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Apple’s WWDC 2019 keynote will detail iOS 13, macOS 10.15, and more on June 3

Ars Technica - May 22, 2019 - 9:25pm

Enlarge / Neon emoji and animoji images accompanied the invites to press.

Apple has sent out invites to the press for its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote—or as the invite calls it, a "special event." The event will take place on June 3 at 10am PDT. Ars will be in attendance to liveblog the proceedings and all the announcements.

Sometimes the invites Apple sends out contain hints as to what will be announced. It seems members of the press received various graphics depicting neon emoji and animoji images set against midnight blue backgrounds—perhaps to evoke iOS 13's rumored Dark Mode. Ars received the above emoji.

We're expecting extensive details about the company's major three OS releases that are expected later in the year: iOS 13 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch; macOS 10.15 for the Mac; and watchOS 6 for the Apple Watch.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Mario Kart Tour beta hands-on: Microtransactions land like a nasty blue shell

Ars Technica - May 22, 2019 - 8:58pm

Enlarge / This is the only Mario Kart Tour closed beta image we're officially allowed to share. (credit: Nintendo)

Nintendo's first racing game for smartphones, Mario Kart Tour, is barreling like a red shell toward a free-to-play launch on iOS and Android later this year. But today's kickoff of a closed-beta test (only on Android, only for randomly invited users) makes me wonder whether Nintendo and its development partner, DeNA, should tap the brakes in a huge way.

From a sheer gameplay standpoint, Mario Kart Tour is actually a pretty solid facsimile of the classic series, albeit with a couple of puzzling design decisions. But the game's path to monetization is the most brazen yet applied to a Nintendo smartphone app.

Don’t look! Don’t you dare look at the leaked videos!

In good news, Mario Kart Tour plays much like the series' past 25 years of home and handheld versions. Race on go-karts through cartoony racetracks while picking up and using weapons (turtle shells, banana peels) and boost items ("nitro" mushrooms, mostly). In this version, your kart automatically accelerates, so use your fingers to steer left or right, tap weapon items to activate them (with a forward- or back-flick to direct them as needed), and pick from one of two drifting options to trigger "micro-boosts" in speed.

Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Huawei: ARM memo tells staff to stop working with China’s tech giant

BBC Technology News - May 22, 2019 - 8:57pm
Chinese company is dealt an "insurmountable" blow as chip designer says it must comply with US trade ban.

Amazon heads off facial recognition rebellion

BBC Technology News - May 22, 2019 - 6:44pm
A group of investors had sought to stop the firm providing its Rekognition system to police.

Seattle makes history with electric garbage truck

Ars Technica - May 22, 2019 - 6:36pm

Enlarge / This is Recology's new BYD 8R, the first electric rear-loading class 8 garbage truck in the US. (credit: BYD)

If you live in Seattle, your scheduled garbage pickup might be about to get a lot quieter. Recology, a West Coast waste management company, has just taken the delivery of its first fully electric garbage trucks. The vehicle is a class 8 truck—meaning the heaviest—made by BYD, with New Way supplying the Viper rear-loading garbage truck body. It's also apparently the first electric class 8 rear-loader in the country and the first of two that Recology ordered last year.

The BYD's specs make for very different reading compared to the average electric vehicles we cover. The powertrain is a 320kW (430hp), 1101Nm (812ft-lbs) electric motor, supplied by a 295kWh battery pack. However, it does have to carry around a truck with a 21,605lb (9,800kg) curb weight, and it can be optioned to a gross vehicle weight of either 57,500lbs (26,082kg) or 66,000lbs (29,937kg). (Interestingly, the photo BYD sent us has the GVW at 50,000lbs on the door.)

All that mass means the truck is limited to a 65mph (104km/h) top speed and a range of 56 miles (90km) and 600 pickups. Recharging the truck doesn't take as long as you think, despite all those kWh—nine hours connected to a 33kW AC outlet. The 8R supports either 120kW or 240kW DC fast charging, which takes 2.5 hours or 1.5 hours to recharge, respectively.

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Google's Ad Exchange faces privacy probe by Irish regulator

BBC Technology News - May 22, 2019 - 6:35pm
The Irish Data Protection Commission will look into whether Google's Ad Exchange system is GDPR-compliant.

Superconductivity reported at the temperature of a good freezer

Ars Technica - May 22, 2019 - 6:00pm

Enlarge (credit: Manmohan Singh | Getty Images)

Superconductivity offers the promise of hyper-efficient electric motors, ultra powerful magnets, and the transmission of electricity without losses. The reality, however, has fallen considerably short of that promise, as superconducting materials are difficult and expensive to manufacture, requiring a constant bath of liquid nitrogen to keep them cold enough to operate. And progress at identifying new high-temperature superconductors went through an extended stall, with no new contenders for decades.

But behind that stall, researchers were getting a better understanding of the physics involved with superconductivity, and that understanding seems to be paying off. A few years back, researchers found that a high-pressure form of hydrogen sulfide would superconduct at 203K (-70°C), roughly 65K higher than any previous material. Now, following up on suggestions from computer modeling, researchers have discovered that a metal-hydrogen compound (LaH10) can superconduct all the way up to 250K. That's roughly -25°C, a temperature that can be reached by a good freezer.

Unfortunately, its superconductivity is dependent upon pressure and required compressing the sample between two diamonds. But the results do tell us that our understanding is on the right track, and there are undoubtedly additional chemicals worth examining.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

ARM is the latest partner to shun Huawei, so how will it design chips?

