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  BGR Show All 
Elon Musk is once again on a quest to ‘nuke Mars’
nuke mars

If there's one thing you can say about Elon Musk it's that he's never lacked ambition. He's founded a number of successful companies, and with SpaceX he's pushed science forward by lowering the cost of entry for satellite launches and opened up new possibilities for researchers.

He's also seemingly made it his life's mission to make a human colony on Mars a reality, and he insists that it's possible to make Mars a lot like Earth as long as we can unlock the carbon dioxide trapped inside Martian ice, rock, and soil. Scientists aren't fully on board with this line of thinking, but a new tweet from Musk hints that he's once again ready to argue that "nuking Mars" is a good idea.

Continue reading...

BGR Top Deals:

  1. 10 deals you don’t want to miss on Saturday: Free money from Amazon, $13 Anker wireless charger, Fire TV Stick, more
  2. Bose’s popular $100 wired earbuds are somehow down to $39 right now

Trending Right Now:

  1. Scientists stunned after spotting record-shattering supernova
  2. An Apple insider with a stellar track record just leaked Apple Watch Series 5 details
  3. This leak might be Samsung’s next-gen smartphone design, but I hope not because it’s so stupid

Elon Musk is once again on a quest to ‘nuke Mars’ originally appeared on BGR.com on Sat, 17 Aug 2019 at 14:07:09 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


7 new trailers you need to watch from this week: Little Women, Dolemite Is My Name, and more
New Trailers

There’s no big blockbuster movie coming out this weekend, which means you’ll have time to catch up on some of the previous releases of the summer, with Hobbs and Shaw and The Lion Ling still dominating the box office. Opening this week, however, is a comedy that seems to press all the right buttons: Good Boys.

Also out this week are sequels for the Angry Birds Movie and 47 Meters Down franchises. One features a bunch of animated, angry birds, and the other stars a group of animated, angry sharks.

Continue reading...

BGR Top Deals:

  1. 10 deals you don’t want to miss on Saturday: Free money from Amazon, $13 Anker wireless charger, Fire TV Stick, more
  2. Bose’s popular $100 wired earbuds are somehow down to $39 right now

Trending Right Now:

  1. Scientists stunned after spotting record-shattering supernova
  2. An Apple insider with a stellar track record just leaked Apple Watch Series 5 details
  3. This leak might be Samsung’s next-gen smartphone design, but I hope not because it’s so stupid

7 new trailers you need to watch from this week: Little Women, Dolemite Is My Name, and more originally appeared on BGR.com on Sat, 17 Aug 2019 at 12:05:31 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


You shouldn’t even think about using your Nintendo Switch without this $8 accessory
Nintendo Switch Screen Protector

The Nintendo Switch is easily one of the best things to happen to video games in the past decade, so wouldn’t it be a shame if yours gets ruined because you didn’t spend a measly $8 on a must-have accessory? The amFilm Tempered Glass Screen Protector for Nintendo Switch is available on Amazon as a 2-pack and it’s cut to perfectly fit your Switch’s display. This way, that awesome 7-inch screen stays pristine because it’s protected from dings, scuffs, and scrapes.

amFilm Tempered Glass Screen Protector for Nintendo Switch 2017 (2-Pack): $7.99

Here are the bullet points from the product page:

  • Specifically designed for Nintendo Switch
  • Ultra-clear High Definition with 99.9% transparency to allow an optimal, natural viewing experience
  • Ultra thin-0.3mm thickness is reliable and resilient, and promises full compatibility with touchscreen sensitivity
  • Highly durable, and scratch resistant - surface hardness 9H and topped with oleophobic coating to reduce fingerprints.
  • Includes: 2x GLASS Screen Protector, Wet Wipes, Micro-Fiber Cleaning Cloth, Squeeze Card, Easy Installation Use Guide, Hinge Stickers

amFilm Tempered Glass Screen Protector for Nintendo Switch 2017 (2-Pack): $7.99

BGR Top Deals:

  1. 10 deals you don’t want to miss on Saturday: Free money from Amazon, $13 Anker wireless charger, Fire TV Stick, more
  2. Bose’s popular $100 wired earbuds are somehow down to $39 right now

Trending Right Now:

  1. Scientists stunned after spotting record-shattering supernova
  2. An Apple insider with a stellar track record just leaked Apple Watch Series 5 details
  3. This leak might be Samsung’s next-gen smartphone design, but I hope not because it’s so stupid

You shouldn’t even think about using your Nintendo Switch without this $8 accessory originally appeared on BGR.com on Sat, 17 Aug 2019 at 10:33:07 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


Your reaction to my hellish SSD upgrade proves that Windows 10 has a serious storage upgrade problem
Laptop HDD-to-SSD

Earlier this week, I told you how installing an SSD in an old Windows 10 laptop has been the best and worst upgrade I’ve ever done. It was the best because the SSD gave that older machine a second life, and everything is now a lot faster than before, from boot times to app launches.

At the same time, it turned out to be a huge chore, because I wasn't able to perform the simplest of procedures: Get a fresh Windows 10 install on the SSD after putting it in the laptop. Several readers emailed me with solutions, but what they also did was to prove to me that Microsoft has a serious upgrade problem on its hands.

Continue reading...

BGR Top Deals:

  1. 10 deals you don’t want to miss on Saturday: Free money from Amazon, $13 Anker wireless charger, Fire TV Stick, more
  2. Bose’s popular $100 wired earbuds are somehow down to $39 right now

Trending Right Now:

  1. Scientists stunned after spotting record-shattering supernova
  2. An Apple insider with a stellar track record just leaked Apple Watch Series 5 details
  3. This leak might be Samsung’s next-gen smartphone design, but I hope not because it’s so stupid

Your reaction to my hellish SSD upgrade proves that Windows 10 has a serious storage upgrade problem originally appeared on BGR.com on Sat, 17 Aug 2019 at 09:46:19 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


These wireless Bluetooth earbuds are down to just $36.99 for a short time

If you've been searching for wireless earbuds to wear while you're on the treadmill, out for a run, or doing squats at the gym, we've found a pair for you and they're currently on sale. For a short time only on Amazon, the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 53 Earphones are available for the low price of $36.99. That's undoubtedly the cheapest you'll find for these quality Bluetooth headphones with a built-in microphone.

They have a high-level of water resistance, so you can wear them while you sweat without any worry. You have the option of utilizing single or twin mode, meaning you can just wear one for making a phone call or working all day or you can use them both to listen to music or share with a loved one or friend.

You won't have to charge these bad boys for long and they hold up to five hours of playtime on one charge. Plus, you can answer and hang up on calls right from the earbuds with their built-in buttons. These multi-functional earbuds can be yours, but you'll have to ask fast as this sale won't last forever.

Wireless Earbuds, TaoTronics Bluetooth 5.0 Headphones SoundLiberty 53 Earphones IPX7 Waterproof…: $36.99

Here is what you need to know from the product page:

  • Cd-like quality sound: TaoTronics Sound Liberty 53 offers a truly natural, authentic sound and powerful bass performance with 6mm dynamic speakers and enhanced bass.
  • IPX7 waterproof: high-level water-resistant makes it suitable for sports to prevent water and rain. Ideal for sweating it out at the gym or running outside.
  • Single/twin mode for all occasions: with built-in mic in each earbud, You can use a single earbud for working or use the pair to enjoy music alone or Share with a loved one.
  • 40 H playtime: Up to 5 hours’ playtime on one charge and a charging case holds multiple additional charges for up to 36 hours’ playtime. Mini size charging case for easy storing in the pocket.
  • Multifunction touch control: Answer and hang up calls or access other functions by tapping on the earbuds instead of picking up your phone when it’s a few feet away.

