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Locast suspends local TV streaming service in wake of court ruling

By Darrell Etherington

Local TV streaming service Locast has closed up shop, at least for the time being. It suspended operations following a ruling on Tuesday that it couldn’t use its non-profit status as a legal shield. Networks have claimed that Locast violated their copyright.

“We are suspending operations, effective immediately,” Locast wrote in an email to users. “As a non-profit, Locast was designed from the very beginning to operate in accordance with the strict letter of the law, but in response to the court’s recent rulings, with which we respectfully disagree, we are hereby suspending operations, effective immediately.”

Locast argued that it was acting as a booster for local signals, which third parties are allowed to do under US copyright law, to help people who can’t pick up a signal with an antenna to watch local TV. However, CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox (which were reportedly backed by AT&T and Dish Network) felt that Locast was dodging carriage fees.

The court also took issue with the $5/month payments Locast took from users to ostensibly cover running costs. A judge said Locast was using those funds to expand into more markets and that it was bringing in “far more money from user charges than was necessary.”

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

Tesla ordered to share Autopilot data with the US traffic safety agency

By Darrell Etherington
Mariella Moon Contributor
Mariella Moon is an associate editor at Engadget.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has ordered Tesla to hand over detailed Autopilot data by October 22nd or else face fines of up to $115 million, according to The New York Times. Back in August, NHTSA announced that it’s investigating incidents wherein Tesla vehicles with Autopilot activated crashed into parked first responder vehicles with flashing lights. The agency originally cited 11 such crashes, which resulted in 17 injuries and one death since 2018, but a 12th incident occurred just this Saturday.

In a letter it sent the automaker, the NHTSA told Tesla to produce detailed information on how the driver assistance system works. It wants to know how it ensures that human drivers will keep their eyes on the road while Autopilot is engaged and whether there are limits on where it can be used. Feds have long criticized Tesla for not having the safeguards to make sure human drivers are keeping their hands on the wheel. A few months ago, the company finally activated the camera mounted above the rear view mirror in Model 3 and Model Y vehicles to “detect and alert driver inattentiveness while Autopilot is engaged.” In addition, Autopilot is only meant for use on highways, but there’s nothing keeping drivers from using it on local roads.

In addition to detailed Autopilot data, the NHTSA is also asking for information on how many cars Tesla has sold in the US. It wants to know every Autopilot-related arbitration proceeding or lawsuit the company has been involved in, along with all the complaints Tesla has received about the driver assistance technology from customers.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

Elon Musk warns the Tesla Roadster might not ship until at least 2023

By Darrell Etherington
Igor Bonifacic Contributor
Igor Bonifacic is a contributing writer at Engadget.

Add the Roadster to the list of delayed Tesla vehicles. On Wednesday, CEO Elon Musk said the performance EV wouldn’t make its previously announced 2022 shipment date. “2021 has been the year of super crazy supply chain shortages, so it wouldn’t matter if we had 17 new products, as none would ship,” he said in a tweet spotted by Roadshow. The executive added the Roadster should ship in 2023, “assuming 2022 is not mega drama.”

Can we have an update on the Roadster now that plaid with tri motors is out.

— Aaron (@AaronS5_) September 1, 2021

Tesla first announced its next-generation Roadster in 2017. Back then, the company expected to debut the car sometime last year. 2020 came and went without Tesla sharing much information on the supercar. Then, at the start of the year, Musk said production on the Roadster would start in 2022. Whether the car will make its new date is a big if. The global chip shortage that delayed the Tesla Semi is expected to continue until 2023, and Musk’s tweet hints at the possibility of further delays.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

FAA opens probe into anomaly on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceflight

By Darrell Etherington
Mariella Moon Contributor
Mariella Moon is an associate editor at Engadget.

The Federal Aviation Administration is looking into an anomaly on the Virgin Galactic flight that carried Richard Branson to space. In a piece discussing not just that particular flight but the company’s various safety issues throughout the years, The New Yorker explained that Virgin’s spacecraft went off-course during descent, triggering an “entry glide-cone warning.” The spacecraft uses the glide cone method, which mimics water circling down the drain, for landing. Apparently, the pilots for the mission didn’t fly as steeply as they should have, causing the system to raise the alarm.

