23andMe Lays Off 100 Workers Amid Shrinking Demand for DNA Tests

It’s not the hot market the company predicted. January 24, 2020 2 min read This story originally appeared on Engadget If you’re skittish about DNA testing services, you’re not the only one — and it’s directly affecting one of the heavyweights in the field. The 23andMe team is laying off about 100 workers, or 14 percent of its total workforce, in light of declining sales. The job cuts will focus on units responsible for growing and scaling the company. In the months ahead, 23andMe expects to cut back its work on clinical studies and focus more on its home testing and therapeutic offerings. Related: The DNA Testing Company 23andMe Reveals a New Genetic Analysis Company chief Anne Wojcicki didn’t have definitive explanations for the shrinking sales in a chat with CNBC, but did speculate that privacy was “top of mind” for customers and might have been a factor. Cold cases like the Golden State Killer appear to […]

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Elon Musk Expect’s SpaceX’s First Crewed Mission Between April and June

Crew Dragon could live up to its name this spring. January 20, 2020 2 min read This story originally appeared on Engadget Now that SpaceX has completed Crew Dragon’s in-flight launch escape test, when can you expect a mission with humans aboard? At last, the company has a more specific answer than early 2020. Company chief Elon Musk told attendees at a post-test conference that the crewed mission to the International Space Station will likely take place in the second quarter of the year, or sometime between April and June. SpaceX was “highly confident” the hardware would be ready in the first quarter, “most likely” in February. Related: 3 Executive-Branding Lessons We Can Learn From Elon Musk It’s a good idea to take estimates like this with a grain of salt. Schedules for spaceflight can slip with little warning (even this latest test was delayed by a day). And there’s no denying that Musk’s […]

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Fitbit Quietly Enables Blood Oxygen Tracking on Its Wearables

It could help track breathing issues – if you have the right device. January 16, 2020 2 min read This story originally appeared on Engadget Fitbit’s devices from recent years have blood oxygen monitoring (SpO2) hardware, but they haven’t used it — until now. Users on Reddit and elsewhere have noticed that their Versa, Ionic and Charge 3 devices are suddenly (if sometimes temporarily) providing blood oxygen data to help track health issues like asthma, heart disease and sleep apnea. It’s not clear who’s getting first dibs, but it’s not dictated by device type or Premium memberships. Related: Why Fitbit Prioritizes People Over Products Fitbit confirmed the rollout to Engadget. The devices are using a combination of red and infrared sensors to determine oxygen variation, although the company cautioned that it wasn’t a relative figure. You shouldn’t see large variations in your sleep if you’re healthy, the company said. Related: 5 Fitness Trackers That Guarantee a Smart Workout This is coming […]

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Instagram Offers Access to DM’s on the Web

The social network is rolling out desktop direct messaging to a ‘small percentage’ of users worldwide January 15, 2020 2 min read This story originally appeared on Engaget Instagram on the web has long played second fiddle to the mobile apps (look at how long it took to get notifications), but that gap is about to narrow considerably. The social network is rolling out direct messages on the web to a “small percentage” of users worldwide as part of a public test following internal experiments in 2019. Much like on your phone, you can participate in regular and group chats, share photos, ‘like’ messages and receive notifications. More news on a possible wider release is coming in the future, Instagram told The Verge. The strategy is in line with Facebook’s broader goal of a more private experience with a greater focus on messaging than in the past. It ultimately hopes to offer unified messaging across its core plaforms (Facebook, […]

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Tesla’s Cybertruck Found Its Way Into a Travis Scott Music Video

This definitely isn’t conventional product placement. December 30, 2019 2 min read This story originally appeared on Engadget Tesla likes to brag about racking up sales without a lick of advertising, but it’s apparently not averse to some product placement. Rapper Travis Scott has shared the video for “Gang Gang,” and the car-centric video includes extensive, conspicuous shots of Scott and crew performing around (and occasionally using) both the Cybertruck and the Cyberquad electric ATV. There’s even a Boring Company Not-A-Flamethrower thrown in for good measure — the supercars in the rest of the clip are practically window dressing in comparison. It’s not clear how the EVs ended up in Scott’s video. We’ve asked Tesla for comment. There’s a good possibility Scott or the producers have a close connection with Elon Musk, though. He’s one of the very few people to drive the Cybertruck in public, and Musk has been spotted hobnobbing with Scott and other stars as recently as […]

