Hyundai’s first all-EV factory in the US will be in Georgia

Hyundai is betting big on American electric vehicle sales. The automaker has struck a deal with Georgia to build its first dedicated EV factory in the US. The 2,923-acre plant near Savannah will make cars and batteries when production is projected to start in the first half of 2025. Construction starts in early 2023. The company expects to manufacture 300,000 EVs per year at the facility, covering a "wide range" of models.

Multiple factors led to the location choice. Hyundai pointed to "favorable business conditions" that included speedy market access, a large talent pool and an existing network that includes Kia's main manufacturing hub as well as suppliers. Unnamed incentives play a part, according to Savannah Morning News. However, it's also a prime spot for transportation. The factory is less than 31 miles from Savannah's port, which is the largest container stopover in the US and has two railway facilities at its disposal. Add the proximity of two major highways (the I-95 and I-16) and it will be easy for Hyundai to receive supplies and ship finished EVs.

Not surprisingly, both Georgia and Hyundai are touting economic benefits. They estimate the investment to be worth $5.54 billion, with Governor Brian Kemp claiming it will be the "largest project" in state history. Hyundai further claimed the plant would create 8,100 jobs, although it's not clear how many of those are full-time, permanent roles.

The annual production level won't be quite as strong as Hyundai's conventional manufacturing output. The company's Montgomery, Alabama plant can make up to 399,500 vehicles per year. This represents a major commitment to EVs, however, and suggests Hyundai is racing to compete with Tesla, Rivian, Volkswagen and other brands expanding their electric car production in the country.

Watch the first eight minutes of ‘Stranger Things’ season 4

Netflix is trying to build up hype for Stranger Things season 4 in a not-so-subtle way: by letting you watch a significant chunk of it. The service has shared the first eight minutes of the introductory episode in hopes you'll tune in for the rest. We won't spoil the finer points, but we will say that it's mostly a flashback that sets the stage for what's to come.

It's also clear just why the fourth season is split in two — some episodes are exceptionally long. Volume 1, premiering May 27th, includes seven episodes that are conventionally-sized apart from the last, which runs for an hour and 38 minutes. Volume 2, arriving July 1st, is another matter. It consists of just two lengthy episodes, with the last running for nearly two and a half hours. You're effectively watching a feature film.

There are reasons for the long runtime. The Duffer Brothers previously said they'd planned to finish the story in four or five seasons, and this fourth run is the start of that climax. The story is also far-reaching, with scenes in Hawkins, California, Russia and "elsewhere." It's a busy plot, and the creators are apparently determined to tie up every loose end.

Norman Reedus says a ‘Death Stranding’ sequel is in the works

If you suspected a Death Stranding sequel was in the works, you were probably spot-on. Lead actor Norman Reedus told Leo in an interview that work had "just started" on a second game. He didn't share any more details. However, it's safe to presume any follow-up is a long way off. Reedus noted that it took "two or three years" to complete motion capture for the first game, and we wouldn't expect it to be much speedier this time given Hideo Kojima's fondness for lengthy cutscenes.

We've asked Kojima Productions for comment. It's easy to see why the studio would greenlight a second Death Stranding game, though. The first sold five million copies between its November 2019 launch and July 2021, and that was before the Director's Cut releases. A sequel would help the company build on that success, not to mention bolster Kojima's post-Konami reputation.

Epic’s lawsuit against Google won’t stop Bandcamp’s in-app payments

Bandcamp won't have to worry about Google pulling its app from the Play Store in the near future. The music service has entered into an agreement that will let it use its existing in-app payment system on Android while parent company Epic Games continues its antitrust lawsuit against Google. Artists will keep receiving the same share as before, but Bandcamp will put 10 percent of Android-related sales revenue in escrow until the case is resolved. The company said in a blog post that it would absorb that cost rather than pass it along to musicians.

The arrangement takes effect June 1st, the same day Google is set to enforce a new rule requiring that apps like Bandcamp's use only the Play Store billing system for in-app purchases. Google will still have the power to enforce Play Store policies beyond the exception carved out through this deal.

