22+ will be priced at $999 (roughly Rs. 74,800), and Galaxy S22 Ultra will be priced at $1,199 (roughly Rs. 89,800) in the US.

Meanwhile, Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 has also been listed for pre-order on retail websites in France, as spotted by GSMArena, ahead of the launch of the tablet. Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 sports a 14.6-inch Super AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate. It is equipped with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC, paired with up to 16GB RAM and 512GB of inbuilt storage and an 11,200mAh battery, and is priced at EUR 969 (roughly Rs. 81,800) for the base RAM and storage variant. Samsung is expected to launch the upcoming Galaxy S22 series alongside Galaxy Tab S8 at the Galaxy Unpacked event scheduled for February 9.

OnePlus 10 Ultra Design Tipped via Alleged Patent Drawings; May Get a Periscope Lens, Secondary Display

OnePlus 10 Ultra will reportedly launch sometime this year. A fresh report suggests that the upcoming smartphone will get a periscope lens, basing the speculation off alleged patent drawings filed in September. The upcoming flagship smartphone is said to sport a secondary screen within the camera module. OnePlus 10 Ultra is also said to be powered by MediaTek Dimensity 9000 SoC, similar to the upcoming OnePlus 10R. Last month, OnePlus 10 Ultra was tipped to be in the engineering verification testing (EVT) phase signifying that it may launch soon.

As reported by MyDrivers, tipster TechInsider (@TechInsiderBlog) shared some alleged patent drawings — filed in September 2021 — of a smartphone with a different design than the OnePlus 10 Pro, and it's now being speculated it may be the upcoming OnePlus 10 Ultra. As per the report, the third sensor in the rear camera module will be a periscope lens — placed beneath the two primary rear sensors.

The report also mentions that OnePlus 10 Ultra may get a secondary display next to the periscope lens. It appears to be too small to display selfies — like on Xiaomi 11 Ultra — but it is speculated to have other users. It is also possible that it may not be a secondary display since the drawings are not very detailed. As per the drawings, the rest of the design of OnePlus 10 Ultra is quite similar to OnePlus 10 Pro.

The alleged patent drawings show the OnePlus smartphone with a curved display that has a hole-punch cutout on the top left corner and seemingly thin bezels. On the right spine, it is shown with an alert slider and a power button. The left seemingly houses the volume rocker. The bottom of the smartphone is shown with two speaker grilles and a USB Type-C port. The company has yet to announce any details about the OnePlus 10 Ultra, and we recommend readers take leaked patent drawings with a pinch of salt.

The report also mentions that OnePlus 10 Ultra may be powered by the newly launched MediaTek Dimensity 9000 SoC — also tipped to power OnePlus 10R. The upcoming OnePlus 10 Ultra is said to launch in the second half of 2022 and the rest of the specifications are said to be similar to OnePlus 10 Pro. The report also mentions that the price for OnePlus 10 Ultra will be significantly higher than OnePlus 10 Pro.

Last month, OnePlus 10 Ultra was reported to be in the EVT phase. EVT stands for engineering verification testing and is the first stage of testing a new smartphone. Post this, a smartphone heads to design verification testing (DVT) and product verification testing (PVT) phases, respectively. The report also mentions that a OnePlus smartphone may also get Oppo's in-house MariSilicon X NPU.

Oppo Watch Free India Launch Date Set for February 4, to Be Released Alongside Reno 7 Series

Oppo Watch Free launch date in India is set for February 4, the company announced on Tuesday. The upcoming smartwatch sports a 1.46-inch AMOLED display and features over 100 workout modes and is equipped with an optical heart rate sensor and blood oxygen saturation level (SpO2) sensor and was launched in China in September 2021. Oppo Watch Free was recently spotted on the official Indian website and will launch alongside Oppo Reno 7 and Oppo Reno 7 Pro that are also scheduled to launch on February 4.

The company on February 1 tweeted that it would launch Oppo Watch Free on February 4. Oppo is yet to reveal the pricing for the upcoming Oppo Watch Free in India. The smartwatch was launched in Quick Sand Gold and Silent Night Black colour options with a price tag of CNY 599 (roughly Rs. 7,100) in China last September.

Oppo Watch Free specifications
Oppo Watch Free is equipped with a 1.64-inch AMOLED touchscreen display with a resolution of 280x456 pixels, 2.5D curved glass, and a pixel density of 326ppi. The smartwatch packs a 230mAh battery that takes 75 minutes for a full charge and offers 14 days of battery life, according to the company. Oppo Watch Free supports smartphones running Android 6.0 or iOS 10 and later versions and supports Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connections.

The smart wearable offers over 100 workout and sports modes including badminton, skiing, cricket, kayaking, and more. It is waterproof up to 5ATM, and can be used for swimming, according to the company. Oppo Watch Free also comes with an optical heart rate tracker and SpO2 sensor. It can automatically detect walking, running, rowing machine, and elliptical machine workouts.

Oppo Watch Free features an e-sports mode that delivers all notifications to the watch instead of the smartphone while gaming, which works on the company's smartphones such as Oppo Reno 6 series and Oppo Find X series. Users can also monitor their sleep, snoring, and track daily activity while receiving sedentary reminders. The wearable comes with over 100 watch faces and is housed in a polycarbonate and fibre frame with silicone straps. Oppo Watch Free measures 46x29.7x10.6mm and weighs 32.6 grams and 20.9 grams.

Realme Watch S100 India Launch Said to Be Planned for February, Colour Options Tipped

Realme Watch S100 alleged India launch in February and colour options have been leaked by a tipster. The rumoured watch is suggested to be a part of the Realme Watch S series that has the vanilla Realme Watch S and Realme Watch S Pro options available in the country. The latest development comes a month after a report said that Realme could launch the Realme Watch T1 in India as the wearable was spotted on the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) certification website.

Citing tipster Mukul Sharma, a report by MySmartPrice claimed that Realme could launch the alleged Realme Watch S100 in India later this month in Black and Grey colour options. It is expected to sport a circular dial. Other than this, there is no information regarding the wearable.

It is to be noted that Realme launched the Realme Watch S and Realme Watch S Pro in the country back in December 2020. These are the only two S series smartwatches available for purchase in India. Both the wearables have circular displays, multiple sports modes, 100 watch faces, heart-rate monitoring and blood oxygen level (SpO2) monitoring features.

Meanwhile, Realme Watch T1 was reportedly spotted on BIS last month. The listing suggests that the wearable with RMW2103 model number could make its debut in India soon. Launched in China in October, the wearable features a 1.3-inch round AMOLED display protected by a Corning Gorilla Glass. Realme has provided 4GB of onboard storage, and provides real-time heart rate monitoring as well as SpO2 monitoring. It comes with support for 110 sports modes 5ATM (50 metres) water-resistant rating. The Realme Watch T1 is claimed to juice up 90 percent of the battery in 35 minutes of charging.

Noise ColorFit Icon Buzz Smartwatch With Bluetooth Calling, 7-Day Battery Life Launched in India

Noise ColorFit Icon Buzz has been launched in India as the latest model in the brand's ColorFit range of smartwatches. The new smartwatch comes with Bluetooth calling support that allows users to make and attend voice calls directly from their wrist, without taking out the connected phone from their pocket. The Noise ColorFit Icon Buzz also provides access to the preloaded voice assistant of your phone. Further, the smartwatch carries support for 24x7 heart rate tracking and blood oxygen monitoring.

Noise ColorFit Icon Buzz price in India, availability
Noise ColorFit Icon Buzz price in India has been set at Rs. 4,999, though the smartwatch is initially going on sale with an introductory price of Rs. 3,499. It comes in Jet Black, Midnight Gold, Olive Gold, and Silver Grey colours.

The Noise ColorFit Icon Buzz will go on sale through Amazon, Flipkart, and the Noise online store at 2pm on Wednesday, February 2.

Noise ColorFit Icon Buzz specifications
The Noise ColorFit Icon Buzz features a 1.69-inch TFT (240x280 pixels) colour display. The smartwatch is equipped with sensors to support SpO2 (blood oxygen) monitor and heart rate tracking. However, it cannot be considered as a replacement of medical equipment.

Similar to other smartwatches, the Noise ColorFit Icon Buzz is capable of delivering notification alerts for calls, text messages, emails, and weather alerts through a connected phone. The smartwatch also has Bluetooth calling that enables users to make and attend voice calls through the network available on your phone, but without requiring you to use the phone for making and receiving calls.

Users can also look at their recent call records and contacts directly from the Noise ColorFit Icon Buzz.
The Noise ColorFit Icon Buzz comes preloaded with Noise Health Suite that enables fitness tracking. The smartwatch also has nine sports modes, including cycling, running, walking, and yoga. Further, the ColorFit Icon Buzz includes two games that users can play while on-the-go.

Noise also has offered over 100 customisable watch faces that you can apply as per your preference. There is also an IP67-certified dust- and water-resistant build.

The smartwatch brings virtual music controls that you can use to control music playback from your phone. You can also use voice assistance via Google Assistant and Siri to give voice commands to your connected phone. Additionally, the smartwatch has an interchangeable 20mm silicone wrist strap.

MK Stalin Urges Sonia Gandhi, Other Leaders To Unite, Fight For Social Justice

New Delhi: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin wrote a letter to several leaders across the country urging all those who believe in equality and social justice to come together. He addressed the letter to Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and 36 other leaders.
"As I write this, our unique, diverse, multi-cultural federation is under threat of bigotry and religious hegemony. These forces can only be fought if all who believe in equality, self-respect and social justice unite together," Mr Stalin wrote in the letter.

He said that the time had come to stand together in order to achieve these objectives.

"I firmly believe that the time has finally arrived to stand together as a true Union of States to achieve the aforesaid objectives. We must unite with the same conviction and purpose as we did in order to establish the Mandal Commission," he wrote.

In his Republic Day address, the DMK Chief had announced the launch of 'All India Federation for Social Justice'. This federation will be adequately represented by leaders of the depressed classes from all the states, he had said.
The path for social justice, Stalin said, was not made in a day but "painstakingly laid over the decades, stone by stone, with the sweat and blood of various trendsetters like Dr Natesanar, Dr T M Nair, Sir P Theagarayar, A T Panneerselvam and Panagal Arasar." Pointing out that the concept and need for social justice is the same, the Chief Minister said he was glad that the "seeds of social justice sown by the Dravidian movement has sprouted across the country."

Five Reasons Why HUAWEI P50 Pro and HUAWEI P50 Pocket Should Be On Your Buying List for 2022

If you are looking to buy a premium smartphone that offers innovative features while offering a great value for your money, then HUAWEI has something for you. The new smartphones by HUAWEI have everything packed to the brim that will truly impress you, and everyone around you. A smartphone in today's times isn't just about specs and features anymore but also about the design. And, HUAWEI P50 Pro and P50 Pocket boast about many major improvements in technology and user experience.

Let us look at their features closely and tell you why these flagship phones should be on your buy list.

A significant camera changes to capture detailed images

HUAWEI P50 Pro sports a Dual-Matrix camera design that supports 4K video recording and gives high-resolution images that are brighter and cleaner with more details. The camera setup in P50 Pro supports a zoom of up to 200x, which is more than one needs and is quite impressive, as one can capture faraway objects.

On the other hand, the HUAWEI P50 Pocket's camera module supports True-Chroma Image Engine and Ultra Spectrum Image Technology, which will produce clear and bright images even if you are shooting at night.

Design that will make you stand out

The P50 Pocket Premium Edition comes with a 3D micro-sculpture design which you can show off at gatherings and parties. To get such fashion chops instead of a flat surface, HUAWEI joined forces with prominent haute couture designer, Iris Van Herpen, who showcased the shadows and texture of the earth through the back panel.

HUAWEI P50 Pro comes with a bold new design which sets it apart from other smartphones. P50 Pro sports a rounded-corner design on the display and at the back, an aluminium-lithium glass that gives a premium and striking look.

Large battery which supports SuperCharge

P50 Pro packs a 4,360mAh battery which supports 66W HUAWEI SuperCharge and 50W Wireless HUAWEI SuperCharge and will charge your phone's battery fully in less than an hour.

The HUAWEI P50 Pocket packs a 4,000mAh that may last for a day. P50 Pocket supports 40W HUAWEI SuperCharge, with which you can be on the go faster and more often without hunkering down to charge.

Innovative features

The HUAWEI P50 Pocket comes with an all-new Sunscreen detection feature. This feature functions as the name sound and can be accessed easily through the Mirror app. This feature allows users to, actually, and we mean literally, check whether they have evenly applied sunscreen. Users can access this feature by double-tapping the screen to enable Pro (MONO) mode.

The HUAWEI P50 Pro comes with Super Device features which you can access with a simple swipe. The Super Device menu enables the user to explore the Control Panel, get quick access to audio playback, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth settings and easily connect to multiple devices like tablets and HUAWEI Matebook. Thanks to the Distributed File System feature, the HUAWEI P50 Pro can also function as a wirelessly connected external storage unit for the PC. If you own a HUAWEI Vision smart TV, you can transfer the MeeTime calls on it and conduct the entire call on the larger display, camera, and speakers.

Smooth user experience

Both the flagship phones run on EMUI 12 that offers a straightforward, smooth, safe and reliable experience for every kind of user, be it a working person, a kid, or a creator. Users will also get access to HarmonyOS inspired features. These features will focus on improved performance and privacy. EMUI 12 supports stepless weight adjustment, which allows users to adjust the size and weight of the font for a comfortable viewing experience.

Google Boss Sundar Pichai, On Investor Call, Shares New Focus

Alphabet Inc. Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai made his first public comments on web3, saying he is watching the blockchain space and looking at how Google's parent company can add value to development of the technology that's being embraced by many of his Silicon Valley peers.
"Any time there is innovation, I find it exciting," Mr Pichai said on Tuesday in response to a question about the technology on Alphabet's earnings call. "I think it's something we want to support the best we can."

Investors have plowed money into companies working on web3, a vision of the internet model built around cryptocurrencies and digital ownership. Many other technology companies, such as Block Inc., Meta Platforms Inc. and Twitter Inc., have embraced this fervor with plans for payments, coins or services that incorporate digital tokens. Google has largely stayed quiet on the topic.

"We are definitely looking at blockchain," Mr Pichai added. "It's such an interesting and powerful technology with broad applications." He cited a recent announcement Google's cloud division made to win more contracts with companies working on "digital assets." Google has also started its own team working on blockchain. Mr Pichai didn't mention cryptocurrencies, which the company currently doesn't accept for its ads or payments service.

'Bloodborne' PC demake reimagines the game as a PS1 title

Bloodborne, a game famous for being notoriously difficult to beat, was released in 2015 for the PS4 with modern graphics and visuals. Over the past 13 months, though, game programmer Lilith Walther created a version of the title that makes it look like it was released way back in the 90's for the first PlayStation. Bloodborne PSX reimagines the Victorian city of Yharnam in the art style commonly seen in games from that console era. The blocky and pixelated graphics with the colored health bars would sure look very familiar to a generation of gamers who used to play on the PS1.

The demake only covers some parts of the whole game, but it does give players access to 10 hunter weapons they can use to slay enemies — some even slow down the game's frame rate as one would expect to happen on a real PS1 title. As Polygon notes, Walther posted updates about the undertaking on Twitter for over 13 months, including one wherein she revealed that the music creator for the project remade the Cleric Beast boss music using a real Roland SC-88 Pro for authenticity.

Bloodborne PSX is now available as a free download for Windows PC. Players can use a keyboard and a mouse for controls, but they can also dust off their old PS1 controllers and use that instead. Those interested can get a glimpse of the demake below.

Apple's M1 Pro and Max chips are living up to the hype

It's now been three months since Apple brought its own silicon to its pro-grade laptops. As we said in our review, the M1 Pro and Max are fantastically capable chips that offer more than enough performance for the vast majority of users.

But for our explainer show Upscaled, we wanted to go a little deeper, with a suite of benchmarks that really push the Pro and Max to their limits, as well as some requests that our readers really wanted to see. Ever wondered how long it takes to open a 100MB Excel file?

Watch the video above for the full story, and we'll see you for the next episode soon.

HBO Max will expand to 15 more European countries on March 8th

HBO Max will soon be available in 15 more countries as part of the platform's gradual global rollout. Folks in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia can start using the service starting on March 8th.

Once WarnerMedia flips the switch in those locations, HBO Max will be officially accessible in 61 territories across Europe and the Americas, following its debut in Spain, Andorra and four Nordic nations in October. The service will arrive in six more European countries, including Greece and Turkey, later this year.

Word of the second phase of the HBO Max European rollout comes as AT&T announced more details of its plan to spin off WarnerMedia as a separate company as part of the proposed merger with Discovery. AT&T's shareholders will still own 71 percent of Warner Bros. Discovery (as the new company will be called). They'll receive 0.24 shares for each share of AT&T they own. Existing Discovery shareholders will own around 29 percent of the new endeavor.

AT&T expects the move to be completed in the second quarter of 2022. There's talk that HBO Max and Discovery+ may be combined into a single service after the deal closes.

Google Messages begins displaying iMessage reactions as emoji

Pretty soon, you'll no longer have to see those weird reaction texts from your iPhone-using friends. Google has started rolling out a feature for Messages that translates iMessaging "Tapbacks" as emojis, according to 9to5Google. The publication first discovered the experimental feature in a deep dive of the Google Messages beta app last year. It's unclear where it'll come out for the stable version, but If you're using the beta app, you'll get the update that enables it soon enough.

When iPhone users react to messages sent from an Android device, the recipient gets text interpretations of that reaction. A "thumbs up" to a text that says "see you in ten?" will be translated to "liked 'see you in ten?'", for instance. It can make the chat thread a bit cluttered and confusing.

With this new update, the Android user receives emojis instead, though as 9to5Google notes, they're not exact translations of the actual reactions. A "heart" reacts yields the "face with the heart eyes," for instance, while the exclamation mark reaction sends the recipient the "face with the open mouth" emoji. When you tap on the emoji, a note pops up explaining that it was "Translated from iPhone," along with the sender's name.

The feature is enabled by default, but users can toggle it off if they want by going to Advanced under the Messages' Settings and switching off "Show iPhone reactions as emoji."

Gmail's new 'integrated view' is coming to Workspace users February 8th

You'll soon have a chance to try Google's simplified, integrated Gmail update in the (virtual) workplace. Google is making the new "integrated view" available to Workspace users as an opt-in choice starting February 8th. Don't expect to hold out for long if you prefer the existing view, though. Users will start seeing the new look by default no later than April, and by the end of the second quarter (that is, June), it will be the "standard experience" with no chance to go back.

The second quarter will also bring the "streamlined" web-based Chat client. Google has promised more exact timing in the months ahead.

The integrated view is meant to help you jump between mail, chats and meetings without switching tabs. You'll eventually have unified email and chat search results. Google is counting on notification "bubbles" to alert you to issues that need prompt action. This ideally provides a clearer focus, not to mention a less cobbled-together interface than you see today — albeit without the convenience of having everything on one screen in some cases.

Google's move also appears to be a partial response to rivals like Microsoft Outlook. The rework casts Gmail as a more cohesive, do-it-all app that helps replace Outlook for recent converts to Workspace. It's not clear the update will have that effect, but Google is at least confident enough that it's willing to transition its work customers within several months.

Ableton Live 11 now supports Apple's M1 chips natively

The first major update to Ableton Live 11 is now available to all users, bringing with it native support for Apple's M1 chips. Ableton had been beta testing the update and Apple silicon support since September.

The popular music production suite should run more efficiently on M1-powered Macs after users update to Live 11.1. The DAW will no longer need to use Apple's Rosetta 2 emulator, so users will be able to harness more of their computer's power. Tapping into several plugins simultaneously can strain system resources, and native support for M1 architecture may lighten the load on that front too.

Ableton is making other changes in Live 11.1. Among those are improvements to the arrangement view, which make it easier to navigate using arrow keys. You can customize the CPU meter to show both the average and current CPU levels or either of those.

There's a new Shifter audio effect in Live Standard and Suite, which is designed for pitch shifting, frequency shifting and ring modulation. Ableton has added two tools to Max for Live called Align Delay and MIDI Shaper. The former's all about lag compensation and you can use MIDI Shaper to generate modulation.

It's worth bearing in mind that Ableton Live 11 won't update to the latest build automatically. Users will need to log in to Ableton's website and download the new version from there.

'Rocket League Sideswipe' is getting a volleyball mode in season two

Rocket League Sideswipe, a mobile spin-off from the hit car soccer game, is getting some new features and modes as part of its second season. Along with the latest free Rocket Pass and season challenges, a volleyball mode will go live in the iOS and Android game at 11AM ET on Wednesday.

The two-on-two mode has no goals. Instead, there's a net in the middle of the arena and a new ball. You'll score when the ball hits the ground on your opponents' side of the net. It's as simple a concept as "get the ball in the other team's goal," but offers a different dynamic to gameplay.

As volleyball arrives, players will need to bid adieu to Hoops, a basketball-style mode that has also been available in Rocket League. Psynoix says that these Extra Modes will cycle in and out of Sideswipe each season, likely to keep things fresh.

There'll be a bunch of new items to unlock in season two, including some Rocket League favorites like the Breakout car and supernova and dueling dragons goal explosions. You'll also have a way to practice against human opponents without worrying about your competitive rank. Casual playlists will arrive today at 7PM ET, ahead of the full season two update.

When the new season starts, Sideswipe will reset all competitive ranks. Players will be rewarded with titles and quick chat stickers that vary depending on their peak rank during the inaugural season.

Psyonix did a great job of translating the full Rocket League experience to a 2D mobile format with Sideswipe. It's a good way for fans to get their car soccer (or volleyball) fix while away from their console or PC, though I've found it easier to play with a controller than touch controls.

Google will put domestic violence help at the top of relevant searches

Google is making it easier for domestic violence survivors to get help. As of today, people who search for domestic violence and abuse terms in the US will see a box that provides direct contact info for The National Domestic Violence Hotline's 24-hour phone (1-800-799-7233) and chat services. The move is meant to help survivors quickly get assistance, particularly when there's only a brief opportunity to safely request aid.

The hotline is available directly in English and Spanish, and through interpreters for over 200 additional languages. Representatives can also offer internet-specific advice, such as hiding your search history or creating an alternate email account.

The quick-access box is similar to those Google offers for other personal crises, and reflects a familiar goal. Google uses these boxes to provide relevant, trustworthy information that could save valuable time, and the effort will easily be worthwhile if it helps people escape dangerous domestic situations.

GM's Q4 sales suggest a banner 2022

Strong sales of its existing pickup and SUV lines in Q4, despite decreased sales numbers due to the semiconductor shortage and supply chain constrictions, have GM positioned for a strong start to 2022 as the company works to electrify and automate its vehicle offerings.

"With an improving outlook for semiconductors in the U.S. and China, we expect our 2022 results will remain strong," GM CEO Mary Barra wrote in a letter to shareholders Tuesday. "In fact, we expect our EBIT-adjusted earnings to remain at or near record levels in the range of $13 billion — $15 billion, all while investing more year over year in our growth businesses like Cruise, BrightDrop and our rapidly accelerating portfolio of electric vehicles."

Barra points to strong demand for GM's burgeoning line of EVs running on the Ultium battery platform — such as the currently available Hummer EV as well as upcoming Silverado, Equinox, Sierra and Lyriq EVs — with a portion of the company's financial performance. GM's Brightdrop EV6000 commercial vehicle is also seeing healthy interest from FedEx, Merchant's Fleet and Walmart as green additions to their respective delivery and cargo fleets, the company reported Tuesday.

The Hummer EV itself has reportedly seen more than 59,000 paid reservations to date. "Not surprisingly, some of the first owners are very prominent figures in the sports and entertainment industries," Barra said during Tuesday's call "Their initial feedback has been just incredible." The company has also seen 110,000 Silverado EVs reservations so far, Barra explained, "including reservations for more than 240 fleet operators, and the numbers keep growing every day."

GM's $35 billion EV and autonomy investment announced last June, is already beginning to pay dividends. "Battery cells will not be a constraint to our long term EV growth," Barra noted. The company expects its first battery cell manufacturing plant in Lordstown Ohio by the middle of the year, with two more expected to commence operations by the end of next year and the location of a fourth site set to be announced later this spring. These will work in tandem with the automaker's Michigan-based Factory ZERO and Orion EV assembly plants.

On the autonomy front, GM has nothing but good news as its Cruise self-driving taxi service officially began offering driverless rides to the public in San Francisco Tuesday.

"This major milestone brings Cruise even closer to offering its first paid rides and generating $50 billion in annual revenue by the end of the decade," Barra noted. "It also means that the SoftBank Vision Fund will invest — as planned — an additional $1.35 billion in Cruise. This is another strong vote of confidence in the Cruise team, its technology and services."

The company also reiterated three of its ambitious climate goals during Tuesday's earnings call: going "carbon neutral in our global products and operations by 2040," eliminating "tailpipe emissions for new light-duty vehicles and offer all-electric heavy-duty vehicles by 2035" in line with California's upcoming emission vehicle sales ban, and sourcing 100 percent of its production power requirements "from renewable sources by 2035, and by 2025 in the US."

While interest in GM's line of electrifieds helped propel sales, the lack of available processors to put in them hurt the company's overall numbers. GM delivered 441,000 vehicles to American consumers in Q4 2021, does from 447,000 in Q3 and 771,000 in Q4 of 2020. Still, that dip only translated into a minor drop in overall revenue of $3.2 billion from $3.4 billion the previous quarter.

Looking ahead, GM expects the first of its Cadillac Lyriq to begin in less than 60 days while the first batch of its Hummer EV Pickups are already en route to their buyers. The company expects production on the EV600 to begin later this year with an initial capacity of around 30,000 units annually.

GM's Cruise now offers public driverless taxi rides in San Francisco

You no longer have to be a GM employee to try Cruise's self-driving taxi service. TechCrunch notes Cruise has opened fully driverless ride-hailing to the public in San Francisco. The company is initially accepting sign-ups for only"small number" of riders, but those early trips will be free. More slots will open as more cars become available, Cruise said.

Be prepared for an unusual pickup. A spokesperson told TechCrunch this first service operates between 11PM and 5AM, and you'll have to be content with rides in certain parts of the Chinatown, Haight-Ashbury, Pacific Heights and Richmond District neighborhoods. The nighttime runs will help Cruise have the most impact, the spokesperson said, and should expand over time.

The free rides aren't entirely voluntary. While Cruise has most of the licenses needed to offer driverless service, it doesn't yet have the California Public Utilities Commission permit needed to charge for those rides.

The launch comes at a good time for Cruise. While it abruptly lost CEO Dan Ammann in December, the SoftBank Vision Fund is investing another $1.35 billion in the company now that it's running truly driverless cars. Cruise can better afford those free rides and otherwise take the time to build out autonomous driving technology that includes the Origin shuttle van. The firm wasn't necessarily facing a crisis given GM's healthy financials, but this clearly reduces some of the pressure to make money.

Google's Pixel phones had their best quarter ever

Google's lineup of Pixel phones has usually been some of our favorite Android devices since the first Pixel arrived back in 2016 — but they've never been big sellers. While Google still doesn't compare with Apple and Samsung, the company says the Pixel just had its best sales quarter ever.

On the Alphabet earnings call today, CEO Sundar Pichai addressed the company's hardware performance. "In Q4, we set an all time quarterly sales record for Pixel," he said. "This came in spite of an extremely challenging supply chain environment." All of Google's competitors had similar issues, but it's reasonable to think the company could have sold more phones if not for the supply chain.

Specifically, Pichai noted that the Pixel 6 was proving to be popular with both customers and carrier partners. In our estimation, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are probably the best Pixel phones Google has released in years, and it seems that these sales records back that up. Unfortunately, Google doesn't break out sales figures, but it's hardly alone in that regard.

Pixel sales are lumped into a category simply called "other," which covers all Google hardware (among other things). Revenue from the "other" category improved 22 percent year-over-year, totaling $8.2 billion for the quarter. That's a small piece of Google's overall revenue — the company pulled in $75.3 billion in revenue overall in Q4 of last year, up 32 percent year-over-year. That speaks more to the health of the company's massive search ads business.

In other financial news, Alphabet is splitting its stock. It's a 20-for-1 split, which means one Alphabet share will soon count for 20 much cheaper shares. Given the company's stock price ended the day at $2,757.57, this split means the stock will be much more affordable. Apple and Google have split their stock before, but a 20-to-1 split is pretty unusual.

We're tuned into the Alphabet earnings call and will update this post with anything else we hear.

Google One's VPN is finally available on the iPhone

Google One's VPN hasn't been much use if you primarily surf the more secure web through your iPhone, but that won't be a problem from now on. Google is starting to roll out One VPN service for iOS users. So long as you've subscribed to the 2TB Premium plan in eligible countries, this should help you shield your internet activity. It won't give you an IP address in another country, though, so don't expect to browse foreign streaming service libraries.

There are new features for Android users, too. App Bypass lets certain apps use a regular connection if the VPN proves troublesome, while Safe Disconnect will only let you get online while the VPN is active. Snooze temporarily disables the VPN.

Google One Premium costs $10 per month and is currently available in 18 countries including the US, Canada and the UK. The iPhone launch probably won't reel you in if you're already using a VPN or a privacy-minded service like iCloud Private Relay. However, this might be just what you were looking for if you're steeped in the Google cloud ecosystem and want a secure service you can use across platforms.

Apple's 2021 cellular iPad Mini falls to a new all-time low at Amazon

The cellular iPad Mini is a top choice for road warriors, offering 5G capability along with WiFi 6 so you can stay connected wherever you are. Given the desirability of that feature, however, it's rather expensive at $649 and we've rarely seen it go on sale. Luckily, if you've been eyeing one, it's now available at Amazon for $600, or $49 off the regular price — the steepest discount we've seen so far.

The 2021 model has similar specs to the iPhone 13, with the same speedy A15 Bionic chip that delivers a big jump in performance over the fifth-gen model. It comes with a larger 8.3-inch display with higher 2,266 x 1,488 resolution and eliminates the physical home button, moving the Touch ID sensor to the power button. The volume buttons, meanwhile, are at the top to make room for Apple Pencil 2 that can be attached to the side magnetically.

Other features include USB-C charging and upgraded cameras with support from Apple's Center Stage feature, keeping you in the center of the frame during video calls. The main downsides are the lack of a headphone jack, limited 64GB of storage on the base model, and a higher price, particularly with the cellular model. Also keep in mind that the 5G doesn't support mmWave, so don't expect a big jump in wireless speeds compared to LTE.

If you're fine with the 5G limitations and 64GB storage, Amazon has at least taken the edge off the price. The $600 price for the 64GB cellular model is available on all four listed colors, but it's best to act soon before the sale ends.

Kia's EV6 is the new benchmark for affordable electric cars

We got our first good look at the EV6 last March and, nearly a year later, finally got to sit in it, drive it, and push every button in the cabin last week during a day-long press event in Northern California. It's the first Kia vehicle to be produced under the company's new Plan S electrification strategy and is expected to be joined by nearly a dozen other new EV models by 2026 - with Kia noting that "All dedicated Kia EVs will begin with the 'EV' prefix, followed by a number that indicates the car's size and position in the lineup, not its chronological place in the launch cadence."

And that's just vehicles built on the Hyundai Group's (which owns Kia) E-GMP battery-propulsion platform. When the EV6 arrives in all 50 states later this spring, it'll be going up against the likes of the Ford Mustang Mach-E, the Volkswagen ID.4, the Tesla Model Y, the Ioniq 5 and Nissan's Ariya — not to mention Kia's own Niro EV and its brother from a Hyundai mother, the Kona EV — also probably the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra when they eventually arrive as well.

The EV6 will be made available in three trim levels: Light, Wind, and GT-Line. Technically there's a fourth version, the First Edition, but the 1,500 units in that introductory lot sold out in something like 11 hours so your chances of catching one for sale at the local dealership are quite low.

The EV6 Light is Kia's introductory trim level, retailing for $40,900 and offering performance to match. Its 58 kWh nickel-cobalt-manganese battery powers a 168k W rear motor to produce 167 horsepower. That translates into an 8-second 0-60 with an electronically limited 115 MPH top speed and an EPA-rated range of 232-miles. In terms of efficiency, the Light will net you around 136 eMPG in the city (thanks, regenerative braking!) and 100 eMPG at freeway speeds. Like its better-appointed brethren, the Light employs MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link suspension in the rear.

Its drivetrain, unfortunately, can only handle a 400V charging architecture which lengthens the amount it takes to fully recharge it. It's not terrible, mind you, with a full charge off a 50W DC fast charger taking just over an hour — and a cool 18 minutes if you're lucky enough to snag a 350W station. At home, using a 240V / 48A connection (ie a home-charging box), you're looking at just under 6 hours for a full charge but with a standard 110V / 12A socket (like what you plug your coffee maker into), that's going to take days. Literally it'd have to sit on charge for more than a weekend — 51 hours and 5 minutes specifically, according to Kia's numbers — to max out its battery capacity. You're not going to see the same delays with either the Wind or GT's on account of them using the same 800V-style drivetrains that we're starting to see on higher-end EVs like GM's Hummer EV, the Porsche Taycan, Audi's E-Tron and even the Mach-E.

Sony's first 2022 State of Play will be a 'Gran Turismo 7' showcase

Gran Turismo 7, finally coming to the PS4 and PS5 on March 4th 2022 after significant delays, will be the focus of Sony's first State of Play in 2022. The event is set to stream at 5PM ET this Wednesday (February 2) and will feature "just over 30 minutes of new [GT7] PS5 footage and gameplay details," Sony announced.

In a tweet (above) Sony teased a mix of GT7 gameplay and cinematics showcasing a variety of vehicles, tracks and more. Much as it did with Deathloop last July ahead of its September launch, Sony appears to be dedicating this State of Play mainly to Gran Turismo 7.