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Boeing Will Freeze 737 Max Production as FAA Review Carries On

The company will be stopping work on the flawed airliner in January. December 17, 2019 2 min read This story originally appeared on Engadget As you’ve probably noticed, Boeing’s flawed 737 Max still hasn’t received the regulatory all-clear as 2019 draws to a close — and that’s now affecting manufacturing. Boeing said it will suspend 737 Max production in January now that the FAA expects its safety evaluation to continue in 2020. It’s uncertain how long the freeze will last, but that’s likely to hinge on when (and if) the aircraft is allowed to fly again. While airlines have ruled out using the 737 Max until March or later, there’s no guarantee they’ll be allowed to fly by then. Boeing has about 400 completed aircraft sitting in storage, and said that focusing on delivering those aircraft would be “least disruptive” to its long-term plans. Staff will either continue working on the 737 or receive […]

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Instagram Is Using AI to Alert Bullies to Offensive Captions

Whether or not that serves as a deterrent for abusive posting on Instagram is another story. December 16, 2019 2 min read This story originally appeared on Engadget Presented by Instagram’s anti-bullying efforts now extend to discouraging abusive behavior in posts, not just comments. It’s introducing a feature that warns people when their post captions might be offensive, using AI to detect language similar to posts that have previously been reported. In theory, this makes bullies second-guess their vitriol, stick to kinder language and learn about the social network’s rules. You can ignore the warning if Instagram made a mistake. Related: Instagram Stories: 18 Marketers to Follow for Incredible Inspiration The anti-bullying notice is available now in “select countries,” and should be available elsewhere in the “coming months.” Whether or not this proves effective is uncertain. Instagram said that its efforts to reduce bullying in comments have been “promising,” but that doesn’t guarantee similar performance for the […]

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YouTube’s Tougher Harassment Policy Cracks Down on Hate Speech and Threats

Bigoted insults, implied threats and systemic behavior are all officially forbidden on YouTube. December 11, 2019 2 min read This story originally appeared on Engadget YouTube is enacting a stricter anti-harassment policy to curb hate speech and threats that might have otherwise skirted past its moderators. The online video giant no longer allows material that “maliciously insults” people based on traits like gender identity, race or sexual orientation. It’ll also bar “veiled or implied” threats, not just direct ones. You could face penalties if you simulate violence toward someone or suggest that violence might take place, YouTube said. Also, channels that routinely “brush up” against the policy will be kicked out of the YouTube Partner Program. A creator that’s purposefully testing the limits of YouTube’s resolve could find itself unable to make money and might find itself banned outright if its behavior continues beyond that point. Related: How to Create a YouTube Channel in 3 Simple […]

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Massachusetts Police Have Been Quietly Testing a Robot Dog

Boston Dynamics’s Spot robot kept watch in dangerous situations. November 26, 2019 2 min read This story originally appeared on Engadget Boston Dynamics has been looking for ways to put its robots to work, but it turns out they’ve already seen some service. Radio station WBUR and the ACLU have learned that the Massachusetts State Police bomb squad leased Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot between August and November. While the document didn’t elaborate on the role the bot would serve, a spokesperson said it was used as a “mobile remote observation device” to keep watch over suspicious devices and dangerous locations. Related: Read all of the latest robot news here The machine saw use in two real-world incidents in addition to training, the police said. It’s not clear how autonomous Spot was, but the police said they didn’t customize the robot canine’s software or weaponize it. Company chief Marc Raibert showed the Massachusetts State Police using Spot at TechCrunch Sessions: Robotics in […]

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Google Wants to Be Your New Bank

Google announced that it is planning to offer checking accounts in 2020. November 13, 2019 2 min read This story originally appeared on Engadget It’s not just Apple and Facebook diving headlong into the financial world. Google has revealed plans to offer checking accounts in 2020 through a project nicknamed Cache. The search giant won’t handle the actual underpinnings — Citigroup and a credit union at Stanford University will both handle the accounts and feature the most prominent branding. There will still be integration between Google and the accounts, though, and some of it might raise concerns among regulators. Related: Learn the Technical SEO Skills Needed to Rank Higher on Google Google is promising that it won’t sell account holders’ financial data. Instead, this is meant to add value for customers, shops and the banks themselves with services like loyalty programs. In a chat with the Wall Street Journal, the company’s Caesar Sengupta also touted it as a way […]

