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The Morning After: Now there's a 'Hey Google' car

This isn't an April Fool. (Probably.)

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Mat Smith
April 1st, 2021
In this article: themorningafter, gear, newsletter
Hey Google Fiat
Fiat

Siri is shedding its default female voice. With the latest iOS 14.5 beta, Apple is introducing two new English-speaking voices for Siri alongside the ability to choose which voice to use when setting up an iOS or HomePod device. The new voices should also sound more natural, with improved inflection and smoother transitions between different words.

Apple’s move away from female voices as default could help to address gender bias implied by most voice assistants. A 2019 UN report said that it “reflects and reinforces” the idea that assistants are female and they “not only replicate gender inequalities, but also widen them.”

Your intelligent assistant experience might differ, however. In the UK, Siri’s default voice is the male equivalent, and the same is, or was, true in Arabic, French and Dutch. Making the default voice option your choice could make it less of an issue.

— Mat Smith

There's a Google-branded Fiat 500 range now

It includes Google tech and branding for the 500, 500X crossover and 500L MPV.

Fiat has launched special edition versions of its 500 lineup, in partnership with Google. TThe Fiat 500 Family Hey Google brings Google tech — as well as a handful of design elements and Google badges — to the 500 city car, 500X crossover and 500L MPV. The Fiat 500 Family Hey Google will be available exclusively in Europe in 10 countries — and only in the ICE versions, not the 500 EV. It'll go on sale in Italy, the UK, Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Poland.
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FDA authorizes cheap rapid at-home COVID-19 tests

Tests are expected to be available at major retailers within the next few weeks.

The Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Self Test can be purchased over-the-counter at major U.S. retailers and does not require a prescription.
Abbott

 

The FDA has now authorized multiple rapid tests for over the counter use (meaning without a prescription or doctor approval) to screen people who don't have symptoms of the disease. According to the FDA, "The addition of the OTC and POC tests for screening will give schools, workplaces, communities and others several options for serial screening tests that are accurate and reliable."

Separately, the CDC and the National Institute of Health are trying out a rapid at-home test initiative in two communities where thousands of residents will receive kits they can use on themselves three times a week for a month. They're attempting to find out if frequent self-tests can help cut down on the spread of COVID-19, and they see this as a way to gather important data in North Carolina and Tennessee.
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Cyberpunk 2077’s multiplayer mode is being reconsidered

The studio says it wants to bring online to all of its franchises one day.

Cyberpunk 2077
Cyberpunk 2077

Off the back of a massive Cyberpunk 2077 patch, developer CD Projekt Red has outlined its roadmap for the open-world game. The bad news is that it's "reconsidering" its plan to launch a Cyberpunk 2077 multiplayer mode, despite teasing the addition for a while.

The studio said it’s focused on bringing online to "all of its franchises one day,” but that doesn’t really mean much. CEO Adam Kiciński elaborated a little, saying the team doesn’t “want to go overboard or lose our single-player DNA. We want to take thoughtful steps to build robust online capabilities.”

Instead, expect more patches and fixes in a bid to get the game back on the PlayStation store with Sony's approval. It's also working on free DLCs, paid expansions and a next-gen update that's still slated for the second half of 2021.
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Analogue Pocket portable console delayed again

The $199 retro gaming system is now expected to land in October.

Analogue Pocket
Analogue

The Analogue Pocket, a $199 do-everything retro portable console capable of playing Game Boy, Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket Color and Atari Lynx games from their original cartridges, has been delayed once again. Analogue says that “sudden and severe electrical component shortages” are making it harder to deliver on its release-date promises. The company is offering full refunds to anyone who already pre-ordered a system and isn't willing to wait until October.
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Facebook makes it easier to see your News Feed stories in chronological order

You can turn off algorithmically ranked posts while scrolling.

Facebook
Facebook

After allowing you to prioritize posts from select friends and Pages, Facebook is introducing a new Feed Filter menu that gives you quick access to its Most Recent setting, so you can switch off its algorithmically ranked News Feed. There are some more News Feed controls, too, including a Favorites setting that boosts your chosen friends' content. The update is currently available to Android app users when they scroll up on their feed and is slated for the iPhone app in the coming weeks.
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The airline industry is prepping a COVID-19 passport for your iPhone next month

Barbados will accept the pass on flights from London starting on April 16th.

Travel Pass
IATA

After successfully trialing it on an international flight between Singapore and London in March, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) says it will release its Travel Pass app in mid-April. The software allows airline travelers to store verified COVID-19 test results and vaccination certificates on their phones. It plans to launch the app on iPhones around April 15th, with an Android version to follow later. Virgin Atlantic plans to pilot the digital pass on its London to Barbados route. The Caribbean island will accept the app at its border, making it one of the first countries to admit a digital pass instead of paper documentation.
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But wait, there’s more...

Netflix pays a reported $450 million for two 'Knives Out' sequels

'Among Us' will get 15-player lobbies and a new art style

Biden's EPA dismisses dozens of Trump-appointed science advisors

Microsoft wins 10-year contract supplying AR tech to the US Army

Watch the trailer for 'Zola,' a Twitter thread turned motion picture

Valve is still letting bots invade one of its longest-running games

Amazon's Deal of the Day cuts SSD and hard drive prices by up to 48 percent

A Japanese man was charged $81 for cyberbullying star Hana Kimura before her death

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