Wireless Earbuds, TaoTronics Bluetooth 5.0 Headphones SoundLiberty 53 Earphones IPX7 Waterproof…: $36.99

BGR Top Deals:

  1. 10 deals you don’t want to miss on Saturday: Free money from Amazon, $13 Anker wireless charger, Fire TV Stick, more
  2. Fix the holes in your home wireless network with this $17 Wi-Fi range extender

Trending Right Now:

  1. Scientists stunned after spotting record-shattering supernova
  2. An Apple insider with a stellar track record just leaked Apple Watch Series 5 details
  3. Best Buy anniversary sale this weekend offers big Apple discounts

These wireless Bluetooth earbuds are down to just $36.99 for a short time originally appeared on BGR.com on Sat, 17 Aug 2019 at 09:00:28 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


10 deals you don’t want to miss on Saturday: Free money from Amazon, $13 Anker wireless charger, Fire TV Stick, more
Amazon Deals

We've got a terrific daily deals roundup for you to check out on Saturday, and the cherry on top is some free money from Amazon! Buy $50 or more of Amazon gift cards and Amazon will give you a $15 credit for free if you enter the coupon code 19GIFTCARD at checkout, or you go to this page first and click the button to apply this promotion to your account. You're obviously going to spend $65 on Amazon anyway, so why not get $15 of it for free!? The only caveat is that you're not eligible for the promo if you've purchased Amazon gift cards from the Amazon site before.

Other top deals on Saturday include Anker's best-selling wireless charging stand for only $12.99 (UPDATE: the $4 coupon is now sold out), true wireless earbuds with touch control like AirPods for just $30.99, a best-selling Wi-Fi range extender that works with any router for $16.99, a surprise discount on the Fire TV Stick, $100 Bose wired earbuds for $49, brand new Echo Dots for $29.99, an inflatable 12-foot movie projector screen for $119.99, 16-foot warm white LED strips for $7.99 each, the Echo Dot for cars for only $20.99, and more. Check out all of today's best bargains below.

Amazon.com eGift Card Promotion: Buy $50, Get $15 Free

Anker Wireless Charger, Qi-Certified Wireless Charger Compatible iPhone XR / XS Max / XS / X /…: $12.99

SoundPEATS True Wireless Earbuds TWS Bluetooth Headphones in-Ear Stereo Bluetooth V5.0 Earphone…: $30.99

TP-Link | N300 WiFi Range Extender | Up to 300Mbps | WiFi Extender, Repeater, Wifi Signal Boost…: $16.99

Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote, streaming media player: $29.99

Echo Dot (3rd Gen) - Smart speaker with Alexa - Charcoal: $29.99

Gemmy 39127-32 Deluxe Airblown Movie Screen Inflatable with Storage Bag, 144" Screen 12 FT TALL…: $119.99

HitLights Warm White LED Light Strip, 3528-16.4' 300 LEDs, 3000K, 72 Lumens per Foot. 12V DC Ta…: $7.99

Roav Viva by Anker, Alexa-Enabled 2-Port USB Car Charger in-Car Navigation, Compatible with And…: $20.99

BGR Top Deals:

  1. Bose’s popular $100 wired earbuds are somehow down to $39 right now
  2. This $20 box turns any light switch into a smart switch in 5 seconds

Trending Right Now:

  1. Scientists stunned after spotting record-shattering supernova
  2. An Apple insider with a stellar track record just leaked Apple Watch Series 5 details
  3. Huawei Mate 30 Pro to be unveiled just before the iPhone 11 hits stores

10 deals you don’t want to miss on Saturday: Free money from Amazon, $13 Anker wireless charger, Fire TV Stick, more originally appeared on BGR.com on Sat, 17 Aug 2019 at 07:47:01 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


Rocket Lab forced to push back launch due to weather
rocket lab launch

SpaceX might be the worldwide leader in commercial spaceflight — and get a whole lot of attention because of it — but it's not the only private company vying for a slice of the pie. Rocket Lab, which was founded back in 2006, offers commercial flights into space as well, and its Electron rocket has already delivered satellites into space for paying clients.

It was scheduled to launch an Electron rocket again today, but the event was scrubbed at the last minute due to a less-than-cooperative Mother Nature. The launch, which would have been conducted from the company's launch facility in New Zealand, will be rescheduled.

Continue reading...

BGR Top Deals:

  1. Bose’s popular $100 wired earbuds are somehow down to $39 right now
  2. Amazon is blowing out 4 different Vizio 4K TVs starting at $568

Trending Right Now:

  1. Scientists stunned after spotting record-shattering supernova
  2. An Apple insider with a stellar track record just leaked Apple Watch Series 5 details
  3. This leak might be Samsung’s next-gen smartphone design, but I hope not because it’s so stupid

Rocket Lab forced to push back launch due to weather originally appeared on BGR.com on Fri, 16 Aug 2019 at 23:18:55 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


Huawei Mate 30 Pro to be unveiled just before the iPhone 11 hits stores
Mate 30 Pro Release Date

We’re reasonably confident that the iPhone 11 will hit stores on September 20th, considering all the recent leaks, including a revelation that comes directly from Apple. But other leaks are now saying that one of the iPhone 11’s biggest rivals this fall will launch just a day before the iPhone 11 will hit stores. That’s Huawei’s Mate 30 Pro, the successor to the Mate 20 Pro, which was a handset well ahead of its late 2018 Android rivals last year.

Continue reading...

BGR Top Deals:

  1. Amazon is blowing out 4 different Vizio 4K TVs starting at $568
  2. Bose’s popular $100 wired earbuds are somehow down to $39 right now

Trending Right Now:

  1. An Apple insider with a stellar track record just leaked Apple Watch Series 5 details
  2. Scientists stunned after spotting record-shattering supernova
  3. This leak might be Samsung’s next-gen smartphone design, but I hope not because it’s so stupid

Huawei Mate 30 Pro to be unveiled just before the iPhone 11 hits stores originally appeared on BGR.com on Fri, 16 Aug 2019 at 22:05:49 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


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  TechNewsWorld Show All 
YouTube as Political Influencer Takes the Spotlight
YouTube, which operates as one of Google's subsidiaries, is under increased scrutiny after a report earlier this month highlighted the role it played in the recent presidential election in Brazil. Among concerns is YouTube's installation of a new AI system that can track user behavior to suggest additional videos to watch. The goal arguably is not much different from the way newspapers offer links to other stories to keep users on a site so they see more ads. The concern is that YouTube directed users to "paranoid far-right rants."

Slackel Linux Works Well Inside Its Openbox
The latest release of Slackel Linux renews and improves the mashup of Slackware and Salix built around an Openbox pseudo desktop environment. Slackel 7.2 hit the download servers on July 20, eight months after the release of Slackel 7.1 Openbox edition. Slackel also is available in two much older versions running the KDE and Fluxbox environments. All releases are available in 64-bit and 32-bit builds. Slackel, based in Greece, is a Linux distro a step away from the typical mainstream Debian-based Linux OS line.

28M Records Exposed in Biometric Security Data Breach
Researchers associated with vpnMentor discovered a data breach involving nearly 28 million records in a BioStar 2 biometric security database belonging to Suprema. "BioStar 2's database was left open, unprotected and unencrypted," vpnMentor said. "After we reached out to them, they were able to close the leak." BioStar 2 is Suprema's Web-based, open, integrated security platform. The vpnMentor team gained access to client admin panels, dashboards, back-end controls and permissions, which ultimately exposed 23 GB of records.

