Posts By Michelle Turner

Samsung Galaxy S22 Review: Boringly good

The Samsung Galaxy S22 is a small phone with a few shortcomings, but there’s lots to like at its asking price.
Mobile | Digital Trends

Tiger steaks and lion burgers: Lab-grown exotic animal meat is on the way

Most cellular meat startups focus on growing familiar foods (like beef and chicken) in a lab, but Primeval Foods has its sights set on something more exotic.
Emerging Tech | Digital Trends

Google faces lawsuit over controversial Play Store change

Google’s new Play Store billing policies aren’t very popular with developers, and some are taking their disagreement to the courts.
Mobile | Digital Trends

Peloton’s huge loss highlights how hard it’ll be to turn things around

Peloton has posted a heavy quarterly loss for the first quarter, indicating that it has a lot of work to do in order to correct course. The company made a net loss of $ 757.1 million in the first three months of the year (Q3 of Peloton's 2022 fiscal year). Not only was that a worse result than expected, it's a massive decrease from the $ 8.6 million loss it posted for the same period in 2021.

Revenue dropped from $ 1.262 billion a year ago to $ 964 million. Operating expenses, meanwhile, grew by 101 percent year-over year to $ 920 million. Peloton says those represented 95.4 percent of total revenue for the quarter, compared with 36.3 percent a year earlier.

One of the company's biggest challenges has been handling its stockpile of connected fitness equipment in the wake of a sales decline as more people return to office life. "We have too much [inventory] for the current run rate of the business, and that inventory has consumed an enormous amount of cash, more than we expected, which has caused us to rethink our capital structure," CEO Barry McCarthy, who took on the job in February, wrote in a letter to shareholders. "We believe the inventory will sell eventually, so this is primarily a cash flow timing issue, not a structural issue."

Around the time McCarthy was appointed, Peloton announced it would cut 2,800 jobs, or around 20 percent of the corporate workforce. Rumors swirled in February that the company was an acquisition target for several suitors, with the likes of Amazon and Nike said to be interested.

Although it won't be easy for the company to get back on track, Peloton at least has a plan to turn things around. It aims to return to positive free cash flow in its 2023 fiscal year.

Last month, it announced an upcoming increase to subscriptions along with price cuts for many of its connected fitness machines. There are several reasons why Peloton is banking more heavily on subscriptions. For one, subscription revenues rose by 55 percent year-over-year to $ 369.9 million. The company now has 7 million members, and McCarthy has a long-term goal of reaching 100 million. "Our users are highly engaged, and our subscriber churn rate is less than 1 percent, which is the best I’ve seen," McCarthy, a former Netflix and Spotify executive, said.

McCarthy said the pricing changes could help the company deliver "roughly $ 40 million of incremental revenue monthly." The increased cost of the All-Access plan doesn't kick in until June 1st, but McCarthy says there's only been a small increase in user attrition and the move will generate an extra $ 14 million in revenue each month if that level of churn holds.

Cutting prices on some hardware models has led to a 69 percent increase in daily unit sales too. So far, that move has increased revenue by $ 25 million per month. The company also plans to keep testing a program that will combine an All-Access subscription plan with rentals of its equipment.

McCarthy noted that Peloton is revamping its workforce as it shifts from a hardware- to a software-focused company. The recent job cuts factor into the company's plan to increase annual run-rate savings to at least $ 800 million by its 2024 fiscal year. It also signed a binding commitment letter to borrow $ 750 million in five-year term debt from JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs.

Meanwhile, Peloton says more than half a million users have tried Lanebreak, its first gamified workout, on Bike and Bike+. The company expects to lean "more into gaming content in response to the success of Lanebreak."

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

Leaked OnePlus Nord 2T unboxing video reveals Dimensity 1300 chipset and so much more

As OnePlus gears up to announce its follow up to last year’s popular Nord 2 5G, it seems that a leaker has managed to get his hands on a Nord 2T in full retail packaging and posted an unboxing video that reveals almost everything you might want to know about the mid-range handset, including benchmarks […]

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Leaked images reveal Motorola’s 3rd-gen Razr design takes inspiration from the Galaxy Z Flip

As most other brands have either already announced or are rumored to be planning the release of foldable smartphones, Motorola is lining up the third generation of its Razr foldable which apparently goes under the codename ‘Maven’. The new clamshell from Motorola will feature flagship specifications and is reportedly scheduled for a ‘summer release’. According […]

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Finishing touch: How scientists are giving robots humanlike tactile senses

Giving robots sight and hearing is fairly straightforward these days, but equipping them with a robust sense of touch is far more difficult.
Emerging Tech | Digital Trends

EA is making a free-to-play Lord of the Rings RPG for mobile

Electronic Arts is stepping back into Middle-earth. The publisher has announced a free-to-play mobile game called The Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-earth. The RPG is the first EA mobile title based on J.R.R. Tolkien's works. EA Capital Games is developing the game. The studio was behind another successful collectible mobile RPG in 2015's Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes.

Heroes of Middle-earth will include characters from both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, along with collection systems, turn-based combat and "immersive storytelling." EA said in a press release that players will experience "iconic stories from the world of Tolkien and take up the fight against the great evils of Middle-earth." Unsurprisingly, given that this is a free-to-play mobile title, there will be microtransactions.

“We are incredibly excited to partner with The Saul Zaentz Company and Middle-earth Enterprises on the next generation of mobile role-playing games,” said EA's vice-president of mobile RPG Malachi Boyle said. “The team is filled with fans of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and each day they bring their tremendous passion and talents together to deliver an authentic experience for players. The combination of high-fidelity graphics, cinematic animations, and stylized art immerses players in the fantasy of Middle-earth where they’ll go head-to-head with their favorite characters.”

