The iPhone 15 Pro version of Resident Evil Village lands on October 30

Resident Evil Village is a haunting horror romp starring a very tall and elegant vampire lady (and some other monsters, sure), and it's heading to iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max on October 30. It'll hit the M1 and M2 models of the iPad Pro and iPad Air on the same day. The base game will cost $40 and its Winters’ Expansion DLC will be an additional $20.

Resident Evil Village originally came to PC, PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S in 2021, and it became a cultural touchstone for its monster-mashing storyline. The game includes werewolf creatures, a mutant fish man, a murderous cult leader and festering, zombie-like enemies, though its breakout star was Countess Alcina Dimitrescu. She's an exceptionally tall, undead, razor-fingered villain who leads a trio of vampiric daughters, and she's simply fantastic.

Village landed on Mac in 2022. Apple revealed the iPhone and iPad versions during its annual iPhone event on September 12, 2023, but it didn't share a release date at the time. Capcom provided the date on its site this week. The Resident Evil 4 remake, which landed on PC and consoles this year, is also due to hit Apple's mobile devices in 2023, but no date has been confirmed just yet.

Other games coming to the iPhone 15 Pro — thanks to the new A17 Pro chipset — include Death Stranding and Assassin's Creed Mirage. Death Stranding is due out this year, while Mirage is scheduled to hit in early 2024.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

All the hilarious corporate BS you might have missed in the Xbox leaks

It's the day after the largest document leak in Xbox's history, and now that the important news is on the record, we can all take a step back and process the ridiculousness of the whole situation. One facet that made the debacle so delicious was the insight into Xbox's corporate communications, from executive emails simmering with ill-concealed annoyance to internal slide decks filled with imaginary quotes from fictional, diehard Xbox fans.

Here we've collected a handful of email messages and slides from the Xbox leak that made us giggle, raise our eyebrows, or enact some strange combination of the two:

The emails

Wild rumors can lead to actual product discussions

Five months before the launch of the Xbox Series X/S, division chief Phil Spencer was pleased to discover that, due to a series of logistical hurdles, Yakuza: Like a Dragon would be a next-gen Xbox exclusive. He was so pleased, in fact, that he wrote in an email to other executives, "They are really doing a nice job support us, great to see. I love the rumors that we'd launch our Xbox in Japan with a Sega logo on it." Just 16 minutes later, Spencer followed up with a pitch to actually roll out a limited-edition Sega-branded console in Japan, writing:

There is a root of an idea here. The idea that Sega could have an LE version of XSX in Japan is very interesting. They are doing good work with us on a lot of fronts and it could be something to consider, not the traditional LE but something special if they are up for it. Maybe even a Sega wrap with their IP (including JSR, PSO, Rally, Sonic etc).

The proper people were roped into the thread and it seems the conversation eventually fizzled out, but we'll still call this a win for the rumor mill.

Valve, a Microsoft company

One of the biggest headlines to spawn from the leak was the fact that Phil Spencer really wanted to buy Nintendo at one point in 2020, calling it a potential "career moment" for himself. We already knew that Microsoft was interested in purchasing Sega and a handful of other major game studios — including ZeniMax, which it successfully acquired in 2021, and Activision-Blizzard, which is the reason we're reading these internal messages in the first place. The leaked emails reveal additional businesses that Xbox wanted to gobble up, including Warner Bros. Interactive, Valve and TikTok.

"Our BoD has seen the full writeup on Nintendo (and Valve) and they are fully supportive on either if opportunity arises as am I," Spencer wrote.

Warner Bros. Interactive makes a modicum of sense here, but Valve feels as out-of-reach as Nintendo in terms of a potential acquisition. Valve is a private company and it doesn't publicly share financial data, but one of Xbox's slides estimated its 2021 revenue total at $7 billion, about the same as Electronic Arts or Activision-Blizzard. But more than profitability, Valve has a stable position as the leading distributor of PC games via Steam, and it would be completely out-of-character for the company to entertain a buyout.

This whole email thread started because Microsoft Commercial Chief Marketing Officer Takeshi Numoto sent an email to Spencer with the subject line, "random thought." In it, Numoto expressed confusion over internal discussions to purchase TikTok, suggesting Nintendo as a better option. Neither of these purchases happened, of course.

