Conan O’Brien to end nightly talk show, launch HBO Max variety series – CNET

Conan O'Brien

It's the end of one era and the start of another for talk show host Conan O'Brien.

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Conan O'Brien's 28-year run as a late night TV host is coming to an end. On Tuesday, WarnerMedia said O'Brien's nightly talk show, Conan, will wrap up at the end of its 10th season, in June 2021. The host will instead launch a weekly variety series on the company's HBO Max streaming platform. 

"In 1993 Johnny Carson gave me the best advice of my career: 'As soon as possible, get to a streaming platform,'" O'Brien said jokingly in a release. "I'm thrilled that I get to continue doing whatever the hell it is I do on HBO Max, and I look forward to a free subscription."

O'Brien's travel special, Conan Without Borders, will continue, WarnerMedia said. Episodes of the series, which feature him traveling to countries including Cuba, Armenia and Haiti, are currently available on Netflix and HBO Max.

The TV host has had a varied, if sometimes rocky, career in late night television. He began on Late Night with Conan O'Brien in 1993 before making the move to The Tonight Show in 2009, where he hosted for less than a year amid disagreements with NBC over the time slot of his show. He then made the move to TBS, where he's hosted his Conan nightly program since. In 2019, the hour-long show was reduced to a half hour as O'Brien's Team Coco worked to expand its online and touring efforts. 

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Twitter says it labeled 300k election tweets with misleading or disputed content – CNET

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Twitter has been cracking down on election misinformation. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Twitter added labels with additional context to around 300,000 tweets with potentially misleading or disputed content over two weeks that encompassed the 2020 US presidential election, the company said in a Thursday blog post. Additionally, Twitter said more than 450 of the labeled tweets were concealed by a warning message and were subject to limited retweeting and overall engagement. The analysis looked at tweets about the election posted between Oct. 27 and Nov. 11.

The social media company, along with other tech giants like Facebook and Google, has been working to battle election misinformation. Meanwhile, some social media users, including President Donald Trump, have been challenging the results of the election since it was called for Democrat Joe Biden, who won the popular vote with about 5 million more votes across the US than his rival. Trump has been using social networks to falsely claim, without evidence, that the 2020 election was "stolen" from him. Twitter has added warning labels to several of Trump's tweets, including one in which he wrongly claimed he'd won the election. 

Twitter also examined what worked to help curb misinformation and what didn't. Removing user recommendations on who to follow, for instance, didn't a meaningful impact on election misinformation. Twitter will undo that change on Thursday. It'll also undo a change it rolled out ahead of the election in which only topics with additional in-line context were shown on the "For You" tab featuring trending topics. 

One feature that seemingly worked well to slow the spread of misleading information was one that prompted users to quote-tweet instead of simply retweet. Now, when people hit the retweet button, they're shown the quote tweet composer and are encouraged to add their own comment. The overall number of retweets and quote tweets combined has since dropped by 20%, Twitter says.

"This change introduced some friction, and gave people an extra moment to consider why and what they were adding to the conversation," Twitter said in the blog post. "This change slowed the spread of misleading information by virtue of an overall reduction in the amount of sharing on the service."

Twitter said it's taking more time to study the impact of this change and, for now, is leaving it in place.

See also: President Trump's legacy: An addiction to social media even as he railed against it

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Tenet is now available for preorder on Blu-ray, DVD and digital – CNET

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You'll soon be able to watch the Christopher Nolan time-twister at home.

Warner Bros.

If you're not feeling comfortable enough to watch Tenet in theaters amid the coronavirus pandemic, you're in luck. The Christopher Nolan time-twister is coming to Blu-ray, DVD and digital on Dec. 15, just in time to watch at home for the holidays, and preorders are now open. Warner's initial list prices sounded very much on the high end -- the 4K UHD Combo Pack was officially priced at $45, the Blu-ray at $36 and the DVD at $29 -- but the real-world prices of the movie are much more in line with standard home media prices for new movies. On day one, we're seeing the 4K disc pack for $30, the Blu-ray pack for $25, the DVD for $20 and the digital version for $20

Note that the Blu-ray disc versions include a digital code for the movie, too. The 4K UHD Combo Pack and Blu-ray for Tenet include a digital code for the movie, as well as an hour-long behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film, as told by the cast and crew.   

