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The Stanley Parable’s rebuilt and expanded ‘Ultra Deluxe’ edition arrives April 27th

It was silly of us to think the ending of The Stanley Parable was actually the end of the game. Ridiculous, even. Catastrophic, possibly. 

Nearly 10 years after the award-winning indie game's debut, original creators Davey Wreden and William Pugh are back with an upgraded, expanded and even stranger version called The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe. It's been in development for more than three years, and it's finally due to hit Steam, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles on April 27th.

The Ultra Deluxe edition includes expanded storylines, plus new content, secrets and choices. The release date trailer teases employee number 427's revamped office space and the reality-bending physics at work in the new game. It looks familiar with flashes of the unknown; basic graphics with quietly trippy mechanics. And over the top of it all, a soothing voice narrating your every move.

The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe is a collaboration between Pugh's studio, Crows Crows Crows, and Wreden, while narrator Kevan Brighting is back as well. The script for the new content is longer than the original game script, and the developers said they tried to implement the fresh mechanics in unexpected ways — which is entirely expected for The Stanley Parable.

“Early in development, the plan was just to bring The Stanley Parable to consoles with a few small tweaks, but as time went on we kept getting more and more excited about what else we could do with the game," the developers said in a press release. "We learned what we wanted it to be as we were making it."

It almost sounds like the new game built itself — but that'd be impossible, right?

... Right?

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/stanley-parable-deluxe-release-date-2022-trailer-170007192.html?src=rss

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Former DeepMind employee acuses company of mishandling sexual abuse complaint

A former DeepMind employee has accused the company of mishandling a series of serious sexual harassment allegations. In a report published Wednesday, The Financial Times recounts the experience of a former female staff member who alleges she was sexually assaulted twice by a senior researcher at the Google subsidiary. She says her harasser also sent her multiple traumatic documents, including one where he made allusions to raping unconscious women.

DeepMind eventually dismissed the researcher, but not before it subjected his victim to a disciplinary process she argues showed major flaws in how the company handles such incidents. All told, it reportedly took DeepMind seven months to address the complaint, and only did so after the former employee filed an appeal. It then allegedly took another two months before the company finally dismissed her harasser in September 2020.

During that period, the former employee was told she would face “disciplinary” action if she talked about her complaint with colleagues. She was advised not to visit the office where her harasser worked, but her manager, not knowing the full scope of the complaint, repeatedly pushed her to attend meetings at that same building. According to The Times, DeepMind did not place any restrictions on the alleged perpetrator, a claim the company disputes. 

A spokesperson for DeepMind said the firm told the researcher not to contact the staff member in September 2019. The company also disputes a claim the researcher received an individual award for their work during the time they were being investigated by the company. DeepMind says the award was given for a historic team paper of which he was one member.

“According to your own findings, I was subjected to sexual harassment, assault and abuse… I will never be the same person. I have spent almost the entire last year fearing for my safety. There is absolutely… no reason why the investigation was so dysfunctional,” the former employee said in an August 2020 email to DeepMind’s senior leadership.

“Any incident of sexual assault or harassment is abhorrent. DeepMind takes all allegations of workplace misconduct extremely seriously and we place our employees’ safety at the core of any actions we take,” DeepMind told Engadget. “The allegations were investigated thoroughly, and the individual who was investigated for misconduct was dismissed without any severance payments.”

Following the incident, DeepMind told Engadget it implemented a series of policies to change how it investigates such matters. Among other changes, the company says it now communicates more clearly how employees should go about raising concerns, and that it has a better system in place to support workers who complain of harassment and discrimination. It also told The Times it “regrets” the former staff member was provided with “incorrect guidance around breaking confidentiality.”

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/deepmind-employee-accuses-company-mishandling-sexual-abuse-complaint-171643326.html?src=rss

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Apple now allows Netflix, Spotify and other ‘reader’ apps to link to their sites for payment

Netflix, Spotify and other similar services will now be able to add a link in their iOS apps that take users to their own websites for payment and account management. Apple now allows developers of "reader" apps to link to a website that they maintain. The tech giant defines reader apps as applications that "provide previously purchased content or content subscriptions for digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music and video." 

Apple first announced that it will allow certain media services to add in-app links last year as part of a settlement with the Japan Fair Trade Commission. The company agreed with the stipulation, because those apps "do not offer in-app digital goods and services for purchase" anyway. While the change was a result of JFTC's investigation, Apple will apply the new policy to all reader apps around the world. That said, developers will have to request access to the External Link Account Entitlement program first before they're allowed to add in-app links. Also, while the change gives developers a way to avoid giving Apple a 15 to 30 percent cut, the company will still collect commissions for purchases within the app itself if the service offers any. 