This will be EA's first LOTR title since 2009's The Lord of the Rings: Conquest, as Polygon notes. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, NetEase and Glu Mobile (which EA bought last year) are among the other publishers who have released mobile LOTR games.

EA expects to start limited regional beta tests of The Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-earth this summer.

It's not the only major LOTR project scheduled to debut this year. Daedalic's action-adventure title The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is supposed to arrive in 2022. And then, of course, there's the small matter of Amazon's The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series, which will premiere on September 2nd.

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

5 useful Home screen tweaks every iPhone owner can try

If your iOS Home screens haven’t changed since you bought the phone or are a sea of single app icons, here’s some inspiration to make them more useful.
Mobile | Digital Trends

Google Pixel Watch: Everything we know so far

After years of being in the rumor mill, there’s a pretty big chance Google’s Pixel Watch is finally on its way. Here’s everything we know so far.
Mobile | Digital Trends

Acer’s new Chromebook Spin 514 convertible packs in AMD’s C-series processors, FHD displays, and military-grade durability

Acer has just announced the Chromebook Spin 514 which features AMD’s newly launched Ryzen 5000 C-series of processors, a 14-inch FHD display, PCI NVME storage, WiFi 6 connectivity, and a pair of upward-facing speakers. Priced from $ 579 and scheduled to go on sale in North America during Q3 2022, Acer’s Chromebook Spin 514 promises to […]

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Will Elon Musk give media the wake-up call they (we) need

A Musk-led Twitter is the reality check the media industry needs to mend its ways, as harsh it may sound. It’s time to wake up from the honeymoon phase.
Mobile | Digital Trends

Google needs to convince us WearOS isn’t dead (again)

WearOS 3 still isn’t widely available, so at Google I/O 2022 we need to see strong evidence the platform really does have some life left in it.
Mobile | Digital Trends

Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion is coming to the Play Store

You don’t have to be a fan of the vegetable to enjoy a fun adventure game such as the comically named Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion, and the good news is that its developers, Snoozy Kazoo, have announced that it is heading to Android and iOS. Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion features action, puzzles, and […]

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John McEnroe is playing tennis against a virtual version of himself on ESPN+

Michelob Ultra and ESPN have decided to use AI to answer an enduring question: what would happen if tennis legend John McEnroe played against himself? An upcoming ESPN+ special entitled "McEnroe vs. McEnroe" will feature the 63-year-old star, who retired from singles competition in 1992, playing against a complicated, AI-trained version of himself. 

According to TechCrunch, the process for the actual game is fairly involved. After the real McEnroe sends a ball over the net, the AI avatar responds to its direction and "swings" — at this point, a new ball is launched from a ball cannon, which is obscured by a smokescreen. The positioning of the ball cannon and smokescreen are designed to make the ball appear as if it's coming off the avatar's racket. The avatar itself is projected onto a hologram particle screen. This teaser below shows off a tantalizingly small amount of footage.

As for how this all came together, the real McEnroe spent a day with production company Unit 9, who used full-body motion capture and scans combined with Unreal Engine's MetaHuman Creator technology. Adweek says that the McEnroe avatar and its programming are based on five different points in McEnroe's career, including his debut in 1979, his ascent to the top of the sport in 1981, and his final year as a pro in 1992.

Besides the work with the real McEnroe, Unit 9 also analyzed hundreds of hours of footage from his career and recorded 308 different shots for the virtual avatar. Given that McEnroe is now 63, he'll be playing against a much younger version of himself — whether or not that means the AI will have the edge remains to be seen, of course. If this somewhat odd matchup has piqued your interest, TechCrunch says the special will air tonight, May 7th, on ESPN+ at 10PM ET. 

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

Edifier NeoBuds Pro review: Fantastic earbuds that won’t be for everyone

Edifier is a Chinese audio manufacturer that’s made a sizable name for themselves in the budget audiophile market over the last couple decades. They make everything from bookshelf home theater speakers to PC speakers to wireless headphones, covering most audio devices that you’d need to buy. Today we’re taking a look at some of their […]

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Mining Capital Coin CEO indicted in $62 million crypto fraud scheme

Mining Capital Coin CEO and founder Luiz Capuci Jr. was — in an indictment unsealed yesterday — accused by the DOJ of allegedly running a $ 62 million global investment fraud scheme. He's the latest of severalcrypto company heads who have recently been similarly charged.

Through his company, Capuci convinced investors to purchase “Mining Packages," a global network of cryptocurrency mines that promised a certain return on investment every week. But instead of using investors’ funds to mine cryptocurrency as he promised, the DOJ alleges that Capuci diverted the funds to his own cryptocurrency wallets. Another MCC product known as “Trading Bots” operated under the same false pretenses. Capuci claimed that the bots operated in “very high frequency, being able to do thousands of trades per second” and promised investors daily returns.

“As he did with the Mining Packages, however, Capuci allegedly operated an investment fraud scheme with the Trading Bots and was not, as he promised, using MCC Trading Bots to generate income for investors, but instead was diverting the funds to himself and co-conspirators,” wrote the DOJ in its indictment.

MCC seemed to have all the workings of a pyramid scheme. Capuci recruited affiliates and promoters to lure investors. In return, he promised the promoters a number of lavish gifts, including Apple watches, iPads and luxury vehicles.

Currently the FBI’s Miami Field Office is investigating the case. The DOJ has charged Capuci, who is from Port St. Lucie, Florida, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud and conspiracy to commit international money laundering. If found guilty, he faces a maximum sentence of 45 years.

In a review of the cryptocurrency mining platform, crypto blogger Peter Obi noted that the combination of MCC’s $ 50 monthly fee for membership and its steep 3% withdrawal fee meant that investors were unlikely to make a profit unless they referred other investors. He pointed out that such a referral process was “particularly worrying” because it was consistent with other past crypto scams.

