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TikTok owner ByteDance denies it’s exploring selling stake in popular app

ByteDance is not currently exploring selling its stake in TikTok, despite a report from Bloomberg stating that preliminary conversations were held as scrutiny from US officials grows. TikTok head Alex Zhu sent an internal note to staff addressing the report, which was obtained by Reuters. Zhu told employees that “from time to time you may…

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TikTok owner ByteDance denies it’s exploring selling stake in popular app

ByteDance is not currently exploring selling its stake in TikTok, despite a report from Bloomberg stating that preliminary conversations were held as scrutiny from US officials grows.

TikTok head Alex Zhu sent an internal note to staff addressing the report, which was obtained by Reuters. Zhu told employees that “from time to time you may read stories in the media that are not true,” and called Bloomberg’s report inaccurate. Zhu added that executives haven’t hosted any “discussions with potential buyers of TikTok, nor do we have any intention to.” A TikTok representative also told Bloomberg that “these rumors are completely meritless.”

Bloomberg’s report arrives as TikTok continues to recent attention from US officials, with some senators warning the app could be a security threat. Advisors to ByteDance executives recommended “everything from an aggressive legal defense and operational separation for TikTok to sale of a majority stake,” according to Bloomberg. The company could maintain it doesn’t present any security threat when asked by US officials. ByteDance wants to maintain full control of TikTok, Bloomberg also reported, especially as the app continues to surge in popularity.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is looking into ByteDance’s $1 billion purchase of Musical.ly in 2017. An investigation could determine if ByteDance has to divest Musical.ly assets, which helped build the TikTok platform. CFIUS has begun asking questions, and may recommend measures TikTok can take to “avoid divesting the Musical.ly assets it acquired,” according to Reuters. The investigation comes as tensions between the United States and China grow.

“I remain deeply concerned that any platform or application that has Chinese ownership or direct links to China, such as TikTok, can be used as a tool by the Chinese Communist Party to extend its authoritarian censorship of information outside China’s borders and amass data on millions of unsuspecting users,” Senator Marco Rubio stated.

ByteDance has attempted to address concerns through a couple of initiatives. The company has tried to work with more American groups, including hiring an independent American law firm in October to review TikTok’s content moderation practices. Another American firm was hired to review the company’s security practices. The firm found that TikTok could not have transmitted user data from the China within the period they investigated.

Despite the company’s efforts to try and work with American firms, the more pressing issue is whether ByteDance — a company valued at $78 billion — can change people’s perceptions of using a Chinese-owned app. As The Verge’s Casey Newton wrote in November:

As pressure escalates on TikTok, the company may find that it has few levers of support to pull on. Putting its executives forward outside the friendly confines of a press release would be a start. But so long as the Chinese government is looming behind the company’s business practices, TikTok faces a credibility gap — and it’s not clear what, if anything, can close it.

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New Samsung Galaxy Buds appear to be on the way, and they might have better battery life

Filings for what appear to be a new set of Samsung Galaxy Buds have hit the FCC, indicating that a new version of Samsung’s wireless earbuds might be arriving soon — and the filings have a tantalizing piece of information that might indicate improved battery life (via Droid Life). In a diagram of where the…

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New Samsung Galaxy Buds appear to be on the way, and they might have better battery life

Filings for what appear to be a new set of Samsung Galaxy Buds have hit the FCC, indicating that a new version of Samsung’s wireless earbuds might be arriving soon — and the filings have a tantalizing piece of information that might indicate improved battery life (via Droid Life).

In a diagram of where the required FCC labeling may appear on the new Galaxy Buds, you can see that each bud may have a capacity of “300mA,” and that the case may have a capacity of “600mA.” That could theoretically mean up to triple the battery life for each bud over the Galaxy Buds on the market today, and a slight improvement in battery life for the case.

Diagram of FCC label, with my emphasis in red.
Image: FCC

You shouldn’t necessarily trust those numbers, though, because for the original Galaxy Buds, the battery ratings in its FCC filings were higher than the ones on the retail product.

It’s worth noting that the current Galaxy Buds already have good battery life compared to other wireless earbuds. The base AirPods, for example, get about five hours on a single charge, while the Galaxy Buds were advertised at six hours for the buds and seven hours of reserve for the case. In his review, former Verge staffer Vlad Savov found real-world usage to be in line with Samsung’s estimates.