Mark Cerny talks too much

Sony unveiled the first details about the PlayStation 5 on March 18, 2020, and Microsoft executives discussed the specs that same day in an email chain. The initial breakdown included commentary about PS5 architect Mark Cerny's presentation, complete with the lines, "Cerny talked at length about the move to SSDs," and, "Cerny also spent what seemed like a disproportionate amount of time on audio innovations." In an otherwise sterile, completely professional email, these lines might as well have been direct insults about Cerny's lineage.

Spencer shared his summary of the PS5's capabilities with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella that same day, concluding with, "This was a good day for Xbox."

Leave Baldur’s Gate 3 alone

Baldur's Gate 3 is the surprise, smash-hit RPG of 2023, so it's interesting to see how Xbox classified it in last year's internal Game Pass projections. While some games were described as, "Huge PC nostalgia play with new title from legendary designer" (Return to Monkey Island), or, "Sequel to strong GP performer" (Wreckfest 2), Baldur's Gate 3 was called a "second-run Stadia PC RPG." It may have technically been true at the time, but it still feels like a personal attack, you know?

Get 'em, Jean-Emile

At one point, Xbox Partner Software Architect Jean-Emile Elien sent an email to Spencer that essentially asked, "Is the Game Pass model going to screw over developers?" Spencer argued, in vague terms at first, that it shouldn't. The two traded emails over two days, with Elien asking for clarification on how the company will measure a game's success, and repeating that he wasn't trying to armchair quarterback. The bureaucratic tension builds up beautifully with each sent message. Here's a sampling of their discussion:

Elien: "So how should studios now measure their worth to the portfolio? I know you dislike the Netflix analogy, but I am trying to understand the equivalent of 'ending a show' in their model."

Spencer: "Different games perform differently, some are very high on play and therefore a higher impact on retention, others are good top of funnel for attract but don't get much play. You need both. I'd be lying to you if I told you we had the excel sheet of the value of a game completely figured out."

Elien: "I'd be really saddened if the reduction of an inherently creative endeavor to a single cell going red was the determinant. How about looking back on the studio closures of the past —would a product like Game Pass have changed your mind on any particular studio's closure?"

Spencer: "I feel like the highlighted question is a preview of an opinion you have. Do you think gamepass would have saved a studio we once owned?"

Elien: "My turn to say: Honestly, I don't know. I don't really know what goes into closing a studio: how much funding vs. personnel vs. output feeds into the decision."

Spencer: "I don't think we've ever closed a studio due to the studio's P&L. It's almost always been either from leadership leaving (Lionhead as an example) or team just losing it's passion (Ensemble as an example)."

Elien: "Fair. ... This is also the second time you've called me on a 'question that sounds like an opinion' which leads me to believe this happens to you a lot. I promise, if I have an opinion that is worth me sending an email, I will give it. I appreciate this forum too much to be disingenuous."

King King

This is your regularly scheduled reminder that Microsoft's attempt to acquire Activision-Blizzard is actually all about King, the mobile developer behind Candy Crush. Even though "King" is often left out of the Activision-Blizzard moniker entirely, this studio consistently brings in the most money of any segment.

Here's how Spencer put it in an email on January 28, 2020, before acquisition talks began: "Activision is unique partner given their King acquisition. Q3 revenue for King was $500M (all mobile) while Activision (Call of Duty) was $209M and Blizzard $394M (leaning PC but also includes mobile and console). Activision is really a mobile first publisher (through their $6B King acquisition)."

Just something to keep in mind as the Microsoft-Activision acquisition continues to play out in court.

Phil seems chill

One of the most adorable takeaways from the leaked Xbox emails is how approachable (and downright nerdy) Spencer seems to be. In the included messages, Spencer responds quickly and thoroughly, and he offers fun ideas for branding and software partnerships amid the corporate speak. It seems like senior-level employees feel comfortable emailing him with feedback and even questioning his goals, which says a lot about his management style.

