Ken Levine’s ambitious new game is reportedly in development hell

Ken Levine’s ambitious new game is reportedly in development hell

BioShock creative lead Ken Levine is reportedly facing trouble. According to Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier, Levine’s studio Ghost Story Games and its long-awaited debut project have been plagued by shifting design goals and an overambitious vision. It’s not a new criticism of Levine, but it suggests that the game’s nearly eight-year waiting period might not end any time soon and hints at some details about what Ghost Story is actually doing.

Schreier’s story indicates that Ghost Story, a division of Take-Two Interactive staffed with former members of Levine’s old studio Irrational, was originally supposed to release a small game in 2017. The project was a sci-fi shooter set on a “mysterious space station” where three factions would respond to the player’s actions. (While Bloomberg compares it to BioShock, the setting sounds similar to Levine’s earlier space horror game System Shock 2.) But the project’s scope was seemingly bigger than the 30-person team could handle, including a “complicated dialogue system that would morph based on player choices.” As of 2022, the project has apparently been rebooted multiple times and still has no name or release date.

According to Bloomberg, part of the delay stems from Levine’s mercurial management style and perfectionism. Like previous reports from his time at Irrational, it describes a place where projects would get suddenly overhauled or scrapped after months of work. One anecdote describes studio members joking about convincing Levine to adopt their ideas via “Kenception,” a reference to the artificially planted thoughts in Christopher Nolan’s Inception. An open-ended release timeline has apparently been a double-edged sword, with Levine reportedly saying that the studio’s ongoing budget is a “rounding error” in Take-Two’s operation, which could give its game an indefinitely long development process.

But Ghost Story’s core mission also contains some built-in tension. The studio grew alongside Levine’s fascination with “narrative Legos,” his term for the kind of procedurally generated drama produced by Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis system or some recent indie games. (The Bloomberg report also mentions the procedurally generated games Dead Cells and Void Bastards as potential influences.) At the same time, it’s apparently been pursuing the feel of a heavily scripted and polished big-budget 3D experience, something that’s difficult to produce with a highly variable story.

The BioShock franchise, meanwhile, has proceeded without Levine — although a new installment has also been in development for some time with no release in sight. An unrelated System Shock sequel has followed an even more tortured development roadmap.

System Shock 2 helped define the immersive sim, a genre that gave players a feeling of free choice through versatile but often painstakingly handcrafted systems. It’s a style that feels ripe for an experiment with infinitely generated conflict, especially paired with Levine’s love of lofty, clashing philosophical movements. But for now, those clashes are apparently happening inside the studio as well.

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Apple is now a $3 trillion company

Apple is now a  trillion company

Apple has become the first $3 trillion publicly traded company. The iPhone maker hit the milestone on Monday more than a year after surpassing the $2 trillion mark and three years after eclipsing $1 trillion.

Apple’s huge success is due in large part to the iPhone, which revolutionized the smartphone industry and remains a cash cow for the company. But Apple continues to see strong momentum in its other businesses as well, with its services and Mac divisions reporting all-time highs in its Q4 2021 earnings.

Apple isn’t the only company in the trillion-dollar club; Amazon, Google parent company Alphabet, Microsoft, and Tesla all have market caps exceeding $1 trillion. (Facebook parent company Meta breached the $1 trillion milestone in June but is currently sitting below it.) In recent years, Apple has also jostled with others for the crown of the world’s most valuable publicly traded company. It passed Saudi Aramco in July 2020, though it was overtaken for a time by Microsoft in October.

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Tesla opens showroom in region of China associated with genocide allegations

Tesla opens showroom in region of China associated with genocide allegations

The Wall Street Journal points out that on New Year’s Eve, Tesla revealed on its Weibo page the launch of a new dealership in Xinjiang, a region where the Chinese government has been accused of human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims.

Image: Weibo / Tesla

Just over a week ago, President Joe Biden signed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that “[we] call on the Government of the People’s Republic of China to immediately end genocide and crimes against humanity against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.”

Earlier in December, the Treasury Department sanctioned several Chinese companies for their alleged participation in the abuses, including drone maker DJI, blocking US investments in the company, and the Biden administration announced plans for a “diplomatic boycott” during the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Now Tesla has a showroom in Urumqi, the region’s capital. The automaker has had an uneven relationship with China’s government for years, including when it signed a deal to open a factory in Shanghai and at the beginning of 2021, when that factory’s output helped push Tesla to its first annual profit.

As the Wall Street Journal notes, the US accusations of genocide are based on reports that the Chinese government has imprisoned over 1 million Uyghur people and other minorities in the region, subjugating them with forced labor, surveillance, and population controls. The Chinese government maintains that its “facts and truth on Xinjiang-related issues” refute the allegations and claims that it’s imposed measures like real-time GPS vehicle tracking to fight terrorism.

Other US companies have been linked to the region, including reports that Apple suppliers had used forced labor, while Best Buy and Home Depot removed security cameras they were selling after the brands were linked to surveillance. Most recently, Intel made a statement that it would not use labor or goods sourced in the region before deleting the post and apologizing on Chinese social media sites, saying “the paragraph about Xinjiang in the letter is only for expressing the original intention of compliance and legality, not for its intention or position.”