The movie was released globally in theaters starting in August. In July, Warner Bros. said it wouldn't switch to a streaming release that premieres on HBO Max, even amid fears about the pandemic. Other Hollywood giants, like Disney and Comcast's Universal Pictures, have opted for online debuts for some of their films originally slated for theatrical releases. Hamilton, for instance, was released on Disney Plus earlier in the summer, and DreamWorks Animation released Trolls World Tour as a digital rental in the spring. 

The film's cast includes John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Martin Donovan and Fiona Dourif, among others. 

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How tech is slowly working to make elections more accessible – CNET

Voting accessibility

The Americans with Disabilities Act has helped make voting more accessible, but there's still work to be done.

Getty Images

Two years ago, during the midterm elections, Lucy Greco went online to learn more about what would be on her ballot. Greco, a web accessibility evangelist at the University of California, Berkeley, who is blind, was unable to use many of the sites because they contained links with bad or no text, making them inaccessible.

After some time, she was eventually able to find a web page listing the policies candidates were for and against. But all the roadblocks along the way were frustrating.  

"It's not like I can go to the same places everybody else can," Greco said. "I have to hunt for the one that does it accessibly."

Greco is just one of many people in the disability community -- which makes up 26% of the US adult population -- who's faced tech-related obstacles when it comes to voting and the political process at large. Many run into problems when voter registration web pages and campaign sites aren't accessible. If they vote in person, they can't be sure there will be functioning machines at the polling station, or that they won't have to wait in ridiculously long lines to cast a ballot. Other issues include steep ramps outside of buildings, and poor parking

A report on polling place accessibility in the 2012 elections found that 30 percent of people with disabilities had trouble voting at their polling places, compared with 8 percent of individuals without disabilities. Some of the most common reasons were not being able to read or see ballot content and trouble understanding or using voting equipment.

Several organizations have been working to improve tech accessibility in political processes, to promote stronger voter turnout as well as to support people with disabilities who want to run for office. The Twitter hashtag #CripTheVote is part of a nonpartisan campaign designed to encourage discussions about disability issues in the US, with thousands of tweets ranging from people's experiences at the polls to advocacy for more inclusive health care. People with disabilities can also download a ballot in certain states, then read it and mark it using their assistive technology device before mailing it or dropping it off. Additionally, there are a handful of tools designed to ensure online voting resources are accessible for everyone. 

Removing these widespread roadblocks can help more people with disabilities cast a vote, which could have a significant impact on elections turnout. According to a Rutgers report on the 2016 elections, "If people with disabilities voted at the same rate as people without disabilities who have the same demographic characteristics, there would be about 2.2 million more voters." Rebecca Cokley, director of the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress, says having more votes come from the disability community would lead elected officials to take accessibility issues more seriously.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois and the first female double amputee in the Senate, said tech has allowed voters and candidates with disabilities to participate more fully in elections, especially since the passage of the ADA in 1990, but there's still plenty of room for improvement. 

"Simply traveling to meet a candidate, participate in a rally or reach a polling location can be an obstacle for many," Duckworth said. "For those who don't own a vehicle and live in an area served by mass transit, many transit systems are not fully accessible and ride share opportunities are oftentimes few and far between. These obstacles can partially be overcome with virtual participation, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic."

Ongoing web accessibility challenges

One of the biggest hurdles people with disabilities continue to face is a lack of accessible websites. This can be particularly challenging in an age when so much of our lives takes place online, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic

An audit released last month by digital accessibility company Ablr found that the campaign sites for President Donald Trump, former Vice President Joe Biden, Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris had a total of 44 violations, "concluding each landing page does not comply with the standards set by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines." These violations could prevent 61 million voters with a disability from accessing critical information, the company said in a report. Further, a Vox report last year found that not a single 2020 presidential candidate had an accessible campaign site

"We are continually striving to improve the accessibility and usability of our site, and are committed to providing a web experience that meets the needs of as many visitors as possible," Biden campaign spokesperson Rosemary Boeglin said. "We will continue to work with experts like Perkins Access to ensure inclusivity and enhance accessibility." 