An FAA spokesperson confirmed to Reuters that the vehicle “deviated from its Air Traffic Control clearance as it returned to Spaceport America” and it’s investigating the incident. The agency gives missions to space a designated airspace they can fly in to prevent collisions with commercial planes and to minimize civilian casualties in the event of an accident. Virgin’s Unity 22 mission flew out of that designated airspace for a minute and forty-one seconds before the pilots were able to correct course.

Nicholas Schmidle, author of The New Yorker piece, said he attended a meeting a few years ago, wherein the same pilots on the Unity 22 flight said a red light entry glide-cone warning should “scare the shit out of you.” Apparently, that means it’s too late, and that the safest course of action is to abort. In a statement it published after the article went out, though, Virgin Galactic said it “disputes the misleading characterizations and conclusions” in the piece and that the people on the flight weren’t in any danger as a result of the flight deviation. The company said:

“When the vehicle encountered high altitude winds which changed the trajectory, the pilots and systems monitored the trajectory to ensure it remained within mission parameters. Our pilots responded appropriately to these changing flight conditions exactly as they were trained and in strict accordance with our established procedures. Although the flights ultimate trajectory deviated from our initial plan, it was a controlled and intentional flight path that allowed Unity 22 to successfully reach space and land safely at our Spaceport in New Mexico. At no time were passengers and crew put in any danger as a result of this change in trajectory.”

It also said that the spacecraft did not fly outside of the lateral confines of the mission’s protected airspace, though it did drop below the altitude of the airspace it was provided. The company added that it’s “working in partnership with the FAA to address the airspace for future flights.”

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

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Waymo will stop selling its self-driving LiDAR sensors to other companies

By Darrell Etherington

Just months after a CEO shakeup, Waymo is officially halting sales of its custom sensors to third parties. The move sees the Alphabet-owned self-driving company unwinding a business operation just two years into its lifespan. Waymo confirmed the decision to Reuters, adding that it’s now focusing on deploying its Waymo Driver tech across its Waymo One ride-hailing and Waymo Via trucking divisions.

The decision comes in the wake of long-term CEO John Krafcik’s departure, who was replaced at the helm by Waymo execs Tekedra Mawakana and Dmitri Dolgov. Some suggested that Krafcik’s deliberate approach was hindering the company’s push toward commercialization. Earlier this month, Waymo hit a milestone of 20 billion miles driven in simulations, with 20 million on public roads. Just days ago, it brought its robotaxis to vetted riders in San Francisco.

Waymo began selling LiDARs — the tech that measures distance with pulses of laser light — to companies barring its autonomous vehicle rivals in 2019. It initially planned to sell its short-range sensor (known as Laser Bear Honeycomb) to businesses in the robotics, security and agricultural technology sectors. A form on its website also lists drones, mapping and entertainment as applicable industries.

Waymo’s fifth-generation Driver technology uses an array of sensors — including radar, lidar, and cameras — to help its cars “see” 360 degrees during the day and night, and even in tough weather conditions such as rain or fog. While its simulated and real world driving tests have helped it to amass a massive dataset that is crunched using machine learning-based software. According to anonymous sources cited by Reuters, Waymo intends to use in-house tech and external suppliers for its next-gen LiDARs.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

Tesla’s redesigned iPhone app features two new home screen widgets

By Darrell Etherington

Tesla is rolling out a major update for its iOS smartphone app with new controls, improved management and cool visuals. Version 4.0 also gives you the choice between two different sized widgets for your iPhone home screen. As detailed by Tesla Software Updates, both feature the same information: the name of the car, battery percentage, location (or charging info), unlock status, an image of the vehicle and the time the information was last updated. Tesla previously had a “Today” extension for iOS that was nowhere near as comprehensive as the new widgets.

In terms of controls, you can send commands to your car immediately upon opening the app, instead of waiting for the vehicle to wake up. There’s also enhanced phone key support that essentially lets you unlock multiple Teslas.

