Tech

Fortnite is just a black hole right now

Fortnite just blew up its entire map and all that’s left is a black hole. Some are speculating that this is simply a teaser for a new Fortnite map, but it’s unclear when that new map will arrive. On Epic Games’ status page, it says Fortnite is currently experiencing a minor service outage, noting “anomaly detected.” As Kotaku reports, players this morning were only able to access a team fight mode called “The End.” That led to a massive explosion that resulted in a black hole. Fortnite’s website is currently just a Twitch stream featuring a black hole. … https://t.co/cTqXvOTuoa — Fortnite (@FortniteGame) October 13, 2019

Kik says it’s ‘here to stay,’ following shutdown reports

It’s been a rough run for Kik of late. The once mighty messaging service announced in late September that it would be shutting down its app. CEO Ted Livingston noted in a blog post that the startup would be trimming its headcount from over 100 people to “an elite 19 person team,” following a protracted 18 month battle with the SEC. Today the service noted on Twitter, however, “Great news: Kik is here to stay!!!! AND there’s some really exciting plans for making the app even better. More details coming soon. Stay tuned.” Great news: Kik is here to stay!!!!AND there’s some really exciting plans for making the app even better. More details coming soon. Stay tuned. — Kik (@Kik) October 13, 2019 The news follows an October 7 tweet from Livingston that noted, “Some exciting new...

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold concierge service is live in the US for those who need it

Part of Samsung’s reboot of the Galaxy Fold was the announcement of a Premiere Service. Along with a reinforced version of the phone and a lot more warning labels, the company announced that it would also be a 24/7 care service…just in case something happened with the device. I had some issues with my in just over a day, after not running into any trouble with the original version of the phone. Given how gingerly the company insists users act with the device, my issue doesn’t appear to be particularly widespread — good news for Samsung on that front. Even so, this sort of things feels pretty necessary for a $2,000 (and up) phone that is effectively in mass beta testing. Two weeks after making the device available in the States, Premier Service has gone live. Sammobile noted the addition of...

Week in Review: The ‘smart home’ is still so, so stupid

Hey everyone. Thank you for welcoming me into you inbox yet again. Last week was a short one, but I talked about the merger of a couple of the worst adtech companies in the world. If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox here, and follow my tweets here. I would also like to take the time to say screw you to Apple for shipping such an awful keyboard that made typing this newsletter so damn difficult…. God! Now, onto the news. The big story One thing I rarely cover these days is the smart home, this, despite my apartment hosting two HomePods, two Echos, three Google Home devices and a Facebook Portal+. I’m dying for this stuff to be useful and fun, and, instead, after a few years of playing with the stuff, I just have a handful of comman...

Planting tiny spy chips in hardware can cost as little as $200

Enlarge (credit: Carl Drougge) More than a year has passed since Bloomberg Businessweek grabbed the lapels of the cybersecurity world with a bombshell claim: that Supermicro motherboards in servers used by major tech firms, including Apple and Amazon, had been stealthily implanted with a chip the size of a rice grain that allowed Chinese hackers to spy deep into those networks. Apple, Amazon, and Supermicro all vehemently denied the report. The National Security Agency dismissed it as a false alarm. The Defcon hacker conference awarded it two Pwnie Awards, for “most overhyped bug” and “most epic fail.” And no follow-up reporting has yet affirmed its central premise. But even as the facts of that story remain unconfirmed, the security community has warned that the po...

AI-based firefighter safety startup Prometeo wins IBM Call for Code Challenge

During an event at the United Nations Delegates Dining Room in New York City, IBM unveiled the winners to its annual  Call for Code Global Challenge. The competition, which is targeted at computing solutions for global problems, crowned five winners, ranging from first responders to health care info. Prometeo took the top price for its Watson-based AI solution targeted at firefighters. The team, which is lead by a 33-year firefighting veteran, has developed a tool designed to monitor health and safety in the industry, both long term and in real-time. The Spanish startup developed a smartphone-sized device that straps onto the wearer’s arm to gauge things like temperature, smoke and humidity. “If the color signal is green, the health of the firefighter is okay,” cofounder Salomé Valero expl...

