Real ID enforcement delayed yet again — this time to 2025

The Department of Homeland Security said Monday it’s again pushing back the enforcement of Real ID requirements for state driver’s licenses and ID cards. The latest delay moves states’ compliance deadline to May 7th, 2025.

Passed by Congress in 2005 as a response to the Sept. 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Real ID Act requires stricter documentation for boarding flights and entering federal or nuclear facilities. For example, to get a Real ID-compliant driver’s license or state ID card, you need to provide paperwork for your name, date of birth, address, Social Security card and birth certificate.

The DHS says the requirements increase state IDs' reliability and accuracy. Officials can quickly see whether a card is Real ID-compliant by looking for the gold star in the upper right-hand corner.

When the bill passed, states initially had a 2008 compliance deadline. But after some states and US territories refused to play ball, the cutoff faced delay after delay. Despite the ever-shifting deadlines, 13 states rolled out support in 2012. The list grew in the following years as reluctant states faced the prospect of having their residents blocked from flights. But the COVID-19 pandemic led to even more kicking of the can, and today’s cutoff point pushes it back from May 2023 to May 2025.

“DHS continues to work closely with US states, the District of Columbia, and the US territories to meet Real ID requirements,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas in a news release today. “This extension will give states needed time to ensure their residents can obtain a Real ID-compliant license or identification card. DHS will also use this time to implement innovations to make the process more efficient and accessible. We will continue to ensure that the American public can travel safely.” 

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield is leaving Salesforce in January

Slack co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield is leaving the company in January. Lidiane Jones, currently an executive VP at parent company Salesforce, will succeed Butterfield as CEO.

The move comes just days after Salesforce announced that its CEO, Bret Taylor, will also leave in early 2023. However, Butterfield says the actions are unrelated. “FWIW: This has nothing to do with Bret’s departure. Planning has been in the works for several months! Just weird timing,” he wrote in an internal Slack channel today, viewed by Business Insider.

Slack launched in 2013 and quickly established itself as the predominant work-chat app. But today, it faces stiff competition from Microsoft Teams, which has nearly doubled its daily users in each of the past two years. In 2020, Slack filed an antitrust complaint against Microsoft with the European Commission, claiming its bundling of Teams with the Office suite gave it an unfair advantage (echoing antitrust cases against Microsoft for bundling Internet Explorer with Windows). Later that year, Salesforce announced it was buying Slack for $27.7 billion, its biggest acquisition to date.

A Salesforce spokesperson told in a company statement to TechCrunch today, “Stewart is an incredible leader who created an amazing, beloved company in Slack. He has helped lead the successful integration of Slack into Salesforce and today Slack is woven into the Salesforce Customer 360 platform.”

Pixel 7 update brings promised Clear Calling and free VPN

Google is releasing its latest round of Pixel updates today, including the free VPN the company teased at its October event. Clear Calling also launches to the public alongside updates for its voice memo app and new sleep features for the Pixel Watch.

Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro users can now use the Google One VPN on their phones for free (rather than buying it bundled with a $10-per-month storage plan). Although Google’s VPN doesn’t support regional location switching, it secures your browsing activity on the web and in apps.

Clear Calling, Google’s voice isolation for calls which had been in beta since October, is now available for all Pixel 7 series owners. The AI-powered feature makes calls in noisy environments sound better by bringing your voice to the forefront while drowning out background noise. Recorder, Google’s AI-based voice memo app, now transcribes and organizes recordings for multiple people. It labels each speaker’s text, separating their transcriptions with line breaks — handy for meetings or interviews. That feature is also exclusive to the Pixel 7 series.

Screenshot of Recorder app on Pixel phones, which separates transcriptions of different speakers.
Google

Google says spatial audio will arrive in January for Pixel Buds Pro paired with a Pixel phone. Like the iPhone/AirPods feature of the same name, it provides a head-tracked surround-sound effect for movies and shows. However, Google’s version doesn’t yet support music or a fixed-position surround effect.

Pixel owners will also see a new security and privacy hub. The app shows risk levels and settings for protecting your data, and it will alert you to any concerns it detects while recommending fixes.

Screenshot of a new Security & Privacy hub on Pixel phones
Google

New sleep features are available for Pixel Watch owners. Fitbit Sleep Profiles analyze your slumber with insights like “time before sound sleep” and “nights with long awakenings.” It also assigns you a monthly Sleep Animal, a critter whose sleep patterns mirror yours. Anyone who already tracked their sleep for at least two weeks this past November will see their animal today, while everyone else will have to wait until January.