Also, Spencer's tone becomes noticeably more formal when he's emailing Nadella, which is endearing and relatable. Everyone has a boss.

The slides

Go to the American Southwest?

Xbox leak slide (2023)

If you need us to explain why an Xbox-branded photo of an American highway next to an "inspirational" quote attributed to African Proverb is funny, then we really don't know why you're here.

The Voice of the Player™

A slide from the big Xbox leak

These appear to be made-up, not-real, imaginary, fictional, fake quotes extolling the virtues of the new-look Xbox Series X, placed under photos of people who didn't say these things. Also, there's a Series X with sprouts growing out of it. Manifest it, Microsoft.

ZeniMax's sales pitch

ZeniMax forecast in 2020 from the big Xbox leak (2023).

Microsoft's financial year ends and begins in July, which makes this chart from 2020 even harder to digest. This is how ZeniMax presented its release calendar to Microsoft during acquisition negotiations, and it starts with Starfield coming out by summer 2021, followed by Bethesda's Indiana Jones game by summer 2022, Doom Year Zero by summer 2023 and Elder Scrolls VI and Dishonored 3 by summer 2024. In actuality, Starfield came out this literal month, and we've heard very little — or nothing at all — about Indiana Jones, Elder Scrolls VI or Dishonored 3. Elder Scrolls VI likely isn't coming out for five more years, in fact. And you thought you were bummed out by major game delays.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Amazon’s Echo Show 8 offers spatial audio and a dynamic, proximity-based UI

Amazon debuted an updated Echo Show 8 during its annual fall event on Wednesday, highlighting the device's new display, camera, microphones and spatial-audio capabilities. Generative AI helps the Echo Show 8 respond dynamically to the user's position in the physical world, offering different displays depending on how far away someone is from the screen. A new language model increases the device's on-board Alexa response time by 40 percent over the previous edition.

The Echo Show 8 costs $150 and is available for pre-order now, and will start shipping in October.

In its keynote, Amazon showed off the new display's dynamic UI in a demo involving the weather app — the Echo Show 8 showed a larger font size when the user was far away from the screen, and switched to a more detailed view as they came closer. This is similar to the proximity features Google builds into its Nest Hub devices

The Echo Show 8's adaptive screen will display personalized content if the user is enrolled in visual ID, populating things like recent playlists or relevant news items upon approach. Proximity-based content will hit the second-generation Echo Show 8 and the new model next month, and will come to other Echo Show devices early next year.

Echo Show 8 (2023)

The Echo Show 8 also uses a new large language model that's designed to make interacting with the Alexa assistant feel more conversational. Users won't have to use the wake word over and over again in order to ask the device questions, for instance. It also has an improved, centered, 13-megapixel camera and new background noise-minimization features for better video calls. A built-in smart home hub supports Zigbee, Sidewalk, Thread, Bluetooth and Matter devices.

Additionally, Amazon unveiled the Echo Show 8 Photos Edition, which puts your personal pictures front-and-center as the primary view. The photos will change every 30 seconds and the device comes with 25 GB of storage through Amazon Photos. The Echo Show 8 Photos Edition costs $160 and requires a subscription to Amazon's PhotosPlus service, which renews at $2 a month. It's due out in the fall and comes with a six-month PhotosPlus subscription, set to automatically renew.

Amazon unveiled the original, 7-inch Echo Show in 2017 and has rolled out various versions over the years, with the latest notable refreshes landing in 2021. That year, Amazon announced the third-gen Echo Show 10, the second-gen Echo Show 5 and Echo Show 8, and the brand-new Echo Show 15, which is designed to be wall-mounted. Amazon did release an updated Echo Show 5 in 2023, offering minimal improvements in processing speed and audio quality, but otherwise leaving the device's design unchanged.

Follow all of the news live from Amazon’s 2023 Devices event right here.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Xbox head Phil Spencer responds to a day of massive leaks

After a day of leaks comprising an all-digital Xbox Series X, an advanced controller, a "cloud-hybrid" console, fruitless Nintendo acquisition plans and some very mean words about Baldur's Gate 3, Xbox head Phil Spencer has spoken publicly — and semi-privately — about the situation for the first time.

