Elon Musk says that an ad-free X premium subscription will soon be available

Elon Musk has announced that X, formerly known as Twitter, will soon introduce an ad-free version as part of its X Premium subscription. This option will allow users to pay to enjoy the platform without advertisements.

The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX revealed that X will offer a “lower cost” version of the Premium subscription, which will include all the subscription’s features but will continue to display ads. Additionally, there will be a more expensive tier that offers an entirely ad-free experience. As of now, specific pricing for these two tiers and the exact launch date have not been confirmed.

X Premium, currently priced at just over €9 (RM35 locally) per month, provides users with a verification badge, the ability to edit posts after sending them, and the option to post longer text and video content.

Following Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter last year, the platform experienced a significant drop in revenue as advertisers became concerned about the new owner’s approach to content moderation and free speech.

Recently, the European Union initiated an investigation into X’s handling of disinformation and harmful content related to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

To counter the decline in advertising revenue, X is exploring subscription-based income streams. A trial program has been launched in New Zealand and the Philippines, where new users are asked to pay an annual fee of US$1 (RM4.77) to post and reply to others. Musk had previously hinted at the possibility of all users eventually having to pay to use the platform.

Musk believes that requiring users to pay for posting is an effective way to combat bot and spam accounts, as entering credit card details would deter many bad actors from operating bot networks on the site.

Read More →

McDonald’s debuts the 2023 Boo Buckets

McDonald’s is bringing back a Halloween tradition with the return of Boo Buckets, available for a limited time.

This year’s Boo Buckets for 2023 feature four fun designs: an orange skeleton, a white mummy, a green monster, and a purple vampire.

Each trick-or-treat bucket comes with a sheet of stickers that allows kids to get creative and design their own wacky faces.

These Boo Buckets are offered as part of the Happy Meal, which falls within the $5 to $7 price range. Happy Meals include a choice of a hamburger or Chicken McNuggets, a kid-sized portion of fries, apple slices, and 1% low-fat milk.

For those who choose Chicken McNuggets, there’s also the option to add one of two limited-time dipping sauces: Sweet & Spicy Jam or Mambo Sauce.

Read More →

In Japan, GM, Honda, and Cruise want to start providing driverless taxi services in 2026

General Motors (GM), Cruise, and Honda are joining forces to introduce an autonomous ride-hailing service in Japan, with a potential launch date in early 2026 if all goes according to their plan. These companies have formalized their collaboration through a memorandum of understanding to establish a joint venture for this endeavor. The goal is to set up the company by the first half of 2024, contingent on obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals. The ride-hailing service will utilize the Cruise Origin, an electric shuttle van co-developed by the companies. This self-driving vehicle lacks a steering wheel, driver’s seat, pedals, and rearview mirror.

Instead, it features a spacious cabin where up to six passengers can sit facing each other, with sliding doors similar to those on a subway. GM expressed that “the opportunity for the ride-hail service in Japan, expected to be the first of its kind, is substantial.” This service has the potential to address Japan’s ongoing shortage of drivers and offer an alternative to those unable to use Tokyo’s extensive train and subway system for various reasons.

While the project is still in its early stages, the companies have a clear vision for its execution. They plan to start by deploying “dozens” of Cruise Origin vehicles in central Tokyo by 2026 and then gradually expand the fleet to 500 Origins. Subsequently, they aim to extend the service beyond the city center. Similar to other ride-hailing services, passengers will be able to request an Origin ride through a dedicated app and make their payments through the same platform.

Read More →

Netflix Could Get a New ‘Grand Theft Auto’ Game

According to a report from the report, Netflix Games is in discussions with Rockstar Games to develop its own version of Grand Theft Auto. The streaming platform is exploring the possibility of releasing a Grand Theft Auto game on its service through a licensing agreement with Take-Two Interactive, the game’s publisher.

It’s important to note that the potential Netflix Games version of the game would not be GTA VI, as the official GTA VI release is expected between spring 2024 and spring 2025. The Wall Street Journal also mentions that Netflix Games has already invested $1 billion in the development of games for its platform.

Currently, Netflix Games is only accessible on mobile devices. However, Rockstar Games has previously released Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for iOS and Android in the early 2010s. Additionally, Netflix Games is exploring licensing agreements to include popular mobile games in its catalog.

This news comes two months after Netflix’s announcement in August that it intends to expand its streaming service into the realm of interactive entertainment. Mike Verdu, VP of Netflix Games, stated in August, “Our goal has always been to have a game for everyone, and we are working hard to meet members where they are with an accessible, smooth, and widespread service.” He also mentioned that a limited beta test of Netflix Games was being rolled out to a small number of members in Canada and the UK on select TVs and would be available on PCs and Macs through Netflix.com on supported browsers in the coming weeks.

Read More →

Toyota and LG Energy Solution agree to provide batteries worth $3 billion for the U.S. EV push

LG Energy Solution, based in South Korea, has entered into an agreement to supply lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) to Toyota, the world’s largest automaker. These batteries will be used in EVs assembled in the United States, as announced by the companies on Wednesday.

This partnership will support Toyota’s growing lineup of battery EVs, which will include a new model scheduled to be manufactured at a Kentucky-based production facility, the company’s largest globally, starting in 2025.

LG Energy Solution CEO Youngsoo Kwon expressed his enthusiasm for the collaboration, stating, “The one thing I wanted to change was the fact that we don’t have any business with the number one player Toyota.” Kwon went on to highlight that LG Energy Solution now serves nine of the top 10 automakers globally. The company is set to supply Toyota with 20 gigawatts of batteries annually starting in 2025.

Toyota has held the title of the world’s best-selling automaker for three consecutive years, with sales of nearly 10.5 million vehicles in 2022. Following the announcement, Toyota’s Tokyo-listed shares saw a 2.91% increase in morning trading.

LG Energy Solution also provides batteries to other automotive giants, including General Motors in the United States, Hyundai in South Korea, and Honda in Japan. Less than five months ago, the company announced plans to construct a $4.3 billion EV battery plant in the United States in collaboration with Hyundai to take advantage of tax credits available to buyers of U.S.-made vehicles, which can be as much as $7,500 under the Inflation Reduction Act.

LG Energy Solution is committed to investing approximately 4 trillion Korean won ($3 billion) to establish new production lines exclusively for Toyota, with completion expected by 2025. Toyota aims to offer 30 battery-electric vehicle models under its Toyota and Lexus brands and produce up to 3.5 million BEVs annually by 2030.

In the competitive EV battery market, LG Energy Solution is currently the world’s third-largest producer, following Chinese EV company BYD. Chinese firms dominate the sector, particularly CATL, which held 36.6% of the global EV battery market from January to July of the current year.

Kwon emphasized that the competition primarily involves Chinese and Korean companies, with Japanese firm Panasonic also in the mix. However, he noted that it’s too early to fully assess the capabilities of Chinese battery makers and emphasized the importance of global operations in this industry. Kwon highlighted that keeping production within China is more straightforward, but in a global business, success depends on the ability to manage operations worldwide.

Read More →