Developer Polyphony Digital has only revealed tidbits about the PlayStation exclusive game, saying it would bring back many familiar modes. The game was first unveiled in June of 2020, seven years after series creator Kazunori Yamauchi said "we don't want to take too long on Gran Turismo 7."

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Dating app Grindr disappears from Apple's App Store in China (updated)

Grindr is still facing trouble in China. Bloomberg reports the gay dating app has disappeared from Apple's App Store in the country, with researchers at Qimai estimating the software was removed on January 27th. There was no immediate explanation for the departure, but it came just days after China's Cyberspace Administration launched a campaign to purge illegal online material, porn and rumors ahead of the Winter Olympics.

We've asked Apple and Grindr for comment. The app's departure came after weeks of glitches with Grindr's service, such as problems adding likes or sending messages.

Homosexuality is not a crime in China. Nonetheless, the country has occasionally censored gay and other LGBT content. Bloomberg notes the National Radio and Television Administration has recently used homophobic terms to blast androgynous-looking men, and has called for boycotts of gay male love stories. If regulators ordered Grindr's removal, it may have been part of this larger campaign to impose social conformity.

With that said, Grindr already had a fraught relationship with the Chinese government. The company was Chinese-owned before it was forced to sell due to US sanctions, and China-based rivals like Blued remain on the App Store despite Grindr's disappearance. If those apps persist, their presence would suggest China singled out Grindr instead of targeting all gay dating apps.

Whatever the reasons, the removal highlights a constant problem for Apple and other foreign app store owners who want to operate in China. While they may tout the importances of freedom and privacy in their home countries, China's rules frequently force them to pull apps or exclude features if they want to continue participating in one of the world's largest mobile device markets. Simply put, companies like Apple have to accept compromises if they want to retain a significant Chinese presence.

Tesla is opening more of its European Superchargers to third-party EVs

Starting today, owners of non-Tesla electric vehicles can juice up their batteries at select Superchargers in France and Norway. Drivers can find eligible locations in the Tesla app. Based on screenshots Tesla shared, there are 20 such sites in France and 15 in Norway.

Tesla started opening up broader access to its Supercharger network in November. It initially allowed drivers of non-Tesla EVs to charge their car at 10 stations in the Netherlands. The pilot is open to EV drivers who live in the Netherlands, France, Norway, Germany and Belgium.

Only CCS-enabled vehicles are supported for now. Tesla owners will still be able to charge at Supercharger stations as normal, though drivers of other EVs will need to pay some additional fees to "support charging a broad range of vehicles and adjustments to our sites to accommodate these vehicles."

The company said it will keep an eye on possible congestion at each site. Future expansion of the pilot will depend on capacity, though Tesla said that "more customers using the Supercharger network enables faster expansion." It aims to eventually open all of its sites to all EV owners. Tesla said it has long been its ambition to open Supercharger locations to non-Tesla EVs to boost the overall availability of charging locations and encourage more drivers to opt for an electric vehicle (while earning some more scratch, of course).


PS4 and PS5 users can show Discord friends what they're playing

Starting today, PS4 and PS5 players can connect their PSN account to Discord. At the outset, that means you'll be able to display your PlayStation game activity on your Discord profile and let friends there see what you're playing — something Xbox players have been able to do since 2018. If you like, you can display your PSN ID on your Discord profile to make it easy for folks to add you as a friend there.

To get started, open the Discord app or website on PC or mobile, then go to the Connections section of the User Settings. If you can connect your PSN account, you'll see a PlayStation icon. Discord is gradually rolling out the feature to everyone, starting with folks in the US, so you might not have access right away.

These are useful features, especially with crossplay becoming more commonplace and friends playing games together on different platforms. If you're an Xbox owner, for instance, you'd be able to hop on Discord and see if your friends are playing Destiny 2 or Rainbow Six Extraction on PC or PlayStation, and hop in to play with them.

We're starting to see the results of a partnership Sony and Discord announced last May. "Our goal is to bring the Discord and PlayStation experiences closer together on console and mobile starting early next year, allowing friends, groups, and communities to hang out, have fun, and communicate more easily while playing games together," Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan said at the time. SIE also made a minority investment in the messaging and voice and video chat platform.

Microsoft was previously said to be in talks to buy Discord for at least $10 billion. Though other potential suitors were reportedly interested, Discord remains an independent company. Still, with so many enormous gaming deals being agreed already this year, who knows what the future holds?

In the meantime, Discord and Sony are looking at other ways to collaborate. "We're excited to continue our partnership with PlayStation and explore how we can collectively create great shared experiences for your friends and communities," Discord wrote in a blog post.

Wordle, the game everyone's obsessed with, gets bought by the New York Times

Wordle, the once-a-day word game that's been delighting puzzle nerds (and cluttering Twitter feeds) since launching in October of last year, has been purchased by the New York Times... reports The New York Times. So long, old buddy.

The game is the brainchild of Josh Wardle and his partner Palak Shah, and once day it gives players six chances to guess a five-letter word. In an interview with the Times earlier this month, Wardle admitted that the project was inspired in part by Spelling Bee, one of the paper's subscription games which Wordle will likely appear alongside shortly.

In part, the appeal of World was that — unlike much of the internet today — it was in now way ad- or subscription-supporter. There was no app (even though some clones attempted to capitalize on that fact.) It was, two years into a global pandemic, a rare, unalloyed good. The Times did not disclose the exact terms of the Wordle acquisition, though it stated in a press release that it paid "in the low-seven figures." We've reached out for comment to the Times on if any changes are slated.

On Twitter, Wardle stated that while "it has been incredible to watch [Wordle] bring so much joy to so many" he has found the experience "a little overwhelming," given that he's been maintaining the free, highly-trafficked game himself. He notes that once it migrates to the Times, Wordle "will be free to play for everyone," and win streaks will likely be preserved.

Wordle became an overnight sensation, thought it was hardly its creator's first brush with mass online fame. While employed by Reddit, he was responsible for both "Place" and "The Button," both of which garnered plenty of positive attention, though neither with the scale or staying power of Wordle, which is estimated to have millions of daily users. A bot (run by another former Reddit employee, Kevin O'Connor) tracks the number of solves that are shared to Twitter via the now-ubiquitous black, green and gold emojis. It regularly cracks 250,000 such tweets daily.

The game has itself become a sort of template for a new variety of word puzzles, spawning a variety of offshoots that range from legitimately interesting challenges — like the two-column Dordle, the work-backwards Crosswordle or the adversarial Absurdle — to silly or absurd riffs such as Sweardle and Lewdle. More variations are seemingly released every week. Still, it's the end of an era for the game that started it all, even if functionally for players it seems things will remain much the same.

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Lunar New Year Gaming Sales: Best Deals on Epic Games and Games the Shop Stores

Epic Games Store and Games the Shop have announced Lunar New Year Sale with coupons and discounts, allowing you to save up to 85 percent on select PC games. Epic Games Store Lunar New Year Sale will end on February 10 and you can buy games such as Red Dead Redemption 2, Far Cry 6 Standard Edition, Cyberpunk 2077, Ruined King: A League of Legends Story, Kena: Bridge of Spirits, and more at up to 50 percent off. Games The Shop Lunar New Year Sale is now live and brings huge discounts to titles such as Days Gone, Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition For PC, Resident Evil 3, Devil May Cry 5 With Vergil, NBA 2K22, and more for a limited time.

The Epic Games Lunar New Year Sale started on Thursday, January 27 and will be active till February 10. Highlights of the sale include 50 percent off on Assassin's Creed: Valhalla bringing the cost down to Rs. 2,474, Red Dead Redemption 2 going for Rs. 1,599, and Cyberpunk 2077 available for Rs. 1,499. The discounts on titles range from 10 percent to 75 percent. Additionally, players can avail a $10 (roughly Rs 750) off on a total bill of above $14.99 (roughly Rs. 1,200) by subscribing to Epic Game Store emails.

Check out the list of the best-selling games available at huge discounts during the sale.

Far Cry 6 Standard Edition at Rs. 1,949 — 35 percent off
Ruined King: A League of Legends Story at Rs. 1,031 — 20 percent off
Biomutant at Rs. 944 — 50 percent off
Grand Theft Auto V at Rs. 1,160 — 50 percent off
Battlefield 2042 at Rs. 1,739 — 42 percent off
Cyberpunk 2077 at Rs. 1,499 — 50 percent off
Kena: Bridge of Spirits at Rs. 657 — 30 percent off
This Is The Police 2 at Rs. 124 — 75 percent off
Chivalry 2 at Rs. 629 — 33 percent off
Borderlands 3 at Rs. 747 — 75 percent off
WRC 10 FIA World Rally Championship at Rs. 844 — 35 percent off
STAR WARS Jedi: Fallen Order at Rs. 924 — 63 percent off
Sherlock Holmes Chapter One at Rs. 1,839 — 20 percent off
Rebel Cops at Rs. 155 — 67 percent off
Partisans 1941 at Rs. 599 — 50 percent off
Of Bird And Cage at Rs. 229 — 50 percent off
Dead by Daylight at Rs. 324— 50 percent off
Prison Architect at Rs. 174— 75 percent off
The Darkside Detective at Rs. 123— 60 percent off
Chorus at Rs. 674 — 25 percent off
Titan Quest Anniversary Edition Rs. 174 — 75 percent off
SpellForce 3 Reforced Rs. 337 — 75 percent off
The ongoing Games The Shop Lunar New Year Sale - PC Digital is already live on the website and will run until February 6. As mentioned, players can save up to 80 percent off the original price of the listed games during the sale.

Here's a list of the popular games available at steep discounts during the Games The Shop Lunar New Year Sale.

2022 BMW M8 Competition Range Revealed

BMW Group has updated its M8 range for the North American market, as it brings about tweaks, both to the externals and the internals of the M8 Competition Coupe, M8 Competition Convertible, and the M8 Competition Gran Coupe. In its 2022 avatar, the high-performance versions of the BMW 8 Series, feature new exterior colors, a new 12.3-inch central display, new M-specific inserts, M-specific bucket seats, and a few optional features as well, to give a breath of freshness to the complete BMW M8 range. Likewise, this update also marks the end of the non-Competition versions of these models.

Getting straight off to the figures, the BMW M8 Competition Coupe, Convertible, and Gran Coupe are powered by a 4.4-litre, V8 engine with M TwinPower Turbo that develops 617bhp and 750 Nm of peak torque, while the transmission duties are handled by an 8-speed M Steptronic unit, sending power to all the wheels, which allows the performance vehicle to accelerate to 100kmph in blistering 3 seconds and tops up at 306kmph, with the M Driver's Package. BMW says the handling of the M8 Competition range is improved slightly with inputs from the M8 GTE racing car, while the Adaptive M Suspension uses data from body movement, road surface conditions, and steering input to adjust each damper individually within milliseconds using electromagnetic valves, making it a capable partner on the asphalt as well as roads.

As far as the exterior goes, the BMW M8 range receives a range of exterior colors such as Skyscraper Grey metallic, Brooklyn Grey metallic, and Isle of Man Green metallic as well as Tanzanite Blue II metallic and Frozen Pure Grey metallic. The other update comes at the front as the Adaptive LED Headlights with Laserlight are now equipped with M Shadowline inserts, dispensing a muscular look, coupled to a high-gloss black frame of the BMW kidney grille. BMW is also offering the BMW Motorsport logo from the 1970s, on the hood, trunk, and wheel hub covers in place of the usual BMW roundels as an option.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Series Prices Leak, Said to Have Similar Launch Prices as Galaxy S21 Models

Samsung Galaxy S22 series is set to go live during a Galaxy Unpacked 2022 event on February 9 alongside the brand's flagship tablets. Ahead of the official debut of the devices, a fresh leak has tipped the US pricing details of the flagship smartphones and tablets. The news comes a few days after the South Korean company started taking pre-orders for the upcoming devices. The smartphone series is expected to include the vanilla Samsung Galaxy S22 model alongside Galaxy S22+ and Galaxy S22 Ultra. Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 lineup is expected to comprise Galaxy Tab S8, Galaxy Tab S8 Plus, and Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. Leaked pricing details suggest that Samsung could offer the new Galaxy S22 phones at the same prices as its predecessors.

Samsung Galaxy S22 series price (expected)
Tipster Anthony (@TheGalox_) has leaked the alleged prices of Samsung Galaxy S22 series smartphones in the US via a Twitter post. According to the leak, the vanilla Galaxy S22 will cost $799 (roughly Rs. 59,800) and Galaxy S22+ will cost $999 (roughly Rs. 74,800). The top-of-the-line Galaxy S22 Ultra is said to come with a price tag of $1,199 (roughly Rs. 89,800) in the US.

All three models are tipped to come with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, presumably in the base variants. However, colour options of the handsets are unknown at this moment.

To recall, Samsung Galaxy S21 was launched in 2021 with a price tag of $799 in the US. Galaxy S21+ and Galaxy S21 Ultra were introduced at a starting price of $999 and $1,199, respectively.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 series price (expected)
According to the tipster, the price of the Galaxy Tab S8 models will start at $649 (roughly Rs. 48,600), whereas the top-end model in the series is expected to be available for purchase at $1,099 (roughly Rs. 82,400). Like the Galaxy S22 phones, the Galaxy Tab S8 models could ​come with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

Samsung has not yet confirmed the development of Galaxy Tab S8 series. As mentioned, the upcoming tablet series is expected to include Galaxy Tab S8, Galaxy Tab S8 Plus, and Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra.

PUBG New State Renamed to New State Mobile, Krafton Announces Lunar New Year Rewards

PUBG New State is being renamed to New State Mobile, the game's publisher Krafton confirmed on Thursday. Krafton revealed the new name of the popular battle royale game for smartphones that was launched in November 2021. It has since racked up over 45 million downloads. While Krafton offers a desktop version of PUBG, which recently became a free-to-play game, the latest move by Krafton to rename PUBG New State suggests that the game could remain a mobile-only game and may not be released for PC and consoles.

The South Korean publisher confirmed that it has renamed PUBG New State to New State Mobile in a tweet on Thursday. Krafton has already changed the name of its Facebook and Twitter accounts to New State Mobile. "NEW STATE has always been a mobile-focused experience, and through the transformation to NEW STATE MOBILE, we are bringing this to the core," Krafton says in the tweet. The game was released in November last year and has since accumulated over 45 million downloads, according to a previous report. At the time of publishing, the Google Play store and Apple's App Store listing for the game still had the old PUBG: New State title.

Krafton recently added a new BR: Extreme Mode to New State Mobile, in which matches feature 64 players and last for 20 minutes. Gamers are dropped into the Troi map with a P1911 handgun, a smoke grenade, 300 drone credits, and fully charged boost meters. They must battle other players in fast-paced matches that grant double tier points. According to a report by Dotesports, a lot of changes are coming to the game starting with the addition of the BR: Extreme Mode and Krafton will more details will be shared "later this year".

Meanwhile, Krafton recently announced a new set of Lunar New Year events and rewards in the game that will run until February 2. The first event will grant three BP Random Boxes to players who log in to the game for at least four days, and four Royale Chest Tickets to players who play BR: Extreme mode at least thrice daily for four days. The second event will grant three Frozen Wonderland Crate Tickets to players who play BR: Extreme at least 12 times before February 2, while gamers who win a Chicken Dinner in BR: Extreme will get five Chicken Medals, according to Krafton.

Nissan Expands Magnite Exports To 13 New Markets, Bookings Cross 78,000 Units In India

Nissan India has begun exports of the Magnite to 13 new markets, taking the total overseas markets to a total of 15, the company said in a statement. The Nissan Magnite has been a gamechanger for the automaker developed not just for India but other emerging markets as well. The subcompact SUV did exceedingly well in its first year of sales and is bringing in good numbers for the automaker. Nissan also announced that the automaker has received over 78,000 bookings for the model in India since its launch in December 2020. The Nissan Magnite is the first global product to launch under the Nissan NEXT transformation plan.

Nissan chairperson for Africa, Middle East, India, Europe, and Oceania region, Guillaume Cartier said, "Magnite is an exceptional car and a fantastic showcase for Nissan design and engineering, as well as the strength and expertise of Indian manufacturing. I'm excited that customers in many more markets will be able to experience Magnite. It is a great example of Nissan's innovative approach in bringing engaging products, with a strong and uniquely 'Nissan' identity, to our customers.

Sinan Ozkok, President, Nissan Motor India, said, "Nissan Magnite is a true reflection of Nissan's philosophy of 'Make in India, Make for the World". We are proud to export the 'Big, Bold and Beautiful' Nissan Magnite to 15 markets across the globe. It demonstrates the universal appeal of great design, performance, and value."

iPhone 14 May Get eSIM-Only and Nano-SIM Card Slot Models; New 'Trade-In Tool' Spotted

iPhone 14 series is speculated to debut with eSIM-only as well as nano-SIM card options. Apple was earlier rumoured to completely ditch the existing physical SIM card slot in favour of eSIM support on the new iPhone models. Separately, the first developer beta release of iOS 15.4 has suggested that Apple is developing a 'trade-in tool' that would look for cosmetic damage to provide users with more accurate price estimates for older devices. The tool may work by scanning an image device being exchanged.

As reported by iMore, Technology Service Director at data analytics and consulting firm GlobalData Emma Mohr-McClune has predicted that Apple would retain a nano-SIM slot option for the iPhone 14 series alongside bringing an eSIM-only option this year.

The analyst said that the iPhone maker would give telcos the choice to whether they want to stock and sell the new eSIM-only iPhone version alongside "more cellular business-friendly dual eSIM/ physical SIM support models".

Last month, a report citing a seemingly legitimate document said that Apple had recommended major US telecom operators to prepare for eSIM-only smartphones by September. That indicated the launch of the eSIM-only iPhone 14 series.

By embracing eSIM over the traditional nano-SIM card slot, Apple would essentially enable users to have cellular connectivity on their new iPhone models without using a physical SIM card. The experience is expected to be similar to how people can get 4G or 5G connectivity on an iPad, which has already started using eSIM-only support.

The transition from the nano-SIM card slot to eSIM started in the iPhone family when Apple first introduced dual-SIM support on the iPhone XS models. The company also introduced dual-SIM support using eSIM on the iPhone 13 series last year. Moreover, the other device that Apple has in its product portfolio with eSIM support is the cellular version of its Apple Watch models that enable data and voice access on the smartwatch, without requiring a physical SIM.

In related news, the iOS 15.4 beta has included some references about a new trade-in tool that would scan iPhone models for cosmetic damages. There are strings within the iOS code that indicate the development of the new tool that may use the iPhone camera to scan for details such as scratches, dents, and even broken glass, 9to5Mac reports.

The tool would be able to share the scanned details with Apple to help provide a more accurate trade-in value to customers looking to exchange their old iPhone for a new one.

Apple may also use the trade-in tool as an extension of its self-service repair programme to help users recognise genuine spare parts through the camera before getting them assembled within their devices.

Lenovo Legion Y90 Specifications Tipped via Alleged TENAA Listing, May Come With Up to 16GB of RAM

Lenovo Legion Y90 launch seems imminent as the smartphone has recently received China's TENAA certification. The TENAA listing suggests key specifications of the upcoming gaming smartphone from Lenovo. The smartphone is said to sport a 6.9-inch full-HD+ OLED display with under-display fingerprint scanner. Lenovo Legion Y90 is powered by an unnamed 2.995GHz octa-core processor with up to 16GB of RAM and up to 512GB of onboard storage. The upcoming Legion smartphone is said to be offered in nine colour options.

The TENAA listing shows a Lenovo smartphone with L71061 internal designation which is being speculated to be the upcoming Lenovo Legion Y90. There is no exact launch date mentioned, but a TENAA listing usually suggests that a launch could be around the corner. It is being speculated that the Legion gaming smartphone may launch after the Chinese New Year holidays. The smartphone is said to be offered in nine colour options — Black, Blue, Cyan, Gold, Green, Grey, Red, Silver, and White.

Lenovo Legion Y90 specifications (expected)
As per a report by Playfuldroid, Lenovo Legion Y90 will likely run Android 12 out-of-the-box. The listing suggests that the Lenovo smartphone will sport a 6.9-inch full-HD+ (1,080x2,460 pixels) OLED display with 16.7 million colours, and a previous report suggests a high refresh rate of 144Hz.

Under the hood, Lenovo Legion Y90 is said to get a 2.995GHz octa-core processor that is being speculated to be a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC. As per the listing, the processor will be paired with 8GB, 10GB, 12GB, and 16GB of RAM. Onboard storage options on the Lenovo smartphone are said to be 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB.

The report mentions that the TENAA listing for Lenovo Legion Y90 mentions incorrect camera specifications. As per the report, it will feature a dual rear camera setup which comprises a 64-megapixel primary sensor and a 16-megapixel secondary sensor. At the front, it is said to sport a 44-megapixel selfie camera. Connectivity options mentioned in the listing comprise 5G, 4G LTE, Bluetooth, and USB. Onboard sensors include an under-display fingerprint sensor, gravity sensor, proximity sensor, and ambient light sensor.

The TENAA listing only mentions a 2,650mAh battery with fast charging support. However, the report suggests that Lenovo Legion Y90 may pack a dual-cell battery with the total battery capacity tallying at 5,600mAh. A recent 3C listing suggests that the smartphone may feature 68W fast charging support. The TENAA listing mentions that the phone will measure 177x78.1x10.9mm and weighs 252 grams.

Microsoft will stop billing dormant Game Pass members... in two years

It's all too easy for some folks to sign up for a service, pay a subscription fee every month and forget all about it. With that in mind, Microsoft is tackling the issue of inactive Game Pass memberships. As part of broader changes to Xbox Live Gold and Game Pass in the UK, the company says it will cancel subscriptions that have long lain dormant.

The company will get in touch with people who are paying for an Xbox Live Gold or Game Pass subscription but haven't used it for at least a year. It'll tell them how to stop their payments if they want to opt out. If those people keep forking over cash every month without using their memberships for another 12 consecutive months, Microsoft will eventually stop taking payments.

The change will apply to UK consumers at first. Microsoft told The Verge it will roll them out globally in the near future.

The company took up the measure — which it committed to for at least three years in the UK — as part of a voluntary agreement with the country's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The regulator has been investigating auto-renewing subscriptions on Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch since 2019. Sony and Nintendo haven't committed to similar undertakings as yet.

Along with changes to inactive subscriptions, Microsoft has agreed to offer better upfront information about memberships, including clear details about auto-renewals, when subscriptions will be reupped, how much people will pay and a way to get a refund if they accidentally renew their plan.

It will contact users who have recurring annual subscriptions and offer them a chance to cancel and receive a prorated refund. Microsoft will also provide clearer notifications about Game Pass and Live Gold price rises and tell users how to turn off auto-renewals.

"Gamers need to be given clear and timely information to make informed choices when signing up for auto-renewing memberships and subscriptions," said Michael Grenfell, the CMA's executive director of enforcement. We are therefore pleased that Microsoft has given the CMA these formal undertakings to improve the fairness of their practices and protect consumers, and will be offering refunds to certain customers."

From time to time, it's worth taking a look at whether you're getting your money's worth out of your various subscriptions. If not, there's little harm in pausing or canceling them. You can always sign back up later.

Ubisoft will shut down 'Hyper Scape' on April 28th

Ubisoft is discontinuing development on Hyper Scape. On Thursday, the company announced it will shut down the game on April 28th. "We set out to create a vertical, close-quarters and fast-paced shooter experience and we are extremely grateful to our community for joining us on our journey," Ubisoft said. "We will be taking key learnings from this game into future products."

Ubisoft launched Hyper Scape in the summer of 2020, claiming at the time the title would bring fresh ideas to the crowded battle royal market. However, it struggled almost immediately to capture the attention of people who were already content playing games like Call of Duty: Warzone and Apex Legends. Following a subsequent console release, Ubisoft admitted Hyper Scape "didn't fully meet the high expectations of our players." To its credit, the company didn't give up on the game immediately, and it tried to salvage it with additional content. Clearly, however, those efforts weren't enough.

It also doesn't seem like Hyper Scape's struggles have fazed Ubisoft's desire to create a successful battle royale title. In the upcoming Ghost Recon Frontline, the company is working on at least one new game in the genre. There are also rumors the recently announced The Division Heartland is a battle royale. As they say, if at first you don't succeed, try, try and try again.

iOS 15.4 beta supports Face ID while wearing a mask

Just a few days after rolling out iOS 15.3, Apple has released the latest iOS developer beta. Among the new features is one that'll come in very handy for unlocking your iPhone while you're out and about in the current climate. The company is testing a way for folks to use Face ID while they're wearing a mask — without needing an Apple Watch.

"Face ID is most accurate when it's set up for full-face recognition only," Apple explains when users set up the feature. "To use Face ID while wearing a mask, iPhone can recognize the unique features around the eye to authenticate."

The update comes almost a year after Apple started allowing users to unlock their iPhone via Face ID while masking up. Until now, people have used an unlocked Apple Watch as a key.

Apple's looking to get rid of that requirement in the latest beta, which will surely come as music to the ears of people who are fed up with punching in their iPhone passcode at the grocery store or the gym. Avoiding using your passcode in public is a boon for privacy too.

You'll need to switch on the option manually. Under the Face ID & Passcode section of the settings, select the "Use Face ID with a mask option" to get started. The feature will still work for those who are wearing glasses, but you'll need to remove your sunglasses.

Other features in the beta include the option to add notes to iCloud Keychain passwords and the ability to copy text from objects using the camera while in the Notes and Reminders apps. Also new is support for adaptive triggers on the PS5 DualSense controller, EU Digital COVID Certificate-compatible vaccination records in Wallet, an Apple Card widget and, perhaps most importantly for many, dozens more emoji.

As for the iPadOS 15.4, there's brightness control for the keyboard and (as part of the macOS Monterey 12.3 beta) something many Mac and iPad users have been waiting for: Universal Control. That feature allows people to control multiple Macs and iPads with a single mouse and keyboard. In December, Apple delayed the feature until the spring. It's not yet clear when Apple plans to release the final versions of the latest software more broadly.

Tesla driver in fatal California crash first to face felony charges involving Autopilot

A Tesla owner is facing the first felony charges filed against someone using a partially automated driving system in the US, according to AP. The defendant, Kevin George Aziz Riad, was driving a Model S when he ran a red light and crashed into a Honda Civic at a California intersection in 2019. It ended up killing the Civic's two passengers, while Riad and his companion sustained non-life threatening injuries. California prosecutors filed two counts of vehicular manslaughter against Riad in October last year.

The court documents reportedly didn't mention anything about Autopilot. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which has been investigating the incident over the past couple of years, recently confirmed that it was switched on at the time of the crash. The NHTSA formally opened a probe into Tesla's driver assistance system in August last year following a string of 11 crashes involving parked first responder vehicles that killed 17 people. It's also investigating other types of crashes with Tesla vehicles, including one complaint blaming the beta version of the company's Full Self Driving technology for a collision in California.

As AP notes, Riad is the first to face charges involving a widely used driver assistance technology, but he's not the very first person using an automated driving system to be charged in the US. In 2020, an Uber backup driver was charged with negligent homicide after the company's autonomous test vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona. According to an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Uber's technology detected the victim more than five seconds before the crash but wasn't able to identify her as a pedestrian. The driver could have avoided the crash if she had been paying attention.

The NHTSA told AP in a statement that "every vehicle requires the human driver to be in control at all times" even if it has a partially automated system. On its Autopilot page, Tesla says that Autopilot is "intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any moment."

Microsoft Game Pass tops 25 million subscribers

Microsoft's bid for Activision Blizzard may be the highlight of the day, but the company also revealed a major milestone for its Game Pass service in the process. The all-you-can-play offering now has over 25 million subscribers, a nearly 39 percent jump over the 18 million it had a year earlier. The company didn't say how many of those customers were using the service on Xbox consoles, Windows PCs or both.

It's a significant figure for the service, if not as big as the company would have liked. As Axios noted, Microsoft missed its Game Pass growth target for the fiscal year that ended in June 2021 — it hoped for a 48 percent year-over-year jump in members, but 'only' managed 37 percent. While this was still strong and preceded the release of Halo Infinite, the company is clearly eager to improve Game Pass' performance.

That, in turn, explains one of the reasons for the Activision Blizzard deal. Microsoft has made clear that it intends to offer Activision Blizzard games through Game Pass. The $10 or more you're asked to pay each month might become far more compelling if you know you'll always have the latest Call of Duty or World of Warcraft release on top of Game Pass' other titles. Although the merger might not complete until 2023, it could preserve Game Pass' momentum and help fend off looming competition from Sony.

'Cuphead' animated series comes to Netflix February 18th

You won't have to wait as long for Netflix's Cuphead show as you did for the video game. Netflix has revealed The Cuphead Show premieres February 18th, and has offered a trailer to show just what you can expect. At first glance, fans of the difficult-but-loveable side-scroller don't have much to worry about — Studio MDHR's signature 1930s art style and characters have successfully made the leap, even if this is still a modern cartoon in many respects.

The trailer shows Cuphead and his easily-persuaded brother Mugman getting into plenty of trouble by visiting the "Carnevil," among other hijinks. They'll have to contend with the Devil and King Dice as well as friends that include Ms. Chalice (from the game's upcoming Delicious Last Course DLC), Elder Kettle and the pig shopkeeper. You can also see several of the game's lesser bosses make cameo appearances in the clip.

The series stars voice acting veterans Tru Valentino and Frank Todaro as Cuphead and Mugman respectively, with Wayne Brady as King Dice. It's too early to say if The Cuphead Show will be as popular as some of Netflix's other video game endeavors, but the influence of Studio MDHR creators Chad and Jared Moldenhauer (who helped executive-produce the show) is clear. This appears to be a sincere nod to what made the game special, not just an attempt to milk its success and widen its audience.

Microsoft consolidating the video game industry is bad for everyone

It was cute at first. When Xbox head Phil Spencer took the stage at E3 2018 and announced the acquisition of five notable studios – Undead Labs, Playground Games, Ninja Theory, Compulsion Games and The Initiative – the air inside the Microsoft Theater turned electric. It felt like the company was righting a wrong in its business plan and finally building an internal roster of exciting games that it could offer exclusively on Xbox platforms. You know, a few friends to keep Master Chief company.

Today's announcement that Microsoft is buying Activision Blizzard, the largest third-party publisher in the video game industry, doesn't feel as harmless. Four years on and numerous acquisitions later, the Activision Blizzard deal feels like an extreme escalation of Microsoft's plans, and it could mark a turning point in the video game industry as a whole, with negative consequences for both players and developers.

So far, public reaction to the acquisition has been mixed, which makes sense for a few reasons: first, Activision Blizzard's sheer size is daunting, and this purchase represents more money and industry power than Microsoft's previous gaming acquisitions combined. Second, Activision Blizzard is currently the subject of multiple investigations into allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination at the studio, where CEO Bobby Kotick has been in charge and largely unchecked for the past 30 years. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Kotick is poised to leave the company in a golden parachute once the Microsoft deal goes through.

This is the first time Microsoft has received a confused response to acquisition news, rather than outright praise, and that's because this isn't a standard transaction. It's the clearest sign yet that we're in the video game industry's era of consolidation.

Back in 2017, Microsoft was badly losing the first-party IP fight to Sony and Nintendo. By the end of that year, Xbox had shut down two of its internal studios, Lionhead and Press Play, it had killed a few hotly anticipated projects, and even with the Xbox Series X right around the corner, there wasn't much to look forward to in the company's software reserves. The acquisition announcement at E3 2018 was a sigh of relief for anxious Xbox fans.

By February 2019, Microsoft had 13 studios and publishing organizations under the banner of Xbox Game Studios.

And then in September 2020, Microsoft revealed it was buying ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda, id Software, Arkane Studios and Tango Gameworks. The gaming world generally rejoiced, but a few folks also started glancing around, suspicious. These studios were a big deal – the stewards of Fallout, Doom, Dishonored, Wolfenstein, Deathloop, Starfield and Elder Scrolls – and they were being added to Microsoft's substantial pile of medium-sized companies, more names in a growing list. That alone was cause for pause.

For most fans, the main question was, what did the acquisition mean for games like The Elder Scrolls VI, which was part of a series that historically hit PlayStation and Xbox platforms alike? Basically, would Elder Scrolls VI come to PS4 and PS5?

Turns out, probably not.

One year after Microsoft's purchase of Bethesda, Spencer told GQ that he believed the Xbox ecosystem was the best place for all of the franchises in the studio's repertoire, including The Elder Scrolls VI. He all but confirmed it would be exclusive to Xbox.

"It's not about punishing any other platform, like I fundamentally believe all of the platforms can continue to grow," Spencer told GQ. "But in order to be on Xbox, I want us to be able to bring the full complete package of what we have. And that would be true when I think about Elder Scrolls VI. That would be true when I think about any of our franchises."

Starfield, Bethesda's sci-fi RPG built for the ninth console generation, will definitely be exclusive to Xbox Series X/S and PC, skipping PS5 entirely. Spencer's comments make it clear that Xbox is eyeing exclusivity for its franchises, and after today's $69 billion deal goes through, that's going to include Activision Blizzard games.

Activision Blizzard is the largest third-party publisher in gaming, and it's the owner of massive franchises including Call of Duty, Overwatch, Diablo, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone and Candy Crush. As a third-party studio, Activision Blizzard has been able to negotiate with the main platform holders to get its software on the consoles and devices it wants. This doesn't always equate to same-day launches or in-game item equity, but generally speaking, this position has helped ensure Activision Blizzard games reach as many players on as many platforms as possible. Exclusivity agreements and distribution deals are the main source of competition in the industry at this point, allowing outside developers to advocate for their games without feeling beholden to any console owner in particular.