The FCC filings don’t have any other pictures, though, so we don’t know what the buds or case might look like, and we don’t know how much they might cost. The filings also don’t give us much of a clue about when the new Galaxy Buds might come out, as filings often show up weeks or months before products hit the market.

However, Samsung is reportedly planning to unveil the Galaxy S11 and a new vertically folding Galaxy Fold in February, so perhaps Samsung will debut the new Galaxy Buds in February as well.

When emailed for comment about the filings, a Samsung spokesperson said they had nothing to share.

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Axiom Verge 2 Announced

Indie hit Axiom Verge is officially getting a sequel, developer Tom Happ announced Tuesday as part of Nintendo’s Indie World Showcase. The follow-up to the 2015 Metroid-inspired platformer is simply named Axiom Verge 2, and Happ said he’s been quietly working on it for the past four years. The sequel is set to launch in…

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Axiom Verge 2 Announced

Indie hit Axiom Verge is officially getting a sequel, developer Tom Happ announced Tuesday as part of Nintendo’s Indie World Showcase.

The follow-up to the 2015 Metroid-inspired platformer is simply named Axiom Verge 2, and Happ said he’s been quietly working on it for the past four years. The sequel is set to launch in Fall of 2020.

From the looks of its reveal trailer, Axiom Verge 2 will generally follow a similar 2D Metroidvania formula to the original, though its pixel art graphics are potentially a slightly higher resolution and certainly a bit brighter in parts compared to the original. The words “you are not in control, you are not yourself, you belong to us now” could also be seen on screen, hinting at the plot it may follow.

We gave Axiom Verge a 7.9 in our 2015 review, praising its weapons, character progression, and impressive bosses, but saying its world wasn’t as engrossing as the one in Metroid that it was so clearly inspired by.

You can read through every announcement from Tuesday’s Nintendo Indie World Showcase, including the reveal of Golf Story Sequel called Sports Story, and read our full Axiom Verge review here.

Tom Marks is IGN’s Deputy Reviews Editor and resident pie maker. You can follow him on Twitter.

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IGN’s Staff Reviews Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

A whole bunch of IGN’s staff has now seen Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – some of us more than once – and boy, do we have opinions! In addition to the official IGN review posted a couple of days ago, below you’ll find reactions from 15 of our editors, producers, and hosts, all…

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IGN’s Staff Reviews Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
A whole bunch of IGN’s staff has now seen Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – some of us more than once – and boy, do we have opinions! In addition to the official IGN review posted a couple of days ago, below you’ll find reactions from 15 of our editors, producers, and hosts, all of which are kept as spoiler-free as possible (though things that’ve been revealed in trailers are discussed). We’ve even included each individual’s rating for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi to give you a complete picture of where everybody’s coming from. On that note, we’re trying something a little new with these unofficial staff ratings – while we’re using the IGN review scale, we’re using the word that corresponds to the number rather than the number itself.

IGN’s Review, by Jim Vejvoda, Executive Editor of Movies

From the official IGN Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker review: There is a lot to process walking out of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, a film engineered to hit the viewer on multiple levels while struggling to settle 42 years’ worth of story elements – probably too much for any one film to handle. For as much love, passion, and nostalgia is evident in this movie, it’s also a film very palpably made from a place driven by fear of disappointing the audience, and that anxiety fuels a lot of the story’s curious creative choices and unwieldy execution.The film’s heartstring-tugging moments, technical impressiveness, and relentless action will likely be enough for those fans who just want to keep the visor down on their blast shield helmets and let the Force flow through them. But for those who need some consistency and logic to the story in this elaborately detailed fictional galaxy, there will likely be the bittersweet pang of accepting that this long-running saga couldn’t quite stick the landing. But even at its most divisive and imperfect, the Star Wars franchise has offered much to embrace and celebrate. This finale to the Skywalker Saga is, if nothing else, a tribute to that legacy.

Corrado Caretto, Director of Video Entertainment

From fierce lightsaber duels to space battles that take dogfighting into to light speed, The Rise of Skywalker has everything you’d hope to see in an epic Star Wars finale, and that’s its greatest flaw. While it’s undeniably fun, the story abandons all attempts at taking the franchise in new directions and feels like it was built off focus group notes from disgruntled Last Jedi viewers. Though I personally was fine with the course correction, this backtracking results in some heavy-handed plot points and stilted character arcs that some would consider to be… unnatural.