Why each Libra member’s mutiny hurts Facebook

There’s a strategic cost to the defection of Visa, Stripe, eBay, and more from the Facebook -led cryptocurrency Libra Association . They’re not just names dropping off a list. Each potentially made Libra more useful, ubiquitous, or reputable. Now they could become obstacles to the token’s launch or growth. Fearing regulators’ inquiries not just into their Libra involvement but the rest of their businesses, these companies are pulling out at least for now. None had made precise commitments to integrating Libra into their products, and they’ve said they could still get involved later. But their exit clouds the project’s future and leaves Facebook to absorb more of the blowback. Here’s what each of the departing Libra Association members brought to the table and how they could spawn new chall...

Google’s Pixel 4 briefly went up for preorder on Best Buy Canada

The Pixel 4 is set to be unveiled at an event on Tuesday. This much we know for sure. We know a bunch more, too, (as outlined in this rumor roundup from yesterday), thanks to both official reveals and unofficial leaks. How much of this was planned is hard to say, but Google seemingly doesn’t mind building up the hype cycle. Earlier today, Best Buy Canada made what may well be the most egregious reveal today (granted, there are three more days left to leak). The big box store posted up a preorder page for the upcoming smartphone. As expected, the listing was taken down, but not before 9to5Google managed to snap some screen shots. From the looks of things, the rumors are pretty spot on. The device will come in both standard and XL versions, at 5.7 and 6.3 inches, respectively. Both models sp...

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch Active 2 is a solid smartwatch for Android users

Samsung makes good, underrated smartwatches. It’s just been difficult to get much attention in a category so utterly dominated by a single player. Even still, the company has managed to hold onto the number two spot in global market share, according to recentish numbers. At 11.1 percent, it’s a little less than a third of what Apple’s been able to generate. The line has been a fairly stark contrast to Apple’s offerings. Samsung’s smartwatch philosophy is in line with its mobile counterpart: offer variety and don’t be afraid to try new things. Compare that to the Apple Watch’s annual improvements. The company offers one, key product, opting to make a little bit better, piece by piece. Announced at the Unpacked event that gave us the S10 back in February, the Galaxy Watch Active presented a ...

California’s Privacy Act: What you need to know now

This week California’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, published draft guidance for enforcing the state’s landmark privacy legislation. The draft text of the regulations under the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) will undergo a public consultation period, including a number of public hearings, with submissions open until December 6 this year. The CCPA itself will take effect in the state on January 1, with a further six months’ grace period before enforcement of the law begins. “The proposed regulations are intended to operationalize the CCPA and provide practical guidance to consumers and businesses subject to the law,” writes the State of California’s Department of Justice in a press release announcing the draft text. “The regulations wou...

The Yeti X brings real-time level monitoring to the popular USB mic

It’s clear why Logitech bought Blue back in July 2018. The Southern Californian audio company (an acronym for “Baltic Latvian Universal Electronics,” incidentally) has become synonymous with USB microphones since releasing the first Snowball back in 2005. What seemed like a niche at the time has since become a cultural touchstone, positioning the company well to be embraced first by podcasters and then Twitch streamers. Blue’s USB mics aren’t the highest quality one can purchase for these purposes, but the plug and play functionality felt fairly revolutionary when it first hit the scene. The company recently issued a long overdue update to its best-selling Yeti. The Yeti X is, for most intents and purposes a pretty subtle update. I’ve been using it a bit here and there for a couple of week...

Activists’ phones targeted by one of the world’s most advanced spyware apps

Enlarge (credit: ShellyS / Flickr) Mobile phones of two prominent human rights activists were repeatedly targeted with Pegasus, the highly advanced spyware made by Israel-based NSO, researchers from Amnesty International reported this week. The Moroccan human rights defenders received SMS text messages containing links to malicious sites. If clicked, the sites would attempt to install Pegasus, which as reported here and here, is one of the most advanced and full-featured pieces of spyware ever to come to light. One of the activists was also repeatedly subjected to attacks that redirected visits intended for Yahoo to malicious sites. Amnesty International identified the targets as activist Maâti Monjib and human rights lawyer Abdessadak El Bouchattaoui. Serial pwner It’s not the first...