Tesla dissolved its PR department in 2019 and has not commented on the new location.

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An Apple HomeKit bug can send iOS devices into a death spiral

An Apple HomeKit bug can send iOS devices into a death spiral

You should always be wary of invites to a stranger’s Home.

That’s the upshot of a new piece of security research that has found a vulnerability capable of locking iOS devices into a spiral of freezing, crashing, and rebooting if a user connects to a sabotaged Apple Home device.

The vulnerability, discovered by security researcher Trevor Spiniolas, can be exploited through Apple’s HomeKit API, the software interface that allows an iOS app to control compatible smart home devices. If an attacker creates a HomeKit device with an extremely long name — around 500,000 characters — then an iOS device that connects to it will become unresponsive once it reads the device name and enter a cycle of freezing and rebooting that can only be ended by wiping and restoring the iOS device.

What’s more, since HomeKit device names are backed up to iCloud, signing in to the same iCloud account with a restored device will trigger the crash again, with the cycle continuing until the device owner switches off the option to sync Home devices from iCloud.

Though it’s possible that an attacker could compromise a user’s existing HomeKit-enabled device, the most likely way the exploit would be triggered is if the attacker created a spoof Home network and tricked a user into joining via a phishing email.

To guard against the attack, the main precaution for iOS users is to instantly reject any invitations to join an unfamiliar Home network. Additionally, iOS users who currently use smart home devices can protect themselves by entering the Control Center and disabling the setting “Show Home Controls.” (This won’t prevent Home devices from being used but limits which information is accessible through the Control Center.)

Spiniolas released details on his personal website on January 1, 2022. He was previously credited by Apple for discovering a vulnerability in macOS Mojave that was patched in 2019. The new vulnerability affects the latest iOS version, 15.2, and goes back at least as far as 14.7, Spiniolas said.

Spiniolas also accused Apple of being slow to respond to the initial disclosure, which was made months before the public release. The researcher shared emails with The Verge that appeared to show an Apple representative acknowledging the issue and requesting Spiniolas refrain from publishing details until early 2022. The blog post detailing the vulnerability claims that Apple was made aware of the issue on August 10, 2021.

“Apple’s lack of transparency is not only frustrating to security researchers who often work for free, it poses a risk to the millions of people who use Apple products in their day-to-day lives by reducing Apple’s accountability on security matters,” Spiniolas wrote.

Apple had not responded to a request for comment by time of publication.

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Apple now selling Year of the Tiger edition AirPods Pro in some markets

Apple now selling Year of the Tiger edition AirPods Pro in some markets

Apple is now selling a new set of special edition AirPod Pros (via 9to5Mac) in time for the Chinese New Year, which begins on February 1st, 2022. Just as the previous Year of the Ox, Apple is engraving a special emoji on the AirPods Pro case — this time, themed for the Year of the Tiger.

At first glance, it seems like only the standard tiger emoji is featured on the case — but turns out, it’s just a bit more snazzy with sparkles and fireworks surrounding the tiger face topped off with a cute tiger growly-face hood. Other than that, the only other difference is the retail box has the same emoji in red on the sides.

New special edition Year of the Tiger AirPods on the left comparing to AirPods Pro with a regular tiger emoji on the right.
Images from Apple Store website

The new Special Edition AirPods Pro – Tiger (the official name) is available to order now in several Asian markets, including Hong Kong (with a heavy backorder until May 1st as of writing), where it retails for HK$1,999 ($256.38 USD).

Apple also is giving away free red envelopes with a golden embossing of different Chinese zodiac emojis — all wearing the same tiger hood. It’s a cute addition for those traditionally gifting money for the celebration of the new year but is only available if purchased in an Apple Store that sells the special edition AirPods.

While people in markets like the US might feel left out — you could just order regular AirPods Pro and get a free tiger emoji engraving… it’s really not that different. The existence of these yearly special editions is perhaps a literal product of courting the Chinese market — a country in which Apple historically has had to bend to stay competitive.

Apple’s Beats by Dre brand also put out a pair of new Beats Studio Buds — which has a case that is adorned with golden tribal-style tiger stripes on a classic Beats red body. The stripes continue onto the actual buds themselves, unlike the standard-fare buds the special edition AirPods Pro come with.

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Go read this NYT investigation on the inaccuracy of prenatal blood tests

Go read this NYT investigation on the inaccuracy of prenatal blood tests

Blood tests on pregnant people that look for rare and devastating developmental conditions in fetuses are often wrong, according to an investigation from The New York Times.

The blood testing technology, called noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT), works very well for more common disorders like Down syndrome. But The New York Times reported that a review of data from multiple studies showed that when NIPT is used to test for uncommon things like Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome (which is found in one in 20,000 births) or Cri-du-chat syndrome (which is found in one in 15,000 births), positive results are wrong 80 percent of the time or more.

These tests, made by companies like Natera and Sequenom, have become more popular in recent years. Estimates of the size of the market approach billions of dollars. Positive results on the tests are supposed to trigger more extensive (and accurate) follow-up testing, but those tests are expensive, invasive, and often can’t be done until it would be too late for a legal abortion. Many patients don’t end up getting those follow-up tests, and some terminate pregnancies based on the initial information.

