A new OpenAI Sora rival just landed for AI videos – and you can use it right now for free

The text-to-video AI boom has really kicked off in the past few months, with the only downside being that the likes of OpenAI Sora still aren't available for us to try. If you're tired of waiting, a new rival called Dream Machine just landed – and you can take it for a spin right now.

Dream Machine is made by Luma AI, which has previously released an app that helps you shoot 3D photos with your iPhone. Well, now it's turned its attention to generative video, which has a free tier that you can use right now with a Google account – albeit with some caveats.

The main one is that Dream Machine seems to be slightly overwhelmed at the time of writing. There's currently a banner on the site stating that “generations take 120 seconds” and that “due to high demand, requests will be queued”. Our text prompt took over 20 minutes to be processed, but the results (below) are pretty impressive.

Dream Machine's outputs are more limited in length and resolution compared to the likes of OpenAI's Sora and Kling AI, but it's a good taster of how these services will work. The clips it produces are five seconds long and in 1360×752 resolution. You just type a prompt into its search bar and wait for it to appear in your account, after which you can download a watermarked version. 

While there was a lengthy wait for the results (which should hopefully improve once initial demand has dropped), our prompt of 'a close-up of a dog in sunglasses driving a car through Las Vegas at night' produced a clip that was very close to what we envisaged. 

Dream Machine's free plan is capped at 30 generations a month, but if you need more there are Standard (120 generations, $ 29.99 a month, about £24, AU$ 45), Pro (400 generations, $ 99.99 a month, about £80, AU$ 150) and Premier (2,000 generations, $ 499.99 a month, about £390, AU$ 750).

A taste of AI videos to come

Like most generative AI video tools, questions remain about exactly what data Luma AI's was trained on – which means that its potential outside of personal use or improving your GIF game could be limited. It also isn't the first free text-to-video tool we've seen, with Runway's Gen 2 model coming out of beta last year.

The Dream Machine website also states that the tool does have technical limitations when it comes to handling text and motion, so there's plenty of trial-and-error involved. But as a taster of the more advanced (and no doubt more expensive) AI video generators to come, it's certainly a fun tool to test drive.

That's particularly the case, given that other alternatives like Google Veo currently have lengthy waitlists. Meanwhile, more powerful models like OpenAI's Sora (which can generate videos that are 60-seconds long) won't be available until later this year, while Kling AI is currently China-only.

This will certainly change as text-to-video generation becomes mainstream, but until then, Dream Machine is a good place to practice (if you don't mind waiting a while for the results).

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OpenAI’s big launch event kicks off soon – so what can we expect to see? If this rumor is right, a powerful next-gen AI model

Rumors that OpenAI has been working on something major have been ramping up over the last few weeks, and CEO Sam Altman himself has taken to X (formerly Twitter) to confirm that it won’t be GPT-5 (the next iteration of its breakthrough series of large language models) or a search engine to rival Google. What a new report, the latest in this saga, suggests is that OpenAI might be about to debut a more advanced AI model with built-in audio and visual processing.

OpenAI is towards the front of the AI race, striving to be the first to realize a software tool that comes as close as possible to communicating in a similar way to humans, being able to talk to us using sound as well as text, and also capable of recognizing images and objects. 

The report detailing this purported new model comes from The Information, which spoke to two anonymous sources who have apparently been shown some of these new capabilities. They claim that the incoming model has better logical reasoning than those currently available to the public, being able to convert text to speech. None of this is new for OpenAI as such, but what is new is all this functionality being unified in the rumored multimodal model. 

A multimodal model is one that can understand and generate information across multiple modalities, such as text, images, audio, and video. GPT-4 is also a multimodal model that can process and produce text and images, and this new model would theoretically add audio to its list of capabilities, as well as a better understanding of images and faster processing times.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman attends the artificial intelligence Revolution Forum. New York, US - 13 Jan 2023

(Image credit: Shutterstock/photosince)

The bigger picture that OpenAI has in mind

The Information describes Altman’s vision for OpenAI’s products in the future as involving the development of a highly responsive AI that performs like the fictional AI in the film “Her.” Altman envisions digital AI assistants with visual and audio abilities capable of achieving things that aren’t possible yet, and with the kind of responsiveness that would enable such assistants to serve as tutors for students, for example. Or the ultimate navigational and travel assistant that can give people the most relevant and helpful information about their surroundings or current situation in an instant.