Indeed, a number of crypto leaders have been accused by authorities of running Ponzi schemes in recent years. Earlier this year the DOJ indicted Bitconnect founder Satishkumar Kurjibhai Kumbhani for allegedly running a $ 2 billion Ponzi scheme — believed to be the largest virtual currency pyramid scheme in history.

Capuci never registered his company with the SEC. The agency today issued a fraud alert for the company. According to the SEC press release, Capuci and his associates successfully convinced 65,535 investors to purchase mining packages worldwide and promised daily returns of one percent, paid weekly for over a year. In total, the group netted $ 8.1 million from the sale of the mining packages and $ 3.2 million from initiation fees.

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

Florida pension fund sues Elon Musk over Twitter deal

Elon Musk's $ 44 billion buyout of Twitter is facing its first legal challenge. A Florida pension fund is suing Musk and Twitter, arguing that the deal can't legally close until 2025 due to the billionaire's stake in the platform. The proposed class-action lawsuit — filed today by the Orlando Police Pension Fund in the Delaware Chancery court— also declares that Twitter’s board of directors breached its fiduciary duties by allowing the deal to go through. In addition to Musk and Twitter, the lawsuit also named former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, current Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and the company’s board as defendants.

In a message to Engadget, Tulane Law School’s Professor Ann M. Lipton says the lawsuit raises "some very novel issues" under Delaware corporate law. Under a law known as Section 203, shareholders who own more than 15 percent of the company can’t enter a merger without two-thirds of the remaining shares granting approval. Without this approval, the merger can’t be finalized for another three years.

The fund’s lawyers state that Musk initially owned roughly 10 percent of Twitter’s shares, which would seemingly not make Section 203 applicable. But, the fund argues, Musk formed a pact with Morgan Stanley (which owns 8.8 percent of shares) and former CEO Jack Dorsey (who has 2.4 percent) to advance the deal. The combined stake of these parties allegedly makes Musk and his allies in the takeover deal an "interested shareholder" under Section 203 — which, if the court agrees with the underlying reasoning presented in the case, means the merger must either be delayed or get approval shareholders representing at least two-thirds of the company's ownership. 

“Section 203 is not often litigated, and so the issue of whether Musk's relationship with these parties actually counts for statutory purposes is an unsettled question and it will be interesting to watch how it unfolds,” wrote Lipton.

More details of Musk’s highly complex $ 44 billion buyout of Twitter have been made public since the social media platform accepted the billionaire’s offer last month. The New York Times reported that Musk promised investors returns of nearly five to ten times their investments if the deal went through. Parts of the deal are being scrutinized, including its reliance on foreign investors and whether Musk bought shares in the company specifically to influence its leadership. But antitrust experts say the merger is unlikely to be blocked by the FTC. The agency will decide in the next month whether to quickly approve the merger or launch a lengthier investigation.

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

OnePlus 10 Pro vs. OnePlus 9 Pro

We’ve compared both these smartphones to find out how they fare against each other so that you can choose which one’s best for you.
Mobile | Digital Trends

Emoji reactions hit WhatsApp as Meta fights the competition

WhatsApp joins Telegram, Messenger, iMessage, and more by introducing key features including emoji reactions, larger file sharing, and bigger group chats.
Mobile | Digital Trends

How to register for and download the Android 12 beta

The yearly release calendar grinds on, and the new version of Android, Android 12, is on the way. Here’s how you can sample the Android 12 public beta.
Mobile | Digital Trends

Sonos will launch its own voice assistant on June 1st for no good reason other than it can

Admit it, you’ve dreamed that instead of being locked down to using Siri, Bixby, Alexa, and the Google Assistant that there could be another option limited to being used on Sonos products running its S2 software. You haven’t? Well, Sonos is launching its own voice assistant anyway as an alternative to other services, with compatible […]

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ISPs end fight against California net neutrality law

In a win for net neturality, ISPs agreed to end their legal challenge to a 2018 Californa law that bars providers from throttling service. Telecom groups and California Attorney General Rob Bonta today jointly agreed to dismiss the case, reportedReuters

It’s fair that say that luck hasn’t exactly been on the telecom industry’s side. Earlier this year, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reconsider its ruling that California’s law be upheld. And last year, the US DOJ dropped its own lawsuit over the net neutrality law, which the agency had filed during the Trump administration.

“Following multiple defeats in court, internet service providers have finally abandoned an effort to block enforcement of CA's net neutrality law. This is a win for California and for a free and fair internet,” wrote Bonta in a tweet.

After Trump-appointed FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai overturned the agency's net neutrality rules in 2017, California’s legislature decided to enact its own law. The state’s net neutrality law, which went into effect in August 2018, expanded on previous federal rules by banning the use of “zero-rating” by ISPs in an anti-competitive manner. Zero-rating occurs when an ISP exempts any of its affiliated services from eating away at a customer’s data caps. For example, AT&T Wireless once exempted HBO Max from the data caps of its internet customers. The company dropped this practice last year, and blamed the impact of California’s law. Digital rights groups like Electronic Frontier Foundation have argued that zero-rating is hostile to consumers, especially those from low-income households.

Federal net neutrality rules that were blocked under the Trump administration have yet to be restored by the FCC under President Joe Biden. That’s because the five-member panel is currently short one member, which they’ll need in order to vote on net neutrality. The agency is awaiting the Senate confirmation of Gigi Sohn. But thanks to intense lobbying from telecom groups and a number of Republicans (and moderate Democrats) in Congress, Sohn’s confirmation is stalled at present.