The Trump campaign didn't respond to a request for comment. 

"Accessibility is something that's overlooked, even at the highest level, and that's something we need to really address," said Ablr CEO John Samuel. "The lack of understanding and awareness extends from not having people with disabilities in leadership roles and helping make those policies."

A 2015 study by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Accessible Technology found that just one online voter registration site in the US -- California's -- was fully accessible to people with disabilities. Further, most states' sites didn't meet even minimal accessibility standards.

Though electronic and information technology from federal departments or agencies is required to be accessible by law, compliance is very poor, said Sarah Blahovec, civic engagement and voting rights organizer at the National Council on Independent Living. That's largely because compliance is essentially enforced by consumer complaints, she said, and because of a lack of accountability processes at higher levels. 

"The burden shouldn't have to be on people with disabilities [to report issues]," Blahovec said. "It really shouldn't have to be on us to get people to follow the law." 

It isn't just with election-related sites. A report by web accessibility company accessiBe found that 98% of US websites it analyzed aren't fully accessible. Additionally, Americans with disabilities are nearly three times as likely to never go online, according to the Pew Research Center, and are around 20% less likely to subscribe to home broadband and own a computer, smartphone or tablet. 

Though some politicians argue a law should be passed requiring online accessibility, former Rep. Tony Coelho of California, who authored the Americans with Disabilities Act, says such a law could backfire. Creating legislation that says the internet is under the ADA implies that's not already the case, which the courts have ruled it is

"Going after legislation is a negative," Coelho said. "Enforcement is what we need."

Tech to improve access 

People with disabilities who want to run for office also face a slew of added challenges. For instance, they may have a hard time going from door to door to speak with voters. Thankfully, the COVID-19 pandemic has spawned virtual canvassing tools like I C Voters, which allows canvassers to connect with voters online. Blahovec notes these technologies will continue to be useful for people with disabilities even after the pandemic is over.

I C Voters helps officials with disabilities more easily engage with their constituency, says Neal Carter, founder of political consulting firm Nu View Consulting. It brings them one step closer to having equal opportunities and access leading up to an election. 

"We already realize that the world is not adapted for our disabled bodies. Then if we're running for office, that's even more exemplified," Carter said. "Every technological thing that you could think of that is a stopgap for a disabled person regularly is even more amplified if they're running for office."

Thankfully, more tech-based solutions are slowly rolling out. The Brink Election Guide is a mobile app built with accessible technology that allows voters to access information such as election deadlines and when, where and how to vote by mail or in person. It's available for download on the App Store and Google Play.

Diane Golden, director of technical assistance at the Center for Assistive Technology Act Data Assistance, said a digital interface is what's necessary to truly make voting more accessible. One of the biggest hurdles to making that happen is appeasing security experts, who warn systems like online voting aren't as secure as voting with paper ballots. But Golden hopes there will be a fully digital process, such as a voting app, not too far down the road that'll satisfy everyone's needs. 

These kinds of digital tools can be helpful for voters like Samuel, the Ablr CEO, who's blind. He doesn't read braille, and during the 2018 elections, a poll worker had to go into the polling booth with him and fill out his ballot. Not having the independence to do so himself and trusting a stranger to cast his vote was unsettling, he said. That's why it's critical to come up with a universal design that'll allow everyone to easily participate in political processes, Samuel noted. 

"It really comes down to actually including people in the design, whether that be in technology or in our policies," Samuel said. "We need people with disabilities at the table."

For people in all parts of the political process, that increase in awareness, inclusion and understanding will be what helps make future elections more accessible for everyone.

"We've fought these battles in every single industry that there is and every single aspect of life there is," Greco said. "You get really tired of having to fight the battles."