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T-Mobile Merger Delay Keeps Sprint and Dish on Edge
The T-Mobile-Sprint merger looked like it was pretty much a done deal a couple of weeks ago, when DoJ gave its approval. It now looks like there won't be a final answer until 2020. This will go down in history as one of the longest corporate merger attempts. The delay will be hardest on Sprint and Dish. Even though T-Mobile looks stronger, it needs the deal too, as it transitions into 5G. The good news for T-Mobile is that a recent earnings report shows continuing growth -- but that also means regulators may not see this merger as necessary.

Faulty Driver Coding Exposes Microsoft Windows to Malware Risks
Numerous driver design flaws by 20 different hardware vendors expose Microsoft Windows users to widespread security compromises that can cause persistent malware attacks. A report titled "Screwed Drivers," which Eclypsium security researchers presented at DEF CON, urges Microsoft to support solutions to better protect against this class of vulnerabilities. Microsoft should blacklist known bad drivers, it recommends. The insecure drivers problem is widespread, involving more than 40 drivers from at least 20 different vendors.

Spotify for Podcasters Hits the Open Road
Spotify has launched Spotify for Podcasters following a year-long beta involving more than 100,000 podcasts from 167 countries. Spotify for Podcasters is a discovery and analytics dashboard designed to let podcasters track performance through data such as episode retention charts, aggregate demographics about listeners, and details on follower growth. Podcast data is updated daily. Podcasters can use timestamps in their episode description so listeners can start playing the podcasts from precise moments.

The Apple Card Difference: Security
Apple sent emails to a small number of customers last week, inviting them to apply for the company's new Apple Card, and a privileged few have become the first to enroll in the program. The rollout is limited to qualifying applicants in the U.S. The Apple Card, which is a virtual Mastercard issued by Goldman Sachs Bank USA's Salt Lake City branch, will roll out generally later this summer. "Given the digital nature of the card, we'll see a lot of A/B/X testing to let Apple catch any issues early before a mass rollout," noted analyst Ray Wang.

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7 tax scams to watch out for this year

7 tax scams to watch out for this yearIn case wringing your hands over the tax man weren’t enough, criminals are out there trying to swipe your hard-earned cash and personal information from right under your nose.



Avowed Apple Fan Jeb Bush Realizes His Apple Watch Can Take Phone Calls

Avowed Apple Fan Jeb Bush Realizes His Apple Watch Can Take Phone CallsJeb Bush's love of Apple products has been widely documented, and the Republican presidential candidate continues to wear his Apple Watch on the campaign trail. Yesterday, in a meeting with The Des Moines Register editorial board documented by USA Today, Bush stumbled upon a feature he didn’t realize his smartwatch was capable of: taking phone calls. Somehow Bush managed to take a call without picking up his iPhone, and the sound of a person’s voice saying hello breaks through the meeting noise, to which Bush responds, “My watch can’t be talking.”



Social media welcomes Pope Francis to the United States

Social media welcomes Pope Francis to the United StatesPope Francis gets the social media treatment upon arriving in the U.S. Tuesday. As Pope Francis’s flight touched down in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, Twitter unveiled a new batch of emojis created for the highly anticipated papal visit. Until his departure from the United States on Sunday, Twitter users chronicling the Catholic leader’s East Coast journey will be able to include a cartoon image of the Pope’s face in front of the American flag on all Pope-related tweets by using the hashtag #PopeinUS.



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  News Show All 
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Portland mayor praises police after 'largely peaceful' day of far-right, far-left demonstrations - Fox News
Portland mayor praises police after 'largely peaceful' day of far-right, far-left demonstrations  Fox News

The mayor of Portland, Ore., said Saturday night that his city had avoided the "worst-case scenario" after members of far-right groups and far-left members of ...

View full coverage on Google News

Man linked to New York subway scare has criminal record, authorities say - Los Angeles Times
Man linked to New York subway scare has criminal record, authorities say  Los Angeles Times

A man suspected of placing two devices that looked like pressure cookers in a New York City subway station Friday, causing an evacuation and snarling the ...

View full coverage on Google News

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Runkeeper drops its Wear OS app due to a 'buggy experience'
Add Runkeeper to the list of companies dropping their smartwatch apps -- albeit not for the usual reasons. The developer is warning customers that it's scrapping its Wear OS app as of the 9.13 release. It's "just not able" to deliver the best exper...

Drako's GTE electric supercar will be a four-motor, 1,200HP monster
The new Tesla Roadster won't be the only wildly overpowered electric supercar arriving in the near future. Drako Motors (a startup created by Barracuda Networks co-founder Dean Drako) has unveiled the GTE, an electric sedan that's built to take on t...

'Travis Strikes Again' comes to PC and PS4 on October 17th
You won't have to own a Switch to play a modern take on the No More Heroes universe. Suda51's Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition is now slated to launch on PC (via Steam) and PS4 October 17th. The expanded title includes both the...

Nintendo says there is no Switch exchange program
You might not want to buy a first-generation Switch with the assumption Nintendo will replace it with a new model. A Nintendo spokesperson has flatly denied that swaps are available, telling The Verge that "we do not have a Nintendo Switch exchange...

IKEA creates a business unit devoted to smart home tech
It's clear by now that IKEA is serious about smart home tech between its Sonos-powered speakers and connected lights, but the home furniture giant wants to formalize that commitment. It just established a full-fledged Home Smart business unit that,...

US will reportedly give Huawei another temporary reprieve
Huawei hasn't had any luck reversing the US trade ban despite promises of removing some restrictions. It might be a long while before the company is forced to cut all its ties, however. Reuters sources have claimed the Commerce Department is expect...

Beto O'Rourke wants to hold internet companies liable for hate speech
If some politicians have their way, internet companies might be held responsible for hate that exists on their platform. Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke has proposed amending the Communication Decency Act's Section 230, which protects internet...

The next Apple Watch may come in titanium and ceramic models
Apple Watch Series 4 appeared to mark the death of the Edition line, but those luxurious models might be ready to come roaring back. iHelp BR said it has discovered animations in the watchOS 6 beta that reference not just the previously rumored retu...

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  WSJ.com: WSJD Show All 
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  CNET News Show All 
Apple Watch 5: Rumors, price, fitness features, battery and more - CNET
What Apple could introduce for our wrists in 2019, or so we've heard.
The Boys on Amazon: Star Erin Moriarty talks superhero mania, Marvel, #MeToo - CNET
The actress channels her powers in the new series on superheroes gone bad.
Blinded by the Light: Exuberant Bruce Springsteen musical wouldn't exist without Brexit - CNET
Gurinder Chadha, the filmmaker behind Bend It Like Beckham and Bride and Prejudice, returns with a heartfelt movie filled to the brim with music from The Boss.
Lamborghini Aventador SVJ 63 Roadster, Huracan EVO GT Celebration dazzle - Roadshow
The two special-edition cars debuted during Monterey Car Week and they're exotic.
This 1965 Aston Martin DB5 Goldfinger car has real working gadgets - Roadshow
This is one of four Goldfinger-spec DB5s built for the movie and for promotion with working gadgets, and one of only three known to still exist.
This 1965 Aston Martin DB5 shooting brake is the $1.8M grocery-getter of our dreams - Roadshow
The DB5 shooting brake started as a special request from Aston Martin company owner David Brown and expanded to 12 production versions built by Radford.
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'I Want a Super-Smart Chair!'
Long-time Slashdot reader shanen writes: Imagine you had a perfect chair for using your computer. Also a perfect chair for watching TV. And a chair for listening to music, a chair for reading, a chair for napping, a work chair th