The move is a compromise for both sides. Epic had filed for a preliminary injunction that would have barred Google from pulling Bandcamp's app without the escrow requirement. It has long argued that Google's billing requirement would hurt both artists and its own bottom line by reducing their revenue shares and delaying payouts. Google, meanwhile, claimed Bandcamp and Epic were simply trying to avoid paying for the Play Store's "value" and that the 10 percent fee is less than what those companies charge through their own systems.

Regardless of the arguments, the pact may be good news for music makers. While Bandcamp may change its payouts if Epic loses its lawsuit, that's not likely to be imminent. Artists can expect the status quo to continue for some time.

Update 5/20 12:25PM ET: Google told Engadget in a statement that it will "continue to defend" itself against Epic's effort to "not pay for the value" of the Play Store.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 delivers faster, longer-lasting Android flagships

Qualcomm is keeping up its habit of releasing speed-bumped chips in the middle of the year, albeit with a couple of twists. The company has introduced a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 system-on-chip that delivers both the usual performance boost and, importantly, battery life. Qualcomm claims a 10 percent processing speed increase and 20 percent higher performance-per-Watt for AI, but it's also boasting a 30 percent power reduction — in theory, you'll wring an extra hour of gameplay out of your flagship-class Android handset.

There won't be a shortage of device partners. Qualcomm expects products to begin arriving in the third quarter (summer) from big-name brands like ASUS, Honor, Motorola, OnePlus, Oppo and Xiaomi. These are more likely to be subtle revisions than major overhauls, but that still means you'll be getting top-of-the-line processing power.

A second announcement is more of a pleasant surprise for budget buyers. Qualcomm has unveiled the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1, a sequel to the 778G aimed at upper-mid-range Android hardware. An upgraded Adreno GPU should be about 20 percent faster, while AI processing is about 30 percent quicker. There are a few firsts for the 7 series, too. You can shoot simultaneously from three cameras, take advantage of on-chip data security upgrades and share in the audio upgrades from the 8 Gen 1.

The first Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 phones are due by the end of the second quarter (no later than June) from brands like Honor, Oppo and Xiaomi. You might not see many of these products in the US, then. Still, they could make a big difference in a category where price is often as important as features and gaming frame rates.

Qualcomm’s new reference AR glasses are wireless and more comfortable

Qualcomm's smart glasses technology has come along way in two years. The company has unveiled the Wireless AR Smart Viewer Reference Design, a next-gen pair of augmented reality glasses meant to help hardware partners build their own immersive eyewear. It now tethers wirelessly to a host PC, phone or puck, and it's 40 percent thinner despite packing a newer (if slightly old) Snapdragon XR2 platform. Add better-balanced weight distribution and the device should be considerably more comfortable than its predecessor, even if it still won't win any fashion awards.

Each eye gets a 1080p, 90Hz micro-OLED display that reportedly eliminates motion blur. You'll also have full six-degrees-of-freedom movement thanks to three cameras (two monochrome, one color) as well as hand tracking with gesture recognition. WiFi 6E and Bluetooth help shuffle data quickly while keeping lag under 3ms between the glasses and host device.

A handful of manufacturers already have access to Qualcomm's new AR design, and more should have their turn within the "coming months." You won't buy this exact hardware as an everyday customer. It could, however, lead to a wave of next-generation glasses that you wouldn't mind wearing for games or work — even they might not be as ambitious as some AR projects.

‘Blade Runner’ composer and electronic music pioneer Vangelis dies at 79

The music world just lost one of its more influential figures. Deadlinereports Vangelis, the composer behind the scores for Blade Runner and Chariots of Fire, has died in France at the age of 79. He broke ground in music by blending synthesizers with jazz, orchestral work and other styles normally seen at odds with each other. He helped the movie business break away from its dependence on classical or pop soundtracks, and joined artists like Brian Eno and Jean-Michel Jarre in defining both electronic music as a whole as well as sub-genres such as ambient and new-age.

