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      Beeper Mini for Android sends and receives iMessages, no Mac server required / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 5 December - 15:00

    Beeper messages looking iMessage-like blue on an Android phone

    Enlarge / A Pixel 3, messaging a savvy iPhone owner, one with the kinds of concerns Beeper hopes to resolve for its customers. (credit: Kevin Purdy)

    In the past week, I have sent an iMessage to one friend from a command-line Python app and to another from a Pixel 3 Android phone.

    Sending an iMessage without an Apple device isn't entirely new, but this way of doing it is. I didn't hand over my Apple credentials or log in with my Apple ID on a Mac server on some far-away rack. I put my primary SIM card in the Pixel, I installed Beeper Mini , and it sent a text message to register my number with Apple. I never gave Beeper Mini my Apple ID.

    From then on, my iPhone-toting friends who sent messages to my Pixel 3 saw them as other-iPhone blue, not noticeably distracting green. We could all access the typing, delivered/read receipts, emoji reactions, and most other iPhone-to-iPhone message features. Even if I had no active Apple devices, it seems, I could have chosen to meet Apple users where they were and gain end-to-end encryption by doing so.

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      Streaming apps are trying to bundle their way out of customer disenchantment / ArsTechnica · Monday, 4 December - 19:36

    Michael Keaton's Batman

    Enlarge / Michael Keaton in The Flash , which is streaming on Max. (credit: YouTube/Warner Bros.)

    Streaming services are on thin ice with many customers. With price hikes becoming a norm for streaming services, subscribers are reconsidering the value of streaming apps and whether subscriptions are worth the cost. In a bid to mollify disgruntled customers and make their packages seem more economical and simple, streaming services are bundling up.

    Verizon announced today that its myPlan wireless phone customers will be able to get Netflix and Max, both with ads, for $10 per month total per phone line. Netflix with ads is usually $6.99 per month, while Max's ad tier is $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year. That means Verizon customers can save up to $6.98 per month with the new bundle, which Verizon will begin offering on December 7.

    The new offer joins two other deals that Verizon already offers that bundle its wireless service with TV streaming. One lets customers add ad-free Disney+ and Hulu and ESPN with ads for $10 per month per line. Another lets customers add Apple One , which includes Apple TV+, Apple Music, Apple Arcade, and iCloud+, for $10 per month per line.

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      Gmail’s AI-powered spam detection is its biggest security upgrade in years / ArsTechnica · Monday, 4 December - 19:04 · 1 minute

    Illustration of a stack of enveloped labeled as

    Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | pagadesign)

    The latest post on the Google Security blog details a new upgrade to Gmail's spam filters that Google is calling "one of the largest defense upgrades in recent years." The upgrade comes in the form of a new text classification system called RETVec (Resilient & Efficient Text Vectorizer). Google says this can help understand "adversarial text manipulations"—these are emails full of special characters, emojis, typos, and other junk characters that previously were legible by humans but not easily understandable by machines. Previously, spam emails full of special characters made it through Gmail's defenses easily.

    If you want an example of what "adversarial text manipulation" looks like, the below message is something from my spam folder. My personal Gmail experience with these emails is that they used to be a major problem during the 1st half of the year, with emails like this regularly landing in my inbox. It does seem like this RETVec tech upgrade really works, though, because emails like this haven't been a problem at all for me in the last few months.

    The reason emails like this have been so difficult to classify is that, while any spam filter could probably swat down an email that says "Congratulations! A balance of $1000 is available for your jackpot account," that's not what this email actually says. A big portion of the letters here are " homoglyphs "—by diving into the endless depths of the Unicode standard, you can find obscure characters that look like they're part of the normal Latin alphabet but actually aren't.

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      Chrome’s next weapon in the War on Ad Blockers: Slower extension updates / ArsTechnica · Friday, 1 December - 23:30 · 1 minute

    The logo for the board game Monopoly, complete with Uncle Pennybags, has been transformed to say Google.

    Enlarge / Let's see, you landed on my "Google Ads" space, and with three houses... that will be $1,400. (credit: Ron Amadeo / Hasbro)

    Google's war on ad blockers is just gearing up, with YouTube doing its best to detect and block ad blockers and Chrome aiming to roll out the ad block-limiting Manifest V3 extension platform in June 2024. A new article from Engadget detailing the "arms race" over ad blocking brings up an interesting point regarding the power that YouTube and Chrome have in this battle: a dramatic update advantage over the ad blockers.

    In addition to hamstringing Chrome's extension platform with no real user-centric justifications, Manifest V3 will also put roadblocks up before extension updates , which will delay an extension developer's ability to quickly respond to changes. YouTube can instantly switch up its ad delivery system, but once Manifest V3 becomes mandatory, that won't be true for extension developers. If ad blocking is a cat-and-mouse game of updates and counter-updates, then Google will force the mouse to slow down.

