The big news last night was Elon Musk saying Tesla’s big battery innovations are, well, years away. But let’s start with something a little more immediate. Beside all the buzz regarding next-gen consoles, Microsoft has been busy elsewhere. It just signed a deal to buy ZeniMax Media, one of the largest independent games publishers in operation. Who? Well, it owns the studios behind some of the biggest franchises in gaming history, like id Software (Doom, Quake), Arkane Studios (Dishonored, Prey) and Bethesda Game Studios (The Elder Scrolls, Fallout).
For all those games, Microsoft is paying $7.5 billion in an all-cash deal expected to complete in the second half of 2021, subject to regulatory approval. It should bolster the benefits of Game Pass though, if these studios are producing games free-to-play for the service’s 15 million subscribers.
Tesla's battery innovations won't reach 'high-volume' production until 2022.
Tesla’s once-delayed “battery day” presentation is set to kick off later today, but don’t expect any amazing new Tesla-made EV cells for your car this year. According to Musk, “What we announce will not reach serious high-volume production until 2022.” Musk added that the company plans to increase battery cell purchases from partners like Panasonic and LG, indicating it will take action to avoid shortages in the future, a possible hint that it may get into cell manufacturing itself, eventually.
After the PS5 debacle, we’ll be watching today’s pre-orders closely.
Pre-orders for the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S open up in the US later today at 8AM PT / 11AM ET — keep an eye out for our guide with advice on how get your reservation in, it will go live before then and update to note availability or sold out status — but Microsoft had other news to share first. Beyond its big Bethesda purchase, the company pushed a few software updates.
The Microsoft Store on Xbox One has a new look and feel, and when the new consoles ship they’ll all have the same app. The best news, though? The Store’s annoying autoplay video finally has a toggle so you can turn it off, similar to the one Netflix recently added.
The Xbox app on Android also has an update, and now everyone can stream games from a local console to their phone. Unlike xCloud, the games are being rendered in your house, and you don’t need a Game Pass subscription to make it work.
Last but not least, Microsoft revealed that its new Xbox Wireless Controller will keep the same price. It adds some low-latency tech, a dedicated Share button and a lightly refreshed design, but still costs $60, plus an extra $25 if you’d like to use a rechargeable battery pack instead of AA batteries.
How long did that take?
Last week, Apple delivered iOS 14 for its mobile devices, and apps are rolling out updates to support its new features. Those tweaks include the long-awaited ability to swap in new default apps for the browser and email apps. While some users report a bug reverts the associations when your device restarts, Google has updated Chrome and, more recently, Gmail to support the feature, so you never have to worry about an email link opening up in the wrong app again.
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Coming later this year.
Last fall, Amazon announced Sidewalk, a way to keep low-power, low-bandwidth IoT devices connected even when they’re far from your WiFi router. Now, the company plans to launch Sidewalk “later this year” and has more to say.
Sidewalk will use the 900MHz spectrum to extend WiFi networks so they can reach connected devices that would typically be out of range, like smart lights at the end of your driveway. WiFi will pass through Sidewalk Bridge devices, like Ring Floodlight Cams, Ring Spotlight Cams and Echo products. Sidewalk-enabled devices (including Tile trackers) will be able to connect to nearby networks through those Bridge devices, ensuring the hunt for your keys should be even quicker.
The Petcam service can connect you to a ‘virtual’ vet appointment.
The most affordable ($40) and smallest addition to Petcube’s line of critter surveillance devices is here. James Trew gave the Cam a try and found that, while it’s easier to tuck in an out-of-the-way spot than the company’s Bites or Play devices, its lack of extra features means the only difference between this and a generic webcam is the Petcube app and vet-connected platform.
More flagship than Nord.
Right on schedule, OnePlus is preparing a new phone, hot on the heels of the mid-range Nord. It’s called the OnePlus 8T and will be unveiled in a digital launch event on October 14th at 10AM ET/7AM PT. Best set that alarm if you’re one of the OnePlus faithful, even if details are scant right now. Expect a device that iterates on the OnePlus 8 from earlier this year.