Scott Collura, Executive Editor of Entertainment Features

J.J. Abrams remains true to form with The Rise of Skywalker, a pandering, flighty, and ultimately disappointing finale to The Skywalker Saga. Spreading itself too thin with an array of meaningless plot threads and story MacGuffins, TROS is the ultimate underachiever – a film coasting on its name brand and built-in audience affection. The most important characters in the trilogy, Rey and Kylo Ren, are fairly well served in this final chapter, but figures like Finn and Poe have no real character arcs to speak of, while most everyone else is reduced to (or remains set at) a glorified cameo level. The Rise of Skywalker actively dismisses The Last Jedi’s mandate to “let the past die” in favor of an array of Original Trilogy retreads and fan service, and while some of these pulls of the heartstrings certainly work, and the film has its share of majestic, exciting, and funny moments, it ultimately confirms what many had suspected since The Force Awakens: – that there was no real plan behind this last cycle in the Saga.

Every Modern Star Wars Movie Review

Joshua Yehl, Senior Editor

Even though Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker can at times be great fun, with its slick action sequences and overt-but-effective fan service moments, it ultimately falls flat because it devotes far too much time and effort into “fixing” the plot of the sequel trilogy with the subtlety of a Death Star laser. The result is a movie jam-packed with undercooked ideas and exposition so abrupt and confusing that even Sherlock Holmes couldn’t explain it, which ends the Skywalker Saga on quite the wonky note. But given how uneven these movies have been since 1977, gifting us both some of cinema’s finest films and its absolute worst, perhaps this is a fitting way for it to go.

Max Scoville, Host and Producer

The Rise of Skywalker is a non-stop thrill ride – sometimes to a fault – that’s tons of fun in the moment but immediately starts falling apart when subjected to the slightest scrutiny or analysis. It’s hellbent on reminding viewers of all their favorite Star Wars moments while simultaneously retconning some of The Last Jedi’s more controversial decisions, which makes it feel more like desperate fanservice than a bold and confident final stroke. In The Rise of Skywalker’s defense, gracefully ending a trilogy of trilogies 42 years in the making in a way that pleases everyone is an insurmountable task, so maybe a big, loud, stupid fireworks show is the best-case scenario. We’ve conditioned ourselves to treat Star Wars films like epic childhood-defining mythological blockbusters, but sooner or later we were bound to have one that was just a dumb, fun movie, and that’s okay with me. If it makes you very angry, I’m sorry. I’m tired. Let me quietly enjoy the puppet and spaceship films.

Top 10 Best Star Wars Movie Moments

Laura Prudom, Deputy Entertainment Manager

Tying together a nine-movie saga was always going to be a near-impossible feat, but The Rise of Skywalker is the first Star Wars film where the glaring lack of an overarching narrative plan feels obvious. Concepts are introduced here that could’ve easily been seeded in The Force Awakens and weren’t, leaving big reveals feeling rushed. On top of that, the film swerves so hard to avoid some of the decisions made in The Last Jedi it trips itself over in the process. The more you think about the intricacies of its plot, the less it makes sense, but The Rise of Skywalker barrels through its story with such energy and enthusiasm you might find yourself swept up in the adventure of it all without noticing that the cracks are showing (at least until after the credits roll). That sense of fun, humor, and reverence for the Original Trilogy saves The Rise of Skywalker from mediocrity; if you love these characters there are heartfelt payoffs that have been years in the making and callbacks that could give you chills. It’s just bittersweet to imagine how much more satisfying this story could’ve been if it had been conceived with a clear ending in mind. The Skywalker legacy lives on, but Episode IX leaves it a little tarnished.



Dan Stapleton, Executive Editor of Game Reviews

The opening crawl and first act of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker gave me whiplash as it packed what must have been JJ Abrams’ concept for Episode VIII into a hasty montage that, out of nowhere, props up the final conflict of the Skywalker saga. It’s an unsatisfying and unearned climax as a result. Like another disappointing sci-fi sequel from Abrams, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Rise of Skywalker feels like it was made “just for fun” – much more concerned with bombarding us with spectacle and nods to franchise history than it is with becoming a worthy part of that history itself by making sense when you think about it beyond the surface level. I didn’t love some of the choices made in The Last Jedi so I don’t mind seeing some of those walked back, but the way it was done was inelegant and uninteresting. The lack of internal consistency with the other movies goes well beyond that, too, and it weakens one of the Star Wars universe’s greatest strengths: the ability to suspend disbelief and feel like the galaxy far, far away was a real place long, long ago and that its rules matter. Fortunately, the entire prequel trilogy is there to take one for the team and prevent The Rise of Skywalker from being the weakest of the nine numbered films.

