Google’s long-rumored smartwatch could arrive on May 26th

There have been rumblings for quite some time that Google has been beavering away on its own smartwatch. Rumors last month suggested a Google-branded watch could arrive sometime in 2022, and now we have a slightly clearer idea of when it might debut.

Leaker Jon Prosser said the watch is currently slated to arrive on May 26th, noting that this is "the first we’ve seen a set date on the device behind the scenes." While that seems on the surface like an oddly specific date for something so far away, the timing lines up with the Google I/O developer conference, which usually takes place in May.

As with most smartwatches in the Android ecosystem, the smartwatch is expected to have a circular face, albeit with no physical bezel. It will likely have a heart rate sensor and other features adopted from Fitbit, which Google bought last year. The device could show off the extent of what Wear OS can do and be positioned as an Apple Watch competitor.

The release date isn't set in stone, of course. Nor is the name of the device, despite suggestions that it'll be called Pixel Watch. Still, it's something for Android and Pixel enthusiasts to keep an eye on.

Other rumors suggest a Pixel 6a smartphone is coming in May as well. It's expected to use the same Tensor chipset as the Pixel 6, though Google could ditch the headphone jack in the budget model.

Panasonic’s higher-capacity Tesla battery could enter production in 2023

Panasonic could start mass producing larger-capacity batteries for Tesla as soon as next year. The 4680 cell is said to boost the range of electric vehicles by over 15 percent. As Nikkei notes, that could boost the range of the Model S from 650km (404 miles or so) on a single charge to 750km (around 465 miles).

Although the battery is said to be twice as big as previous versions, it has a fivefold increase in energy capacity, according to Nikkei. As such, cars need fewer of the batteries, which are already 10 to 20 percent cheaper to produce. It's estimated that batteries account for 30 percent of the cost of EVs. A cost reduction could make EVs more affordable and hasten the transition to electric vehicles. What's more, a longer range means drivers won't need to charge batteries as often.

Panasonic, a long-time partner of Tesla, is reportedly investing around 80 billion yen ($704 million) on new equipment to produce the 4680. It's said to be expanding an existing plant in Japan and making the batteries there to begin with. Nikkei reports the company will start making the cells on a small scale this year to develop safe and efficient processes before entering mass production in 2023. It may mass produce the batteries in other countries later.

The company confirmed to Reuters that it was setting up a test production line in 2022, though didn't say when it will start making the batteries at a larger scale. "We are studying various options for mass production," it said.

Panasonic started working on the cell following a request from Tesla. The head of Panasonic's battery division said in November that the company hasn't ruled out producing the cell for other automakers, though Tesla is its priority. Tesla CEO Elon Musk previously said that although his company plans to make its own batteries, it would continue to source them from other suppliers.

Tesla announced the 4680 at a Battery Day event in September 2020. At the time, Musk said the cell and other developments could enable Tesla to start selling a $25,000 EV.

Washington DC’s AG sues Google for ‘deceiving users and invading their privacy’

Google, no stranger to lawsuits about its practices these days, is facing a fresh legal broadside from Washington DC Attorney General Karl Racine. Racine (pictured) has launched an action claiming that Google has violated the Consumer Protection Procedures act in the state, specifically about location tracking. Essentially, Racine believes that while Google says its users can opt-out of having their whereabouts identified, such tracking remains in place. Racine's claim is being mirrored by similar AG-led lawsuits in Texas, Washington State and Indiana.

Much of this controversy was first publicized back in 2018 when an Associated Press report identified that location tracking remained active regardless of the user’s choice. The claim says that between 2014 and 2019, despite these promises, tracking data was stored in a Web and App Activity database. As our deep dive on the subject explained, Google did enable users to go in and erase their location from this file, but the process was slow and laborious.

“Google leads consumers to believe that consumers are in control of whether Google collects and retains information about their location and how that information is used,” says the complaint. “In reality, consumers who use Google products cannot prevent Google from collecting, storing and profiting from their location.” It added that the use of dark patterns to nudge a user to consenting to data collection is harmful to consumers.