The tech could also be used to enhance existing voice assistants like Apple’s Siri, and usher in better AI-powered customer service agents capable of detecting when a person they’re talking to is being sarcastic, for example.

According to those who have experience with the new model, OpenAI will make it available to paying subscribers, although it’s not known exactly when. Apparently, OpenAI has plans to incorporate the new features into the free version of its chatbot, ChatGPT, eventually. 

OpenAI is also reportedly working on making the new model cheaper to run than its most advanced model available now, GPT-4 Turbo. The new model is said to outperform GPT-4 Turbo when it comes to answering many types of queries, but apparently it’s still prone to hallucinations,  a common problem with models such as these.

The company is holding an event today at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm BST (or 3am AEST on Tuesday, May 14, in Australia), where OpenAI could preview this advanced model. If this happens, it would put a lot of pressure on one of OpenAI’s biggest competitors, Google.

Google is holding its own annual developer conference, I/O 2024, on May 14, and a major announcement like this could steal a lot of thunder from whatever Google has to reveal, especially when it comes to Google’s AI endeavor, Gemini

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The 8 best games in the Meta Quest April Mega Sale that you should buy right now

If you're looking to add some new titles to your Meta Quest 3 library then look no further than the Meta Quest April Mega Sale.

From now until April 28 at 11:59 PM PT (April 29 at 07:59 AM BST) you can pick up a whole host of VR games and apps at a bargain price. There are lots of fantastic option to choose from, but I've selected eight deals worth considering.

If you want to find more suggestions you can check out our best VR games list.

Walkabout Mini Golf

If I’m doing a VR game roundup, I’m going to include Walkabout Mini Golf because it’s without a doubt my favorite VR experience. I think you should buy this game at full price so while it’s discounted it’s a no-brainer.

The courses are varied and gorgeous, the mechanics feel true to life, and it offers a superb multiplier experience to boot. But honestly just stop reading this and go buy it if you haven’t already (then come back and keep reading for more suggestions).

Dungeons Of Eternity

Dungeons of Eternity is an action-packed dungeon crawler with an addictive combination of excellent physics-based combat with a satisfying gameplay loop that has you exploring, well, dungeons filled with monsters.

What really takes this game up a level is its multiplayer mode. Just grab a few friends and you can tackle the hordes of terrors together – and you might get a little fitter in the process as this was one of a personal trainer's recommended VR titles for people looking to try VR fitness.

What's even better is that this is a big discount, so it's a great time to finally try Dungeons of Eternity if you haven't already.

The Last Clockwinder

This VR puzzle game is my favorite for people after a more serious experience – combining an intriguing tale of mystery with a host of engaging mechanics.

Your goal is to restore the Clocktower’s gardens to grow different fruits using a small army of robots that mimic your movements – all while you search for the missing Clockwinder. Simply record an action and an automaton will spawn to recreate what you did on a loop; by chaining these robots you’ll create complex sequences to solve the various puzzles in your way.

What makes The Last Clockwinder fun for puzzle fans like myself is that while each mission can be completed using as many robots as you can spawn, there are in-game challenges and rewards encouraging you to be as efficient as possible. 

This means novices can always find a solution, but experts will have a real challenge finding an optimal solution – which often requires precise movements and out-of-the-box thinking.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

This VR multiplayer game is a perfect choice for people who want to enjoy VR together but only have one headset. 

One player – the person in VR – can see a complex bomb with various puzzle modules that must be solved in order to deactivate it. The other player (or players) can see a complex manual – much of which may be irrelevant to the virtual bomb you’re trying to defuse. By working together the duo must defuse the explosive before a timer runs out or making too many mistakes.