When a platform holder becomes the largest publisher in gaming, it flips the script completely. It jams the script into a shredder, burns the scraps to ash, condenses the ash into stone, and then throws that to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

Let's take Call of Duty, a series with predictable annual installments, for example. Over the years, Activision has shifted allegiances between Microsoft and Sony, offering early access and exclusive game modes to Xbox platforms, then PlayStation, and mixing it up along the way. Among all the backroom talks, bad blood and better offers, it's always been up to Activision to cut the best deal for Call of Duty, console holders be damned.

After the acquisition, that negotiation looks entirely different, if it even exists at all. As the owner of Call of Duty, Microsoft can tell Sony to screw off, keeping one of the industry's biggest franchises exclusive to Xbox platforms.

This likely won't happen right away, but it's certainly a possibility down the line. In his blog post about the acquisition, Xbox's Spencer didn't address Sony or Nintendo platforms specifically, but he alluded to the possibility of cross-platform support for Activision Blizzard's franchises.

"Activision Blizzard games are enjoyed on a variety of platforms and we plan to continue to support those communities moving forward," he said, without detailing what he meant by "platforms" or "support." Keep in mind, this was the messaging around Elder Scrolls VI at first, too.

Microsoft isn't the only company in the midst of a studio-hoarding spree: Sony picked up its 13th internal studio, Housemarque, in June 2021, while Tencent is chugging along with ownership of Riot Games, financial stakes in a handful of massive studios, and the purchase of LittleBigPlanet 3 developer Sumo Group in July 2021. Even Valve has scooped up a handful of independent creators in recent years, including the team behind Firewatch and some members of Kerbal Space Program.

Apple Led Smartphone Shipments in Q4 2021, Samsung Close Second Amid Chip Shortage: Canalys

Apple was the most popular smartphone manufacturer in terms of worldwide smartphone shipments for Q4 2021, according to a report by market analyst firm Canalasy. The Cupertino-based smartphone manufacturer took the first spot from competitor Samsung, and accounted for 22 percent of global smartphone sales in the last quarter despite supply chain issues, and rising coronavirus cases around the world. Meanwhile, Chinese smartphone manufacturers Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo were in third, fourth and fifth places, with 12 percent, 9 percent and 8 percent market share, respectively.

According to a report by Canalys, Apple finally managed to beat Samsung for the top spot in the smartphone shipments competition, thanks to strong demand for the iPhone 13 series. "Apple saw unprecedented iPhone performance in Mainland China, with aggressive pricing for its flagship devices keeping the value proposition strong," the report states. The company's supply chain was also affected due to the pandemic leading to production cuts (and increased waiting times in some markets) but appears to be recovering, according to the report.

According to the report, Samsung was in second place and accounted for 20 percent of worldwide smartphone shipments in Q4 2021. The South Korean smartphone maker has shown an improvement compared to Q4 2020, when it accounted for 17 percent of global smartphone shipments. Meanwhile, Xiaomi was in third place with 12 percent of handsets sold worldwide. Oppo and Vivo took fourth and fifth place with 9 percent and 8 percent respectively, according to the report.

Back in December, Bloomberg reported that Apple had informed suppliers it did not expect customers to maintain interest after long wait times for the company's latest iPhone 13 series. The report suggested that the Cupertino company expects supplies to improve in 2022. Apple previously cut iPhone 13 production plans by 10 million units, thanks in part to the global chip shortage that has resulted in a shortage of iPhone components, according to an older report by Bloomberg.


Garmin Fenix 7, Fenix 7S, Fenix 7X Smartwatches With Real-Time Stamina Tool Launched

Garmin Fenix 7 series GPS smartwatches have been launched in the US, featuring touchscreens, colour displays and silicone straps. Like the previous Fenix models, the new series includes solar-enhanced models, and the smartwatches come in three models - Garmin Fenix 7, Garmin Fenix 7S, and the premium Garmin Fenix 7X. The premium model in the series - Fenix 7X - is said to deliver a battery life of up to five weeks in smartwatch mode and up to five days in GPS mode. The wearables have a 10ATM water resistance certification as well. The new smartwatch range is designed to let users track activities including mountain biking, skiing, kayaking, snowboarding, rowing, and more. Garmin Fenix 7 series also have health and wellness tracking features including Realm-Time Stamina, wrist-based heart rate, respiration, sleep tracking, and stress tracking.

Garmin Fenix 7 series price, availability
Garmin Fenix 7, Garmin Fenix 7S, Garmin Fenix 7X are the available models in the new smartwatch lineup with options for standard (non-solar), Solar and Sapphire Solar Editions. The retail price of the Garmin Fenix 7 and Garmin Fenix 7S starts from $699.99 (roughly Rs. 52,100) and go up to $899.99 (roughly Rs. 67,000). The price of Garmin Fenix 7X models starts from $899.99 (roughly Rs. 67,000) to $999.99 (roughly Rs. 74,500).

Garmin Fenix 7 series specifications, features
The Garmin Fenix 7, Garmin Fenix 7S, and Garmin Fenix 7X smartwatches come with 42mm, 47mm, and 51mm cases sizes and (280 x 280 pixels) colour display. Garmin Fenix 7 sports a 1.3-inch display, while the Garmin Fenix 7S features a 1.2-inch display. The Garmin Fenix 7X model comes with a 1.4-inch display.

The new flagship smartwatches are built from materials like titanium and sapphire, with silicone straps. Garmin Fenix 7 series smartwatches pack a 5-button interface along with a touchscreen. The wearables have multi-LED flashlights as well.

New Garmin smartwatches are equipped with 32GB of storage. As mentioned, the solar-powered Garmin Fenix 7X models are said to deliver up to 5 weeks of battery life in smartwatch mode and up to 5 days in GPS mode. The new Garmin Fenix 7 series smartwatches offer Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and ANT+ Connectivity.

All Garmin Fenix 7 series smartwatches feature health and fitness modes including the Pulse Ox blood oxygen saturation, wrist-based heart rate, respiration and stress tracking. Additionally, there is a Body Battery feature, that tells users about their body's energy levels.

Apart from the golf courses and surf, snow features, Garmin has added a bunch of new features in the Garmin Fenix 7 series. Garmin has introduced the Real-Time Stamina tool in the new set of wearables that allows athletes to monitor and track exertion levels during activities.

Visual Race Predictor is another new tool that evaluates the progress of training based on the running history and overall fitness.

Recovery Time Advisor is a new health-related feature provided by Garmin in the new Garmin Fenix 7 series smartwatches. It analyses the intensity of training and stress, daily activity, and sleep to calculate the amount of rest needed to recover before another session begins. Daily Workout Suggestions give recommendations for workouts based on the current training load and fitness level.

Garmin Fenix 7 series support streaming from Spotify, Amazon Music and Deezer. Users can find new apps through the connect IQ Store On Device and install them over Wi-Fi directly from the watch.

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Tamil Nadu To Showcase Tableaux Rejected by Centre In Chennai On Republic Day

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Tuesday said that the State Government has decided to showcase the tableaux rejected by the Centre for the Republic Day Parade in New Delhi, at a parade on the Marina beachfront in Chennai on January 26.
Besides, said the chief minister the tableaux would travel to key towns in Tamil Nadu for the people to see, according to a statement by the chief minister's office.

"Shocked and sad over rejection of tableaux from Tamil Nadu for Republic Day parade without any reason. State tableaux rejected for Republic day parade in Delhi by Central committee will be part of Republic Day parade in Chennai; will be taken across Tamil Nadu," said the Chief Minister in a statement.

Earlier today, a day after, Mr Stalin wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over Centre rejecting the state's tableau for the Republic Day Parade 2022, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that the tableau was considered in the first three rounds of the meetings of the expert committee, however, could not make it to the final list of the 12 tableaux selected for this year.

Mr Stalin on Monday had written to the Prime Minister seeking his immediate intervention into the matter. "Excluding the tableau will deeply hurt the sentiments and patriotic feelings of the people of Tamil Nadu," the Tamil Nadu chief minister had written.

Responding to his letter, Rajanth Singh wrote in his letter to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, "Ministry of Defence invites proposals for tableaux from all States/UTs and Central Ministries/Departments. The tableaux proposals received from various States/UTs and Central Ministries/Departments are evaluated in a series of meetings of the Expert Committee comprising eminent persons in the field of art, culture, painting, sculpture, music, architecture, choreography etc. The Expert Committee examines the proposals on the basis of theme, concept, design and its visual impact before making its recommendations."

Tork Kratos Electric Motorcycle Launch Date Announced

It's been a long wait but Pune-based Tork Motors will finally launch its first electric motorcycle this month. The company has announced that the Tork Kratos, previously codenamed T6X, will be launched on January 26, 2022. It's been a nearly six-year wait to see the T6X make it to production, with the model first showcased way back in 2016. The Kratos electric motorcycle was recently spotted testing as well and has taken a big leap since the prototype from all those years ago. You can check out the T6X prototype in this throwback video below.

It's hardly surprising that Tork decides to bring the Kratos on India's Republic Day, considering Ola Electric and Simple Energy pulled something similar on the 2021 Independence Day for their respective launches. That being said, there's plenty to look forward to on the made in India electric motorcycle. The Tork Kratos will sport an evolved design language. Major changes include the new body panels that appear sharper than before. The triangular headlamp is all-new while the model gets a more beefy appearance over the prototype.

Certain cycle parts that seem to have been carried over include telescopic front forks, a monoshock at the rear, and disc brakes. The test mule was also equipped with a rear tyre hugger. The bike will get an IP67-rated lithium-ion battery pack with a new Axial Flux motor that promises an efficiency rating of 90-96 per cent. While official details haven't been revealed but the battery is expected to provide a range of 100 km on a single charge and will support fast charging as well.

On the Tork T6X prototype, the model came equipped with a 6 kW electric motor developing about 8 bhp and 27 Nm of peak torque. The bike promised a top speed of 100 kmph. It'll be interesting to see if the power and performance figures remain the same even now. Tork co-founder, Kapil Shelke, had compared the performance of the T6X with a 200 cc motorcycle. The prototype also got something called the TIROS, which was Tork's in-house analytics system and kept a tab of the bike's performance, riding analytics, data and more. A novelty at the time, the system is now pretty common with two-wheeler manufacturers.

Samsung's Exynos 2200 mobile processor uses an AMD ray tracing GPU

Samsung has revealed the Exynos 2200, its first mobile processor with an AMD RDNA 2-powered GPU that will allow ray-tracing and other gaming features. The system-on-chip (SoC) will likely feature in Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S22, rumored to be launching at an Unpacked event on February 8th.

The Exynos 2200 with AMD's "Xclipse" GPU will be manufactured on Samsung's 4-nanometer EUV process. "Samsung's Xclipse GPU is the first result of multiple planned generations of AMD RDNA graphics in Exynos SoCs," said AMD Senior VP David Wang.

The CPU, meanwhile, will use one high-powered Cortex-X2 "flagship core" along with three performance and efficiency balanced Cortex-A710 big-cores and four power-efficient Cortex-A510 little-cores. The image processor is designed to support camera sensors up to 200 megapixels like the Isocell HP1 Samsung revealed last September.
AMD and Samsung announced a collaboration in 2019, with the expectation that AMD's graphics tech would be used in Exynos smartphone processors. Rumors early in 2021 suggested that AMD-powered Samsung processors were coming soon, and at Computex, AMD confirmed that an upcoming Exynos mobile system-on-chip would feature RDNA 2 graphics technology.

The Exynos 2200 was supposed to be launched earlier, but Samsung mysteriously no-showed its own launch event originally scheduled for January 11th. Normally, Exynos processors are earmarked for regions outside North America, while the US gets Qualcomm's Snapdragon mobile processors. That would mean the you wouldn't see the AMD GPU and its ray tracing features stateside, but we'll have to wait for the Galaxy S22 launch to confirm that.

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Awesome Games Done Quick 2022 raised a record $3.4 million for charity

The latest Awesome Games Done Quick speedrunning marathon is in the books. After another week of players showing off their skills and romping through games as quickly as possible, AGDQ 2022 raised $3,416,729 for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. That's a record total for any Games Done Quick event in the organization's 12-year history.

According to GDQ's tracker, the highest donation was $236,656 and the median pledge was $25. AGDQ 2022 speedran to $1 million in donations, hitting that threshold faster than any previous GDQ event.

AGDQ once again took place as an online-only event amid COVID-19 concerns. Even though there wasn't an in-person audience to hype up the players, there were still some remarkable runs. For instance, a runner named Mitchriz used audio cues and a deep knowledge of the notoriously difficult Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice to beat the game in two hours while blindfolded.

Runners broke some world records during the event too, including in Kena: Bridge of Spirits, Pumpkin Jack and Webbed. You can catch up on those runs, and everything else from AGDQ, on the Games Done Quick YouTube channel.

GDQ will next host an all-women speedrunning event called Frost Fatales, which takes place between February 27th and March 5th. As usual, you'll be able to watch it live on Twitch. Summer Games Done Quick will return later this year.

Apple may have dropped built-in noise cancellation on the iPhone 13

Apple's "Noise Cancellation" accessibility feature has been a staple on past iPhones, but may have been permanently removed from the iPhone 13 series, 9to5Mac has reported. The feature is designed to "reduce ambient noise on phone calls when you are holding the receiver to your ear," a feature that can help make calls easier to hear.

"Phone Noise Cancellation is not available on iPhone 13 models, which is why you do not see this option in [the Accessibility] settings," Apple support told one of 9to5Mac's readers. When the reader asked for clarification, the support team confirmed that the feature is "not supported."

Questions about noise cancellation came up on Reddit and Apple support pages shortly after the phone went on sale, with readers noticing that it was no longer available on the Accessibility page. The feature is still available with iOS 15 on past iPhone models, but is nowhere to be found on the iPhone 13.

"Noise Cancellation" normally uses an iPhone's camera microphone to detect and remove ambient noise around you, so you can more easily hear the other person on a phone or FaceTime call — something that can be valuable for the hard of hearing. The issue only applies if you use the handset by itself without, say, Apple's AirPods noise-cancelling earphones. (It does not affect what others hear; for that, Apple introduced the Voice Isolation feature with iOS 15.) 

Apple has yet to officially confirm that the feature has been permanently removed on iPhone 13 devices; so far, the only word about it has come indirectly from Apple Support. As such, Engadget has reached out to Apple for further clarification.

Amazon sale slashes Fire tablet prices by up to 50 percent

If you've been waiting for a sale to buy one of Amazon's Fire HD tablets, today might be the day. You can currently pick up some key products on sale, with the best deals on the Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 8 Plus, available at all-time low discounts of 50 percent. The Fire 7 is also back to its Black Friday pricing, and kids tablets have big discounts as well.

We gave the 2020 Fire HD 8 a decent 81 score in our Engadget review, thanks to the new design, switch to USB-C charging, long battery life and solid performance. The Fire HD 8 Plus, however, offers a bit more RAM (3GB instead of 2GB), along with a faster processor and wireless charging support. Both models have 32GB of storage that's expandable via microSD.

The Fire 7 is more of a budget option that comes with a 7-inch IPS display, 2MP front- and rear-cameras and hands-free Alexa controls. It also offers roughly seven hours of battery life, depending on what you're doing. The biggest drawback is the lack of Google apps, but at $35, it's great as a couch device for reading, checking social media and browsing the web.

If you're shopping for the younger set, meanwhile, the Fire 7 Kids Pro tablet is on sale for $50, or half off the regular $100 price. That price makes it an excellent budget kids option, thanks to the decent specs (a quad-core processor, dual cameras and expandable storage), along with the Kids+ content that includes educational content from National Geographic, Rabbids Coding, LEGO and others.

Finally, the Fire HD 8 Kids Pro Tablet, with similar features to the Fire HD 7 Kids Pro but a slightly larger screen, is available for $80, for a savings of 43 percent from the regular $140 price. Finally, the Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet comes with a 10.1-inch 1080p display, dual cameras, USB-C and 3GB of RAM. That model is available for $140 instead of $200, a discount of $60 or 30 percent.

Apple Watch Series 7 models are up to 15 percent off at Amazon

If you've been waiting for a decent deal on an Apple Watch Series 7, now might be the time to take the leap. You can get up to $60 (as much as 15 percent) off the smartwatch at Amazon at the minute. The biggest discounts are on the green versions of both the GPS and cellular models. The 41mm GPS Apple Watch Series 7 has dropped from $399 to $339, while the cellular variant is down from $499 to $439 — an all-time low price for that model.

We've seen the GPS version of the Apple Watch Series 7 drop to this price before. It dipped to $339 in late December, the lowest price we'd seen to date. Still, it's a good deal on a smartwatch to which we gave a score of 90 in our review. While sleep tracking might not be as robust as in say, a Fitibit, it's still arguably the best all-around smartwatch on the market, thanks to features like workout tracking, fast charging and deep integration with iOS.

Some variants of the GPS Apple Watch Series 7 are on sale, though with a slightly smaller reduction. The (Product) RED, black and blue versions are down to $349. Other cellular models are $50 off too. You can snag it in blue, white or black for $449.

Meanwhile, as was the case in a one-day sale on Woot last week and on Amazon earlier this month, you can snag a four-pack of AirTags for $94, which is five percent off the regular price. As with Tile trackers, the idea is to help you keep track of your things. Although Android users can see if an AirTag is nearby through a dedicated app, you'll need an iPhone to get the most out of the trackers.

Apple's 24-inch 8-core iMac M1 is back down to $1,399

If you've been patiently waiting to pick up the new iMac, now is your chance to do so at a discount. Amazon has reduced the cost of the 8-core GPU model to $1,399, down from $1,499. That's a price that matches the previous all-time low the retailer established for Apple's latest all-in-one computer back in December.

We like the new 24-inch iMac a lot. We awarded it a score of 89 when we reviewed it last year. Featuring the same M1 chip that's found in the 2020 MacBook Air, the 2021 iMac is fit for most computing tasks, including photo and video editing. It's also 50 percent quieter than its Intel predecessor thanks to a more efficient thermal design. The 24-inch model also comes with an excellent 4.5K display that covers the entire DCI-P3 color gamut. Another handy upgrade is the included 1080p FaceTime camera. It makes use of AI software to enhance the color and exposure of your footage.

Some of the few drawbacks to note are that the display isn't HDR-capable and the included Magic Mouse and Keyboard aren't for everyone. Specific to this promotion, Amazon has only discounted the green and silver models.

If you want to save as much money as possible, Amazon has had the base model discounted to $1249 for a couple of weeks. That said, we think the 8-core GPU model is a better value. In addition to a more capable GPU, it comes with two extra USB-A ports (its more affordable sibling only has USB-C connectivity), Gigabit Ethernet and a Magic Keyboard with Touch ID. Those might seem like small additions, but they add a lot to the useability of the machine.

Google honors Betty White with a tribute on her 100th birthday

Were she still alive, Betty White would be celebrating her 100th birthday today. In honor of that occasion, Google is celebrating the actor's life. Type White's full name into the company's search engine and you'll be treated to a special graphic. "Thank you for being a friend," the tribute reads, referencing White's most famous role, as rose petals fall from the top of the screen. White passed away of natural causes at the age of 99 on December 31st. White's decades-long career was full of highlights that included starring roles on popular sitcoms like The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Golden Girls. In 2010, she also hosted Saturday Night Live at the age of 88. 

Kia Carens MPV Registers 7,738 Pre-Bookings On The First Day

Kia India revealed that the Carens MPV received a tremendous response from the Indian customers, with 7,738 pre-bookings registered on the very first day. The company opened the pre-bookings for prospective customers on January 14, 2022, through Kia India's official website and via any of the authorized dealerships of Kia India by paying an initial booking amount of ₹ 25,000. The company garnered this number on the very first day of opening the pre-bookings for the Kia Carens, i.e., January 14 till midnight of January 15. The Kia Carens MPV is the company's upcoming product based on the same platform as the Seltos and will offer a 6/7-seater, three-row configuration. The new Kia Carens MPV will be the South Korean carmaker's fourth product in India.

Tae-Jin Park, MD & CEO, Kia India, said, "We are delighted with the overwhelming response that Kia Carens has received from customers, within the first 24 hours of starting the pre-bookings. It is the highest first-day booking we have received for any of our products in India."

Kia Carens will be presented in 5 trim levels - Premium, Prestige, Prestige Plus, Luxury, and Luxury Plus; in both 6-seater and 7-seater configurations. The Carens MPV will feature Kia's latest global design language- a signature Tiger face with crown jewel LED headlamps and star map LED DRLs, along with new star map LED taillamps, 16-inch dual-tone alloy wheels, chrome rear bumper with diamond knurling pattern and much more. In terms of size, the Kia Carens MPV measures 4,540 mm in length, 1,800 mm in width, and 1,708 mm in height, and boasts the longest wheelbase in the segment at 2,780 mm.

Toyota Hilux Teased Ahead Of India Launch

The Toyota Hilux is slated to go on sale on January 20, 2022, and ahead of its launch, the Japanese automaker has released a teaser image of the upcoming pick-up truck. Toyota will begin accepting bookings for the Hilux immediately after the launch, while deliveries are likely to commence in March 2022. In fact, the brand's is currently collecting online enquiries for the upcoming Hilux through its official India website. The pick-up truck was recently spotted sans camouflage during a television commercial (TVC) shoot, giving us a fair idea of what we can expect from the upcoming model.

The Toyota Hilux will share underpinnings with the current Innova Crysta MPV and the Fortuner. It gets a larger hexagonal grille, sweptback LED headlamps with LED DRLs, a new bumper, 18-inch alloy wheels, flared wheel arches, side-step, body cladding, and LED taillight. On the inside, the Hilux will sport an all-black cabin with features such as leather upholstery, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, ventilated seats, cruise control, eight-way electrically adjustable front seats, connected car tech, and more.

The pick-up truck will be locally assembled at the brand's Bidadi plant in Karnataka. It will come as a double-cab variant. Once launched, it will take on the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross in the segment. Toyota hasn't revealed the engine specifications yet. However, the Toyota Hilux is likely to be powered by a 2.8-litre diesel engine. The unit makes 201 bhp and 420 Nm of peak torque, while the automatic variant develops 500 Nm of peak torque. We expect Toyota to introduce both 4x2 and 4x4 versions to cater to different customer requirements.

Vivo X70 Pro Surpasses iPhone 13 in DxOMark Camera Rankings, Vivo X70 Pro+ in Top 10

Vivo X70 Pro has marginally beaten iPhone 13 in DxOMark camera tests, placing the smartphone from the Chinese company at 12th spot. The camera score of the handset is similar to that of the Vivo X50 Pro+, and higher than the Vivo X60 Pro+. Meanwhile, the top-of-the-line Vivo X70 Pro+ has taken the eighth spot ahead of Asus Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders, Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, and Google Pixel 6. Ahead of it in rankings, are smartphones like the Google Pixel 6 Pro, Huawei Mate 40 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro.

As per the rankings released by the DxOMark camera tests, the Vivo X70 Pro has received an overall score of 131 in the camera test. It is the same score as the Vivo X50 Pro+. The Vivo X70 Pro received a photo score of 139, and a video score of 111. In comparison, the iPhone 13 received an overall score of 130, with a photo score of 138 and a video score of 117. The smartphone was launched with an octa-core MediaTek Dimensity 1200 SoC. There is also a China-only version with Exynos SoC.

It packs a quad rear camera setup highlighted by a 50-megapixel primary sensor with an f/1.75 lens and the company's Ultra Sensing Gimbal technology. Other cameras include a 12-megapixel ultra-wide shooter, a 12-megapixel portrait sensor, and an 8-megapixel sensor with a periscope-shaped lens that has an f/3.4 aperture and optical image stabilisation (OIS). The phone has a 32-megapixel selfie camera sensor with an f/2.45 lens for selfies and video chats.

As per DxOMark, the pros of the Vivo X70 Pro camera include accurate exposure in low light, wide dynamic range, good details in low light, accurate autofocus, and effective video stabilisation. Slight noise in all conditions, shutter lag in all conditions and unstable exposure in video are some of the camera's cons that DxOMark found in its review. While the Vivo X70 Pro was found to offer better camera quality than the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini, the Oppo Find X3 Pro, Huawei P40 Pro and Google Pixel 6 rank ahead of it in DxOMark ratings.

Meanwhile, the Vivo X70 Pro+ has been placed among the top 10 in the DxOMark ranking. It received an overall score of 135, with a photo score of 139 and a video score of 115. It comes with a quad rear camera setup that includes a 50-megapixel primary sensor, a 48-megapixel secondary sensor with Gimbal support, a 12-megapixel portrait sensor, and an 8-megapixel sensor with a periscope-shaped lens and OIS.

As per the DxOMark test, the pros are quite similar to that of the Vivo X70 Pro, however, cons highlight the slow autofocus and narrow depth-of-field in photo mode, focus instabilities in video, and variation in noise reduction across consecutive shots. Above it in rankings are the Huawei Mate 40 Pro and Google Pixel 6 Pro. The Vivo phone also beats Asus Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders and Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 With Dolby Atmos Audio Goes on Sale in India

Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 was unveiled in India last week and is now available for purchase, starting today. The new Galaxy tablets sports a 10.5-inch WUXGA display and will be offered in Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + LTE variants. Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 is powered by an unnamed octa-core processor paired with up to 4GB of RAM. It packs a massive 7,040mAh battery with support for 15W fast charging. The Galaxy tablet's quad speaker setup gets support for Dolby Atmos audio.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 price in India, sale offers
Launched on Thursday, Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 is priced at Rs. 17,999 for the base 3GB RAM + 32GB storage Wi-Fi only variant, while its Wi-Fi + LTE variant is priced at Rs. 21,999. The storage variant – 4GB RAM + 64GB storage – also has a Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + LTE variants that are priced at Rs. 19,999 and Rs. 23,999, respectively.

The new Samsung tablet can be purchased on the official website, Amazon, Reliance Digital, and leading online and offline retailers. Samsung is offering the tablet with no-cost EMIs starting at Rs. 1,777.66 along with a Rs. 2,000 cashback for ICICI Bank cards. Customers will also get the book cover worth Rs. 4,499 for Rs. 999 along with the purchase of Samsung Galaxy Tab A8.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 specifications
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 runs Android 11 and sports a 10.5-inch WUXGA (1,920x1,200 pixels) TFT display with a 16:10 aspect ratio, 80 percent screen-to-body ratio, and slim bezels on all sides. Powering the tablet is an unnamed 2GHz octa-core processor mated to up to 4GB of RAM and up to 64GB of onboard storage.

In terms of optics, Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 features a single rear camera with an 8-megapixel sensor and a 5-megapixel selfie sensor at the front. It features a quad speaker setup with support for Dolby Atmos audio. Connectivity options include 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth v5, USB Type-C port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Onboard sensors include an accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, light, hall sensor, GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, and Galileo.

Bandai Namco is making a 'My Hero Academia' battle royale for PS4, Xbox One and Switch

As if the market for battle royale games wasn't crowded enough already, you'll soon have another option in the form of My Hero Academia: Ultra Rumble. Based on the popular manga and anime, Bandai Namco teased the title in a Weekly Shōnen Jump article spotted by Gematsu.

Ultra Rumble doesn't have a release date yet, but it will come to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC via Steam. Compared to battle royales like Call of Duty: Warzone and PUBG, Ultra Rumble looks like it will be a more intimate affair with support for up to 24 players in a single match. Bandai Namco plans to hold a closed beta for the game in the future.

It's hard to judge the potential quality of Ultra Rumble based on a few magazine scans, but as Eurogamer notes, past My Hero Academia haven't been great despite the popularity of the source material. 2018's My Hero One's Justice, for instance, was greeted mostly with middling reviews. Here's hoping Ultra Rumble breaks that trend.

Ubisoft's 'The Settlers' reboot finally arrives March 17th

Ubisoft's The Settlers revival is finally here... almost. The company has revealed that its reboot of the classic build-up real-time strategy game will be available March 17th for Windows PCs through the Epic Games Store and Ubisoft Connect. The developers are also whetting appetites with a five-day, registration-only closed beta starting January 20th that will include two of the game's three factions as well as two multiplayer Skirmish modes (one- and two-player teams).

The rebuilt game is "mostly" derived from The Settlers III and The Settlers IV, and looks decidedly nicer than many RTS titles thanks to the use of the same Snowdrop Engine you find in games like The Division series and the upcoming Avatar release. While it won't compete with the latest first-person shooter in looks, it might be more visually appealing than its competitors. There is a story-driven single-player campaign, but Ubisoft is clearly banking on the eight-way multiplayer to help with longevity.

However well the game plays, Ubisoft's main challenge is simply revitalizing the franchise. There hasn't been a brand-new game in the series since The Settlers Online in 2010, and the decade since has only led to a cancelled game (Kingdoms of Anteria) and four years of development for the imminent reboot. While there will certainly still be fans, it's not clear how many of them were willing to wait a decade for a follow-up.

'PUBG Mobile' maker sues copycat game and app stores that hosted it

When you're the progenitor of an entire gaming genre and holding the reigns of a billion dollar intellectual property, imitation, it turns out, is not the sincerest form of flattery. It's the sort of thing that gets you dragged into US federal court. And that's exactly what Krafton, maker of PUBG Mobile, is doing to Garena Online over accusations that the Singapore-based game developer has once again infringed its battle royale IP. What's more, Krafton has named Google and Apple in its complaint.

This isn't the first time that Krafton has sued Garena Online. In 2017, Krafton filed suit in Singapore over the sale of Free Fire: Battlegrounds, Garena's suspiciously PUBG-like mobile shooter, but ended up settling that case. Now, Krafton is suing Garena again, over Free Fire again, but this time in US federal court.

Krafton alleges that after settling in 2017, Garena immediately resumed selling Free Fire on both Google Play and the Apple App Store without entering into any sort of licencing agreement to use the litigated game content. Additionally, Garena started selling of another battle royale game of questionable copyright pedigree, Free Fire Max, this past September. As such, Krafton is suing Garena for copyright infringement claiming that "Garena has earned hundreds of millions of dollars from its global sales of the infringing apps," and holding both the Google and Apple marketplaces liable for damages for hosting the content. Krafton, which is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, has not specified damages outside of a statutory $150,000 per infringement.

Copyright infringement claims like this are wildly common throughout the tech industry with legal departments constantly on the prowl for potential IP violations, be they intentional or not. For example, earlier this week, the App Store were inundated with knock-off and clones of the newly-minted hit mobile app, Wordle, prompting Apple to intercede and remove the offending iterations.

'Final Fantasy XIV' will go back on sale on January 25th

New players will be able to purchase digital copies of Final Fantasy XIV again starting on January 25th, the game's director and producer Naoki Yoshida has announced in a lengthy post. Square Enix suspended the game's physical and digital sales in mid-December last year, because it was doing too well for what the company could handle at the time. People have had to wait hours to get in when they try to play at peak times, because the "dense concentration of play hours... far exceed [the game's] server capacity." Unfortunately, the developer wasn't able to add more servers before the Endwalker expansion was released due to the global semiconductor shortage.

In his post, Yoshida explained the steps the company is taking to address the game's high levels of congestion. To start with, Square Enix is bringing its Oceanian Data Center online also on January 25th and opening five new Worlds from the start so that everyone in Oceania can transfer over for a better experience. The world transfer service is currently suspended, but it will resume on January 26th — further, those transferring to the new Oceanian Worlds will be able to do so for free.

Yoshida has also revealed that Square Enix has been working on expanding its Japanese, European and North American data centers. The company explained that due to the global semiconductor shortage, it took some time to procure the needed components to be able to bring them online. In fact, it has to establish the new data centers in phases, because it's still having a tough time securing the necessary server equipment.

For North America, the first phase of the expansion will happen sometime in August 2022, and it will see four new Worlds go online. The second phase will be implemented in the summer of 2023 and will open four more Worlds. For Japan, the developer plans to add one more logical data center to the current three in order to lower the number of Worlds for each of them. The European expansion will also happen in two phases, the first of which is scheduled for July 2022 and will bring four new Worlds online. In the summer of 2023, Square Enix will establish one new logical data center with eight new Worlds in Europe.

"Once again, I wish to apologize for the delays to server expansion caused by the global semiconductor shortage," Yoshida wrote. He also asked for players' understanding in resuming sales of the game, even though some may consider the decision to be premature. Square Enix will monitor server stability following the resumption of sales and could restart free trials if everything goes well. However, in case servers "continue to experience extreme levels of congestion" despite all the steps it's taking, the developer may consider suspending digital sales once again.

Google wants to work with government to secure open-source software

Google has called on the US government to take a more proactive role in identifying and protecting open-source projects that are critical to internet security. In a blog post the company published following the White House's Log4j vulnerability summit on Thursday, Kent Walker, president of global affairs and chief legal officer at Google and Alphabet, said the country needs a public-private partnership that will work to properly fund and staff the most essential open-source projects.

"For too long, the software community has taken comfort in the assumption that open source software is generally secure due to its transparency and the assumption that 'many eyes' were watching to detect and resolve problems," he said. "But in fact, while some projects do have many eyes on them, others have few or none at all."

According to Walker, the partnership would look at the influence and importance of a project to determine how critical it is to the wider ecosystem. Looking to the future, he says the industry needs new ways to identify software that may, down the line, pose a systemic risk to internet security.

Walker said there's also a need for more public and private funding, noting Google is ready to contribute to an organization that matches volunteers from companies like itself to critical projects that need the most support. "Open source software is a connective tissue for much of the online world — it deserves the same focus and funding we give to our roads and bridges," he said.

The importance of open-source software has been a topic of a lot of discussions following the discovery of the Log4Shell vulnerability. Log4j happens to be one of the most popular and widely used logging library, with services like Steam and iCloud depending on it. Security researcher Marcus Hutchins, who helped stop the spread of WannaCry, called the vulnerability "extremely bad" as it left millions of applications open to attack.

