Gadgets, Game & Mobile News

Alexa finally gets a new name and voice: How to change them up on your Amazon Echo - CNET

CNET News - 4 hours 23 min ago
Now there's a masculine-sounding option and you can call your device Ziggy. Plus, you can mix and match.

Pet disaster prep: How to keep animals safe during a wildfire evacuation - CNET

CNET News - 5 hours 23 min ago
Take these steps to protect your pets if you live in an area prone to wildfires.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga review: A first-class 2-in-1 for business travelers - CNET

CNET News - 5 hours 23 min ago
If size and weight in a work laptop matter most to you, the X1 Titanium Yoga is great, if not entirely perfect.

Audi RS Q E-Tron is a Dakar-bound, electrified off-roader - Roadshow

CNET News - Sat, 2021-07-24 18:18
This wild-looking machine is built for dominating the desert and doing it efficiently.

San Diego Comic-Con: Which superhero is most neurotic? Writers weigh in - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2021-07-24 18:15
Even caped (and uncaped) crusaders get the blues.

2022 Mercedes EQS is one slippery luxury car - Roadshow

CNET News - Sat, 2021-07-24 18:01
With a drag coefficient of just 0.20 in the right spec, the electric EQS is all about efficiency.

WhatsApp says NSO spyware was used to attack officials working for US allies

Engadget - Sat, 2021-07-24 17:53

The NSO Group has denied that its spyware was used to compromise many politicians' phones, but WhatsApp is telling a different story. The chat giant's CEO, Will Cathcart, told The Guardian in an interview that governments allegedly used NSO's Pegasus software to attack senior government officials worldwide in 2019, including high-ranking national security officials who were US allies. The breaches were reportedly part of a larger campaign that compromised 1,400 WhatsApp users in two weeks, prompting a lawsuit.

The reporting on the NSO "matches" with findings from the 2019 attack on WhatsApp, Cathcart said. Human rights activists and journalists were also believed to be victims.

The executive was responding to allegations that governments used Pegasus to hack phones for 37 people, including those of women close to murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Those targets were also on a 2016 list of over 50,000 phone numbers that included activists, journalists and politicians, although it's not clear that anyone beyond the 37 fell prey to attacks.

NSO has strongly rejected claims about the hacks and the list, insisting that there's "no factual basis" and that the list was too large to be focused solely on potential Pegasus targets. It also directly challenged Cathcart, asking if the WhatsApp exec had "other alternatives" to its tools that would help thwart "pedophiles, terrorists and criminals" using encrypted software.

Cathcart, however, didn't buy that explanation — he pointed to the 1,400 people as possible evidence that the number of targets was "very high." Whatever the truth, it's safe to say WhatsApp won't shy away from its lawsuit (or a war of words) any time soon.

GM sues Ford over the name of its hands-free driving feature

Engadget - Sat, 2021-07-24 16:40

Ford might be excited about its BlueCruise hands-free driving tech, but GM is less than thrilled about it. The Detroit Free Press and The Verge report that GM has sued Ford for allegedly violating the trademarks for both its rival Super Cruise feature and its autonomy-focused Cruise company.

GM was holding mediated talks with Ford to reach a "good-faith" arrangement, according to DFP sources. The two sides reportedly didn't make a deal before a July 24th deadline, however, prompting the lawsuit. A GM spokesperson said the company had "no choice" but to sue Ford after trying to resolve the dispute "amicably."

Ford's representative, meanwhile, argued that GM's lawsuit was "meritless and frivolous." People understood that "cruise" was short for cruise control, Ford said, and BlueCruise was ultimately the "next evolution" of its Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control feature. The automaker added that GM didn't seem to have issues with other brands' naming schemes, such as BMW's Active Cruise Control and Hyundai's Smart Cruise Control.

The attention to Ford isn't surprising. Both companies see hands-free driving as a major selling point for their cars, with full self-driving a long-term goal. It's also no secret that the two Detroit brands have been fierce rivals for a long time — neither Ford nor GM will want to cede ground, at least not quickly. We wouldn't be surprised if the lawsuit ends with a settlement, but not before the companies have traded some verbal jabs.