Ars Technica - May 22, 2019 - 5:13pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

It looks like Huawei is not just being shunned by the US, but now, the world! According to a report from the BBC, ARM has told its employees the US export ban means it can no longer work with Huawei, dealing a crippling blow to Huawei's SoC division, HiSilicon, and to Huawei's ability to create smartphone chips in the future.

Trade War! USA v. China

View more stories ARM's interpretation of the US export ban comes as a surprise, as the company is not based in the US. ARM's headquarters are in Cambridge, UK (hence the BBC scoop), and it was bought by Japan's Softbank in 2016. Everyone in the tech industry is still discovering how broadly Trump's executive order will be interpreted, and ARM believes it is affected due to its designs containing “US origin technology." ARM has more than 40 offices around the world, including eight in the US.

ARM doesn't manufacture smartphone chips but instead licenses its intellectual property to other vendors. The ARM CPU architecture is the dominant instruction set in smartphones and embedded computers, and it's a rival to Intel's x86 architecture mainly seen in PCs and servers. Qualcomm, MediaTek, Apple, Samsung, and Huawei are all ARM architecture licensees and, as a consequence, nearly every smartphone on the market uses an ARM-based CPU. Besides the basic architecture, ARM also licenses out "Cortex" CPU designs and "Mali" GPU designs, which are often used by these licensees as a basis for their own SoCs.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Consumer Reports: Latest Autopilot “far less competent than a human”

Ars Technica - May 22, 2019 - 5:01pm

Enlarge / A Tesla Model 3. (credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

In recent weeks, Tesla has been pushing out a new version of Autopilot with automatic lane-change capabilities to Model 3s—including one owned by Consumer Reports. So the group dispatched several drivers to highways around the group's car-testing center in Connecticut to test the feature. The results weren't good.

The "latest version of Tesla's automatic lane-changing feature is far less competent than a human driver," Consumer Reports declares.

Tesla introduced its Navigate on Autopilot feature a few months ago, but at first, it would ask the driver to confirm lane changes. More recently Tesla has given drivers the option to have Autopilot initiate lane changes without confirmation. But CR's reviewers argue that feature isn't ready for prime time.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

T-Mobile/Sprint merger faces big trouble at DOJ despite FCC approval

Ars Technica - May 22, 2019 - 4:38pm

Enlarge / T-Mobile CEO John Legere (left) and then-Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure during an interview on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on April 30, 2018. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

The Department of Justice's antitrust staff has recommended blocking T-Mobile's attempted purchase of Sprint, Reuters reported today, citing an anonymous source.

DOJ staff "fear that after the deal T-Mobile will no longer aggressively seek to cut prices and improve service to woo customers away from market leaders Verizon and AT&T," Reuters wrote. A final decision is expected to come in about a month.

To block the merger, the DOJ would have to sue in federal court and convince a judge that the merger violates antitrust law. DOJ staff recommendations can influence agency decisions on whether to file antitrust lawsuits, but they aren't automatically followed. The DOJ's decision will be made by antitrust chief Makan Delrahim, a Trump appointee.

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Belgian loot box decision takes down some of Nintendo’s mobile games

Ars Technica - May 22, 2019 - 4:31pm

An example of the randomized hero summons in Fire Emblem Heroes

Nintendo has become the latest publisher affected by a 2018 decision by Belgium's Gaming Commission to treat games with randomized loot boxes as an illegal form of gambling. The publisher announced that mobile titles Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes will be shut down in Belgium on August 27. In a published statement that was translated by Eurogamer, Nintendo of Belgium chalks up the move "to the current unclear situation in Belgium regarding certain in-game revenue models."

Fire Emblem Heroes lets players summon new heroes via a "gacha"-style mechanic that provides random characters to assist in battle. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp also offers randomized boxes of "fortune cookies" that can contain some of the game's most valuable items. Both would seem to be a clear violation of the Belgian Gaming Commission's 2018 ruling, which prohibits titles that offer variable in-game items via "games of chance."

Blizzard, Valve, and 2K quickly removed or altered games for the country in the wake of the ruling, and EA gave up a legal fight against Belgian regulators in January. It's not clear why Nintendo took so much longer to be directly affected by Belgium's decision or why these game removals don't also apply in the Netherlands, which has ruled similarly against loot boxes.

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Democratic Party’s network security still lags behind GOP, researchers find

Ars Technica - May 22, 2019 - 4:19pm

Enlarge / The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has improved its information security since 2016, but it still has some weaknesses that could be exploited by attackers, researchers at SecurityScorecard found. The Republican National Committee is still a little ahead but has problems of its own. (credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

In a study of US and European political parties' security postures, researchers at the security-monitoring company SecurityScorecard found that while the Democratic National Committee had made "significant investments" in security since being hacked in 2016, the Democrats still lagged behind the Republican National Committee's defenses. And both parties have problems that could still leak personally identifying information about voters.

According to the report, one major US political party was "programmatically leaking" personal information about voters through a voting validation application "which enumerates voter name, date of birth and address via search terms," the researchers noted. The vulnerability was disclosed to the party involved and other "appropriate parties."

SecurityScorecard's team looked at the DNC, RNC, Green Party, and Libertarian Party in the US. The Green Party had the best overall scores for security measures, while the Libertarian Party had a more laissez-faire approach to information security than the others—with a failing grade for its management of its domain name records, specifically for a total absence of Sender Protection Framework (SPF) records. The lack of SPF records means that it's more likely Libertarian Party domains could be spoofed in spear-phishing campaigns like those that were used to target the DNC in 2016. The Libertarians did come out ahead on network security scores, however.

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