Google also recently launched a pilot program to test third-party billing systems in Android, allowing users to pay for services either via its own payment system or the developer's. Spotify, one of the apps piloting the feature, will show subscribers Google's and its own billing system side by side starting later this year. Google will still get a cut even if the user chooses the service's own billing system, but it will be smaller than the 15 percent commission the tech giant typically collects for subscriptions. 

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/apple-netflix-spotify-reader-apps-link-sites-payment-044147213.html?src=rss

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Boston Dynamics begins selling its Stretch warehouse robot

Almost exactly a year ago, Boston Dynamics introduced a new robot called "Stretch." It's not quite as exciting or as terrifyingly adorable as the Hyundai-owned company's Spot robotic dog, but it can make loading, unloading and moving boxes in warehouses a lot easier. Now, Boston Dynamics has announced that Stretch is finally available for purchase. Or, more precisely, it's now accepting reservations for deliveries in 2023 and 2024, because it's sold out throughout the year due to strong pre-order demand. 

One of the early Stretch customers is DHL, which signed a $15 million deal with Boston Dynamics to equip its warehouses in North America with the robots over the coming years. TechCrunch says Gap and HM are equipping their warehouses with the robot, as well.

What makes Stretch a feasible option for any company is that it was built for easy deployment and doesn't require warehouses to be set up for automation. It doesn't have to be pre-programmed and doesn't need information on the box sizes it needs to handle, though they have to weigh 50 pounds and below. Stretch has a wheeled base, so it can move around without the need for fixed infrastructure, and it has an advanced vision system that gives it the power to autonomously identify boxes and its surroundings.

Boston Dynamics CEO Robert Playter says companies are showing interest in Stretch due to labor shortages, especially since it can be installed and ready to work within existing warehouses in just a few days:

"Labor shortages and supply chain snags continue to create challenges in keeping the flow of goods moving. Stretch makes logistics operations more efficient and predictable, and it improves safety by taking on one of the most physically demanding jobs in the warehouse. Many of our early adopter customers have already committed to deploying the robot at scale, so we are excited Stretch will soon be put to work more broadly, helping retailers and logistics companies handle the continued surging demand for goods."

You can watch Stretch in action below:

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/boston-dynamics-selling-stretch-warehouse-robot-084529508.html?src=rss

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Here are some of the best storage deals we’ve seen on World Backup Day

Today is World Backup Day and to mark the occasion, retailers including Amazon and Best Buy are offering some solid deals on storage. Amazon's sale includes an all-time low price for SanDisk's 1TB Extreme microSDXC UHS-I memory card. It has dropped by $35 from $175 to $140 in a one-day-only deal. If you're looking to seriously upgrade the amount of storage available on your Nintendo Switch, that's not a bad option.

Shop storage deals at Amazon

Also falling to an all-time-low price for today only is the 500GB version of Samsung's T7 Touch SSD. The external drive has a fingerprint sensor you can use to keep your data secure. It's currently $80, which is a temporary drop of $30. The deal only applies to the silver model, unfortunately, and not the black version. The larger-capacity models, which you can find on the same page, have been discounted too.

Elsewhere, SanDisk's 2TB Extreme Portable SSD has been reduced to its second-best price ever. The price of the rugged drive has dropped significantly from $460 to $200 — you'll save $260. Again, this deal is only available for today only.

Shop storage deals at Best Buy

Meanwhile, Best Buy's World Backup Day sale isn't quite as extensive, but there are still some good deals to be found, especially if you could do with adding a ton of storage to your backup process. Take, for instance, the 14TB version of WD's Easystore External USB 3.0 Hard Drive. The price has dropped by $163 to $200. As with the Amazon deals mentioned above, the offer is only available today.

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

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/world-back-up-day-storage-sale-amazon-best-buy-092011388.html?src=rss

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TweetDeck may become a paid Twitter Blue option

TweetDeck — a version of Twitter beloved by journalists, social media pros and other power users — might soon become a paid app, The Verge has reported. A new version of the app redirects to the Twitter Blue subscription signup page, according to code discovered by security researcher Jane Manchun Wong. It promises "a powerful, real-time tool for people who live on Twitter" and would be an "ad-free experience," according to screenshots

TweetDeck is already an essentially ad-free experience, so the inclusion of that language strongly implies that it would become a paid service. The new version would be a "complete rebuild with the parts from the new Twitter app," Manchun noted in a reply. However, she also spotted a link for a "legacy version" which could still be free. 