Tesla now accepts Dogecoin payments for some of its merch

Tesla is allowing customers to buy select merchandise items using Dogecoin, according to the website and a tweet from CEO Elon Musk. You can now pick up the Cyberwhistle for 300 doge ($58), Giga Texas Belt Buckle for 835 doge ($161) and the Cyberquad for Kids at 12,020 doge or $2,320. According to the store, Dogecoin is now the only way to buy those items as a cash option is no longer showing.

Musk has been interested in Dogecoin of late, having discussed in May the potential "efficiency" of the cryptocurrency compared to Bitcoin. Then in December, he tweeted that the company would "make some merch buyable with Doge & see how it goes." Following Musk's announcement today, Dogecoin has gone up around 14 percent over the last 24 hours.

Tesla accepted Bitcoin as payment for its cars in February 2021, but halted the initiative less than two months later citing Bitcoin's environmental impact. "Cryptocurrency is a good idea on many levels... but this cannot come at a great cost to the environment," Musk said on Twitter at the time.

Dogecoin uses less power to mine, mainly because it's worth less than Bitcoin. Musk said last year that he was working with Dogecoin's devs to improve its efficiency, though there's no clear way yet to do that without decreasing its value. That said, Block's CEO Jack Dorsey just announced plans to build an open Bitcoin mining system that makes that particular cryptocurrency "more distributed and efficient." 

Google Meet's second-screen Companion Mode is coming to the Nest Hub Max

After updating Workspace (formerly G Suite) with a number of new features last year, Google's previously-announced Companion Mode for the Nest Hub Max and other Google Meet hardware has begun rolling out.

Companion Mode is a second screen experience designed to support the shift towards hybrid working environments by providing easier access to various Google Meet controls and features for people calling in from a shared office.

Previously, workers who called in from a meeting room often had to jockey for control if they wanted to do simple things like raise their hand (virtually) or drop a comment in chat. The result was that employees who worked remotely and called into meetings using a phone or PC were often more active and visible in meetings than their colleagues at the office who participated using a traditional conference room set up.

However, thanks to the addition of Companion Mode, office workers will soon get access to most of Google Meet's features via Nest Hub Max or other certified hardware like a Lenovo Tap while still being part of the shared meeting. And while the Nest Hub Max might not be a common sight in conference rooms today, this new mode could help Google push more devices to businesses of all sizes as they adapt to post-pandemic working arrangements. To join a meeting using Companion Mode, you can either activate the setting in Google Meet's "green room" or by using a dedicated URL:

Google Meet features available in Companion Mode include chatting, starting and voting on polls, raising your hand (which includes displaying a person's name and title), using host controls and turning on captions or translations.

Google says the goal is to ensure that regardless of where you're working from, everyone in a video call will have access to a similar set of tools and features. Companion Mode will be enabled by default, though, for people using the free version of Meet, it's important to note that anyone using it will count as an additional participant towards the 100-person limit, instead of a room full of people counting as a single attendee.

Companion Mode in Google Meet is rolling out this week, though depending on your domain or user type, it may take another few weeks for it to be available on your device.

Google starts rolling out the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro's delayed December update

Google has begun rolling out the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro's latest update following a delay in December. As may you recall, the company "paused" the release of the OTA after there were reports of the software causing calls to drop and disconnect. The issue was such that Google took the nearly unprecedented move of removing the associated factory images for that update from its developer website.

In December, the company said the software would arrive sometime in "late January." Last week, it pushed up that timeline to today, January 14th. "The update will be available for all devices over the following week, but exact timing may vary depending on your carrier and country," the company said. To that point, some carriers have said they'll begin pushing out the software starting early next week. For instance, Canadian carrier Fido notes on its website it's targeting January 17th for the start of its rollout.

Now that the update is available, it includes all the fixes Google had planned to release in December in addition to more than a dozen new ones. Among other tweaks, you'll find a fix for an issue that had caused the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro to drop a connection to a WiFi network in certain situations. Additionally, the update addresses a bug that had caused the phones to drain their batteries faster than expected.

Tesla reportedly delays Cybertruck production to 2023

Tesla has once again quietly pushed back its Cybertruck's release to next year, according to Reuters. The automaker will reportedly begin the electric truck's production by the end of the first quarter of 2023 instead of this year. While Tesla has yet to formally announce the delay, the Cybertruck's order page removed a previous reference to production in 2022. The design section of the page previously read "You will be able to complete your configuration as production nears in 2022." Now, the sentence ends after the word "nears."

Back in November, somebody on Twitter asked company chief Elon Musk for an update on the Cybertruck. Musk responded that Tesla has been grappling with a "supply chain nightmare," and that he'll provide more updates during the company's next earnings call scheduled for January 26th.

According to Reuters' source, Tesla will have a limited production of the Cybertruck at first before increasing its output. The company unveiled the Cybertruck in 2019 at a big event, wherein Musk said that production was slated to begin in late 2021. During the company's January 2021 earnings call, he said Tesla only expects a few deliveries in 2021 and for volume production to start in 2022. Later that year, though, the company delayed the vehicle's release to 2022.

Delays with Tesla releases don't come as a surprise anymore, seeing as Musk is known for announcing timetables that are a bit too optimistic. Supply chain and component shortages brought about by the pandemic may have also contributed to the delay, if Reuters' report turns out to be true. We'll find out for sure when Tesla reveals its updated product roadmap before the month ends.

Apple will let dating apps in the Netherlands offer third-party payments

Apple is once again honoring regulations requiring it to allow alternative payment options in the App Store, although this one is highly specific. As Reuters reports, Apple confirmed it would comply with orders from the Netherlands' Authority for Consumers and Markets forcing it to allow third-party payment systems in Tinder and other locally-offered dating apps. The regulator determined on December 24th that Apple had abused its market power by requiring its in-app purchasing platform, and gave Apple until January 15th to make the change if it wanted to avoid fines.

Like with past decisions, Apple wasn't happy. It contended that allowing third-party options would "compromise the user experience" while posing new privacy and security threats, and reminded developers they (or their payment partners) would be responsible for handling refunds and similar issues. Apple is appealing the ACM's decision and noted it would still take commissions from third-party payments.

The order doesn't affect other apps available in the Netherlands. However, it reflects growing regulatory opposition to Apple's App Store business model in multiple countries, including South Korea and the US. Officials are increasingly convinced Apple is using its in-app purchasing requirement to stifle competition, and it won't be surprising if other countries follow suit before long.

California judge says Google's non-disclosure agreements violate state law

Google may have to rethink its non-disclosure agreements following a long-running lawsuit from an anonymous worker. According to The Washington Post, a California Superior Court judge has ruled that Google's employee confidentiality agreements violate state labor laws. Terms banning the employee from discussing his job with potential employers amounted to a non-compete clause and were thus illegal in the state, the judge said.

The internet company originally persuaded a judge to toss out most of the worker's claims in the belief federal law overrode California legislation. An appeals court overturned that decision, however, noting that state laws did more to protect free speech rights that included work experience. Google has declined to comment on either the verdict or any plans to appeal.

The outcome wouldn't let Google employees discuss trade secrets if it was upheld. It would let people discuss work experience, though, and could make it easier for job-seekers to switch roles without fear of lawsuits. It might also provide more opportunities for sexual assault and harassment victims to discuss their reasons for leaving a company, although California legislation has already tackled non-disclosure agreements that bar victims from talking about incidents.

 This ruling might also have wider repercussions for California's tech sector. QH Law partner Ramsey Hanafi told the Post that many large tech companies have similar gag rules. Like it or not, Silicon Valley firms might have to revamp their agreements and accept that it will be easier for staff to leave or identify toxic work cultures.

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The next iPad Pro will reportedly offer MagSafe charging and a 'brand new chip'

The murmurs of an iPad Pro with wireless charging are growing louder. 9to5Mac sources claim Apple is moving forward with an update to its pro tablet that would include MagSafe wireless charging, but not necessarily how you'd expect. Rather than using a previously reported all-glass back (like most recent iPhones), the new iPad Pro could instead charge through an enlarged glass Apple logo built into a metal back. It would charge more quickly than an iPhone (expected given the iPad's added power draw) and carry stronger magnets to keep the charger in place.

The refreshed iPad Pro would include some more universal improvements, including a larger battery and an iPhone 13-style camera array. There would also be a "brand new chip" 9to5 presumed would be the M2 also expected for a new MacBook Air. Earlier rumors suggested the M2 would have eight cores like the M1, but would run them faster and tout more graphics cores.

There was no mention of a specific timeframe for the iPad Pro update. While talk has circulated of a spring event, there are no guarantees Apple will launch any new iPads in that time frame. Don't be shocked if there is a new Pro, though. The M1-based iPad Pro was as much a chance for Apple to flex its silicon prowess as it was a functional upgrade — an M2 sequel would keep that momentum going, and MagSafe support would help tie the Pro into Apple's wider ecosystem.

Mac and Linux games leave Humble Bundle's Trove after January 31st

If you're on Humble Bundle and use a Mac or a Linux computer, you may want to download all the games you can from the service's Trove before the month ends. Starting on February 1st, the Mac and Linux versions of the games in the Humble Trove will no longer available. The Humble Trove is a catalog of over 70 DRM-free games that you can access, so long as you have a Choice subscription. A few days ago, Humble announced that it's simplifying its subscription service by offering a single $12 monthly plan that gives you permanent copies of all the games for that month.

In addition to getting access to Trove, you'll also also be able to play the Humble Games Collection with a more modern collection of titles starting in February if you subscribe. To be able to access the games in the Humble Trove and Collection, though, you will have to download the service's new app. That new app is Windows only, leaving you out completely in case you're a Mac or Linux user. Humble has already started sending users an email, reminding them that they only have until January 31st to download games if they're not on Windows. The email also says that the Windows versions of all the available games will continue to be available going forward.

Apple faces class action lawsuit over Powerbeats Pro charging issues

Apple is facing another lawsuit over Powerbeats battery trouble. New York resident Alejandro Vivar has filed a potential class action lawsuit over allegations Powerbeats Pro design defects prevents the wireless earbuds from charging properly. As it's reportedly too easy to lose contact between the buds and their charging case, one of the earpieces either won't charge "consistently" or quickly drain its charge. Apple committed fraud by misrepresenting battery life and failing to address issues it supposedly knew about, the plaintiff said.

Vivar's attorneys suggest a combination of the case design and an insufficiently sturdy ear "gasket" (the piece that goes into your ear) may be responsible. Customers have had to resort to inserting a "wedge" to keep the charging pins in contact, according to the lawsuit. The lawyers also reject Apple's claims the Powerbeats Pro are sweat- and water-resistant, arguing that sweat corrodes the charging contacts.

The lawsuit calls for Apple to "correct" the situation, compensate affected users and pay unspecified damages. If the lawsuit is fully certified as a class action, it would cover both New York customers as well as those in Georgia, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Virginia.

We've asked Apple for comment. As with many such lawsuits, there's no certainty it will reach class action status or lead to compensation. And don't expect a windfall even if the case succeeds — with some exceptions, class actions tend to result in small payouts. If anything, the lawsuit may do more to affect design choices than Powerbeats Pro buyers' bank accounts.

Samsung's 14-inch Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra may offer equally massive specs

Samsung's long-rumored 14-inch Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra might be close to launch — and could have more to offer than its screen size. WinFuture has obtained what it says are leaked official images and specs for the Ultra (pictured above) and its more modestly-sized counterparts. The Ultra would unsurprisingly revolve around its 14.6-inch, 2,960 x 1,848 AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate and S-Pen support, but it would come with as much as 16GB of RAM and 512GB of expandable storage. If you don't mind the display notch built to hold dual 12MP front cameras, this might be the ultimate Android tablet.

All Galaxy Tab S8 models would reportedly have Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, dual rear cameras (13MP main, 6MP ultra wide), Dolby Atmos-capable quad speakers and optional 5G. The differences would mostly come down to screens, memory and storage. The 12.7-inch Tab S8+ would carry a 120Hz, 2,800 x 1,752 AMOLED panel, one 12MP front camera, 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of expandable storage. The 11-inch regular Tab S8 would 'just' include a 120Hz 2,560 x 1,600 LCD but otherwise offer features similar to the mid-tier model.

The release date and pricing weren't mentioned in the Galaxy Tab S8 leak. However, WinFuture expects Samsung to introduce the range at its rumored February 8th Unpacked event. If so, the presentation could be one of Samsung's most important to date when the Galaxy S22 is also expected to make an appearance.

Safari exploit can leak browser histories and Google account info

Apple device users appear to be vulnerable to a significant browser privacy flaw. According to 9to5Mac, FingerprintJS has disclosed an exploit that lets attackers obtain your recent browser history, and even some Google account info, from Safari 15 across all supported platforms as well as third-party browsers on iOS 15 and iPadOS 15. The IndexedDB framework (used to store data on many browsers) is violating the "same-origin" policy that prevents documents and scripts from one location (such as a domain or protocol) from interacting with content from another, letting appropriately coded websites deduce Google info from signed-in users as well as histories from open tabs and windows.

The flaw only compromises the names of the databases rather than the content itself. However, this would still be enough for a malicious site owner to grab your Google username, discover your profile picture and otherwise learn more about you. The history could also be used to piece together a rudimentary profile of the sites you like. Private browsing won't defeat the exploit, FingerprintJS said.

We've asked Apple for comment. FingerprintJS said it reported the issue on November 28th, however, and that Apple hadn't yet addressed it with security patches honoring same-origin policy. Until then, the only solution may be to either use a third-party browser on Macs or block all JavaScript, neither of which is necessarily an option.

ASUS' ROG Flow Z13 is a gaming tablet with NVIDIA's RTX 3050 Ti

After delivering an ambitious gaming convertible notebook last year, the svelte ROG Flow X13, ASUS is taking that concept even further with the Flow Z13 tablet. Think of it like a souped-up Surface Pro: the Z13 packs in Intel's new 12th-gen processors and up to NVIDIA's RTX 3050 Ti all in a sleek slate. Weighing in at 2.43 pounds, it's clearly not meant to replace smaller tablets like the iPad. Instead, ASUS sees it as a way to bring your PC games everywhere — say a cramped airplane tray table — without the bulk of a laptop.

Like the ROG Flow X13, the Z13 can connect to the ASUS XG Mobile external GPU, which supports up to AMD's Radeon RX 6850M in addition to NVIDIA's mobile RTX 30-series lineup. That eGPU still relies on a custom PCIe connection, which can reach up to 63 Gbps of graphics bandwidth, making it more capable than Thunderbolt 4's 40 Gbps. I was wary of the XG Mobile last year, given just how expensive and flaky similar eGPUs have been. And that was before we learned it would cost $1,500 with the 3080, and that it wasn't nearly as fast as reviewers would have liked. At the very least, the Z13 promises to be a better performer than the X13 with its built-in hardware, so maybe an eGPU would be unnecessary.

In person, the Z13 is exactly what you'd expect from an ROG gaming laptop to look like. The preview unit ASUS sent for me to borrow felt dense and sturdy, surprisingly so for its 12 millimeter thickness. Unlike iPads and other tablets, it feels strong enough to survive a backpack commute without a protective case. From the front, you could easily mistake it for a notebook. From the sides and back though, it's more like a Super Surface, with a flexible kickstand and keyboard cover.

Samsung looks set to hold its Galaxy Unpacked 2022 event on February 8th

Samsung may unveil its much anticipated (and leaked) Galaxy S22 at an Unpacked event on February 8th, according to South Korea's Digital Daily. "We have confirmed that the event will be held on February 8 and we are discussing the timing of invitations to be sent out at the end of January," a Samsung Electronics official told the site. Pre-orders are reportedly set to go live the next day, on February 9th, with shipping starting on February 24th.

Samsung will likely debut three phones, the Galaxy S22, S22 Plus and S22 Ultra models. According to some of the many rumors out there, all three devices will have very bright displays. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S22 Ultra's camera will offer what Samsung calls a "Super Clear Lens."

The primary chip could be Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, reportedly manufactured by Samsung. Devices outside the US may come with Samsung's Exynos 2200 chip that uses a GPU based on AMD's RDNA 2 architecture and could support ray tracing. Numerous images of the device have already surfaced, including a shot of the Galaxy S22 Ultra posted by Evan Blass (above).

The event schedule and release date have yet to be confirmed, but Samsung typically schedules its flagship smartphone events around the same time each year. It'll supposedly be shown at MWC 2022 in Barcelona, by which time it should already be in buyers' hands, if the leak proves accurate. Engadget has reached out to Samsung for confirmation.

Ubisoft's game subscription service is coming to Xbox consoles

Ubisoft is bringing its game subscription service to Xbox. Ubisoft+ is currently available on PC and cloud gaming services like Google Stadia and Amazon Luna. Subscribers can access more than 100 Ubisoft titles (as well as DLC and monthly bonuses) for a monthly fee. The lineup includes titles like Assassins Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs Legion, Far Cry 6 and Riders Republic.

The publisher didn't provide a timeline for bringing Ubisoft+ to Xbox. Nor has it revealed pricing. The PC-only subscription is $15 and a PC and cloud plan is $18 per month. It's unclear whether Ubisoft will offer a console-only plan.When Ubisoft+ does arrive on Xbox consoles, it will join a subscription service from a rival publisher. EA Play, formerly known as EA Access, has been on Xbox since 2014 (and PlayStation since 2019). Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and PC Game Pass subscribers can access EA Play titles at no extra cost.

Meanwhile, Ubisoft's Rainbow Six Extraction will be available on Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass when it debuts on January 20th. Along with up to two teammates, you can take on hordes of aliens in the tactical shooter, which is based on a Rainbow Six Siege mode called Outbreak. Siege is already available on Xbox Game Pass and via cloud gaming on Game Pass Ultimate, and it's coming to PC Game Pass on January 20th as well.

Tesla 'Full Self-Driving' beta features an 'Assertive' mode with rolling stops

Profiles are back in Tesla's latest "Full Self-Driving" beta 10.3 with an "Assertive Mode" that may perform rolling stops and other borderline maneuvers, The Verge has reported. The update was originally released in October 2021 with three profiles ("Chill," "Average" and "Assertive"), but was pulled just two days later over issues with traffic light left turns, unexpected stopping and more.

The latest update issued yesterday shows that the Full Self-Driving (Beta) profiles are back. If you choose "Assertive," the notes state that "in this profile, your Model X will have a smaller follow distance, perform more frequent speed lane changes, will not exit passing lanes and may perform rolling stops." As @Digitalhen notes, the system may also perform rolling stops even in "Average" mode.

Generally, a rolling stop means a vehicle doesn't come to a complete halt at a stop sign (which is illegal and dangerous) but it's not yet clear if that's what FSD will do. It's also illegal in many states to stay in the left or passing lane if you're not passing anyone, and of course, it's never a great idea to follow the vehicle ahead too closely. All of that said, the mode hasn't been tested enough yet to demonstrate exactly how it's doing those things.

On the weekend, CEO Elon Musk announced that Tesla would be raising the price of FSD from $10,000 to $12,000, even though it's still in beta. As we've pointed out before, the name "Full Self-Driving" is misleading (much like Autopilot), as FSD does not offer true Level 4 self-driving, but simply Level 2 advanced driver assistance.

Neon, Valorant's newest agent, brings sprinting and sliding to the game

Valorant is a game of methodical movement. Your weapon is at its most accurate when you're standing still, and pinpoint accuracy is essential if you want to live. That's what makes Neon, the game's latest playable character, so interesting. She's a hyper-aggressive duelist whose kit is all about increasing the tempo of matches.

Following a teaser trailer released earlier in the week, Riot has detailed all of Neon's abilities. Her innate skill "High Gear" allows Neon to sprint and slide into combat, something no Valorant agent before her has been able to do. "Speed, everything about Neon came back to that feeling of running forward and moving fast," said character producer John Goscicki.

Neon's two other primary abilities, "Relay Bolt" and "Fast Lane," allow her to throw an electric molly and create two parallel walls of vision-obscuring static. Meanwhile, her ultimate, "Overdrive," lets Neon shoot out deadly lighting beams, with each kill she obtains resetting the duration of the skill. Her kit is most reminiscent of that of Phoenix who can create a wall of flame to cover his entry assaults. However, the fact Neon can sprint and slide should make weapons like the Stinger, Judge and Frenzy especially deadly in her hands since they tend to dominate in close quarters.

Neon will join Valorant's roster on January 11th, the same day Riot plans to release Episode Four, Act One. You can get the associated Battlepass for 1,000 Valorant Points, or the equivalent of $10.

Model Brooks Nader says someone used an AirTag to track her

Although Apple's AirTags can be useful for helping find lost belongings, ever since the tracker went on sale last spring, critics have raised concerns that bad actors could use it to stalk people. Brooks Nader, a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, claims someone secretly placed an AirTag in her coat and tracked her movements for several hours.

Earlier this week, Nader was waiting alone for someone at a crowded bar in Tribeca with her coat on the chair behind her. She then visited a couple of other bars with friends.

Nader, who shared her experience on Instagram Stories, said that while she was walking home alone, her phone alerted her to the fact that "someone's tracking you and has been for a while." She then found the AirTag. Nader, who wasn't aware of AirTags beforehand, called the incident "the scariest moment ever and I just want everyone to be aware that this exists."

It's not the first time that AirTags have been used to track other people's movements. Reports have emerged about thieves using them to follow and steal high-end cars. However, the Nader incident is a high-profile one that should draw more attention to the issue.

"We take customer safety very seriously and are committed to AirTag's privacy and security. AirTag is designed with a set of proactive features to discourage unwanted tracking — a first in the industry — that both inform users if an unknown AirTag might be with them, and deter bad actors from using an AirTag for nefarious purposes," an Apple spokesperson told Engadget. "If users ever feel their safety is at risk, they are encouraged to contact local law enforcement who can work with Apple to provide any available information about the unknown AirTag."

Soon after Apple launched the AirTag, it rolled out the iPhone notification Nader mentioned to inform users that someone may be tracking them. In December, the company released an Android app called Tracker Detect, which alerts users to nearby AirTags that are away from their owner and could be on their person. However, since Find My isn't part of Android, you'd need to know about the app and have it installed to detect a hidden AirTag.

Apple Fitness+ will add an audio-based running feature on January 10th

Apple isn't slowing down when it comes to new features for Fitness+. It announced several more that will be added on January 10th, including Time to Run. That's a spin on the Time to Walk experience, in which celebrity guests provide narration and a playlist to accompany walks.

The aim of Time to Run is to help folks "become more consistent and better runners." It taps into some popular running routes from various cities, and features playlists designed to evoke the spirit of those locations and match the intensity and coaching of each run. The first three episodes that drop on Monday are based on London, Brooklyn and Miami Beach. A new episode will debut each week.

Rather than celebrity guests, familiar Fitness+ trainers will lead Time to Run sessions. On your Apple Watch, you'll be able to see photos taken by the trainer along their route. You can view these images in the workout summary and save them to your photo library. For those who use a wheelchair, the feature will be renamed Time to Run or Push, and they'll be able to select either a run or an Outdoor Push Running Pace workout.

Apple told Engadget that Time to Run episodes each last around 30 or 60 minutes, which is longer than the typical Time to Walk runtime of 25 to 40 minutes. Other fitness apps offer audio-guided running features, such as Aaptiv, Nike+Run Club and Runtastic. Apple isn't exactly breaking new ground here, but Fitness+ users will have another option for working up a sweat.

Also on January 10th, Apple will roll out Collections. It's a curated series of workouts and guided meditations pulled from the Fitness+ library. The feature will suggest plans to help folks make intentional training choices in the following days and weeks. Six Collections will be available at the outset, including Run Your First 5K, Perfect Your Yoga Balance Poses and Wind Down for a Better Bedtime.

On the same day, the third season of Time to Walk will premiere. The latest batch of guests include Rebel Wilson, Bernice A. King, Chris Meloni and Hasan Minhaj. Episodes will be added on a weekly basis. More Artist Spotlight workouts will be available on Monday too, featuring music from Ed Sheeran, Pharrell Williams, Shakira and an upcoming group named The Beatles.

The Mac Mini M1 is up to $150 off, plus the rest of the week's best tech deals

Despite the holidays being behind us, there are still some good tech deals floating around on the internet. While we likely won't see the deep discounts we saw in November and December for some time, the deals that are currently available are noteworthy for this time of year. A number of Google smart devices are on sale, including the second-generation Nest Hub for $60 and the Nest Audio for $75. Apple's Mac Mini M1 is as low as $600 for the base model, while the iPad Air is $60 off. Here are the best tech deals from this week that you can still get today.

The base Mac Mini M1 is $100 off thanks to a sale and an additional coupon, bringing it down to $600. This model runs on the M1 chipset along with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. This is Apple's most affordable M1 machine, making it a good option if you're in need of an upgraded desktop. If you'd rather invest in a more powerful version, Adorama has the Mac Mini M1 with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for $750, or $150 less than usual.

The 2020 iPad Air is on sale for $539 right now, or $60 off its normal price. We gave the tablet a score of 90 for its fast performance and WiFi speeds, healthy battery life and attractive, updated design.

The 45mm, GPS + Cellular Series 7 smartwatch is $120 off, bringing it down to a record low fo $629. You're getting the latest and great from Apple in the Series 7, and we gave the Watch a score of 90 for its larger display, speedier charging and usefulness of watchOS 8.

GameStop is reportedly developing a marketplace for NFTs of in-game items

Following Ubisoft and Square Enix, GameStop is apparently the latest player in the video game industry that sees NFTs as a way to boost its profitability. According to The Wall Street Journal, the company has hired nearly two dozen people as part of a newly formed cryptocurrency division. The unit is reportedly building an online marketplace for buying, selling and trading NFTs of in-game items like cosmetics. The hub could launch as soon as later this year. Additionally, the division is reportedly close to partnering with two companies to co-invest in games that make use of blockchain and NFT technologies. GameStop is said ot plan to partner with a dozen companies in the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

News of the development sent the value of GameStop's stock surging to $159.77, up from $131.01, in aftermarket trading. According to The Journal, GameStop executives see NFTs as a way for the company to return to profitability, but it's not clear if the nascent technology has a place in video games.

Many of the recent attempts by some developers and publishers to include digital tokens in their titles have been greeted by outright hostility. Ubisoft, for example, became a magnet for criticism when it announced its Quartz NFT platform. It also seems the negative attention was not worth it for Ubisoft, with a recent Eurogamer report claiming the company had only sold 18 NFTs as of December 21st. But for all the backlash, Ubisoft and others appear unfazed. In an employee Q&A, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot reportedly linked the initial backlash to NFTs to earlier outrage over trends like microtransactions and loot boxes. It seems the implication here was that people would eventually come to accept the technology.

Google Doodle pays tribute to Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking would've turned 80 on January 8th, 2022 had he still been alive. While he's no longer with us, his contribution to our understanding of the universe remains immense and shouldn't be forgotten. To pay tribute to the celebrated physicist and cosmologist on what would've been his 80th birthday, Google worked with his family to create a video Doodle that gives us a condensed version of his life. Moreover, the tech giant used Hawking's famous computer-generated voice to narrate his work and experiences from the time he graduated.

Hawking was born in 1942 in Oxford, England and has always been fascinated with the universe. He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease, when he was 21. In the years after that, he lost his mobility and his ability to speak, but he was able to communicate through a computer using a voice created in the 1980s by MIT engineer Dennis Klatt. In the Doodle, you'll hear Hawking's voice talk about his work on black holes — one of the scientific works he's most known for is the Hawking radiation, which is the theory that black holes emit radiation.

You'll also hear his voice say how he's free in his mind even though he cannot move. "I have spent my life traveling across the universe inside my mind," his voice narrates.

In a statement, his daughter Lucy and sons, Robert and Tim Hawking, said:

"We also believe he would have found it important to show that he never allowed the challenges of his physical condition to limit his power of expression nor his determination to make an impact on the world in which he lived. We hope that his example offers inspiration and hope globally to all who face great challenges at this difficult time. Our father would have been 80 years old today and we thank everyone who has joined in the celebration of his extraordinary life and the legacy he gave to us all."

How to watch the Awesome Games Done Quick 2022 speedrunning marathon

Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ), an annual week-long celebration of speedrunning, is almost upon us. Between January 9th and 16th, you'll be able to watch one expert gamer after another race through their favorite titles to show off their skill and, hopefully, break some world records.

For the second year running, AGDQ will be held as a virtual event due to COVID-19 safety concerns. Unfortunately, runners won't have a raucous in-person crowd to cheer them on. Still, you can watch the entire event live on Twitch, via the Games Done Quick channel (or the embed below), starting at noon ET on Sunday. If you can't watch the action as it happens, you'll be able to catch up later on YouTube.

The schedule is packed with some fascinating-sounding runs. On Wednesday, two GeoGuessr players will shoot for a perfect score by finding the exact locations of random Google Street View images. Next Saturday, a runner named Mitchriz will try to beat Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, a typically tough game by FromSoftware, as quickly as possible — and they'll be blindfolded. Recent games making their first appearance at AGDQ include Deathloop, Death's Door, Kena: Bridge of Spirits, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Returnal and Psychonauts 2.

The Games Done Quick organization has raised millions for good causes over the last decade. AGDQ is one of the two main events the group runs each year, with Summer Games Done Quick typically taking place in June or July.

New 'Valorant' players will need to grind before they can play competitive games

A new playable character with an aggressive mobility-based kit isn't the only potentially game-changing tweak coming to Valorant with the shooter's Episode Four update on January 11th. Once the patch is live, new players will need to reach account level 20 before they can queue for competitive games. Previously, you only had to win 10 unranked matches before you could take part in competitive matchmaking.

Many other multiplayer games, including Overwatch and Riot's own League of Legends, employ similar restrictions. They help ensure new players have had at least some time to learn the game before they jump into a high-pressure match. They also deter a practice known as smurfing. That's when more experienced players create new accounts to avoid long queues and play against less skilled opponents.

"We believe everyone should take time to learn the ins and outs of core gameplay, and have ample exposure to all the maps and agents Valorant will throw at you before competing in our ranked experience," Riot said of the change. The tweak will only affect new accounts made from this point forward. So if you recently started playing Valorant and have at least one competitive match on your account, you won't lose access.

Ford's e-scooter company Spin is leaving markets and laying off staff

Spin, the e-scooter-sharing startup Ford acquired back in 2018, is shifting its focus in its quest to profitability and is exiting nearly all open permit markets globally as a result. In a post by company CEO Ben Bear, he said Spin has started winding down its operations in a few markets in the US, as well as in the entirety of Germany and Portugal. The company will also shut down its operations in Spain, which could happen sometime in February 22nd.

Open permit markets are places where multiple scooter companies can run businesses, with no caps on fleet sizes. Bear said they "create an uncertain operating environment" with "race to the bottom pricing." It doesn't sound like Spin has been doing well in those markets — Bear wrote that Spin hasn't been able to offer "the type of reliable high quality service [it] prides [itself] on to its riders and city partners" in those locations — so it has decided to take another path instead.

Spin expanded its operations after it was acquired by Ford to a bunch of cities in the US and around the world. In 2021, it deployed a new scooter model that's more durable than its previous ones and teamed up with Google to show users the nearest e-bike or e-scooter on Maps. Unfortunately, those weren't enough to prevent this restructuring.

Going forward, Spin will focus on limited vendor markets in the US, Canada and the UK. Specifically, in places where cities and campuses "select partners through a competitive procurement process." Apparently, Spin gets double the revenue in those types of places compared to locations with a free-for-all market. Shifting its focus to those places makes sense in that case, but shutting down locations unfortunately also means that the company is letting personnel go: Its move will affect a quarter of its staff, who'll get severance packages and a stipend.

PayPal confirms it's exploring the launch of its own stablecoin

PayPal has been expanding its cryptocurrency business since it opened trading to all users in 2020. It allowed US customers to check out with cryptocurrency and increased its crypto buy limit over the past year. In the future, it might also offer a stablecoin of its own. Jose Fernandez da Ponte, SVP of crypto and digital currencies at PayPal, has confirmed to Bloomberg that the online payment provider is "exploring a stablecoin." He also said that the company will work closely with relevant regulators "if and when [it] seek to move forward."

A developer named Steve Moser found hidden code and images for a "PayPal Coin" in the company's app and shared them with Bloomberg. Based on what he discovered, the PayPal Coin will be backed by the US dollar. It may also feature the PayPal logo with two horizontal slashes across it, though that may change upon the coin's launch, if it does see the light of day. A spokesperson told the publication that the tidbits Moser unearthed in the app were leftovers from an internal hackathon by the company's blockchain, crypto and digital currencies division.

Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies backed by fiat currencies and are typically more, well, stable than their decentralized counterparts. Meta (formerly Facebook) has big crypto plans, as well, and was supposed to launch a digital wallet that supports its own stablecoin called Diem. However, it faced pushback from regulators and launched the cryptocurrency wallet Novi with the stablecoin called the Pax Dollar instead.

Google and Ford want to bring small radar to more devices

Radar might soon find its way into more personal technology than Google's phones and smart speakers. 9to5Google notes Google, Ford and four other partners have published specs for a Ripple standard that could bring small radar to more devices in a "privacy-respecting" fashion. The framework, hosted by the Consumer Technology Association, theoretically lets any device maker use small-scale radar for tasks ranging from existing uses like touch-free gesture control and health monitoring through to exercise tracking and even occupancy detection in buildings.

The early details are currently available through GitHub, with a focus on interoperability between radar types. Developers will initially have to add special use cases through extensions, but the Ripple team hopes to build those add-ons into later versions of the standard.

The involvement of Google and Ford is logical. Both have already used radar in shipping products like the Nest Hub or Ford's Co-Pilot 360 driver assists. The more industry-wide support there is for radar, the more customers are likely to seek it out in the companies' products. Still, it might be genuinely useful if radar becomes more than a rare-but-inessential bonus feature.