The investigation highlights the statistical challenge of testing for things that are extremely rare. Even a test that’s highly accurate would still find lots of false positives if it was used on thousands of people to try to find a condition that’s only actually there .005 percent of the time (like Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome). It’s very difficult to create tests for rare conditions that are so good that they won’t have a high number of false positives.

But, as The New York Times reporting found, that issue wasn’t adequately explained to patients who were sold the tests. Companies developing NIPTs used language like “highly accurate” and “total confidence.” Many companies didn’t publish data on their tests’ performance overall, or only stressed data from tests that are more accurate. “I think the information they provide is misleading,” Alberto Gutierrez, the former director of a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) office overseeing medical tests, told The New York Times.

Many NIPTs don’t have to be cleared or reviewed by the FDA before they’re used for patients — they fall under a category called lab-developed tests, which are able to skirt some regulatory oversight. Despite the lack of scrutiny, they’re able to advertise to patients and tout the limited data they have in marketing materials, even if it’s misleading.

Read the full investigation here.

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Acer’s new Chromebook Spin has a bigger screen but shorter battery life

Acer’s new Chromebook Spin has a bigger screen but shorter battery life

Acer announced that it’s updating its existing lineup of Chromebooks with three new devices at CES 2022, each of which comes with slight changes when compared to its predecessors.

The new Spin 513 has a larger 13.5-inch display compared to its predecessor.
Image by Acer

The new Spin 513 comes with a 13.5-inch display, an upgrade from the 13-inch screen that the previously released Spin 513 had. It swaps the Snapdragon 7c Compute SC7180 in for the MediaTek Kompanio 1380, a new processor that also comes with eight cores. And like all Spin models, you can bend back the screen to use the Chromebook as a tablet or stand it up on a flat surface in a tent-like position when watching videos.

However, there is a bit of a tradeoff with this new model — instead of the 13.5 hours of battery life that the previous Spin 513 got, the new 513 will last just 10 hours on a full charge, a pretty significant downgrade. The Spin 513 will go on sale for $599.99.

The Acer 315 has a large 15.6-inch display.
Image by Acer

The new Chromebook 315, which was first released in 2019, came with an AMD A-series processor and an impressive 15.6-inch display. The device was touted as one of the first Chromebooks to come with AMD silicon, but that changes with this newly announced Intel-based 315. It can either come with the Intel Celeron dual-core N4500, Celeron quad-core N5100, or the Pentium Silver N600. The device also sports an OceanGlass touchpad, which Acer says is made with recycled plastic to achieve a “glass-like texture,” in addition to a wide-field-of-view HDR webcam.

That’s about the extent of major changes that comes with this new model, as it has a large 15.6-inch anti-glare display and 10 hours of battery life, just like its predecessor. The Chromebook 315 will cost $299.99 upon release.

The Acer 314 Chromebook comes with a 14-inch touchscreen display.
Image by Acer

Acer’s new 314 Chromebook comes with the same $299.99 price tag as the 315 but has a 14-inch anti-glare touchscreen display. It also comes with the same options for Intel-based processors, OceanGlass touchpad, and has 10 hours of battery life. Additionally, it has two built-in microphones with noise-reduction technology, along with a webcam that’s supposed to help reduce distracting lighting issues.

While Acer’s new Chromebooks will arrive in North America in June of this year, they’ll become available in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa in April.

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Comcast’s new router includes Wi-Fi 6E, Zigbee, and Matter

Comcast’s new router includes Wi-Fi 6E, Zigbee, and Matter

Comcast has announced that its xFi Advanced Gateway Wi-Fi router is getting an upgrade — the new version will support the Wi-Fi 6E standard and have support for the Zigbee and Matter IoT standards built in. Comcast says that the addition of a third, 6GHz band alongside the 2.4 and 5GHz bands found on its old gateway (and most modern, decent routers) should make the router ready for homes with dozens of wireless devices, including ones that use lots of bandwidth like VR headsets and gaming consoles.

The selling point of the new (in terms of wireless standards, anyway) Wi-Fi 6E is that it can provide more bandwidth to power more devices, all with less potential for interference from other networks. Support for this standard should, according to Comcast, make its new xFi Advanced Gateway faster and more reliable than the older version that was available to its customers who subscribe to its higher-speed plans.

Comcast also says that its updated router will be able to handle faster internet speeds like the ones it offers with its Gigabit Pro plan (which can, somewhat confusingly, get up to 3 gigabits per second in some locations). While Wi-Fi 6E doesn’t have a higher max speed than Wi-Fi 6, older routers with slower processors can struggle to handle the data throughput of newer plans — Comcast says that shouldn’t happen with its new Advanced Gateway, as it can “deliver multigigabit upload and download speeds.”

Traditional wisdom says that renting equipment from your ISP is a bad deal — usually you’ll end up paying more after a year or two than you would’ve had you bought your own modem and router. But if you’re looking to get into Wi-Fi 6E right now, the router alone may cost you hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars, compared to the two or three hundred dollars required to get a great Wi-Fi 5 setup. With that kind of outlay required, the leasing model may be more attractive.

Comcast says that customers will start getting the new routers “over the coming months,” with people who pay for Gigabit internet or its xFi complete package getting it first. The company says the monthly cost to lease the new Advanced Gateway will continue to be $14 a month.

