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    What to expect from Apple’s September 14 “California Streaming” event / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 8 September - 22:01 · 1 minute

Futuristic glass-walled building permits views of surrounding forest.

Enlarge / The waiting area of the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple's Cupertino campus. (credit: Samuel Axon)

On September 14 at 10 am PDT (1 pm EDT), Apple will host its first product-launch event in several months. Once again, it will be an online-only event . But as with other recent online events from Apple, we expect it to be as jam-packed with announcements as ever.

It's likely to focus on the iPhone, but revelations about the Apple Watch, AirPods, and maybe the iPad are likely, too. We'll be liveblogging the event as it happens on Tuesday, of course, but until then, consider what you're about to read our best attempt at setting expectations and making predictions about what's coming.

In so many ways, Apple has gotten easier to read and predict in recent years—certainly compared to the years during Steve Jobs' second tenure as CEO. Apple has settled into something of a cadence with its main product lines, making it a bit easier to see what may be coming. The company's products are still disruptive, but now they do it in a subtle, iterative ways and often in areas that aren't as flashy as what we saw in the 2000s—like health care, for example.

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    WhatsApp “end-to-end encrypted” messages aren’t that private after all / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 8 September - 21:33

WhatsApp logo

Enlarge / The security of Facebook's popular messaging app leaves several rather important devils in its details. (credit: WhatsApp )

Yesterday, independent newsroom ProPublica published a detailed piece examining the popular WhatsApp messaging platform's privacy claims. The service famously offers "end-to-end encryption," which most users interpret as meaning that Facebook, WhatsApp's owner since 2014, can neither read messages itself nor forward them to law enforcement.

This claim is contradicted by the simple fact that Facebook employs about 1,000 WhatsApp moderators whose entire job is—you guessed it—reviewing WhatsApp messages that have been flagged as "improper."

End-to-end encryption—but what’s an “end”?

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This snippet from WhatsApp's security and privacy page seems easy to misinterpret. (credit: Jim Salter )

The loophole in WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption is simple: the recipient of any WhatsApp message can flag it. Once flagged, the message is copied on the recipient's device and sent as a separate message to Facebook for review.

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    PlayStation CEO nixes free cross-gen PS5 upgrades for good / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 8 September - 20:55

Video game characters have been photoshopped behind a rain-speckled window.

Enlarge / Sony's new standardized cross-gen upgrade cost will be $10 for all first-party games slated to release on both PS4 and PS5. (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images | PlayStation )

Sony announced last week that players will be able to upgrade any version of Horizon Forbidden West from the PlayStation 4 to the PlayStation 5 for free—but it’s the last first-party release that will include this option.

In a September 4 post on PlayStation.Blog, PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan confirmed that every new first-party, cross-generation release in the future will offer players a paid current-gen upgrade path option for $10. This list includes the next God of War , Gran Turismo 7 , and any other Sony -published games slated to appear on both systems, only exempting Horizon Forbidden West .

Now it will cost you

The publisher reversed course on the Forbidden West preorder plans it announced two days earlier because it had offered no way, paid or otherwise, for players to upgrade the game’s bare-bones PS4 editions to current-gen. Instead, the convoluted pricing structure required anyone interested in owning Horizon Forbidden West on both consoles to choose from multiple high-cost deluxe editions, a move that sparked significant backlash from fans.

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    MIT-backed fusion startup hits key milestone: Big superconducting magnets / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 8 September - 20:43 · 1 minute

Image of a large metal oval being lowered into a tank by a crane as people observe.

Enlarge / The assembled magnet gets lowered into its testing apparatus. (credit: Commonwealth Fusion Systems)

In 2015, a group of physicists at MIT did some calculations to rethink how we're approaching the problem of fusion power. High-temperature, nonmetallic superconductors were now commercially available and could allow the generation of stronger magnetic fields, enabling a simpler, more compact fusion reactor. But the physicists behind the work didn't stop when the calculating was done; instead, they formed a company, Commonwealth Fusion Systems, and set out to put their calculations to the test.

On Tuesday, Commonwealth Fusion Systems announced that it had hit a key milestone on its roadmap to having a demonstration fusion plant operating in 2025. The company used commercial high-temperature superconductors to build a three-meter-tall magnet that could operate stably at a 20-tesla magnetic field strength. This magnet is identical in design to the ones that will contain the plasma at the core of the company's planned reactor.

Aggressive roadmap

Giving yourselves less than 10 years to solve a problem that an entire research field has been struggling with for decades is ambitious, but it reflects how relevant fusion could be to helping with the climate crisis we're facing. Several of the company's leaders mentioned climate change as an inspiration for their work.

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    Blix Vika+ review: A powerful ebike that folds and fits just about anywhere / ArsTechnica · Monday, 6 September - 14:00 · 1 minute

An electric bike with slight unusual proportions on a grassy lawn in front of a fenced garden.

Enlarge / The 2021 Blix Vika+ foldable ebike, as posed in a neighbor's fancypants garden. Thanks, neighbor. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

As the ebike universe explodes with options and brands all vying for a piece of the burgeoning market, I keep coming back to a company that I have liked but rarely heard much about: Blix. My first brush with the California e-bike manufacturer came in 2018 when I was offered a test ride of its then-$1,599 Vika folding ebike model. I enjoyed my time with the Vika, but as a relatively new ebike tester, I opted not to write up a novice review.

