Technology

As Waymo resumes self-driving tests, backup drivers are still worried about the virus

Waymo is planning to resume testing its autonomous vehicles in Arizona on May 11th, nearly two months after pausing its robotaxi service as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But some of the company’s backup drivers are worried that Waymo may be rushing back into service too quickly. In a blog post, the company said it was taking a “tiered approach” to returning its vehicles to the road. Waymo says it has redesigned its vehicle depots in Arizona to conform with social distancing guidelines, including limiting the number of people that will be allowed inside at any given time. Employees will receive personal protective gear, like face masks and gloves. And the facilities and the company’s fleet of autonomous vehicles will be cleaned multiple times a day. In addition, employees will receive ...

Samsung to launch a Samsung Pay debit card this summer

Samsung plans to launch a Samsung Pay debit card this summer, the company announced today in a blog post by Sang Ahn, vice president and general manager of Samsung Pay in North America (via Android Central). Samsung will launch the card, which will be backed by a cash management account, in partnership with personal finance company SoFi, Ahn said. Samsung is also developing a “mobile-first money management platform,” according to Ahn. His blog doesn’t detail what features that money management platform or the upcoming debit card may have, but he does say that Samsung will share more details “in the coming weeks.” Samsung joins Apple in offering a branded payment card Samsung joins Apple in offering a branded payment card. Apple’s is the Apple Card, a credit card issued in partnership with ...

Tinder starts testing live in-app trivia

Tinder is now testing a new interactive video feature in the form of live trivia, the company confirmed to The Verge on Thursday. The test will be rolling out to an undisclosed percentage of users and is designed to help Tinder experiment with live video while also matching people up. Because of this, there’s no set time when the trivia will show up, and the game’s mechanics could change frequently. Screenshots appear to suggest that the game will be between a group of people who can broadcast live. A live chat is also present. “Similar to our first digital shared experience offered on Tinder, Swipe Night, we plan to bring more of these activities to Tinder in the future,” the company says. “However, these concepts are only a test and may never launch. We look forward to providing more inf...

Lyft will require drivers and passengers to wear face masks

Lyft is making face masks mandatory for drivers and passengers, the company announced Thursday. Using the app, drivers and passengers will be required to confirm that they are wearing a mask and are symptom-free. Those who don’t agree to the new policy will be barred from the platform. The news comes as Lyft is beginning to dig itself out of a financial hole brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak. The company said its ride-hailing business plummeted 75 percent by mid-April but has been slowing increasing since then. Lyft also laid off 17 percent of its workforce, or around 1,000 people. The news comes as Lyft is beginning to dig itself out of a financial hole brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak Uber is said to be close to revealing its own face mask requirement in the coming weeks, which CNN ...

HBO Max will use anime from Crunchyroll to compete with Netflix’s growing empire

Netflix is trying to become a dominant presence in the anime streaming space, but AT&T-owned WarnerMedia is leveraging its dedicated anime streaming service Crunchyroll to help sway subscribers over to HBO Max. HBO Max subscribers will be able to stream 17 different anime series currently available on Crunchyroll, including Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-(Director’s Cut), and Keep Your Hands off Eizouken. Crunchyroll will curate new anime content for HBO Max subscribers every three months, according to WarnerMedia, with popular series Hunter x Hunter and Death Note coming to HBO Max later this year. Some titles, like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, also stream on Netflix. While HBO Max won’t be the exclusive home — shows will run on both HBO...

Uber reports $2.9 billion quarterly loss during pandemic

Uber lost $2.9 billion in the first quarter of 2019, its biggest loss in three quarters. The company also reported $3.54 billion in revenue. Gross bookings in its ride-hailing business fell 3 percent, while bookings in its Uber Eats division were up more than 54 percent year over year, thanks to increased demand for food deliveries. Uber’s ride-hailing business has plummeted a result of widespread shutdown orders due to the pandemic. The company announced this week that it would lay off 3,700 full-time employees, or about 14 percent of its workforce. Another 400-plus employees from Uber’s Jump bike and scooter division will also be laid off as part of an investment deal with Lime, The Information reports. In a call with investors in March, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the company’s gros...