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

Fox Sports will offer World Cup pre-game shows on Twitter for every match

You won't have to leave the social media sphere to catch some of the coverage surrounding FIFA World Cup matches. Fox Sports has expanded its relationship with Twitter to offer live pre-game shows and in-match previews (through @foxsports and @foxsoccer) for every match of World Cup 2022 and Women's World Cup 2023. You can also expect "near real-time" highlights during play as well as post-match discussions.

The exclusive deal for both the men's and women's tournaments is a first for Twitter, according to the social network's global content head TJ Adeshola. Naturally, you can expect Fox to support the streams through ads.

You'll still have to use the Fox Sports app or website (plus a pay TV subscription) if you want to stream the matches themselves. Like it or not, the broadcaster still wants to steer you toward its most lucrative business. Even so, this at least offers more ways to immerse yourself in the group stages or build up hype for a must-win knockout match.

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

The best work-from-home and office essentials for graduates

After they’re done celebrating their academic accomplishments, your grad might already have a new job or internship lined up, or they may be very close to a new opportunity. If so, they’ll want a few essentials that will ease them into the working world, whether they’re dealing with a daily commute or logging on from home. Here are a few gift ideas that they’ll appreciate regardless of where they find themselves doing most of their work.

LARQ Bottle PureVis

A LARQ Bottle PureVis on a desk next to someone working on a laptop.
LARQ

Carrying a reusable water bottle on your commute is a smart idea, but what’s even smarter is a bottle that cleans itself. The LARQ Bottle PureVis claims to neutralize up to 99.99 percent of odor-causing bacteria using UV-C light, which means there’s less chance of it stinking up between refills. Either press the button at the top to trigger the clean, or simply wait; it automatically cleans itself once every two hours. The PureVis model also has thermal insulation that can keep drinks either cold or hot.

If they don’t mind cleaning their bottle, however, the Contigo Autoseal transit mug is a more affordable alternative. It’s wide enough to fit most cup holders and it has a handy Autoseal button which lets them drink out of the bottle when held down. As a bonus for coffee aficionados, both an Aeropress and a drip filter cone fits nicely over it, so you can brew your cup of joe directly into the mug. — Nicole Lee, Commerce Writer

Buy Bottle PureVis at LARQ – $ 95Buy Contigo Autoseal at Amazon – $ 20

Everlane Renew Transit 

The Everlane Renew Transit backpack worn on one shoulder by a female model.
Everlane

A good backpack is essential for commuting, especially if your grad has to tote their laptop back and forth each day. One of our favorites is the Everlane Renew Transit Backpack thanks to both its exterior 15-inch laptop sleeve and assortment of interior and exterior pockets. It also has two water bottle holders and a pass-through strap that attaches to rolling luggage, so they can use it as their main travel pack during their next trip. And, as a bonus, it’s made from 100 percent recycled polyester, has a water-resistant finish and comes in three neutral colors that will pair well with any outfit. — N.L.

Buy Renew Transit bag at Everlane – $ 85

LumeCube Edge Desk Light

A man adjusting the position of the LumeCube Edge lamp next to a computer monitor.
LumeCube

Even if your graduate already has an upgraded webcam, bad lighting can prevent them from putting their best face forward when virtually speaking with colleagues. The LumeCube Edge Desk Light can fix that with its multiple brightness and warm-light settings, plus a bendable neck that makes it easy to adjust the light’s position. Since it’s quite flexible, they can use it for other things, too, including note-taking and live streaming. And we know they’ll appreciate its built-in USB-C and USB-A charging ports, which will let them conveniently power up their phone, earbuds and more while getting all of their work done. — N.L.

Buy LumeCube Desk Light at Amazon – $ 120

Logitech MX Anywhere 3

The Logitech MX Anywhere 3 sits atop a notebook next to sunglasses and a tablet.
Logitech

Today’s office life is more on-the-go than ever, with workers switching between home, office and maybe the occasional coffee shop in between. But being mobile doesn’t mean having to settle for an unresponsive trackpad. The MX Anywhere 3 is a comfy mouse that can easily slip into a bag, though not as easily as it connects via the included receiver or Bluetooth. And it really does work anywhere — including on glass surfaces. — Kris Naudus, Commerce Writer

Buy Logitech MX Anywhere 3 at Amazon – $ 80

27-inch Dell UltraSharp U2720Q monitor

Dell Ultrasharp U2720Q monitor.
Dell

An external monitor is essential for anyone who works from home most of the time. Not only is it ergonomically better than hunching over a laptop all day, but the additional screen real estate is invaluable, too. We especially like the Dell UltraSharp U2720Q thanks to its 4K screen resolution, adjustable height stand and array of ports that they can use to charge their laptop as well as other accessories. It comes with an HDMI socket, two USB-C connections, a DisplayPort, a 3.5mm headphone jack and two USB-A ports. One more feature that’s especially useful if they plan on coding: the monitor can rotate 90 degrees so it can be used vertically as well as horizontally. — N.L.

Buy 27-inch UltraSharp U2720Q monitor at Dell – $ 380

Anker PowerCore Slim 10K

A hand gripping a cellphone that's connected to the Anker PowerCore Slim 10K portable power bank via a cable.
Anker

Anyone with a busy schedule can appreciate the convenience of a portable battery pack – you’ll never have to worry about an unexpected dead phone, tablet, pair of earbuds or another essential gadget. One of our favorites is Anker’s PowerCore Slim 10000PD because it has a lightweight design and yet packs a 10,000 mAh battery inside. That’s enough to charge a smartphone up to three times, and it won’t take up too much space in your bag. Plus, we like that it comes with a couple of Anker’s safety features like overcharge protection and temperature control. — N.L.