On X, Spencer said, "It is hard to see our team's work shared in this way because so much has changed and there's so much to be excited about right now, and in the future." He added that the company "will share the real plans when we are ready."

In an internal memo sent to employees at Microsoft's gaming division, and published in full by The Verge, Spencer went further. The full note reads:


Today, several documents submitted in the court proceedings related to our proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard were unintentionally disclosed. I know this is disappointing, even if many of the documents are well over a year old and our plans have evolved.

I also know we all take the confidentiality of our plans and our partners’ information very seriously. This leak obviously is not us living up to that expectation. We will learn from what happened and be better going forward. We all put incredible amounts of passion and energy into our work, and this is never how we want that hard work to be shared with the community. That said, there’s so much more to be excited about, and when we’re ready, we’ll share the real plans with our players.

In closing, I appreciate all of the work that you pour into Team Xbox to surprise and delight our players. In the days and weeks ahead, let’s stay focused on what we can control: continuing the amazing success of Starfield, the upcoming launch of the incredible and accessible Forza Motorsport, and continuing to build games, services and devices that millions of players can enjoy.


Undoubtedly, it's been a long day for everyone at Xbox. Spencer is doing his best in both missives to downplay the significance of the leaked documents by suggesting that Xbox's hardware plans have changed since they were first internally shared in 2022. The original slides outline a plan to debut a disc-less, cylindrical, 2TB version of the Xbox Series X in 2024, as well as an updated controller with "precision haptic feedback" (like PlayStation's DualSense) and direct-to-cloud capabilities (like Stadia's controller). Looking even further ahead, the documents included plans for a 10th-gen Xbox console with a focus on "cloud-hybrid games," penciled in for a 2028 release. 

Also, Spencer really wanted to buy Nintendo at one point, apparently (but it seems Microsoft is settling for Activision-Blizzard instead, which is how we ended up in this leaky mess to begin with). We've rounded up all the news from today's document dump right here.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Talos Principle 2 and the quiet subversion of optimistic sci-fi

“What are we willing to fight for? What do we deserve, morally speaking? What is our place, our relationship with the universe, with nature?”

During a preview of The Talos Principle 2 in August, series writer Jonas Kyratzes posed 19 questions about the essence of humanity in just 90 seconds. Between explanations of new mechanics and puzzle systems, he rattled off deep musings about society and the natural world as easily as if he were reading his weekly grocery list. It felt like these questions were constantly on his mind, poised at the tip of his tongue.

“What does society owe me?” he asked. “What do I owe society? What is our relationship with nature? What is our relationship with the universe? Is the universe kind? Is nature understanding or is it cruel and random? And if it is cruel and random, where do we fit in? What degree of control should we have?”

The Talos Principle 2

He wasn’t craving answers. TheTalos Principle 2 is filled with provocations like these, and according to Kyratzes, they’re designed to generate conversation and debate, even if it’s all internal. The goal is to spawn deep thoughts about the future of humanity and the role technology can play in our evolution.

“They're statements that are intended to make you think,” Kyratzes told Engadget a few weeks after the initial preview. “Let's say the robots are human and they're capable of love. Like, that's our premise.… Hopefully that is also the sort of thing that will provoke some thought.”

This philosophical approach to the future is the heart of The Talos Principle, an award-winning sci-fi puzzle game that debuted in 2014, and its tender curiosity is baked into the sequel as well. The Talos Principle 2 is due out this year for PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, and it directly follows the story of the original. It’s set in a burgeoning society built by sentient robots, and its main gameplay mechanic involves solving complex laser riddles, interspersed with conversations about the nature of consciousness, love and survival.

The Talos Principle 2

Co-writer Verena Kyratzes didn’t work on the original game’s story, but she and the other developers at Croteam used its calm, question-asking approach as a blueprint for the sequel.

“It didn't only ask you a question, but once you gave the answer to the question, it kind of very politely asked you to just think about whether you're really sure about that,” she said. “It's a game that constantly tries to make you think, to interrogate yourself and your beliefs, and I really hope that we managed to do that in the second one, too. The gentleness of it is something that's very important to me because I think if you're talking down to somebody, if you're just telling them, ‘That was stupid,’ then they will immediately close off.”