The Pixel Watch also receives new Wear Tiles (Wear OS widgets) for Weather and Contacts. Additionally, Google says the smartwatch will receive a Fall Detection feature in 2023. Like the Apple Watch feature of the same name, it contacts emergency services if you fall and don’t respond.

Meta Quest Pro’s first update adds mixed reality screen recordings

The Meta Quest Pro is a classic case of the early adopter’s dilemma. Although the headset offers a wealth of potential for virtual reality enthusiasts, it also requires a $1,500 investment for something that — at least for now — doesn’t have the software to justify its price. Although today’s v47 update doesn’t fix that problem, it does take a small first step by adding mixed reality (MR) capture and background audio playback.

The first update since Quest Pro’s launch lets you record your real-world environment combined with virtual elements. Previously, you could only capture in-game action and the real-world elements would be reduced to a black background.

The feature doesn’t appear to require any settings changes. After installing the update, you can record MR video by pulling up the headset’s Quick Action Bar, navigating to Camera and tapping “Record Video.”

Background audio is another addition. While playing any game, you can stream audio from the headset’s browser or any 2D panel app (progressive web apps optimized for Quest), and you’ll still hear it when you jump into a game. The feature lets you listen to your favorite music or podcast while playing an otherwise serene VR game (fishing, golf and meditation experiences come to mind).

Meta also added several feature updates for its entire Quest lineup (also including the Quest 2 and the original Quest). Horizon Home, the cozy hub you see when you first put on the headset, now makes it easier to change your avatar’s appearance. It also includes a virtual mirror to check out your avatar’s makeovers in real-time. Additionally, the Meta Quest mobile app received a few updates. You can now make your game wish lists public to send to friends and family as a not-so-subtle holiday gift nudge. The mobile app also makes it easier to see friend activity and adds widgets for starting a Cast, including viewing your headset and controller’s battery life.

Meta Quest Pro’s first update adds mixed reality screen recordings

The Meta Quest Pro is a classic case of the early adopter’s dilemma. Although the headset offers a wealth of potential for virtual reality enthusiasts, it also requires a $1,500 investment for something that — at least for now — doesn’t have the software to justify its price. Although today’s v47 update doesn’t fix that problem, it does take a small first step by adding mixed reality (MR) capture and background audio playback.

The first update since Quest Pro’s launch lets you record your real-world environment combined with virtual elements. Previously, you could only capture in-game action and the real-world elements would be reduced to a black background.

The feature doesn’t appear to require any settings changes. After installing the update, you can record MR video by pulling up the headset’s Quick Action Bar, navigating to Camera and tapping “Record Video.”

Background audio is another addition. While playing any game, you can stream audio from the headset’s browser or any 2D panel app (progressive web apps optimized for Quest), and you’ll still hear it when you jump into a game. The feature lets you listen to your favorite music or podcast while playing an otherwise serene VR game (fishing, golf and meditation experiences come to mind).

Meta also added several feature updates for its entire Quest lineup (also including the Quest 2 and the original Quest). Horizon Home, the cozy hub you see when you first put on the headset, now makes it easier to change your avatar’s appearance. It also includes a virtual mirror to check out your avatar’s makeovers in real-time. Additionally, the Meta Quest mobile app received a few updates. You can now make your game wish lists public to send to friends and family as a not-so-subtle holiday gift nudge. The mobile app also makes it easier to see friend activity and adds widgets for starting a Cast, including viewing your headset and controller’s battery life.

Epic Games’ app that turns photos into 3D models now available on iOS

Epic Games released RealityScan for iOS today. The free app, previously available in a closed beta, lets anyone scan real-world objects with their phone and turn them into high-fidelity 3D models.

The app is the fruit of Epic’s purchase of Capturing Reality, a company specializing in photogrammetry software. Like the company’s desktop software, RealityScan combines 2D images to make seamless 3D assets for games and other virtual environments. The idea is to enable game developers and other creatives to scan real-world objects at any time and any place for their projects. (If the metaverse ever takes off, you can imagine tools like this becoming essential.)

The scanning process begins with signing into your Epic Games account and taking at least 20 photos of an object from all sides. As you move your phone around, a real-time quality map shows how well you’ve covered it: green denotes well-covered areas, yellow could use more attention and red needs the most additional photos. It visualizes the places from which you’ve snapped each picture as something akin to little Polaroids floating around your item.

Scanning a tree stump with Epic Games' RealityScan iPhone app
Epic Games

The app uploads and automatically aligns the images in the cloud as you take the photos. You can preview the model through the camera view and switch between the quality map and an in-progress, full-color render. When you want to crop it, it pops up 3D handles for you to drag around, ensuring it captures only the item, not the floor beneath it or background objects.