Buy PowerCore Slim 10K at Amazon – $ 27

Logitech C920S Pro HD

The Logitech C920S Pro webcam atop a monitor.
Logitech

In the age of Zoom calls and Google Meet video conferences, webcams have become essential. Like many of us, graduates have probably relied on their machine's built-in camera until now, but that just won't cut it if you're video conferencing multiple times a day and also care about looking good. An external webcam can make all the difference — our favorite is the Logitech C920s Pro HD webcam, which has 1080P video quality, autofocus capabilities and decent white balance adjustment. It also has a large 78-degree field of view plus a lens cover that will help protect your privacy when it’s not in use. On top of that, it has a solid pair of built-in microphones, and you can adjust settings like autofocus, brightness and contrast via Logitech’s Camera Settings companion app. — N.L.

Buy Logitech C920S Pro HD – $ 70

Microsoft Surface Ergonomic Keyboard

A man sitting at a desk in front of a computer with his hands on the Microsoft Surface Ergonomic Keyboard.
Microsoft

The grad in your life probably wrecked their hands and wrists writing all those term papers on a dinky laptop keyboard, so why not get their working life started off right with something better? The Surface Ergonomic Keyboard is a treat to type on, thanks to its soft but responsive keys and split design that places your hands in a more natural position. The soft Alacantra wrist rest is pretty great too, and it certainly makes this a classy addition to a work area for under $ 100. — K.N.

Buy Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard at Amazon – $ 130

Google Nest Audio

The Google Nest Audio smart speaker sitting on a blue table.
Engadget

When setting up a home office, audio isn’t always first and foremost on your mind. But when it comes time for your grad to start work, they’ll wonder how they lived without it. A Nest Audio is great for setting reminders like when it’s time to do laundry or check the mail, turn on lights remotely when it gets dark and, of course, play music or podcasts as they work. If they’re not into the Google ecosystem, an Amazon Echo is also a great gift with the same capabilities. — K.N.

Buy Nest Audio at B&H – $ 100Buy Echo at Amazon – $ 100

  

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

Meta will limit hiring this year due to slowing revenue growth

Meta is limiting its intake of new employees as part of its efforts to cut costs due to weak revenue forecasts, according to CNBC and Bloomberg. Facebook's parent company is slowing the pace or pausing hiring for most mid-to-senior level positions altogether. It has started putting recruitment on hold, the sources said, after holding off on hiring new entry-level engineers over the past weeks. 

Facebook's latest quarterly earnings results were better than expected, and its daily active users even bounced back a bit from last quarter. However, the company also expects a revenue drop next quarter in part because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Company CFO David Wehner said during the earnings call that Meta "experienced a further deceleration in growth following the start of the Ukraine war due to the loss of revenue in Russia as well as a reduction in advertising demand both within Europe and outside the region." 

In addition, Facebook expects to lose $ 10 billion in revenue due to the changes in Apple's privacy settings on iOS. Apple introduced a new feature earlier this year that limits advertisers' access to the unique IDFA code associated with users' devices. That identifier is what gives companies a way to link a user to their Facebook data and show them targeted ads. Facebook even rolled out a prompt asking users to allow the company to track their activity across websites and apps before the change was implemented in hopes to curb its effects on the company's business.

A Meta spokesperson told the publications:

"We regularly re-evaluate our talent pipeline according to our business needs and in light of the expense guidance given for this earnings period, we are slowing its growth accordingly. However, we will continue to grow our workforce to ensure we focus on long-term impact."

Insider previously reported on leaked internal memos, wherein Wehner said that the hiring freeze will last the rest of the year. It will affect almost every team across the company, which won't be recruiting "engineers, managers and even some director level talent" throughout 2022.

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

Google’s ‘raters’ are pushing for $15 an hour

Part-time employees at RaterLabs — an AI vendor whose only known client is Google — are campaigning to qualify for the $ 15 hourly minimum wage the tech giant promised to its "extended workforce" back in 2019.

Yahoo Financereported that the quality raters whose sole job is evaluating Google’s search and ad results for accuracy don’t qualify for sick leave, PTO or other benefits the company provides for its TVCs (temporary workers, vendors and independent contractors). Google increased base pay following critical reporting of its treatment of TVCs in 2018 — the same year it was revealed the majority of Google's workforce was not directly employed by the company.

A number of RatersLabs employees believe the work they do is vital enough to Google that they should receive the higher pay and benefits of their peers. Christopher Colley, who has worked for the Google vendor since 2017, told Yahoo Finance that he only earns $ 10 an hour, and hasn’t qualified for a raise over the five years he’s worked at RaterLabs. Colley is also part of the Alphabet Workers Union (AWU-CWA), a subgroup of the Communications Workers of America focused on organizing full-time and part-time workers of Alphabet.

“The raters work from home, use their own devices, can work for multiple companies at a time, and do not have access to Google’s systems and/or badges,” a Google spokesperson told Engadget. “As noted on the policy page, the wages and benefits policy applies to Alphabet’s provisioned extended workforce (individuals with systems and/or badge access to Google)."

Among the hurdles workers need to jump in order to qualify for the pay bump afforded to some TVCs is a minimum 30-hour workweek. As AWU-CWA was quick to point out, RaterLabs contractors are capped at only 26 hours.

Employee accounts on RatersLabs’ Indeed profile describe low morale, low pay and an unclear feedback process. “Reviews are monthly, with one bad review potentially costing you the job […] Guidelines can change the week before the review and you can be 'graded' based on them despite doing the work way before," wrote a former RatersLab employee in January 2022. "The job is very flexible, pay is mediocre, and you have no chance for advancement.”