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How tech is slowly working to make elections more accessible – CNET

Voting accessibility

The Americans with Disabilities Act has helped make voting more accessible, but there's still work to be done.

Getty Images

Two years ago, during the midterm elections, Lucy Greco went online to learn more about what would be on her ballot. Greco, a web accessibility evangelist at the University of California, Berkeley, who is blind, was unable to use many of the sites because they contained links with bad or no text, making them inaccessible.

After some time, she was eventually able to find a web page listing the policies candidates were for and against. But all the roadblocks along the way were frustrating.  

"It's not like I can go to the same places everybody else can," Greco said. "I have to hunt for the one that does it accessibly."

Greco is just one of many people in the disability community -- which makes up 26% of the US adult population -- who's faced tech-related obstacles when it comes to voting and the political process at large. Many run into problems when voter registration web pages and campaign sites aren't accessible. If they vote in person, they can't be sure there will be functioning machines at the polling station, or that they won't have to wait in ridiculously long lines to cast a ballot. Other issues include steep ramps outside of buildings, and poor parking

A report on polling place accessibility in the 2012 elections found that 30 percent of people with disabilities had trouble voting at their polling places, compared with 8 percent of individuals without disabilities. Some of the most common reasons were not being able to read or see ballot content and trouble understanding or using voting equipment.

Several organizations have been working to improve tech accessibility in political processes, to promote stronger voter turnout as well as to support people with disabilities who want to run for office. The Twitter hashtag #CripTheVote is part of a nonpartisan campaign designed to encourage discussions about disability issues in the US, with thousands of tweets ranging from people's experiences at the polls to advocacy for more inclusive health care. People with disabilities can also download a ballot in certain states, then read it and mark it using their assistive technology device before mailing it or dropping it off. Additionally, there are a handful of tools designed to ensure online voting resources are accessible for everyone. 

Removing these widespread roadblocks can help more people with disabilities cast a vote, which could have a significant impact on elections turnout. According to a Rutgers report on the 2016 elections, "If people with disabilities voted at the same rate as people without disabilities who have the same demographic characteristics, there would be about 2.2 million more voters." Rebecca Cokley, director of the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress, says having more votes come from the disability community would lead elected officials to take accessibility issues more seriously.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois and the first female double amputee in the Senate, said tech has allowed voters and candidates with disabilities to participate more fully in elections, especially since the passage of the ADA in 1990, but there's still plenty of room for improvement. 

"Simply traveling to meet a candidate, participate in a rally or reach a polling location can be an obstacle for many," Duckworth said. "For those who don't own a vehicle and live in an area served by mass transit, many transit systems are not fully accessible and ride share opportunities are oftentimes few and far between. These obstacles can partially be overcome with virtual participation, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic."

Ongoing web accessibility challenges

One of the biggest hurdles people with disabilities continue to face is a lack of accessible websites. This can be particularly challenging in an age when so much of our lives takes place online, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic

An audit released last month by digital accessibility company Ablr found that the campaign sites for President Donald Trump, former Vice President Joe Biden, Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris had a total of 44 violations, "concluding each landing page does not comply with the standards set by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines." These violations could prevent 61 million voters with a disability from accessing critical information, the company said in a report. Further, a Vox report last year found that not a single 2020 presidential candidate had an accessible campaign site

"We are continually striving to improve the accessibility and usability of our site, and are committed to providing a web experience that meets the needs of as many visitors as possible," Biden campaign spokesperson Rosemary Boeglin said. "We will continue to work with experts like Perkins Access to ensure inclusivity and enhance accessibility." 

The Trump campaign didn't respond to a request for comment. 

"Accessibility is something that's overlooked, even at the highest level, and that's something we need to really address," said Ablr CEO John Samuel. "The lack of understanding and awareness extends from not having people with disabilities in leadership roles and helping make those policies."

A 2015 study by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Accessible Technology found that just one online voter registration site in the US -- California's -- was fully accessible to people with disabilities. Further, most states' sites didn't meet even minimal accessibility standards.