A 'Scott Pilgrim' anime series is coming to Netflix

Scott Pilgrim appears ready for a comeback, and not just in video games. The Hollywood Reporter has learned Netflix and Universal's UCP (the unit behind The Umbrella Academy) are developing a Scott Pilgrim anime series. It's not clear how close this will hew to the original graphic novels, but creator Bryan Lee O'Malley and 2010 movie director Edgar Wright will be executive producers.

O'Malley will serve as a showrunner alongside Are You Afraid of the Dark? reviver BenDavid Grabinski. Science SARU is animating the project.

It won't be shocking if the series sticks to the core plot: Sex Bob-omb band leader Scott wants to win over Ramona Flowers, but can't date her until he defeats her seven evil exes. Both the graphic novels and the movie were nods to manga, indie rock, video games and turn-of-the-millennium Canadian culture.

This is a slightly unusual twist on a familiar formula. While Netflix hasn't been shy about its ambitious anime plans, it has typically focused on originals or adaptations of Japanese games and manga. Here, the streaming service is adapting a comic that was a Western tribute — and one that many might only know from the big screen. Netflix's strategy isn't clear, but it might see this as a way to expose its anime catalog to a larger audience.

Ford tries to fight F-150 Lightning scalpers by banning resales

Ford is swamped with F-150 Lightning orders, and it's taking special steps to make sure the electric pickup truck reaches honest-to-goodness buyers. Roadshow reports Ford is now giving dealerships the option to ban customers from reselling the Lightning for up to a year after purchase. As the (since-pulled) document on the F-150 Gen 14 forums revealed, the dealer could "seek injunctive relief" to block the ownership transfer or even demand payment for "all value" generated from the sale.

The automaker is also cracking down on a "limited number" of dealers that allegedly violated sales and service terms by forcing customers to make additional payments beyond those Ford requires. It's not clear just what those payments were, although this suggests they were more than the markups you frequently see when cars are scarce or in high demand.

This no-resale clause isn't new to the automotive world. Ford used it to ensure its GT supercar reached real owners. However, it's still rare for EVs — particularly for relatively mainstream vehicles like the F-150 Lighting. This reflects the popularity of the Lightning, of course, but it might also be vital to Ford. Scalping has hurt access to many other tech products, such as game consoles and video cards — Ford likely doesn't want those opportunists to sour the launch of such an important vehicle, particularly with Chevy, Rivian and Tesla chasing after many of the same customers.

Apple will reportedly unveil an iPhone SE with 5G this spring

Apple might use its now-customary spring event to update its most affordable smartphone. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman claimed in his latest newsletter that Apple is expected to introduce a third-generation iPhone SE this spring through a virtual presentation "likely" happening in March or April. In an echo of past rumors, Gurman understood the new SE would still cling to the iPhone 8-era design but add 5G and a new processor — possibly the A15 from the iPhone 13, if Apple's history of using last year's high-end chip is any indication.

There was no mention of other changes. It wouldn't be surprising if Apple increased the storage to 128GB or updated the camera sensors (again borrowed from the iPhone 8), but those aren't guaranteed given Apple's low-cost focus for the iPhone SE. A larger battery might be necessary to compensate for 5G's typically higher energy drain.

If the leak is accurate, the new iPhone SE would be disappointing for those wanting a modern nearly-all-screen design. You'd still have a relatively small screen, thick bezels and a button-based fingerprint reader. As we just mentioned, though, price is everything for the SE. The current model's $399 price helps Apple reach some customers who otherwise couldn't justify an iPhone. The company might not want to do anything that could prompt even a small a price hike, if just to maximize the SE's potential audience.

UK watchdog to grill Meta over child safety in VR

Meta is facing more scrutiny over its approach to child safety. The UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) told The Guardian in a statement that it was planning "further discussions" with Meta about the Quest 2 VR headset's compliance with a recently established children's code that priorities the "best interests" of young users. The watchdog wants to determine whether Meta's headset and VR services do enough to protect the privacy and data of kids.

Baroness Beeban Kidron, who developed the code, was concerned Meta's platform made it too easy for kids to sign on and risk abuse, harassment and explicit content. Meta might require a Facebook account (and thus that a user be at least 13 years old), but that doesn't mean it's implementing the code's required age checks. Children can jump into potentially dangerous VR chatrooms just by "ticking a box" to say they're old enough, Kidron said.

A Meta spokesperson told The Guardian the internet giant was "committed" to honoring the children's code, and was "confident" its VR hardware met the code's requirements. The representative stressed that terms of service don't allow children under 13 to use the products, but didn't address worries it was too easy for kids to ignore that policy. The firm has already promised a $50 million program to make sure its metaverse development obeyed laws and regulations.

The UK could deliver a wide range of punishments if the ICO finds Meta violated the code. While officials might do little more than issue a warning, they could also fine Meta either a fixed amount up to £17.5 million (about $23.8 million) or as much as 4 percent of its worldwide turnover — over $10 billion. There's at least some pressure on Meta to toughen child safety in VR, even if it's just to protect the company's finances.

Apple said to have ruled out a metaverse for its mixed reality headset

Don't expect Apple to follow others into the metaverse. According to the latest newsletter from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, Apple has rejected the idea of a metaverse (in this case, an all-virtual world) for its long-rumored mixed reality headset. The very idea is "off limits," Gurman's sources claimed. The focus would be on short stints of communication, content viewing and gaming.

Past rumors have hinted headset could debut as soon as this year, although its specs and target audience aren't certain. Early scoops suggested it might have a resolution of 8K per eye, over a dozen "inside out" tracking cameras and a developer focus that included a $3,000 price. Well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has suggested the headset would 'only' use 4K displays and six to eight cameras, however, hinting at a more affordable device.

If the claim is true, Apple's approach to mixed reality would be very different than that of its rival Meta. Where Meta has shifted its AR and VR strategies toward the metaverse, Apple appears determined to avoid it. Whether or not that strategy could work is another matter. Apple's reported strategy could pay off if metaverses struggle, and might thwart Meta's plans by limiting overall interest in virtual worlds. If metaverses do succeed, though, Apple could miss out and find itself supporting others' VR environments.


PM To Inaugurate UP's Kanpur Metro Stretch, Pipeline Project Today

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Kanpur on Tuesday and inaugurate the completed section of the Kanpur Metro Rail Project at around 1.30 pm.
According to Prime Minister's Office (PMO), improving urban mobility has been one of the key focus areas of PM Modi. The completed 9 km long section of Kanpur Metro Rail Project stretches from IIT Kanpur to Moti Jheel.

The entire length of the Kanpur Metro Rail Project is 32 km and is being built at a cost of over ₹ 11,000 crore. Kanpur Metro is going to be the fastest built metro project in the country.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath started the construction work of the Kanpur metro project on November 15, 2019, and the trial run took place on the 9 km IIT to Motijheel Priority Corridor on November 10, 2021, in less than two years.

Prime Minister Modi will also inspect the Metro Rail Project and undertake a metro ride from the IIT metro station to Geeta Nagar.

Besides, the Metro Rail Project, Prime Minister will also inaugurate the Bina-Panki Multiproduct Pipeline Project.

'Forza Horizon 5' turned me into a racing game fan

I'm not much of a car guy, but I do enjoy a good drive on an open road and have at least a passing appreciation for a fine automobile. Of course, my beyond-humble Toyota Prius only offers so much in the way of driving thrills. A realistic racing game always sounded like a great way to scratch that driving itch, but they're almost always just too involved and difficult for me.

But my colleague Jess Conditt described the Forza Horizon series as "the chill, microdosing cousin of Forza Motorsport, with festival vibes, ridiculous race tracks set in lush environments, and, of course, a virtual garage full of gorgeous vehicles" in her glowing preview of the game. I was sold, and so far Forza Horizon 5 has entirely lived up to the hype and praise it has received.

A big part of the reason why is that it's the most approachable driving game I've ever tried. Take the ingenious "rewind button." At first, I would push the accelerator to the floor and rarely let up, which made actually taking a turn without wiping out damn near impossible. But the rewind button let me try these difficult turns again without completely blowing the race I'm in or having to start the entire thing over again. I think that it helped me get better at the game significantly faster than I would have if I had to re-do a course every time I blew a turn. Without it, I'm pretty sure I would have given up on Forza Horizon 5 pretty quickly.

What I wanted out of Forza Horizon 5 was the ability to drive vintage and modern cars I'd never get a chance to own around a beautifully-rendered Mexican countryside, and the auto car-tuning feature was another thing that made this dream easy to achieve. For people who really want to dive into it, the game's cars are extremely customizable — but I couldn't be bothered to figure out exactly what anti-roll bars, tires, suspension systems and so on I needed to buy so my 2003 Volkswagen GTI R32 would keep up with the competition. (Note to Jess: GTI. Every. Time.)

Fortunately, there's an auto-upgrade feature that can level up your car to the top of various tiers (C isn't as great as A, which isn't as great as S1, for example). Of course, you'll need to pay for the parts, but it's worth the cost to max out your vehicles of choice without spending all day figuring out exactly what parts to buy.

India's version of 'PUBG Mobile' rolls out device bans for cheaters

Cheating is as much a problem in mobile games as it is elsewhere, and Krafton is taking extra steps to crack down on the worst offenders. 91Mobiles reports the developer is now permanently banning cheaters' devices in Battlegrounds Mobile India (aka the local version of PUBG Mobile). Rogue players can't just create new accounts to continue ruining your matches — in theory, they have to buy a new phone or tablet.

The concept of a device ban isn't new. Titles like Call of Duty: Warzone and Valorant routinely block hardware. It's not as common on mobile, however, and Battlegrounds Mobile India is a particularly prominent example when over 16 million people play daily.

Device bans won't suddenly end cheating in the battle royale brawler. While device bans require more effort to circumvent, particularly on mobile, it's not impossible. Krafton's effort might deter many 'casual' cheaters, however, and that might be enough to attract (or keep) honest players put off by past mischief.

Amazon's 'New World' is among the year's biggest money makers on Steam

Valve has once again given some insight into the highest-earning games of the year on Steam. The sixth annual Top Sellers list splits the top 100 games into a few categories, and the titles within each are randomly ordered. The 12 games in the Platinum category raked in the most cash.

There are several free-to-play games at the top, since Steam has factored in microtransactions and paid expansions. The Platinum tier is dominated by old favorites, including Apex Legends, PUBG: Battlegrounds, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dead by Daylight, Destiny 2, Rainbow Six Siege, Dota 2 and Grand Theft Auto V.

Valve has once again given some insight into the highest-earning games of the year on Steam. The sixth annual Top Sellers list splits the top 100 games into a few categories, and the titles within each are randomly ordered. The 12 games in the Platinum category raked in the most cash.

There are several free-to-play games at the top, since Steam has factored in microtransactions and paid expansions. The Platinum tier is dominated by old favorites, including Apex Legends, PUBG: Battlegrounds, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dead by Daylight, Destiny 2, Rainbow Six Siege, Dota 2 and Grand Theft Auto V.

It's the sixth straight year that Dota 2, CS:GO and Grand Theft Auto V have made it into the top tier. PUBG: Battlegrounds and Rainbow Six Siege each made the cut for the fifth time as well. Destiny 2, meanwhile, has featured in the Platinum tier every year since it hit Steam in 2019.

Battle royale title Naraka: Bladepoint and Battlefield 2042 are among the four releases from this year that made it into the top 12. Valheim, a survival sandbox game made by just five people, is also among the biggest money makers, as is New World, showing that after years of trying and failing, Amazon has finally made a hit game.

The newcomers that landed in the second group of 12 games, Gold, are FIFA 22, Back 4 Blood, Forza Horizon 5 and It Takes Two, which won game of the year honors at The Game Awards. The older titles in that section are Final Fantasy XIV Online (which Square Enix has temporarily stopped selling due to overloaded servers), Red Dead Redemption 2, Rust, Sea of Thieves, Warframe, The Elder Scrolls Online, War Thunder and Forza Horizon 4.

The Silver section, meanwhile, includes 2021 releases such as Halo Infinite, Outriders, Resident Evil Village and Mass Effect Legendary Edition. Cyberpunk 2077, which was released in December last year, is in that category, as are The Sims 4, Monster Hunter: World and the bot-plagued Team Fortress 2.

Some key takeaways include the fact that EA, which brought its games back to Steam in 2019, had four titles among the top 24 earners, including three new releases: Apex Legends, Battlefield 2042, FIFA 22 and It Takes Two. Microsoft also had several games in the top few tiers, despite them all being available on PC Game Pass. Forza Horizon 5, its predecessor and Sea of Thieves are all in the Gold category. Halo Infinite made it into Silver even though the multiplayer is free-to-play and the paid campaign had only been out for a week before Steam stopped tracking earnings for the list.

Many of these games — including New World, Battlefield 2042, Mass Effect: Legendary Edition and Sea of Thieves — have been discounted for the Steam Winter Sale. Cyberpunk 2077, Valheim and Back 4 Blood are also included in the sale, which runs until January 5th.

Sensex Rises Over 300 Points, Nifty Trades Above 17,180 On Global Cues

The Indian equity benchmarks edged higher on Tuesday, December 28 led by gains in ONGC, Asian Paints, HCL Tech, along with positive global cues. As of 9:28 am, the Sensex was up 326.62 points at 57,746.86, while the Nifty gained 88,55 points to 17,174.80.
Almost all sectoral indices were trading in the positive territory. Nifty Bank index was up over half a per cent and Nifty Consumer Durables gained nearly one per cent. HCL Tech, Asian Paints, Axis Bank, Reliance Industries, PowerGrid Corporation of India, Tech Mahindra were among the top BSE Sensex gainers. On the other hand, Dr Reddy's Labs and Cipla were among the top losers.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.98 per cent, while the S&P 500 gained 1.38 per cent after hitting a record high during the session. The Nasdaq Composite added 1.39 per cent.

The S&P 500 ended at a record high on Monday after US retail sales data eased worries from the infectious Omicron coronavirus variant, which has forced thousands of flight cancellations and stranded cruise ships.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.62 per cent, nearing its highest level in over a month.

In Asia, China reported its highest daily rise in local COVID-19 cases in 21 months as infections more than doubled in the northwestern city of Xian, its latest hotspot. The Japanese currency weakened as far as 114.935 yen per dollar for the first time since November 26, approaching the year-to-date low of 115.525.

In foreign exchange markets, the safe-haven US dollar was rangebound, despite a hawkish turn at the Federal Reserve this month that saw policymakers signal three quarter-point rate hikes in 2022. The dollar index fell 0.026 per cent, with the euro up 0.01 per cent to $1.1326.

In the crude market, U.S. crude recently rose 3.04 per cent to $76.03 per barrel and Brent was at $78.94, up 3.68 per cent on the day.

Apple reportedly hires Meta's AR public relations lead

As rumors continue to swirl about its augmented reality headset, Apple has reportedly hire away Meta's AR public relations head Andrea Schubert, according to Mark Gurman's Power On newsletter. "Meta, with Oculus, has been the market leader in headsets, so such a hire makes sense as Apple nears its launch," Gurman wrote.

Schubert has been Communications Director with Meta's Reality labs and comms lead for Oculus with Meta since March 2016, according to her LinkedIn page. Prior to that, she was director of the PR agency OutCast that counted Facebook and Oculus as clients.

Numerous rumors have surfaced about Apple's potential AR headset, some conflicting. One recent one speculated that the headset might depend on another device like an iPhone or a Mac computer. Another from The Information stated that it would be a standalone device with dual 8K displays that could cost up to $3,000. And a third rumor, this one from Gurman, indicated that it would play "high-quality VR games." Gurman also stated that Apple may follow up the VR headset with AR-only glasses, but that would happen "years down the road."

Most of the sources agree that the headset will launch in 2022 or 2023, however. If that's the case, Apple will need to muster an impressive information campaign to educate the public on what it is and how it will work. The fact that the company has reportedly hired away the PR lead from Meta, the current leader in virtual and augmented reality, could confirm that the product is on track so far.

Zypp Electric Expects 5x Revenue Growth In FY 2022

Zypp Electric, India's leading tech-enabled EV shared mobility platform expects its turnover to jump more than five times to ₹ 25 crore during this fiscal year. The company currently has 5,000 EVs in Delhi/NCR region and plans to expand to 100,000 EVs in the next 18 months in top ten cities of India. The core team of Zypp Electric has also grown three times in last one year, from 50 to 150 members, the company said in a statement. To scale up further EV adoption, the firm expects to grow 3x further as they expand to 100,000 EVs and hire 450-500 employees, largely in technology and operations.

The audited revenue of the company in FY21 was ₹ 5 crore and the company is looking to close FY22 at over ₹ 25 crore. Zypp Electric converted more than 1.1 million (11 lakh) shipments from internal combustion engine two-wheelers to electric two-wheelers in FY21. In FY22, the company is looking to do 4 million (40 lakh) pollution free deliveries in FY22, which is 4x jump as compared to the previous year.

"Super proud to share that our revenue has jumped more than 5 times to Rs 25 crore this fiscal year, from Rs 5 crore the year ago. Going by the current monthly run rate, the company expects to end the year at $6mn ARR. We have created a smart platform that's gaining popularity among B2B grocery and other hyperlocal delivery companies along with delivery executives who are wanting to go electric with our electric shared mobility platform. The best part is that business has huge focus on driving the right unit economics and get positive contribution margin even as the scale grows 10x. I am very confident that we are and we will remain the best and largest electric shared mobility option for the country as we scale to 100k EVs with our EV technology platform" said Akash Gupta, Co-founder and CEO, Zypp Electric.

Grell Audio's TWS/1 earbuds sound as good as you want them to

A new entrant to the true wireless headphone space you say? Sure, that might be a fairly common occurrence these days, but this one – Grell Audio – comes with some pretty strong heritage. Its founder, Axel Grell, is well known in the headphone industry for his extensive work at Sennheiser on some of the company's most prestigious products. The TWS/1 is his first solo product under the Grell brand. Accordingly, we're interested to see what the $200 wireless buds can do.

The TWS/1 has a modern look. The mostly circular design is only interrupted by a small, AirPod-like protuberance on each bud. Originally the plan was to have the outer casing entirely metal but physics and radio waves meant that some concessions (plastic parts) were needed. Overall, they maintain a premium feel that stands above that often found at this price point. They visually remind me slightly of the Jabra Elite 75t, but a little lower profile.

In terms of fit, that slightly more streamlined design means you don't feel like something is balancing in your ear which can sometimes happen with more rotund models. As per usual they come with a charging case that promises four full charges of the TWS/1. The buds themselves offer around 6 hours per charge which holds true in my experience with ANC activated. Curiously, the buds are placed in the case with the right one to the left and vice versa. I'm not sure why this would be, but it does take some remembering (you'll soon be reminded as the buds don't fit the other way around).

In a world of me-too products, it's hard to stand out. The easiest differentiator is price, then sound quality and or additional/premium features. It seems Grell Audio has tried to tackle all three of these, and with general success, I would say.

The price point puts the TWS/1 in an unusual category. Many premium brands are landing in the $250+ zone while more affordable options, like Google's second-gen Pixel Buds or the aforementioned Jabra's live in the $150 area. Budget options, south of $100, are also increasingly more common. This, then, pitches the TWS/1 at the overlap between high-mid and low-premium. I would wager this is entirely intentional as feature set and build quality skew higher end, but the barebones packaging and more accessible price indicate a more mainstream audience.

Verizon partners with AR hardware maker Vuzix for some reason

It's been a few years since we've heard from AR company Vuzix. In early 2019, it came out with its first pair of consumer-ready smart glasses. After staying relatively quiet over the past two years, it's now partnering with Verizon. The two didn't share many details about their collaboration. What they did say is that they plan to find ways to commercialize AR technology for use in sports and gaming scenarios, especially those involving the need for training. The partnership will combine Vuzix's new Shield smart glasses and the capabilities of Verizon's 5G network.

It's hard to say if we'll see anything impactful come out of this agreement, but it's not a surprise to see Verizon become more involved in AR technology. Augmented, virtual and mixed reality wearables have been consistently positioned as one of the primary beneficiaries of the speed and latency enhancements promised by 5G networks. Likewise, the focus on gaming and sports isn't surprising either. Some of the earliest locations where Verizon had 5G service was in NFL stadiums. They're one of few places where the carrier's mmWave deployments shine since there's enough density there to justify building out all the small cells required to blanket even a small area with ultrafast 5G coverage.

Lenovo Smart Clock 2 is on sale for $25 bundled with a smart bulb at Walmart

The deals have mostly dried up for the holidays, but Walmart has brought back an offer on the Lenovo Smart Clock 2 plus one of the company's smart light bulbs for only $25, which is about $45 off its normal price. The company introduced the modestly updated Smart Clock 2 this year, and we first saw this deal in early December before it returned today.

The design of the Smart Clock 2 is a bit different from the original in that it has a wider base, but the four-inch screen size remains the same. Lenovo also moved the speakers to the front of the device, resulting in a larger chin underneath the display. It doesn't hinder the minimalist look of the smart clock, and since it also means the speakers now fire outwards, it should actually help the blaring noise of your alarm reach your ears regardless of the position of the clock in relation to your bed.

The biggest new feature on the Smart Clock 2 is that the screen can now double as a night light and you can swipe down on the display to enable it. You can still ask the Google Assistant to activate the night light, but the extra gesture makes it so you don't have to speak to get some extra light in the middle of the night. Otherwise, the Smart Clock 2 can do everything the original device can, including show weather forecasts, enable alarms, play music and control smart home devices. Lenovo also kept a camera out of the equation yet again, which will make the Smart Clock 2 a more appealing option for those who have no desire to video chat using the alarm on their bedside table.

We can't speak for the quality of the Lenovo smart light bulb that's included in the bundle, but we can say that it supports white and color options with adjustable temperature and brightness. In addition to the companion mobile app, you can control the bulb using the Google Assistant or Alexa — and we expect you may do so using the former quite a bit if you pick up this bundle. If you have a small room in your home that you want to make a bit smarter, this Lenovo bundle is a solid, inexpensive way to do that.

2021 showed us that trucks and SUVs don't need gas engines

The modern electric vehicle renaissance has been hampered from day one by the physical limitations imposed by the current state of battery technology. Inefficiencies in the form of heavy battery packs and low power densities have long limited not just the range and performance of EVs but the very forms they can take — there's a reason Tesla started with a Roadster and not a Cybertruck. But steady advancements in power systems over the past few years — alongside skyrocketing demand for larger, electrified vehicles which cater to the US market — has led to a watershed moment in 2021: the emergence of EV pickups and SUVs.

Yes, we all know the Model X exists and Tesla "did it first" — spare me your tweets — however, the sheer number and variety of new, pure EV pickup and SUV models either ready to hit the showroom floor or in active development is staggering compared to just a few years ago. Let's take a look at some of this year's standouts.

GM is betting big on its proprietary Ultium battery technology, investing $35 billion in self-driving and EV technologies through 2025. The company has also announced that it intends to sell 30 EV models by the end of 2025 and EVs exclusively after 2035 with the 1,000 horsepower GMC Hummer EV serving as its vanguard offering.

The Hummer EV has been a surefire hit since its debut last October. More than 10,000 potential buyers had placed down payments on the $112,000 Hummer Edition 1 by last December. Similarly, the Hummer's EV SUV variant revealed in April had its pre-orders sell out in minutes — not bad for a vehicle that won't actually hit the streets until Fall 2023. Deliveries for the Hummer EV pickup are slated to begin this month. There have even been rumblings about adapting the Hummer EV frame and power system to military applications, though no firm decisions on that proposal have yet been made.

Hummers are only the start. In April, GM confirmed that its second EV model will be an electrified Silverado. We still don't know a whole lot about the Silverado beyond that it will leverage GM's Ultium battery tech, that the company is aiming for a 400-plus mile range, and that the EV pickup will offer four-wheel steering, which shortens turn radius' at low speeds and increases cornering stability at high speeds — especially when towing loads.

We'll have a full accounting of the Silverado's capabilities once it makes its official debut during GM's CES 2022 keynote address. What's more, GM teased its third upcoming EV in July — a full-size GMC pickup, according to CNBC. Virtually nothing else is known about it at this time, not even if it will use the existing GMC Sierra branding. Hopefully, we'll get some more hints in the new year.

Not to be outdone, the Stellantis Group (formerly FCA and umbrella company to Chrysler, Jeep Dodge, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and a host of others) announced in July that it, too, will be investing $35 billion towards its electrification efforts through 2025 and will have 55 electrified vehicles (40 BEVs, 15 PHEVs) available in the US and European markets by the end of that year. What's more, Stellantis is working on an all-electric Ram EV to compete with the Silverado and Ford F-150 Lightning, though the Ram isn't expected to be released until 2024. For its part in 2021, Jeep showed off a slick-looking Wrangler BEV concept in March, released its "light hybrid" Wrangler Sahara 4XE in May and debuted its PHEV Cherokee 4XE in September ahead of the vehicle's 2022 release.

Ford also had a year worthy of honking its own horn about, starting with the February release of the Mustang Mach-E. The EV was met with a bit of trepidation to start but cemented its position with the release of the performance-focused GT edition. In all, Ford had sold more 21,000 Mach-E units through this past October, despite a handful of recalls for loose bolts and "deep sleeping" software bugs. That's not bad for a first-year crossover SUV working to get past deeply ingrained customer nostalgia, but the Mach-E's numbers are nothing compared to the hype Ford's upcoming F-150 Lightning EV has garnered.

The company's F-150 electrification efforts have hardly been an industry secret but when Ford debuted the Lightning on May 19th (or May 18th if you were watching President Biden's speech), America's car-buying public just about lost its mind with nearly 45,000 people signing up to preorder the EV pickup within the first 48 hours.

XPG's concept mouse has an SSD so you can store your games in it

Have you ever looked at your mouse and thought "it's fine, but kind of a big fat waste of space?" Gaming accessory company XPG apparently did, because it's just unveiled a concept mouse for CES 2022 with a built-in high-speed SSD drive stuffed inside, Digital Trends has reported.

The XPG Vault Gaming Mouse is a wired USB-C mouse that the company calls a "gaming library in the palm of your hand." The prototype model supports up to 1TB of memory that can run at a surprisingly fast 985 MB/s. The storage can be controlled by XPG's gaming software app. "Gaming Launcher software... promises to make your gaming libraries conveniently portable and [add] a higher level of game integration with XPG Prime Software Ecosystem," the company said.

It looks like a pretty normal mouse, though it'd require a pretty stout USB-C cable to support those kind of speeds. It's not the worst idea we've heard, because it gives you some high-speed storage while freeing up a USB slot that'd normally be taken by a wired mouse. XPG didn't mention the mouse's DPI or any other gaming specs.

Mice with built-in USB storage aren't unheard of, though we haven't seen anything notable recently. Wild gadgets often pop up at CES, however, helping companies grab some attention and publicity. Aside from the prototype mouse, XPG also unveiled some products that could come to market next year including PCIe Gen5X SSDs, DDR5 DRAM and the XPG Wired/Wireless Alpha gaming mouse.

Russia fines Google $98 million over 'banned content'

A Russian court levied a 7.2 billion rouble ($98 million) fine against Google on Friday for what it claims are repeated failures by the company to delete content the country has deemed illegal. Though Russia has tagged numerous tech companies throughout the year with fines for not following its increasingly restrictive internet content rules, Friday's judgement marks the first time that the court has imposed fines based on a company's annual revenue.

Additionally, the Russian court fined Meta (and its subsidiary, Instagram) 2 billion roubles ($27.15 million) for similar offenses. Per Reuters, Meta is accused of failing to remove around 2,000 banned items while Google had reportedly failed to take down 2,600 bits of illicit content. Those include posts promoting drug use or dangerous behaviors, instructions for making improvised weapons and explosives, as well as anything regarding what and who it designates as extremists or terrorists. Or the spreading of "gay propaganda," apparently.

Google has announced it will review the court documents before deciding how to proceed. The company has 10 days to file an appeal.

This ruling is only the latest in Moscow's attempts to exert greater degrees of control over not just its national network but the internet as a whole and sets up an even larger confrontation come January 1st, when Russian authorities have demanded tech companies set up local servers for their online services.

How to set up your new Apple Watch

Like many Apple products, the Apple Watch can be extremely simple to start using — but that simplicity hides a surprising level of depth and customization. If you just received an Apple Watch, there's a lot to do to make sure you're getting the most out of your new wearable. Let us guide you through that process, from initial setup to optimizing everything it can do.

Of course, the first thing you'll want to do is pair your Apple Watch with your iPhone. Even if you have a cellular-capable Apple Watch, an iPhone is required for setting up and managing the device. Fortunately, this process is extremely straightforward — after powering on the Apple Watch, just place it near an unlocked iPhone and you'll get a prompt to set the device up. During this process, your iPhone will walk you through the initial pairing as well as signing in with your Apple ID, assigning a passcode to your Watch, setting up things like Siri and Apple Pay, and deciding if you want to transfer your compatible apps to the Watch. I recommend against transferring all your apps automatically this first time, as the Watch is a lot more useful when you curate it with only what you need.

A few features you definitely should set up are fall detection and emergency SOS. The latter lets you quickly place a call to local emergency services by pressing and holding the side button, while fall detection uses the Watch's accelerometers and other sensors to, well, detect if you've taken a bad spill. It'll initiate an emergency SOS call automatically if it detects a fall and doesn't detect you moving. Before making that call, the Watch will try its best to get your attention via a notification, a vibration and an audible alarm.

Once you have the basics set up, it's time to make the Apple Watch your own. By default, the Apple Watch mirrors all notifications that go to your phone. But I've found the Watch to be much more useful with a bit of curation. In the iPhone Watch app, you can customize notifications for all of Apple's first-party apps, or turn them off entirely. For example, the Activity app notifications panel lets you choose whether or not you want reminders to stand every hour, or notifications when your friends share activity milestones with you and so forth.

Third-party apps don't have the same granularity, but you can turn them off so they won't ping your Watch. For things that aren't particularly time-sensitive (say, updates from Google Photos, or if you don't want the Apple News app overloading your wrist), feel free to turn them off. They'll still hit your iPhone, and you can always enable them again later.

The iPhone Watch app also lets you pick which specific apps from your iPhone will be installed on the Apple Watch. I think this is more useful than just letting the Watch install every single compatible app, because that might mean you have a few dozen apps to sift through on your Watch to see if they're useful or not. Instead, I prefer going through the list and deciding if there's a benefit to having these apps on my wrist. In the case of apps like Google Maps or Ecobee for controlling my thermostat, it's a definite yes. But things like Etsy or Bank of America don't exactly make a ton of sense on a Watch. And if you ever change your mind, you can remove an app from the Watch app or by long-pressing it in grid view and deleting it – just keep in mind that this will remove the app from your Watch but not from your iPhone.

That said, I have been surprised at what some developers have envisioned for the Apple Watch. Take the notes app Bear, for example. I often use it to make grocery lists, and checklists show up great on the Apple Watch. So if there's an app on your phone that you consider essential, give it a shot on the Watch.

Watch faces
Another occasionally-overlooked part of the Apple Watch experience are watch faces. Since this is literally what you'll see every time you raise your wrist, I think it's worth finding ones that fit your personal style. While there are no third-party faces, the Apple Watch has more than 30 built-in options that are endlessly customizable. We're talking about a huge variety of colors, different typefaces and watch face styles, complications (small slices of info like weather, date, or music controls) and much more. You can have a simple digital time display with nothing else, or an info-dense face with eight different complications or anything in between.

You can set up new faces on the Watch directly — but as with most in-depth features, it's easier to do this on the iPhone. The Face Gallery shows every available face, along with multiple examples of how they can be customized. You can use those as a jumping off point to make your own creations. Once you've curated your favorites, you can simply swipe through them on the Watch itself when you want to mix things up. If you long press on a face, you can edit it directly on your Watch too, which is handy when you want to just change the color quickly to better match your outfit.

If you're using an Apple Watch Series 5, 6 or 7, you can also decide whether you want to activate the always-on display. You can find this option in the settings app, under "Display & Brightness." If you're after maximum battery life, turn this off, but most people will probably prefer it on. New watches can still get a full day of use while using the always-on feature, but once your watch ages a bit and battery performance degrades, you might want to learn to live without it.

'Arcane' creators explain why Jinx and Vi are the stars of the Netflix series

It was always Jinx and Vi. They're the sisters at the heart of Riot Games' hit Netflix series, Arcane, and they were picked for the spotlight out of a lineup of more than 150 League of Legends champions.

For Arcane creators Christian Linke and Alex Yee, the stars really couldn't have been anyone else from League of Legends lore. Especially not Teemo. Linke and Yee have been preparing Jinx and Vi for their leading roles in a mature, mainstream, animated TV series for the past nine years, even if they didn't know it the entire time.

Back in December 2012, Vi debuted and became the first League of Legends champion to receive a login screen complete with an original, lyrical song. A year later, Jinx joined the game's ranks and starred in its first character-driven cinematic, a high-energy music video called Get Jinxed. Linke and Yee worked on both of these releases, flexing their creative muscles in music and narrative storyboarding, two aspects that didn't get much attention in the core game-development process.

The Jinx cinematic was also the first time Riot partnered with Fortiche Production, the studio behind Arcane's otherworldly animation style.

"They kind of got our special treatment already because we just really liked them," Linke told Engadget. "And so, when we had to think about like, which characters do we want to stick with for many years to come? I think it was pretty obvious."

Yee agreed and added, "Both of them were a bit of a milestone, I think, for our time at Riot."

Apple's 2021 iPad drops back to $299 at Amazon

Don't worry if you missed out on an earlier deal for Apple's 2021 iPad. Amazon is selling the 64GB entry-level iPad for $299, or $30 off the usual price. The 256GB variant recently dropped a similar amount to $449. That matches a previous discount at Walmart and Amazon, and is currently the lowest price we've seen for Apple's latest 10.2-inch slate. Just don't fret over color choices or shipping times — only Space Gray models appear to be in stock, and you'll have to wait around three weeks for it to be delivered.