The Talos Principle 2 represents an old-school brand of sci-fi that invites people to play around with the ideas it poses; warm, welcoming and slow. Even the series’ conclusions, when it offers any, are inherently optimistic, centering on humanity and the ability society has to thrive with nature in the future. It’s a return to a Carl Sagan era of forward thought, positioning people as the solution, not just the instigator, in problems like climate change, overpopulation, rogue AI, pandemics and space travel. This alone is a refreshing perspective in a sea of mainstream sci-fi media that only envisions the future as a miserable, sterile void manufactured by society's stubbornness and greed.

The Talos Principle 2

“Consistently, science fiction presents itself as being original for taking a dystopian view, as if it was subverting a mainstream narrative of hopefulness,” Jonas Kyratzes said. “They'll be like, ‘In our story technology is bad.’ Oh really, you mean like every other story?”

As a series, The Talos Principle is more thematically aligned with the aspirational sci-fi of the original Star Trek or The Next Generation than it is with the gloom of today's Picard. This optimistic, human-first approach makes The Talos Principle 2 subversive as a work of contemporary sci-fi.

Here’s how Jonas Kyratzes and Verena Kyratzes discussed the modern glut of pessimistic sci-fi among themselves:

Jonas: “[Dystopia] is of course, on some level, a response to the conditions we live in. But it's also limiting our ability to imagine something else. And I think this kind of optimism, that's so crucial, it's so fundamental in a way that it's hard to talk about, because what are we without a future? I think that also reflects our alienation from our own humanity. The tendency to always go, ‘Humanity is a virus, humanity is bad, all humans are evil.’ Einstein once remarked that this is a very troubling thing, a sign of alienation, because it's such a fundamental thing to have a connection to humanity. Because you are human. … It's the most mainstream idea, it's the ruling ideology of our time: Nothing will get better and you shouldn't expect anything to get better.”

Verena: “Often we’ll watch something that is set 300, 400, 1,000 years in the future, but what they're actually talking about is something that is [current]. They're no longer imagining a future. They're just talking about what upsets them in the present.”

Jonas: “By taking it into a utopian future, it gives you different ways of thinking about it, and now a lot of science fiction doesn't. It's like, here's future racism, exactly like now racism. As if to say, nothing will change, nothing will get better, nor can it. And it’s like, OK, great — why are we telling this story?”

The Talos Principle 2 will present decidedly humanist ideas in conversations with NPCs and general story beats, but it also makes room for other conclusions. The game’s respect for the human race extends to individual players, and the story will unravel in various ways depending on the choices each person makes and the interpretations they choose to follow. Diversity is one humanity’s greatest strengths, after all.

There are varying levels of engagement with the narrative, too — completing the game’s incredibly challenging golden puzzles, for instance, will unlock a “significant story payoff,” according to Jonas Kyratzes.

The Talos Principle 2 isn’t necessarily a game about utopian sci-fi; it just uses this direction as a backbone. The sequel takes players from sterile, Myst-like testing grounds filled with wildly tricky spatial puzzles, to a clean, shining city built by robots that act like and call themselves human. Robots that feel human. Robots that feel, full-stop.

“All of these things that we're all thinking about and arguing about are going into this game, and hopefully are reflected in the conversations inside that game,” Jonas Kyratzes said. “I would hope it's expressed as a story through characters who have personalities. The game is all of these things, but it's also a love story, as much as anything else. Multiple love stories. It’s intertwined love stories in a lot of ways, that's an undercurrent that's very significant. The ability of sentient beings to love, even if they are robots.”

A multitude of questions spawn from this premise alone. The Talos Principle 2 will invite players to test their own theories about consciousness, AI, sustainability and love in a meditative space. It doesn’t promise answers, but maybe it’ll inspire players to ask different questions about humanity’s future, just like sci-fi is supposed to.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Baby Steps inches toward a summer 2024 release

Baby Steps, an indie game that generated a ton of buzz when it was announced in June, is coming out in summer 2024 for PC and PlayStation 5. This update is a smidgen better than the original reveal, which teased a general release window of 2024. It did so using a Death Stranding pastiche featuring a grown man in a onesie trying his hardest to put one foot in front of the other, and today's news comes alongside a new, silly video that ends in Star Wars-style font.