Disclosure: Comcast is an investor in Vox Media, The Verge’s parent company.

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Get a chance at ordering an Xbox Series X bundle from GameStop today

Get a chance at ordering an Xbox Series X bundle from GameStop today

We’re off and running in the year 2022 with new console restocks. While we’re all hoping that availability of the popular PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles opens up so anyone can buy a console at retail price whenever they choose, for now we have to keep our eyes peeled, remain vigilant, and keep our F5 keys ready.

While GameStop finished off 2021 with a series of scheduled in-store selling events for new consoles — giving us a throwback to the old days of lining up outside of stores in person — the video game retailer now has Xbox Series X consoles available on its site to order. You can pick up an Xbox Series X bundle, complete with Far Cry 6, NBA 2K22, Call of Duty Vanguard, and a $50 GameStop gift card for $669.96.

GameStop’s new console bundles are usually limited to GameStop Pro subscribers, though this one is open to everyone. Remember that patience and persistence are often key with these console restocks. Don’t stop trying until it shows sold out. Though if luck is not on your side for this one, or if you don’t prefer a bundle, we’ll be sure to keep you updated on future console restocks at GameStop and other retailers.

Xbox Series X Ultimate Games and System Bundle

The Xbox Series X is Microsoft’s flagship console, serving as its most powerful (and biggest) option. While the Series S is aimed at smooth 1440p performance and takes a disc-less approach, the $500 Series X is focused on fast, 4K gameplay. This bundle from GameStop comes with Farcry 6, NBA 2K22, Call of Duty Vanguard, and a $50 gift card.

Accessories for Xbox consoles

Xbox Wireless Controller

Microsoft’s latest Xbox controller features a Share button and a USB-C charging port if you decide to use the optional rechargeable battery.

Xbox Wireless Headset

You don’t have to miss a call while you game thanks to Microsoft’s Xbox Wireless Headset, which often sells for $89 instead of its full $100. In our review, we found it to be a comfortable, intuitively designed headset that’s well worth its cost. In addition to working well with Xbox consoles, it can connect to another device simultaneously via Bluetooth.

Halo Infinite Collector’s Steelbook Edition

The latest installment in the cherished sci-fi first-person shooter franchise delivers a hefty campaign, along with a free-to-play multiplayer mode. This physical version comes with a free steelbook case.

Forza Horizon 5 (Xbox, physical)

Forza Horizon 5 is the latest of the long-running open-world racing game developed by Playground Games. It’s an exclusive Xbox title, playable on both Xbox Series X / S and Xbox One consoles. The new installment is set across a lusciously detailed landscape in Mexico and features over 500 cars at launch.

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Ring Fit Adventure for Nintendo Switch is back down to its lowest price

Ring Fit Adventure for Nintendo Switch is back down to its lowest price

Ring Fit Adventure, the box set for the Nintendo Switch that includes the fitness adventure game along with a pilates ring that a Joy-Con slides into, is selling for just $54.99 at Best Buy and Amazon, matching the best price we’ve seen. It’s normally $85. Actually, it’s been selling for this price since Black Friday, but if your New Year’s resolutions include getting in shape, this game is a fun, effective way to stay moving.

The single-player campaign is actually a turn-based RPG where you fight against enemies by doing exercise reps. It tracks your form, making sure you don’t go too easy on yourself, though you can set the difficulty. Considering it’s a workout, it’s actually pretty fun. Read our review.

This game was in short supply and high demand earlier in the pandemic, and remarkably, prices soared over $250 — almost as much as the Nintendo Switch itself. But now, you can purchase it at a very reasonable price.

Ring Fit Adventure

Nintendo’s exercising game for the Switch. In addition to the game, Ring Fit Adventure also includes a Ring-Con and a Leg Strap.

Amazon Music

Listeners who haven’t used Amazon Music Free before can get $5 of Amazon credit added to their accounts just by listening to one full track. That’s the deal. Amazon says you will be emailed your code within one week of your first stream, and it can be redeemed for up to 30 days on an Amazon purchase of $20 or more. Here’s a link to the web player, so you can stream a song.

Clearly, Amazon wants people to try out the free tier of its music streaming service, but whether you have an alliance with Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, or some other service, it can’t hurt to give this a try.

Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge

If you’ve considered picking up an M.2 SSD that meets Sony’s PS5 requirements (it needs to support PCIe 4.0 and have a sequential read speed of 5,500MB/s or faster), this 1TB Western Digital WD_Black SN850 model makes the grade — and for a great price. Normally $269.99, it’s $189.99 at Best Buy. This WD_Black drive gets the nod over most other models because it already comes with a heatsink installed, which is another requirement for putting an M.2 SSD in your PS5.

For another $10 (totaling $199.99), you can get Samsung’s 1TB 980 Pro with a heatsink installed at Best Buy. It offers similarly fast performance (both drives claim up to 7,000MB/s sequential read speeds), though the WD_Black actually claims to be able to write a little faster at up to 5,300MB/s compared to the 980 Pro’s 5,000MB/s write speed. Though, most people probably won’t notice a big difference.