An updated visual that should be immediately noticeable is the new 3D vehicle render. There are also new animations when you charge your car and in the climate and controls sections. Design-wise, Tesla has ditched the charging section and now displays that info when your car is plugged in. You can also view Supercharging history from within the app. While the speed limit, valet mode and sentry mode settings have been moved to a new category titled Security, which includes tips on how to use the Bluetooth, phone key and location services.

To sum up, this is the biggest update to the EV maker’s iOS app in a while. Recently, Tesla has mainly focused on providing bug fixes and improvements, outside of the introduction of Virtual Power Plant enrolment in July.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

YouTube has removed 1 million videos for dangerous COVID-19 misinformation

By Darrell Etherington
Karissa Bell Contributor
Karissa Bell is a Senior Editor at Engadget

YouTube has removed 1 million videos for dangerous COVID-19 misinformation since February 2020, according to YouTube’s Chief Product Officer Neal Mahon.

Mahon shared the statistic in a blog post outlining how the company approaches misinformation on its platform. “Misinformation has moved from the marginal to the mainstream,” he wrote. “No longer contained to the sealed-off worlds of Holocaust deniers or 9-11 truthers, it now stretches into every facet of society, sometimes tearing through communities with blistering speed.”

At the same time, the Youtube executive argued that “bad content” accounts for only a small percentage of YouTube content overall. “Bad content represents only a tiny percentage of the billions of videos on YouTube (about .16-.18% of total views turn out to be content that violates our policies),” Mahon wrote. He added that YouTube removes almost 10 million videos each quarter, “the majority of which don’t even reach 10 views.”

Facebook recently made a similar argument about content on its platform. The social network published a report last week that claimed that the most popular posts are memes and other non-political content. And, faced with criticism over its handling of COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation, the company has argued that vaccine misinformation isn’t representative of the kind of content most users see.

Both Facebook and YouTube have come under particular scrutiny for their policies around health misinformation during the pandemic. Both platforms have well over a billion users, which means that even a small fraction of content can have a far-reaching impact. And both platforms have so far declined to disclose details about how vaccine and health misinformation spreads or how many users are encountering it. Mahon also said that removing misinformation is only one aspect of the company’s approach. YouTube is also working on “ratcheting up information from trusted sources and reducing the spread of videos with harmful misinformation.”

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

You can now buy the $299 Oculus Quest 2 with 128GB of storage

By Darrell Etherington

Following its announcement late last month, Facebook’s new 128GB model of the Oculus Quest 2 is now available to buy. You can purchase the VR headset from the company’s website for the same $299 price as the previous 64GB base model. “Long story short? We’ve created this 128GB model so that players can easily store and access more games and apps on a single device,” Facebook says of the new variant.

Facebook announced the 128GB model at the same time it issued a voluntary recall of the Quest 2 to address an issue with the original face insert that came with the headset. The company temporarily stopped selling the Quest 2 for about a month so that it could add a new silicone face cover inside the box of each new unit. If you’re a current Quest 2 owner, you can request Facebook send you the new silicone cover by visiting the My Devices section of the account settings. The new 128GB model also comes with the silicone cover inside the box.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

Microsoft will bring cloud gaming to Xbox consoles this holiday season

By Darrell Etherington

Microsoft is moving into the next phase of its plan to bring Xbox Cloud Gaming to as many devices as possible, and it’s one of the most important steps yet. Starting this holiday season, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers will have access to cloud gaming on Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One consoles.

The company, which made the announcement during its Gamescom showcase, said you’ll be able to fire up more than 100 games without having to download them first. At some point in the future, Xbox One owners can play some Series X/S games through the cloud, such as Microsoft Flight Simulator. You’ll know a title is cloud gaming-compatible if you see a cloud icon next to it in the Game Pass library. Microsoft is targeting 1080p gameplay at 60 frames per second.

Xbox Cloud Gaming is already available on phones, tablets and PC. Microsoft is also working on Xbox game streaming sticks as well as a smart TV cloud gaming app. This summer, the company started transitioning cloud gaming onto beefier Xbox Series X hardware after launching the service on Xbox One S-based blade servers.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

Netflix’s live-action ‘Cowboy Bebop’ series arrives on November 19th

By Darrell Etherington

Netflix’s live-action adaptation of classic anime Cowboy Bebop has been a long time coming, and the show finally has a release date. The 10-episode first season will start streaming on November 19th.