This isn’t the first time that Google’s army of raters have spoken out about low pay, no opportunities for advancement and subpar working conditions. In fact, RatersLabs was formed by the CEO of Leapforce, a company that also hired raters for Google search and ad products. Back in 2017, Leapforce raters spoke out about chaotic working conditions, resulting in at least three contractors being fired, two of whom claimed their separations from the company were acts of retaliation. As Ars Technicanotes, a number of Leapforce workers filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board which were eventually resolved via settlement. Appen — which acquired Leapforce in May of 2017 — is also the parent company of RatersLabs.

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

Xbox creates Instagram-like Stories, but for video games

Microsoft has announced that Xbox fans will now be able to share their gaming moments in the form of Stories on the Xbox app for iOS and Android.
Mobile | Digital Trends

How to adjust ad settings for YouTube

YouTube has expanded its restrictive ad settings to allow account owners to block sensitive product ads for things such as pregnancy, dating, and weight loss.
Mobile | Digital Trends

The lawsuit against Fitbit claims that most of its wearables represent a burn risk

Back in March, we covered Fitbit’s recall of its overheating Ionic smartwatch for which the wearable brand was offering full $ 299 refunds and discounts if buying a replacement. Today brings the news of a new lawsuit that alleges that more than one Fitbit tracker or smartwatch is heating up and causing injuries, with fingers being […]

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10 years on, Google Glass is still a Google I/O high point

Google Glass remains the pinnacle of exciting hardware announcements at Google I/O, and 10 years on we look back at what made it so special.
Mobile | Digital Trends

Blizzard gives sneak peek of new mobile game ‘Warcraft Arclight Rumble’

Warcraft fans can look forward to a new mobile game in 2022. Blizzard today released the trailer for Warcraft Arclight Rumble, a free-to-play, single-player strategy game that is due later this year. The game features collectible Warcraft Minis that players will be able to control in order to defeat evil leaders in the Warcraft universe.

The game’s Google Play store description states that players will have the choice of building armies with five playable families: Alliance, Horde, Beast, Undead and Blackrock. Players can opt for single-player mode or going head-to-head in PvP battles. Arclight Rumble will feature multiple modes, including Conquest, Dungeons, Raids and Co-Op. The game features over 60 Warcraft Minis and characters in total, with the ability to unlock new skills and upgrade the characters as you level up. The game’s website features even more details on the upcoming title, including the option to pre-register for more details (including the release date, which hasn’t been announced yet).

With Activision’s ongoing workplace sexual harassment lawsuits aside, it’s been a mixed couple of years for the Warcraft universe. As PC Gamer notes, the Shadowlands expansion had problems that left some devoted WoW fans in a tizzy. Last month’s trailer on the Dragonlandsexpansion let down some fans too. But a new mobile game offers up a fresh opportunity for fans to get excited about Warcraft again with relatively low stakes. You can watch the trailer for Arclight Rumble below:

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

Paramount+ debuts in the UK and Ireland on June 22nd

ViacomCBS has finally narrowed the timing for some of its international Paramount+ launches. As Varietyreports, Paramount Global announced during an earnings call that the streaming service will arrive in the UK and Ireland on June 22nd. South Korea will also have access sometime in June. You'll have to wait a while longer in other parts of the world, however. Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland will can start watching in the second half of 2022, while people in India will have to wait until 2023.

In the UK, you'll pay £7 per month or £70 per year. Sky Cinema customers will have Paramount+ included at no extra charge.

The expansion will be welcome if you've wanted to watch Halo and other shows that have remained exclusive to Paramount+ so far. However, this won't thrill everyone. Until late last year, ViacomCBS made shows like Star Trek: Discovery available outside of Paramount+ coverage areas through rivals like Netflix. You'll now have to subscribe to yet another service to follow affected shows.

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

Amazon’s Kindle will finally add epub support

It only took about 15 years, but Amazon’s Kindle will finally support the ePub format. First spotted by Good E-Reader, Amazon updated its Kindle section with the news that the Send to Kindle function will convert ePub files to a format that can be opened on the e-reader. The update is scheduled to occur in late 2022.

It’s a change that — at first glance — seems rather minor, but in truth solves a lingering problem in the ebook industry. Amazon’s Kindle Store is a major ebook seller and ePub is the most widely-used ebook format. But up until now, Kindle devices couldn’t read the ePub format. For Kindle owners who’ve had to grapple with manually converting their ebook library to a more Amazon-friendly format with an app like Calibre, this will be a welcome change.

But another upcoming change is that Kindle will finally lose the ability to support MOBI, an older French file format that was Amazon’s proprietary ebook format for a while. Amazon acquired the company Mobipocket in 2005, and subsequently rebranded MOBI to AZW. If you already own ebooks in either format on your Kindle, you can still access them. The update only applies to new ebooks.

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

Google’s latest Pixel 6 and 6 Pro update fixes weak haptic feedback for notifications

Google’s recent Pixel software updates haven’t always landed flawlessly. At the end of last year, for instance, the company was forced to pause the release of an OTA after reports that the software caused the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro to drop calls. More recently, the March update introduced an issue that left the company’s latest phones producing much weaker notifications when you got a notification. Many Pixel 6 and 6 Pro owners complained after Google released the update, noting that no matter what they set their phone’s haptic feedback to, they would miss calls and emails because they couldn’t feel their device vibrating.

On Monday, Google began rolling out the May Pixel software update. It includes a fix for the vibration issue. “Improvements for haptic feedback under certain conditions and uses cases,” the company writes on its community website. The update resolves two other issues that affect all recent Pixels devices. The first involves a bug that had caused those phones to wake their displays without any input. The second solves a problem that could crash the Pixel launcher after you restarted your device. The update also includes the latest Android security patch from Google.

According to Google, it will roll out the May 2022 update to all eligible Pixel devices in the coming weeks. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can attempt to install the software on your phone by manually sideloading it. Just note that flashing a device always comes with a degree of risk.