It’s chaotic, it’s fun, and right now it’s on sale for a great price.

I Expect You To Die Collection

If you’ve ever wanted to be James Bond – though at times you may feel more like Austin Powers – then this virtual escape room series is what you need. Brimming with all the spy tropes under the sun (complete with kickass theme songs I have in my playlist) this game series is an absolute delight to play through – it’s one of those VR games everyone should play.

This double pack includes the first and second games at a discounted price, but if you already own one or both you can pick up all three games in the series individually for a lower-than-normal price:

The Light Brigade

This VR shooter roguelike has you fighting through a dark world of corrupted soldiers and monsters. If you fail – and you will – you can retry your mission but be careful as the dungeon you’re adventuring through will have a different layout every time you enter.

The Light Brigade is adrenaline-inducing in all the right ways, with semi-realistic World War I-era weapons to handle, a diverse range of formidable foes, and a great selection of classes you can switch between – each with a unique style of gameplay. As you progress, you can upgrade your soldier’s abilities to make future runs a little easier.

I adore The Light Brigade – every time I boot it up I binge it for hours on end – and at this price, it’s a certified must-play.

Among Us VR

I love social deduction games – be they board games like Secret Hitler and Coup, or video games like Town of Salem and Among Us – and this VR version is an absolute riot.

The first-person perspective and proximity chat make the experience feel way more immersive (read: it’s a lot scarier being a crewmate), and meetings are a lot more engaging compared to using the flat game’s text-chat option – though chat-only VR lobbies are available.

For only $ 7.49 / £5.99 Among Us VR is a steal that you should definitely pick up.

Assassin’s Creed Nexus

This is the only game on this list I haven’t played – ignoring an early-access demo I tried when I first gave the Meta Quest 3 a whirl – but I’ve heard great things about it and it’s been on my to-play list for some time.

Nexus lets you play as the series’ most iconic Assassins in VR recreations of iconic locations from the original games. I’ve been told that at times it can be a little janky, but the combat and parkour experience are good enough for it to stick the landing on helping you live out your dream of joining the Brotherhood.

This isn’t the biggest discount in the world, but considering this is a pricey game to begin with we’ll take any discount we can get.

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Another big reason to install iOS 17.4 right now – it fixes two major security threats

Apple has just launched iOS 17.4, and right now everyone’s attention is focused on how it lets you run third-party app stores on your iPhone – although only if you're in the European Union. But there’s another important reason you should upgrade: it fixes two extremely serious security flaws.

In a new security post (via BleepingComputer), Apple says that iOS 17.4 and iPadOS 17.4 resolve two zero-day bugs in the iOS kernel and Apple’s RTKit that might allow an attacker to bypass your device’s kernel memory protections. That could potentially give malicious actors very high-level access to your device, so it’s imperative that you patch your iPhone as soon as possible by opening the Settings app, going to General > Software Update and following the on-screen instructions.

These issues are not just hypothetical; Apple says it is “aware of a report that this issue may have been exploited” in both cases, and if a zero-day flaw has been actively exploited it means hackers have been able to take advantage of these issues without anyone knowing. With that in mind, there’s every reason to update your device now that Apple has issued a set of fixes.

Apple says the bugs affect a wide range of devices: the iPhone XS and later, iPad Pro 12.9-inch 2nd generation and later, iPad Pro 10.5-inch, iPad Pro 11-inch 1st generation and later, iPad Air 3rd generation and later, iPad 6th generation and later, and iPad mini 5th generation and later. In other words, a lot of people are potentially impacted.

Actively exploited

holding an iphone

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Zero-day flaws like these are usually exploited in targeted attacks, often by sophisticated state-sponsored groups. Apple didn’t share any details of how or when these vulnerabilities were put to nefarious use, nor whether they were discovered by Apple’s own security teams or by external researchers.