Since then, however, Ars' bike-savviest staffers have been testing and reviewing a number of high-quality e-bikes. In my case, I've had a few e-bike tests come and go, sometimes with vehicles not quite meriting Ars coverage. Most recently I reviewed the handsome VanMoof X3 in 2020 , and I both appreciated its best aspects and wondered why it didn't fit some potential ebike use cases.

When the time came for me to buy a new bike this year, I opted for an ebike, largely because I want the freedom to ride farther in a single day without feeling worn out or sweaty—especially in a hilly city like Seattle. I soon circled back to Blix— that was a good bike at a good price , I kept thinking, and I found a used Blix cruiser (the 2018 Aveny) for an even better price. It became my daily rider at the outset of this summer.

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    The quiet search for dark matter deep underground / ArsTechnica · Monday, 6 September - 12:39 · 1 minute

A mile below ground, a sign hangs over the door to the LUX dark matter experiment telling visitors how far to Wall Drug—in both dimensions.

A mile below ground, a sign hangs over the door to the LUX dark matter experiment telling visitors how far to Wall Drug—in both dimensions. (credit: Matthew R. Francis)

Update, Sept. 6, 2021: It's Labor Day Weekend in the US, and even though most of us are continuing to call home " the office ," Ars staff is taking a long weekend to rest and relax. And given we can't travel like we could during Labor Day Weekends past, we thought we'd revisit one of our favorite trips from the archives. This story on our adventure to the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) dark matter experiment in South Dakota originally ran in July 2014, and it appears unchanged below.

One of the quietest, darkest places in the cosmos isn’t out in the depths of space. It’s at the center of a tank of cold liquid xenon in a gold mine deep under the Black Hills of South Dakota. It needs to be that quiet: any stray particles could confuse the detectors lining the outside of the tank. Those detectors are looking for faint, rare signals, ones that could reveal the presence of dark matter.

The whole assembly—the container of liquid and gaseous xenon, the water tank enveloping that, and all the detectors—is called the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) dark matter experiment. So far, LUX hasn’t found anything , but the days of its operation are just beginning: the detector was installed and started operations just last year.

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    Life is Strange: True Colors hands-on preview: Not afraid to make you sad / ArsTechnica · Monday, 6 September - 12:00

This preview is based on limited impressions tested on PS5 and made available by Square Enix ahead of the game's September 10 launch.

With four games released over the past six years (including one mini-spinoff, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit ), the Life is Strange series has established a reputation as an unlikely type of narrative adventure. Its YA protagonists, hipster-slanted coming-of-age stories, and proximity to trauma make it part of a specific genre, and the series has proven unexpectedly adept at mostly reinventing itself from entry to entry.

In theory, these underpinnings might suggest a (hear us out) Silent Hill -style problem that the series has so far managed to avoid. But where Konami's survival horror series punished its protagonists through unique, hellish manifestations reflecting their specific inner demons, Life is Strange 's supernatural abilities empower its characters. Our protagonists aren't defined by their tragedies. They could be anything, which allows series developers much more freedom to try new ideas.

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    21st-century storms are overwhelming 20th-century cities / ArsTechnica · Monday, 6 September - 11:00 · 1 minute

Cars sit abandoned on the flooded Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx following a night of heavy wind and rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ida  on September 02, 2021, in New York City.

Enlarge / Cars sit abandoned on the flooded Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx following a night of heavy wind and rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ida on September 02, 2021, in New York City. (credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images )

In just a few hours on Wednesday night, between 6 and 10 inches of rain fell on New York City—more than has fallen on San Jose, California, in the past year. Water rose in basement apartments and leaked through roofs. Rain streamed into subway stations and pooled on the tracks. The remains of Hurricane Ida, which had thrashed the Gulf Coast earlier in the week, brought floods to the Northeast. Across the region, the death toll reached 40 by Thursday evening. Subway delays and suspensions continue.

The city’s infrastructure, you see, was built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to withstand the sort of storm that comes every five to 10 years. Now brutal, record-breaking storms are an annual occurrence. What was left of Ida transformed the scene of everyday commutes into a disturbing reminder that climate change comes for us all. Wildfire thunderclouds in the West, blackouts in Texas , hurricanes in the South , torrential downpours in the East: “It’s all the stuff we said would happen 20 years ago,” says Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist and the director of climate and energy at the Breakthrough Institute. “It’s just a little crazy to see it all happening at once.”


The storm flooded roadways. But it also inundated the alternatives aimed at getting people out of their cars: bike lanes, sidewalks, and public transit systems. For a time in New York on Thursday, all that was underwater. The images of water spilling into subway stations brought the crisis home. “You don’t have to be a person with a great understanding of infrastructure to know that that is a problem,” says Michael Horodniceanu, former president of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Capital Construction Company and now the chair of the Institute of Construction Innovations at NYU. “We’re starting to see the results of what is, in my view, a certain amount of lax attention to what our infrastructure is doing.”

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