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Apple Pay Is More Popular Than Starbucks for U.S. Mobile Payments

Alternative payment platforms from Google and Samsung pale in comparison to Apple’s rising user rates. October 25, 2019 2 min read This story originally appeared on Engadget For a while, the most popular payment app in the US was… Starbucks. Yes, enough people were buying venti lattes that even dedicated payment services were being left by the wayside. You can’t say the same now, though. Analysts at eMarketer have estimated that Apple Pay will be more popular than Starbucks’ payments in the US, with 30.3 million iPhone owners using the tap-to-pay option in 2019 versus Starbucks’ 25.2 million. The alternatives aren’t likely to come close, apparently. Google Pay should have 12.1 million users, while Samsung Pay is poised to have 10.8 million users. The eMarketer team credited the change of leadership to the growing ubiquity of NFC payment terminals, particularly in common shopping destinations like grocery stores — you’re more likely to use Apple Pay […]

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Domino’s Will Use E-Bikes to Deliver Pizzas Across the U.S.

It’s an eco-friendly (and sometimes faster) alternative to delivery cars. August 13, 2019 2 min read This story originally appeared on Engadget Domino’s Pizza is once again adopting cutting edge delivery vehicles, although you’re much more likely to see these ones in action. In the wake of successful tests, the restaurant chain is launching a U.S.-wide e-bike delivery program that will give stores the choice of using custom Rad Power e-bikes to carry pizza. They’re typical electric two-wheelers at their heart with motors that assist pedaling for 25 to 40 miles on a charge with a 20 mph top speed, but they also include front and rear insulated cargo spaces that hold a combined 12 large pizzas. A delivery person could make several stops before having to cycle back to home base. It’s not hard to see the allure. They’re not only more environmentally friendly than cars, they can sometimes be faster when riders […]

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French Inventor Is First to Cross English Channel Using a Hoverboard

It wasn’t an uninterrupted flight, but it was still historic. August 5, 2019 2 min read This story originally appeared on Engadget It took a second try, but Franky Zapata has become the first to cross the English Channel using a hoverboard. The French inventor used his jet-powered Flyboard Air to travel the 22 miles from France to England in 22 minutes, briefly landing on a boat to replace his kerosene-filled backpack. The board wasn’t slow, either — Zapata said he reached speeds up to 106 mph during his journey. The first attempt in late July literally fell short after Zapata missed the boat platform by a “few centimeters.” Zapata relied on a larger boat and platform to ensure this latest attempt would work without a hitch. This is certainly a publicity grab for Zapata’s company, Z-Air, but it could also open doors for the technology in other areas. The French military is already backing […]

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‘Stranger Things 3’ Has Been Seen by Over 40 Million Netflix Accounts

More than 18 million have finished the whole season. July 9, 2019 2 min read This story originally appeared on Engadget Remember when it was a big deal that Bright racked up 11 million viewers? That’s now quaint by comparison. Netflix has revealed that 40.7 million accounts have watched Stranger Things 3 in the four days since its July 4th premiere, making it the most-viewed show of any kind on the service in that time frame. And many in that audience were determined to finish the season before they returned to work — 18.2 million have already completed the entire season. The company treats a view as anyone having watched at least 70 percent of an episode or movie. It didn’t break down the audience by region. The view count isn’t completely surprising given the sheer amount of hype involved, but it’s still a major feat. Netflix broke its movie record in June, when Murder Mystery garnered nearly 30.9 […]

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Your Sleep Tracker Might Make Insomnia Worse

Inaccurate data and score obsessions could lead to unneeded anxiety. June 17, 2019 2 min read This story originally appeared on Engadget Sleep tracking can help you determine if you’re getting a good night’s rest, but it might exacerbate your problems in some circumstances. Scientists talking to the New York Times have warned that sleep tracker apps and devices can worsen insomnia both through inaccurate data and by making your anxieties that much worse. In a study, for instance, it led to people both spending too much time in bed (to boost their sleep stats) and reporting non-existent conditions that resulted in wasted treatment. This doesn’t mean the devices tend to be unreliable, and manufacturers have unsurprisingly rushed to defend their products. Fitbit’s Dr. Conor Heneghan claimed that few users deal with serious sleep anxiety, and that the tracking data could stress the effects of consistent sleep schedules and harmful habits. They can also pinpoint heart […]

