Category: Technology

Amazon asks court to dismiss FTC lawsuit that accuses it of ‘monopolistic practices’

Amazon asks court to dismiss FTC lawsuit that accuses it of ‘monopolistic practices’

Amazon filed a motion on Friday in the Western Washington district court asking a judge to dismiss the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) antitrust lawsuit against it. The FTC along with 17 state attorneys general sued Amazon in September, alleging the company uses monopolistic practices that are unfair to both its competitors and consumers. Amazon is now arguing that the FTC did not provide evidence that its practices have driven up prices or harmed consumers, according to Bloomberg.

The FTC’s lawsuit claims Amazon uses illegal tactics to crush its competition — like punishing sellers who list their products for better prices elsewhere by burying them in search results, and coercing sellers into using Amazon’s own fulfillment service by tying it to Prime eligibility. It also accuses Amazon of inflating prices from 2016-2018 using an algorithmic tool codenamed Project Nessie. These increases added up to more than $1 billion, according to the suit.

In Amazon’s motion for dismissal, per AP, Amazon said it’s only engaging in “common retail practices” that “benefit consumers and are the essence of competition.” Amazon attorney Heidi Hubbard wrote that the suit “implausibly, and …read more

Teslas will be able to automatically call 911 if you get in a crash

Tesla logo in red on black background
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Tesla will release its 2023 Holiday Update next week with a few big changes, including one that lets Teslas call 911 automatically if the car’s airbags deploy in a crash. On Thursday, the company announced the update is coming next week, and it highlighted other coming features like Apple Podcasts support, rear-screen Bluetooth headset support, an updated version of the park assistance with 3D visuals, and new blind spot indicators.

Apple Podcast support joins Apple Music, which Tesla added last year. Not a Tesla App reported yesterday that Tesla owners can sync podcasts with Apple devices. The site added other details about update 2023.44.25; for instance, Tesla owners won’t need a separate USB stick for every light show they want to…

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Controversial AI image platform Civitai dropped by its cloud computing provider after reports of possible CSAM

Controversial AI image platform Civitai dropped by its cloud computing provider after reports of possible CSAM

OctoML says it has ended its business relationship with Civitai days after an investigation by 404 Media revealed the text-to-image platform was being used to generate images that “could be categorized as child pornography.” Civitai previously relied on OctoML’s OctoAI for image generation. While OctoML initially indicated it would continue working with Civitai and introduced new measures to curb the creation of harmful images, 404 Media reported on Saturday that it has now decided to cut ties with the platform altogether.

According to 404 Media’s December 5 report, internal communications showed that OctoML was aware some Civitai users were creating sexually explicit material that included nonconsensual images of real people and pornographic depictions of children. In a followup report this weekend, the publication noted that OctoML rolled out a filter to block the generation of all NSFW content on Civitai before announcing its decision to pull out. Civitai also added new moderation methods in response to the investigation earlier this week, including a mandatory embedding called Civitai Safe Helper (Minor) that bars the model from generating images of children if “a mature theme or keyword is detected,” according to 404.

Andreessen Horowitz-backed Civitai has previously …read more

Beeper Mini team says a fix is ‘coming soon’ and promises to extend users’ free trials

Beeper Mini team says a fix is ‘coming soon’ and promises to extend users’ free trials

The Beeper Mini team has apparently been working around the clock to resolve the outage affecting the new “iMessage on Android” app, and says a fix is “very close.” And once the fix rolls out, users’ seven-day free trials will be reset so they can start over fresh. Beeper Mini was released earlier this week, and seemed an especially promising entrant due to its unique approach to bridging the iMessage-Android gap. The app, reportedly the result of a 16-year-old’s work to reverse-engineer iMessage, routes messages directly through Apple’s own servers, making it more secure than some of the other options out there.

But, only days after its release, Beeper Mini users on Friday found that they could no longer send and receive messages, sparking questions about whether Apple intervened and put a stop to it. In an update posted on social media, the team said it’s deregistered users’ phone numbers from iMessage while it works to fix the issue. That may not be the end of the immediate headaches caused by the outage, though. “Annoyingly, the iPhone Messages app ‘remembers’ that you were a blue …read more

Epic used Fortnite OG to lure players back to a very different game

Art for the Fortnite OG season of Fortnite.
Image: Epic Games

You could say that Fortnite is entering a new phase. With the launch of Lego Fortnite, Rocket Racing, and Fortnite Festival, the game is now more than a popular battle royale — it’s a platform designed to house lots of different kinds of experiences. That shift was preceded by an event that brought the game back to its roots with Fortnite OG, which returned to the original battle royale map alongside classic weapons and vehicles. And that was a very intentional strategy from Epic Games.