The basic design of the iPad hasn't changed much in recent years, but the under-the-hood upgrades are particularly notable this year. The tablet now uses an A13 Bionic chip that's reportedly 20 percent faster than in the previous iPad, making it a better fit for gaming or creative tasks. This may also be a good pick for an era of remote work and virtual friend visits, as an ultra-wide 12MP front camera offers Center Stage to keep you in view as you move around.

Just don't expect a revamp on par with the new iPad mini or 2020's iPad Air. You won't find an all-screen design, USB-C, second-generation Pencil support or an improved rear camera. This is for anyone who wants a no-frills tablet that should still last a long while — if that's all you're looking for, you'll probably be happy.

PUBG: New State Redeem Codes: Krafton Reveals Free Rewards for the Holidays

PUBG: New State has kicked off its holiday celebrations with two new redeem codes which grant free rewards to players in the popular battle royale game. After the game recently crossed the 45-million download mark, Krafton says it has shared these codes to thank gamers for their support. The in-game rewards include "Winter Carnival" crate tickets and chicken medals. Both of these are now accessible to any player and are up for grabs until next month, according to Krafton. The publisher has a dedicated website where gamers can claim these rewards. These can only be claimed once per account ID and will be delivered to players via the in-game mail section.

PUBG New State redeem codes: How to claim
These rewards cannot be claimed by users on their smartphones. Instead, users must visit a website set up by Krafton in order to use the redeem codes. Here are the steps to claim the free chicken medals and free crate tickets in PUBG: New State.

Visit the PUBG: New State website.
Type one of the redeem codes (listed below) on the webpage.
Open PUBG: New State on your phone and open the game settings.
Tap the Basic tab, and note your Account ID.
Enter your Account ID on the redemption website.
Solve the CAPTCHA and click on Redeem.
PUBG New State free crate tickets redeem codes
The first redeem code shared by Krafton is WINTERCARNIVAL15, which will grant users access to the Winter Carnival Crate. Gamers can access winter-themed skins, accessories, and clothing along with in-game vehicle themes. Users will have to claim this redeem code by January 6, and all PUBG: New State users can claim the reward once per account ID.

PUBG New State free chicken medals redeem codes
PUBG: New State uses different kinds of in-game currency, such as NC and Chicken Medals. The latter is used to unlock crates in the game to unlock special content, and Krafton is now offering six chicken medals for free with the redeem code WINTERHOLIDAY. All PUBG: New State users are eligible to claim this reward, and it can be redeemed by January 10.

Sensex Slips 191 Points; Nifty Ends At 17,004 As Banking, Auto Stocks Drag

New Delhi: The Indian equity benchmarks fell on Friday after rising for three-straight sessions led by losses in banking and auto stocks. The 30-share BSE Sensex slipped 191 points or 0.33 per cent to close at 57,124, and the broader NSE Nifty moved 69 points or 0.40 per cent down to settle at 17,004. Both the domestic indices traded on a highly volatile note as a continued global surge in the Omicron coronavirus variant kept investors on the edge.
Mid- and small-cap shares finished lower as Nifty Midcap 100 index plunged 1.05 per cent and Nifty Smallcap 100 index cracked 0.52 per cent.

On the stock-specific front, Grasim was the top Nifty laggard as the stock slipped 2.93 per cent to ₹ 1,611. NTPC, Eicher Motors, ONGC and Mahindra & Mahindra were also among the losers.

On the flip side, HCL Tech, Tech Mahindra, SBI Life, Asian Paints and Wipro attracted gains.

14 out of 15 sector gauges -- compiled by the National Stock Exchange -- settled in red. Nifty PSU Bank, Nifty Bank and Nifty Auto plunged as much as 1.94 per cent. However, Nifty IT outperformed the index by rising as much as 0.98 per cent.

The overall market breadth stood negative as 1,580 shares advanced while 1,749 declined on BSE.

Major laggards on the BSE platform included NTPC, Mahindra & Mahindra, PowerGrid, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Dr Reddy's and Bajaj Finserv with their shares falling as much as 2.73 per cent.

Earlier, both indices had rebounded for three consecutive days after plunging as much as 3 per cent on Monday.

"The overall trend is still negative ... We need to have more clarity over the new variant and its impact. We are seeing different trends in different countries," Ajit Mishra, Vice President Research, Religare Broking Ltd, told news agency Reuters.

Top 5 Cars Most Searched On Google In 2021 In India; Maruti Suzuki Dzire, Tata Altroz, Honda City And More

While it is certainly the era of SUVs in India right now, the entry and compact segment hatchbacks and sedans continue to be popular in the country. In today's digital age one way of measuring popularity would be to see the number of searches that any particular topic gets on Google. So, when we look at Google searches in India for vehicles in 2021, the Kia Seltos took the top spot with more than 8 lakh average monthly searches. However, keeping SUVs aside, when we look at the entry and compact segment, these 5 cars topped the search results between January and November 2021.

The Maruti Suzuki Dzire is one of the best-selling cars and the highest-selling sedan in the country. So, it's no surprise that the Dzire would also be the most searched car on google in 2021, with around 4.5 lakh average monthly searches. The subcompact sedan ticks the right boxes when it comes to styling and creature comforts, and the car also comes with a peppy 1.2-litre petrol engine, with options of both manual and AMT options.

The Tata Altroz is one of the more popular models from the home-grown automaker and has made quite a mark for itself in the premium hatchback space. It was the second-most searched car on Google in 2021, just marginally behind the Dzire. The premium hatchback has also popular for scoring a 5-star safety rating from the Global NCAP. The car comes with three engine options - a 1.2-litre turbo petrol, 1.2-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine and a 1.5-litre diesel engine, all mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox as standard.

The Honda City has been one of the most popular sedans in India ever since the moniker first came to our shores. Ranking at the third spot, with over 3.6 lakh average monthly searches, the Honda City has shown us that it still has a strong fan following in India. It was just in 2020 that the seventh-gen model was launched in India, and it also became the winner of the 2021 CNB Viewers' Choice Car of the Year award. The City is offered in both petrol and diesel options, with manual and automatic transmission choices.

OnePlus 7, OnePlus 7T Series Getting OxygenOS Update With WhatsApp Media Issue Fix

OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7T series smartphones are receiving an OxygenOS update which fixes an issue where users were unable to send and receive media on WhatsApp. Bundled with the update is the December 2021 Android security patch. Only the update for OnePlus 7T is rolling out in India. OnePlus 7 series was launched in May 2019 while OnePlus 7T series was launched in September 2019. The OnePlus 7 series was launched with Android 9 Pie out-of-the-box, while OnePlus 7T series was launched with Android 10 out-of-the-box.

Through a couple of posts on its Community Forum, OnePlus mentioned that OnePlus 7, OnePlus 7 Pro, OnePlus 7T, and OnePlus 7T Pro are receiving OxygenOS update. The update is rolling out in Europe and the global markets for all four smartphones. However, only the OnePlus 7T series is receiving its update in India.

As mentioned, the OxygenOS update brings a fix for the issue where users were unable to send and receive media on WhatsApp. Along with this, OnePlus has also improved the system stability on all four flagship smartphones from 2019. Bundled with the update is the December 2021 Android security patch.

The update is scheduled to have a gradual rollout with select users receiving the update initially. Rest of the users are said to receive the update in the coming days once no critical bugs are found. The size of the update was not mentioned but users are advised to update the smartphone under a strong Wi-Fi connection and while it is put on charging. The update should reach all users automatically over-the-air. However, keen users can manually check for the update by heading to Settings > System > System updates.

OnePlus 7 series was launched in May 2019 and came with Android 9 Pie out-of-the-box. In September 2019, the flagship smartphones received Android 10 and received Android 11 in March 2021. OnePlus 7T was launched in September 2019 and OnePlus 7T Pro was launched in October 2019. Both phones were launched with Android 10 out-of-the-box and received their Android 11 update along with the OnePlus 7 series.

Huawei MateBook X Pro 2022 With 11th Gen Intel Core Processors, Huawei Smart Glasses Launched

Huawei MateBook X Pro 2022 notebook has been launched in China. The laptop is powered by 11th Gen Intel Core i5 and Intel Core i7 processors and comes with 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage. The laptop is the successor of the Huawei MateBook X Pro 2022 that was launched earlier this year and brings improvements on the charging and thermal front, as well as the trackpad. The company also launched a new pair of smart glasses featuring a detachable design in China. Called the Huawei Smart Glasses, they run on the company's HarmonyOS software and allow the wearer to check their messages, change media, control calls, and even monitor their posture.

Huawei MateBook X Pro 2022 price
Huawei MateBook X Pro 2022 is priced at CNY 9,499 (roughly Rs. 1,11,900) for the Intel Core i5 model with 16GB and 512GB of storage. Meanwhile, the Intel Core i7 model with 16GB model with 512GB of storage is priced at CNY 10,499 (roughly Rs. 1,23,700) while the 1TB variant is priced at CNY 12,499 (roughly Rs. 1,47,300). Huawei MateBook X Pro 2022 is available in Emerald, Silver, and Space Gray colour options and will go on sale in China on January 6, according to the company's website.

Huawei Smart Glasses pricing
Huawei Smart Glasses are priced at CNY 1,699 (roughly Rs. 22,400) for the transparent optical glass version, while the 'sunglasses' version is priced slightly higher at CNY 1,899 (roughly Rs. 20,000). The glasses are already listed for sale on the company's website.

Huawei MateBook X Pro 2022 specifications
The new Huawei MateBook X Pro 2022 comes with an Intel Core i7-1195G7 processor or an Intel Core i5-1155G7 processor. The laptop is paired with 12GB of RAM and comes in 512GB and 1TB NVMe PCIe SSD storage options. Huawei MateBook X Pro 2022 comes with Windows 11 Home out of the box, according to the company.

The laptop sports a 14.2-inch (3,120x2,080 pixels) LTPS display with a refresh rate of 90Hz and a screen-to-body ratio of 92.5 percent. The multi-touch touchscreen display comes with P3 wide colour gamut support and supports a maximum brightness of 500 nits, according to Huawei. Huawei MateBook X Pro 2022 comes with a 710p webcam, and sports six speakers and four microphones.

On the connectivity front, Huawei MateBook X Pro 2022 comes with Wi-Fi 6 connectivity and Bluetooth 5.1 support. It has four USB Type-C ports with data, charging and DisplayPort support, as well as a 3.5mm jack. It is equipped with a fingerprint reader on the power button and a pressure-sensitive trackpad which allows for gestures for taking screenshots, screen recording, brightness, playback, and volume.

The older Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 was launched with a smaller display than the new Huawei MateBook X Pro 2022, which also boasts improvements to charging and thermal management on the new model with a Shark Fin fan cooling system. The laptop comes with a 60Wh battery, according to Huawei. Huawei MateBook X Pro 2022 measures 31x22.1x1.5cm and weights approximately 1.38kg.

Huawei Smart Glasses specifications
The new Huawei Smart Glasses come with a detachable design with replaceable frames, made of stainless steel. It comes in three frame styles — Classic (half-rim), Pilot (square) and Retro (round). The company has also launched a sunglasses version of Huawei Smart Glasses. They both feature stereo speakers located around the wearer's ears.

Users are able to check their messages, the weather, their agenda, and travel information, according to the company's website. Huawei is also touting the ability of these glasses to monitor the wearer's posture, to provide warnings of risk to cervical spine health, according to the company's website.

Huawei Smart Glasses feature Bluetooth 5.2 support and the company's HarmonyOS operating system, which allows the glasses to connect to up to two devices simultaneously. The glasses support tap, long press and swipe gestures that allow users to summon voice assistants, adjust volume and change tracks to manage their calls. It supports SBC and AAC codecs, according to the company.

Top Five Laptops for Working or Learning From Home

Buying the perfect laptop for working or learning from home can be a daunting task. There are hundreds if not thousands of options to choose from across a wide range of price brackets. You could literally get lost while trying to decide which one to buy. Today, we'll tell you which laptops to buy and we'll also explore how you can buy them on easy payment terms.

Everyone has their own specific needs when it comes to the idea of a perfect laptop. In case you're looking for a one size fits all approach, you could settle for several popular laptops that can help you get most things done and still last at least a few years down the line. We've handpicked some of the best laptops that should be ideal for most people trying to work or learn remotely.

The top laptops for working or learning from home

Dell XPS 13
If you're in the market for a decent Windows-powered machine, Dell XPS 13 7390 is a powerful option around the Rs. 1 lakh price point. The premium laptop comes with 10th generation Intel Core i5 processor, supported by 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. It comes with a 13.3-inch InfinityEdge display running at a native resolution of 1920x1080 pixels. Dell XPS 13 runs Windows 10 out of the box and includes Microsoft Office as well. Dell XPS 13 7390 retails online at a price point of around Rs. 1,05,000.

MacBook Air (2020, M1)
For the same price point, if you're considering a Mac, the Apple MacBook Air (2020, M1) is a pretty good option for working or learning remotely. The compact laptop is powered by Apple's M1 chipset, supported by 8GB of RAM. It comes with a 512GB SSD, and is available in three different colour options. As for battery life, it can last for up to 18 hours on a full charge. That's pretty good if you're going to need it while travelling. MacBook Air (2020, M1) generally sells online for around Rs. 1,10,000 in India.

HP 15 (2021)
HP 15 (2021, 15s-gr0012AU) is a pretty decent laptop if you're looking for something below Rs. 50,000 right now. The laptop is powered by AMD Ryzen 3 CPU, supported by 8GB of RAM. It comes with a 1TB conventional hard drive and a 256GB SSD. HP 15 features a 15.6-inch full-HD display, and weighs just under 2kg. The thin-and-light laptop runs Windows 10 out of the box, and comes bundled with Microsoft Office. HP 15 (2021) sells at around Rs. 45,000 in India.

Lenovo Ideapad Slim 3i
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i is a feature-packed slim laptop that's available online for around Rs. 58,000. The laptop is powered by 11th Gen Intel Core i5 processor, supported by 8GB of RAM. It comes with a 512GB SSD, and runs Windows 10 and Microsoft Office out of the box. It comes with a backlit keyboard and a fingerprint reader for added security. Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i can be upgraded to Windows 11 for free.

Mi Notebook Pro
Xiaomi's Mi Notebook Pro is another option under the Rs. 60,000 price point. It's powered by 11th Gen Intel Core i5 processor, supported by 8GB of RAM, and includes a 512GB SSD. The thin-and-light laptop runs Windows 10 out of the box. There's a backlit keyboard and a fingerprint sensor for authentication. Mi Notebook Pro usually sells online at around Rs. 57,000. You can swap an old laptop and get an additional instant discount when you're buying online at major online marketplaces in India.

The ideal way to buy the perfect laptop in easy payment terms

Buying a new laptop for working or learning remotely can be a big expense. While the machine itself will justify its value as you continue using it over a period of time, most people find it hard to make a sudden major purchase. Well, now you don't have to worry about that either.

With HDFC Bank EasyEMI payment method, you can simply pay back the entire amount in easier, smaller monthly payments with no additional cost. You don't need to fill up long documentation or make an upfront payment. All you need is an HDFC Bank debit or credit card. Once you make a purchase you can convert that transaction into EasyEMI. If you don't have an HDFC Bank card, you can simply avail a consumer loan at any major offline retail store and avail easy monthly payment options. Buying a new laptop was never this easy!

Mamata Banerjee Says "Won't Be Attending" PM Modi's Meet Tomorrow

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said she would not be attending the meeting convened by the Centre on December 24 to discuss ways to commemorate the birth anniversary of philosopher and revolutionary leader Rishi Aurobindo on August 15 next year, as part of the 75th Independence Day celebrations.
Her decision came a day after Ms Banerjee was apparently not given a chance to speak during a virtual meeting of chief ministers with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Chief Minister, who was addressing a meeting of government officials, academicians and prominent personalities, said she would have given her inputs if allowed to speak at the meeting chaired by the PM on Independence Day celebrations.

"It isn't right to politicise everything. I will not be able to attend tomorrow's meeting since we have already charted out a number of programmes on Rishi Aurobindo already. Please write a letter to inform that I won't be attending (the meeting)," she told Chief Secretary HK Dwivedi.

Earlier, eminent painter Jogen Choudhury, who was present at the meeting, protested against the "treatment meted out to the chief minister, and said it was an insult for Bengal which has made significant contributions to the freedom movement".

Poet Joy Goswami echoed similar sentiments.

The Chief Minister also decried alleged attempts to "distort" history at several levels, stating that "the younger generation should get to know facts, not twisted facts".

"Whatever be one's ideology, history cannot be subjected to changes to suit his or her narrative," Ms Banerjee pointed out.

She said that a separate chapter chronicling all important events of our freedom struggle should be incorporated in school curriculum, further asking education minister Bratya Basu to look into the matter.

The TMC boss stated that programmes marking the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi will be held next month.

She said all records and information about the freedom struggle in state archives, in police files and elsewhere will be digitised for public knowledge. This would also include dossiers about Netaji.

PM Modi To Address Guru Nanak Gurpurab Celebration In Gujarat's Kutch Tomorrow

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the Gurpurab celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, at Lakhpat Sahib gurdwara in Kutch, Gujarat on Saturday via video conferencing, his office said.
Every year from December 23 to December 25, Sikhs in Gujarat celebrate the Gurpurab of Guru Nanak Dev Ji at Lakhpat Sahib gurdwara, it said, noting that the first Sikh guru had stayed at Lakhpat during the course of his travels.

Lakhpat Sahib gurdwara has his relics, including wooden footwear and palkhi (cradle) as well as manuscripts and markings scripts of Gurmukhi.

The PM's Office noted that the gurudwara had suffered damage during the 2001 earthquake, and PM Modi, the then Chief Minister, had undertaken urgent measures to ensure its repair.

"This step showed the deep reverence of the Prime Minister for the faith, as also reflected in multiple recent endeavours, including the celebrations of 550th Parkash Purab of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, 350th Parkash Purab of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, and 400th Parkash Purab of Guru Tegh Bahadur," the PM's Office said.

Cars and Bikes / MS Dhoni's Bike Collection
Dec 24, 2021, 04:44 PM
MS Dhoni's Bike Collection

MS Dhoni is a legend in the world of cricket. He is the only Indian captain to have won major titles in the three mainstream formats of the game with his impressive skills and calm attitude. Dhoni is a major bike enthusiast since his college days and with his big pay cheque he can get all the bikes he wants, his collection has over 100 bikes, many of which are very exclusive and exciting. Here's our look at MS Dhoni's bike collection:

This absolute beast of a motorcycle costs over ₹ 47 lakhs, uses aircraft grade titanium to reduce its overall weight and is packed with design aesthetics and raw power through and through. MS Dhoni was spotted riding this bike back in 2018 and the sight had fans going head over heels. The bike is extremely rare as only 150 units of it exist. A-list Hollywood actors like Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise also own one of these.

The Kawasaki Ninja H2 is an exotic superbike with stunning good looks and refined performance fine tuned to rip the roads. The bike costs over ₹ 35 lakhs in India. According to many media reports, MS Dhoni was the first owner of this bike in India and has been spotted riding around on it in his hometown, Ranchi.

Every bike enthusiast wants to own a Ducati. This bike was available for a very limited time from 2007-2008 and Dhoni grabbed one as soon as he got the opportunity. The bike costed around 25-30 Lakhs and has a very powerful engine with exotic superbike looks. This bike is one of the top rides in MS Dhoni's bike collection.

Vivo V23 Series India Launch Tipped for January 4, Dual Selfie Camera Teased Again

Vivo V23 series India launch may take place on January 4, as per a report. The development comes a few hours after the company confirmed the smartphone launch in India through a small teaser that reportedly aired during a Kabaddi match. The report also highlights that the upcoming smartphone series may have a vanilla Vivo V23 and Vivo V23 Pro handsets in the India lineup. It also shared a poster that shows a dual selfie camera setup -- a feature that was also mentioned in past leaks.

91Mobiles claims that Vivo V23 series, which is likely to include the vanilla Vivo V23 and Vivo V23 Pro smartphones, will launch in India on January 4. A previous report has also tipped a January debut of the Vivo smartphones. The 91Mobiles report also says that the Vivo phones will have a dual selfie camera setup. The phones are claimed to get a 50-megapixel primary sensor in the dual front camera setup.

Other confirmed specifications include a "Sunshine Gold" colour option, an "ultra slim 3D curved display", and a triple rear camera setup highlighted by a 64-megapixel primary sensor. Reports have also suggested that the Vivo V23 will be powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 1200 SoC, paired with 8GB of RAM.

Speculations are rife that the vanilla Vivo V23 and Vivo V23 Pro smartphones could be rebranded models of Vivo S12 and Vivo S12 Pro handsets that made their debut in China recently. Both the phones in the V series and S series have similar looking designs. Moreover, Vivo S12 Pro is powered by MediaTek Dimensity 1200 SoC and has 8GB of RAM — similar to what Vivo V23 Pro Geekbench listing suggested. However, the Vivo S12 Pro has a 108-megapixel primary sensor on the rear camera but the Vivo V23 series of smartphones are said to pack 64-megapixel primary sensors.

Xiaomi 12 Pro Variable Refresh Rate Display Teased; Xiaomi 12 Renders Leak Again

Xiaomi 12 series is all set to launch on December 28. Recently, the Chinese tech giant opened pre-orders for the vanilla Xiaomi 12 and Xiaomi 12 Pro and a report states that both smartphones have received more than 200,000 reservations, combined. Separately, Xiaomi has also shared some teasers of the smartphone that indicate that the upcoming Xiaomi 12 Pro is adept at heat dissipation and a promo video shows its design and variable refresh rate display. Additionally, a notable tipster has shared some more renders of Xiaomi 12.

A report by MyDrivers (in Chinese) states that Xiaomi opened pre-orders for Xiaomi 12 and Xiaomi 12 Pro on multiple e-commerce platforms like and TMall. The vanilla Xiaomi 12 amassed 98,000 reservations with 18,000 and 80,000 reservations on TMall and, respectively. Xiaomi 12 Pro on the other hand received more 110,000 pre-orders with 21,000 and 92,000 reservations on TMall and, respectively.

Recently appointed Xiaomi Product Manager Wei Siqi also shared a hands-on video for Xiaomi 12 Pro. The video shows the front design of the soon-to-be-launched smartphone with a 2K display as well as the 120Hz refresh rate. The low power 2K display, as seen in the video, has a variable refresh rate that changes according to touch, feedback, and even the content being played. The video shows that the display of Xiaomi 12 Pro clocks out at 120Hz refresh rate while browsing the microblogging website Weibo. The refresh rate drops to 10Hz when the display is left idle.

Another Weibo post by Xiaomi shows that Xiaomi 12 Pro was able to keep its temperatures stable at 43.5 degrees Celsius while playing King of Glory (aka Honor of Kings). The upcoming Xiaomi flagship was claimed to be able to achieve this feat while playing the game for around half an hour at nearly full frame rate. This suggests that Xiaomi 12 Pro is adept at heat dissipation.

Furthermore, notable tipster Evan Blass (@evleaks) has shared some renders of the vanilla Xiaomi 12. The smartphone is shown in three colour options — Beige, Green, and Silver. The renders are similar to the ones tipster Steve Hemmerstoffer shared a while ago. However, Blass' renders show a textured pattern on the back panel of the smartphone, similar to leather. The renders don't show the front half of the smartphone.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Unboxing Videos Surface Online Ahead of Launch; Replacement Kit for Display, Frame Tipped

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has surfaced online in premature unboxing videos ahead of its launch, giving us a glimpse at the design of the phone, its in-box contents, and showing some key specifications. Separately, the replacement kit for the upcoming Galaxy S21 FE's screen and frame has also surfaced online. The much-awaited handset from the South Korean tech giant is expected to be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2022. The exact date is yet to be officially confirmed by Samsung, but Galaxy S21 FE is tipped to launch early next year. The new Samsung Galaxy S21 FE will be a successor to the Galaxy S20 FE which was unveiled in September last year.

On YouTube, tech-oriented channel HDblog posted an unboxing video of the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S21 FE. It shows off the retail box of the flagship handset — a white rectangular box — which includes a USB Type-C cable, documentation, a SIM-ejector tool, and the handset itself.

The video shows that the Galaxy S21 FE will arrive in an eco-friendly box. As seen in the video, earphones or a wall charger are not included in the box. The unboxing video offers a detailed look at the phone from all angles and discusses the key specifications. The Galaxy S21 FE is said to feature a 6.4-inch full-HD+ display with 120Hz refresh rate. The black or graphite colour variant shown in the video is said to be powered by the Snapdragon 888 chipset. On the back, the handset is seen with a camera module with three sensors.

Another unboxing video of Galaxy S21 FE was spotted by a tipster who goes by the twitter handle of @chunvn8888. It also suggests that the package doesn't include a charging adapter. The handset is shown in an Olive Green-like shade in the video. The tipster claims that the upcoming Samsung phone runs on Android 12-based One UI 4.0. The Galaxy S21 FE shown in the video is said to be equipped with an Exynos 2100 SoC.

Separately, the replacement kit for the Galaxy S21 FE's display and frame has surfaced online via a retailer listing. On Mobistekla, the original screen and glass replacement is listed at EUR 185 (roughly Rs. 15,700), but the glass without frame is listed at a price of EUR 119 (roughly Rs. 10,100 ).

Tesla Removes Games From Its Cars After Safety Probe

Tesla has removed games from its cars after a probe by the US NHTSA which opened a safety investigation on 580,000 vehicles which it has sold since 2017. The main issue here is the fact that Tesla has added games in the main infotainment screen on the front which is next to the driver which is safety. The feature dubbed "Passenger Play" is considered to be something that may distract the drivers and now it is being disabled via a software update.

"The NHTSA constantly assesses how manufacturers identify and safeguard against distraction hazards that may arise due to faults, misuse or intended use of convenience technologies, including infotainment screens," the agency said.

Tesla has already been under the pump for its implementation of autopilot which is technically an ADAS system but promoted like a self-driving autonomous system by Tesla founder, Elon Musk. Recently, Tesla even added AMD RDNA 2 GPUs in the latest edition of the Model S which would enable the infotainment screen to run games that one would typically play on video game consoles like the PS5.

It has been stated that this feature could be dangerous if the driver is distracted and that's why Tesla is pushing a software update. That being said, Tesla has now dedicated engineering teams that have been developing games and a video game platform for its cars, so chances are that the world's most valuable automaker will lobby against what the NHTSA is doing.

Google disables 'Hold for Me' feature on the Pixel 6 following buggy update

Last year, Google introduced an exclusive feature for Pixel devices called "Hold for Me" that can alert you when a business finally picks up your call. However, that function has been temporarily disabled on the Pixel 6 due to a bug in the December update, XDA Developers has reported. Pixel 6 owners may also lose the Call Screening tool that stops robocallers from ringing your phone, Google said in a community post.

"In light of a bug in the December Android update, we are disabling Hold For Me and Call Screening on Pixel 6 devices running on the Android S December QPR release," the company wrote. The issue only affects Pixel 6 phones with the latest December 2021 security update, and not any older devices. If you haven't yet received the update, you should continue to have access to those features.

Hold for Me started as a US exclusive feature but was recently expanded to Canada, as XDA Developers noted. It uses Google's Duplex technology AI to detect when a real person comes on the line to take your call, sparing you the pain of listening to looped elevator music or pre-recorded messages. Google's Call Screening tech also uses Duplex AI tech, which launched with the promise of automatically making restaurant reservations for you.

Samsung's 2022 TVs and monitors will support its new HDR10+ Gaming standard

Samsung's 2022 televisions and monitors will support its recently unveiled HDR10+ Gaming standard, the company announced. That means they'll deliver a variety of features for gamers like variable refresh rates (VRR) at up to 120Hz and automatic HDR color correction on a game-by-game basis.

The standard will be used by Samsung's 2022 Neo QLED lineup with the Q70 TV series and above, along with gaming monitors, the company said. It didn't mention any models, but it showed a wide-screen gaming display (below) and what could be a 2022 Neo QLED TV with very slim bezels.

HDR10+ Gaming slipped under the radar when it was first announced, but it appears to be a move to counter Dolby Vision HDR for gaming found on Xbox Series X/S consoles. It provides a "consistent HDR gaming experience without the need for manual calibration across a variety of display technologies for various input sources, including consoles, PCs and more," Samsung said.

The idea with HDR10+ Gaming is that you won't need to use any manual settings, as the game engine itself automatically optimizes color calibration in real-time. It's designed to deliver details in dark shadows and highlights, while configuring the display to a "true reference mode" so colors are displayed as intended by the developer. It also supports VRR at up to 120Hz along with tone mapping that won't add any extra latency to the gaming signal.

As with HDR10+, however, the challenge for Samsung is getting developers to adopt the standard for games. Dolby Vision gaming is already available or is coming to over 100 games on Xbox Series X/S, so Samsung has some catching up to do. It did say that "several companies, including Saber Interactive, are expected to showcase their HDR10+ Gaming titles" at CES 2022 (if it takes place).

Samsung could make some headway with PC gaming, however, as Dolby Vision is only available on a handful of PC titles. To help pave the way for HDR10+ PC games, Samsung said that NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 Series, RTX 20 Series and GTX 16 Series GPUs will support HDR10+ with drivers "scheduled for release in 2022."

Apple Watch Series 7 falls to a new low of $339 at Amazon

With features like a bigger screen and faster charging, Apple's Watch Series 7 is a great gift idea — but the $399 price tag could be hard to swallow. However, you can now pick up the 41mm model (in green only) at a new all-time low of $339 at Amazon, for a savings of $60 or 15 percent off.

The Watch Series 7 brings a subtle new design with a larger screen that makes a big difference for readability and control. It's more sporty thanks to new IP6X dust-resistance and improved crack-resistance, and offers faster charging if you tend to use it a lot — even for sleep tracking. As with past models, you get a strong watchOS 8 app ecosystem and solid health features like sleep-tracking and ECG measurements.

It can also monitor your respiration rate while you sleep, and it comes with exclusive watch faces, larger font sizes/buttons and a Qwerty keyboard. The main drawback is with the sleep tracking. Unlike devices from Fitbit and Samsung, the Watch Series 7 can't detect what sleep zone you're in, for one thing. And it won't detect when you've fallen asleep, so you'll need to make sure you have the Sleep Focus mode to log your slumber.

Still, Apple's Watch is the best selling smartwatch by far for good reason, and as the latest model, the Series 7 is the benchmark. With $60 off the price, there's never been a better time to get one.

Amazon iPad sales drop the prices of Apple's latest WiFi and cellular models

Amazon is giving you the chance to grab some of Apple's latest iPad models at a discount before the year ends. Both the WiFi version and the cellular version of the basic iPad released just this September are now being sold at the lowest prices we've seen for the devices on the website. You can get the 256GB WiFi model for $449, which is $30 lower than its original retail price of $479. If you want a tablet with mobile data, you can get the 2021 iPad with WiFi and cellular for $580 instead — that's $29 less than the device's original price of $609.

The tablet's 64GB model is on sale, as well. You can grab the WiFi-only variant with smaller storage space for $320. While the device isn't exactly deeply discounted, that's still $9 off a tablet you may have been planning to get anyway. The 64GB 2021 iPad with WiFi and cellular connections will set you back $449 on Amazon right now, which is $10 less what it will cost you on the Apple Store itself.

We gave the basic 2021 iPad a score of 86 in our review, where we praised it for being affordable, now made even more so with these deals. While it doesn't come with a big redesign, it has double the storage space of its predecessors. We found its A13 Bionic powerful enough for multitasking standard use cases, like browsing the web, playing games or watching videos, without lagging or showing any kind of significant issue. The device has a new 12-megapixel front-facing camera that's identical to the one found on the more expensive iPad mini, as well.

Speaking of the iPad mini, its 64GB cellular model is also at an all-time low of $629. That's $20 less than the device's retail price, so it may be time to grab one if you've been considering a smaller tablet for your needs. We praised the 2021 iPad mini in our review for its significant redesign, including an all-screen front, TouchID-capable top button, second-generation Apple Pencil support and USB-C charging capability.

Lenovo, Intel among growing list of companies that won't attend CES 2022

Lenovo has become the latest company to announce it won't have a physical presence at CES 2022. On Wednesday evening, the consumer and enterprise electronics manufacturer said it wouldn't have on-site personnel at the event to protect the health of its employees and customers.

"After closely monitoring the current trends surrounding COVID, it is in the best interest of the health and safety of our employees, customers, partners, and our communities to suspend all on-site activity in Las Vegas," the company said on Twitter. "While this is a change in plans, we are excited for you all to see our latest technology launching as scheduled on January 4th and January 5th."

Lenovo follows Amazon, Meta, Twitter and show sponsor T-Mobile in backing away from the trade show. All four said they would not attend in person due to concerns related to the new COVID-19 omicron variant. And while they're all important names in tech, they're not a hardware player in the same way Lenovo is, nor have they historically had as large of a physical presence at the show as it has in years past.

For the time being, the Consumer Technology Association, the organization that puts together CES every year, still plans to move forward with the event. "Given CES' comprehensive health measures — vaccination requirement, masking and availability of COVID-19 tests — coupled with lower attendance and social distancing measures, we are confident that attendees and exhibitors can have a socially distanced but worthwhile and productive event in Las Vegas, as well as a rewarding experience on our digital access," the organization told TechCrunch.

There's still much that scientists don't know about omicron, but early data suggests it's a highly transmissible strain of the coronavirus. Federal health officials said on Monday the variant accounted for 73 percent of all new cases nationwide the week ending December 18th. It made up 12.6 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the US just seven days earlier. In some areas of the country, including parts of New York states and the Pacific Northwest, the variant's share was even higher. Scientists have also found most non-mRNA vaccines, including Sinovac and Sinophram, offer little protection against the strain. It's understandable then why many companies want to play it safe, and it's fair to say Lenovo probably won't be the last to pull out of CES 2022.