This case follows a landmark action in Arizona, brought in 2020, where AG Mark Brnovich wanted the company to pay back ad money to users who though they had turned tracking off, but did not. In 2021, documents from that case emerged claiming that Google had further sought to obscure the settings that would enable a user to disable location tracking. 

Update Jan 24th, 11:28am ET: Google spokesperson José Castañeda has issued the following statement, saying that "the Attorneys General are bringing a case based on inaccurate claims and outdated assertions about our settings. We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data. We will vigorously defend ourselves and set the record straight.”

Google’s Nest Hub Max is down to $169 for today only

Those looking to add to their Google home setup can get the biggest Nest smart display for less today. Adorama has a one-day-only sale that knocks $60 off the Nest Hub Max, bringing it down to $169. That's even cheaper than we saw it a couple of weeks ago when a bunch of Nest gadgets were discounted across the web, and it's $11 less than the device's Black Friday price last year.

Buy Nest Hub Max at Adorama - $169

The Nest Hub Max earned a score of 86 from us when it first came out in 2019 and it remains a good option for those that rely on the Google Assistant and want a larger home hub with advanced smart features. It has a spacious 10-inch HD touchscreen on which you can do things like take a Zoom call, watch YouTube or Netflix and control all of the smart lights, thermostats and other gadgets in your home. Its stereo speakers help it sound better than the smaller Nest Hubs, so it'll be good for both video watching and music playing.

The built-in camera lets you do more than just take video calls. It enables Face Match, which is similar to Google's Voice Match feature in that it recognizes who's using the device so it can display information relevant to you including calendar alerts, messages and more. If you have more than one person in the house using the Hub Max, this feature will come in handy. The Hub Max also supports gesture controls, which allow you to do things like raise a palm to the camera to pause a video or song that's playing.

While it takes up more space on a countertop than a Nest Cam, the Nest Hub Max can act as one in your home, too. You can use the Nest Cam app to pull up the feed from the device's built-in camera, letting you keep watch over your home when you're away. So while most smart displays are multi-use devices, you're truly getting a lot of bang for your buck with the Nest Hub Max — especially when it's on sale like this.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

The Morning After: The Steam Deck will support Epic’s anti-cheat software

Cheating is rife across many gaming platforms, but the biggest cheaters are usually found around PC gaming — despite games companies banning thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of the scamps. Valve's Steam Deck, its upcoming handheld, should make it harder to bend the rules.

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Steam

The company announced titles that depend on Epic’s Easy Anti-Cheat (EAC) software can now run on the portable. Valve said adding Steam Deck support to titles that use EAC is “a simple process.” Developers won’t need to update their SDK version or make other time-consuming changes. It joins BattlEye support, meaning, as Valve notes: “The two largest anti-cheat services are now easily supported on Proton and Steam Deck.”

However, it’s still unclear whether some of the most popular multiplayer games on Steam that use BattlEye and EAC, including titles like Rainbow Six Siege and PUBG, will work on day one.

— Mat Smith

Another TV show is making PR problems for Peloton

Must be a hard workout.

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Billions

Peloton didn’t need more bad news. The premiere episode of Billions season six includes a scene that, like the Sex and the City follow-up And Just Like That, points a finger at Peloton's Bike for causing a heart attack for Mike "Wags" Wagner (played by David Costabile). Unlike And Just Like That, however, Wagner survives — he even references the AJLT scene, telling staff that he's "not going out" like that character.

Continue reading.

Latest Galaxy S22 leak includes possible pricing for Europe

And less memory for the highest-specced model

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Evan Blass

According to WinFuture’s Roland Quandt, European pricing for the Galaxy S22 series will start at €849 (roughly $1,018), with the base models of the Galaxy S22 Plus and Ultra slated to cost €1,049 ($1,188) and €1,249 ($1,414). If accurate, this should mean the 2022 Samsung’s Galaxy S lineup will cost just as much as it did in 2021. In Europe at least, the Galaxy S22 Ultra will ship with 8GB of RAM, while the S21 Ultra packs 12GB of RAM.