Though electronic and information technology from federal departments or agencies is required to be accessible by law, compliance is very poor, said Sarah Blahovec, civic engagement and voting rights organizer at the National Council on Independent Living. That's largely because compliance is essentially enforced by consumer complaints, she said, and because of a lack of accountability processes at higher levels. 

"The burden shouldn't have to be on people with disabilities [to report issues]," Blahovec said. "It really shouldn't have to be on us to get people to follow the law." 

It isn't just with election-related sites. A report by web accessibility company accessiBe found that 98% of US websites it analyzed aren't fully accessible. Additionally, Americans with disabilities are nearly three times as likely to never go online, according to the Pew Research Center, and are around 20% less likely to subscribe to home broadband and own a computer, smartphone or tablet. 

Though some politicians argue a law should be passed requiring online accessibility, former Rep. Tony Coelho of California, who authored the Americans with Disabilities Act, says such a law could backfire. Creating legislation that says the internet is under the ADA implies that's not already the case, which the courts have ruled it is

"Going after legislation is a negative," Coelho said. "Enforcement is what we need."

Tech to improve access 

People with disabilities who want to run for office also face a slew of added challenges. For instance, they may have a hard time going from door to door to speak with voters. Thankfully, the COVID-19 pandemic has spawned virtual canvassing tools like I C Voters, which allows canvassers to connect with voters online. Blahovec notes these technologies will continue to be useful for people with disabilities even after the pandemic is over.

I C Voters helps officials with disabilities more easily engage with their constituency, says Neal Carter, founder of political consulting firm Nu View Consulting. It brings them one step closer to having equal opportunities and access leading up to an election. 

"We already realize that the world is not adapted for our disabled bodies. Then if we're running for office, that's even more exemplified," Carter said. "Every technological thing that you could think of that is a stopgap for a disabled person regularly is even more amplified if they're running for office."

Thankfully, more tech-based solutions are slowly rolling out. The Brink Election Guide is a mobile app built with accessible technology that allows voters to access information such as election deadlines and when, where and how to vote by mail or in person. It's available for download on the App Store and Google Play.

Diane Golden, director of technical assistance at the Center for Assistive Technology Act Data Assistance, said a digital interface is what's necessary to truly make voting more accessible. One of the biggest hurdles to making that happen is appeasing security experts, who warn systems like online voting aren't as secure as voting with paper ballots. But Golden hopes there will be a fully digital process, such as a voting app, not too far down the road that'll satisfy everyone's needs. 

These kinds of digital tools can be helpful for voters like Samuel, the Ablr CEO, who's blind. He doesn't read braille, and during the 2018 elections, a poll worker had to go into the polling booth with him and fill out his ballot. Not having the independence to do so himself and trusting a stranger to cast his vote was unsettling, he said. That's why it's critical to come up with a universal design that'll allow everyone to easily participate in political processes, Samuel noted. 

"It really comes down to actually including people in the design, whether that be in technology or in our policies," Samuel said. "We need people with disabilities at the table."

For people in all parts of the political process, that increase in awareness, inclusion and understanding will be what helps make future elections more accessible for everyone.

"We've fought these battles in every single industry that there is and every single aspect of life there is," Greco said. "You get really tired of having to fight the battles."

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Samsung once again tops the smartphone market, analyst says – CNET

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Samsung tops the list of smartphone companies in Q3 2020, according to an IDC report.

Angela Lang/CNET

Samsung once again claimed the top spot in the smartphone market in the third quarter of 2020, according to a Thursday report by market researcher IDC. The company shipped 80.4 million smartphones, up 2.9% year over year. It now has a market share of 22.7%. 

The worldwide smartphone market showed overall improvement in Q3, as shipments dropped just 1.3% year over year, IDC says. A total of 353.6 million smartphones were shipped during the quarter, and though the market declined, it performed better than IDC's former prediction that there would be a 9% year-over-year decline. "This is largely attributed to the re-opening of economies around the globe as COVID-19 restrictions were gradually relaxed," the analyst said in the report.

