Aphex Twin’s free ‘sample mashing’ app feeds on your music library

Aphex Twin is finally ready to offer his mutation-driven music software to the world. Pitchforknotes Aphex Twin (aka Richard James) and engineer Dave Griffiths have released Samplebrain, a free "sample mashing" app that turns audio files from your computer into sample blocks you can use for projects. You can recreate a sample using tracks in your music library, or craft a "303 riff" from unexpected sounds.

The app is available in ready-to-use versions for Mac and Windows computers. You can build a Linux-friendly edition as well. As Pitchfork warns, you may need some technical know-how to use the app — this isn't for rookie musicians.

Samplebrain has been a long time coming, to put it mildly. James said he first envisioned the app in 2002, back when Drukqs was his latest release. He revealed that he'd hired an engineer to work on the software in 2014 (when he returned to music with Syro), but didn't say much else until now. There's a good reason for that, apparently. James and Griffiths realized the project became "slightly out of control" as they added more and more parameters, and James admitted he hasn't had much time to "explore [Samplebrain] properly." This is a bid to finally put the tool in creators' hands, even if it's in a rough form.

WhatsApp users will soon be able to join a call by tapping a link

It'll soon be easier for WhatsApp users to invite other folks to join a call. Meta is rolling out the option to share Call Links. If you see one of these links, you'll be able to join a call with a single tap. You'll need the latest version of WhatsApp to use Call Links. From the app's Calls tab, you can select the Call Links option. You can then generate a link for a voice or video call to share with family and friends.

It's a handy feature, and one that we've already seen Apple adopt. Last year, the company started offering sharable FaceTime links that allow others to join calls from Android devices and Windows PCs. While Apple enables people to schedule calls ahead of time using links, WhatsApp will not offer a similar feature, a spokesperson confirmed to Engadget.

In addition, WhatsApp has started testing encrypted group video calls for up to 32 people, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said. The company will share more details on that front soon.

Update 9/26 11:53AM ET: Added clarification that WhatsApp will not allow users to schedule calls. 

Screenshots of the WhatsApp feature Call Links, which allows users to join a call by tapping a link.
Meta

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 5 falls to a new low of $250

If you have your eye on Samsung's new Galaxy Watch 5 but were waiting for a deal, one has already arrived. Amazon's Woot portal is selling the 40mm model in several colors (Grey, Pink Gold and Silver) for $250, a savings of $30 or 11 percent off the regular price. 

Buy Galaxy Watch 5 at Woot - $250

The Galaxy Watch 5 scored a solid 85 in our Engadget review, and we once again called it "the best non-Apple smartwatch." Samsung was focused more on perfecting it over the Watch 4, adding extra battery life (a runtime of up to 80 hours), greater durability with Sapphire Crystal glass and an inactive temperature sensor. 

Otherwise, it carries the same design and features as before, which is a good thing. Powered by a responsive 5-nanometer Exynos processor and running Wear OS, it uses Samsung's bezel-based navigation with a touch-sensitive ring framing the screen. That gives you access to numerous apps, along with sleep-tracking and coaching plus health and activity tracking. You can get your body composition reading using the body-impedance analysis tool, take ECG scans, reply to messages, control music playback and more. 

The lightly curved underside keeps the sensors in contact with your wrist, and it's rated IP68, 5ATM and MIL-STD-810H for durability (water, dust and pressure resistance). The main downside is that battery life is considerably lower with the always-on display compared to the Apple Watch 7. Still, it's the best Android smartwatch available and it's rare to see a discount on such a new device. Bear in mind that sales from Woot are time limited and have a different return policy from parent Amazon.

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iPhone 15 ‘Ultra’ could replace next year’s Pro Max model

Next year’s iPhone could introduce a change to Apple’s naming convention. According to Bloombergreporter Mark Gurman, the company could call its largest and most expensive device in 2023 the iPhone 15 Ultra instead of the iPhone 15 Pro Max as you would expect given its recent track record. The shift would reportedly coincide with the most significant redesign of the iPhone since Apple released the iPhone 12 in 2020. Gurman expects the iPhone 15 to feature USB-C, among other “bigger changes.”

