An iPhone is your only option on Virgin Mobile

It’s no secret that American carriers sell a lot of iPhones. Virgin Mobile, however, is taking that to a logical extreme. The Sprint sub-brand has announced that it’s the US’ first iPhone-only carrier as of June 27th — if you don’t like iOS, you’ll have to head elsewhere. In return for the exclusivity, you’ll get a fairly good rate as well as some potentially juicy promos.

You’ll normally pay $ 50 per month for unlimited talk, texting and data, with the potential for “deprioritized” data (read: it may slow down) if you use more than 23GB per month. There are no commitment. However, you’ll get 6 months of service for $ 1 if you buy an iPhone and sign up — and those who enlist before July 31st will get a full year of service for the same buck. Also, Virgin is selling the iPhone SE at a starting price of $ 279 ($ 379 for 128GB), well under Apple’s usual $ 399. Combine those with perks with Virgin brands (such as a round-trip companion ticket to the UK on Virgin Atlantic) and sales of used devices and it may be tempting to switch over, at least if you’re looking for a new iPhone.

We’ve asked Apple about the extent of its involvement and whether or not more is planned down the line, and we’ll let you know if there’s anything it can add. Regardless, it’s an audacious move. Apple may be playing it safe by partnering with a relatively small carrier like Virgin (Sprint can still count on its own brand and Boost Mobile), but you don’t really see providers limiting themselves to one manufacturer — even fledgling networks like Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile have some diversity. Apple and Virgin are clearly betting that many Americans are more interested in a sweet deal on iPhone service than a wide choice of devices.

Via: 9to5Mac

Source: Virgin Mobile

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Samsung ready to relaunch the Galaxy Note line in August

Samsung isn’t letting the Galaxy Note 7’s battery failure hinder the release schedule for its next pen-toting smartphone. A Reuters source understands that Samsung is planning a New York City launch event for the Galaxy Note 8 in August, or roughly around the same time as it introduced the Note 7 last year. The tipster hasn’t revealed many details of the phone itself, but does appear to corroborate earlier rumors. It’ll have a curved screen slightly larger than the 6.2-inch display on the Galaxy S8 Plus, the source says, and there should be an iPhone 7 Plus-like dual camera setup on the back.

There’s no indication that Samsung is being overly hasty in launching the Note 8 on a familiar schedule. The safety processes that emerged from the Note 7 debacle were already in place for the S8, which isn’t known to have run into any battery fires so far. In other words, there’s no reason why it can’t get back to business as usual.

All the same, it’s apparent that Samsung still feels pressured to launch the new Note sooner than later. It not only has to worry about courting skittish buyers (particularly fans who had to return their Note 7s), but preempting what could be one of the larger iPhone launches in recent memory. If it can deliver the Note 8 in August, it might steal a bit of Apple’s thunder and hold on to customers that might otherwise look for alternatives.

Source: Reuters

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Verizon’s first LTE-only handset is an LG flip phone

When Verizon finished rolling out its LTE network for calls, it became apparent that it also plans to drop its CDMA phone service altogether. Now, the carrier has begun offering its first LTE-only handset to subscribers, and it’s obviously an attempt to lure people who prefer basic feature phones over smartphones away from the legacy network. The LG Exalt LTE is a flip feature phone, and even though it looks much nicer and sturdier than its plasticky counterparts, it’s still far removed from the advanced devices we’re used to today.

Its specs underline that it’s definitely not something for those expecting everything an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy S8 can offer. The Exalt has an unnamed 1.1 GHz Snapdragon processor, a 3-inch WQVGA screen, a 5-megapixel camera, text-to-speech function, up to six hours of battery life, 8GB of storage and support for microSD cards up to 32GB. For people who just want a phone that makes clear voice calls, though, it could be more than enough. Since its calls go through Verizon’s LTE network, it takes advantage of the carrier’s HD Voice feature that delivers high-resolution sound.

LG’s Exalt LTE is available from Verizon’s website right now for $ 7 a month for two years or $ 168 up front. If it successfully entices feature phone lovers into upgrading, then the carrier can finally dedicate its CDMA network to powering internet of things devices.