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Mazda Will Offer an EV in 2020

You can also expect plug-in hybrids by 2022. June 10, 2019 1 min read This story originally appeared on Engadget Mazda is ready to jump into electric cars in earnest after years of sitting on the sidelines. CEO Akira Marumoto told Automotive News Europe in an interview that his company will introduce an EV in 2020. And no, this won’t be the result of its partnership with Toyota — this mysterious initial model will be built on “a Mazda architecture.” The automaker is catching up on hybrids, too, with plug-in models (notice the plural) coming in “2021 or 2022.” Not that Mazda has much choice. The EU is tightening its emissions targets, and Mazda’s fleet CO2 output is well above where it needs to be by 2021. If Mazda doesn’t produce more eco-friendly cars, it’ll have to either pool with another manufacturer to lower its emissions figures (like Fiat did with Tesla) or pay substantial fines for every […]

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Tesla Warns Employees Against Leaking Info

Yes, the warning was leaked. May 6, 2019 2 min read This story originally appeared on Engadget Tesla has a rough history with leakers, and it’s apparently eager to remind employees of that fact. CNBC said it had obtained an email from Tesla’s security team (yes, the irony is thick) warning staff against leaking sensitive information. The message asserted that outsiders were “targeting” employees hoping to get vital data in a bid to “see us fail,” and pointed out that Tesla would crack down on leakers by firing them, making damage claims and filing charges. The EV maker pointed to a few examples, such as workers who posted production numbers and even an internal meeting’s phone number on social networks. Corporate missives discouraging leaks aren’t new. Apple in particular is well-known for warning staff of the consequences of leaking. For Tesla, though, there’s a certain sense of urgency to warnings like this. The company is dealing with financial […]

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Tesla Will ‘Substantially’ Raise the Price of Its Self-Driving Option

You might want to act quickly if you’re determined to get a Tesla vehicle with self-driving capability. April 15, 2019 2 min read This story originally appeared on Engadget You might want to act quickly if you’re determined to get a Tesla vehicle with self-driving capability. Elon Musk has warned that the price of the Full Self-Driving package will “increase substantially over time,” starting with a hike on May 1st. He didn’t give a ballpark of his own, but said it would be “something like” the $3,000 suggested by one Twitter follower. It currently costs $5,000 to add the (eventual) full autonomy when ordering a car, and $7,000 if you want it later. The increase comes on the heels of Tesla making Autopilot standard and won’t exactly thrill buyers who can’t buy before May. However, there is a reason for the move: Tesla is showing off its next-gen driverless technology, which comes in tandem with a new computer, at […]

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Amazon Employees Call for a Company-Wide Climate Change Plan

This doesn’t guarantee that Bezos and crew will listen. April 10, 2019 3 min read This story originally appeared on Engadget Amazon is the next tech giant to face mounting calls to action from its employees. A total of 3,541 employees have published an open letter asking Jeff Bezos and other leaders to adopt a shareholder resolution and release a “company-wide” climate change plan meeting their terms. Some are clarifications of existing initiatives, while others would require a significant shake-up in its existing strategy. The workers called for a “complete” end to the use of fossil fuels, not just carbon offsets. Those still leave lasting effects, such as the diesel pollution from delivery vans. The employees also demanded a halt to all solutions designed for the fossil fuel industry, such as the AWS for Oil & Gas initiative that drew criticism earlier in the week. Further, the staffers wanted any goals to be consistent with the IPCC’s […]

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Digital Music May Not Have Saved the Environment After All

A study suggests greenhouse gas emissions may have increased. April 9, 2019 2 min read This story originally appeared on Engadget Logic would suggest that music downloads and streaming are good for the environment. You’re not buying physical copies, right? Not so fast — there’s a chance things could be worse. Researchers have published a study suggesting that greenhouse gas emissions are higher now than they were when physical media was all the rage. While going digital has reduced the amount of plastic, the combination of extra power demands and the sheer popularity of music (you can listen to virtually anything for $10 per month, after all) may have offset other gains. Where vinyl produced 346 million pounds of greenhouse gasses at its height in 1977, downloads and streaming are estimated to pump out 441 million to 772 million pounds. The publicly available data leaves some questions. It’s not clear that the […]

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