And if you thought that was pricey, a separate leak from Android Police earlier this month suggested the company could charge an extra $100 stateside for every model in the Galaxy S22 lineup. We should know more very soon.

Continue reading.

Apple pulls verification requirement for US education shoppers

The move may be temporary.

Earlier this week, Apple began requiring students and teachers in the US to verify their identity through authentication service UNiDAYS before they could take advantage of the company’s discounted education pricing. However, that’s since disappeared. You can once again buy discounted Macs, iPads and other Apple products from the company’s US education website without needing to verify you’re currently a student or a teacher.

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Google claims court ruling would force it to 'censor' the internet

The company appealed to Australia's High Court to overturn a defamation case.

Google has asked the High Court of Australia to overturn a 2020 ruling it warns could have a “devastating” effect on the wider internet. Google claims it will be forced to “act as censor” if the country’s highest court doesn’t overturn a decision that awarded a lawyer $40,000 in defamation damages for an article the company had linked to through its search engine.

In 2016, George Defteros, a Victoria state lawyer, contacted Google to ask the company to remove a 2004 article from The Age. The piece featured reporting on murder charges prosecutors filed against Defteros related to the death of three men. Those charges were later dropped in 2005. The company refused to remove the article from its search results as it viewed the publication as a reputable source.

Continue reading.

 

The biggest news stories you might have missed


Sony will release a movie made using the PlayStation game-builder 'Dreams'

'We Met in Virtual Reality' finds love in the metaverse

PlatinumGames' long-awaited shoot 'em-up arrives February 22nd

What we bought: A rice cooker whose greatest trick isn't actually rice

The latest 'Star Trek: Picard' season two trailer teases a time-traveling adventure

Apple’s second-gen AirPods fall back to $100

A number of Apple's sound products are on sale right now at Amazon including the AirPods Max and AirPods Pro, but the best deal is to be found on the second generation AirPods. They're now on sale for just $100 or 37 percent off, the second-best deal we've seen on them since Black Friday

Buy second-gen Apple AirPods at Amazon - $100

The second-gen AirPods lack the active noise cancellation of higher-end models but still deliver solid sound quality and good battery life — up to five hours and a few charges with the included case. The biggest benefit is available to Apple users, as the H1 chipset allows you to connect in seconds and switch quickly between an iPhone, iPad and MacBook. The biggest difference with the latest third-gen AirPods is improved comfort for more users in the latter model. 

Apple AirPods Pro on sale at Amazon
Engadget

The AirPods Pro, meanwhile, are on sale for $180, or 28 percent off the regular price. They're Apple's best-sounding earbuds, offering great clarity, refined bass tones and Apple's spatial Dolby Atmos audio. The active noise cancellation (ANC) is highly effective, blocking enough noise that you don't have to crank up the sound excessively. Battery life is also solid, with up to 4.5 hours on a charge with ANC turned on. Other features include a transparency mode so you can talk to others, touch controls, and the ability to switch quickly between Apple devices. 

Buy Apple AirPods Pro at Amazon - $180
AirPods Max on sale Amazon
Engadget

Finally, Apple's AirPods Max headphones are on sale for $449 ($100 off the regular price) in the Sky Blue color only (shown above). If you're good with that, they offer excellent balanced sound, very effective active noise cancellation and on-board controls. You'll also get benefits in the Apple ecosystem like simple pairing and spatial audio. They also deliver solid battery life. We've seen a lower price at Woot, but returns and purchases are more straightforward with Amazon, and it's still a significant discount.

Buy Apple AirPods Max at Amazon - $449

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

Sony’s WH-XB910N ANC headphones are 49 percent off in Amazon’s one-day sale

For anyone looking for ANC wireless over-ear headphones at a decent price, Sony's WH-XB910N should be front of mind. If you've been checking them out, now is the time to buy as they're on sale at Amazon for just $128, a full 49 percent off the regular $250 price. 

Buy Sony WH-XB910N headphones at Amazon - $128

The WH-XB910N headphones aren't quite up to the standard of Sony's $350 flagship WH-1000XM4 headphones, but they still deliver excellent sound quality while looking great. You get clear mids and highs, powerful bass and Sony's 360 Reality Audio surround sound, available on select songs with Deezer, Tidal, Amazon Music HD and other streaming services. The active noise cancellation (ANC) works well though, again, it's not quite up to the standard of the WH-1000XM4 model (which is nearly triple the price).  