Although Netflix hasn’t posted a trailer just yet, it provided a first proper look at Cowboy Bebop in a bunch of photos. The images show John Cho (Spike Spiegel), Mustafa Shakir (Jet Black) and Daniella Pineda (Faye Valentine) in character, as well as an adorable corgi.

See You Space Cowboy.

Meet Spike Spiegel (John Cho), Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir), and Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda) in Cowboy Bebop. Premiering November 19 pic.twitter.com/7vRtZvYjYM

— Netflix (@netflix) August 23, 2021

Live-action adaptations of anime haven’t typically been well-received (here’s looking at you, Ghost in the Shell). There’s pressure on Netflix to get this take on Cowboy Bebop right, but things are looking promising. The core cast looks great in the first batch of images, while some key creatives from the 1998 anime are involved. Legendary composer Yoko Kanno returns, while original director Shinichirō Watanabe consulted on the Netflix show.

Production started in 2019 but it was paused for eight months after Cho sustained a knee injury on the set. Filming eventually wrapped in March.

Cowboy Bebop
Netflix
Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

Peloton’s Android app hints at long-rumored rowing machine

By Darrell Etherington

Conducting an APK teardown of the latest version of the Peloton Android app, 9to5Google found evidence the company is preparing the software to support a rowing machine in the near future. The outlet found various code snippets that mentioned a device codenamed “Caesar” and “Mazu.” The latter is a reference to a Chinese sea goddess. Like the company’s stationary bike, it appears the rowing machine will include a “scenic rides” feature that will showcase waterways from around the globe. And if you want to just row, that will be an option too.

Another set of snippets reference the four positions of a proper rowing technique. “This is the drive position of your stroke,” the app explains. “Sit tall on the rower with your arms straight and your back upright. Your knees should be just above the ankles.” Digging deeper into the updated software, 9to5 also found code suggesting the app will track metrics like your average and max stroke rates.

A rowing machine is something Peloton has been rumored to be working for a while now, with a recent job listing mentioning the device. We’ve reached out to Peloton for confirmation, but we’ll note here what we say with all APK teardowns: the fact there’s code pointing to a new hardware release doesn’t mean a company will follow through on that work or that a launch is imminent.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

Waze with ‘PAW Patrol’ voices sounds like a chill car ride

By Darrell Etherington
Jon Fingas Contributor
Jon Fingas is a contributing writer at Engadget.

Waze might have a way to keep your kids entertained during a drive without handing them a tablet: distract them with your navigation app. The company has added a PAW Patrol experience to Waze that has the TV show’s Ryder guide you to your destination with help from Chase, Marshall and Skye. You can also switch your Waze Mood to replace the usual icon with Chase’s police car, Marshall’s fire truck or Skye’s aircraft.

The feature is available for a “limited time” to English users through the My Waze section in the app. It’s available on both Android and iOS.

This is a not-so-subtle plug for the upcoming PAW Patrol movie, but it could be helpful for keeping your young ones engaged. It might even encourage them to take an interest in the drive and the world outside the car window. Of course, it’s also easy to see this going very badly — the last thing you want is to have your kids shouting at the phone while you’re listening for directions. This might be best for children who tend to watch the show in raptured silence.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

Lamborghini’s Countach LPI 800-4 is an 802-horsepower hybrid supercar

By Henry Pickavet
Igor Bonifacic Contributor
Igor Bonifacic is a contributing writer at Engadget.

After all the leaks and teases, Lamborghini has finally announced its new hybrid-engine Countach.

Thankfully, almost everything you need to know about the car is in its model designation: LPI 800-4.

The first part is short for Longitudinale Posteriore Ibrido, referencing how the powertrain is mounted lengthwise toward the back of the supercar and the fact that it’s a hybrid.

Meanwhile, the two numbers point to the approximately 802 horsepower the Countach’s V12 6.5-liter engine and 48-volt electric motor can output together, as well as the fact that it has four-wheel drive.