Intel Patches Three High-Severity Vulnerabilities
Intel's latest patches "stomped out three high-severity vulnerabilities and five medium-severity flaws," reports Threatpost: One of the more serious vulnerabilities exist in the Intel Processor Identification Utility for Window

Three Years Later, France's Solar Road is a Flop
DigressivePoser and schwit1 both submitted the same story. That 1-km ( .62-mile) "solar road" paved with photovoltaic panels in France is "too noisy, falling apart, and doesn't even collect enough solar energy," reports Popular Me

YouTube's Algorithms Blamed For Brazil's Dangerous Conspiracy Video-Sharing on WhatsApp
Sunday the New York Times reported that YouTube "radicalized" Brazil -- by "systematically" diverting users to conspiracy videos. Yet conventional wisdom in Brazil still puts the blame on WhatsApp, the Times reported in a follow-u

Elon Musk Begins Selling $25 'Nuke Mars' T-Shirts
"Elon Musk tweeted on Thursday evening 'Nuke Mars.' A few hours later he followed it up with 'T-shirt soon'," writes Business Insider. BGR reports: Musk's tweet is a reference to the theory that by dropping one or more larg

US Navy Tests WWII-ERA Messaging Tech: Dropping Bean Bags Onto Ships
Long-time Slashdot reader davidwr writes: In World War II, pilots would air-drop messages onto ships using bean-bags. Just as with sextants a few years ago, the Navy is bringing back old tech, because it works. Just as during

Can JPEG XL Become the Next Free and Open Image Format?
"JPEG XL looks very promising as a next gen replacement for JPEG, PNG and GIF," writes icknay (Slashdot reader #96,963): JPEG was incredibly successful by solving a real problem with a free and open format. Other formats have t

Google Criticized For Vulnerability That Can Trick Its AI Into Deactivating Accounts
In July Google was sued by Tulsi Gabbard, one of 23 Democrats running for president, after Google mistakenly suspended her advertising account. "I believe I can provide assistance on where to focus your discovery efforts," pos


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Exclusive: U.S. set to give Huawei another 90 days to buy from American suppliers - sources
The U.S. Commerce Department is expected to extend a reprieve given to Huawei Technologies that permits the Chinese firm to buy supplies from U.S. companies so that it can service existing customers, two sources familiar with the
Alibaba and the $15 billion question: Amid Hong Kong's protests, when to list?
Hong Kong's political unrest is posing a dilemma for Alibaba Group Holding Ltd on the timing of its planned $15 billion listing in the city, with sources saying China's biggest e-commerce company is now considering several timetab
Trump says he is having dinner Friday with Apple CEO Cook
U.S. President Donald Trump said he was having dinner on Friday with Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook of Apple Inc , a company the president has criticized for not manufacturing more of its products in the United States.
Amazon.com defeats IRS appeal in U.S. tax dispute
Amazon.com Inc on Friday defeated an appeal by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service in what the online retailer has called a $1.5 billion dispute over its tax treatment of transactions with a Luxembourg subsidiary.
Rental firm walks away from Tesla order after quality dispute
Car rental company Nextmove has walked away from a 5 million euros ($5.55 million) order for 85 Tesla Model 3 electric vehicles following a dispute over how to fix quality issues, the German company said on Friday.
BMW's CEO urges staff to narrow sales gap with Mercedes
BMW's new chief executive urged employees to embrace change and to find innovative ways to help the Bavarian carmaker overtake rival Mercedes at a time when demand for luxury cars is waning.
Alibaba to buy Kaola unit from NetEase for $2 billion: Caixin
Kaola, owned by Nasdaq-listed NetEase Inc, sells apparel, household appliances and other products, and is the biggest among Chinese shopping sites selling imported goods, according to a report from consulting agency iiMedia.
Irish regulator near end of first privacy probe, ruling to take months
Ireland's data privacy regulator is close to concluding its first probe into a multinational company under the EU's new privacy laws, likely to involve Facebook's WhatsApp subsidiary, although a formal decision could take months.
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  TechCrunch Show All 
NASA and SpaceX practice Crew Dragon evacuation procedure with astronaut recovery vessel

NASA and SpaceX continue their joint preparations for the eventually astronaut crew missions that SpaceX will fly for the agency, with a test of the emergency evacuation procedure for SpaceX’s GO Searcher seaborne ship. The ship is intended to be used to recover spacecraft and astronauts in an actual mission scenario, and the rehearsals this week are a key part of ensuring mission readiness before an actual crewed SpaceX mission.

Photos from the dress rehearsal, which is the first coordinated end-to-end practice run involving the full NASA and SpaceX mission teams working in concert, saw NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken don SpaceX’s fancy new crew suits and mimic a situation where they needed to be removed from the returned Crew Dragon spacecraft and taken to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station from the GO Searcher by helicopter.

By all accounts, this was a successful exercise and seems to have left parties on both sides happy with the results. Check out photos released by NASA of the dry run below.

[gallery ids="1870192,1870193,1870194,1870195,1870196,1870197,1870198,1870199,1870200,1870201,1870202,1870203,1870204,1870205,1870206,1870207"]

SpaceX and NASA continue to work towards a goal of launching Crew Dragon’s first actual crewed flight this year, though they’ve encountered setbacks that make that potentially impossible, including the explosion of a Crew Dragon test vehicle during a static test fire in April.


Voyage’s driverless future, ghost work, B2B growth strategies, and Black Hat takeaways

Inside Voyage’s plan to deliver a driverless future

In the autonomous vehicle space, startups have taken radically different strategies to building our AV future. Some companies like Waymo have driven all across different types of environments in order to rack up the datasets that they believe will be needed to effectively maneuver without a human driver.

That’s the opposite strategy of Voyage, where CEO and founder Oliver Cameron and his team have focused on driving safety in the incredibly constrained context of two retirement communities.

Our transportation editor Kirsten Korosec talked with the company and analyzes their approach in a new profile for Extra Crunch, and also drops some news about a partnership the company has brewing with a major automotive manufacturer.

Cameron, who shies away from discussing timelines, describes the company as inching toward driverless service.

Its self-driving software has now reached maturation in the communities it is testing in, and Voyage is now focusing on validation, according to Cameron.

Voyage has developed a few systems that will help push it closer to a commercial driverless service while maintaining safety, such as a collision mitigation system that it calls Rango, an internal nickname inspired by the 2011 computer-animated Western action-comedy about a chameleon.

This collision mitigation system is designed to be extremely fast-reacting, like a reptile — hence the Rango name. Rango, which has an independent power source and compute system and uses a different approach to perception than the main self-driving system, is designed to react quickly. If needed, it will engage the full force of the brakes.

Startup ads are taking over the subway

Public transit is just swimming in startup ads. From complete Brex takeovers of the San Francisco Caltrain station to the sleep puzzles posted by Casper across the New York City subway, startups have been taking advantage of this unique out-of-home advertising space. What’s the full story though? Our reporter Anthony Ha takes a look at how the subway ad market came to be in the past few years, and what the future holds for other marketers.


Ikea doubles down on smart home tech with new business unit

Ikea’s smart home investments to date have been smart but scattered – now the Swedish home goods brand says it’s going to amp up its smart home bets with a brand new dedicated business unit.