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders demand Amazon explain whistleblower firings

Nine Democratic senators are calling on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to provide information on the firing of workers who called for greater protections from COVID-19. In a letter, the senators cite four workers who were fired after raising concerns about safety conditions at the company’s warehouses. Amazon has disputed that the firings were retaliatory, citing other policy violations. “Given the clear public history of these four workers’ advocacy on behalf of health and safety conditions for workers in Amazon warehouses preceding their terminations, and Amazon’s vague public statements regarding violations of ‘internal policies,’ we are seeking additional information to understand exactly what those internal policies are,” the senators wrote. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT)...

Nikon is extending its free online photography classes until the end of May

Nikon has made its entire curriculum of online photography classes free until the end of May. The classes were originally made free throughout April, but Nikon has now extended access for another month. All 10 classes available at the Nikon School can be streamed for free. The classes are normally priced anywhere between $15 and $50 each. Each class is taught by a professional photographer and provides in-depth lessons to help you get better at taking photos. Some courses cover Nikon-specific products, but many of them teach the fundamentals of photography, such as a course that teaches you how to photograph your children or pets or the basics of making a music video. So even if you don’t own a Nikon camera, many of these classes might still be worth a watch. If you’re interested in stream...

Google unifies all of its messaging and communication apps into a single team

In October of last year, Google hired Javier Soltero to be the VP and GM of G Suite, its set of office apps and — importantly for today’s news — Google Meet and Google Chat. Now, the company is putting him in charge of yet another set of products: Messages, Duo, and the phone app on Android. The move puts all of Google’s major communication products under one umbrella: Soltero’s team. Soltero tells me that there are no immediate plans to change or integrate any of Google’s apps, so don’t get your hopes up for that (yet). “We believe people make choices around the products that they use for specific purposes,” Soltero says. Still, Google’s communications apps are in dire need of a more coherent and opinionated production development, and Soltero could very well be the right person to provid...

Madden 21 shows that cross-gen gaming on Xbox Series X and PS5 could be messy

EA’s upcoming Madden NFL 21 is coming to the Xbox Series X, and owners of the game for the current-gen Xbox One will be able to upgrade to the Series X version for free, the company announced today at Microsoft’s gameplay reveal showcase. But there’s a catch: instead of using Microsoft’s Smart Delivery program to offer the free upgrade, EA will be running its own — far more limited — upgrade offer. At its core, EA’s deal has the same goal as Microsoft’s Smart Delivery program: to make sure that players don’t have to buy two copies of a game for the two separate consoles. But EA is adding a host of extra restrictions for its offer. Players must purchase Madden NFL 21 on Xbox One by December 31st, 2020 to be eligible to get a Series X upgrade, and they’ll only have until March 31st, 2021 to ...

These 11 new games will get free upgrades for the Xbox Series X

Microsoft is detailing the first games that will support the company’s upcoming Smart Delivery program for cross-generation games between the Xbox Series X and Xbox One. Smart Delivery is Microsoft’s free upgrade program for the Xbox Series X that lets you buy an Xbox One version of a game and get the Xbox Series X version free of charge. It also means you can buy an Xbox Series X game with Smart Delivery and get the Xbox One version, too. It’s designed to prevent situations where you buy the latest and greatest game on Xbox One in the coming months and then have to repurchase it again for the Xbox Series X. Not every studio is going to participate in Smart Delivery, but it’s starting to look like a large majority will. Microsoft has detailed 13 new titles coming to the Xbox Series X today...

Here are the first 13 games optimized for the Xbox Series X

Microsoft is detailing the first games that will be optimized for its next-gen Xbox Series X console today. All of the games included in Microsoft’s Xbox 20/20 show will sport a new Xbox Series X Optimized badge, which signals that a game has been improved and optimized for the new console. Optimizations include 4K support at up to 120fps, DirectStorage support, hardware-accelerated ray tracing, and faster load times. Effectively, when you see the Optimized badge, you know that a developer has done some work to ensure existing or new games work better on an Xbox Series X. You can read more about the Xbox Series X Optimized details here. Microsoft showcased 13 new games coming to Xbox Series X, including titles from Ubisoft, Deep Silver, and Bloober Team. All 13 games will sport the new Xbo...