Countach LPI 800-4

Lamborghini

All of that makes for one powerful car. The Countach can accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than three seconds and zero to 124 miles per hour in just under nine seconds. As for a top speed, you can push it to 221 miles per hour, and it has a maximum torque of 531 lb-ft.  

Lamborghini interior

Lamborghini

Powering the Countach’s electric motor is a supercapacitor Lamborghini claims delivers three times more power compared to a lithium-ion battery of the same weight. The automaker says it mounted the electric motor directly to the gearbox to preserve the feeling of power transfer you get from a V12 engine.

Carbon fiber makes up most of the chassis and exterior of the Countach LPI 800-4. “It imagines how the iconic Countach of the 70s and 80s might have evolved into an elite super sports model of this decade,” Lamborghini says of the design, which is more reminiscent of the Aventador than its original namesake. Inside, you’ll find an 8.4-inch touchscreen display that includes CarPlay integration and a button labeled “Stile.” Pressing it “explains the Countach design philosophy to its privileged audience.”

Countach LPI 800-4

Speaking of a privileged audience, Lamborghini will only make 112 units of the Countach LPI 800-4. The press release the automaker sent over doesn’t even mention a price tag. It seems Lamborghini is keen on looking forward, but the Countach was too important not to acknowledge with a limited run.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

Foxconn plans to build EV factories in the US and Thailand in 2022

By Darrell Etherington

Foxconn is getting more serious about its electric vehicle ambitions. The company told investors during an earnings call that it plans to build EV factories in the US and Thailand in 2022 and start mass producing vehicles the following year. Chairman Liu Young-way said the company is also in talks regarding possible locations for plants in Europe.

At its US facility, Foxconn will build vehicles for EV clients including Fisker. The companies signed a deal in May, and Foxconn plans to start making Fisker EVs by the end of 2023. The two are jointly investing in the Project Pear vehicle and will share revenue from it.

Foxconn is in discussions with three states, including Wisconsin, for the EV plant, according to Nikkei. Earlier this year, Foxconn drastically scaled back plans for its existing facility in Wisconsin. Liu has also suggested Foxconn may build EVs at the controversial plant.

The planned Thai factory will form part of Foxconn’s joint venture with oil and gas conglomerate PTT. The two are working on a platform for EV and component production. Liu said Foxconn plans to build up to 200,000 EVs at that plant each year.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

Apple drops its lawsuit against maker of iPhone emulation software

By Darrell Etherington
Steve Dent Contributor
Steve Dent is an associate editor at Engadget.

Apple has settled its 2019 lawsuit with Corellium, a company that builds virtual iOS devices used by security researchers to find bugs in iPhones and other iOS devices, the Washington Post has reported. The terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed, but the agreement comes after Apple suffered a major court loss in the dispute in late 2020.

Corellium’s software allows users to run virtual iPhones on a computer browser, giving them deep access to iOS without the need for a physical device. In addition to accusing Corellium of infringing on its copyright, Apple said the company was selling its product indiscriminately, thereby compromising the platform’s security.

Specifically, Apple accused the company of selling its products to governments that could have probed its products for flaws. When he was employed by another company, Corellium co-founder David Wang helped the FBI unlock an iPhone used by a terrorist responsible for the San Bernardino attacks. 

However, a judge dismissed the copyright claims, calling them “puzzling, if not disingenuous.” He wrote in his ruling that “the Court finds that Corellium has met its burden of establishing fair use,” adding that its use of iOS in that context was permissible.

Corellium started offering its platform to individual subscribers earlier this year, after previously only making it available to enterprise users. Each request for access is vetted individually so that it won’t fall into the wrong hands for malicious purposes, according to the company.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

A Tesla Megapack caught fire at the Victorian Big Battery facility in Australia

By Darrell Etherington
Saqib Shah Contributor
Saqib Shah is a contributing writer at Engadget.

A 13-tonne Tesla Megapack caught fire on Friday morning at a battery storage facility in south-east Australia. The blaze occurred during testing at between 10 and 10.15am local time, according to Victorian Big Battery. The regional fire service said a specialist fire crew had been dispatched to the site in Geelong, Victoria. Firefighters were using a hazmat appliance designed for hazardous chemical spills and specialist drones to conduct atmospheric monitoring, according to Fire Rescue Victoria.

