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Saturday, April 13, 2024

The Prius Gets a Redesign That Actually Looks Cool

Toyota’s got a sleek and shiny new Prius, and the auto press seems to agree: This one looks pretty cool. Previous Prius models have long been seen as, uhh, less than cool, with their awkwardly boxy teardrop shape and normcore vibe. The 2023 Prius, by comparison, looks chic, with a sleek body that squishes down that Prius teardrop into something resembling a Tesla.

It’s still a combustion-electric hybrid that requires its fill of gasoline to run—sadly, the all-electric revolution hasn't come for the old Prius yet. Toyota says it gets about 57 mpg, which makes it the most fuel-efficient Prius yet. The car is also going to be zippier than before, with a 220-horsepower engine under the hood. That is good for a Prius; ask a car person. Other new features include a hands-free driving mode and the inclusion of solar panels for topping up the battery while the car is stationary.

The new Prius will be available in two models: the base Prius and a slightly beefier Prius Prime. Toyota hasn’t said when the cars will be available or how much they’ll cost, but look for them next year.

Here’s some other news from the consumer tech world.

Microsoft Teams Gets Games

Microsoft announced a new feature for its Teams video conferencing software: video games. Participants in a Teams call can now play games like SolitaireMinesweeper, and Wordament right in the app. The games are aimed at people using Teams for work. Nancy Baym, senior principal research manager at Microsoft, says putting games inside a workplace tool fosters a sense of human connection that’s badly needed after almost three years of remote work.

“People were able to be really productive, but they were feeling less connected, and that was having a lot of harmful effects,” Baym says. “Games are one of a number of really nice ways to just sort of gently intervene there and say, here's an offering for you to build connection with one another in a low pressure kind of way.”

To reinforce that goal of connection building, none of the games are single player. (No, not even Solitaire). That means you won’t be able to quietly play a game by yourself as you pretend to listen to your manager’s manager drone on about quarterly KPIs. Playing games with your team could provide a nice break from the deluge of the workday, even if it still amounts to spending time in front of a screen. We’ll see how long it takes for Zoom fatigue to give way to Minesweeper fatigue.

Look at Leica’s Large Lens Phone 

Hey check it out, Leica made another smartphone to follow 2021’s Leitz Phone 1. What’s that? Does it have a camera, you ask? Oh, does it. As you might expect from the illustrious camera brand, the Leica’s lens is the main attraction on the Leitz Phone 2. The single big-ass lens occupies the top third of the phone. Its ocular-focused design is a rebuttal to all the subtly integrated smartphone camera lenses.

The Leitz Phone 2’s giant camera captures 47.2-megapixel images. On the other side is a 6.6-inch OLED screen that lets you view all your gorgeous landscape shots or gloriously detailed selfies. Oh yeah, and you can also use it to make phone calls or whatever. It will only be available in Japan; those outside of the country will have to buy it as an import.

Netflix Is Coming for Your Friends

The days of Netflix account sharing are likely inching to a close. This week, Netflix introduced a new feature in users’ account settings called Managing Access and Devices. It allows a user to disable their Netflix account on specific devices—something that user can conveniently deploy to kick family members, friends, and roommates off their Netflix account. It's an innocuous enough feature, and one that will be nice for anyone who wants to zap their credentials from the television they lost in the divorce, in order to stop their ex from stealth-streaming shows on their dime. But it's also a move that sets the stage for Netflix’s purge of account sharing.

Netflix has been building toward this for months. The company has tested charging extra fees for additional accounts in a few countries, and it says it is looking to implement the program in nearly all of its markets next year. The company also rolled out an ad-supported subscription plan earlier this month.

Too Many Twitter Troubles

Well, Twitter had a good run. Now that nearly every employee has left Twitter and the site seems to be in freefall, things are about to get even weirder on the bird app. (Assuming it stays up and running.) In whatever form Twitter continues to limp along, it’s never been more vulnerable to security threats.

This week on WIRED’s Gadget Lab podcast, security writer Lily Hay Newman talks through the ways in which Twitter’s precarious position could lead to hacking, data leaks, and the further spread of misinformation across the platform.

Correction, 9:30 am 11/21/22: Corrected the title of one of Microsoft's games for Teams offerings. It is Wordament, not Wonderment.

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