Some key markets saw faster-than-expected recovery, such as India, Brazil, Indonesia and Russia. 

"Although there was an element of pent-up demand that fueled market growth, it was mainly the array of heavy promotions and discounts that accelerated growth in these markets," said Nabila Popal, research director with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. "In India, distance learning has actually boosted the demand for low-end smartphones as they are a more affordable option compared to tablets. The increased low-end demand only further increases competition and adds pressure to the vendors' bottom line."

On the other hand, larger markets like China, Western Europe, and North America all saw the biggest declines in Q3. This was partly due to the iPhone 12 launching a month later than usual. Still, 5G promotions are on the rise in many of these markets, and a range of products are now available at various price points. 

"While some of the topline numbers may not seem pretty, we are seeing a lot of improvement in the smartphone market both in terms of supply chains and consumer demand," said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. "In the large developed markets, it is very clear that 5G will be positioned to most consumers as their next phone regardless of which brand or price point they are focused on."

Still, Reith notes, "consumer demand for 5G is minimal at best."

Besides Samsung, the other top phone companies according to IDC were Huawei, Xiaomi, Apple and Vivo, in that order.

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Yahoo’s first branded phone is here. It’s purple and only $50 – CNET

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The Yahoo Mobile ZTE Blade A3Y runs on Verizon's network.

Yahoo

Yahoo is venturing into uncharted territory by launching its first branded smartphone, the parent company Verizon announced on Wednesday. The Yahoo Mobile ZTE Blade A3Y is available on the Verizon network as part of Yahoo Mobile's unlimited phone service. Yahoo is owned by Verizon. 

The $50 purple phone comes with preinstalled apps including Yahoo Mail, News, Sports, Finance and Weather. It's equipped with an 8-megapixel rear camera with a dual flash and 5-megapixel front-facing camera with a flash. The phone runs on Android 10. It has a 5.45-inch 720p HD display, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage and a rear fingerprint sensor as well the ability to unlock the phone with your face.

Read more: The best phone to buy for 2020

Yahoo Mobile launched in March with unlimited talk, text and 4G LTE data for $40 a month, with taxes and fees included. Customers who buy the Yahoo phone can take advantage of other perks on the Yahoo Mobile service plan including ad-free email with Yahoo Mail Pro and an unlimited mobile hotspot that can be used on one connected device at a time.

Over time the company may expand the perks it offers based on the Yahoo services that its customers want, Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan tells CNET. Someone who is a big Yahoo Finance user, he says, may have the option to get free access to its Yahoo Finance Premium offering, while a Yahoo Sports fan would get free betting credits or promotions for the company's sportsbook, assuming they are in a state where sports gambling is legalized. 

"A lot of consumers love our products, and they want to go deeper in terms of our relationship with them," he says, adding that these types of promotions could appear in the next year or two. 

The new ZTE phone is available in the US now. Customers can also subscribe to Yahoo Mobile service with the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro while the iPhone 12 Pro Max and 12 Mini will be available in November. Verizon's 5G network will be included with all Yahoo Mobile plans and available on compatible devices later this year, the company said. 

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Uber, American Express team up to offer free Eats Pass membership – CNET

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Select American Express cardholders will get Eats Pass perks.

Angela Lang/CNET

Uber and American Express on Monday unveiled new food delivery perks for US consumer Platinum, Gold and Green Card members. Those customers now have access to a free Eats Pass membership for up to 12 months.

Eats Pass, Uber Eats' $9.99/month subscription service, provides unlimited free delivery and 5% off restaurant orders over $15. Subscribers also get free delivery on groceries over $30 in certain markets. Card members have to enroll by Dec. 31, 2021. 

Additionally, beginning early next year, American Express Gold Card members will get up to $120 annually in Uber Cash to use on Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the US.