Tesla will disable in-dash video games while its cars are in motion

Tesla is quickly responding to the NHTSA's investigation of in-dash gaming while cars are moving. The Guardian has learned Tesla will deliver an update disabling on-the-move Passenger Play. A spokeswoman for the regulator said Tesla promised the change after discussing the matter with officials. There was no mention of when the update might arrive, but it's safe to presume you'll have to park for future gaming sessions.

The representative stressed the investigation would continue despite the update. The NHTSA reiterated that the Vehicle Safety Act bars companies from selling cars that pose significant safety risks, including from distracted driving. The investigation covers roughly 580,000 Tesla EVs between the 2017 and 2022 model years.

Tesla no longer operates a public relations team and wasn't available for comment. The feature change isn't surprising, though. Inaction could worsen the consequences if the NHTSA finds Tesla was negligent. There's also the matter of competitive pressure. Mercedes-Benz recently fixed an error that allowed mid-drive video playback — it wouldn't look good if Tesla refused to follow suit.

Google is the latest to cancel its in-person CES 2022 plans

Following Lenovo and Intel, Google has become the latest company to announce it won't have an on-site presence at CES 2022. "After careful consideration we have decided to withhold from having a presence on the show floor of CES 2022. We've been closely monitoring the development of the omicron variant, and have decided that this is the best choice for the health and safety of our teams," the company told TechCrunch.

Partway Thursday, it seemed only a matter of time before Google would decide to minimize its physical presence at the event. Earlier in the day, fellow Alphabet subsidiary Waymo announced it had made the decision not to attend the trade show in person. Google's withdrawal is particularly noteworthy given not only its stature in the industry but also the amount of money it has invested into the event in recent years.

As things stand, the Consumer Technology Association, the organization that puts together CES every year, still plans to move forward with the show. "CES 2022 will be in person on January 5-8 in Las Vegas with strong safety measures in place, and our digital access is also available for people that don't wish to, or can't travel to Las Vegas," a spokesperson for the CTA told Engadget. "Our mission remains to convene the industry and give those who cannot attend in person the ability to experience the magic of CES digitally."

Realme GT 2 Pro Specifications Surface Online via TENAA Listing, Tipped to Get 3 Variants

Realme GT 2 Pro, a part of the Chinese brand's upcoming flagship series, is all set to go official on January 4 in its home market. In a new update, a Realme handset has surfaced on China's TENAA certification site with model number RMX3300. The listing is believed to be of the Realme GT 2 Pro. The smartphone is shown with 5G connectivity, a 6.7-inch AMOLED display, and triple rear cameras. Realme GT 2 Pro is expected to be offered in four colour options as well. Separately, a noted tipster suggests that the Realme GT 2 Pro will get three variants.

The TENAA listing of Realme GT 2 Pro with model number RMX3300 — past leaks correspond the connection — was first spotted by Gizmochina. Gadgets 360 was able to independently confirm the listing.

Realme GT 2 Pro specifications (expected)
The upcoming Realme handset is listed with a 6.7-inch full-HD+ AMOLED (1,440 x 3,216 pixels) display. The smartphone is said to feature an in-display fingerprint sensor. As mentioned, the handset is said to come in Cast Iron Black, Ice Crystal Blue, Light Green, and Paper White colour options.

The Realme phone is said to be powered by an octa-core processor. The listing doesn't reveal the name of the chipset, but Realme GT 2 Pro is already confirmed by the company to pack Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC.

The TENAA listing suggests two RAM variants — 8GB and 12GB paired with three storage options 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB — for the RMX3300 smartphone.

The triple rear camera unit of the device is listed to include two 50-megapixel sensors and a 2-megapixel snapper. Also, for selfies, the RMX3300 is listed with a 32-megapixel shooter. The handset is also listed with a 2,440mAh battery. The Realme GT 2 Pro may get a dual-cell battery, with total battery capacity listed to be around 5,000mAh. The device is listed on the certification site with a gravity sensor, proximity sensor, and light sensor. The handset is said to measure 163.2×74.7×8.2mm and weigh 199 grams.

Separately, noted tipster Steve H.McFly (@OnLeaks) via a tweet has suggested that the Realme GT 2 Pro will have three variants. According to the tipster, there will be a vanilla Realme GT 2 Pro, a Realme GT 2 Pro Master Edition, and a Realme GT 2 Pro camera performances variant.

Realme has already revealed that the launch of the Realme GT 2 series will take place on January 4 at 11:30am CST Asia (9am IST) in China. The upcoming flagship series is said to comprise the vanilla Realme GT 2 and Realme GT 2 Pro variants.

The Xbox Windows app will make it easier to know if a game will run well on your PC

With so many different ways to build a computer, one of the trickiest aspects of PC gaming is knowing whether a game you're about to install will play well on your machine. Microsoft is testing a feature that could make that easier. As spotted by The Verge, the Xbox app on Windows now includes a label that will tell you if a game will "play great" on your PC.

Since there are some titles where the app says "performance check not available yet," it doesn't appear Microsoft is comparing the listed system requirements against the components in your PC. Instead, it would seem the company is building a database where it tests a game against various different machines. If you want to test the labels, you can do so by downloading the Xbox Insider app and opting into the Windows gaming preview.

If the system works well, it could solve a common pain point for PC gamers. In recent years, we've seen some developers share more granular system requirements for their games, telling you not just the minimum and recommended spec but also hardware that will deliver the best experience at Full HD, QHD and 4K respectively. Unfortunately, there hasn't been anything close to standardization across the industry, and that's even before you consider the fact some developers list overly optimistic requirements for their games.

BMW will help recreate 'Rocket League' in real life for charity

You probably won't see Rocket League's flying cars in the real world any time soon, but BMW and esports brand LVL might offer the next best thing. They're teaming on Das Race Goal, a Rocket League-style esports platform that has remote-controlled cars play soccer for charity. Players worldwide will steer the vehicles in a real arena while grabbing virtual powerups and activating "special effects."

The initial event takes place December 12th at 1PM Eastern and will be streamed live on LVL's Twitch channel. This inaugural competition will have six three-player teams compete in Munich's BMW Welt stadium to raise awareness and funds for the United Nations Population Fund's Skills for Life programs, which aim to improve education and healthcare for youth in the Caribbean and Latin America. Each team will have an esports player (including members from Cloud9, Fnatic, G2 Esports and OG), a social media influencer and a young gamer involved in the UN's efforts.

Thomas Fellger, chief of Das Race Goal partner Icon Group, stressed this wasn't just a one-off tourney — it was part of a "long-term partnership" that could help the UN's long-term rights initiatives. At the least, this could add the thrill of real-world elements to a video game format that already has a loyal following.

Sony will begin selling official PlayStation 5 covers next month

After shutting down third-party PS5 console covers with legal threats, Sony has launched its own official $55 PlayStation five colors, the company announced. Those will go along with the DualSense controls it launched earlier this year, and introduce three new colors in the same galaxy-inspired theme.

The console covers (and matching controllers) will come in Midnight Black, Cosmic Red, Nova Pink, Starlight Blue and Galactic Purple. "Simply remove your original white PS5 console covers and click your new ones into place," the company said. "The PS5 console covers will be available for both the PS5 with the Ultra HD Blu-ray disc drive and the PS5 Digital Edition."

The Midnight Black and Cosmic Red PS5 console covers will be available starting in January 2022 in specific regions, including the USA, Canada, UK, France, Australia and China. The Nova Pink, Galactic Purple, and Starlight Blue models will launch in those same locations during the first half of 2022.

As you may remember, Sony recently launched new DualSense wireless controllers in Cosmic Red and Midnight Black. Now, it will also release new controllers in the other three colors (Nova Pink, Starlight Blue, and Galactic Purple) for $75 globally in January 2022 at participating retailers.

As a reminder, last year a company called PlateStation unveiled replacement PS5 covers in colors like cherry red, black and jungle camo. However, the company subsequently announced on Twitter that it would be canceling all orders and processing refunds "due to patent and intellectual property issues" with Sony.

Now we can see why Sony asserted its IP rights so strongly. Given that it can't sell as many PS5 consoles as it would like due to semiconductor shortages, accessories like this will provide another revenue stream. Yes, console color and design aren't that important, but the new covers are a good option for the many folks who aren't that keen on white. Pre-orders are now open for the new controller colors ($75) and first two console covers ($55) — if you're planning to get one, let us know below.

WhatsApp Working on Animated Heart Emojis for Android, iOS: Report

WhatsApp is reportedly planning to add animation to all the heart emojis of various colours for Android and iOS. This could be linked to the message reaction feature that the platform is said to be working on. The feature has been already added to WhatsApp Web/ Desktop via a stable update. The news comes a few days after the Meta-owned instant messaging app was reported to be working on two new visual indicators on its Call and Status screen on the iOS version in order to inform users about end-to-end encryption.

As per a report by WhatsApp features tracker WABetaInfo, developers are working to bring animation to all heart emojis on the app. Currently, the Red heart emoji has a beating animation on all platforms. With the latest development, it seems that all the available coloured heart emojis will get the beating animation.

While WABetaInfo shared a screenshot of the heart animation on WhatsApp for iOS, it says that WhatsApp is also planning to release the same feature on WhatsApp for Android. It is currently under development and will be released in a future update for beta testers, WABetaInfo said.

The feature could be a part of the message reactions feature which was spotted earlier. WhatsApp is rumoured to allow users to react to a specific message in a chat with specific emojis. There is also a reaction info tab to show who reacted to a message. Message reactions are reported to be rolled out to individual chat threads and group chat threads.

Recently, a report by WABetaInfo said that WhatsApp is working on two new visual indicators in Call and Status to inform users about end-to-end encryption. The feature was spotted on the iOS version of WhatsApp, and there is no clarity on whether it will be rolled out to Android users or not. The motive of this feature is to inform the users that apart from messages, their personal calls and status are also protected with end-to-end encryption.

Ubisoft has barely sold any Ghost Recon NFTs

Ubisoft recently launched the Quartz NFT platform as a way to monetize game properties, something that didn't exactly go over well with either customers or employees. Now, it appears that the effort is a financial bust so far, too, as the company reportedly sold just 15 NFTs of a Ghost Recon Breakpoint gun skin as of yesterday, Eurogamer reported. It appears to have sold two more M4A1 tactical weapons and one "Wolf Enhance Pants #76" for a total of 18 as of today.

Apex Legends senior character artist Liz Edwards tweeted that she looked at the two third-party marketplaces linked to the Quartz sites "and there seems to be... 15 sales in total?" That works out to about $1,755.30 in revenue, as Eurogamer noted. As of today, Ubisoft appears to have minted about somewhere north of 3,000 NFTs.

Ubisoft launched the first three Ghost Recon Breakpoint Editions for free, with the weapon requiring XP Level 4, the helmet greater than 600 hours of play time, and the pants at least 100 hours of play time. Those went pretty quickly and the claim period ended, so the only way to get them now is to pay.

As some critics have pointed out, Breakpoint doesn't have the most alluring visual aesthetic, so it seems an odd choice to kick off an NFT for visual collectibles. On the other hand, Ubisoft may have been just dipping its toe into the water with one of its less high-profile, though still popular franchises.

For the minimum money collected so far, however, the effort may have done more harm than good. Ubisoft reportedly alienated its own French trade union, which called NFTs "a useless, costly, ecologically mortifying tech."

Samsung teases a PCI 5.0 SSD that can hit 13,000 MB/s read speeds

Samsung has teased a PCIe 5.0 SSD showing that storage products should keep doubling in speed every few years, even while Moore's Law is decelerating. Designed for enterprise servers, the PM1743 SSD can hit read speeds of up to 13,000 MB/s and handle 2,500K input/output operations per second (IOPS) — nearly double what the best PCIe 4.0 NVMe drives can do.

PCIe 5.0 supports up to 32 gigatransfers per second (GT/s), double that of PCIe 4.0. To harness that bandwidth, Samsung developed a proprietary controller and worked with Intel to test it. "Together, we have jointly resolved complicated technical issues encountered with PCIe 5.0 during this initial evaluation period," said Intel's Technology Initiatives Director Jim Pappas.

The SSD delivers sequential write speeds of 6,600 MB/s and a random write speed of 250K IOPS, again nearly doubling current specs. It also offers improved power efficiency of up to 30 percent. "This is expected to lower server and data center operating costs significantly, while also helping to reduce their carbon footprint," Samsung wrote.

While PCIe 5.0 is now inevitable, the next version isn't far behind, either. The PCI Special Interest Group has already unveiled a PCI Express 6.0 specification that could hit up to a blistering 256GB per second across 16 lanes — twice as fast as PCIe 5.0 and four times quicker than the 4.0 spec. However, that format will need to use a new trick called Pulse Amplitude Modulation technology that can carry twice as much data as existing methods without the need to use ridiculously high frequencies.

Samsung is now sampling the PM1743 PCIe 5.0 SSD for select customers and has plans to mass produce it in the first quarter of 2022, with capacities ranging from 1.92 terabytes (TB) to 15.36TB. It's also expected to be the first PCIe 5.0 SSD with dual-port support, guaranteeing server operation when a connection to one port fails. The first customers are likely to be data centers, but such technology usually trickles down to consumers a year or so later — so plan accordingly if you have any 16K video editing projects or whatever coming up.

PM Modi's Covid Review Meet With Chief Ministers Today Amid Omicron Concern

PM Narendra Modi's COVID-19 Meeting: India has recorded 236 cases of COVID-19's Omicron variant across 16 states and Union Territories so far, out of which 104 people have recovered or migrated, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated this morning.

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a review meeting on the COVID-19 situation in the country this evening amid rising concerns over the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.
PM Modi will take stock of the pandemic situation across the country, Official sources told news agency Press Trust of India.

India has recorded 236 cases of COVID-19's Omicron variant across 16 states and Union Territories so far, out of which 104 people have recovered or migrated, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated this morning.

In a communication to the states and Union Territories on Tuesday, the Centre said the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is at least thrice more transmissible than its Delta variant and asked them to "activate" war rooms, keep analysing even small trends and surges and keep taking strict and prompt containment action at the district and local levels.

There have been demands that the government allow booster doses of vaccines to be administered to those already fully inoculated against COVID-19, as has been done by several countries.

Android 12 to Debut on Moto Phones in February 2022, Motorola Lists Eligible Handsets

Motorola has released the official list of smartphones which are set to be updated to Android 12 in the coming months, two months after Google rolled out the update to eligible Pixel smartphones. According to the company, 30 smartphones will be eligible to receive the update. Many of Motorola's smartphones receive one Android version update, which means this will be the only major update to arrive on these handsets. However, Motorola has not provided an exact timeline for these updates to reach eligible smartphones, and they could arrive over the course of 2022.

The company posted the list of eligible devices on its blog and stated that the Android 12 update rollout would begin for eligible Motorola smartphones in February 2022. According to the official roster of devices, Motorola Razr 5G and Razr 2020 will be updated to Android 12. Similarly, Motorola One 5G Ace and Motorola One 5G UW Ace will also receive the update, along with Motorola Edge 20 Pro, Motorola Edge 20, Motorola Edge 20 Lite, Motorola Edge 20 Fusion, Motorola Edge (2021), Motorola Edge 5G UW, and Motorola Edge Plus.

Motorola's Moto G Series smartphones will also receive the update to Android 12. These include the recently launched Moto G200 5G, Moto G71 5G, Moto G51 5G, Moto G41, Moto G31, Moto G100, Moto G60s, Moto G60, Moto G50, Moto G50 5G, Moto G40 Fusion, Moto G30, Moto G Power (2022), Moto G Pure, and Moto G Stylus 5G. Motorola also said that the Business Edition Moto G and Motorola Edge smartphones will be updated to Android 12 as well. Unfortunately, Moto G Power (2021) will not receive the Android 12 update, even though it was launched this year.

The Motorola smartphones listed above will be updated to Android 12, with the company's My UX skin running on top. Users will have access to the new Conversation widget and Material You design changes to the system, including the ability to adapt the system colours to the wallpaper. Motorola's Android 12 update will also include the ability to customise font style and size, colours, icon shapes and layouts, device sounds, and display size, according to Motorola.

The Android 12 update for Motorola smartphones will also bring accessibility improvements, including better magnification, an extra-dim feature, bold font support, and more. Users will also see security and privacy improvements, including the privacy indicators for camera and microphone, as well as approximate location permissions and the Privacy Dashboard, as part of the Android 12 update for Motorola smartphones, according to the company.

Samsung Galaxy A53 Tipped to Launch in 2 Versions With Exynos and Snapdragon Chipsets for Different Markets

Samsung Galaxy A53 launch is speculated to take place in March 2022. In the meantime, a new report has tipped that there will be two variants of the mid-range Samsung smartphone powered by different chipsets. It's a practice Samsung has been typically following for its flagship phones meant for different markets. The handset powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC usually arrives in the US while the variant with an Exynos SoC debuts in global markets including India. It appears that Samsung Galaxy A53 may now also get the same treatment. The upcoming Samsung phone is expected to succeed Galaxy A52 that launched in March this year.

According to a report by GalaxyClub (Dutch), Samsung will launch two versions of Galaxy A53. In addition to a US version with the model number SM-A536U and a European version carrying the model number SM-A536B, Samsung is tipped to unveil another version with the model number SM-A536E for India, the Middle East, North Africa, and some other Asian markets. The model numbers are said to be split between two versions, one carrying a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset while the other with an Exynos 1200 processor. As said above, the Samsung Galaxy A53 is expected to officially arrive in March 2022.

Samsung has not confirmed the development of the Samsung Galaxy A52 successor yet. Previous leaks about the smartphone suggest that the Samsung Galaxy A52 could feature a 120Hz AMOLED display. The upcoming handset is said to feature a quad rear camera unit headlined by a 64-megapixel primary sensor. The phone — at least one version of it — is tipped to pack a Snapdragon 778G SoC. The smartphone could also come with a large 5,000mAh battery. Further, it is said to feature an in-display fingerprint scanner.

Leaked renders of Samsung Galaxy A53 show a hole-punch design for the selfie camera. Additionally, a recent report said that the production of the smartphone has already begun in India at the company's Greater Noida factory.

Vivo S12, Vivo S12 Pro With 108-Megapixel Primary Sensors, Dual Selfie Cameras Launched: Price, Specifications

Vivo S12 and Vivo S12 Pro smartphones have been launched in China. There are a lot of common things between the handsets. Both the Vivo handsets come with 108-megapixel primary sensors and dual selfie cameras.They both are powered by MediaTek Dimensity SoCs, and are offered in two variants. Vivo S12 and S12 Pro are offered in three colour options to choose from, and they both feature 44W fast charging technology. There is no information whether these phones will make their debut in India or not.

Vivo S12, Vivo S12 Pro price, availability
Vivo S12 price has been set at CNY 2,799 (roughly Rs. 33,100) for the 8GB + 256GB of onboard storage variant, and CNY 2,999 (roughly Rs. 35,500) for the 12GB + 256GB storage variant. The Vivo S12 Pro is priced at CNY 3,399 (roughly Rs. 40,200) for the 8GB + 256GB of storage handset, and CNY 3,699 (roughly Rs. 43,700) for the 12GB of RAM and 256GB storage. The smartphones are currently listed on the Vivo China website in Black, Blue and Gold colour options. The Vivo phones will be available for purchase from December 30.

Vivo S12 specifications
The dual-SIM (Nano) Vivo S12 runs on Android 11-based OriginOS Ocean. The phone features a 6.44-inch full-HD+ (1,080x2,408 pixels) AMOLED display with a 20:9 aspect ratio and a 91.01 percent screen-to-body ratio. The screen has 90Hz refresh rate, 180Hz sampling rate, and 408 ppi pixel density. Under the hood, the Vivo S12 has an octa-core MediaTek Dimensity 1100 SoC, along with up to 12GB of LPDDR4x RAM.

Vivo S12 comes with a triple rear camera setup that houses a 108-megapixel primary sensor with an f/1.8 lens that offers 2x optical and 20x digital zoom. There is an 8-megapixel secondary sensor with an f/2.2 lens, and a 2-megapixel macro camera with f/2.4 lens. For selfies and video chats, the handset has a dual camera setup that is highlighted by a 44-megapixel primary sensor paired with an f/2.0 lens, and an 8-megapixel sensor coupled with f/2.28 ultra-wide angle lens.

Vivo S12 has 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage, and it packs a 4,200mAh battery that supports 44W Flash Charge fast charging. Connectivity options include 5G, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v5.2, GPS/ A-GPS, USB Type-C, and NFC. Sensors on board include an accelerometer, ambient light, gyro, magnetometer, and proximity sensor. There is also an under display fingerprint sensor, and face unlock for biometric authentication. The phone measures 157.20x72.42x7.39mm and weighs 179 grams.

Vivo S12 Pro specifications
Vivo S12 Pro has a lot of specifications similar to the Vivo S12. It is also a dual-SIM (Nano) smartphone that runs on Android 11-based OriginOS Ocean. The phone features a 6.56-inch full-HD+ (1,080x2,376 pixels) AMOLED display with a 19.8:9 aspect ratio and a 91.39 percent screen-to-body ratio. The screen has a 90Hz refresh rate, 240Hz sampling rate, and 398 ppi pixel density. The Vivo S12 Pro has an octa-core MediaTek Dimensity 1200 SoC, along with up to 12GB of LPDDR4x RAM.

Vivo S12 Pro has the same rear camera configuration as the Vivo S12, however, there is a difference in the front camera setup. The Pro variant comes with a 50-megapixel primary sensor paired with an f/2.0 lens, and an 8-megapixel sensor coupled with f/2.28 ultra-wide angle lens for selfies and video calling. Both the smartphones can capture 4K videos from front and back cameras. Furthermore, the front camera setup in both the handsets feature autofocus and anti-shake feature.

Vivo S12 Pro has 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage, and it packs a larger 4,300mAh battery that supports 44W Flash Charge fast charging. There is an under display fingerprint sensor, and face unlock for biometric authentication. Connectivity options include 5G, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v5.2, GPS/ A-GPS, USB Type-C, and NFC. Customers will get sensors such as an accelerometer, ambient light, gyro, magnetometer, and proximity sensor. The phone measures 159.46x73.27x7.36mm and weighs 171 grams.

Xiaomi 12 Series Display Specifications Tipped Ahead of December 28 Launch

Xiaomi 12 series is officially confirmed to debut in China on December 28. So far, its various specifications and features have either been officially teased or leaked. Now, more details have surfaced online, showing the display specifications of the Xiaomi 12, Xiaomi 12X, and Xiaomi 12 Pro handsets. Xiaomi has recently revealed that the Xiaomi 12 lineup will be equipped with a hole-punch selfie camera. The Chinese tech giant also announced that the base Xiaomi 12 has obtained an A+ rating from DisplayMate.

The latest leak comes from known tipster Digital Chat Station, who shared on Weibo that the vanilla Xiaomi 12 will feature a customised 6.28-inch full-HD+ (1080p) 10bit Huaxing flexible screen. Xiaomi recently revealed that the display of the vanilla Xiaomi 12 has received an A+ rating from DisplayMate. It is reportedly the highest display performance rating given by the firm. This display is tipped to be protected by Corning Gorilla Glass Victus.

Xiaomi has teased that the top-of-the-line Xiaomi 12 Pro will be the first smartphone to be equipped with a second-generation 2K display. This display is claimed to be more energy-efficient than the previous generation. Xiaomi boasts that this display will utilise the new E5 luminous material and second-generation LTPO material. The display of Xiaomi 12 Pro will feature micro-lens micro-prism technology. It is also said to debut with a dynamic refresh rate technology developed by Xiaomi. Digital Chat Station claims that this handset will use Samsung's E5 2K flexible screen.

The Xiaomi 12 lineup is confirmed to be powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset. The base model is expected to feature a triple rear camera setup, headlined by a 50-megapixel primary sensor. It is tipped to pack a 5,000mAh battery and offer support for 67W fast charging. In addition, Xiaomi 12 Pro is believed to support 120W fast charging.


Scuf's first PS5 controllers include one built for first-person shooters

Scuf Gaming is finally diving into PS5 controllers, and its first offerings might be noteworthy if you thrive on titles like Call of Duty. The Corsair brand has launched its first PS5 gamepad line, Reflex, with a variant specifically tuned for first-person shooters. The appropriately named Reflex FPS adds instant bumpers and triggers, includes grippier surfaces and even ditches haptic feedback — in theory, you'll a lighter control that won't disrupt your aim.

The FPS, the regular Reflex and the Reflex Pro all have four remappable paddles, a profile switch, removable faceplates and interchangeable thumbsticks. The Pro adds the improved grip of the FPS while preserving the adaptive triggers you might need for some PS5 titles.

Scuf's pricing shows these controllers are meant for enthusiasts and competitive players. The base Reflex is available now for $200, while the Reflex Pro and Reflex FPS respectively sell for $230 and $260. That's difficult to rationalize if you just want an alternative to the official DualSense pad, but might be justifiable if you're determined to emerge triumphant in a battle royale.

Razer built a MagSafe cooling fan for iPhone gamers

Do you play enough mobile games that your phone gets hot to the touch? Probably not, but Razer has you covered regardless. According to iMore, Razer has released a $60 Phone Cooler Chroma that promises to keep your handset cool. There's a version with a clamp for Android phones and older iPhones, but the star of the show is the MagSafe model — you won't completely sully the design of your iPhone 12 or 13.

This being a Razer accessory, you can expect the seemingly obligatory RGB lighting (controlled through Bluetooth) as well as a high-powered seven-blade fan that remains quiet at about 30dB. Be prepared to stay near power outlets, though, as you'll need to plug in a USB-C charger whether or not you're using MagSafe.

The Phone Cooler Chroma is available now. The question, of course, is whether or not you'll benefit from it in the first place. Modern phones do get warm and can throttle performance under sustained heavy loads, but it's not clear how much cooler your phone will get when the fan sits outside of your handset. There's also the simple matter of necessity. Do you really want a wired fan just for a performance bump in Genshin Impact or PUBG Mobile? This might not be completely far-fetched, though — gaming phones with elaborate cooling have an audience in countries like China, and Razer's fan makes that overkill available to a wider audience.

Google Stadia is finally available on LG TVs almost one year later

It took the better part of a year, but Google Stadia is available on recent LG TVs. Anyone with an LG set running webOS 5.0 or 6.0 (that is, 2020 or newer) can use the cloud gaming service to play Assassin's Creed or Madden without requiring a media device or PC as a go-between. You'll need a compatible gamepad, but that shouldn't be an issue when the Stadia Controller and common console pads should work either wirelessly or through USB.

Not surprisingly, LG suggests one of its OLED TVs for Stadia thanks to the fast pixel response times, low latency and (for Stadia Pro subscribers) 4K HDR visuals. They're certainly not required, though, and it's arguably the lag from game streaming that will make the larger difference.

Stadia is available through the LG Content Store in all 22 countries where the service already exists. You probably won't buy a TV with Stadia in mind, but this significantly widens the number of sets where native support is an option — you might be more inclined to try it if the barrier to entry is that much lower.

'Among Us' is heading to VR with help from the 'I Expect You To Die' team

It may not be suspicious, but it certainly is a surprise. Among Us is getting the first-person, VR treatment, and the experience is heading to PlayStation VR, Meta Quest 2 and Steam. There's no release date, but this is seriously happening, people.

Among Us VR was revealed during Thursday night's The Game Awards, with a short trailer showing off a glimpse of first-person gameplay. It plays like the original, with players attempting to complete tasks and figure out who among them is the impostor, but from a first-person perspective. Developer Innersloth had the following to say about the new project:

"This new 3D experience will place you and our suspicious spacebeans in the heart of the Skeld, with all of the core mechanics of teamwork and betrayal you know and love. The VR edition will continue to support the multiplayer experience too, of course! Now you can really have an emergency meeting together."

Among Us VR won't be compatible with the original version of the game, of course. It's in development by Innersloth, Robot Teddy, and Schell Games, the studio behind I Expect You To Die.

Google Play Games are coming to Windows PCs in 2022

Starting next year, Google Play Games will be available on screens far beyond its current confines of Android and ChromeOS devices. Google executives announced on stage at the 2021 Game Awards that, come 2022, the app service will be available on Windows PCs as well.

"Players will be able to experience their favorite Google Play games on more devices: seamlessly switching between a phone, tablet, Chromebook, and soon, Windows PCs," Greg Hartrell, Product Director, Games on Android and Google Play said in a release. The company was quick to note that this is not a partnership between the two tech corporations but rather a new product altogether "This Google-built product brings the best of Google Play Games to more laptops and desktops, and we are thrilled to expand our platform for players to enjoy their favorite Android games even more."

Details are still scarce as to when exactly the new functionality will be made public and, more importantly, if our existing controllers will be cross-compatible. But given how quickly gamers embraced playing on Chromebooks, providing Windows users with access the same access to one of the world's largest gaming ecosystems could prove a lucrative venture for both companies.

'Dune: Spice Wars' is a strategy game set in Frank Herbert's sci-fi universe

On the heels of Denis Villeneuve's Dune, a new 4X strategy game set in Frank Herbert's seminal sci-fi universe is coming to Steam Early Access next year. Shiro Games, the studio behind real-time strategy game Northgard, is on development duties. Like Civilization or almost any other 4X game, you'll choose one faction to lead. Naturally, you can pick House Atreides or House Harkonnen, though there will be other two factions to choose from as well. It's then up to you to lead them to victory on Arrakis. 

There hasn't been a new Dune game since 2001's Emperor: Battle for Dune, which was one of the last projects legendary real-time strategy developer Westwood Studios worked on before EA shut it down in 2003. Dune also has a special place in the RTS genre. Alongside Blizzard's Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, Westwood's Dune II helped establish many of the of tenets the genre.

Microsoft tried and failed to bring Xbox games to the iOS App Store

The Epic Games vs. Apple trials brought to light how Microsoft tried to conjure up solutions on how to make Xbox games available from the App Store. Apple revised its guidelines last year so that companies like Microsoft and Google can make their games available on iOS. That said, they can only do so by releasing each game as an app that users can download. Microsoft previously said that forcing users to download hundreds of game apps is "a bad experience," but it would've reportedly done so if Apple had agreed to its proposal.

According to private emails seen by The Verge, the Xbox head of business development Lori Wright laid out a proposal for Apple, which would allow Microsoft to put individual game apps on the iOS store without taking up all of a user's storage space. Wright asked Apple to allow Microsoft to put its streaming tech inside the Gaming Pass app alone. That would give the company a way to make the game apps themselves around 30 MB in size instead of the 150 MB that they would be if its streaming tech was incorporated into each of them.

Instead of using the device's processing power, the games would stream out of remote servers powered by Xbox One and Xbox Series X processors. Wright also apparently offered to make Xbox-exclusives available for iOS users in an effort to convince Apple. "This would be an incredibly exciting opportunity for iOS users to get access to these exclusive AAA titles in addition to the Game Pass games," she wrote in an email.

Microsoft told The Verge that Apple rejected its solution and wanted the company to incorporate its streaming tech into every game application. As for Apple, it told the publication that Microsoft's proposal didn't adhere to its App Store Review Guidelines, "specifically the requirement to use in-app purchase to unlock additional features or functionality within an app." Microsoft denied that in-app purchases factored into Apple's rejection.

In the end, Microsoft eventually shifted its development focus and gave iOS users access to xCloud via Safari. Xbox Cloud Gaming CVP Kareem Choudhry told The Verge, however, that the company "will continue to look for viable resolutions that [will] allow [its games] into the App Store."

Xbox Game Pass for PC is now just 'PC Game Pass'

Microsoft has rebranded one of its game subscription services. Xbox Game Pass for PC is now just PC Game Pass.

The move could help to avoid some confusion, since Xbox Game Pass is a separate plan with a different library of games. It should also be clearer that games on the PC plan aren't necessarily playable on consoles.

Xbox Game Pass includes more than 100 console games, with Xbox Game Studios titles joining on release day. PC Game Pass has its own selection of games, including first-party titles and access to EA Play.

Meanwhile, Game Pass Ultimate offers the best of both worlds. It includes PC and console games, Xbox Live Gold (which console gamers need for multiplayer titles that aren't free-to-play), EA Play access and cloud gaming.

The PC Game Pass logo still includes an Xbox icon, though. That makes the connection to Xbox and Microsoft clear, but some folks might still call it "Xbox PC Game Pass." C'est la vie.

Meanwhile, Microsoft revealed a few more games are coming to PC Game Pass on their release day: Sniper Elite 5, Pigeon Simulator, the gorgeous-looking samurai side-scroller Trek to Yomi and an unannounced Hugecalf Studios game.

Also, for a limited time, YouTube Premium members can get three months of PC Game Pass access for free. As 9to5 Google notes, Google is sending the invitation to subscribers via email. The US-only offer is available until the end of the year.

'Banjo-Kazooie' joins the Switch Online Expansion Pack in January

Rare's beloved collect-a-thon platformer Banjo-Kazooie will be the latest title added to Expansion Pack, Nintendo's premium online subscription. Expansion Pack — itself an addition to Switch Online — already supports a wealth of classic games from the early 3D era, like Star Fox 64, Super Mario 64, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, as well as some memorable additions from the Sega Genesis library.

The roadmap for Expansion Pack teased Banjo-Kazooie back in September, but the company has now confirmed it will be playable on modern hardware come January 2022. While Switch Online can be purchased in 1-, 3- or 12-month increments, Expansion Pack is only available as a year-long subscription. It retails for an additional $50 on top of Switch Online's $20 annual price tag.