Kevin Cappiello, Video Editor

The Rise of Skywalker is the ultimate fan service. The film definitively concludes the Skywalker saga, not only tying the knot on the latest trilogy but also 42-year-old loose ends. There’s a lot to unpack, with an extra movie’s worth of information presented in the opening act. On a technical level, it’s hard to ignore the blatant retcon of The Last Jedi – which leads to a slew of unearned payoffs and head-scratching decisions. But as someone who interpreted the theme of The Last Jedi quite literally, I was able to let the past die. It’s easy to be overly protective of a thing you love… but as Star Wars taught us, that is the path to the Dark Side. If you’re able to turn your brain off and embrace the suspension of disbelief, The Rise of Skywalker is an epic, passionate and family-friendly farewell to the Skywalker saga.

The Strangest Lightsabers in the Star Wars Universe

Jesse Schedeen, Staff Writer

Even coming into The Rise of Skywalker with expectations firmly in check, I’m very let down by the final chapter in the Skywalker Saga. As someone who ranks The Last Jedi among the very best in the franchise, it’s painful to watch this film work so hard to dismantle what its predecessor tried to accomplish and fall back on old tropes. Like too many JJ Abrams films, it favors nostalgia over imagination.

Mind you, The Rise of Skywalker is a huge misstep regardless of your thoughts on The Last Jedi. It’s plagued with characters who serve little narrative purpose and a story filled with plot holes, MacGuffins and unanswered questions. It also fails to effectively build on previous movies in the trilogy, with the story relying too much on characters and plot points introduced now rather than those which were seeded organically over the course of three movies. The Rise of Skywalker deserves credit for striving to make the most of a bad situation where General Leia is concerned. It also boasts plenty of memorable new droids and aliens and some very striking imagery. But both as a standalone movie and as the finale to a story more than 40 years in the making, it’s a failure. It’s hard not to worry about the future of the franchise, at least on the big screen.

Matt Purslow, UK Editor

J.J. Abrams may have returned to Star Wars, but he brings little of the heartfelt energy that powered The Force Awakens. Instead, The Rise of Skywalker concludes four decades of storytelling with a plot concocted of ill-conceived fan service, characters devoid of arcs, and a saccharine approach to the saga’s most beloved icons.

Rather than acting as a sequel to The Last Jedi, The Rise of Skywalker attempts to be both the second and third acts of the trilogy, practically ignoring the events of Rian Johnson’s middle chapter. The result is an overstuffed film with no room to let its concepts breathe or allow the audience to reflect on its biggest moments. The sheer volume of plot points and well-crafted action sequences means The Rise of Skywalker is consistently entertaining in the moment, but stepping back to gain perspective reveals it to be a film more concerned with reliving Star Wars moments than it is in making its own legacy.

Terri Schwartz, Editor-in-Chief, Entertainment

The easiest way to describe The Rise of Skywalker is… it’s a lot. It carries the weight of eight films, countless characters, insurmountable fan expectations, and two years’ worth of backlash on its back, and the movie comes out the other side trying to service all of that without being especially successful at most of those elements. Director J.J. Abrams tries to cram the second movie he didn’t make in this sequel trilogy into this final installment of the Skywalker Saga, all while largely ignoring or undercutting the events that did happen in The Last Jedi. It also swings wildly, frustratingly in the opposite direction from where Rian Johnson sent the Star Wars franchise heading, feeling like a slave to its desire to provide fan service in a way that undermines manyu of the things I found interesting that had happened up until this point. The strength of The Rise of Skywalker is its incredible cast, with series-best performances from the likes of Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac. While I liked some aspects of the story and genuinely loved others, I felt the opposite way about The Rise of Skywalker than I did about The Last Jedi: that this movie is less than the sum of its parts, and an ultimately unsurprising, unoriginal and often predictable conclusion to a movie series so many – including myself – hold so dear.



