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Sony’s excellent WH-1000XM3 wireless headphones hit new low of $190

There's a lot to like about Sony's WH-1000XM4 wireless headphones, and many of them come from their predecessor, the WH-1000XM3. Sony added to the exceptional foundation of the XM3 to make the XM4 stand out even further from the competition, but as the company's latest ANC cans, the XM4s are expensive at $348. If you can bare with a slightly older model, you can get the WH-1000XM3 for a great price right now — just $190 if you go to Best Buy. That's $10 less than their previous all-time low that we saw back in March.

Buy WH-1000XM3 at Best Buy - $190

Just because the XM3 are not the newest cans anymore, that doesn't mean they have been made obsolete. In fact, they still have god sound quality and excellent active noise-cancellation, the latter of which is strong enough to block out most background noise from the street when you're walking to work or from an airplane when you're traveling. They also have a comfortable and relatively attractive design, plus a killer battery life. The XM3 will last about 30 hours before they need a recharge, and quick-charging capabilities will give you five hours of use after only 10 minutes of power-up.

If you're on the market for a new pair of ANC headphones, you're probably wondering what Sony added to the XM4 to make them fresh. It's really two key features: the XM4 will automatically pause when they detect that you're speaking and multi-device connectivity. With the later, you can switch between listening on two devices — like your smartphone and your computer — pretty seamlessly. Those new features, in addition to other small improvements, helped the $348 XM4 top our list of best headphones. But if you can skip them, the XM3 remain a solid pick that are made even better at this sale price.

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

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/sony-wh-1000-xm-3-wireless-headphones-deal-best-buy-122526939.html?src=rss

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Watch the first livestreamed Virgin Orbit rocket launch starting at 9:50AM ET

Now that Virgin Orbit is comfortable carrying satellites into space, it's ready for you to tune in. The orbital delivery company is livestreaming a rocket launch for the first time, with an expected takeoff time around 9:50AM Eastern. The "Tubular Bells: Part One" mission will see the Cosmic Girl host aircraft deploy the LauncherOne rocket roughly an hour after lifting into the sky.

LauncherOne will have plenty to do during the flight, as Space.com noted. It's carrying seven satellites for three countries, including the US (four cubesats for the Department of Defense Space Test Program), Poland (two vehicles for SatRevolution) and the Netherlands (a cubesat for the Royal Netherlands Air Force).

As before, Virgin Orbit's appeal is its flexibility and cost — organizations can put payloads into space more on their own terms, and potentially for less money than needed for a conventional launch. The company has had just two launches before now, though. In that light, a lot is riding on this mission — it should help prove that Virgin is ready to pick up the pace and compete against private spaceflight rivals like Rocket Lab and SpaceX.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/virgin-orbit-live-launch-stream-123903068.html?src=rss

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WhatsApp is rolling out ‘view once’ messages to Android beta testers

Facebook is diving into ephemeral messaging. After debuting self-erasing media and texts on Messenger and Instagram, the social giant is rolling out a similar feature on WhatsApp. Starting today, the app's beta testers on Android have begun to receive a "View Once" mode that wipes photos and videos as soon as you view and dismiss them. You'll know if you have access to the new feature if you see a dedicated button (that looks like a timer) in the caption input field, according to the experts at WABetaInfo

Not to be confused with WhatsApp's disappearing messages — which delete within seven days — photos and video sent using view once mode are single-use only and vanish after you close them. You'll get a notification once your media has been viewed. 

Despite the added sheen of privacy, there are some quirks you should be aware of before jumping in. As noted by WABetaInfo, disabling read receipts won't stop others from being notified if a view once message has been opened — though, you won't see when a recipient open yours. In groups, you'll be able to see when members have opened disappearing media even if you have read receipts disabled. 

Also, there's nothing stopping people from screenshotting your message without you finding out. View once apparently still works if you send a message to someone who doesn't have access to the feature. Those on iOS will reportedly get the new mode at a later date.