'Sonic The Hedgehog 2' trailer gives us a first look at Knuckles

Sonic the Hedgehog turned out to be one of the biggest movies of 2020, despite serious CG character issues that caused a three-month delay. Now, Paramount has dropped the first trailer for the sequel that gives us our first look at a new character, Knuckles, voiced by none other than Idris Elba.

The trailer shows Sonic (Ben Schwartz) and his new sidekick Tails (Colleen O'Shaughnessy). He's once again taking on Dr. Robotnik, aka, Eggman (Jim Carrey) who's seeking a classic Sonic McGuffin, the Chaos Emeralds. However, Robotnik has an Echidna up his sleeve in the form of Knuckles, who shows off his brute strength and weirdly elegant speaking voice. (Elba promised that his Knuckles wouldn't sound sexy, but he is more posh than ever.)

The first Sonic film became one of the most successful video game adaptations ever, so there's a lot riding on the sequel. Luckily, the slick trailer indicates that we won't be seeing any of the CGI issues that plagued the first film. The sequel is set to be released on April 8, 2022.

GOG offers steep discounts on Disco Elysium, Cyberpunk 2077 and more

CD Projekt's GOG storefront has launched its Winter Sale with big savings on popular PC games. Starting today, you can pick up titles like Disco Elysium - The Final Cut, Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3 GOTY and get savings of up to 80 percent.

A couple of deals in particular stand out. Disco Elysium - The Final Cut is marked down 55 percent from its regular $40 price to just $18. That's a good choice if you have an older computers, as developer ZA/UM introduced an update last year that lets you run it on decade old PCs. A couple of other solid picks include Cyberpunk 2077, which is just $30 for a savings of 50 percent, and Metro Exodus - Gold Edition — now on sale for a mere $14.80, or 63 percent off.

You can also pick up Kingdom Come: Deliverance Royal Edition for just $13.59, for a savings of 66 percent over the regular price. As a reminder, that title is an RPG similar to series like The Witcher and Elder Scrolls, but grounded in "historical accuracy" rather than fantasy. Another good option is Control Ultimate Edition, a supernatural action game about forces overtaking a secretive government building called the Federal Bureau of Control. That game can now be found for $12, or 70 percent off the regular $40 price.

That's far from all, as GOG also has Divinity: Original Sin 2, The Riftbreaker, Pathfinder Wrath of the Righteous, Blade Runner, Mortal Shell and other titles at big savings. For a complete list, check out GOG's Winter Sale right here.

'OlliOlli World' arrives on February 8th

The latest Indie World Showcase stream has wrapped up, and while there was unfortunately no word about Hollow Knight: Silksong, Nintendo has revealed more details about other games that are coming to Switch. Among them is OlliOlli World, which will be released on February 8th.

The latest OlliOlli game from Roll7 (which Take-Two recently bought) is a skateboarding platformer, in which you score points by pulling off tricks as you make your way through the world of Radlandia. Along with there are two asynchronous multiplayer modes. In Gnarvana League, you'll duke it out for the highest score and the more you play, the more cosmetic items you'll unlock for your character. In the Gnarvana Portal mode, you can take on levels that are procedurally generated with a few customizable factors in mind, such as style, difficulty and length. You can share creations with other players using a code, which will work across all platforms.

Roll7 and publisher Private Division have also announced two expansions for OlliOlli World. The Void Riders DLC, which will arrive in summer, will add more levels, characters, gameplay options, cosmetics and a new biome. The second expansion is set for next fall, and more details will be revealed later.

As well as Switch, OlliOlli World is coming to PC, PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. Pre-orders start today and the base version of the game costs $30. The Rad edition, which costs $45, includes both expansions. Owners of the base game will be able to buy the DLC separately.

Other titles featured during the Indie World Showcase include Chicory: A Colorful Tale. The game, in which you paint the world to explore and solve puzzles, was a critical hit earlier this year. It's available on Switch today. Also coming to the hybrid console today are the excellently named action platformer Dungeon Munchies, party game Let's Play! Oink Games and stealth puzzle adventure Timelie, for which a demo will be available.

Don't Starve Together and Omori are getting ported to Switch this spring. Among the new games that are setting sail for Switch are Sea of Stars, an RPG prequel to The Messenger (which will arrive in holiday 2022), puzzle title Aliisha – The Oblivion of Twin Goddesses (spring), Figment 2: Creed Valley (February, with a demo available today) and River City Girls 2 (summer).

A 'Splinter Cell' remake is underway

After some cameos and talk of an animated series, Ubisoft is finally ready to make a new Splinter Cell game — in a manner of speaking. The game developer has revealed plans for a Splinter Cell remake that aims to recreate the stealth action of the early games while embracing modern technology.

The project will use the Snowdrop engine present in newer games like The Division 2 and the upcoming Avatar title, but you'll play in small, linear environments rather than Ubi's signature (and frequently formulaic) open-world spaces. The company wants to meet present-day gameplay expectations, but is also aware that early Splinter Cell was appealing precisely because it rewarded truly stealthy players who demonstrated patience, intelligence and methodical planning. Don't expect to survive a full-fledged gunfight, in other words.

It's clearly too soon for Ubisoft to provide a release date for the remake, but the Toronto studio is helming the effort with a mix of veterans from previous Splinter Cell games and fresher faces that will include some new hires. Whether or not the team succeeds isn't clear. Ubisoft Toronto's one and only Splinter Cell game was Blacklist, which was well-received but not as revered as the original. The Toronto branch is also still grappling with the consequences of Ubi's misconduct Removed — VP and Blacklist co-director Maxime Béland resigned following assault allegations.

The gameplay promises might bode well if you were worried the remake would stray too far from what made Splinter Cell great, though. And crucially, this could be the launchpad for a true revival. The game's creative lead, Chris Auty, characterized the re-do as a "solid base" for the future of the franchise. Even if you don't like the thought of a rehash, this could lead to true sequels to a series that many had previously written off.

Square Enix suspends sales of 'Final Fantasy XIV' because it's too popular

Square Enix is suspending the sales and delivery of Final Fantasy XIV Starter Edition and Complete Edition, because it's doing too well and the company can't keep up. The decision applies to both physical and digital versions of the game and will be enforced in the coming weeks. It's a gradual process that will take some time and will require coordination with retail partners — at the moment, both versions are still available in digital game stores — but the company says it will be coordinating with those partners "as swiftly as possible."

FFXIV players have been struggling with lengthy queues ever since the Endwalker expansion came out in late November. They still have to wait hours to get into a server and be able to play the game. In its announcement, Square Enix explained it has to suspend FFXIV sales because the "dense concentration of play hours... far exceed [its] server capacity, especially during the peak times." The developer previously said that it's unable to add more Worlds or servers prior to Endwalker's release to ensure that it can accommodate all players due to the global semiconductor shortage.

FFXIV director and producer Naoki Yoshida issued an apology in early December for the ongoing issue and granted seven days of free game time to all players who own the full version of the game and have an active subscription. In his newest post, he said Square Enix is now giving those players an additional 14 days.

In addition to halting FFXIV sales, the company will prioritize the logins of people with an active subscription going forward. It will no longer accept free trial subscriptions, and current free trial players won't be able to log in outside of late night and early morning hours anymore.

CD Projekt Red will pay only $1.85 million to settle 'Cyberpunk 2077' lawsuit

Developer CD Projekt has reportedly agreed to pay $1,850,000 to settle an investor lawsuit over the buggy launch of Cyberpunk 2077, The Verge has reported. That's a fairly tiny sum next to the game's reported $316 million development budget and the fact it was an instant hit last year with eight million pre-orders. The settlement is still preliminary and must be approved by a court.

The lawsuit was effectively four separate actions combined into one, brought by shareholders who alleged that the company misled them about financial performance. It's not clear why the settlement was relatively low, however. CD Projekt's shares have dropped 54 percent since the game's release, and analysts have lowered Cyberpunk 2077 sales forecasts significantly, according to Bloomberg.

On top of that, CD Projekt has delayed the much-anticipated next-gen console updates for Cyberpunk 2077 and Witcher 3 for the end of 2021 until the first quarter of 2022. "Apologies for the extended wait, but we wanted to make it right," the company said. The developer released a Cyberpunk DLC in August, but it only added a few cosmetic items and a car.

Nintendo brings five more Sega Genesis games to Switch Online Expansion Pack

The Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack lineup of Sega Genesis games has just grown by five more titles. Nintendo has added Altered Beast, ToeJam & Earl, Dynamite Headdy, Sword of Vermilion and Thunder Force II to the library.

Nintendo rolled out the higher tier of its Switch Online service in October, which added Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games (and Animal Crossing: New Horizons DLC) to the existing offerings of NES and SNES titles, as well as cloud storage for save data and the option to play online multiplayer games. However, Nintendo charges a premium for the Expansion Pack. It costs $50 per year or $80 for a family plan, compared with $20 per year for the regular Switch Online service.

Soon after Switch Online + Expansion Pack went live, players raised a number of issues they had with the service, such as strange control mapping for N64 games on standard controllers and iffy emulation quality. Others claimed they lost save data and encountered crashes.

Nevertheless, Nintendo is continuing to bolster the lineup of Expansion Pack titles. It added N64 classic Paper Mario earlier this month, while Banjo-Kazooie will arrive in January.

'Hades' is the first video game to win a Hugo Award

Months after the finalists were announced, a video game has won a Hugo Award for the first time. Gizmodo reports Supergiant Games' Hades has won the one-time award for Best Video Game, beating out the likes of Animal Crossing and The Last of Us: Part II (among others). Creative director Greg Kasavin gave a virtual acceptance speech saying he was "grateful" organizers were recognizing work in the game industry.

Hades has been available since September 2020, shortly before the Hugo Awards revealed plans for a game category in November that year. It came to PlayStation and Xbox consoles this August, however. The title has generally received a warm reception through fast-paced roguelike gameplay, a solid narrative element and mechanics that reward repeat playthroughs.

Whether or not other games receive awards is another matter. There aren't yet any plans for a permanent games category. However, the Hugo Awards have expanded over the years to consider digital content like podcasts and streaming video. It won't be surprising if games eventually have a long-term berth, if just because fantasy and sci-fi game storylines are increasingly sophisticated.


The PS Plus version of 'FF7 Remake' can be upgraded to 'Intergrade' after all

One of the games PlayStation Plus subscribers were able to claim at not extra cost in March was Final Fantasy VII Remake. Sony announced that month's PS Plus lineup at the same time it revealed an upgraded version of the game for PlayStation 5: Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade.

However, there was no way for those who snagged the PS Plus version of FF7 Remake to get Intergrade without paying for the full game. As of Wednesday, though, there'll be a way to upgrade. Square Enix clarified that the upgrade won't be free, but it hasn't revealed pricing as yet.

Meanwhile, Square Enix says the "Intermission" expansion, which is only available on PS5, is $15 for a limited time, $5 less than the regular price. The Yuffie-centric DLC was included for those who bought FFVII Remake Intergrade outright. Those who upgraded from the PS4 version had to pay for the DLC.

The FF7 Remake upgrade process has been as convoluted as many Final Fantasy titles. The game was originally released in April 2020, and Intergrade arrived on PS5 in June this year. Meanwhile, FF7 Remake Intergrade landed on PC for the first time last week.

Square Enix sharpens up Final Fantasy 14's charmingly blocky grapes

Square Enix has rolled out the first Final Fantasy XIV patch after the ultra-popular Endwalker expansion arrived in November. Along with adding more quests, items and a raid dungeon, the update addressed various issues. One of those was a so-called bug fix that targeted some delightfully janky-looking grapes in one of the new areas.

"An issue wherein the polygon count of grapes in Labyrinthos were reduced in excess to alleviate system memory usage in the area," Square Enix wrote at the end of the latest patch notes, perhaps in an attempt to bury the biggest news from the update. "They have been adjusted to be comparable to those found at the Crystarium."

The low-poly model quickly became a meme after the expansion went live, as PC Gamer notes, with some players embracing the blocky aesthetic and other, more foolish players incorrectly deriding the grapes as ugly. So, not everyone may be on board with the smoothed-out edges of the model.

It's hard to call this a fix, since it's a shame Square Enix changed the look of the grapes. They looked fine as is. The previous version felt like a refreshing throwback to some 3D games from the '90s, like the original Tomb Raider. In any case, the latest twist in the saga of the grapes goes to show developers can't please everyone all the time, even when they're tackling apparent bugs.

Indie RPG 'Weird West' has been delayed to March 31st, 2022

Weird West, the new immersive sim from Arkane co-founder Raphael Colantonio, won't come out this year. On Wednesday, Colantonio's Wolfeye Studios said it was delaying the title to March 31st, 2022. In an email Weird West publisher Devolver Digital sent to Engadget, Wolfeye said it needs more time to address various bugs and other issues.

As part of the game's closed beta, players have found accidental deadends that can come up as part of gameplay, making it impossible to complete a playthrough. Those types of issues are not unusual for an immersive sim where a player's choices can have a dramatic effect on the state of the game world. In Weird West, there's the added complication that time moves forward even if your character dies. To that end, Wolfeye said it wants to create the best possible experience, even if it means fans have to wait another three months to experience its first project.

Steam's Winter Sale offers discounts on 'Horizon Zero Dawn,' 'Deathloop' and more

Steam's Winter Sale is now underway. From today until January 5th, Valve is offering steep discounts on some of the best PC games you can buy right now. For instance, Arkane's thrilling immersive sim Deathloop, which only came out this past September, is currently 50 percent off, making it $30 at the moment.

Another recent highlight, Sony's Horizon Zero Dawn, is currently $25, down from $50. If season two of The Witcher has made you want to experience more of Geralt's adventures, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is 80 percent off. You can pick up the Game of the Year edition, which includes the game's fantastic Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine expansions, for just under $10.

If indies are more your jam, one of my personal favorites from the past year, Death's Door, is 25 percent off until the new year. For $15, you can't get a much better Zelda-inspired title than that. Eastward, an action RPG with one of the most beautiful pixel art styles in recent memory, is 10 percent off, marking the first time it's been on sale. If you want to catch up on some older gems, may we suggest Disco Elysium and Hades? They're currently priced at $18 and $16.24, respectively.

We'll also note here both GOG and the Epic Games Store recently kicked off their own winter sales, so if you prefer those storefronts, make sure to check them out too.

LG's DualUp Monitor is a vertical screen with an unusual aspect ratio

LG has revealed a couple of monitors it's debuting at its virtual CES event, and one of them is apparently a completely new format in the market. The company's new DualUp Monitor has an unusual 16:18 aspect ratio. It's a vertical display with a 2,560 x 2,880-pixel resolution that LG is calling "Square Double QHD." When you use its vertical split view function, the DualUp looks like you put two 21.5—inch monitors on top of each other.

It could be a better form factor than the typical monitor if you're constantly having to look at information on multiple windows or screens for work or for any other reason. In its announcement, LG says the model will help reduce side-to-side head movements that cause neck pain. DualUp was also meant to save space and will ship with the LG Ergo stand that clamps to most desks and tables. The Nano IPS monitor's other features include a brightness of 300 nits, a 1000:1 contrast ratio and HDR10 support.

In addition to DualUp, LG has also introduced the UltraFine, a 32-inch 4K UHD monitor. It has a more conventional aspect ratio, but it is the first to use LG's Nano IPS Black panel technology, which enables a contrast ratio of 2,000:1. The company will reveal more about both premium monitors at its virtual press event on January 4th. It's unknown at this point whether LG will still push through with a physical experience at CES 2022, assuming the event will still take place despite the threat posed by the Omicron variant. It was planning on showcasing a list of new items during the conference aside from these monitors, though, including a soundbar with a center up-firing speaker, a wireless TV on wheels and an OLED TV with a motorized cover.


Stocks To Watch: Future Retail, MedPlus Health, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Zee Entertainment

New Delhi: The domestic stock indices are likely to trade in green on Thursday, taking cues from the global markets. A global share rally continued in early Asian trading and the safe haven dollar was on the back foot as markets took cheer from positive signs about the impact of the omicron variant of Covid-19 and U.S. economic data. Trends on SGX Nifty indicated a positive opening for the markets back home. The Nifty Futures on Singapore Exchange also known as the SGX Nifty Futures moved 0.61 per cent or 103.55 points up to 17,079.80.
The benchmark BSE Sensex had jumped 611.55 points or 1.09 per cent to end at 56,930.56 on Wednesday; while the broader NSE Nifty had advanced 184.60 points or 1.10 per cent to 16,955.45.

Here Are Stocks To Watch During Today's Session:

Future Retail: Inc is taking Enforcement Directorate to court, seeking to quash an investigation into one of its 2019 deals, a court filing seen by news agency Reuters shows. ED has for months been probing Amazon's $200 million investment in India's Future Group for suspected violations of foreign investment laws.

Zee Entertainment: Sony Pictures Networks India Pvt Ltd (SPNI) and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) has said they have signed definitive agreements for their merger following conclusion of an exclusive negotiation period during which both parties conducted mutual due diligence.

MedPlus Health: The pharmacy retail chain's shares will list on the bourses today. MedPlus Health Services' initial public offer (IPO) was subscribed 52.59 times on the last day of issue which concluded on December 15.

Kotak Mahindra Bank: The private lender's arm -- Kotak Mahindra Prime -- has acquired the passenger vehicle finance portfolio of the exiting Ford Motor Company's captive lending platform for an undisclosed sum.

Vedanta: The company plans to raise up to ₹ 1,000 crore through non-convertible debentures (NCDs). In this regard, the company is holding a meeting of its duly constituted committee of the directors next week, Vedanta Ltd said in a filing to the BSE.

Hero Electric Partners With HDB Financial Services For Easy Financing Options

Hero Electric, India's leading electric two-wheeler company has announced a partnership with HDB Financial Services, a Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) to provide customers with easy financing options to purchase an electric scooter. According to a statement from Hero Electric, the collaboration will enable customers to avail hassle free loans with minimum documentation on their desired electric scooter. The financing options through HDB Financial Services will be available to Hero Electric customers across the company's network of over 700 dealerships. HDB will also offer eligible customers benefits like attractive interest rates, flexible tenure options and affordable EMIs.

Speaking on the partnership, Sohinder Gill, CEO, Hero Electric, said, "Electric two wheelers will become the vehicles for masses in the future and, easy financing is one of the essential cogs in the wheel. We at Hero have a basket of financiers offering a wide choice of ownership options to suit one's requirements. We also provide tailor made financing options for B2B customers to take off the burden of upfront Capex while adopting cleaner mobility solutions from Hero. Our partnership with HDB Financial Services is a step forward to offer easy and seamless financing options beyond Tier-1 cities to promote clean and green commuting. We are confident that this collaboration will help our customers to substantially save on their commuting costs without having to spend upfront.

Karthik Srinivasan, Chief Business Officer, HDB Financial Services said, "Nowadays customers are increasingly considering eco-friendly transport as their next purchase. Through this collaboration, HDB will offer flexible and easy financing options for customers across the country to join the electric vehicle revolution. We believe that this partnership will play a significant role towards creating a more sustainable tomorrow."

LG made some wild curved OLED concepts for CES 2022

LG's display division will showcase two flexible OLED concepts at CES 2022 – assuming the pandemic doesn't claim the annual trade show as its latest victim. The first one is the "Virtual Ride" stationary bike. It features three vertical 55-inch OLED displays that form one continuous screen in front and above the rider. The topmost panel has a 500R curvature radius. According to LG Display, that's the most extreme curve among large screens to date.

The second concept is the "Media Chair." It's a recliner with a 55-inch OLED TV attached to it. It features a 1,500R curvature, which LG says is ideal for a use case like this one. It also includes the company's Cinematic Sound OLED technology, allowing the display to create sound without external speakers. Lastly, the display can alternate between portrait and landscape orientations with the touch of a button located on the armrest of the chair.

Like with most CES concepts, the likelihood we'll see LG commercial either the Virtual Ride or Media Chair is slim. That's not to say the company hasn't brought some of its past concepts to market (the OLED R comes to mind), but it's better to see these latest ones as a showcase of how much LG's display technology has advanced in recent years.

Tesla under investigation for 'Passenger Play' gaming feature

Tesla came under fire earlier this month following reports that certain games are playable on dashboard infotainment systems while an EV is in motion. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is now investigating Tesla over the so-called "Passenger Play" function.

The preliminary evaluation from the agency's Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) covers around 580,000 Model 3, S, X and Y vehicles sold since 2017. While the feature prompts players to acknowledge they're a passenger before they start a game, the NHTSA said Passenger Play "may distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash."

A report from the New York Times indicated that an update Tesla rolled out in the summer made three games playable while a car is moving. Before then, Passenger Play was only available when the EV was in park. The NHTSA told Engadget earlier in December that it was speaking to Tesla about the feature.

The ODI said the preliminary evaluation will assess the driver distraction potential of Passenger Play while the EV is moving. It will look into various aspects of Passenger Play, including use scenarios and how often it's used.

In announcing the investigation, the NHTSA cited a report that was filed with the agency in August. "Tesla is now making interactive video games and live internet web searching possible on the main front seat display while the car is driving," the complaint reads. "Why is a manufacturer allowed to create an inherently distracting live video which takes over 2/3 of the screen which the driver relies on for all vehicle information? Creating a dangerous distraction for the driver is recklessly negligent."

Tesla didn't respond to a request for comment from Reuters. The company no longer has a PR department.

Realme's latest flagship phone apparently feels like paper

It was only a matter of time before someone other than Fairphone delivered a sustainability-themed smartphone (which is a good thing, of course). Realme, the sister brand of Oppo and OnePlus, announced that its upcoming flagship GT 2 Pro features an eco-friendly bio-polymer material on its back cover — apparently a first in the mobile industry. Better yet, Realme has once again collaborated with Muji and Infobar series design icon Naoto Fukasawa, who finished the GT 2 Pro's design with a textured paper feel on the body. They call this "Paper Tech Master Design."

This bio-polymer material, supplied by Saudi Arabia's SABIC, is based on paper pulp, and it has obtained International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (or ISCC in short) to prove its environmental friendliness. The Realme GT 2 Pro's packaging also uses much less plastic than its predecessor — from an overall plastic ratio of 21.7 percent down to a mere 0.3 percent.

The phone itself packs some surprises, too. For one, it's one of the first devices to be powered by Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, following the Moto Edge X30. The GT 2 Pro is also the world's first smartphone with a 150-degree ultra-wide camera (most are at around 120 degrees), which offers a unique fisheye camera mode for some fun photography.

There are also some noteworthy features on the radio side. In Realme's "Antenna Array Matrix System" here, there's the "world's first" ultra-wide-band antenna switching technology, which lets the phone switch to whichever of the 12 antennas has the best signal strength. In addition, this system consists of a symmetrical Wi-Fi antenna which apparently boosts signal stability by up to 20 percent.

But the most interesting feature here is perhaps the "360-degree NFC," which is achieved by hooking up the NFC module to the top two cellular antennas as well as its own, thus forming an "NFC 3 antenna array." This allows the upper part of the GT 2 Pro to read NFC on either side, which should make the likes of contactless payment and Bluetooth pairing easier.

For now, the Realme GT 2 Pro is only slated for a China launch at 7:30PM local time (6:30AM ET) on January 4th, 2022, but a company spokesperson confirmed that it will eventually go overseas. Given the brand's track record, this device will likely be competitively priced, but we're just eager to check out Fukasawa's latest mobile design in person — especially the supposedly paper-like texture. Stay tuned for more technical specs, prices and our hands-on.

In 2021, Tesla's phenomenal profits were offset by constant crisis

The close of 2021 finds Tesla wealthier than ever — and, in CEO Elon Musk's case, wealthier than everybody else. The electric vehicle manufacturer notched records for both deliveries and profits this year despite a global chip shortage that decimated supply chains worldwide, effectively kneecapping the rest of the automotive industry's production capacity. However its financial successes were often overshadowed by Tesla's continuing production quality issues, multiple NHTSA and SEC investigations, high profile failures of its vaunted "Full Self Driving" system, as well as numerous vehicle recalls and delays for upcoming models. And with existing industry stalwarts like Ford, GM, Honda and the Volkswagen Group making concerted efforts to electrify their own offerings, could 2022 be the year that Tesla's reign as top EV automaker finally ends?

The Good
2021 was, without a doubt, a banner year for Tesla's bottom line. The company entered this year having met its 2020 goal of producing a half-million vehicles (of which it delivered 499,550 to customers), a nearly 133,000 unit increase over 2019. By April, Tesla had produced a record 180,338 vehicles and delivered 184,800 of them. Demand remained strong throughout the first half of the year thanks, in part, to price cuts on both the Model 3 and Model

The company then broke its same record in July, having built 200,000 vehicles over the past three months, earning Tesla $1.1 billion in net income during the same period. "Public sentiment towards EVs is at an inflexion point and, at this point, I think almost everyone agrees that electric vehicles are the only way forward," Musk said during the Q2 earnings call.

Unsurprisingly, Tesla's record-breaking trend continued unabated through Q3 with the company rolling 237,823 vehicles off its production lines — nearly all of which were of the Model 3 and Model Y varieties — and delivering 241,300 of them. The company also began taking pre-orders for the UK version of the Model Y in October and announced that those Model Ys destined for the Chinese market would be receiving upgraded AMD Ryzen chipsets.

Tesla capped off its stellar financial year with announcements from Hertz that it plans to order 100,000 vehicles (though there remains uncertainty about how that deal will actually play out) and from Uber Eats that it intends to rent as many as 50,000 Tesla vehicles to its drivers.

The OnePlus 10 Pro will be revealed in January

OnePlus is gearing up to show off its next smartphone, and it seems we won't have to wait long to get our eyes on it. It will reveal the OnePlus 10 Pro next month, according to co-founder and CEO Pete Lau. "OnePlus 10 Pro, see you in January," Lau wrote on Weibo, as spotted by Gizmodo.

If OnePlus does reveal its next phone in January, it will mark a shift in the brand's usual timeline. Over the last few years, it has announced its flagship handsets in March or April, typically after Samsung debuts the newest Galaxy S series phones.

Rumors suggest OnePlus will only reveal a single phone this time around, instead of the usual approach of having a base model and a pro device. In the past, OnePlus has followed up the flagship devices with a T-series model as well, but it decided not to release a 9T this year.

Lau previously said 10-series devices will have a new Android 13-based operating system that OnePlus is sharing with Oppo. The two formally merged this year under the ownership of BBK Electronics, with OnePlus becoming a sub-brand of Oppo.

Leakers have already offered a peek at the next OnePlus phone through unofficial renders. It seems OnePlus will again use Hasselblad cameras, while the OnePlus 10 Pro screen is slated to be a 6.7-inch QHD+ display with a 120 Hz refresh rate. Lau confirmed earlier this month that the upcoming device will use the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset.

Dell's Concept Luna shows how future laptops could be easier to repair and recycle

Working with Intel, Dell has created a new laptop called Concept Luna with the aim of making future PCs easier to repair, reuse and recycle. Dell said that if it incorporated all the design ideas, it could reduce a computer's carbon footprint by up to 50 percent compared to current laptop models.

A key feature of Concept Luna is the redesigned components and a new, more efficient layout. To start with, the motherboard is 75 percent smaller at just 5,580 square millimeters and has a 20 percent lower component count. Everything is rearranged, with the motherboard close to the top cover to expose it to a larger cooling area. It's also separated from the battery charging unit in the base, allowing better passive cooling that could eliminate the need for a fan.

The extra efficiencies also reduce power requirements, allowing the designers to use a smaller battery with deep-cycle cells that offer a "long charge that can be maintained across many years of use, increasing refurbishment and reuse beyond the first product life it services," Dell said.

On top of making the design more power efficient, Dell designers used less energy-intensive materials that are easier to recycle. The aluminum body, for instance, was processed using hydro power and a more efficient stamped construction. Dell also reduced the number of screws by tenfold, "with just four needed to access internal components." That not only reduces material count, but repair time (to disassemble, repair and reassemble key components) by around 1.5 hours.

Oppo's Find N foldable phone has a more practical landscape screen

Samsung's three generations of foldable phones put it in a leading position in the field, so much that Huawei and Xiaomi eventually followed the same double-screen form factor. Having already shown a foldable prototype a couple of years ago, it was only a matter of time before Oppo, the world's fourth largest smartphone brand, would join the scene. After a teaser from earlier, today the Chinese company unveiled the Find N, which features a 5.49-inch external display and unfolds into a 7.1-inch flexible "Serene Display."

What's special about this design is that Oppo went for a landscape aspect ratio — 9:8.4 (1,920 x 1,792), to be exact — for the flexible AMOLED screen, which offers a more practical split-screen usage. A bit like Microsoft's Surface Duo 2, except this is across one single panel. Similarly, the Find N's external AMOLED screen comes in a more familiar 9:18 aspect ratio (988 x 1,972), as opposed to something like the narrow 9:24.5 on Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 3. The shorter body should also make the device more pocketable than its competitors.

Oppo added that thanks to its special water-drop flexion hinge design, it's able to widen the angle of the flexible panel's fold, thus reducing the crease — "up to 80 percent less noticeable compared with other devices," which is apparently certified by TÜV Rheinland. The same mechanism allows for a no-gap design when folded. As for the flexible screen itself, its 12-layer structure apparently lets it withstand over 200,000 folds — even at temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius or -4 degrees Fahrenheit. Alas, there's no IP rating for the Find N, but Oppo reassures us that the device has passed the company's own humidity and splash tests.

To our surprise, the Find N is powered by Qualcomm's slightly older Snapdragon 888, as opposed to the upcoming Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or the existing Snapdragon 888 Plus. Oppo explained that this is due to the longer development cycle of this project. To be fair, this 5G chipset is still plentiful, plus the phone also comes with up to 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and up to 512GB of UFS 3.1 storage, along with ColorOS 12 based on Android 11, which should keep things running smoothly on that 120Hz flexible screen (though the external screen is capped at 60Hz).

Samsung's Tab A8 adds a faster processor, more RAM and storage options

Over the last few years, Samsung's Tab A line has been one of the few options for those trying to find a budget Android tablet. Early next year, the company will release the Tab A8 in the US. It's not an exciting update, but it does offer a handful of enhancements over its predecessor. Samsung says the new model features an "expanded" 10.5-inch display with a 16:10 aspect ratio and 1,920 x 1,200 resolution TFT panel. 

Internally, the Tab A8 has an octa-core processor the company claims is 10 percent faster than the CPU on the Snapdragon 662 that came with its predecessor. Samsung will also offer a 4GB variant of the tablet, in addition to a 3GB base model. The faster processor should make the device feel snappier, particularly if you go for the model with more RAM. For photos and videos, the Tab A8 comes with an 8-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel selfie shooter. 

As for storage, the Tab A8 comes with 32GB standard, though you can also configure the tablet with up to 128GB of internal storage, a first for the line. If you need more space, you can add up to 1TB of additional storage through an included MicroSD slot. Powering everything is a 7,040mAh cell. Samsung didn't share a battery life estimate, but last year we found the Tab A7, with the same capacity battery, could go 11 hours and 30 minutes in a video rundown test. The Tab A8 supports up to 15W fast charging, but only comes with a slower 7.75W power adapter inside the box. It keeps the headphone jack found on last year's models and you can expect it to ship with Android 11.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 will hit store shelves in the US next month. Samsung will offer the tablet in three colors: Gray, Silver and Pink Gold. The company didn't share pricing information. For context, the Tab A8's predecessor started at $230 – though you could frequently find it on sale for less.

The entry-level 2022 Polestar 2 will have an EPA-estimated range of 270 miles

As part of its recently announced 2022 lineup, Volvo subsidiary Polestar introduced a new single-motor variant of its Polestar 2 electric sedan. If you were waiting on an EPA estimate before reserving one, wait no more. You can expect to get about 270 miles of range on a single charge from the car's 75 kWh battery, Polestar announced on Wednesday.

That puts the FWD model in the company of vehicles like the Volkswagen ID.4 and Model 3. With the entry-level models of those two cars, you can expect 249 miles and 263 miles of range, respectively. That's not bad given the Polestar 2's $47,200 starting price, but not nearly as good as the 303 miles of EPA-rated range Hyundai will offer with the $44,875 version of its Ioniq 5.

The automaker also announced today it's rolling out an over-the-air update for all Polestar 2 vehicles. The new software allows you to schedule when you want your car to charge, so that you can take advantage of off-peak pricing. The update also includes refinements for the car's driver-assist systems. In the coming months, Polestar plans to release a software upgrade that will allow owners of the dual-motor Polestar 2 to unlock additional torque and horsepower from their car for a fee.

Apple removes mentions of controversial child abuse scanning from its site

Apple has hinted it might not revive its controversial effort to scan for CSAM (child sexual abuse material) photos any time soon. MacRumors notes Apple has removed all mentions of the scanning feature on its Child Safety website. Visit now and you'll only see iOS 15.2's optional nude photo detection in Messages and intervention when people search for child exploitation terms.

It's not certain why Apple has pulled the references. We've asked Apple for comment. This doesn't necessarily represent a full retreat from CSAM scanning, but it at least suggests a rollout isn't imminent.

While Apple was already scanning iCloud Photos uploads for hashes of known CSAM, the change would have moved those scans to the devices themselves to ostensibly improve privacy. If iCloud Photos was enabled and enough hashes appeared in a local photo library, Apple would decrypt the relevant "safety vouchers" (included with every image) and manually review the pictures for a potential report to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. That, in turn, could get police involved.

The CSAM detection feature drew flak from privacy advocates. Apple stressed the existence of multiple safeguards, such as a high threshold for reviews and its reliance on hashes from multiple child safety organizations rather than government. However, there were concerns the company might still produce false positives or expand scanning under pressure from authoritarian regimes. Moreover, the only way to prevent on-device scans was to avoid using iCloud Photos altogether — you had to accept Apple's new approach or lose a valuable cloud service.

Apple delayed the