WD Black SN850

WD Black SN850 (1TB) with heatsink

The WD_Black SN850 from Western Digital is one of the fastest M.2 drives around, with a sequential read speed at up to 7,000MB/s and a write speed of up to 5,300MB/s. It can perform best in a PC that has a PCIe 4.0 motherboard or in a PS5.

Samsung 980 Pro (1TB) with heatsink

Samsung’s 980 Pro is a fast PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD that’s capable of sequential read speeds of up to 7,000MB/s and write speeds of up to 5,000MB/s. These specs make it a great choice for a modern PCIe 4.0-equipped PC or for a PS5.

Constantly losing things? Or maybe you have something you know you can’t live without. Either way, Apple’s AirTag tracker might be one of the best ways to keep tabs on your tech, bags, wallets, what have you. Best Buy is offering a rare deal on a single AirTag for today only. Usually deals are offered on multipacks, not just one, so this could be good for people who want to dip a toe into AirTags. Normally $29, you can grab one for $24.

An AirTag in an Apple keychain accessory

Apple AirTag

Apple’s AirTags can help you find your lost items with its UWB technology. You’ll get the best compatibility with an iPhone, though Apple recently released an Android app that can let you track an AirTag’s location.

Other deals that you might dig

  • Apple’s HomePod mini smart speaker (usually $99) includes a three-pack of Nanoleaf A19 smart bulbs that support Thread and Bluetooth for $139.98. They’re also Apple HomeKit-compatible.
  • Google’s second-gen Nest Hub smart display that makes for an excellent digital photo frame (and can also track your sleep via its Soli radar sensor) is just $59.99 at Best Buy. It normally costs $99.99. We’ve seen this discount a handful of times, but now might be the perfect time for you to invest.
  • If you want a kooky laptop that’s in the keyboard-in-the-front club, forgoing wrist rests to make room for a second display, check out Amazon’s deal on the Asus ZenBook Duo 14. Normally $1,299.99 for the model with a 14-inch FHD main screen, Intel’s 11th Gen Core i7-1195G7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD, you can grab it for $1,169.99.

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Eve announces a HomeKit floodlight camera and Matter-ready smart shades

Eve announces a HomeKit floodlight camera and Matter-ready smart shades

Smart home company Eve Systems has announced its first outdoor camera and the availability of its Thread-powered smart shades at CES 2022 this week.

A floodlight camera designed for Apple HomeKit Secure Video, the $250 Eve Outdoor Cam, launches April 5th, 2022 and features 1080p video, a 157-degree field of view, infrared night vision, and infrared motion detection covering 100 degrees at distances of up to 30 feet. The Wi-Fi powered camera joins the Eve Cam, the company’s indoor camera.

This is just the second HomeKit Secure Video-compatible smart floodlight camera to launch; a floodlight camera is an outdoor security camera with motion-activated floodlights attached. The Netatmo Outdoor Camera is the other currently available option (Arlo has a HomeKit floodlight camera, but it doesn’t work with HKSV).

There are a couple key hardware differences between these two HKSV cameras: The Eve version doesn’t have a siren, which is an option on the Netatmo one. But Eve does offer two-way communication with a built-in microphone and speaker, which the Netatmo does not.

The Eve Outdoor Cam is compatible with the Apple Home app and the Eve app.
Image: Eve

The Eve camera is also very small — just 6.7 inches high, 2.6 inches wide, and 6.3 inches deep. That’s smaller than the Netatmo, although they both share a similar aesthetic, ditching the traditional “googly” eyed look of floodlight cams (where the two lights are separate from the camera) in favor of a sleeker, more streamlined design with one built-in, high-powered light.

The disadvantage of this is you have less flexibility with positioning the floodlights. But Eve’s CEO Jerome Gackel tells The Verge the lights are “super bright,” although the exact lumens haven’t been disclosed.

The Eve Outdoor Cam must be hardwired to your home’s electrical system, which is pretty standard for most floodlight cameras, and it works over 2.4GHz Wi-Fi. It also requires a connection to a HomeKit home hub (such as an Apple TV or HomePod Mini) to process and store video recordings. The camera uses HomeKit Secure Video to store videos and processes all data locally. Live video isn’t transmitted to the cloud and recordings are encrypted and stored in your iCloud Plus account.

With an iCloud Plus account, users get 10 days of video history and the option of smart alerts for people, vehicles, pets, and packages. As a HomeKit camera, the Eve Cam can be accessed through the Home app as well as Eve’s own app.

Eve MotionBlinds are smart motors inside Coulisse shades. They work with Apple HomeKit at launch.
Image: Eve

Eve launches first Thread-enabled smart shades

Announced earlier this year, the eagerly anticipated Eve smart MotionBlinds go on sale today, January 3rd, 2022. Pricing varies based on fabric and size but starts at just under $400 per shade. They can be ordered through any Coulisse reseller, including, and you can install them yourself. Coulisse is a Netherlands-based manufacturer of window coverings, and a complete list of sellers can be found at

The first Thread-powered smart shades (they also use Bluetooth), the Eve MotionBlinds are HomeKit compatible and “Matter-ready,” according to Gackel. As a refresher, Thread is a low-power mesh networking protocol that provides better speed and reliability than many of the current smart home protocols. It’s also a key part of Matter, the new smart home standard coming in mid-2022, which aims to unify the smart home under one standard and help remove the confusion around which products work with which smart home platforms.