The process works best with simple items captured in even, indirect lighting (reflective or wet surfaces won’t capture well). It also appears to work best with larger objects, as my attempt to capture a small Mr. T action figure resulted in something that looks more like a pointillistic painting than a usable model.

Once you’re happy with the capture, you can export it to Sketchfab (a 3D asset platform Epic bought last year), where you can use it for 3D, virtual reality and augmented reality projects. Optionally, if you’ve captured something unique, you could try to sell your 3D model. Game developers needing a specific item for a virtual environment are the most logical audience here.

RealityScan is available today as a free download for iOS and iPadOS on the App Store. Earlier this year, Epic said an Android version would arrive later in the year, although the company is running short on time to meet that deadline.

Epic Games’ app that turns photos into 3D models now available on iOS

Epic Games released RealityScan for iOS today. The free app, previously available in a closed beta, lets anyone scan real-world objects with their phone and turn them into high-fidelity 3D models.

The app is the fruit of Epic’s purchase of Capturing Reality, a company specializing in photogrammetry software. Like the company’s desktop software, RealityScan combines 2D images to make seamless 3D assets for games and other virtual environments. The idea is to enable game developers and other creatives to scan real-world objects at any time and any place for their projects. (If the metaverse ever takes off, you can imagine tools like this becoming essential.)

The scanning process begins with signing into your Epic Games account and taking at least 20 photos of an object from all sides. As you move your phone around, a real-time quality map shows how well you’ve covered it: green denotes well-covered areas, yellow could use more attention and red needs the most additional photos. It visualizes the places from which you’ve snapped each picture as something akin to little Polaroids floating around your item.

Scanning a tree stump with Epic Games' RealityScan iPhone app
Epic Games

The app uploads and automatically aligns the images in the cloud as you take the photos. You can preview the model through the camera view and switch between the quality map and an in-progress, full-color render. When you want to crop it, it pops up 3D handles for you to drag around, ensuring it captures only the item, not the floor beneath it or background objects.

The process works best with simple items captured in even, indirect lighting (reflective or wet surfaces won’t capture well). It also appears to work best with larger objects, as my attempt to capture a small Mr. T action figure resulted in something that looks more like a pointillistic painting than a usable model.

Once you’re happy with the capture, you can export it to Sketchfab (a 3D asset platform Epic bought last year), where you can use it for 3D, virtual reality and augmented reality projects. Optionally, if you’ve captured something unique, you could try to sell your 3D model. Game developers needing a specific item for a virtual environment are the most logical audience here.

RealityScan is available today as a free download for iOS and iPadOS on the App Store. Earlier this year, Epic said an Android version would arrive later in the year, although the company is running short on time to meet that deadline.

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates Jerry Lawson, the ‘father of the video game cartridge’

Google’s interactive Doodle today celebrates the life and accomplishments of video game pioneer Gerald “Jerry” Lawson on what would have been his 82nd birthday. The Doodle lets you play five retro pixel-art platformers in your browser — with two even letting you play as Lawson. The Doodles’ creators want to inspire young people to follow in his footsteps, and it includes a built-in level editor and creator to nudge them on that path.

Lawson was known as the “father of the video game cartridge,” which he developed as Director of Engineering and Marketing at Fairchild Semiconductor. In 1976, the company released the Fairchild Channel F home console, with Lawson serving as lead developer. The Channel F (the “F” stood for “fun”) was the first system with interchangeable game cartridges, a novel concept in an era when games were permanently coded into hardware. Interchangeable ROM-based cartridges were a massive breakthrough that let users build entire libraries rather than playing one game ad nauseam.

Gameplay from a Jerry Lawson-starring platform game inside today's Google Doodle
Google

Today’s Doodle includes games from guest artists and game designers Davionne Gooden, Lauren Brown and Momo Pixel. “The concept starts with the player as a little Jerry Lawson,” explained Brown. “This takes us through anecdotes about Jerry’s life, parts of his journey that he went about to create the cartridge. Once you complete the level, you then get to create your own game with an editor that allows you to reimagine the level design and innovate like Jerry Lawson did.”

Along with the cartridge advancement, Lawson’s Channel F was the first console with an eight-way joystick and a pause menu. Although it wasn’t a commercial success, Channel F’s innovations would influence later systems that dominated home gaming over the following decades — it was a predecessor to platforms like the Atari 2600 and the Nintendo Entertainment System. Even in today’s world of always-online digital games, the top-selling console — the Nintendo Switch — still (optionally) uses a form of cartridges.