The WH-XB910N headphones are great for working at home, thanks to the "Precise Voice Pickup" that amplifies your voice on calls. It also offers on-board controls and an ambient sound mode so you can be better aware of your environment. It'll last over a day thanks to the 30-hour battery life, and you can get an additional 4.5 hours with a 10-minute quick charge.

The $128 price is one of the best we've seen, topping the $138 deal available over the holidays last year. There aren't many other models that can rival it at that price, so act soon before they're gone. 

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

Plaid must pay $58 million to users of Venmo, Robinhood and other apps

Even if you've never heard of a company called Plaid, they may owe you part of a multi-million dollar lawsuit settlement, Fast Company has reported. Plaid, which connects consumer bank accounts to services like Venmo, Robinhood, Coinbase and other apps, was accused of collecting excessive financial data from consumers. While denying any wrongdoing, it agreed to pay $58 million to all consumers with a linked bank account to any of its approximately 5,000 client apps.

The lawsuit accused Plaid of collecting "more financial data than was needed from users." It also claimed that the company obtained users' bank login information via its own "Plaid Link" interface, "which had the look and feel of the user’s own bank account login screen," according to the settlement website. On top of the $58 million payout, the company was forced to change some of its business practices. 

Millions of people use apps linked to Plaid, so any payout might be pretty slim. Still, if you're a US resident who had a bank account connected to the app between January 1st, 2013 and November 19th, 2021, you may qualify to receive a claim. For more, see the settlement site's FAQ

You may have already received an email about the lawsuit, or you can check the settlement's search section to see if you've used an app that qualifies. In any case, you have until April 28th, 2022 to submit your claim.

Samsung’s entry Galaxy S22 Ultra may come with less memory than last year’s model

With Samsung scheduled to announce its next Galaxy S flagships in February, a new leak suggests the company may have a pricing change planned for its high-end phone lineup. Per a tweet spotted by Android Police from WinFuture’sRoland Quandt, European pricing for the Galaxy S22 series will start at €849 (roughly $1,018), with the base models of the Galaxy S22 Plus and Ultra slated to cost €1,049 ($1,188) and €1,249 ($1,414), respectively. Effectively, this means in 2022 Samsung’s Galaxy S lineup will cost just as much as it did in 2021. What’s more, Quandt’s tweet suggests the company will continue its practice of charging a €50 premium for a storage bump on the standard and Plus models.

What may change is that Samsung could tweak the base model Ultra variant to offer less value than its predecessor. In Europe at least, the €1249 Galaxy S22 Ultra will ship with 8GB of RAM, according to Quandt, and cost the same amount as money as the entry-level Galaxy S21 Ultra, which features 12GB of RAM. Consumers in Europe will reportedly need to pay a €100 premium to get the S22 Ultra with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. It’s not clear if Samsung will implement the same pricing strategy in the US. As Android Police points out, a separate leak earlier this month suggested the company could charge an extra $100 stateside for every model in the Galaxy S22 lineup. As always, we’ll have to wait until the company shares official pricing information before we know just how much it will cost to own the latest Galaxy S phones.

PlatinumGames’ long-awaited shoot ’em up ‘Sol Cresta’ arrives February 22nd

PlatinumGames will release Sol Cresta on February 22nd, the studio announced this weekend. The developer had hoped to have the shmup ready by the end of 2021, but made the last-minute decision to delay it to give its development team more time for polish. With a new release date locked in, Platinum says fans will have the chance to pick up Sol Cresta on PC, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 for $40.

The Cresta series has been around since the 1980s. You can play Moon Cresta and Terra Cresta, two of the franchise’s more recent entries, through the Arcade Archives collection on PS4. What makes Sol Cresta interesting is that it started life as an April Fools’ gag. After playing such a cruel joke on fans in 2020, Platinum came back exactly one year later to announce it was actively developing the game.