News & Updates


According to a report from CNBC, Twitter wants to sell. CNBC’s sources say that Twitter’s board of directors is “largely desirous of a deal,” and the company has “received expressions of interest” from tech and media companies. The most notable buyers on the shortlist? and Google.

Twitter has had trouble growing its user base, and in turn, its advertising revenue. Twitter’s monthly active user count of 320 million puts it in the same neighborhood as Google+ (300 million) and far from Facebook’s offerings of Instagram (400 million) and Facebook (1.59 billion).

News of a possible sale has sent Twitter stock up over 20 percent.

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Enlarge / Same for Siri.

Apple may be planning to introduce Siri to a new home, one that doesn’t live in your pocket or on your wrist. A Bloomberg report suggests that Apple may be developing a smart home device akin to Amazon’s Echo that uses Siri to control other devices around the home, including smart lights and locks. Individuals “familiar with the matter” claim that the project has already gone through research and development, and it has now entered the prototype testing phase.

According to the report, Apple will try to set its product apart from Echo and Google’s new Home device by incorporating “more advanced” microphones and speakers as well as facial recognition sensors that could help the device identify who is in the room. Apple has acquired the startups Faceshift and Emotient over the past couple years, both of which have experience in facial-recognition technology.

Since the device is assumed to be controlled by Siri, it could potentially be used for many existing Siri commands; for example, you might be able to ask the device to read your e-mail, stream Apple Music tracks, or send a text message. Apple reportedly first tried to integrate Siri into the Apple TV, which would have let users speak commands to the set-top box. However, project was never completed, and Apple instead decided to integrate voice-commands into the TV’s controller.

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(credit: Tony Webster)

The stream of racist, sexist, and economically illiterate memes appearing in support of Donald Trump during this years’ interminable American presidential election are being bankrolled in part by the 24-year-old inventor of Oculus Rift.

Palmer Luckey, who came into a personal fortune worth $700 million (£535 million) when his VR headset firm was bought out by Facebook, has admitted to resourcing an unofficial pro-Trump political non-profit called Nimble America that’s powering the tsunami of unsavoury Pepes and white supremacist image macros that have plagued Reddit.

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Enlarge / Maserati + 4K + Windows 10 + Forza Horizon 3 = …uh, this doesn’t seem like a good math problem. (credit: Playground Games / Turn 10 Studios)

Our Forza Horizon 3 game review from earlier this week took a long, hard look at Microsoft Studios’ latest open-world racer. Short version: it’s a damned good continuation of Forza‘s wilder half, and while its physics system felt looser and lighter under the wheel-controller hands of cars editor Jonathan Gitlin than he expected (even based on FH2, mind you), he still believed it deserved a spot at the top of the current open-world racer ecosystem.

We don’t normally return to games after their releases to analyze performance, and certainly not only three days after a review publishes, but FH3 just so happens to be the first PC racing game sold by Microsoft in… gosh, 16 years! The company’s last retail PC racer was 2000’s Motocross Madness 2, while this year’s sim-minded Forza Motorsport 6 Apex doesn’t count because it was an experimental freebie—albeit an amazing and surprising one, at least in terms of performance.

That Apex release was probably easier to optimize for high-end PC performance, since it forced players to stick to specific racetracks (and could therefore limit on-screen elements like draw distance and geometry at any given moment). FH3, on the other hand, isn’t just an open-world game; it’s an outright romp that begs its players to kick up trails of dust, water droplets, and tree branches while competing against tons of AI-controlled opponents in no-rails races.

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Enlarge (credit: 2016 Wizards of the Coast / Tyler Jacobson)

Magic: The Gathering finally jumps away from grim alien-infested worlds in the last set of 2016: Kaladesh, a new world full of inspired, steampunky inventors with a vivid colour scheme. We got our hands on the new set a couple of weeks ahead of the official release; here’s our take on what it adds to the ever-growing Magic universe.

The setting

The last year has been a dark one for Magic’s story. Even without looking at any of the cards from this new set, the packaging and promotional material makes a tone shift very clear; colour, celebration, and creation jump out at you immediately. This is a drastic change to the mise en scène of the past year, but Magic happily accommodates this without it ever being jarring; embracing different worlds is part of the appeal of the evolving game.

There’s plenty of depth to the world of Kaladesh, rather than just being a simple inventor’s world. The designers have blended classic steampunk elements (protruding, brutal machinery) with fantasy tropes (elves, gremlins, and the first Magic dwarves in just under a decade). The result is something much brighter than many steampunk settings, but there are elements hinting at struggle below the bright surface, stopping things from lapsing into the saccharine or cliché.

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Prepare to feel old: this October marks 20 years since Lara Croft made her debut on the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn in Tomb Raider. To celebrate, publisher Square Enix has put together a goody bag of treats in the form of Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration on PlayStation 4. There are zombies (because zombies=£££), a new PlayStation VR mode, co-op, and even a new point-and-click adventure game mode. Xbox One players get everything, minus the VR support of course, as DLC.

It would have been easy for Square Enix to just cobble together a few odds and ends that were chopped out of Rise of the Tomb Raider for Lara’s twentieth, but there’s a level of depth that gives the anniversary a ballroom rather than pub feel.

After a few hours of hands-on time, it was the new co-op Endurance mode that stood out. Endurance is largely the same single-player variation that appeared in the original version of Rise of the Tomb Raider, which tasked you with hunting down valuable artefacts across a procedurally generated, snow-bound wilderness. The constant struggle to stay warm and well-fed adds the challenge.

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The OpenSSL Foundation has patched over a dozen vulnerabilities in its cryptographic code library, including a high severity bug that can be exploited for denial-of-service (DoS) attacks.

OpenSSL is a widely used open-source cryptographic library that provides encrypted Internet connections using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) for the majority of websites, as well


Enlarge / The Apple Watch Series 2 running watchOS 3. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

One of my favorite pieces of Apple writing from the last couple years is Ben Thompson’s discussion of the Apple Watch’s introduction and how it compared to past Apple product introductions. I’m not just referring to standard Apple product events, but the events at which Apple introduces an entirely new product line to the press and its customers for the first time.

The iPod, iPhone, and iPad introductions, Thompson writes, all went to great lengths to communicate Apple’s goals for the product. And often, that part of the presentation would go on for as long as 10 or 15 minutes before the product itself was even announced or shown. Even if you didn’t necessarily agree with Apple’s stated vision, you came away with clear knowledge of what that vision was.

Contrast that with the introduction for the Apple Watch, which began with a general statement about Apple’s product philosophy and moved on to a pre-recorded video (relatively rare during Jobs’ era, but a frustrating hallmark of Cook-era presentations). That was followed by a rundown of the watch’s UI and multiple app demos, some of which landed better than others. It was sort of a phone substitute sometimes, it sort of did some fitness things, it sort of ran limited versions of apps, it was sort of a wrist-bound communicator and personal assistant, and it was sort of a status symbol aimed at the luxury watch market. Plenty of possibilities, but no clearly communicated vision.

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