Star Wars: Every Jedi and Every Sith Ever

Zach Ryan, Director of Social Content and Strategy

There are moments during The Rise of Skywalker where it really feels like the Star Wars film I wanted it to be. Unfortunately, a lack of vision across this most recent trilogy throws cohesion out the window from the jump. From the break-neck exposition dump of the first act, that tries to cram in an entire film’s worth of plot, to the seemingly comic-book-inspired insanity of the conclusion, the whole movie feels like the tracks are being laid down moments before the train pulls into the station. It is visually stunning, and as a long-time Star Wars fan I liked the inclusion of deep lore items and concepts, but the overall story felt too jumbled and the complete erasure of the eighth chapter of the Skywalker Saga left a bad taste in my mouth. The relationship between Kylo Ren and Rey, though, is by far the best part of the film. Their climactic duels (of which there are several) showcase near-superhero levels of Force acrobatics, and their chemistry is undeniable. Some sequences soar and recapture what I’ve always loved about Star Wars, but they’re often undercut by bizarre and unearned plot developments or hamfisted dialogue. Lacking the heart of the originals, dodging (most) of the campy schlock of the prequels, and removing anything challenging or ultimately thought-provoking, this film just sort of exists as the “most okay” entry in the series. Babu Frik is pretty great though.

Brian Altano, Host & Producer

If you can push aside the incredibly hokey, hamfisted implementation of Palpatine – a hollow villain who is both overexplained and unexplained – and the lengthy, cumbersome exposition dumps, The Rise of Skywalker still manages to feel like a fun, chaotic adventure film that has a big heart and solid efforts in wrapping 40+ years of continuous Star Wars stories. The film shines when it lets its core trio of Rey, Finn, and Poe finally share scenes together and when its central conflict focuses on the complex good and evil divide between Kylo and Rey. Did we need this movie or this trilogy? We can and will debate that endlessly from here, but ultimately these films reawakened the franchise for millions, ushering in new games, shows, and theme parks, and for that I’m glad to have lived through all of this.



David Griffin, TV Streaming Editor

The Rise of Skywalker is an entertaining spectacle filled with dazzling action setpieces and heartwarming scenes that may require a tissue or two. Director J.J. Abrams doesn’t get everything right from a story perspective, especially when it comes to addressing some of the lingering questions posed by Rian Jonhson’s The Last Jedi. However, The Rise of Skywalker is able to capture the spirit of Star Wars with its focus on family, legacy, and overcoming impossible odds. And while most of the cast give great performances, it’s Adam Driver’s harrowing portrayal of Kylo Ren that stands out from the pack. There’s no question that bringing The Skywalker Saga to an end is a difficult task, but Abrams manages to adequately send off one of cinemas’ most famous families with style and grace.



Ryan McCaffrey, Executive Editor of Platforms

I enjoyed The Rise of Skywalker more than I liked it, if that makes any sense. I’m going with “Good” for now, but ask me again in another day or two and I’ll bet I’d be down to an “Okay.” It is really enjoyable to take one last ride these characters, some of them in unexpected ways. And there’s added emotional weight that this movie gets “for free” by virtue of being the final chapter in the 40-year, nine-film journey. But there’s a lot of really dumb stuff in this movie, too. For example (since it was already revealed in the trailer), how the Emperor returns is hand-waved away with no reasonable explanation. For something that’s been a part of everyone’s lives for so long, this conclusion doesn’t feel… thought out. It feels slapped together. And sure, Carrie Fisher’s death made J.J. Abrams’ job more difficult, no doubt, but this film doesn’t feel like it’s going to live on forever in the way it deserved to – and the way the original trilogy does. But, again, it was a fun ride, and I got emotional at a couple of moments. I’m seeing it again with my family this weekend. It’s far from a bad film. But the end of this saga deserved better.

Brandon Hunt, Branded Social Producer

The Rise of Skywalker hit a lot of emotional notes for me in the right way. Closure after death, the sense of belonging to a family, and the journey to self-worth. Furthermore, the sense of building up community in this particular episode really resonated. What didn’t was some forced entry of past characters (i.e. Palpatine) and the sense of fan service that feels unneeded in this arc. Overall, Episode IX provided the emotional beats that I needed to feel satisfied with a final entry in the Saga, and that is the most important thing.





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