Eve’s MotionBlinds will be available first as smart roller shades, with other styles coming soon. They’re compatible with HomeKit and Siri, Apple’s voice assistant, at launch, but aren’t the only HomeKit smart shades: Lutron, Hunter Douglas, and Ikea all offer HomeKit options.

This video provided by Eve gives you a good, if glossy, look at what the MotionBlinds should look like in action.

The shades are powered by a rechargeable USB-C battery-powered motor, and uniquely for smart shades, have the option of manual control with a pull cord. There are also on-device schedules, so the shades can work independently of a smartphone app or smart home network.

As Eve MotionBlinds work through HomeKit, they don’t require a separate bridge or gateway — which most smart window coverings do. However, they will need a HomeKit hub such as a HomePod Mini if you want to set up HomeKit automations.

Smart shades are some of the most useful additions to a smart home, providing light and climate control plus an undeniable wow factor. But they are also very expensive.

Eve’s entry into the space isn’t a game-changer when it comes to price — it looks like the shades will be on par cost-wise with Lutron’s Serena line. However, because they work over the non-proprietary Thread protocol and will be compatible with Matter, these should be easier to integrate into your smart home than most of the existing offerings, which are largely locked into their own ecosystems. That is, once the standard arrives later this year. In the meantime, they are HomeKit only.

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Kohler’s PerfectFill tech can fill your tub for you

Kohler’s PerfectFill tech can fill your tub for you

Kohler’s long-touted PerfectFill technology is finally here, and frazzled parents everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief. The company announced the availability of its smart bath tech at CES 2022 this week, which lets you fill up a bathtub with a simple voice command. So, if you’re downstairs cooking dinner and want to get the kids’ bath going, you can just ask Alexa or Google to run the bath for you.

PerfectFill consists of drain kit and digital valve that work together to draw the bath to your preferred temperature and depth. So, no more worrying about flooding the bathroom because you forgot it was running or scalding junior when they jump in the bath.

The PerfectFill digital wall controller controls the system.
Image: Kohler

Bath time can be controlled by the Kohler Konnect app, as well as via voice, and there’s the option to program up to 10 different bath times, so everyone in the house can have it their way (even Fido).

PerfectFill doesn’t just fill, however, you can also drain the tub with a voice or app command.

All this control will cost you, though. PerfectFill starts at $2,700; that doesn’t include a Kohler spout and compatible Kohler bath. It also needs to be professionally installed. PerfectFill will be available to order in 2022.

The Stillness Bath is an immersive smart bathtub that starts at $8,000.
Image: Kohler

If that’s not enough tech for your bath time, Kholer’s Stillness Bath, which was teased at CES last year, will be available to purchase in 2022.

The smart bathing experience starts at $8,000 and incorporates that PerfectFill tech in a smart bathtub that combines water, light, fog, and aroma to create an “at home spa-like experience,” according to Kohler.

The Purist Suspend brings Bluetooth control via a remote (also pictured) to your kitchen faucet while ditching counter clutter.
Image: Kohler

If an $8,000 smart spa bath still isn’t enough, you can take it up a notch with the Infinity Experience model that adds the option to have the water flow over the edges and into a hinoki wood base, adding that trickling waterfall sound to your relaxation experience.

The whole system is controlled by the Kohler Konnect app, and the lower-end $8,000 freestanding bath will be available in Q1 2022. The other models are coming in Q3, prices still to be announced.

For more hands-free water control, Kohler is also debuting a kitchen faucet that’s suspended from the ceiling and controlled by a waterproof, battery-operated Bluetooth puck. The Purist Suspend can be operated by the puck-shaped remote to turn the faucet on and off and adjust the temperature.

The main concept here — beyond being quite the statement piece — is reducing counter clutter. With Suspend, your kitchen faucet will no longer be in the way when you’re washing dishes (was it really ever?). The faucet hangs from the ceiling and has 180 degree rotation.

Also announced at CES 2021 and coming to market this year is Kohler’s smart water monitor, H2Wise powered by Phyn. The H2Wise and H2Wise Plus (a professionally installed version) will launch in January for $400 and $667, respectively.

The H2Wise is a smart water monitor that can be installed by a homeowner. A pro-install version adds the ability to shut off the water remotely.
Image: Kohler

The H2Wise Plus is installed at the main water line and can be set to shut off water through the app if a leak is detected. The H2Wise can be installed by a homeowner under a sink. Both units require a 110v / 220v power supply.

Both these gadgets monitor water use throughout every fixture in your home and can notify you of a water leak as well as help monitor water use. A pre-freeze warning uses pressure sensing to warn you before a pipe freezes.

The H2Wise monitor is controlled by the Kohler Konnect app and can be paired with Alexa or Google voice assistants.

The Robern IQ Digital Lock Box is an app-controlled mini safe designed for bathroom cabinets.
Image: Kohler

Other smart products Kohler announced at CES 2022 include the Robern IQ Digital Lock Box — a smart lock box that fits in a bathroom vanity cabinet for storing medication and personal items. Designed for Robern cabinets, it can be adjusted to install in any vanity.