Facebook announced the feature in June on the heels of its divisive WhatsApp privacy policy update. The tech giant was forced to delay the new rules to mid-May from early February following an outcry over its access to additional user data. Facebook also later backtracked on its decision to limit WhatsApp features for those who didn't accept the changes. The company has previously painted ephemeral messaging as a way to encourage more authentic and intimate conversations.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/whatsapp-android-view-once-messages-124030396.html?src=rss

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Amazon’s Halo app gets better with Movement Health update

Amazon took a different approach from companies like Apple, Google and Samsung when it launched its first health-centric wearable last year. The Halo band stood out as a screenless $100 wrist-band that required a monthly subscription for the bulk of its functions, and kicked up a ton of controversy with its tone-detecting feature. The company is continuing to deviate from industry trends like squeezing more sensors or adding more workout types and is instead rolling out a smartphone camera-driven service called Movement Health, which it announced earlier this month.

Movement Health is another way Amazon is distinguishing itself from the sea of other fitness offerings. Instead of just tracking your steps, heart rate and sleep, which the Halo wearable does, the app also offers tools like body fat scanning and tone detecting. The latter feature was widely denounced at launch for listening in on all your conversations all the time. Even setting aside those concerns, Tone Detection isn’t very useful anyway — Amazon doesn’t provide enough context around each entry to help you understand why you sounded “angry” or “happy” at various points during the day.

Amazon Halo general features

But as someone who’s been trying to improve her general fitness and knows that weight is only one of many metrics towards an overall picture of your health, I’ve found the body fat scan helpful. As a recap, Amazon uses your phone’s camera to take front, back and side pictures of you, then analyzes it to deduce your body fat percentage. The company has cited study after study claiming its computer vision tool is more accurate than scales using bioimpedance, which send a mild electric current through your body. Pennington Biomedical Research Center even goes as far as to say that its tests found the Halo app “can be as accurate as the methods doctors use to measure body fat percentage.” That study, by the way, was funded by Amazon.

In my own experience with the band over the last few months, Halo's greatest draw is its app. The device itself, which doesn’t have a screen, is nondescript and underwhelming. It’s so plain that I didn’t even notice it was on a pile of laundry one day and accidentally tossed it into my washing machine. The good thing is that it survived being washed and dried. This might be the Nokia 3310 of wearables.

Just like the old-school phone, the Halo band doesn’t do much. It houses a heart rate monitor and microphones to track your heart rate and tone (if you opt in). It also has an accelerometer to help it log your steps and sleep, as well as a multi-function button. There’s nothing wrong with a simple device that just does the basics, except that it costs $100. You could get all these features for a fraction of the price from a plethora of companies without having to pay an additional monthly subscription fee.

Movement Health impressions and testing

Where Amazon does stand out is in offerings like body fat scanning and Movement Health. The latter, which rolls out today, is intended to “improve the way you move.” I don’t like the idea that there’s something inherently wrong about the way some people move, but if you’ve ever wondered whether your joints might be stiffer than most, or you’ve had issues with back or shoulder pain, Movement Health might help. According to Amazon, it’s “based on functional fitness, which is your body’s readiness to execute the everyday movements you do without thinking — bending, reaching, lifting, twisting, pulling, pushing and even just walking.”

Basically, the Halo app can guide you through a quick mobility test, and through your phone camera it’ll assess your performance. I've had it for just under two weeks. On my first attempt, I ran the test on my Pixel 4a, and per the app’s directions I turned my speaker volume up and set the phone on the ground leaning against a wall. It also suggested I wear form fitting clothes and tie my hair up. Once I framed myself within the outlined boundaries, the app showed an instructor that demonstrated each movement. I’d recommend using wireless headphones if you can for this part, as I struggled to hear the instructions over street noise in an apartment in Brooklyn.

The entire session was about 10 minutes long and Halo asked me to do sets of five movements like squats, lunges and overhead reaches — both facing the camera and to the side. Each time I successfully performed an action, it chimed and told me to repeat the action (when required). At the end, I got a report saying my performance was “great, you’re in the healthy range!” I scored 94 percent on Mobility and Stability, and 93 percent on Posture.