Uber and American Express' announcement comes after Lyft and Grubhub earlier this month teamed up to provide their own food delivery perks and restaurant discounts. (Chase also offers its own perks with DoorDash, such as free DashPass benefits for Chase Sapphire Reserve and Preferred cardmembers.) These moves come as people rely more heavily on food and grocery delivery services during the COVID-19 pandemic, and as rideshare companies see steep declines in ridership. By diversifying their offerings, companies like Uber and Lyft are likely looking for ways to remain relevant as many people stay home, and to cash in on our adjusted lifestyles.

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Ubisoft Connect to bring cross-progression, expands social features – CNET

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Ubisoft's new universal interface is scheduled to launch Oct. 29, starting with Watch Dogs: Legion.

Ubisoft

Ubisoft on Wednesday said its Uplay and Ubisoft Club services and loyalty program will be updated and expanded as Ubisoft Connect. The new universal interface, which lets players from all platforms interact with the company's in-game services and access social features, is set to launch Oct. 29, starting with Watch Dogs: Legion

Ubisoft Connect will be available via an in-game overlay in the company's latest titles. Players can access the in-game and social features regardless of which consoles or cloud gaming services they're using.

"A decade ago, Ubisoft was one of the first publishers to enhance players' experience with more services and social features," Charles Huteau, Ubisoft's creative director on Ubisoft Connect, said in a statement. "We wanted to build upon this legacy to fulfill Ubisoft's vision of a global community and bring these benefits to all our players." 

The service includes a "cross-game loyalty system that lets players earn an unlimited amount of Units to spend on unique rewards, like weapons, outfits and consumables," the company says. There's also a newsfeed, where you'll find friends' activities and achievements, and there's a "Smart Intel" feature that offers players tips and video recommendations related to their game activities. 

Ubisoft plans to make full cross-progression available on upcoming titles including Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, Immortals Fenyx Rising and Riders Republic. With Ubisoft Connect, the company's ecosystem will be available on Windows PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch. Additionally, cloud gaming and streaming services Stadia, Nvidia GeForce Now, and Amazon Luna plan to offer some Ubisoft Connect features later this year. Players can also access the experience from the Ubisoft Connect mobile app and desktop app, and on ubisoftconnect.com.

You can take a look at the new service in Ubisoft's launch trailer for Connect.

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Remdesivir gets FDA approval for COVID-19 treatment – CNET

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Remdesivir has received FDA approval for treating COVID-19.

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The US Food and Drug Administration approved Gilead's antiviral drug Veklury (remdesivir) for treating patients with COVID-19 needing hospitalization, the company said in a Thursday release. In May, the FDA issued an emergency authorization to use the drug for COVID-19 patients "hospitalized with severe disease."

In the release, Gilead says, "Veklury works to stop replication of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19," adding that it's "now the first and only approved COVID-19 treatment in the United States. The drug is now widely available in hospitals across the country, following early investments to rapidly expand manufacturing capacity to increase supply."

When President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, he received a range of treatments, including remdesivir.

Remdesivir was first developed to treat hepatitis C, and was also used against Ebola. It's not specifically designed to destroy SARS-CoV-2, but rather works by knocking out a piece of machinery in the virus, known as "RNA polymerase," which many viruses use to replicate. It's been shown to be effective in human cells and mouse models.

The approval of the antiviral drug is based on three randomized controlled trials, Gilead says. In April, the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said preliminary data from a US-based clinical trial showed remdesivir can help patients more quickly recover from coronavirus.

In the US, Gilead notes, Veklury is for adults and kids 12 years and older weighing at least 40 kg. The company notes the drug "should only be administered in a hospital or in a healthcare setting capable of providing acute care comparable to inpatient hospital care."

Along with the drug's approval, the FDA issued a new temporary emergency authorization to use Veklury to treat hospitalized pediatric patients under 12 years old who weigh at least 3.5 kg, or hospitalized pediatric patients who weigh between 3.5 kg to less than 40 kg "with suspected or laboratory confirmed COVID-19 for whom use of an intravenous (IV) agent is clinically appropriate." The FDA hasn't approved use of Veklury in patients under 12 years old or who weigh less than 40 kg, "and the safety and efficacy of Veklury for this use has not been established," according to Gilead.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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