Apple devices are known for their strong defenses, but are increasingly falling under hackers’ crosshairs. Recent research suggests that there were 20 active zero-day flaws targeting Apple products in 2023 – double the number of the previous year. According to BleepingComputer, three zero-day attacks on Apple devices have been patched so far in 2024.

This kind of exploit demonstrates why it’s so important to keep all of your devices updated with the latest patches, especially if they include security fixes. Leaving yourself vulnerable is a dangerous gamble when there are extremely sophisticated hacking groups out there in the wild. With that in mind, make sure you download the latest iOS 17.4 update as soon as you can.

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Google’s Gemini will be right back after these hallucinations: image generator to make a return after historical blunders

Google is gearing up to relaunch its image creation tool that’s part of the newly-rebranded generative artificial intelligence (AI) bot, Gemini, in the next few weeks. The generative AI image creation tool is in theory capable of generating almost anything you can dream up and put into words as a prompt, but “almost” is the key word here. 

Google has pumped the brakes on Gemini’s image generation after Gemini was observed creating historical depictions and other questionable images that were considered inaccurate or offensive. However, it looks like Gemini could return to image generation soon, as Google DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis announced that Gemini will be rebooted in the coming week after taking time to address these issues. 

Image generation came to Gemini earlier in February, and users were keen to test its abelites. Some people attempted to generate images depicting a certain historical period that appeared to greatly deviate from accepted historical fact. Some of these users took to social media to share their results and direct criticism at Google. 

The images caught many people’s attention and sparked many conversations, and Google has recognized the images as a symptom of a problem within Gemini. The tech giant then chose to take the feature offline and fix whatever was causing the model to dream up such strange and controversial pictures. 

Hassabis confirmed that Gemini was not working as intended, and that it would take some weeks to amend it, and bring it back online while speaking at a panel taking place at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) event in Barcelona

Person using a laptop in a coffeeshop

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If at first, your generative AI bot doesn't succeed…

Google’s first attempt at a generative AI chatbot was Bard, which saw a lukewarm reception and didn’t win users over from the more popular ChatGPT in the way Google had hoped, after which it changed course and debuted its revamped and rebranded family of generative models, Gemini. Like ChatGPT, Google is now offering a premium-tier for Gemini, which offers advanced features for a subscription. 

The examples of Gemini's misadventures have also reignited discussions about AI ethics generally, and Google’s AI ethics specifically, and around issues like the accuracy of generated AI output and AI hallucinations. Companies like Microsoft and Google are pushing ahead to win the AI assistant arms race, but while racing ahead, they’re in danger of releasing products with flaws that could undermine their hard work.

AI-generated content is becoming increasingly popular and, especially due to their size and resources, these companies can (and really, should) be held to a high standard of accuracy. High profile fails like the one Gemini experienced aren’t just embarrassing for Google – it could damage the product’s perception in the eyes of consumers. There’s a reason Google rebranded Bard after its much-mocked debut.

There’s no doubt that AI is incredibly exciting, but Google and its peers should be mindful that rushing out half-baked products just to get ahead of the competition could spectacularly backfire.

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Apple wants to make sure your posture’s right when using the Vision Pro

The first preorders for the Apple Vision Pro will very soon be making their way into the hands of users, but it seems that Apple is making plans to have headsets like the Vision Pro respond to the posture of the person wearing them.

A newly published patent (via Patently Apple) refers to “tiered posture awareness” – a method through which headsets and smart specs could figure out the posture of users, and then make any necessary tweaks to the way content was presented.

So, for example, a virtual 3D environment might be slightly adjusted based on the way the user is standing or sitting, and the surround sound effects applied to audio feeds could also be changed to be as immersive as possible.

The patent also mentions making calculations based on how much strain the headset might be putting on the person wearing it – this information could be used to warn users if their posture is putting too much strain on their body parts.

Future updates

The Apple Vision Pro headset on a grey background

Preorders for the Apple Vision Pro are open now (Image credit: Apple)

It's quite a complex patent, and the usual caveats about patents apply here too: there's no guarantee that these ideas will ever actually be implemented in a product, but they offer an interesting insight into what Apple's engineers are thinking about.