Results and recommended exercises

The app also displayed cards on each metric, explaining what they meant and how they related to my physiological performance. Scrolling further down, I also saw a detailed breakdown of things like “shoulder mobility,” “trunk stability,” “hip mobility,” “hip stability,” “lower mobility” and more. According to Amazon, “this assessment delivers comparable accuracy to an in-person assessment with a professional trainer.” I’ve yet to have a similar assessment with a professional trainer so I can’t vouch for that claim.

Like the body fat scan tool and other Halo features, by the way, Amazon says “multiple layers of privacy and security are built into the service to keep data safe and in your control.” The assessment videos of you lunging and squatting are “encrypted in transit to the cloud, securely processed within seconds and then automatically deleted.” The company promises that no one ever sees them, whether or not you take Amazon at its word is your decision.

After analyzing your results, you can also check out the program of “corrective exercises” that Amazon recommends based on your performance. For me, the system suggested two sets of actions like 45 seconds of shinbox bridge extensions, 60 seconds of side lying t-spine rotation and 40 seconds of hip airplanes, for example. I’m meant to alternate these and do them at least three days a week for four weeks. Each set has a video led by physical therapist Dr. Kelly Starrett, as well as text laying out the movements. In the videos, Dr. Starrett explained not just how to perform each movement but also what areas it targets and how it helps your general mobility.

You can set up a schedule and reminders to have Amazon keep you on track via notifications on your phone. The company also recommends that you perform an assessment every two to four weeks, which will likely result in new sets of corrective exercises for you to use. Amazon says “if you’re looking for a little extra burn, you can also see an additional curated list of workout recommendations to provide a higher-intensity alternative.”


As someone who hits the gym or yoga mat three to four times a week, I didn’t see the need to add these exercises to my routine. Most of the moves are similar to what I get out of my yoga sessions. But if you’re plagued by joint or back issues, these videos might be a good, gentle way to start working on your mobility in those areas. Of course, this shouldn’t and can’t replace a visit to the doctor, but they could be a helpful supplement. So far, Movement Health and the body fat scans seem to be ways Amazon is trying to use its computer vision skills to improve the Halo app, making it much more useful than the band on its own. Too bad having the device tied to your account is a requirement.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/amazon-halo-movement-health-hands-on-available-today-130020705.html?src=rss

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YouTube will stream the UEFA Women’s Champions League for free

Soccer fans around the world will be able to watch the UEFA Women's Champions League for free over the next two seasons. YouTube will stream every game from the competition in 2021-23. It struck a deal with UEFA and sports streaming service DAZN, which snapped up the broadcast rights to the UWCL for the next four years.

With the exception of the Middle East, North Africa and China and its territories, fans everywhere can watch all 61 games (not including qualifying rounds) live and on demand on DAZN's YouTube channel during the upcoming two seasons. In the following two seasons (2023-24 and 2024-25), DAZN will stream every game live on its own platform, which is now available in more than 200 countries. You'll still be able to catch 19 matches per season on YouTube.

The broadcasting deal will get into gear amid a new format for the UWCL. UEFA is introducing a 16-game group stage this season, similar to the format of the men's Champions League. Previously, it was a two-legged knockout competition with a one-off final. The group stage for the 2021-22 edition starts on October 5th.

This is a chance for soccer enthusiasts in most parts of the world to catch some of the best players on the planet in action without having to pay an extra penny (as long as they have a decent internet connection and device on which to watch YouTube). The deal should give the UWCL more exposure than in the past, and it could perhaps inspire more kids to take up the sport.