Baby Steps comes from QWOP and Getting Over It creator Bennett Foddy, and Ape Out developers Gabe Cuzzillo and Maxi Boch. It's essentially a narrative-driven, 3D version of Foddy's original extreme walking simulator, where players control each of the main character's steps independently.

Baby Steps looks just as hilarious and strange as the creators' previous works, and the new trailer highlights the various moans, groans and mumbled curse words of the main character, Nate, as he struggles to learn to walk. Apparently, those sounds all came from the developers themselves, since they're handling voice-acting duties firsthand.

Here's how Boch described the recording process: "The developers themselves are handling voiceover duties, recording and experimenting until they discover the humor of each scene. This seat-of-our-pants approach comes through thanks to the unconventional editing, which leaves in giggles and breaks, as well as the playful rapport between Cuzziilo and Foddy, together lending Baby Steps a slacker-comedy feel."

Baby Steps is being published by Devolver Digital.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Baby Steps inches toward a summer 2024 release

Baby Steps, an indie game that generated a ton of buzz when it was announced in June, is coming out in summer 2024 for PC and PlayStation 5. This update is a smidgen better than the original reveal, which teased a general release window of 2024. It did so using a Death Stranding pastiche featuring a grown man in a onesie trying his hardest to put one foot in front of the other, and today's news comes alongside a new, silly video that ends in Star Wars-style font.

Baby Steps comes from QWOP and Getting Over It creator Bennett Foddy, and Ape Out developers Gabe Cuzzillo and Maxi Boch. It's essentially a narrative-driven, 3D version of Foddy's original extreme walking simulator, where players control each of the main character's steps independently.

Baby Steps looks just as hilarious and strange as the creators' previous works, and the new trailer highlights the various moans, groans and mumbled curse words of the main character, Nate, as he struggles to learn to walk. Apparently, those sounds all came from the developers themselves, since they're handling voice-acting duties firsthand.

Here's how Boch described the recording process: "The developers themselves are handling voiceover duties, recording and experimenting until they discover the humor of each scene. This seat-of-our-pants approach comes through thanks to the unconventional editing, which leaves in giggles and breaks, as well as the playful rapport between Cuzziilo and Foddy, together lending Baby Steps a slacker-comedy feel."

Baby Steps is being published by Devolver Digital.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Princess Peach: Showtime hits Switch on March 22, 2024

Now she's just showing off. Princess Peach: Showtime puts everyone's favorite pink-draped mini monarch under the spotlight on March 22, 2024. Nintendo debuted the new game during today's Direct showcase, and it features Princess Peach in a variety of roles, including a swordfighter, a detective, a pastry chef and a kung-fu master. 

Princess Peach: Showtime is a platformer, puzzler and brawler, and it's set inside the Sparkle Theater, which has been overrun by the evil Grape and the Sour Bunch. Along with some friends, Princess Peach uses her transformation abilities to beat the baddies and save the theater. Nintendo teased a new game starring Princess Peach earlier this year, and these are the first details about it.

"In this adventure, the gameplay changes depending on Peach’s role, and even more surprising transformations are waiting to be revealed," Nintendo said.

Princess Peach: Showtime is heading exclusively to Switch on March 22, and pre-orders are open today.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Apple Watch Series 9 can handle Siri requests without your iPhone

It's September, which means the air is thick with the promise of fall, school is back in session, and Apple just revealed a new Apple Watch. This year, at its annual fall event, the company is showing off the Apple Watch Series 9. The Series 9 features a new processor, the S9 chip, and a quad-core neural engine, which promises 18-hour battery life and overall performance boosts. On the software side, watchOS 10 is poised to be the biggest UI overhaul in Apple Watch history, with a renewed focus on widgets, and a slew of app and input updates.

The Series 9 is available to order today and it's due to hit the market on September 22. It starts at $399.

