Lancia Vision Alpha concept is a glimpse of brand’s lost glory rejuvenated

Lancia has had its share of highs and then unfortunate lows as it didn’t manage to strike the right notes with the more modern auto lovers. Thankfully, they are making a comeback in 2024 in collaboration with Alfa Romeo and DS – a piece of heartening news for Lancia fans on the 115th anniversary last year.

What the jointly collaborated brand will offer is still in question, but I hope it is a sports coupe or a striking roadster that’ll turn the tables for the Italian automotive legend. Laszlo Varga’s Lancia Vision Alpha concept adds excitement to this already good news – a sports car with the brand’s DNA with the right blend of modern aesthetics. I’m sure design experts at Lancia will be watching this in incognito mode already to derive some inspiration.

Designer: Laszlo Varga

While we all have a fair idea already about where they are heading – electric obviously – clean energy-powered performance cars will have many takers. It’s like jumping onto the EV future without forgetting the roots of the company. The Vision Alpha’s front end has slim LED headlights and the horizontal vents (it could hint at an internal combustion-powered drivetrain) remind me of the original Stratos in more ways than not. The angular design of the Stratos has been subdued to a fair extent with the rounded edges for a more contoured aesthetics.

The designer has put a lot of work into designing the concept from scratch, and the level of detail is impressive. This sports car gives off that tell-tale redemption vibe – challenging other futuristic cars to up their game before any imminent launches in the next couple of years or so. Back to reality though, Lancia could play it safe and release more consumer-oriented models to initially capture the interest and then later on go to release such luxury models once the waters calm down.

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Texas’s bizarre social media law suspended by Supreme Court

Texas's HB20 was put on hold Tuesday by the Supreme Court, five-to-four. As is typical for emergency for emergency requests, the majority did not define its reasoning; Justice Alito wrote a six page dissent joined by fellow conservatives Gorsuch and Thomas, while Kagan, a moderate, wrote she would "would deny the application to vacate stay" without signing onto the dissent.

The bill — which has been tied up in court since it was passed by the state's Congress and signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott last September — targets "censorship" by online platforms, insofar as conservatives have in recent years been wont to conflate any form of content moderation with censorship. It reframes large social platforms as "common carriers" similar to telecom companies, but uses that logic to restrict the ability of platforms to limit the spread of, ban or demonetize content based on “the viewpoint of the user," whether or not that view is expressed on the platform. 

Unsurprisingly, the content, users and viewpoints the law's supporters believe are being unfairly targeted hew rightward: as the Texas Tribunereported last year, Governor Abbott said he believed social platforms were working to "silence conservative ideas [and] religious beliefs." The aggrievement of the interested parties and their desired outcomes weren't lost on Judge Robert Pitman of West Texas's District Court, who wrote that "the record in this case confirms that the Legislature intended to target large social media platforms perceived as being biased against conservative views." 

An emergency application to the Supreme Court to suspend HB20 was filed earlier this month by two tech industry groups — NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) — after a Fifth Circuit court had lifted an injunction on the law, doing so in a startling 2-1 decision for which no explanation was provided. Netchoice's members include Airbnb, TikTok, Amazon and Lyft among many other; Apple, Google, eBay, Meta and others count themselves among those associated with CCIA. Counsel for NetChoice at the time told Protocol that the Texas law was "unconstitutional" and would compel "online platforms to host and promote foreign propaganda, pornography, pro-Nazi speech, and spam.”

These same concerns were given new urgency after the Buffalo, New York shooting, in which a gunman with white supremacist beliefs killed 10 people and injured three others in a majority-black neighborhood while live-streaming the carnage. Social media companies worked to remove copies of the footage from their services. Even as they did so, the question remained unsettled as to whether those removals would result in Texas dragging these platforms into court. Confusion as to the law's application was not limited to interested observers, either: in a Twitter exchange with Techdirt's Mike Masnick, the sponsor of the bill seemed unsure on how such situations would play out. 