Twitter launched its Twitter Blue subscription service last November for $2.99 per month. Some features like top articles were seen as positives, but users also criticized Twitter for hiding key features like an "undo" button behind a paywall. 

Twitter has been testing a new version of TweetDeck since last year, with significant changes like "a full Tweet composer, new advanced search features, new column types, and a new way to group columns into clean workspaces," the company wrote. Some power users haven't exactly embraced it, however, due to user interface and other issues. 

The company has also pondered a TweetDeck subscription service, asking users in 2017 if they'd be willing to pay up to $20 per month for a "more advanced TweetDeck experience." And last year, Bloomberg reported that Twitter was considering a subscription fee for the app. 

The move would make sense for Twitter internally, as TweetDeck has always been a black sheep product that lets users bypass ads. Adding it to Twitter Blue would finally allow the company to monetize it and offer a true ad-free experience — since Twitter Blue itself still includes ads.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/tweet-deck-may-become-a-paid-twitter-blue-feature-code-shows-094502501.html?src=rss

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Yelp expands its restaurant health-grading initiative

Yelp today announced it would further expand its health grades information on restaurant listings. While the reviews platform developed its own digital standard for restaurant hygiene (called "Local Inspector Value-entry Specification" or LIVES) alongside the "the technology departments of the cities of San Francisco and New York" in 2013, it's now broadening its partnership with firm Hazel Analytics. Yelp and Hazel teamed up last year, and together the LIVES metric now incorporates "data from health departments across 48 U.S. states" as well as Toronto and Vancouver.

“The expansion of Yelp's health scores program comes at a time when people are returning to indoor dining as COVID-19 restrictions continue to lift, health inspections are restarting from the early pandemic pause, and restaurants are embracing more diner safety measures like contactless payments and virtual menus,” wrote Yelp in a blog post.

There’s a chance you’ve seen health scores on your city’s Yelp restaurant pages already. But in recent years, Yelp became even more proactive in displaying restaurant health scores — it displays information from local health departments or uses third-party vendors like Hazel. Yelp listings for restaurants in Los Angeles also include alerts for the lowest health scores in the last six months.

Still, some in the restaurant industry have criticized Yelp’s efforts. Cities and states vary widely in their food inspection scoring, with some assigning a letter grade or numerical score, and others opting for a pass/fail system. Restaurants have complained about inaccurate or out-of-date scores on their listings. The Mercury News reported that restaurants in Bay Area counties that use a pass/fail system were taken aback when Yelp showed health inspection scores from their third-party analytics vendors for their businesses.

Yelp calculates health inspection scores using three methods: directly using a score provided by a city’s health department, generating a score from raw health data or using an estimated health score generated by Hazel. The third option — which Hazel defaults to in cases where cities don’t publish health inspection scores — leaves a great deal of room for misinterpretation. And as The Mercury News points out, restaurants that, deservedly or not, show low LIVES-generated scores on Yelp might see their business dry up significantly.

Correction, 8:30AM ET: This story has been updated to note that Yelp itself doesn't estimate health scores for restaurants; it displays third-party data from firms like Hazel Analytics. We apologize for the error.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/yelp-widens-its-push-to-list-health-inspection-grades-for-restaurants-110024684.html?src=rss

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The Morning After: The effects of working in space

After 355 days aboard the International Space Station, astronaut Mark Vande Hei returns to Earth both a NASA record holder and a changed man. Though his run was not as long as Peggy Whitson’s 665 cumulative days spent in microgravity, Vande Hei’s accomplishment is still one of the longest single stints in human spaceflight — and makes him the subject of intensive research into the effects of zero-gravity on humans.

Though NASA’s Human Research Program has spent 50 years studying the effects of spaceflight on the human body, the full impact of long-duration space travel has yet to be exhaustively researched. As humanity’s expansion into space accelerates in the coming decades, more people will be going into orbit — and going much farther — and the medical needs obviously increase along with this. Andrew Tarantola outlines where the research is headed.

— Mat Smith


The biggest stories you might have missed

Canada will ban sales of combustion-engine passenger cars by 2035

It’ll demand "at least" 20 percent zero-emissions sales by 2026.

Canada has outlined its Emissions Reduction Plan, which will require all new passenger car sales to be zero-emissions models by 2035. The government will gradually put pressure on automakers, requiring "at least" 20 percent zero-emissions sales by 2026, pushing steeply to 60 percent by 2030. Officials didn't say whether this applied to a make's product mix or simply the volume of cars sold.

Continue reading.

Here’s why your iPhone auto-updates often arrive late

First, the early adopters test the waters.