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

Sony will launch its new Xperia smartphones on May 11th

Sony is still making smartphones and has announced that we can expect new Xperia phones to be announced on May 11th. The video teaser (embedded after the break) doesn’t give too much away but it does show that we can expect to see the Xperia 1 IV to be announced during the launch event. We […]

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Mother’s Day is coming up fast – here are some deals to make you look good this year

If you want to avoid stopping off at the gas station shop to hastily pick up some chocolates and flowers for your Mom this coming Mother’s Day (May 8th), we’ve got some deals for you after the break that will help make her life easier and make you look good too. Whether it’s a new […]

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All the new tech that blew our reviewers away this month

The best tech we reviewed in April 2022 includes OLED TVs, mice, a handheld gaming device, and much more.
Mobile | Digital Trends

Apple orders season two of historical drama ‘Pachinko’

Apple is moving forward with a second season of its critically-acclaimed adaption of Min Jin Lee’s best-selling novel Pachinko. The company announced the renewal shortly before the show’s season one finale premiered this past Friday on Apple TV+.

Published in 2017, Lee’s multi-generational tale won accolades for its portrayal of a Korean family that immigrates to Japan before the outbreak of the Second World War. What’s striking about both the novel and Apple’s drama series is how they effortlessly weave history and the deeply personal stories of their characters together. From Japanese colonialism in Korea to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and later Japan’s economic boom in the 1980s, history has a profound effect on Pachinko’s characters and yet the story always feels intimate.

Friday’s season one finale pulled from a scene that occurs about a third through Lee’s approximately 500-page novel, so there’s plenty of story left for Apple’s TV+ series to adapt. The company didn’t say when season two will begin filming or when it plans to stream the new episodes. All of that just means you have time to catch up on Pachinko if you’ve been sleeping on it.

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

Apple’s second-generation AirPods are back down to $100

If you missed the chance to buy Apple’s second-generation AirPods when they were $ 100 a few weeks ago, Amazon has once again discounted them to that price. While we think most people are better off purchasing the third-generation AirPods or AirPods Pro due to their more comfortable fit, Apple’s older Bluetooth earbuds still have a lot to offer to iPhone owners. Like their more expensive siblings, the second-generation AirPods come with Apple’s H1 wireless chipset, meaning they include features like hands-free Siri and seamless pairing with the company’s other devices.

Buy Apple AirPods at Amazon – $ 100Buy Beats Studio Buds at Amazon – $ 99.95Buy Apple AirPods Pro at Amazon – $ 175

Amazon has also discounted the Beats Studio Buds. At the moment, they’re $ 50 off, making them $ 99.95. If you don’t mind the design of Beats products, they’re a better purchase than the second-generation AirPods. The Studio Buds come with active noise cancellation and IPX4-certified protection against sweat and moisture, two features you won’t find on Apple’s most affordable AirPods. They also feature a customizable fit with interchangeable silicone ear tips. The only thing you won’t find on the Studio Buds is Apple’s H1 chip, but they still come with one-touch pairing and hands-free Siri support.

Lastly, we’ll note Amazon is still selling the AirPods Pro for $ 175. While they’re a few years old now, the AirPods Pro remain among the best Bluetooth earbuds you can pair with an iPhone. We like them because they feature a customizable fit, IPX4 protection against sweat and active noise cancellation.

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

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

All these outlandish battery life claims are getting silly

The increasingly wild claims made about the battery life to expect from our phones, smartwatches and other devices are getting out of hand.
Mobile | Digital Trends

What is 5G? Speeds, coverage, comparisons, and more

It has been years in the making, but 5G has finally become a reality. Although 5G coverage is still limited, expect to see it expand in the U.S. from now on.
Mobile | Digital Trends

Why the moon needs a space traffic control system

As interest in lunar exploration ramps up across the globe, scientists think we need a space traffic control system to avoid collisions and complications.
Emerging Tech | Digital Trends

Google Pixel 6a: Release date, price, leaks, and more

Google is working on its next cheap Pixel, the Pixel 6a. Here’s everything we know so far about the Pixel 6’s cheaper sibling.
Mobile | Digital Trends

CWA accuses Activision of threatening employees for discussing work conditions

The union working to organize Activision Blizzard workers — the Communications Workers of America — filed a complaint today with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), accusing the video game company of forbidding workers from discussing ongoing sexual and workplace harassment lawsuits. This isn’t the first time Activision has been accused of shutting down workplace dissent. Last September, CWA accused Activision of union-busting and intimidating workers who engaged in walkouts and other protests.

CWA filed its latest complaint after an incident in which an Activision worker posted a link to an article on their departmental Slack channel about an ongoing California Department of Fair Housing and Employment lawsuit against the company. The union shared no details about whether the worker was fired or reprimanded. Engadget has reached out to CWA for more information about the incident and will update when we hear back. Under federal law, employees have the right to discuss matters relating to wages, hours and working conditions.

Former Blizzard test analyst Jessica Gonzalez said Activision used “similar tactics” during her time at the company after she spoke out about workplace sexual harassment. “It is unfortunate that Activision continues to take the low road, but my hope is that everyone in the video game community understands how having a union on the job can encourage a workplace free from harassment and discrimination, which translates to better video games,” said Gonzalez in a statement.

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

Jack Dorsey: ‘Nothing that is said now matters’

Jack Dorsey is at it again. The twitter co-founder shared another rambling tweetstorm, in which he mused about Twitter’s shortcomings, user trust and whether or not the platform should be permanently banning users.

The comments come on the heels of a turbulent week for Twitter, which is facing uncertainty about what will happen to its platform with Elon Musk at the helm. But if people were hoping Dorsey could add some clarity to the discussion, they’ll likely be disappointed.