Streaming services have been duking it out over soccer rights for years. This is a significant deal for DAZN, as well as whatever sports ambitions YouTube has. CBS and Paramount+ hold English-language broadcast rights to the men's version of the competition in the US. Univision's TUDN airs games in Spanish.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/youtube-uefa-womens-champions-league-dazn-141234465.html?src=rss

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Renault plans to electrify two thirds of its cars by 2025

Renault has been sending signals that it wants to accelerate its EV plans, and it's now clear just how aggressive the firm will be. The French automaker now expects 65 percent of its lineup to be electrified by 2025 — potentially the "greenest" car mix in Europe, according to the company, and much better than an earlier 30 percent target. Its plans revolve around a lineup with 10 new electric cars, including the reborn 5, the 4ever (a modern Renault 4) and a Mégane EV.

Up to 90 percent of cars in Renault's brand stable (which includes Alpine and Dacia) should be electric by 2030.

The strategy hinges in part on making EVs more accessible. Renault is prepping a new platform (CMF-BEV) that should reduce costs by a third compared to the Zoe through an interchangeable battery, a "right-sized" 100kW powertrain and borrowed components from conventional cars. Renault is also focusing on more capable and affordable components, including more efficient nickel-manganese-cobalt batteries (with 20 percent more range versus alternatives) and an all-in-one powertrain that's roughly half as large as before while costing 30 percent less.

Renault is also hoping to cut the cost of recycling EV batteries to a third of its current levels by 2030, and have its Mobilize brand reuse batteries as stationary energy storage.

You'll have to wait a while for some of these cars. The Mégane arrives in 2022, and Alpine's "dream garage" will have to wait until 2024. Still, It's evident Renault wants to earn an eco-friendly reputation much sooner than originally expected.

Whether or not Renault will lead the pack is another matter. Volkswagen, for instance, hopes to be the worldwide leader in electric vehicles by 2025 "at the latest," and wants an all-electric European lineup by 2030. There's no guarantee rivals will meet their own goals, but Renault may have to tweak its plans again if it's going to stay ahead in a rapidly changing market.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/renault-electric-vehicle-ev-strategy-2025-142835578.html?src=rss

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Slack is getting a Discord-like audio feature called ‘Huddles’

Slack just became the latest company to embrace real-time audio. The messaging app is launching a new, Discord-like chat feature called Huddles. The feature, along with new collaboration tools for sharing pre-recorded audio and video are, according to the company, meant to provide an alternative to the “endless stream of meetings” that have dominated many office workers’ calendars during the pandemic.

Huddles allows Slack users to create impromptu meetups either in direct messages or an existing channel. When a participant starts a Huddle, other members can quickly join and chat in real time, much like you would in Discord. Though it’s meant to be “camera-free,” Huddles does support screen-sharing for an extra layer of collaboration.

Slack says the feature is a good alternative to voice or video calls because it’s a more low-pressure way for workers to quickly chat without the need to schedule a meeting. Tamar Yehoshua, the company’s chief product officer, compared Huddles to the kinds of impromptu conversations that happen in offices but don’t often occur with remote work. “It’s as if you see people congregating in a conference room and you just stick your head in and then leave when you’re ready,” she said during a briefing with reporters.

While Slack is the latest in a long list of companies embracing the audio trend kickstarted by Clubhouse, the company says it’s responding to the way that work has changed during the pandemic. After more than a year working from home, Zoom fatigue is real. At the same time, many workers may never go back to the office — at least, not full-time. So it’s not surprising Slack would respond to these shifts.

Similarly, the company is also addressing the need to collaborate when everyone isn’t online at the same time. The “schedule send” feature it recently previewed will now be rolling out. And the app is introducing new tools to share videos, voice and screen recordings within Slack.

While the app already allows users to swap video files within chats, the new tools go a step further. Users can record and share natively within a channel, and other team members can respond with a video or voice recording of their own. They also include live captioning, and both the recording and the accompanying transcription are searchable after the fact.

Finally, Slack also showed off a new directory tool for its business users called Slack Atlas. The feature adds more information to Slack’s existing profiles, such as org charts and employee start dates. It can also integrate with existing tools like Workday to automatically pull in relevant details to workers’ Slack profiles.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/slack-huddles-audio-143014019.html?src=rss

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Volvo’s Concept Recharge offers a peek at the company’s ‘pure’ EVs

Volvo's electric vehicles to date have been offshoots of existing car platforms (yes, even the Polestar 2), but it's now ready to show just what it can do when it builds an EV from the ground up. The brand has unveiled a Concept Recharge design that shows the direction for the company's "pure" EV future — both in aesthetics and technology.