A related law in Florida, using a similar common carrier approach, had most of its major provisions deemed unconstitutional by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month. The question of constitutionality for HB20 will continue to move forward in the Fifth Circuit Court. 

This PS5 Keyboard attachment unlocks new possibilities for players who livestream or chat while gaming

An absolute paradise for Twitch-streamers looking to engage with their audience while playing PS5 titles.

A keyboard on the PS5 makes quite a lot of sense once you think of how much username/email/password typing you have to do when you’re actually not gaming. You could be buying a game, logging into an account, chatting, commenting, or even performing in-game tasks like inputting a player name. Designed to save you the trouble of manually inputting each character with a joystick, this slick keyboard plugs right into your PS5 controller, giving you a full QWERTY layout and a bunch of other useful features that will absolutely upgrade your gameplay.

Designer: Klipdasse

Click Here to Buy Now

What really sets this keyboard apart is the fact that it was designed to perfectly complement your PS5 DualSense controller’s design. Made to plug in perfectly like a jigsaw puzzle piece, the wireless keyboard fits snugly in the negative space of your controller, between the palm-rests. In doing so, it gives you a full keyboard right under your thumbs, letting you type as you would on a phone… or more accurately, on a BlackBerry.

The wireless keyboard fits into the DualSense controller by plugging into its lower 3.5mm jack. The keyboard comes with a pretty nifty built-in speaker that feeds off this 3.5mm connection… although if you’ve got a pair of headphones, there’s a jack too, letting you connect your headphones to the PS5 controller via the keyboard. Heck, there’s even a built-in microphone on this thing, allowing you to voice-chat while gaming.

The keyboard itself connects to your PS5 via Bluetooth, giving you a relatively lag-free input that’s absolutely faster than using a joystick to manually select each key on a virtual keyboard. Sadly though, it only works for typing text, and the PS5 doesn’t let you map different controls onto the keys – wouldn’t that be absolutely game-changing, though??

The wireless keyboard attachment comes with its own built-in 500mAh battery and an LED indicator that lets you know your battery level. A USB-C port on the base lets you juice up the keyboard whenever you’re running low on power – although considering most gameplays, chances are you won’t be exclusively using the keyboard all along, and therefore won’t rapidly drain the battery.

Although a relatively lesser-known accessory, the wireless keyboard proves to be an incredibly handy addon when it comes to doing things like logging into your account, searching the online store, and making purchases… and that’s ONLY one aspect of the gaming experience. Having a keyboard just underneath your thumbs can be quite the game-changer for people who do a lot of chatting while gaming. Sure, there isn’t emoji support on this keyboard just yet, but hey… let’s be grateful for what we have, right??

Click Here to Buy Now

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‘Assassin’s Creed Origins’ is getting a 60FPS boost on PS5 and Xbox Series consoles

No, your eyes don't deceive you — Ubisoft is upgrading an older Assassin's Creed game for modern consoles. The developer has revealed that a 60 frames per second update for 2017's Assassin's Creed Origins is coming to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S on June 2nd. The boost doesn't appear to include 4K support or other visual embellishments, but this could still breathe new life into the game if you haven't touched it in a while.

It's not clear what prompted a 60FPS boost for a game released three years before PS5 and Xbox Series consoles existed. Ubisoft did release a similar upgrade for Assassin's Creed Odyssey in 2021, but that was a year earlier and for a more recent title. Origins was one of the better-received recent games in the franchise, though, and Ubi has a strong incentive to rejuvenate interest in the series ahead of Infinity. If nothing else, this is a good excuse to return to an alternate reality take on ancient Egypt.

Here’s the Apple TV remote that Apple should have made a long time ago

In what seems like a rather cruel joke, Apple unveiled the AirTag at the same time as they debuted their new Apple TV remote… while conveniently forgetting to build a tracking chip into the sleek remote. Apple lets you track all your devices on their Find My network – from phones to laptops, to watches and even AirPods… but the TV remote – a device that’s almost certain to get lost, misplaced, or slip into the crevasses of your sofa? Well, you better not lose it because it’s un-trackable.