The site was evacuated and there were no injuries, Victorian Big Battery said in a statement. It added that the site had been disconnected from the power grid and that there will be no impact to the electric supply. French energy company Neoen, which operates the facility, and contractor Tesla are working with emergency services to manage the situation.

As a result of the fire, a warning for toxic smoke has been issued in the nearby Batesford, Bell Post Hill, Lovely Banks and Moorabool areas, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. Residents were warned to move indoors, close windows, vents and fireplace flues and bring their pets inside.

The Victorian Big Battery site, a 300 MW/450 MWh battery storage facility, is viewed as key to the Victorian government’s 50 percent renewable energy target by 2030. It follows the success of Neoen and Tesla’s 100 MW/129 MWh battery farm in Hornsdale in South Australia, which was completed ahead of schedule and has resulted in multi-million dollar savings for market players and consumers. Both sites essentially provide a regional power backup for when renewable energy is not available, effectively filling the gap when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.

In February, Neoen announced that the Victorian Big Battery would utliize Tesla’s megapacks — utility-sized batteries produced at the company’s Gigafactory — and Autobidder software to sell power to the grid. Victorian Big Battery has a contract with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). As part of the pact, the site will provide energy stability by unlocking an additional 250 MW of peak capacity on the existing Victoria to New South Wales Interconnector over the next decade of Australian summers.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

Uber will offer free Rosetta Stone language courses to drivers

By Darrell Etherington
Jon Fingas Contributor
Jon Fingas is a contributing writer at Engadget.

Uber wants to overcome the language barriers you’ll sometimes encounter when hailing a ride. The Verge says Uber has partnered with Rosetta Stone to offer free language lessons through its Driver app. Both Uber and Uber Eats drivers can use the feature to learn any of Rosetta Stone’s 24 languages. They’ll even get material tailored to common ridesharing scenarios.

Drivers will need to have reached Gold, Platinum or Diamond status through the Uber Pro program in a qualifying country (including large parts of the Americas, the UK, India and Spain).

The courses arrive alongside another career initiative. Drivers in some countries (including many of those from the Rosetta program) can request an achievements letter that will help them with job applications.

Uber wasn’t shy about the official rationale for both moves. Many of its drivers are either immigrants (and less likely to be familiar with local languages) or see languages and rideshare work as key to expanding their opportunities. Uber is aware that driving for the company might just be a “temporary stop” on a career path — this gives workers a better chance to move upward.

There are practical incentives for Uber. The more languages its drivers speak, the more likely those drivers are to get favorable ratings and encourage repeat business. The career incentives could also encourage more drivers to sign up for Uber in the first place, even if they ultimately spend less time in the role.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

Old Amazon Kindle devices will soon lose 3G access

By Darrell Etherington
Mariella Moon Contributor
Mariella Moon is an associate editor at Engadget.

If you have an older Amazon Kindle with 3G internet, take note that you may not be able to wirelessly access and download new content anymore starting in December. As The Verge reports, Amazon has sent out emails to owners with old Kindles, telling them that previous-generation devices will lose internet access after mobile operators transition from 2G and 3G networks to 4G and 5G.

The e-commerce giant listed the particular devices that will be affected by the switch in its FAQ page. It noted that the first- and second-generation Kindles, as well as the Kindle DX, won’t be able to connect to the internet at all since they don’t have WiFi connectivity to fall back on. The other devices in the list are the Kindle Keyboard (3rd Generation), Kindle Touch (4th Generation), Kindle Paperwhite (5th, 6th and 7th Generation), Kindle Voyage (7th Generation) and Kindle Oasis (8th Generation), all of which have WiFi connection.

You’ll still be able to access your books on an older device and can do wired transfers if you want, though. And if you have a newer 4G or WiFi-only Kindle, you won’t be affected at all. In its email, Amazon included a code customers can use to get $50 off a new Kindle Paperwhite or Oasis, along with $15 in eBook credits. You may want to check your inbox to see if you got the company’s notice in case you’ve been looking to upgrade anyway.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

Netflix says its gaming push will begin with mobile

By Darrell Etherington
Billy Steele Contributor
Billy Steele is a Senior News Editor at Engadget.