The Digital Lock Box costs $449 and has a touchpad panel as well as an app (iOS and Android) to set and protect your password, view entry logs, and receive alerts when the box is opened. Users can also set a schedule and add daily medication reminders.

Kohler’s new touchless faucets for the bathroom are controlled with a wave of the hand.
Image: Kohler

Also in the bathroom space, Kohler is launching a line of Touchless Residential Bathroom Faucets starting at $199 that you turn on and off with the wave of a hand. A twist top controls temperature and an auto shut-off feature turns the flow off after two minutes. The faucet also has a vacation mode and is battery operated for an easier install.

Finally, the Kohler Power Reserve is a modular home energy storage system that pairs with solar power systems to store solar energy regardless of the weather, time of day, or status of the grid. Using the Kohler Power Reserve mobile app to monitor and control the system, users can set the storage system to backup, self supply, time of use, or custom. Pricing starts at $13,325 for a 10kWh system.

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Alienware’s Concept Nyx aims to cast your PC games to any screen you own

Alienware’s Concept Nyx aims to cast your PC games to any screen you own

For CES 2022, Alienware is showing off its Concept Nyx, which imagines a future when loading and playing games on a variety of screens can happen as instantaneously as streaming music and TV shows. The idea is simple on its face (though undoubtedly complex underneath the veil): through the Nyx software, all of your PC games would be available to stream wirelessly to a variety of screens at home, regardless of where you bought them.

Imagine you’re playing Cyberpunk 2077 on your PC display, but you want to move over to the living room couch and play on a big TV. The idea is that you’d be able to tap a button in an app, and the game would wirelessly swap displays, letting you hog the TV all to yourself or have your game squeeze next to another in a split-view mode. Alienware is working to make it possible to stream up to four games at once. Alienware demoed Nyx to The Verge with repurposed Concept UFO controllers that we last saw at CES 2020 attached to a Switch-like tablet.

Alienware Concept Nyx

This is what the main hub looks like in Concept Nyx, though it could change if it develops into a product.
Photo by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge

In the conceptual phase, Nyx requires a machine that’s powerful enough to run multiple games at once, with networking chops to handle distributing low-latency streams. It’s unclear whether Alienware intends to release its own hardware, when that might be, how much it might cost, and whether what Nyx aims to do will be a paid service. There are clearly a lot of questions for which Alienware needs to provide answers.

Alienware Concept Nyx

While still in concept, Nyx worked as intended in our joint session of Cyberpunk 2077 and Rocket League.
Photo by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge

But compared to the likes of Google Stadia and Amazon Luna, Concept Nyx seems built to make accessing and playing your already-owned PC games even easier, with a similar level of device compatibility and, perhaps, fewer compromises in terms of visual quality. In a way, it’s remarkably similar to what Valve is already doing with its Remote Play Anywhere featurefor free, to boot. Though, where Nyx intends to differentiate itself is with handling more streams at once and pulling in games from multiple platforms.

It was encouraging that Alienware was actually able to pull off the Nyx demo for us successfully, swapping between multiple displays with just a few seconds in between the pass-off from screen to screen. But we’ll need to try it at home and not in a controlled environment to see if it’s ready for the real world.

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Samsung’s 2022 TV lineup has big software changes, smaller hardware upgrades

Samsung’s 2022 TV lineup has big software changes, smaller hardware upgrades

Samsung introduced its first TVs with Micro LED technology at CES 2021, and they wound up being perhaps the best sets that the company has produced yet — not counting the exorbitantly priced The Wall, that is. So this year, Samsung is opting for a different approach: it’s taking smaller strides in hardware and focusing more of its efforts on software refinement and new features.

Samsung’s 2022 TVs will continue to run the company’s Tizen OS, but they’ll now come with a totally revamped home screen that’s described as “a testament to our vision for the future of TVs.” The first part of the new user experience is what Samsung calls the Media Screen. This will “put all of your streaming service content into one, easy-to-browse place” with a continue watching section that aggregates content “from any provider” — so Samsung claims, anyway. There will of course be personalized recommendations as well.

Samsung has redesigned its TV home screen for 2022.
Image: Samsung

It all sounds very similar to Google TV and the Apple TV app; everyone wants to be your main portal for browsing entertainment, leaving streaming apps just to play the movies and shows you want to watch. The streaming services don’t always love this strategy; Netflix in particular has a history of pushing back against letting others curate its content, and as a result doesn’t participate in either Google TV or the Apple TV app.

Here are some other software additions coming in 2022:

  • Watch Together: Samsung is expanding its multi-view feature to deliver what it claims is “the world’s first TV-based platform for experiencing live and streaming content with friends and family” remotely. You’ll be able to plug in a USB video camera or even use a smartphone or tablet’s camera for video chatting with those you’re watching with.
  • NFT aggregation platform: Yes, NFTs are coming to the living room. Samsung’s the first major TV manufacturer to significantly put its weight behind NFTs. The company says it will provide “a groundbreaking platform that lets you browse, purchase, and display your favorite art — all in one place.”

MicroLED TVs come in new sizes, remain out of reach for normal people

Samsung is producing new models of its MicroLED display, which the company says is now “bezel-free.” As always, the modular panel technology allows (extremely wealthy) customers to configure whatever screen size works best for their situation — topping out at an enormous 178 inches.