Almost instantly, companies and creators began building workarounds – remote cases with dedicated slots to put an AirTag of your own. Most of them are made from plastic or silicon, and you can even 3D print your own if you want. Nomad, however, designed a case with a difference. It comes made from Horween leather, looking like something you’d put on an iPhone. Beautiful to look at and smooth to the touch, Nomad’s Leather Cover for the ‘Siri Remote’ looks a lot like something Apple should have designed in the first place… apart from actually putting a UWB tracking chip inside the remote, of course.

Designer: Nomad

Nomad’s Leather Case is a slick-looking number that, aside from giving your Apple TV remote tracking abilities, also makes it a tad thicker so it’s actually more comfortable to hold and operate. The case forms a slim bezel around your remote, and discreetly hides an AirTag in the ‘floor space’ below.

The $39.59 case comes made from Horween Leather, known for being one of the highest-quality leathers globally. The leather outer feels great against the skin (as opposed to the cold metal finish of the existing remote), while a microfiber inner layer actually protects both the remote and the AirTag from getting scratched, scuffed, or damaged. Moreover, the leather actually patinas over time, becoming more and more unique and individualistic… something that should come through pretty well because you’re probably not going to upgrade your Apple TV for at least 3-4 years.

Just pop the AirTag in the case before you put in the remote, and you’re all set. The case has clearances for the IR blaster and for the charging port on the base, and you can use it just as you normally would… except now if you accidentally lose your remote, leave it in another room, or if your dog decides to run off with it, that AirTag on the back comes super handy. You can now track your remote using Apple’s Find My app. Rather handy, no?

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Spotify’s podcast hosting service went down because of a lapsed security certificate

Podcast listeners, no matter the app they use, were unable to access shows hosted on Spotify's Megaphone platform Monday night and early Tuesday. Those include The Joe Rogan Experience and podcasts from The Ringer and Gimlet Media. Worst of all, it seems the problem was entirely avoidable — it was due to a lapsed security certificate. 

“Megaphone experienced a platform outage due to an issue related to our SSL certificate,” Spotify spokesperson Erin Styles told The Verge. “During the outage, clients were unable to access the Megaphone CMS and podcast listeners were unable to download podcast episodes from Megaphone-hosted publishers."

A valid SSL certificate is required to create a secure connection between a server and a browser or app. It seems Megaphone's certificate expired at around 8PM ET on Monday and the service didn't come back online until just before 6AM this morning. It took a few more hours before the problems were fully resolved.

Megaphone, which dynamically inserts ads into podcasts, is a key component of Spotify's podcast ambitions. It bought the company for $235 million in 2020. Spotify bolstered the service when it bought Whooshkaa, which can turn radio shows into podcasts, last December. It also acquired two other ad tech companies, Chartable and Podsights, earlier this year.

Neglecting to renew the certificate is a bad look for Spotify, which as a technology company, ought to know better. While listeners might not have been able to download episodes of their favorite shows overnight, they should have access again now. 

Spotify is not the only major tech company to have dealt with such a snafu, though. In 2020, Microsoft Teams was down for a few hours after someone seemingly forgot to renew the SSL certificate.

Evercade’s latest retro handheld includes a dedicated mode for vertical shoot ’em ups

Retro console maker Evercade has just announced its latest device, a new handheld called the EXP. If you’re not familiar with Evercade, its products are a bit different from your standard retro fare. Instead of purchasing a device like the SNES Classic Edition that comes with a limited library of preloaded games or one like the Analogue Pocket that can play games from their original cartridges, Evercade sells cartridges that come with a selection of games. The company says this approach has a few benefits, one of which is that it enables license holders to be paid more fairly. It also means games load instantly.