The neural engine enables offline Siri access, which means you won't need your iPhone nearby to interact with Apple's digital assistant on the Series 9. In the same vein, dictation is 25 percent more accurate on Series 9 than Series 8. The engine also processes AI tasks twice as fast as the previous iteration, and it powers new gestures. The Series 9 GPU is 30 percent faster than the Series 8, and it uses a second-generation ultra wideband chip that unlocks precise object location for other UWB devices. The new model features a maximum brightness of up to 2000 nits, doubling the Series 8's capabilities.

The new double-tap gesture allows wearers to control some Watch functions by bringing their thumb and index finger together in quick succession, without ever touching the screen. Double tap activates the primary button in an app, so it can be used to take a photo with the Camera Remote, answer and end a call, play and pause music, stop a timer, and other basic actions. Double-tap will roll out in a software update in October.

The Watch Series 9 is available in 41mm and 45mm sizes. For aluminum cases, it comes in starlight, midnight, silver, red, and a new pink colorway. The stainless steel case options are gold, silver and graphite.

Apple is touting the Series 9 as its first carbon-neutral product, meaning select case and band combinations are carbon neutral. Specifically, any aluminum Series 9 with a new Sport Loop band is carbon neutral. This is the first step toward the company's goal to be carbon neutral across its entire business, manufacturing supply chain and product life cycle by 2030. Apple products that fall under this category will display a logo featuring a ring of green leaves. 

The redesigned Sport Loop band for Apple Watch includes 82 percent recycled yarn and these new ones are carbon neutral. The company is also ditching leather altogether, and in its place it's developed a material called FineWoven, which has a significantly smaller carbon footprint than leather and apparently feels like suede.

With watchOS 10, Apple is returning to its wearable roots. The original Apple Watch UI revolved around Glances, which offered a carousel of widgets and other features, but the company eventually transitioned to an app-first UI. WatchOS 10 puts widgets front-and-center once more, in a style similar to the existing Siri watch face. Rotating the digital crown opens a smart stack of widgets, and apps like timers, stopwatches and podcast players will populate as widgets when they're in use.

Other watchOS 10 upgrades include the ability to view FaceTime video messages and join Group FaceTime audio, track power and heart rate data during cycling sessions, and update your emotional state in the Mindfulness app using the digital crown. The software update also adds useful features to the Compass app, including a pin that will automatically drop near the last place you had cellular connection, which will be particularly useful while hiking and camping. Physical controls are changing with watchOS 10, too — press the side button to open the Control Center and double-press the digital crown to see recently used apps.

Of course, you won't need a shiny new Series 9 to take advantage of these new features. The watchOS 10 update will be available on Apple Watch Series 4 and later models starting September 18. Apple also unveiled the premium Watch Ultra 2 today.

The Apple Watch hasn't seen a significant design update in years, with incremental hardware and software changes in each new model since the Series 6 in 2020. This makes the S9 processor upgrade in the Series 9 notable. Bundle that with the rollout of watchOS 10, and it's a mildly exciting year for Apple Watch users.

Follow all of the news live from Apple's 'Wonderlust' event right here.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Forza Motorsport preview: A warm welcome for casual racing fans

I’ll admit that, between Forza Horizon and Forza Motorsport, I’m more of a Horizon player. I’m interested in driving and crashing beautiful cars in exotic locations, and occasionally entering a low-stakes race, rather than perfecting my times on professional tracks with top-tier equipment. Despite this predilection, I’ve had a lot of fun tinkering around in the first few hours of Forza Motorsport’s serious, car-obsessed world.

I played a near-final version of the new Builders Cup Intro Series, which features three tracks and three cars — a 2019 Subaru STI S209, 2018 Honda Civic Type R, and 2018 Ford Mustang GT. On top of the actual races, the Builders Cup career mode includes a robust vehicle-customization system and the Challenge the Grid betting module. Developers at Turn 10 Studios have discussed this section of the game at length, but the preview marks the first public playtest of these roads, cars and systems.

Put simply, they feel fantastic.