Vangelis is synonymous with sci-fi thanks to his iconic Blade Runner soundtrack, but he was also a proponent of space exploration who produced multiple albums in tribute to major missions. He helped score Carl Sagan's 1980 Cosmos TV series, wrote Mythodea to celebrate NASA's Mars Odyssey mission in 2001 and produced a tribute to the Rosetta comet probe in 2016. His last full album, 2021's Juno to Jupiter, honored its namesake spacecraft right as it was shedding more light on the gas giant. He received NASA's Public Service Medal in 2003.

The musician was born in Greece in 1943 as Evangelos Odessey Papathanassiou. He started his music career in pop and soundtracks in the mid-1960s, but it was his 1970s forays into electronic music that helped develop his signature style. Cosmos, Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner cemented his reputation, while high-profile projects like 1492: Conquest of Paradise and Alexander drew further attention.

Vangelis leaves a strong legacy. On top of his role in Hollywood, you can hear his influence in electronic artists like Robert Rich and Steve Roach. Even modern performers outside of his core genre, such as Armin van Buuren and Run the Jewels' El-P, cite him as a hero. He'll be missed, but you may hear echoes of his sound for decades to come.

DOJ says security researchers won’t face hacking charges

The Justice Department doesn't want security researchers facing federal charges when they expose security flaws. The department has revised its policy to indicate that researchers, ethical hackers and other well-intentioned people won't be charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act if they're investigating, testing or fixing vulnerabilities in "good faith." You're safe as long as you aren't hurting others and use the knowledge to bolster the security of a product, the DOJ said.

The government made clear that bad actors couldn't use research as a "free pass." They'll still face trouble if they use newly-discovered security holes for extortion or other malicious purposes, regardless of what they claim.

This revised policy is limited to federal prosecutors, and won't spare researchers from state-level charges. It does provide "clarity" that was missing in the earlier 2014 guidelines, though, and might help courts that weren't sure of how to handle ethical hacking cases.

It's also a not-so-subtle message to officials who might abuse the threat of criminal charges to silence critics. In October 2021, for instance, Missouri Governor Mike Parson threatened a reporter with prosecution for pointing out a website flaw that required no hacking whatsoever. The DOJ's new policy might not completely deter threats like Parson's, but it could make their words relatively harmless.

Android 13 will have native support for braille displays

Android already has some accommodations for typing in braille, but Google is taking that one (important) step further with Android 13. As hinted at I/O, Android 13 will begin offering "out-of-the-box" support for braille displays through the platform's Talkback screen reader. You won't have to download the BrailleBack app to use physical input instead of the virtual keyboard.

You'll have access to "many" of Talkback's features, whether it's navigating the interface or shortcuts for common tasks like sending text messages. New shortcuts are aimed specifically at braille displays, such as jumping to the next line in a document or copying text.

Braille display support will first arrive in the next Android 13 beta, due "in a few weeks." The move will help people with blindness use their phones without using voice commands, and could make smartphones far more viable for people with deafblindness that can't rely on audio cues.

Epic Game Store sale includes huge discounts for ‘Final Fantasy’ and ‘Far Cry’

Epic is betting that you're looking for games to keep you entertained this summer. The Epic Games Store is running a "Mega Sale" from today (May 19th) through June 16th that offers significant discounts on a host of PC games, including a few recent blockbusters. Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade is 29 percent off, while the open-world shooter Far Cry 6 is a whopping 50 percent off. Bethesda's recently launched Ghostwire: Tokyo is on sale for the first time at 34 percent off, while Tiny Tina's Wonderlands and the tough brawler Sifu both see 20 percent drops.

The deals are effectively larger than that. Every Epic Games account is receiving a 25 percent coupon that applies to any full-game purchases worth at least $15 after any other discounts, including the heftier ones mentioned above. You'll get a coupon after each transaction, too. The sale doesn't apply to add-ons, in-game content or non-game software.

The promo will dovetail with four weekly giveaways for "tentpole" games. You won't have to pay a thing to get at least something out of the Mega Sale, then, even if Epic is clearly hoping you'll buy something else while you're downloading your free titles.