Deepfake version of young Paul McCartney reveals himself to be... Beck? - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2021-07-24 16:03
The former Beatle, who's 79, gets de-aged to become a much younger man in Find My Way video.

VW Atlas Cross Sport GT Concept has a tuner's edge - Roadshow

CNET News - Sat, 2021-07-24 14:18
Volkswagen has created an aftermarket-esque higher-performance version of its two-row SUV.

Oculus makes it easier to create mixed reality apps

Engadget - Sat, 2021-07-24 13:54

Expect to see more mixed reality apps in the future, at least for the Oculus Quest 2. WinFuturenotes that Oculus has unveiled a toolkit, Passthrough API Experimental, that will make it relatively easy to "seamlessly" merge VR with the real world view from the Quest 2's cameras.

You can project images on flat surfaces, create composite layers that float in space, and even apply visual styles (akin to social media filters) to real scenes. You could give yourself a virtual monitor to use with your real-world keyboard, for instance, or turn your home into a psychedelic dreamscape by flicking a virtual switch.

Privacy shouldn't be an issue, Oculus claimed. The API only processes raw camera footage on-device, and apps can't access, store or view imagery of the world around you. A rogue app shouldn't transmit video of your home, to put it another way.

Oculus expects to deliver the framework to Unity engine developers with its next software development kit release. It will take a while for finished apps to surface, but don't be surprised if mixed reality games and productivity tools become relatively commonplace as a result of Oculus' new tools.

Audi hopes its off-road hybrid will win the 2022 Dakar Rally

Engadget - Sat, 2021-07-24 12:36

The Volkswagen group's desire to crush records with electrified cars now extends to one of the world's toughest off-road challenges. Autoblogreports that Audi has started testing the RS Q E-Tron, a from-scratch hybrid off-roader it hopes will score overall victory in the 2022 Dakar Rally. If so, it would be the first electrified vehicle to win the gruelling competition.

 The RS Q E-Tron relies on an electric drivetrain with two modified Formula E motors, one at each axle. As you won't find a charging station in the middle of the desert, however, Audi uses a race-ready TFSI engine as part of an energy converter that charges the battery while driving and braking. This isn't a zero-emissions car, then, but it stays in a relatively efficient power band (between 4,500RPM and 6,000RPM) that should reduce the racer's environmental impact.

The machine should be highly adaptable, too. Unlike many EVs, the front and rear axles aren't mechanically connected — software handles torque distribution instead. That not only allows for an easily reconfigurable center differential, but saves the bulk that would normally be used for a conventional differential and propshaft.

Audi plans to enter the machine into multiple cross-country rallies in 2021 before participating in the Dakar Rally in January.

If Audi is successful, the RS Q E-Tron will make a stronger case for eco-friendly endurance racing. While not a pure EV, it will handle extremely long stages (up to 500 miles) with a significantly reduced emissions footprint. It also won't surprise you to hear that Audi wants more than just bragging rights. It expects lessons learned from the car to reach production cars. We wouldn't count on something with a similar drivetrain when the VW group is transitioning to EVs, but it's easy to imagine electric SUVs and crossovers that are better-suited to off-roading.

Hitting the Books: Digital youth activism can help save America from itself

Engadget - Sat, 2021-07-24 11:30

Social media routinely proves itself a cesspool of racist, bigoted and toxic opinions — and that's just coming from the adults. But for the younger generations that have never lived in an unconnected world, these seemingly unnavigable platforms have proven to be a uniquely potent tool for organizing and empowering themselves to change the real world around them. In Digital for Good, author Richard Culatta walks parents through many of the common pitfalls their kids may face when venturing into the internet wilds and how to best help them navigate these potential problems.