Forza Motorsport
Turn 10 Studios

Turn 10 knows how to build a smooth, responsive racing game with dynamic vehicles and tracks. Forza Motorsport is the ultimate showcase of these skills. Each car in the intro series handles differently, but none of them feel unwieldy. The Ford can’t cut corners as sharply as the Subaru or Civic, but it’s a powerhouse on the straightaway; the Civic is more floaty than the Subaru; the Subaru can handle quick braking better than the other two. These unique features are baked into each vehicle, but the customization screen also allows for fine adjustments that truly affect the way they drive.

The beginning of Forza Motorsport is inviting in numerous ways. It offers a difficulty slider, three modes of play, a bounty of training and real-time assist options, and a rewind button (my absolute favorite feature). In Driving Assists, I turned the Global Presets down to light, set the Suggested Line on for braking only, and I kept ABS on, with automatic shifting. This configuration helped me feel in control on the tracks, and the customization made me comfortable experimenting with new angles and turn speeds in practice laps.

Forza Motorsport
Turn 10 Studios

This is also where the rewind button became my best friend. If you’re new to Forza, rewind might seem like a silly feature for a game that takes racing so seriously, but it’s absolutely necessary for the pacing of practice rounds specifically. Rewind allows racers to mess up and quickly reset without leaving the track, and it encourages players to try, try again. It encourages play, and it’s a lovely feature — one you can turn off at any time, if you think gaming should be pure punishment.

One of the main reasons Forza Motorsport feels so great is its framerate. Motorsport runs at 60 fps on all platforms, including Xbox Series S, and I didn't notice any dropped frames during my playthrough on that console. This is vital for a racing sim, but feels especially notable when many AAA games today are either locked at 30 fps or fail to hit 60 fps on Series S. Microsoft requires feature parity between the Xbox Series X — the most technically powerful console on the market — and the Series S, Microsoft’s less powerful, cheaper and most popular option this generation. In the case of games like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, Redfall and Starfield, developers have prioritized high resolutions in big, dense worlds over framerate, often to the detriment of combat and animations on the cheaper console.

Responsiveness is paramount in a racing game, and Turn 10 clearly knows this. The studio prioritized the proper things in order to hit 1080p and 60 fps on Xbox Series S, and the result is a game that looks pretty, but plays beautifully. Ray-traced global illumination and dynamic lighting make the cars and roads sparkle, and the environments along the tracks are busy without being distracting. So far, Forza Motorsport offers a strangely serene, high-octane experience, and I’m eager to dive into the full game.

Forza Motorsport
Turn 10 Studios

There was drama recently over some features that won’t be in Forza Motorsport at launch, namely spectator mode, AI racing in featured multiplayer, and splitscreen — and that last one is a sensitive topic for Xbox owners. In August, Baldur's Gate III creator Larian Studios had to delay the game's Xbox versions because they couldn't make splitscreen work on Series S, despite it running fine on Series X. Larian eventually worked out a deal with Microsoft and it plans to release Baldur's Gate III on Series S without the feature later this year, but Xbox players still remember that sting.

After playing Forza Motorsport's Builders Cup intro series, I’m finding it hard to be concerned about the missing features. Turn10 is crafting a solid racing sim that nails the basics of responsiveness, customization and accessibility. It's a clean, polished foundation for years of DLC to come, and there’s already plenty to mess around with in the game’s first hours.

Forza Motorsport is made to be replayed. After 18 years and seven installments, 2023’s Motorsport is the final game that Turn 10 plans to release in the series, and it’ll serve as the foundation of a live-service system. The goal is for Motorsport to be a hub for regular content drops (new maps, vehicles and challenges) over the coming years, with social and sharing features built into the experience. It makes a lot of sense for the franchise.

In the game’s introductory stages, Motorsport strikes a compelling balance between customization and complexity, making each track bingeable off the bat. The game’s forgiveness stems from its malleability; nearly every setting is customizable, from vehicle upgrades, to AI difficulty, accessibility options and actual driving mechanics. This means that, when something goes wrong during a race, it doesn’t feel like the game’s fault. Forza Motorsport offers a true, repeatable test of player skill. Plus, it’s really pretty, even on Xbox Series S.

Forza Motorsport is scheduled to hit Xbox Series X/S and PC on October 10.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at