“Every decision we made was ultimately my responsibility,” he said. “In the cases we were wrong or went too far, we admitted it and worked to correct.”

The comments may have been an oblique reference to Elon Musk’s earlier tweets targeting a top Twitter policy official, but he didn’t directly address the situation. Instead, he shared some vague thoughts about what Twitter should do to fix itself.

“Some things can be fixed immediately, and others require rethinking and reimplementing the entire system,” he said. “A transparent system, both in policy and operations, is the right way to earn trust. Whether it’s owned by a company or an open protocol doesn’t matter _as much as_ deliberately deciding to be open about every decision and why it was made.”

Dorsey also seemed frustrated by what current CEO Parag Agrawal has referred to as “noise” about what’s happening to the company. “Doing this work means you’re in the arena,” Dorsey tweeted. “Nothing that is said now matters. What matters is how the service works and acts, and how quickly it learns and improves. My biggest failing was that quickness part. I’m confident that part at least is being addressed, and will be fixed.”

Dorsey added that it’s “crazy and wrong” that “individuals or companies bear this responsibility,” in an apparent reference to past unpopular decisions. “I don’t believe any permanent ban (with the exception of illegal activity) is right, or should be possible. This is why we need a protocol that’s resilient to the layers above.”

Musk’s buyout has rocked Twitter, a company whose own executives have told employees they are unsure what direction Musk will take the platform. Musk, who has said he has “no confidence” in the company’s current leadership, has suggested that he would drastically scale back the company’s existing content moderation policies and, potentially, its staff.

Whether Musk has Dorsey’s backing has been a major source of speculation. Dorsey said earlier in the week that “Elon is the singular solution I trust,” and said that his buyout is getting the company out of an “impossible” situation in which it is tied to an ad-based revenue model. Both Dorsey and former Facebook board member Peter Thiel reportedly encouraged Musk to take Twitter private, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Musk has reportedly floated the idea of charging organizations to embed tweets on other websites, and ramping up Twitter’s subscription product Twitter Blue. He also reportedly wants to replace Agrawal with an executive of his own choosing, Reutersreported Friday.

Dorsey’s comments are also notable for what he didn’t say. He didn’t mention Musk by name, and he didn’t defend Twitter’s employees, though he said “the company has always tried to do its best given the information it had.”

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

Salesforce and Slack will loosen NDA restrictions for all US employees

Salesforce says it will loosen non-disclosure agreements for all of its employees in the US, including those at subsidiary Slack. The company was required to do so for workers in California under the state's Silenced No More Act, though it will extend the measures to workers across the country.

The law gives employees more freedom to discuss instances of workplace harassment and discrimination even if they have signed NDAs. It took effect on January 1st. Salesforce says it will extend the protections to all US employees by the end of this year. "Our employees are key stakeholders, and it’s critical that we offer them the support to ensure they’re happy, healthy and protected," the company wrote in a blog post.

A group called the Transparency in Employment Agreements Coalition has been using shareholder proposals to pressure the likes of Salesforce, Meta, Alphabet and Apple to extend Silenced No More protections to all employees, as Protocol notes.

Alphabet affirmed in an SEC filing this month that even if they had signed NDAs, employees are free to discuss workplace assault, harassment or discrimination as well as any retaliation for reporting or opposing those. Before the law came into effect, Pinterest said it would not enforce NDAs in cases of racial and gender-based discrimination.

In a proxy statement in January, Apple said that "employees are permitted to speak openly about unlawful acts in the workplace, including harassment and discrimination." For that and other reasons, it urged shareholders to vote against a proposal that would require the company to prepare and publish a report that examines the possible risk to the company related to "concealment clauses in the context of harassment, discrimination and other unlawful acts." However, shareholders approved that proposal at a meeting in March. Meanwhile, the SEC is reportedly investigating Apple's use of NDAs following a complaint by a whistleblower.

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

Services shine in Apple’s record March quarter

Apple has reported its best financial figures for the March quarter, raking in a colossal $ 97.3 billion for the three-month period ending March 26.
Mobile | Digital Trends

Airbnb adopts permanent remote work option for employees

Some companies have started requiring their employees to come into the office a few times a week now that most people have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Airbnb isn't one them. Company CEO Brian Chesky has informed employees in a letter that they have the option to work remotely forever. A "small number of roles" will be required to work in the office, but the majority of Airbnb employees don't have to come in if they don't want to. 

Chesky wrote:

"We want to hire and retain the best people in the world (like you). If we limited our talent pool to a commuting radius around our offices, we would be at a significant disadvantage. The best people live everywhere, not concentrated in one area. And by recruiting from a diverse set of communities, we will become a more diverse company. "

The CEO said that Airbnb had recovered quickly from the pandemic thanks to people booking listings to work remotely, proving that the world is now more open to flexible work arrangements. Apparently, in the second half of 2021, 20 percent of the nights booked on its website were for stays of longer than a month. 

Airbnb will pay employees the same salary wherever it is in their country they choose to work. It will implement pay tiers by country for both salary and equity starting in June, so those getting paid less based on their location could soon be earning more. International moves are much more complex, however, and the company said it won't be able to support employees who decide to live in another country this year.

That said, it will allow people to work in 170 countries for up to 90 days each starting in September. While employees still have to secure their own work authorization, the company is partnering with local governments to make the process easier. 

In comparison, Google and Apple employees are making a gradual return to office and are now required to work a few days a week on site as part of a hybrid work plan. Twitter opened some of its offices in late 2021 but also told employees that they can permanently work from home.

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

Twitter now lets you pin DMs, and here’s how to do it

Twitter has rolled out a new feature for iOS, Android, and web that lets you pin as many as six DMs to the top of your inbox.
Android | Digital Trends