Evercade EXP Tate
Blaze Entertainment

The EXP builds on the company’s original handheld with a new, more mature design. Gone are the red “go faster” stripes of its predecessor. Additionally, the EXP features a new 4.3-inch IPS panel with a denser 800 by 480 resolution. It also comes with a 1.5GHz processor and 4GB of built-in memory, putting it on par with the company’s VS console. New to the EXP is a “Tate” mode that makes the handheld a better fit for playing games that were designed around vertical scrolling like classic shmups. The EXP features two buttons on its left-hand side to aid with playing games this way. Evercade has also added WiFi and USB-C connectivity to the device and redesigned the mini-HDMI port to make it more stable.

In the US, the EXP will cost $150. Evercade will begin accepting pre-orders for the console starting in September, with general availability to follow later this winter. Retail units will ship with the IREM Arcade 1 collection, which comes with six games from the Japanese publisher, including Moon Patrol and 10 Yard Fight. Evercade has promised to share more details about the device, including information on bonus content, in September.

Investors in gun-detection tech tested at NYC City Hall donated to mayor’s PAC

Earlier this year, New York City started testing a gun detection system from Evolv Technologies at City Hall and Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx. Mayor Eric Adams, who has said he came across the system on the internet, has been talking up the tech for months as a way to help combat gun violence. Now, it has emerged that two people who donated $1 million to support Adams' mayoral run work at companies with investments in Evolv, as the New York Daily News first reported.

The CEO of the investment firm Citadel, Kenneth Griffin, last year donated $750,000 to Strong Leadership NYC, a political action committee (PAC) that supported Adams. Jane Street Financial Services founder Robert Granieri gave $250,000, according to records.

As of May 16th, Citadel held 12,975 shares in Evolv, a publicly traded company. It holds another 89,900 for other investors as call options. Jane Street held 76,570 shares as of May 17th. The stock held by all shareholders totals 143.4 million, so both firms own a relatively small chunk of Evolv.

A spokesperson for Adams told the Daily News that the mayor didn't recognize the names of Griffin and Granieri and wasn't sure whether he'd met with them. The spokesperson said that before a pilot of Evolv's system started at Jacobi Medical Center in February, the tech was being used at other city hospitals.

NYC has considered using the AI weapon detection technology in transit systems, particularly following a mass shooting on a subway train in Brooklyn last month. As Fast Company notes, Evolv charges between $2,000 and $3,000 per scanner per month for a subscription. Installing one at every subway entrance and paying staff to operate them would cost hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Given the costs, it's unlikely that the scanners would be ubiquitous. 

The effectiveness of Evolv's system has been brought into question too. While the company has not publicly disclosed its false positive rates, it has acknowledged the issue in promotional materials. 

Screenshots in brochures obtained by New York Focus indicated that in one three-month stretch, the system scanned 2.2 million people and there were more than 190,000 alerts. The vast majority of those were for harmless objects like umbrellas, strollers, eyeglass cases and laptops. In that scenario, only 0.8 percent of the alerts were for actual weapons and just 0.1 percent were for non-law enforcement guns. However, Evolv has claimed that the data in the screenshots is "fictitious" and is “from a demonstration account.”

A report by surveillance tech trade publication IPVM earlier this year noted that Evolv's full-body scanners were misidentifying other objects as potential weapons, such as Chromebooks. IPVM director of operations Donald Maye told the Daily News that Evolv's system has a false alert rate of between five and ten percent at settings such as sports stadiums (which lines up with data shown in the disputed screenshot). Maye suggested that the false positive rate would actually be higher at subway system scanners and lead to "secondary screenings" with cops searching commuters.

Engadget has contacted Evolv for comment.

Leaked iPhone 14 Pro dummy prototype shows a much larger camera bump, and no more notch

2022 seems to be the year that the iPhone finally breaks up with the notch.