In the hands-on time we've had with the Apple Vision Pro, we haven't noticed any kind of head or neck strain, though these sessions have been rather brief. We'll be running a full test of the spatial computing device just as soon as we're able to.

Something like what's being described in the patent could potentially be delivered to the Vision Pro via a future software update. Alternatively, it might be held back for future versions of the headset, which we've already started hearing rumors about.

Apple will also be hoping that more app developers put out dedicated versions of their apps for the Vision Pro in the future: the likes of Netflix are currently holding back because it's going to take a while for the Vision Pro to make it to the mainstream.

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Keep an eye on your Mac: macOS Sonoma could be auto-installing right under your nose

Some Mac users are being affected by an unexplained bug that causes macOS to automatically update to the new macOS Sonoma. The issue appears to have been ongoing for a few weeks now, with gradually more users affected, but only Mac devices that were previously running macOS Ventura. The complaints have been highlighted on Apple’s forums and Reddit, though we’ve yet to hear any official statement from Apple.

MacRumors reports that the complaints have also been posted on its own forums, detailing that the forced Sonoma update can occur even with automatic updates turned off. A majority of the complaints reported that a desktop notification would pop up alerting users that the Sonoma update was available, and despite the notification being dismissed their Mac would begin to install Sonoma anyway. 

So far Apple hasn’t commented on this unusual situation and it’s currently unclear why some Macs are auto-updating without permission while others remain on macOS Ventura. There doesn’t seem to be any particular device being affected; everything from iMacs to the M1 MacBook Air seems to be vulnerable.

Right under my nose!

While this is definitely an annoying issue, if you’ve had this strange forced upgrade happen to your device you can at least go back to the previous Ventura update. We should note that Apple allows you to downgrade older software a lot easier on Macs than it does with iOS updates on iPhones, so you’ll be able to downgrade back to Ventura. 

If you do want to return to Ventura – perhaps because you’ve got an older Mac product that is struggling with the Sonoma update – you’ll have to use the Time Machine recovery function to do so. If you made a Time Machine backup before the Sonoma upgrade, it’s a pretty streamlined process. You can restart your Mac in recovery mode and select the option to Restore from the Time Machine Backup, which once restored should take you back to Ventura.

That being said, we wouldn’t recommend doing this just yet; at least, not until we get more information from Apple as to how to move forward. Recovery from Time Machine may work, but it does put you at risk of losing valuable data. Another possible option is to factory-reset your Mac (if it’s an older model) which will return it to the original macOS version it shipped with and then allow you to update to Ventura – but again, this is an extreme measure and you’ll need to back up all your files first.

If you’d like to double-check what version of macOS you are on and make sure your automatic updates are turned off (though that might not protect you from this glitch), open up your System Settings app and head over to the ‘Software Update’ section of the general settings. Once you’re there you’ll be able to see what version of macOS your device is currently running on and whether or not your automatic updates are enabled or not. 

Hopefully, Apple will soon release an official comment (and bug fix!) to resolve this issue. Until then, keep an eye on your Mac…

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Microsoft launches Copilot for iPhones and iPads right after Android

That didn't take long: just days after launching a dedicated Copilot app for Android, Microsoft has restored balance to the universe again by making the same app available for those users who prefer iPhones and iPads.

As initially spotted by The Verge, the Copilot app for iOS and iPadOS seems to be an exact replica of the Android one, and is also free to use. The same rules apply: you can use it in a limited fashion without logging in, but signing into a Microsoft account gives you more prompts and more features (like image generation capabilities).

If you do sign in with a Microsoft account, then you can enable the latest and greatest GPT-4 model from Microsoft's partner OpenAI. Responses will generally be slower but better, and bearing in mind that ChatGPT customers have to pay to get the GPT-4 version, this is a pretty good deal from Microsoft.

