The Morning After: Huge Xbox leak reveals an all-digital Series X and a lot more

A Nintendo merger?

Xbox

This summer’s Federal Trade Commission−Microsoft trial revealed all kinds of intriguing details about how the tech company’s gaming arm saw its rivals and the future of gaming. But now, a court document leak has spilled the beans on new consoles, a new controller and even a list of new game projects. (New Dishonored? Yes, please.)

TMA
TMA (Microsoft)

The most leftfield part, though, might be a letter from Xbox chief Phil Spencer talking about Nintendo. He said Nintendo was a prime asset for Microsoft’s continued push in gaming and could be the company’s best bet for consumer relevance. Spencer added Nintendo had a board of directors that had not pushed for increases in market growth in ages — indicating, of course, a massive difference in how Nintendo governs itself compared to Microsoft. Eventually, Xbox bought gaming giants Bethesda and Activision Blizzard, so fewer plumbers and more gunners.

Microsoft has attempted to acquire Nintendo for a while. When Bloomberg published an in-depth on the development of Xbox in 2021, it revealed that Microsoft execs had asked Nintendo if it was willing to be acquired — and were laughed out of the room.

By the end of yesterday, Spencer commented on X, saying: “so much has changed” since those documents. He added the company “will share the real plans when we are ready.”

— Mat Smith

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iPhone 15 Pro Max review

Apple makes the strongest case yet for its biggest, priciest phone.

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TMA (Engadget)

It’s the year of the USB-C iPhone, and the iPhone 15 Pro Max adds a new action button and the most versatile camera system yet. Apple has kept the same price for the Pro ($999) and Pro Max ($1,199) while doubling the storage capacity on the base model of the latter. If you’ve been holding on to an iPhone that’s at least two years old (or even just a year old), this could well be the year to upgrade. The changes coming to Apple’s Pro handsets feel meatier than before, and a new titanium build makes these devices seem fresher too.

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Microsoft plans an all-digital Xbox Series X and haptic controller

The console could land November 2024.

Microsoft is planning a mid-generation refresh of the Xbox Series X with a new discless cylindrical design, according to those leaked documents. Microsoft previously said it has no plans for a mid-gen console refresh, but that doesn’t appear to be true according to the document. In fact, the company may be working on three new consoles. The first, codenamed Ellewood, is a light refresh of the Xbox Series S (set to arrive around September 2024), while Brooklin, tentatively planned for November 2024, is a new discless version of the Xbox Series X.

Another model, XDL, matches Brooklin’s specs but will presumably offer Xbox Design Lab customization. Another slide details a two-tone Sebile controller with built-in accelerometers and haptics that would make it more like Sony’s latest DualSense controller. There are apparently some sustainability tweaks, like a swappable battery, recycled materials and improved repairability. If you’re looking even further into the future, the documents also detailed a cloud hybrid Xbox for 2028, which would combine console power with cloud strength.

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Neuralink opens enrollment for its first human-brain-computer interfaces

The company wants to test its implants on people with quadriplegia.

Elon Musk’s Neuralink company, purveyors of the experimental N1 brain-computer interface (BCI), announced on Tuesday it has finally opened enrollment for its first human study.

The study “aims to evaluate the safety of our implant (N1) and surgical robot (R1) and assess the initial functionality of our BCI for enabling people with paralysis to control external devices with their thoughts.” As such, this study is looking primarily for “those who have quadriplegia due to cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).” The release adds: “The initial goal of our BCI is to grant people the ability to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone.”

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