Apple’s smartphone line has seen a couple of branding tweaks over the years. In the early days of the iPhone, when the company released a substantial update every two years, iterative models carried an “S” designation. Since 2019 and the diversification of the line to include separate mainstream and premium variants, the company has employed “Pro” and “Pro Max” designations to market its most advanced phones. Moreover, earlier this year saw the return of the Plus branding, which Apple had not used since 2017. Dropping Pro Max in favor of Ultra would make a lot of sense since the Apple Watch line now includes an Ultra model.

The iPhone 15 rumor mill has already produced a few interesting predictions. Gurman previously reported that Apple was testing USB-C iPhones ahead of the European Union implementing a law requiring all new smartphones made after 2024 to feature the port. More recently, display analyst Ross Young said the entire iPhone 15 line would feature the iPhone 14 Pro’s Dynamic Island display cutout.

Looking to the more immediate future, Gurman also wrote today that Apple might not hold another event this fall. He says the company plans to announce new Mac mini, MacBook Pro and iPad Pro models before the end of the year. However, as those will be primarily iterative updates to existing devices, Gurman suggests Apple is “more likely” to share the existence of those products with the world through a series of press releases.

Meta sued for allegedly dodging Apple’s privacy rules

Felix Krause's discovery that Meta's Facebook and Instagram apps can track iPhone owners across websites hasn't sat well with some people. Bloombergreports users have filed two proposed class action lawsuits accusing Meta of evading Apple's privacy-oriented App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature and consequently violating both federal and state laws barring unauthorized data gathering. Meta supposedly created a workaround by injecting tracking code into websites when you use its in-app browser, letting it monitor activity regardless of whether or not you gave permission to the app.

Apple introduced App Tracking Transparency as part of the iOS 14.5 update released in April 2021. The technology lets you ask apps not to track you, and requires that you explicitly opt in. Meta has been vocal in its opposition. It encouraged users to allow tracking, and warned that ATT might cost it $10 billion in ad revenue this year.

Meta rejected the allegations in a statement to Engadget. The company said both lawsuits were "without merit," and that it would defend itself "vigorously." It further claimed its in-app browsers honor privacy decisions, including for ads.

The lawsuits aren't certain to obtain class action status, which could lead to compensation for many users. Whether or not the suits are successful, they illustrate the tension between Meta, Apple and privacy advocates — Meta is determined to preserve the targeted advertising that fuels its business, even as critics and rival companies raise more objections.

Meta sued for allegedly dodging Apple’s privacy rules

Felix Krause's discovery that Meta's Facebook and Instagram apps can track iPhone owners across websites hasn't sat well with some people. Bloombergreports users have filed two proposed class action lawsuits accusing Meta of evading Apple's privacy-oriented App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature and consequently violating both federal and state laws barring unauthorized data gathering. Meta supposedly created a workaround by injecting tracking code into websites when you use its in-app browser, letting it monitor activity regardless of whether or not you gave permission to the app.

Apple introduced App Tracking Transparency as part of the iOS 14.5 update released in April 2021. The technology lets you ask apps not to track you, and requires that you explicitly opt in. Meta has been vocal in its opposition. It encouraged users to allow tracking, and warned that ATT might cost it $10 billion in ad revenue this year.

Meta rejected the allegations in a statement to Engadget. The company said both lawsuits were "without merit," and that it would defend itself "vigorously." It further claimed its in-app browsers honor privacy decisions, including for ads.

The lawsuits aren't certain to obtain class action status, which could lead to compensation for many users. Whether or not the suits are successful, they illustrate the tension between Meta, Apple and privacy advocates — Meta is determined to preserve the targeted advertising that fuels its business, even as critics and rival companies raise more objections.