    Chrome's "Manifest V3" makes dramatic changes to the Chrome extension platform. The current platform, Manifest V2, has been around for over ten years and works just fine, but it's also quite powerful and allows extensions to have full filtering control over the traffic your web browser sees. That's great for protecting privacy, speeding up the web, and blocking ads, but it also means you can download a browser from the world's biggest ad company and use it to block ads—and that was only going to last for so long.

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      Steam drops macOS Mojave support, effectively ending life for many 32-bit games / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 30 November - 23:10

    macOS Mojave's wallpaper.

    Enlarge / macOS Mojave's wallpaper. (credit: Apple)

    Valve Software's Steam gaming marketplace and app will drop support for macOS 10.13 (High Sierra) and 10.14 (Mojave), according to a support page post . The change will go into effect on February 15, 2024.

    What will happen exactly? Valve writes:

    After that date, existing Steam Client installations on these operating systems will no longer receive updates of any kind including security updates. Steam Support will be unable to offer users technical support for issues related to the old operating systems, and Steam will be unable to guarantee continued functionality of Steam on the unsupported operating system versions.

    macOS 10.14 (dubbed Mojave by Apple) shipped more than five years ago, and time has a way of marching on, so this might not seem that momentous at first glance. But there's a reason it's particularly noteworthy as these things go: this change means the end of support for the last versions of macOS that could run 32-bit games.

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      Reddit updates look after rough 6 months and ahead of reported IPO / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 30 November - 21:25

    Old Reddit logo vs new Reddit logo

    Enlarge / Left: Reddit's old logo. Right: Reddit's new logo. (credit: Reddit )

    Writing a long comment providing detail about Reddit's refreshed logo, mascot, and typeface this week, a Reddit employee seemingly rethought the post and opted to conclude it with choice words. The post's last line currently reads:

    "Edit: Obligatory 'Fuck Spez' for karma."

    The Reddit employee, going by Acidtwist on Reddit and known as Tavish, says they're Reddit's head of brand creative (Reddit says it doesn't disclose the real identities of its workers on Reddit).

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      The Great Google Account Purge starts tomorrow for inactive users / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 30 November - 18:59 · 1 minute

    The Great Google Account Purge starts tomorrow for inactive users

    Enlarge (credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images )

    Hello fellow procrastinators. This is your last-minute warning that you have until the end of the day to log in to any inactive Google accounts before they start getting deleted on December 1. Google is going to wipe any accounts that have been "inactive" for two years, allowing the company to free up storage space, delete unused personal data, and continue the ongoing journey of intense cost cutting it has been on for the past year.

    The plan to do this was announced in May , and Google says inactive accounts should get "multiple notifications over the months leading up to deletion, to both the account email address and the recovery email (if one has been provided)," so hopefully this isn't a surprise to anyone. The company says it will "take a phased approach" to deleting accounts, starting with "accounts that were created and never used again," so even if you're reading this on December 1, there's probably still time to log in to an old account and save it.

    As for the caveats around "inactivity," Google says this will only apply to personal accounts that don't have any subscriptions running, so Google Workspace and Google One users have nothing to fear. The company says you'll count as "active" if you "sign-in at least once every 2 years," which is pretty easy to do. Confusingly it also lists certain activities you can perform that will count as "activity," but those seem rather moot, since you would already need to be logged in to do them. The "Sign in with Google" OAuth platform on other websites also counts as account activity, and so does being signed in on an Android phone.

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      Netflix lands its first big-name games with Grand Theft Auto trilogy / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 29 November - 22:14

    A logo for the enhanced edition of the GTA trilogy, next to cover artwork from the three games

    Enlarge / The enhanced edition trilogy includes Grand Theft Auto 3 , Grand Theft Auto Vice City , and Grand Theft Auto San Andreas . (credit: Rockstar Games)

    Netflix subscribers will be able to play the three original 3D Grand Theft Auto games on iOS and Android starting in December, according to a blog post from the streamer.

    The titles included are 2001's Grand Theft Auto III , 2002's Grand Theft Auto: Vice City , and 2004's Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas .

    All three released initially on the PS2 and Xbox. The first 3D entry in the series, Grand Theft Auto III , was a crossover cultural sensation when it debuted, and it is credited as one of the main originators of the open-world genre, which remains one of the most popular genres in triple-A games to this day.

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      MacBook Air gets solid-state active cooling in intriguing demo / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 29 November - 18:46

    MacBook Air with AirJet Mini

    Enlarge / The active cooling chips are labeled and located in the upper-left corner near a custom heatsink in the 15-inch MacBook Air. (credit: Frore Systems )

    What if laptops could get fan-level cooling without moving parts? We could get thinner laptops, for one. We could also potentially squeeze more performance out of today's already impressively thin designs.

    That's what San Jose, California startup Frore Systems is trying to convince laptop makers of as it looks for the first OEM to adopt what it describes as the first solid-state active cooling chip.

    Most recently, the company equipped the M2 15-inch MacBook Air with three of its chips, dubbed AirJet Minis. Media witnesses to a recent demonstration reported that the chips helped bring MacBook Pro-comparable performance to sustained heavy workloads on the MacBook Air.

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