According to Epic’s executive VP Saxs Persson, the launch of Fortnite OG was meant to create a stir ahead of this rollout of new games. “We had a goal of re-activating a lot of our 500 million accounts that maybe weren’t playing Fortnite anymore, and…

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The quiet plan to make the internet feel faster

An internet router made to look like a spaceship traveling through space at light speed.
Illustration by Hugo Herrera / The Verge

A few months ago, I downgraded my internet, going from a 900Mbps plan to a 200Mbps one. Now, I find that websites can sometimes take a painfully long time to load, that HD YouTube videos have to stop and buffer when I jump around in them, and that video calls can be annoyingly choppy.

In other words, pretty much nothing has changed. I had those exact same problems even when I had near-gigabit download service, and I’m probably not alone. I’m sure many of you have also had the experience of cursing a slow-loading website and growing even more confused when a “speed test” says that your internet should be able to play dozens of 4K Netflix streams at once. So what gives?

Like any issue, there are many factors at play. But a major one is…

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Fortnite Festival tries to bring back the heyday of music gaming

Between Fortnite’s propensity for big-name concerts and Epic’s purchase of Harmonix two years ago, the inclusion of some kind of music-making feature in the game was inevitable. What Epic is releasing today is actually far grander: an entirely new mode called Fortnite Festival, a social space where players can team up to perform their favorite songs or jam together on new mixes.

There are two options, or stages, for users to play in the new mode. The main stage, or championship stage, is basically the Rock Band experience recreated inside Fortnite. You’ll form a band with friends and choose a song to perform. Then you play the song using the standard music game format where notes slide down vertical bars, hitting the correct button when the note reaches the bottom. Players can, of course, hear the song as they play it, which can be embarrassing if you’re not that good. Each performer earns points, which in turn leads to XP and character progression in the greater Fortnite ecosystem.

While the main stage may be old-hat to anyone present during the zenith of music games in the 2000s, the jam stage draws from Harmonix’s more …read more

Fortnite Festival is Rock Band without the plastic instruments

A screenshot from the video game Fortnite Festival.
Image: Epic Games

Epic released a trilogy of new games inside of Fortnite this week. It started with Lego Fortnite, continued with Rocket Racing, and is wrapping up today with Fortnite Festival, developed by Guitar Hero studio Harmonix (which Epic acquired in 2021). It’s all part of an ambitious plan to turn Fortnite from a hit battle royale into a platform filled with all kinds of different experiences. And in the case of Fortnite Festival, it’s a full-blown music game inside of Fortnite. Think of it like Rock Band — but without the plastic instruments.

What that means is you’ll be hitting notes along to popular songs, but instead of doing that on a toy guitar or drum set, you’re using a game controller or mouse and keyboard. The basic flow is identical,…

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Apple’s 10th-gen iPad is actually worthwhile when it’s $100 off

A yellow 10th gen iPad face down on a wooden table, seen from above.
Plus, it comes in this awesome yellow color. | Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

We’ve found Apple’s latest generation of its base-model iPad to be a bit awkwardly priced from the start. At $449 it’s a little close to the much nicer iPad Air and simultaneously a lot pricier than its ninth-gen predecessor. But that all looks different when you knock a Benjamin off of it — because right now you can get the 10th-gen iPad with base 64GB of storage for $349 ($100 off) or expanded 256GB for $499 (also $100 off) at Best Buy until December 11th. This matches its Black Friday best pricing, making it a much better purchase.

The 10.9-inch tablet has a speedy A14 Bionic chip and USB-C charging port with a colorful design and gesture-based controls like its pricier brethren. As for handwritten note-taking, you can either use the…

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The Morning After: Battle of the chatbots, part two

The Morning After: Battle of the chatbots, part two

Good morning. Do you want this customized PS5? You’ll have to work the sunset years of your career at Sony then. That is, apparently, the only way. I’m also taking bets on which chatbot will be the chatbot we all depend on. It’s like Yahoo (our parent company) or Google or Facebook. Who’s going to get there first? This week’s YouTube-coated cry for help features two of the biggest chatbot competitors, Google and Microsoft. And some Engadget editorial team in-fighting

This week:

Google’s Gemini is the biggest threat yet to ChatGPT

Microsoft upgrades its chatbot, too

Lenovo’s huge handheld PC is here

And read this:

Researchers have made an under-the-skin implant to treat Type 1 diabetes. The new implantable device could change the way Type 1 diabetics receive insulin without the need for needles or pumps. A thread-like implant is an “islet device” derived from the cells that produce insulin in our bodies naturally. This secretes insulin through islet cells that form around it, while also receiving nutrients and oxygen from blood vessels to stay alive.

However, the devices eventually need to be removed, so researchers are still …read more