Whoever Dave2D‘s sources are, they certainly must be pretty important people. The YouTuber managed to get his hands on a pretty realistic-looking iPhone 14 Pro dummy unit – the kind Apple hands out to case/accessory designers beforehand to help them manufacture and launch upgraded accessories as soon as the phone drops. It’s rumored that Apple will be dropping just 4 iPhones this fall (the company is discontinuing the Mini), and while the 14 and 14 Max look relatively unchanged, the higher-end 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max have some significant design upgrades – notably the absence of the camera notch for something much more discreet.

Apple debuted the notch in 2018 – nearly 4 years ago. Since then, almost every company’s moved on to bigger and better things, but the iPhone-maker couldn’t seem to shake off the intrusive design detail. In fact, in a year where even MUCH smaller companies were making phones with tighter bezels and camera cutouts, Apple was faithfully committed to giving their iPhones an ugly, obtrusive forehead like a parent getting their children bad haircuts. It’s funny that Apple even figured out 5G before they figured out notch-less displays.

However, if Dave2D’s secret source is to be believed, Apple’s finally figured out a workaround, with a rather fitting ‘i’ shaped camera cutout on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max. This creates the iPhone X moment for the Pro range, with a design that people can now instantly distinguish as a different, more premium model (the same way the notched iPhone X actually distinguished itself from the iPhone 8). For someone who’s used Android all his life, this doesn’t feel too different, but if you’re a serial iOS-head, this new camera cutout will instantly be the first thing your eye immediately travels to… because for the first time, you have hardware that is actually ‘inside’ the screen’s real estate.

It’s not entirely certain why Apple chose this unique cutout (the company should have figured out under-display FaceID by now, right?) but some speculate that this is the best the company could do given the dire circumstances and timelines. Apple ditched their Chinese front-facing camera manufacturer for a South Korean maker at the very last minute due to quality and developmental issues. Rumor has it that this new camera system turned out to be thrice as expensive as the regular notch, but given the fact that the company is running on a tight deadline with their iPhone event just 4-ish months away, it was the best they could do. Maybe the iPhone 15 will look better, right?

Front-facing camera aside, the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max are rumored to have Apple’s latest A16 Bionic chip. The specs of this chip are the kind of details that nobody will really know up until Tim Cook or Phil Schiller actually gives us the whole story.

Other notable details include a similar but slightly larger camera bump. Apple seems to be pushing the envelope with just making their iPhone cameras bigger so they have larger sensors, and the iPhone 14 Pro seems to be no exception. Another feature that comes as no surprise? Lightning connector on the base. Apple has until 2024-25 to adopt the USB-C format before the folks at the EU get pissed, so chances are this might be the last, if not second-last iPhone with Apple’s proprietary lightning connector. Makes sense, considering the company also sells iPhone accessories like the AirPods and the MagSafe battery pack that use the same cable/port.

Apple is scheduled to announce the iPhone 14 this September or October. While this prototype here seems to paint a pretty reliable picture of what to expect, there are still a few more details that need mentioning, like the colors, price, and the new killer feature that sets this iPhone apart from others. (It was the Cinematic Mode last year)

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TikTok tests ‘clear mode’ that removes buttons when scrolling through videos

TikTok is testing a new feature that allows users to scroll through content on the app without interface elements like usernames, captions and audio information cluttering the screen. “Clear Mode” was first spotted last week by former The Next Web editor Matt Navarra, with TikTok providing TechCrunch confirmation it was testing the feature on Tuesday.

The company didn’t say when users could expect Clear Mode to roll out more widely. As always, it’s also worth noting TikTok may ultimately decide against implementing the feature based on information the company gathers from users.

If you’ve enrolled in the test, you can access Clear Mode by long-pressing on a video and tapping the appropriate option. As TechCrunch points out, the feature, if implemented, would make the lives of creators easier since they would no longer need to re-upload clips people want to screenshot. You’ll often see TikTok users drop a “crop” comment on a video because a caption or button has obscured part of a video they want to share. TikTok has been testing more of these types of quality-of-life improvements in recent months. For instance, some users recently gained access to a watch history feature that makes it easier to rediscover videos you forgot to like.