Samsung’s ultra-luxury MicroLED displays now have a bezel-free design.
Image: Samsung

Aside from the custom jobs, Samsung also offers pre-made models of MicroLED TVs in 99- and 110-inch sizes. For 2022, the company is adding an 89-inch MicroLED TV to that lineup. There’s no pricing info as of yet, but you can expect MicroLED to continue to cost far more than even the nicest, biggest OLEDs on the market.

As a refresher, MicroLED shares many properties with OLED — the microscopic LEDs deliver self-emissive, pixel-level light control — but doesn’t come with the same downsides (like the “organic” part that can limit a panel’s lifespan or potentially lead to burn-in). It could succeed OLED if prices ever come down, but 2022 certainly won’t be the year that happens.

Samsung’s Mini LED TVs now look even better when bright

Since this will be just the second year that Samsung offers Mini LED 8K and 4K TVs as part of its “Neo QLED” line, the company isn’t making drastic hardware changes. And it doesn’t really need to, since last year’s sets represented a significant step up in contrast, black levels, and gaming performance. Samsung says it has “increased the luminance scale from a 12-bit to a 14-bit backlight — delivering significantly more accurate brightness” for the 2022 models. It calls this 14-bit HDR Mapping. And the TVs now use AI to analyze a scene and better separate the foreground subject from the background, creating a greater sense of depth.

Additionally, AI also helps produce adaptive “shapes of light” with the many backlight dimming zones to cut down on blooming and enhance brightness and contrast. Combined with 14-bit HDR Mapping, Samsung says this will bring out details that weren’t so obvious on last year’s Neo QLED TVs and make details pop more.

Samsung says its 2022 Neo QLED TVs will feature improved depth and expanded 14-bit HDR Mapping.
Image: Samsung

For the gaming crowd, Samsung says select models of its 2022 TV lineup will be capable of variable refresh rates up to 144Hz — up from 120Hz — and will be among the first TVs to support AMD’s FreeSync Premium Pro. All HDMI ports on the higher-end TVs will be 2.1 and support 4K 120Hz.

Most significant of all, the company is adding a new, more comprehensive Gaming Hub to this year’s TVs as another piece of the software improvements. My colleague Sean Hollister covers that feature more here. On last year’s models, Samsung had a gaming bar that let you see a game’s FPS or quickly adjust important next-gen gaming settings, but the new hub goes further and aims to be an all-in-one destination for both console and cloud gaming.

The upper-end TVs come with a bundle of audio features like Active Voice Amplifier, Object Tracking Sound (to make it seem like sound is actually coming out of the screen), and SpaceFit Sound for automatic calibration. But as ever, Samsung would prefer you pair its 2022 TVs with a range of soundbars and other home theater gear it’s also announcing at CES 2022. Stay tuned to The Verge for further coverage as all of the company’s latest products get closer to shipping in the coming months.

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Samsung’s latest Frame TVs have a matte screen that looks and feels more like real art

Samsung’s latest Frame TVs have a matte screen that looks and feels more like real art

Samsung has managed to single-handedly define the category of “lifestyle TVs” — high-design TV sets that blend into the home more seamlessly than traditional TVs — with The Frame. I’ve got several friends, coworkers, and family members who have recently purchased some model in The Frame lineup. For them, the device’s stylish look, customizable bezels, and ability to showcase artwork or personal photos when the TV is “off” are more important than the latest picture quality or HDMI specs.

For 2022, the company is hoping to take The Frame to the next level and make its wall art parlor trick more convincing than ever before. Samsung says the latest models will have a matte, anti-reflective display with a “lifelike” texture that feels like canvas or paper to the touch.

The anti-reflective display could be a huge draw for consumers; The Frame is able to match the white balance and brightness of artwork based on ambient lighting in a room, but if there’s one thing that gives away the fact that you’re still looking at a TV, it’s screen glare.

A comparison of last year’s Frame pitted against the new matte-screened model.
Image: Samsung

By introducing a new anti-reflective film and other anti-glare measures, Samsung hopes that oil pantings and other art will pop off the screen to a more impressive extent than before. Unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to see the new anti-reflective displays in person just yet to see how convincing the end result is — or whether there’s any negative effect on the picture when watching regular content.

The company’s art store offers over 1,600 pieces, and Frame owners can expect a new, more refined user experience in 2022 when browsing that selection.

For 2022, The Frame will be offered in a total of seven different sizes, starting at 32 inches at the small end and topping out with an 85-inch model. As for the tech specs of the TV itself, they sound similar to last year: The Frame will give you a nice 4K HDR picture with an expanded quantum dot color palette, but it lacks high-end TV features like full-array local dimming, 120Hz support, variable refresh rate, and so on.

Based on Samsung’s claims, this guy wouldn’t be seeing much glare on the new Frame.
Image: Samsung

If image quality is your main priority, the company’s top-tier Neo QLED sets (with Mini LED tech) are still the way to go. But that’s not what The Frame is for. This model — and Samsung’s other lifestyle models like The Serif — are for people who want a perfectly acceptable picture in a package that complements their home decor instead of clashing with it.

Pricing, release info, and more detailed tech specs for the 2022 Frame lineup should be announced closer to when the TVs begin shipping in the coming months.

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