The company’s smart home endeavors began in 2012, and focused on wireless charging and smart lighting. It’s iterated in both areas since, developing self-installed integrated wireless chargers for its furniture, as well as light/charger combos, and finally with a new partnership with Sonos that produced the Symfonisk line of wireless smart speakers.

Ikea also has its own ambitions in terms of being the hub for future smart home products, not only from a hardware perspective, but also via its Home smart app, which it rebranded from being more strictly focused on its Tradfri line of connected bulbs in June. During the Symfonisk launch, Ikea told me it has broader ambitions for the Home smart app as a central hub for connected home control for its customers.

“At IKEA we want to continue to offer products for a better life at home for the many people going forward. In order to do so we need to explore products and solutions beyond conventional home furnishing,” said Björn Block, Head of the new IKEA Home smart Business Unit at IKEA of Sweden, in a press release from the company.

Ikea also characterized this as its biggest new focus area in terms of the overall business and brand since it introduced its Children’s Ikea line.

The partnership between Sonos and Ikea that produced the Symfonisk line is a long-term one, and both companies told me to expect more products to come out of that team-up in future. But it sounds like Ikea intends to explore how smart home tech might touch all aspects of its business, so it’s fair to anticipate more partnerships and product categories to follow as a result of this new investment focus, too.


SoftBank reportedly plans to lend employees as much as $20 billion to invest in its VC fund

SoftBank has a plant to loan up to $20 billion to its employees, including CEO Masayoshi Son, for the purposes of having that capital re-invested in SoftBank’s own Vision venture fund, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal. That’s a highly unusual move that could be risky in terms of how much exposure SoftBank Group has on the whole in terms of its startup bets, but the upside is that it can potentially fill out as much as a fifth of its newly announced second Vision Fund’s total target raise of $108 billion from a highly aligned investor pool.

SoftBank revealed its plans for its second Vision Fund last month, including $38 billion from SoftBank itself, as well as commitments from Apple, Microsoft and more. The company also took a similar approach to its original Vision Fund, WSJ reports, with stakes from employees provided with loans totalling $8 billion of that $100 billion commitment.

The potential pay-off is big, provided the fund has some solid winners that achieve liquidation events that provide big returns that employees can then use to pay off the original loans, walking away with profit. That’s definitely a risk, however, especially in the current global economic client. As WSJ notes, the Uber shares that Vision Fund I acquired are now worth less than what SoftBank originally paid for them according to sources, and SoftBank bet WeWork looks poised to be another company whose IPO might not make that much, if any, money for later stage investors.


Next Apple Watch could include new ceramic and titanium models

Apple’s next Apple Watch revision could include new materials for the case, including titanium and ceramic. That’s according to new assets pulled form the latest watchOS beta release, as uncovered by Brazilian site iHelp.br (via 9to5Mac). The new screens discovered in the beta show graphics used to pair the Apple Watch during setup, and list “Titanium Case” and “Ceramic Case” alongside model size identification info.

Apple has previously offered a ceramic Apple Watch, alongside its Series 2 and Series 3 models, with a premium price and white and black case options. The company hasn’t previously used titanium, but the lightweight, durable metal is popular among traditional watchmakers because it can really significantly reduce the heft of a watch case, while still providing a premium look and feel.

apple watch titanium ceramci

Last year’s Apple Watch Series 4 was the first significant change in body design for the wearable since its introduction in 2015, so it seems unlikely that Apple will change that this year again. The new physical design includes larger case sizes (40mm and 44mm, respectively, vs. 38mm and 42mm for previous generations), a thinner profile and a display with rounded corners and slimmer bezels.

Offering new materials is a way for Apple to deliver new hardware that is observably new on the outside, in addition to whatever processor and component improvements they make on the inside. Apple will likely also offer these alongside their stainless steel and aluminum models, should they actually be released this fall, and would probably charge a premium for these material options, too.

The Series 4 Apple Watch proved a serious improvement in terms of performance, and added features like the onboard ECG. Splashy new looks likely won’t be the extent of what Apple has planned for Series 5, however, especially since the company is revamping watchOS to be much more independent of the phone, which would benefit from more capable processors.


Privacy researchers devise a noise-exploitation attack that defeats dynamic anonymity

Privacy researchers in Europe believe they have the first proof that a long-theorised vulnerability in systems designed to protect privacy by aggregating and adding noise to data to mask individual identities is no longer just a theory.

The research has implications for the immediate field of differential privacy and beyond — raising wide-ranging questions about how privacy is regulated if anonymization only works until a determined attacker figures out how to reverse the method that’s being used to dynamically fuzz the data.

Current EU law doesn’t recognise anonymous data as personal data. Although it does treat pseudoanonymized data as personal data because of the risk of re-identification.

Yet a growing body of research suggests the risk of de-anonymization on high dimension data sets is persistent. Even — per this latest research — when a database system has been very carefully designed with privacy protection in mind.

It suggests the entire business of protecting privacy needs to get a whole lot more dynamic to respond to the risk of perpetually evolving attacks.

Academics from Imperial College London and Université Catholique de Louvain are behind the new research.

This week, at the 28th USENIX Security Symposium, they presented a paper detailing a new class of noise-exploitation attacks on a query-based database that uses aggregation and noise injection to dynamically mask personal data.

The product they were looking at is a database querying framework, called Diffix — jointly developed by a German startup called Aircloak and the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems.

On its website Aircloak bills the technology as “the first GDPR-grade anonymization” — aka Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, which began being applied last year, raising the bar for privacy compliance by introducing a data protection regime that includes fines that can scale up to 4% of a data processor’s global annual turnover.

What Aircloak is essentially offering is to manage GDPR risk by providing anonymity as a commercial service — allowing queries to be run on a data-set that let analysts gain valuable insights without accessing the data itself. The promise being it’s privacy (and GDPR) ‘safe’ because it’s designed to mask individual identities by returning anonymized results.

The problem is personal data that’s re-identifiable isn’t anonymous data. And the researchers were able to craft attacks that undo Diffix’s dynamic anonymity.

“What we did here is we studied the system and we showed that actually there is a vulnerability that exists in their system that allows us to use their system and to send carefully created queries that allow us to extract — to exfiltrate — information from the data-set that the system is supposed to protect,” explains Imperial College’s Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, one of five co-authors of the paper.

“Differential privacy really shows that every time you answer one of my questions you’re giving me information and at some point — to the extreme — if you keep answering every single one of my questions I will ask you so many questions that at some point I will have figured out every single thing that exists in the database because every time you give me a bit more information,” he says of the premise behind the attack. “Something didn’t feel right… It was a bit too good to be true. That’s where we started.”

The researchers chose to focus on Diffix as they were responding to a bug bounty attack challenge put out by Aircloak.

“We start from one query and then we do a variation of it and by studying the differences between the queries we know that some of the noise will disappear, some of the noise will not disappear and by studying noise that does not disappear basically we figure out the sensitive information,” he explains.

“What a lot of people will do is try to cancel out the noise and recover the piece of information. What we’re doing with this attack is we’re taking it the other way round and we’re studying the noise… and by studying the noise we manage to infer the information that the noise was meant to protect.

“So instead of removing the noise we study statistically the noise sent back that we receive when we send carefully crafted queries — that’s how we attack the system.”

A vulnerability exists because the dynamically injected noise is data-dependent. Meaning it remains linked to the underlying information — and the researchers were able to show that carefully crafted queries can be devised to cross-reference responses that enable an attacker to reveal information the noise is intended to protect.