Source: LG

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Microsoft Pix Camera imitates Prisma with its AI-powered filters

Microsoft Pix Camera uses artificial intelligence to make your pictures of people better. It uses algorithms behind the scenes to analyze the 10 frames it snaps for every picture you take, looking for sharpness, exposure and even facial expressions to make sure you get the very best shot. It even takes good data from the pictures it doesn’t use to enhance the photos it chooses. The app, launched last summer and just updated, now offers new filters that can help you make your photos look like real works of art.

These artsy filters may sound a lot like what standalone app, Prisma, does, but Microsoft’s implementation was developed by Microsoft’s Asia research lab in collaboration with Skype. According to a company blog post, Pix Styles use texture, pattern, and tones learned by deep neural networks from famous works of art instead of altering the photo uniformly like other similar apps. Microsoft researcher Josh Weisberg told Engadget that the app uses two different techniques, run in tandem to save time, to produce these effects. “Our approach lends itself to styles based on source images (that are used to train the network) that are not paintings, such as the fire effect,” he said in an email.

The initial 11 Styles filters are named Glass, Petals, Bacau, Charcoal, Heart, Fire, Honolulu, Zing, Pop, Glitter and Ripples — more will be added in the coming weeks. Pix Paintings creates a timeline of your picture as if it were being painted in real time, giving you a short video of its creation. The Paintings feature is accessed with a button that shows up when you apply a new Style, and you can share or save the resulting short video (or GIF) it makes, too.

“These are meant to be fun features,” said Microsoft’s Josh Weisberg in a blog post. “In the past, a lot of our efforts were focused on using AI and deep learning to capture better moments and better image quality. This is more about fun. I want to do something cool and artistic with my photos.”

All this AI magic works right on your iPhone or iPad and won’t access the cloud, saving your data plan and decreasing your wait time. You can still use Pix’s other features with the new styles, adding frames and cropping your still photos. Microsoft Pix Camera is available now in the App Store and as a free update to existing owners, as well.

Source: Microsoft Blog, Microsoft/Twitter

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CNBC: Apple wants the iPhone to manage your medical history

Apple has been working on a hush-hush project that would make your whole medical history more accessible, according to CNBC. The tech titan reportedly wants to turn your iPhone into a repository for every diagnosis, lab test result, prescription, health info and doctor’s comment. That way, you don’t have to go through a bunch of emails to find that one test result sent as a PDF attachment or to have your previous doctor send data over to your new one. All you need to do to share any part of your medical history is to look fire up your iPhone.

According to CNBC, Cupertino is attempting to replicate what it did for music: it wants to create sort of an iTunes for health that would serve as a centralized management system for all your medical info. Apple is reportedly already in talks with various hospitals and health IT industry groups to work out the best way to make its vision a reality. One of those groups is “The Argonaut Project,” an initiative promoting the widespread adoption of open standards for health info, while the other is “The Carin Alliance,” an organization that wants to give patients control over their own medical data.

It’s unclear how far into the project Apple is at this point, but it sounds like the tech titan plans to store all your data on the cloud, since it has already started talking to cloud storage startups. If the company succeeds into making your full medical history available on the iPhone, it will solve what the medical industry calls “interoperability crisis.” That’s the lack of data-sharing between health providers that could lead to unnecessary mistakes and missed diagnoses that could be fatal for some patients.

Source: CNBC

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Essential’s exclusivity deal with Sprint might not be so bad

Few Android phones have generated the enthusiasm that Essential’s PH-1 has. If you haven’t been keeping up, it’s a very pretty, surprisingly clever smartphone from Andy Rubin, one of the men responsible for unleashing Android upon the world.

On the flip side, few US wireless carriers have fared as poorly as Sprint. In terms of subscribers, it’s in last place out of the Big Four. So, it was a surprise for these two companies come together to cook up an exclusivity deal of sorts: Sprint gets to be the exclusive US carrier for the PH-1, leaving Essential to sell unlocked models to everyone else.

This seemed, in a word, dumb. In an interview with USA Today, Essential President Niccolo de Masi said the company took the leap with Sprint because it likes to “bet where the market is going as opposed to where the market was.” He went on to add that Sprint is the “network of the future,” which is probably the nicest thing anyone under contractual obligation has ever said about the carrier. At this point, it’s a little difficult to imagine the pendulum of fortune swinging back in Sprint’s direction, but that doesn’t matter. The thing to remember is that while this isn’t a perfect deal, it’s still a deal. That’s more than most of Essential’s premium, unlocked competition have. Even better, Essential gets to have its cake and eat it too.