Google now offers a cheaper, 1080p version of the Chromecast with Google TV

Confirming rumors, Google has unveiled the Chromecast with Google TV (HD) device that offers features from the $50 4K model at a significantly cheaper $30 price. Unlike the original $35 Chromecast, it comes with a remote control that eliminates the need for a smartphone, though you can control it with a mobile device as well. The other key feature is right there in the name — lower 1080p resolution, albeit with HDR support.

The new device looks nigh-on identical to the 4K model, with an oval shape, short HDMI cable and a USB-C input. As before, it comes with all the popular streaming services including Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Prime Video, YouTube and others. It supports Stadia games as well, and of course, you can cast compatible Android and iOS apps or mirror your Chrome browser tabs.

There's a Google Assistant button on the remote to control programming, ask questions or control smart home connected devices. Plus, it can be grouped with Nest speakers for multi-room playback around the home via music apps like Spotify, Pandora and YouTube Music. 

Back in January, it was rumored that the device could decode high-quality, low-bandwidth AV1 files (the 4K model doesn't currently support that), but there's no word yet on that. It's bound to appeal to buyers on a budget, but many people were hoping for a faster 4K model with more storage instead. Chromecast with Google TV (HD) is now available for $30.

Google now offers a cheaper, 1080p version of the Chromecast with Google TV

Confirming rumors, Google has unveiled the Chromecast with Google TV (HD) device that offers features from the $50 4K model at a significantly cheaper $30 price. Unlike the original $35 Chromecast, it comes with a remote control that eliminates the need for a smartphone, though you can control it with a mobile device as well. The other key feature is right there in the name — lower 1080p resolution, albeit with HDR support.

The new device looks nigh-on identical to the 4K model, with an oval shape, short HDMI cable and a USB-C input. As before, it comes with all the popular streaming services including Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Prime Video, YouTube and others. It supports Stadia games as well, and of course, you can cast compatible Android and iOS apps or mirror your Chrome browser tabs.

There's a Google Assistant button on the remote to control programming, ask questions or control smart home connected devices. Plus, it can be grouped with Nest speakers for multi-room playback around the home via music apps like Spotify, Pandora and YouTube Music. 

Back in January, it was rumored that the device could decode high-quality, low-bandwidth AV1 files (the 4K model doesn't currently support that), but there's no word yet on that. It's bound to appeal to buyers on a budget, but many people were hoping for a faster 4K model with more storage instead. Chromecast with Google TV (HD) is now available for $30.

Microsoft will host its next Surface event on October 12th

Microsoft isn't going to be left off the fall hardware event calendar. The company will hold a Surface event on October 12th at 10AM ET. While it's not completely clear what Microsoft plans to show off beyond "devices," we may get our first official look at the Surface Pro 9 and Surface Laptop 5 in a few weeks. Some details about the upcoming products emerged this week via retailer leaks.

According to WinFuture, the devices will likely use 12th-gen Intel CPUs, though the Surface Pro 9 may have an ARM-based processor option with 5G support. Microsoft may offer up to 1TB of storage and 16GB of RAM in both devices. It seems there are new color options too.

Microsoft is adding its name to a busy event schedule. Amazon will hold a hardware showcase on September 28th, while Google has set a Pixel event for October 6th. Apple is also expected to run a Mac- and iPad-focused event in October.

Microsoft will host its next Surface event on October 12th

Microsoft isn't going to be left off the fall hardware event calendar. The company will hold a Surface event on October 12th at 10AM ET. While it's not completely clear what Microsoft plans to show off beyond "devices," we may get our first official look at the Surface Pro 9 and Surface Laptop 5 in a few weeks. Some details about the upcoming products emerged this week via retailer leaks.

According to WinFuture, the devices will likely use 12th-gen Intel CPUs, though the Surface Pro 9 may have an ARM-based processor option with 5G support. Microsoft may offer up to 1TB of storage and 16GB of RAM in both devices. It seems there are new color options too.

Microsoft is adding its name to a busy event schedule. Amazon will hold a hardware showcase on September 28th, while Google has set a Pixel event for October 6th. Apple is also expected to run a Mac- and iPad-focused event in October.