Or, to put it another way, a well designed attack can accurately infer personal data from fuzzy (‘anonymized’) responses.

This despite the system in question being “quite good,” as de Montjoye puts it of Diffix. “It’s well designed — they really put a lot of thought into this and what they do is they add quite a bit of noise to every answer that they send back to you to prevent attacks”.

“It’s what’s supposed to be protecting the system but it does leak information because the noise depends on the data that they’re trying to protect. And that’s really the property that we use to attack the system.”

The researchers were able to demonstrate the attack working with very high accuracy across four real-world data-sets. “We tried US censor data, we tried credit card data, we tried location,” he says. “What we showed for different data-sets is that this attack works very well.

“What we showed is our attack identified 93% of the people in the data-set to be at risk. And I think more importantly the method actually is very high accuracy — between 93% and 97% accuracy on a binary variable. So if it’s a true or false we would guess correctly between 93-97% of the time.”

They were also able to optimise the attack method so they could exfiltrate information with a relatively low level of queries per user — up to 32.

“Our goal was how low can we get that number so it would not look like abnormal behaviour,” he says. “We managed to decrease it in some cases up to 32 queries — which is very very little compared to what an analyst would do.”

After disclosing the attack to Aircloak, de Montjoye says it has developed a patch — and is describing the vulnerability as very low risk — but he points out it has yet to publish details of the patch so it’s not been possible to independently assess its effectiveness. 

“It’s a bit unfortunate,” he adds. “Basically they acknowledge the vulnerability [but] they don’t say it’s an issue. On the website they classify it as low risk. It’s a bit disappointing on that front. I think they felt attacked and that was really not our goal.”

For the researchers the key takeaway from the work is that a change of mindset is needed around privacy protection akin to the shift the security industry underwent in moving from sitting behind a firewall waiting to be attacked to adopting a pro-active, adversarial approach that’s intended to out-smart hackers.

“As a community to really move to something closer to adversarial privacy,” he tells TechCrunch. “We need to start adopting the red team, blue team penetration testing that have become standard in security.

“At this point it’s unlikely that we’ll ever find like a perfect system so I think what we need to do is how do we find ways to see those vulnerabilities, patch those systems and really try to test those systems that are being deployed — and how do we ensure that those systems are truly secure?”

“What we take from this is really — it’s on the one hand we need the security, what can we learn from security including open systems, verification mechanism, we need a lot of pen testing that happens in security — how do we bring some of that to privacy?”

“If your system releases aggregated data and you added some noise this is not sufficient to make it anonymous and attacks probably exist,” he adds.

“This is much better than what people are doing when you take the dataset and you try to add noise directly to the data. You can see why intuitively it’s already much better.  But even these systems are still are likely to have vulnerabilities. So the question is how do we find a balance, what is the role of the regulator, how do we move forward, and really how do we really learn from the security community?

“We need more than some ad hoc solutions and only limiting queries. Again limiting queries would be what differential privacy would do — but then in a practical setting it’s quite difficult.

“The last bit — again in security — is defence in depth. It’s basically a layered approach — it’s like we know the system is not perfect so on top of this we will add other protection.”

The research raises questions about the role of data protection authorities too.

During Diffix’s development, Aircloak writes on its website that it worked with France’s DPA, the CNIL, and a private company that certifies data protection products and services — saying: “In both cases we were successful in so far as we received essentially the strongest endorsement that each organization offers.”

Although it also says that experience “convinced us that no certification organization or DPA is really in a position to assert with high confidence that Diffix, or for that matter any complex anonymization technology, is anonymous”, adding: “These organizations either don’t have the expertise, or they don’t have the time and resources to devote to the problem.”

The researchers’ noise exploitation attack demonstrates how even a level of regulatory “endorsement” can look problematic. Even well designed, complex privacy systems can contain vulnerabilities and cannot offer perfect protection. 

“It raises a tonne of questions,” says de Montjoye. “It is difficult. It fundamentally asks even the question of what is the role of the regulator here?

When you look at security my feeling is it’s kind of the regulator is setting standards and then really the role of the company is to ensure that you meet those standards. That’s kind of what happens in data breaches.

“At some point it’s really a question of — when something [bad] happens — whether or not this was sufficient or not as a [privacy] defence, what is the industry standard? It is a very difficult one.”

“Anonymization is baked in the law — it is not personal data anymore so there are really a lot of implications,” he adds. “Again from security we learn a lot of things on transparency. Good security and good encryption relies on open protocol and mechanisms that everyone can go and look and try to attack so there’s really a lot at this moment we need to learn from security.

“There’s no going to be any perfect system. Vulnerability will keep being discovered so the question is how do we make sure things are still ok moving forward and really learning from security — how do we quickly patch them, how do we make sure there is a lot of research around the system to limit the risk, to make sure vulnerabilities are discovered by the good guys, these are patched and really [what is] the role of the regulator?

“Data can have bad applications and a lot of really good applications so I think to me it’s really about how to try to get as much of the good while limiting as much as possible the privacy risk.”


Startups Weekly: The mad dash to the public markets

Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about the differences between raising cash from angels and traditional venture capitalists. Before that, I summarized DoorDash’s acquisition of Caviar.

Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to kate.clark@techcrunch.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets. If you don’t subscribe to Startups Weekly yet, you can do that here.


It’s Friday morning and I don’t want to dig into another IPO prospectus. The startups don’t care though, they’re in a mad dash to get to the public markets, reporters be damned.

This week, three billion-dollar venture-backed “unicorns” unveiled S-1 filings, the paperwork necessary to complete an IPO. First came WeWork, the $47 billion co-working giant beloved by SoftBank. Then came Cloudflare, a business that provides web security and denial-of-service protection for websites. Then this morning, after we all thought it was time for a breather, “teledentistry” company SmileDirectClub made its filing public.

There’s plenty to read on each of these high-profile IPOs; here’s a quick reading list:

WeWork

WeWork reveals IPO filing
WeWork’s S-1 misses these three key points
Making sense of WeWork’s S-1 (or trying to)

Cloudflare

Cloudflare files for initial public offering
Cloudflare says cutting off customers like 8chan is an IPO ‘risk factor’
In its IPO filing, Cloudflare thanks a third co-founder: Lee Holloway

SmileDirectClub
SmileDirectClub files to go public amid concerns from dental associations

On to other things…

Meet the startups in Y Combinator’s summer batch
As you may know, YC summer demo days are next week. A whopping 176 companies are expected to present and we’ll be there reporting live, as usual. In preparation, we’ve been cherry-picking companies in the latest batch that interest us. Here’s a look at our latest — more to come:

Equity Podcast
This was a very special week for Equity. We taped two great episodes, one in which we hung out with Axios’ Dan Primack in Boston, the other featuring me recording out of a New York City Blue Bottle Coffee shortly after WeWork dropped its S-1 filing. You can listen to our latest episodes here and here. Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Extra Crunch
In our latest installment of EC-1, in which go deep on an up-and-coming startup, TechCrunch’s Eric Peckham tells the founding story of Kobalt, the world’s next music tech unicorn. Here’s a passage from Peckham’s extensive piece: “You may not have heard of Kobalt before, but you probably engage with the music it oversees every day, if not almost every hour. Combining a technology platform to better track ownership rights and royalties of songs with a new approach to representing musicians in their careers, Kobalt has risen from the ashes of the 2000 dot-com bubble to become a major player in the streaming music era. It is the leading alternative to incumbent music publishers (who represent songwriters) and is building a new model record label for the growing ‘middle class’ of musicians around the world who are stars within niche audiences.”


Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ review

It’s true, you’ve got the Galaxy Note to thank for your big phone. When the device hit the scene at IFA 2011, large screens were still a punchline. That same year, Steve Jobs famously joked about phones with screens larger than four inches, telling a crowd of reporters, “nobody’s going to buy that.”

In 2019, the average screen size hovers around 5.5 inches. That’s a touch larger than the original Note’s 5.3 inches — a size that was pretty widely mocked by much of the industry press at the time. Of course, much of the mainstreaming of larger phones comes courtesy of a much improved screen to body ratio, another place where Samsung has continued to lead the way.

Samsung Galaxy Note10

In some sense, the Note has been doomed by its own success. As the rest of the industry caught up, the line blended into the background. Samsung didn’t do the product any favors by dropping the pretense of distinction between the Note and its Galaxy S line.

Ultimately, the two products served as an opportunity to have a six-month refresh cycle for its flagships. Samsung, of course, has been hit with the same sort of malaise as the rest of the industry. The smartphone market isn’t the unstoppable machine it appeared to be two or three years back.

Like the rest of the industry, the company painted itself into a corner with the smartphone race, creating flagships good enough to convince users to hold onto them for an extra year or two, greatly slowing the upgrade cycle in the process. Ever-inflating prices have also been a part of smartphone sales stagnation — something Samsung and the Note are as guilty of as any.

So what’s a poor smartphone manufacturer to do? The Note 10 represents baby steps. As it did with the S line recently, Samsung is now offering two models. The base Note 10 represents a rare step backward in terms of screen size, shrinking down slightly from 6.4 to 6.3 inches, while reducing resolution from Quad HD to Full HD.

The seemingly regressive step lets Samsung come in a bit under last year’s jaw dropping $1,000. The new Note is only $50 cheaper, but moving from four to three figures may have a positive psychological effect for wary buyers. While the slightly smaller screen coupled with a better screen to body ratio means a device that’s surprisingly slim.

Samsung Galaxy Note10

If anything, the Note 10+ feels like the true successor to the Note line. The baseline device could have just as well been labeled the Note 10 Lite. That’s something Samsung is keenly aware of, as it targets first-time Note users with the 10 and true believers with the 10+. In both cases, Samsung is faced with the same task as the rest of the industry: offering a compelling reason for users to upgrade.

Earlier this week, a Note 9 owner asked me whether the new device warrants an upgrade. The answer is, of course, no. The pace of smartphone innovation has slowed, even as prices have risen. Honestly, the 10 doesn’t really offer that many compelling reasons to upgrade from the Note 8.

That’s not a slight against Samsung or the Note, per se. If anything, it’s a reflection on the fact that these phones are quite good — and have been for a while. Anecdotally, industry excitement around these devices has been tapering for a while now, and the device’s launch in the midst of the doldrums of August likely didn’t help much.

[gallery ids="1865978,1865980,1865979,1865983,1865982,1865990,1866000,1866005,1866004"]

The past few years have seen smartphones transform from coveted, bleeding-edge luxury to necessity. The good news to that end, however, is that the Note continues to be among the best devices out there.

The common refrain in the earliest days of the phablet was the inability to wrap one’s fingers around the device. It’s a pragmatic issue. Certainly you don’t want to use a phone day to day that’s impossible to hold. But Samsung’s remarkable job of improving screen to body ratio continues here. In fact, the 6.8-inch Note 10+ has roughly the same footprint as the 6.4-inch Note 9.

The issue will still persist for those with smaller hands — though thankfully Samsung’s got a solution for them in the Note 10. For the rest of us, the Note 10+ is easily held in one hand and slipped in and out of pants pockets. I realize these seem like weird things to say at this point, but I assure you they were legitimate concerns in the earliest days of the phablet, when these things were giant hunks of plastic and glass.

Samsung Galaxy Note10

Samsung’s curved display once again does much of the heavy lifting here, allowing the screen to stretch nearly from side to side with only a little bezel at the edge. Up top is a hole-punch camera — that’s “Infinity O” to you. Those with keen eyes no doubt immediately noticed that Samsung has dropped the dual selfie camera here, moving toward the more popular hole-punch camera.

The company’s reasoning for this was both aesthetic and, apparently, practical. The company moved back down to a single camera for the front (10 megapixel), using similar reasoning as Google’s single rear-facing camera on the Pixel: software has greatly improved what companies can do with a single lens. That’s certainly the case to a degree, and a strong case can be made for the selfie camera, which we generally require less of than the rear-facing array.

The company’s gone increasingly minimalist with the design language — something I appreciate. Over the years, as the smartphone has increasingly become a day to day utility, the product’s design has increasingly gotten out of its own way. The front and back are both made of a curved Gorilla Glass that butts up against a thin metal form with a total thickness of 7.9 millimeters.

On certain smooth surfaces like glass, you’ll occasionally find the device gliding slightly. I’d say the chances of dropping it are pretty decent with its frictionless design language, so you’re going to want to get a case for your $1,000 phone. Before you do, admire that color scheme on the back. There are four choices in all. Like the rest of the press, we ended up with Aura Glow.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10

It features a lovely, prismatic effect when light hits it. It’s proven a bit tricky to photograph, honestly. It’s also a fingerprint magnet, but these are the prices we pay to have the prettiest phone on the block.

One of the interesting footnotes here is how much the design of the 10 will be defined by what the device lost. There are two missing pieces here — both of which are a kind of concession from Samsung for different reasons. And for different reasons, both feel inevitable.

Samsung Galaxy Note10

The headphone jack is, of course, the biggie. Samsung kicked and screamed on that one, holding onto the 3.5mm with dear life and roundly mocking the competition (read: Apple) at every turn. The company must have known it was a matter of time, even before the iPhone dropped the port three years ago.

Courage.

Samsung Galaxy Note10

Samsung glossed over the end of the jack (and apparently unlisted its Apple-mocking ads in the process) during the Note’s launch event. It was a stark contrast from a briefing we got around the device’s announcement, where the company’s reps spent significantly more time justifying the move. They know us well enough to know that we’d spend a little time taking the piss out of the company after three years of it making the once ubiquitous port a feature. All’s fair in love and port. And honestly, it was mostly just some good-natured ribbing. Welcome to the club, Samsung.

As for why Samsung did it now, the answer seems to be two-fold. The first is a kind of critical mass in Bluetooth headset usage. Allow me to quote myself from a few weeks back:

The tipping point, it says, came when its internal metrics showed that a majority of users on its flagship devices (the S and Note lines) moved to Bluetooth streaming. The company says the number is now in excess of 70% of users.

Samsung Galaxy Note10

Also, as we’re all abundantly aware, the company put its big battery ambitions on hold for a bit, as it dealt with…more burning problems. A couple of recalls, a humble press release and an eight-point battery check later, and batteries are getting bigger again. There’s a 3,500mAh on the Note 10 and a 4,300mAh on the 10+. I’m happy to report that the latter got me through a full day plus three hours on a charge. Not bad, given all of the music and videos I subjected it to in that time.

There’s no USB-C dongle in-box. The rumors got that one wrong. You can pick up a Samsung-branded adapter for $15, or get one for much cheaper elsewhere. There is, however, a pair of AKG USB-C headphones in-box. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Samsung doesn’t get enough credit for its free headphones. I’ve been known to use the pairs with other devices. They’re not the greatest the world, but they’re better sounding and more comfortable than what a lot of other companies offer in-box.