Digital For Good Cover artHarvard Business Review

Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Review Press. Excerpted from Digital For Good: Raising Kids to Thrive in an Online World by Richard Culatta. Copyright 2021 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

Young Voices Matter

The first step for creating engaged digital citizens is making sure we’re teaching young people that their contributions and opinions matter. I think deep down we all believe this and want it to be true. But there are many elements of our society that are set up to communicate the opposite message. Much of school is designed in a way that tells our kids that they are to apply the skills they are learning some day in their hypothetical future, not now. They are taught to learn math because they will need it to get into college. They are taught to write because it will be an important skill when they get a job. In history, the people they learn about are always adults, not kids. They have little choice or control over the learning experience itself; they are handed a schedule, given assignments (that they didn’t have any input in designing), and told to complete by a date that they didn’t choose. The message that young voices don’t matter is reinforced by the fact that they can’t vote until they are eighteen. One of the most important tenets of democracy is the idea that everyone has a voice. We teach that to our children, yet we offer very few ways to actually use that voice before they’re no longer kids. Fortunately, the digital world gives a wide set of tools that can help change that narrative. These tools allow youth to have a voice and learn how to make a meaningful impact on their community, family, and in some cases, the world as a whole—right now, not decades down the road. 

Just Some Students from Florida

In February 2018, Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, was in the news worldwide when nineteen-year-old Nikolas Cruz entered the school with a semiautomatic rifle, killing seventeen people and injuring seventeen others. This horrific event became one of the deadliest school shootings in US history. Yet there was a unique ending to this tragic story that set it apart for another reason. In other school shootings, traditional news media and political leaders quickly shape the national conversation around the event. A narrative emerges around what actually happened, with speculation about the causes, who is to blame, and the political responses to justify action (or lack thereof). But in the case of Parkland, it was the students who shaped the national conversation. Frustrated about viewpoints and conclusions from adults that they did not share or agree with, they used their access to social media to reset and redirect the conversation into what has now become one of the most powerful examples of youth engagement ever seen. Within a week of the shooting, the students had appeared on nearly every major news program and had raised more than $3 million in donations to support their cause. Emma Gonzáles, one of the most recognizable faces of the movement, has over 1.5 million Twitter followers—about twice as many as the National Rifle Association. 

Not long after the shooting, I met Diane Wolk-Rogers, a history teacher at Stoneman High School. As she explained, nobody could have prepared these students for the horror they faced on that day. But they had been prepared to know how to use technology to make their voices heard. Wolk-Rogers says, “They are armed with incredible communication skills and a sense of citizenship that I find so inspiring.” So when it was time to act, they knew the tools of the trade. 

Engaged digital citizens know how to use technology to identify and propose solutions and promote action around causes that are important to them and their communities. Micro-activism is a term used to describe small-scale efforts that, when combined, can bring about significant change. While young people might not be able to vote or run for office, they have a whole range of micro-activism opportunities—all made possible by their participation in the digital world. For youth who have access to social media, micro-activism can be as simple as using their digital platforms to call awareness to issues that matter to them—eradicating racism, protecting our planet, or funding their school, and so on. Most states have a function on their website to submit ideas or feedback directly to the office of the governor. Through sites like Change.org anyone, regardless of age, can submit suggestions to political leaders or private sector entities. You can also add your name in support of other petitions that are gaining momentum. There are many compelling stories of youth who have used Change.org to call attention to issues that matter to them. Examples include a ten-year-old who used the platform to convince Jamba Juice to switch from Styrofoam cups to a more environmentally friendly alternative. Or a seventh grader who used Change.org to successfully petition the Motion Picture Association to change the rating on a movie about school bullying so students in her junior high would be allowed to see it.

Not all acts of micro-activism will immediately result in a desired change. But regardless of the outcome, learning how to impact community issues using digital tools is an important skill to develop in and of itself. The ability to motivate others to act for good in a virtual space will be a significant (if not the significant) determining factor in the effectiveness of future civic leaders. Young people need to practice using tech to make a difference now, if they are going to be prepared to lead our society when they grow up. 

Apple Watch Series 6 Product Red drops to $265 at Amazon

Engadget - Sat, 2021-07-24 11:14

Now might be a good time to buy the Apple Watch Series 6 — at least, if you're fond of red. Amazon is selling the 40mm Product Red edition of the Apple smartwatch for just $265 at checkout, well below the official $399 price. That's lower than the price we saw in April, and makes it more affordable than a brand-new Apple Watch SE. Unless you find a huge sale for the SE, this is clearly the better buy.