The Concept Recharge ditches the usual engine bay and tucks a large battery into a flat floor. That makes for more interior space, of course, but also leads to shorter overhangs, a lower hood and a slicker roof profile. This also gives Volvo an excuse to streamline its look — the Concept Recharge removes "all unnecessary elements" and looks more like a tall hatchback despite its SUV-like vantage point.

The interior is equally stripped back and likened to a "Scandinavian living room." You'll still get plenty of technology, though, including a digital dash and a 15-inch infotainment touchscreen. Volvo's fondness for safety is in full view with a roof-mounted LiDAR sensor to collect environmental data and (eventually) enable autonomous driving features.

There's no mention of whether or not the Concept Recharge will evolve into a production car, or when you can expect the first EVs based on this formula. However, it's safe to presume that many of the design cues and basic technological ideas will reach cars you can actually buy. It's just a question of whether or not Volvo can compete against the many, many rivals planning from-scratch EVs in the next few years.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/volvo-concept-recharge-ev-152846008.html?src=rss

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France orders streaming services to reinvest in local content

The French government has decreed that Netflix, Disney+ and other streaming services will have to spend up to a quarter of their French revenue on making local content. Eighty percent of each platform's respective investment will go toward making French shows, TV movies and documentaries (more Emily in Paris and Lupin, anyone?). The remaining fifth — four or five percent of their total French revenue — will be used to make theatrically released movies.

The country is the first European Union member to enforce new streaming rules under the European Commission's Audiovisual Media Services Directive. The framework is designed to create more parity between streaming platforms and other broadcasters and entertainment services across the EU.

Until now, streaming platforms have been prohibited from adding any theatrically released movie to their French libraries until three years after the film hit cinemas in the country. If the services spend a quarter of their French revenue on local content, they'll have access to films within 12 months of their release dates. If they opt for the minimum investment of 20 percent, they'll need to wait at least a year before adding theatrical releases.

So, there's an incentive for platforms to invest the full 25 percent of revenue. Disney+, for instance, might be tempted to go down that route so it can stream the likes of Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar movies much sooner in France.

Netflix is planning to reinvest 20 percent of its French revenue in local content, according to Variety. It's hoping to lock down a 12-month window for theatrical movies. The company hasn't shown its movies at the Cannes Film Festival for years, partly because of the three-year cinema rule.

The EU has been working for years to ensure streaming platforms have a significant proportion of local content in their libraries. Other jurisdictions have been attempting to make streaming services invest in local productions as well.

The Canadian government, for instance, is looking to reclassify streaming companies, which could require them to contribute hundreds of millions of dollars toward making local content. In 2017, Netflix committed to spending $400 million on Canadian productions over five years.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/netflix-disney-plus-france-local-content-154532745.html?src=rss

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Loki and the Simpsons meet on Disney+ July 7th

Fans of Loki will have more than just a new episode of Marvel’s live-action series to look forward to next Wednesday. On July 7th, Disney will also release The Good, The Bart, and The Loki, a new Simpsons short guest starring Tom Hiddleston, to Disney+. Of his latest (mis)adventure, the company says Loki has once again gotten himself banished from Asgard, only this time to find himself in the town of Springfield. The God of Mischief teams up with Bart and hijinks ensue.

The Good, The Bart, and The Loki is the second Disney+ Simpsons crossover following the Star Wars-themed The Awakens from its Nap. Of course, you can thank the billions Disney spent adding Marvel, Lucasfilm and assets from 21st Century Fox to its empire for that fact the Simpsons and Loki can appear in an animated short together. 

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/the-good-the-bart-and-the-loki-disney-plus-july-7th-160218644.html?src=rss

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