Obviously the standard no headphone jack things apply here. You can’t use the wired headphones and charge at the same time (unless you go wireless). You know the deal.

Samsung Galaxy Note10

The other missing piece here is the Bixby button. I’m sure there are a handful of folks out there who will bemoan its loss, but that’s almost certainly a minority of the minority here. Since the button was first introduced, folks were asking for the ability to remap it. Samsung finally relented on that front, and with the Note 10, it drops the button altogether.

Thus far the smart assistant has been a disappointment. That’s due in no small part to a late launch compared to the likes of Siri, Alexa and Assistant, coupled with a general lack of capability at launch. In Samsung’s defense, the company’s been working to fix that with some pretty massive investment and a big push to court developers. There’s hope for Bixby yet, but a majority of users weren’t eager to have the assistant thrust upon them.

Instead, the power button has been shifted to the left of the device, just under the volume rocker. I preferred having it on the other side, especially for certain functions like screenshotting (something, granted, I do much more than the average user when reviewing a phone). That’s a pretty small quibble, of course.

Samsung Galaxy Note10

Bixby can now be quickly accessed by holding down the power button. Handily, Samsung still lets you reassign the function there, if you really want Bixby out of your life. You can also hold down to get the power off menu or double press to launch Bixby or a third-party app (I opted for Spotify, probably my most used these days), though not a different assistant.

Imaging, meanwhile, is something Samsung’s been doing for a long time. The past several generations of S and Note devices have had great camera systems, and it continues to be the main point of improvement. It’s also one of few points of distinction between the 10 and 10+, aside from size.

Samsung Galaxy Note10

The Note 10+ has four, count ’em, four rear-facing cameras. They are as follows:

  • Ultra Wide: 16 megapixel
  • Wide: 12 megapixel
  • Telephoto: 12 megapixel
  • DepthVision

Samsung Galaxy Note10

That last one is only on the plus. It’s comprised of two little circles to the right of the primary camera array and just below the flash. We’ll get to that in a second.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10

The main camera array continues to be one of the best in mobile. The inclusion of telephoto and ultra-wide lenses allow for a wide range of different shots, and the hardware coupled with machine learning makes it a lot more difficult to take a bad photo (though believe me, it’s still possible).

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The live focus feature (Portrait mode, essentially) comes to video, with four different filters, including Color Point, which makes everything but the subject black and white.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10

Samsung’s also brought a very simple video editor into the mix here, which is nice on the fly. You can edit the length of clips, splice in other clips, add subtitles and captions and add filters and music. It’s pretty beefy for something baked directly into the camera app, and one of the better uses I’ve found for the S Pen.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10

Note 10+ with Super Steady (left), iPhone XS (right)

Ditto for the improved Super Steady offering, which smooths out shaky video, including Hyperlapse mode, where handshakes are a big issue. It works well, but you do lose access to other features, including zoom. For that reason, it’s off by default and should be used relatively sparingly.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10

Note 10+ (left), iPhone XS (right)

Zoom-on Mic is a clever addition, as well. While shooting video, pinch-zooming on something will amplify the noise from that area. I’ve been playing around with it in this cafe. It’s interesting, but less than perfect.

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Zooming into something doesn’t exactly cancel out ambient noise from outside of the frame. Everything still gets amplified in the process and, like digital picture zoom, a lot of noise gets added in the process. Those hoping for a kind of spy microphone, I’m sorry/happy to report that this definitely is not that.

Screen Shot 2019 08 16 at 5.43.43 PM 2

The DepthVision Camera is also pretty limited as I write this. If anything, it’s Samsung’s attempt to brace for a future when things like augmented reality will (theoretically) play a much larger role in our mobile computing. In a conversation I had with the company ahead of launch, they suggested that a lot of the camera’s AR functions will fall in the hands of developers.

For now, Quick Measure is the one practical use. The app is a lot like Apple’s more simply titled Measure. Fire it up, move the camera around to get a lay of the land and it will measure nearby objects for you. An interesting showcase for AR potential? Sure. Earth shattering? Naw. It also seems to be a bit of a battery drain, sucking up the last few bits of juice as I was running it down.

3D Scanner, on the other hand, got by far the biggest applause line of the Note event. And, indeed, it’s impressive. In the stage demo, a Samsung employee scanned a stuffed pink beaver (I’m not making this up), created a 3D image and animated it using an associate’ movements. Practical? Not really. Cool? Definitely.

It was, however, not available at press time. Hopefully it proves to be more than vaporware, especially if that demo helped push some viewers over to the 10+. Without it, there’s just not a lot of use for the depth camera at the moment.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10

There’s also AR Doodle, which fills a similar spot as much of the company’s AR offerings. It’s kind of fun, but again, not particularly useful. You’ll likely end up playing with it for a few minutes and forget about it entirely. Such is life.

The feature is built into the camera app, using depth sensing to orient live drawings. With the stylus you can draw in space or doodle on people’s faces. It’s neat, the AR works okay and I was bored with it in about three minutes. Like Quick Measure, the feature is as much a proof of concept as anything. But that’s always been a part of Samsung’s kitchen-sink approach — some combination of useful and silly.

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That said, points to Samsung for continuing to de-creepify AR Emojis. Those have moved firmly away from the uncanny valley into something more cartoony/adorable. Less ironic usage will surely follow.

Asked about the key differences between the S and Note lines, Samsung’s response was simple: the S Pen. Otherwise, the lines are relatively interchangeable.

Samsung Galaxy Note10

Samsung’s return of the stylus didn’t catch on for handsets quite like the phablet form factor. They’ve made a pretty significant comeback for tablets, but the Note remains fairly singular when it comes to the S Pen. I’ve never been a big user myself, but those who like it swear by it. It’s one of those things like the ThinkPad pointing stick or BlackBerry scroll wheel.

Like the phone itself, the peripheral has been streamlined with a unibody design. Samsung also continues to add capabilities. It can be used to control music, advance slideshows and snap photos. None of that is likely to convince S Pen skeptics (I prefer using the buttons on the included headphones for music control, for example), but more versatility is generally a good thing.

If anything is going to convince people to pick up the S Pen this time out, it’s the improved handwriting recognition. That’s pretty impressive. It was even able to decipher my awful chicken scratch.

Note 10

You get the same sort of bleeding-edge specs here you’ve come to expect from Samsung’s flagships. The 10+ gets you a baseline 256GB of storage (upgradable to 512), coupled with a beefy 12GB of RAM (the regular Note is a still good 8GB/256GB). The 5G version sports the same numbers and battery (likely making its total life a bit shorter per charge). That’s a shift from the S10, whose 5G version was specced out like crazy. Likely Samsung is bracing for 5G to become less of a novelty in the next year or so.

The new Note also benefits from other recent additions, like the in-display fingerprint reader and wireless power sharing. Both are nice additions, but neither is likely enough to warrant an immediate upgrade.

Samsung Galaxy Note10

Once again, that’s not an indictment of Samsung, so much as a reflection of where we are in the life cycle of a mature smartphone industry. The Note 10+ is another good addition to one of the leading smartphone lines. It succeeds as both a productivity device (thanks to additions like DeX and added cross-platform functionality with Windows 10) and an everyday handset.

There’s not enough on-board to really recommend an upgrade from the Note 8 or 9 — especially at that $1,099 price. People are holding onto their devices for longer, and for good reason (as detailed above). But if you need a new phone, are looking for something big and flashy and are willing to splurge, the Note continues to be the one to beat.

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