A Reddit user wrote to Craig Federighi, Apple's Vice President of Software Engineering, to ask how iOS auto-updates work. Federighi responded, revealing that Apple gradually releases "new iOS updates by first making them available for those that explicitly seek them out in Settings, and then 1-4 weeks later (after we've received feedback on the update) ramp up to rolling out devices with auto-update enabled." Generally, this means it takes a few weeks for iOS auto-updates to reach everyone’s iPhone and, in the case of iPadOS, iPad.

Continue reading.

YouTube TV finally supports picture-in-picture on iOS

It’s pretty late.

Google has begun rolling out a new update for its iOS YouTube TV app. Now both iPhone and iPad users have picture-in-picture functionality. To watch something in PiP mode, swipe up from the bottom of the screen. The video will automatically resize and move across your device’s display. You’ll need to be running iOS 15 or newer — and make sure your app is up to date.

It’s taken its time: Apple’s mobile operating system has supported picture-in-picture functionality on iPad since iOS 13 and iPhone since iOS 14. The feature has also been available on the company’s main YouTube app since last year.

Continue reading.

Intel teases first Arc A-series desktop GPU ahead of summer launch

This is the second delay in as many months.

Intel’s finally offered a glimpse of its Arc A-series Limited Edition video card, which is arriving sometime this summer — yes, that means another delay. There are no specs or prices, unfortunately, but the double-height design and twin-fan cooling make clear this aims directly at gamers. Early Arc desktop GPUs are expected to support a raft of modern features, including hardware-accelerated ray tracing and AI-based supersampling. It's still too soon to say if Arc desktop models will offer truly competitive performance. NVIDIA should deliver its first Ampere Next-based GPUs (likely the RTX 40 series) later this year, and AMD will follow suit with the Radeon RX 7000 series.

Continue reading.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/the-morning-after-the-effects-of-working-in-space-111551323.html?src=rss

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BMW’s first all-electric 3 Series is made just for China

BMW has developed the first fully electric 3 series vehicle — but it will only be available in China. In May 2022, the BMW i3 eDrive35L model that's based on the automaker's line of compact cars, will enter the Chinese market. It uses BMW's 5th-gen eDrive powertrain that's also found in the BMW iX3, BMW i4 and BMW iX. The four-door sedan will also be the first 3 Series car with the company's OS8 operating system and its features, including Digital Key, which turns the owner's smartphone into a key for their vehicle.

In its announcement, BMW also shared some key data about the EV, including its 281 horsepower max output and 295 pound-feet of maximum torque. It can apparently go from zero to 62 mph in 6.2 seconds, and it can reach a charge of 80 percent within 35 minutes of being plugged in. Fully charged, it has an estimated range of 327 miles, which is longer than that of the basic BMW i4's.

The automaker says the 3 Series line led the premium-compact segment in China in 2021, so releasing an electrified version in the region makes sense for the company. BMW even even fine-tuned and customized the EV's suspension system for Chinese road conditions and will assemble the vehicle at a plant in Lydia, Shenyang.

The i3 eDrive35L EV is BMW's sixth all—electric model. Similar to rival automakers that are aiming to make a complete shift towards electric vehicles over the coming 10 to 20 years, BMW also ramped up its electrification goals last year. It announced that the last Mini with a combustion engine will be released in 2025 and that it expects its all-electric vehicles to account for 50 percent of its global sales by 2030.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/bmw-3-series-ev-china-113501888.html?src=rss

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Google tweaks Search and News results to direct people to trusted sources

Google is rolling out some updates for Search and News it hopes will reduce the spread of misinformation. Since last June, the company has applied labels to results for "rapidly evolving topics," which include things like breaking news and viral videos that are spreading quickly. It may suggest checking back later for more details as they become clearer. Starting in the US (in English) today, the labels will include some information literacy tips.

The idea is to help people assess whether the information they see about a rapidly evolving topic is legitimate. It will suggest actions such as checking the publication date and searching the author's name to find out if they're credible. Taking information at face value is rarely the wisest approach, so it's good to see Google encouraging users to dig a little deeper.

In Google News, there will be a new label in Top Stories to indicate sources that have been widely cited by other news organizations. It may be applied to things like a news story from local newspapers, an interview, an investigative feature, an announcement or even a press release that other publishers have linked to. Google says it's interested in using the label to highlight original reporting as well.

Again, the aim is to help users find more relevant and helpful information. The label will initially be available on mobile in the US (again, only in English). Google plans to roll it out worldwide in the coming weeks.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/google-news-search-misinformation-labels-120029324.html?src=rss

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