Lawson faced considerable challenges during his early years at Fairchild as an African-Amercan man in a field that wasn't known for being racially diverse. He noted that working as an engineer as a 6-foot-6-inch Black man would surprise people, with some reacting with “total shock” when they saw him for the first time. Additionally, he was one of only two Black members of the Homebrew Computing Club. This group included Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, along with other Silicon Valley pioneers.

Photo of Gerald
The Estate of Jerry Lawson

After his innovations at Fairchild, Lawson left in 1980 to start his own company, VideoSoft, one of the first Black-owned video game development firms. VideoSoft closed five years later, and Lawson consulted engineering and video game companies for the rest of his career. He passed away in 2011 at 70 from diabetes complications.

“When people play this Doodle, I hope they’re inspired to be imaginative,” said Anderson Lawson, Jerry’s son. “And I hope that some little kid somewhere that looks like me wants to get into game development. Hearing about my father’s story makes them feel like they can.”

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates Jerry Lawson, the ‘father of the video game cartridge’

Google’s interactive Doodle today celebrates the life and accomplishments of video game pioneer Gerald “Jerry” Lawson on what would have been his 82nd birthday. The Doodle lets you play five retro pixel-art platformers in your browser — with two even letting you play as Lawson. The Doodles’ creators want to inspire young people to follow in his footsteps, and it includes a built-in level editor and creator to nudge them on that path.

Lawson was known as the “father of the video game cartridge,” which he developed as Director of Engineering and Marketing at Fairchild Semiconductor. In 1976, the company released the Fairchild Channel F home console, with Lawson serving as lead developer. The Channel F (the “F” stood for “fun”) was the first system with interchangeable game cartridges, a novel concept in an era when games were permanently coded into hardware. Interchangeable ROM-based cartridges were a massive breakthrough that let users build entire libraries rather than playing one game ad nauseam.

Gameplay from a Jerry Lawson-starring platform game inside today's Google Doodle
Google

Today’s Doodle includes games from guest artists and game designers Davionne Gooden, Lauren Brown and Momo Pixel. “The concept starts with the player as a little Jerry Lawson,” explained Brown. “This takes us through anecdotes about Jerry’s life, parts of his journey that he went about to create the cartridge. Once you complete the level, you then get to create your own game with an editor that allows you to reimagine the level design and innovate like Jerry Lawson did.”

Along with the cartridge advancement, Lawson’s Channel F was the first console with an eight-way joystick and a pause menu. Although it wasn’t a commercial success, Channel F’s innovations would influence later systems that dominated home gaming over the following decades — it was a predecessor to platforms like the Atari 2600 and the Nintendo Entertainment System. Even in today’s world of always-online digital games, the top-selling console — the Nintendo Switch — still (optionally) uses a form of cartridges.

Lawson faced considerable challenges during his early years at Fairchild as an African-Amercan man in a field that wasn't known for being racially diverse. He noted that working as an engineer as a 6-foot-6-inch Black man would surprise people, with some reacting with “total shock” when they saw him for the first time. Additionally, he was one of only two Black members of the Homebrew Computing Club. This group included Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, along with other Silicon Valley pioneers.

Photo of Gerald
The Estate of Jerry Lawson

After his innovations at Fairchild, Lawson left in 1980 to start his own company, VideoSoft, one of the first Black-owned video game development firms. VideoSoft closed five years later, and Lawson consulted engineering and video game companies for the rest of his career. He passed away in 2011 at 70 from diabetes complications.

“When people play this Doodle, I hope they’re inspired to be imaginative,” said Anderson Lawson, Jerry’s son. “And I hope that some little kid somewhere that looks like me wants to get into game development. Hearing about my father’s story makes them feel like they can.”

Google begins refunding Stadia hardware purchases made on the Google Store

Google tweeted today that it’s beginning to process refunds for Stadia hardware bought on the Google Store. The company announced in September that its cloud gaming service was joining the long list of projects buried in the “Google graveyard.”

Google is refunding purchases for the Stadia controller and bundles that included a Chromecast Ultra with the WiFi-connected gamepad. Earlier this month, it began reimbursing users for Stadia game purchases, ensuring most users recoup the money they’d sunk into the service. However, Google isn’t refunding subscription fees for Stadia Pro (its answer to PS Plus and Xbox Game Pass) or Stadia hardware bought from Best Buy.

The company says it will process the refunds automatically. It expects most of them to complete by the time the cloud-gaming service shuts down on January 18th. If the company can’t refund your original form of payment automatically, it will email you through the Google account you used for the purchase(s).

Although Stadia’s demise disappointed its small but devoted band of enthusiasts, the shutdown wasn’t exactly shocking. The writing had been on the wall since the company began scaling back its investment in the platform barely over a year after its launch.