A report last week hinted at some of Netflix’s gaming ambitions. In its Q2 2021 earnings report, the company confirmed some things. First, Netflix says it “will be primarily focused” on mobile at first, looking to expand on its interactivity projects like Black Mirror Bandersnatch and its Stranger Things games. The upcoming titles will be available at no additional cost as part of your subscription and the company was clear it will keep up the pace on movies and television.

“We view gaming as another new content category for us, similar to our expansion into original films, animation and unscripted TV,” the company said in a letter to its shareholders.

2020 was a big year for Netflix. With everyone stuck at home and movie theaters closed, the streaming service attracted 16 million new customers in three months. As expected, in 2021 that pace has dramatically slowed and the new customer numbers continue to be a struggle. In its earnings report, the company says it added 1.5 million subscribers in Q2, which was actually a bit better than its forecast mark of one million. However, that’s lower than Q1 2021, which saw the company tack on 3.98 new customers globally.

Netflix says it forecasts new customer additions to hit 3.5 million in Q3 2021, up from 2.2 million during the same three-month a year ago. If it does so, the company explains that would bring the total new subscriber tally to 54 million over the last two years. The pace may have slowed for Netflix, but overall it’s doing just fine. Revenue was still up 19 percent year-over-year at $7.3 billion for the quarter.

According to Netflix’s own numbers, Shadow and Bone was a popular series this quarter, streaming to over 55 million “member households” in less than a month. The show has already been renewed for a second season based on those numbers. Sweet Tooth, a series based on a DC comic, was streamed by 60 million households the first month it was available. Unscripted series like Too Hot to Handle and The Circle were popular selections as well, as was true crime docuseries The Sons of Sam. In terms of movies, Zac Snyder’s Army of the Dead hit 75 million households in the first month. Netflix also explained that The Mitchells vs. The Machines is now its biggest animated film to date, streaming to 53 million households.

Netflix says COVID-related production delays led to a “lighter” first half of 2021 in terms of content, but the pace will pick up throughout the rest of the year. The company’s Q3 lineup includes new seasons of La Casa de Papel (Money Heist), Sex Education, Virgin River and Never Have I Ever in addition to live action films like Sweet Girl (Jason Momoa), Kissing Booth 3 and Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Plus, there’s the animated film Vivo, which will feature new music from Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

CNN+ streaming service will offer live and on-demand content in early 2022

By Darrell Etherington
Jon Fingas Contributor
Jon Fingas is a contributing writer at Engadget.

The rumors of a CNN streaming service were true. The network has unveiled a CNN+ service that will offer a blend of live and on-demand shows that are “separate and distinct” from existing TV coverage. It will debut sometime in the first quarter of 2022. CNN hasn’t narrowed down the price, but lead executive Andrew Morse told Variety in an interview that there wouldn’t be an ad-supported tier at launch.

The centerpiece, as you’d expect, will be the live material. CNN+ plans to offer eight to 12 hours of in-depth topical coverage and “lifestyle” material every day, with both veterans and newcomers at the helm. You’ll also have chances to interact with anchors and experts in real-time discussions. This won’t be a digital replica of CNN’s usual news, then, but you may have reasons to tune in every day.

The on-demand catalog unsurprisingly taps into CNN’s existing collection, including shows like Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown and United Shades of America. There will be original shows and movies for the internet service, although CNN+ won’t reveal those until later in 2021.

Officially, Morse said CNN+ wouldn’t be bundled or otherwise tie into HBO Max despite the WarnerMedia connection. Variety sources, however, claimed there was a “strong probability” the service would be bundled with HBO Max and Discovery+ after WarnerMedia and Discovery finalize their merger.

Morse considered the CNN+ launch the largest the network has had since it started TV service in June 1980. It was also a chance to experiment with formats that blur distinctions between entertainment and news, the executive added.

The question, of course, is whether or not viewers will bite. CNN has had success with long-form content like the late Anthony Bourdain’s shows, but it’s not clear if people are ready to pay a monthly fee to see them. There’s also the matter of streaming service overload — you might not be thrilled to subscribe to yet another offering just to be sure you catch everything CNN has to offer.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

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