While it's a notable move from Microsoft to give Copilot its own app, this hasn't come out of nowhere: pretty much all of the functionality here was previously available in the Bing apps for Android and iOS, so little has changed in terms of what you can do.

Copilot everywhere

If you're completely new to generative AI, these tools can produce text and images based on a few user prompts. You can get Copilot to do anything from write a poem about TechRadar to produce an image of a glowing Apple iPhone.

You can also get Copilot to query the web – if you need party game or travel ideas, for example – and have it explain complex topics in simple terms. It's a bit like a supercharged version of Google Assistant or Siri from Apple.

Microsoft is continuing to push forward quickly with upgrades to Copilot, as it knows that the likes of Apple and Google are busy improving their own generative AI tools. It looks inevitable that AI will be one of the hottest tech trends of 2024.

And if you don't want to install Copilot on your phone, you can find it in plenty of other places too. The same features are still available as part of Bing on the web, and Copilot has also now been added to Windows 11 and Windows 10.

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Beeper Mini gives Android users a way to talk to iMessage on iOS right now

In November, Apple announced it will finally support the RCS messaging standard allowing Android devices and iPhones to communicate on a potentially more level playing field. The update won’t arrive until early 2024, but luckily there is a third-party solution that you can download today called Beeper Mini.

The app gives Android users the ability to send end-to-end encrypted texts to an iPhone using Apple’s very own iMessage protocol. This means both parties will see all messages in blue bubbles instead of forcing Android hardware to green bubbles. You don’t need an Apple ID to use the service. Even if you had one, the developer Beeper says it doesn't have access to your Apple account. Users will, however, need to give Beeper Mini permission to access their phone’s SMS and Call Logs to verify the number as well as sync to pre-existing conversations to convert them into proper iMessage chats.

Beeper Mini on Android

(Image credit: Beeper Mini)

Looking at the official Google Play Store listing, you’ll find Beeper Mini has a multitude of iMessage features. You'll be able to send full-sized photographs and videos to others as well as react to their content with an emoji. The app also allows you to join previously inaccessible iPhone-only group chats. Plus, the software offers a way to sync iMessages across other “Android or iOS devices, including” iPads.

Other notable features include typing status, read receipts, unsending, and more. Beeper Mini is available for download now. You will need to pay $ 1.99 to use the service although the developer is offering a seven-day free trial to start.

How it works

You may be wondering how is this even possible. It’s complicated to say the least.

The way it works, according to an official blog post, is that an SMS text is sent from an Android number to Apple’s “Gateway service.” The gateway then responds with its own message and sends the initial text to Apple servers registering it as an iPhone. This process was made possible by security researcher and reported high school student JJTech who reportedly managed to “reverse engineer” iMessage’s protocol. Beeper took JJTech’s work (presumably with their permission) and then implemented it in their app.

The developer also created the Beeper Push Notification service, or BPNs for short, to maintain a constant connection to Apple servers and to tell you of any new texts.

That’s the gist of how it works. If you want more details, we highly recommend reading Beeper’s post along with JJTech’s iMessage breakdown to get the full picture. 

Analysis: Potential trouble

Now you may be wondering, is Apple okay with this? It's tough to say. Things are a little weird right now.

Eric Migicovsky, CEO of Beeper, told TechCrunch a provision in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act states that “reverse engineering for the purposes of interoperability is protected”, implying that the law protects them from litigation. 

This hasn’t stopped Apple from suing other companies using their services. However, now we have the Digital Markets Act which forces tech corporations to support interoperability for their messaging platforms. What’s more, the US DOJ (Department of Justice) has been going after titans in the industry over alleged antitrust violations. Right now, it’s going after Google.

Apple might let Beeper Mini slide on by to stay in the good graces of the DOJ. But it’s hard to say for sure. We’re in uncharted territory here. Apple could, at any time, strike down the app with the force of a thousand suns. It’ll be interesting to see how this situation plays out.

Be sure to check out TechRadar's list of the best Android phones for 2023.

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