Buy Apple Watch Series 6 at Amazon - $265

The Series 6 is ultimately a subtle evolution of the Series 5, but that's not a bad thing. The always-on display is still very helpful, and on Series 6 is brighter to help you see it during outdoor expeditions. It's slightly faster, lasts slightly longer on battery and charges quickly. We'd add that the Apple Watch remains the go-to wristwear for iPhone users between the tight integration, deep app ecosystem and wide range of bands and accessories.

Timing is the main concern at this point. It's no secret that the Series 6 is nearly a year old, and Series 7 is likely just a couple of months away. If money isn't your main concern, it might be worth waiting for the updated hardware. With that said, the Series 7 likely won't see discounts like this for a long while — the Series 6 is still a good value if you either can't afford to wait or just want a full-featured Apple Watch at the lowest possible price.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

Engadget Podcast: Is the Valve Steam Deck a Switch killer?

Engadget - Sat, 2021-07-24 10:30

This week on the show, Devindra and Engadget Buyer’s Guide Editor Kris Naudus chat about Valve’s new Steam Deck portable with Jordan Minor, Apps and Games Analyst at PCMag. Is the hardware powerful enough to truly make it a portable gaming PC? And should we trust Valve with hardware at all after the Steam Machine debacle? Also, we dive into Jeff Bezos’s jaunt to space, Facebook’s spat with the Biden administration and the issues surrounding NSO’s controversial spyware Pegasus. 

Listen below, or subscribe on your podcast app of choice. If you've got suggestions or topics you'd like covered on the show, be sure to email us or drop a note in the comments! And be sure to check out our other podcasts, the Morning After and Engadget News!

Engadget · Is Valve’s Steam Deck a Switch killer?


Subscribe!


Topics

Video livestream

Credits
Hosts: Kris Naudus and Devindra Hardawar
Guest: Jordan Minor
Producer: Ben Ellman
Livestream producers: Julio Barrientos, Owen Davidoff, Luke Brooks
Graphics artists: Luke Brooks, Kyle Maack
Music: Dale North and Terrence O'Brien

'Blade Runner: Black Lotus' anime trailer reveals a replicant on the run

Engadget - Sat, 2021-07-24 09:54

Adult Swim and Crunchyroll has released the first trailer for Blade Runner: Black Lotus, the anime series they're co-producing, at San Diego Comic-Con this year. The show is set in Los Angeles in the year 2032, putting its events in between the original Harrison Ford movie set in 2019 and the sequel film starring Ryan Gosling set in 2049. It features a new replicant named Elle known as the "Black Lotus," who was created with special powers. She seems to have escaped from her creators, and is currently being hunted down by authorities.

In the action-packed trailer, you'll see Elle take down foe after foe — she goes from not knowing how she's able to knock a handful of men completely out cold to wielding a katana — in a backdrop of smoke, fog and neon lights. Elle is voiced by Jessica Henwick (Iron Fist) in the English version and Arisa Shida in the Japanese version. The show will run for 13 episodes, which will be directed by Shinji Aramaki (Ultraman, Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2045) and Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, SAC_2045). It's produced by Alcon Entertainment and animation studio Sola Digital Arts, with Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop) serving as a creative producer.

When Blade Runner: Black Lotus debuts this fall, you can watch it in English on Adult Swim and in Japanese on Crunchyroll.

Old review: M Night Shyamalan opts for schlock over substance - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2021-07-24 08:05
Blue Lagoon meets Cocoon in beach-based body horror that doesn't know what to do with its chilling premise.

Boxabl aims to build foldable homes in 90 minutes - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2021-07-24 08:00
Boxabl's foldable homes cost $50K and set up fast. And one's rumored to be inhabited by a certain space mogul out in Boca Chica, Texas.

Porsche 911 GT3 track test, Mercedes-Benz going all EV and more: Roadshow's week in review - Roadshow

CNET News - Sat, 2021-07-24 08:00
Here's a look back at the biggest stories from the week ending July 24.

Pages