Remember: The PH-1 looks a lot like a love letter to Android’s power users. (I affectionately refer to them as the OnePlus crowd.) They like insane performance, thoughtful design and straight talk; they abhor compromise. OnePlus is a great example of a company that has been chasing this flagship dream for years and done well. Essential is ready to compete in this very specific market. For all the people who prefer to skip middlemen and get their devices straight from the source, Essential has you covered. Just buy it unlocked, pop a SIM in there, and have a great time.

Essential

The deal with Sprint just opens extra doors. If nothing else, Essential gets access to marketing money that it may have been unwilling to shell out itself. In case you haven’t been keeping track, Sprint is actually trying really hard to get back into people’s good graces. I’m not talking about those obnoxious “post-Verizon glasses guy” ads either (though some people seem inordinately fond of them).

Look at their most recent ploy: Customers who are willing to switch from their current carriers basically get an extended, one-year trial run of Sprint service for basically nothing. (You pay for a SIM and cover a small administrative fee each month.) Sprint has admitted that this won’t actually make it much money — instead, it’s a pretty naked grab for subscribers that could help liven up its next earnings release. It’s a clear sign that Sprint will do what it has to to stay in the fight. If it thinks it has a handle on the next big thing — which it might — we may see Essential ads on TV. Your Top-40-FM binge may break into a polished, 30-second Essential spot. Most important, you may be able to walk into a store and see what an Essential phone is like, and talk to a staff that’s been trained on it. By settling on a deal, Essential gets a whole new front in its war for success.

That Essential couldn’t close this kind of deal with a bigger carrier like Verizon or AT&T is telling. There’s very little detail available on Essential’s approach to software. We know that PH-1 will run Android, and that Essential founder Rubin was trying very hard to keep carrier apps off the device at launch. I suspect that was a big sticking point for other carriers. Whether you like Sprint or not, it isn’t nearly as bad as its rivals.

I mean, have you seen all the crap that comes on a Verizon phone? This junk software falls into two major categories: apps that have been pre-installed because of some lucrative partnership, or shortcuts that point to app listings in the Play Store (presumably because those companies didn’t want to pay as much). Verizon cut a deal with Google to sell its high-end Pixels to its customers, but come on — it was Google. Of course Verizon was going to figure something out. Essential obviously doesn’t have that kind of clout or leverage (yet).

AT&T is no saint in all this either. It generally adds less trash in favor of cross-promotional DirecTV nonsense that’s difficult for normal users to get rid of. And let’s not forget how many times AT&T has been burned by taking a chance on an exclusive phone deal over the years. Let’s see: there was the big stuff, like Amazon’s Fire Phone, Facebook and HTC’s First, the Padfone X … the list goes on. AT&T gets points for gumption, but the last time it really got an exclusivity deal right was with the iPhone 10 years ago.

If Sprint pledged some marketing muscle and promised not to screw about with Essential software, it’s hard to see how Essential could’ve refused. Andy Rubin’s new brainchild has little to lose and everything to gain from this tie-up. As for Sprint, it’s been batted around by the market for awhile, anyway — if it could survive that, it’ll survive a potentially misguided exclusivity play. Like I said, this isn’t a perfect deal, but a having a deal at all is better than nothing.

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Apple issues billion-dollar ‘green’ bond to support clean projects

Just because Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris climate agreement doesn’t mean the American people are going to go along with him. Cities, states and private companies from around the nation have already pledged to abide by the rules set forth in that accord, even if the federal government won’t. And, on Tuesday, Apple put its money where its resistance is by issuing a billion dollar bond for financing clean energy and other green projects.

This move comes a year after the company issued a similar $ 1.5 billion bond after the Paris climate agreement was ratified in 2015. “Leadership from the business community is essential to address the threat of climate change and protect our shared planet, Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, told Reuters.

That money will go towards efforts to improve the energy efficiency of Apple’s own facilities, as well as throughout its supply chain, by financing renewable energy, procuring more recycled and renewable source materials so as to reduce its need to mine for them. For example, one of the 16 projects that Apple financed with its original bond last year was Liam, the robotic iPhone disassembler.

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Google hires designer behind Apple’s mobile chips

Google wasn’t shy about targeting its Pixel phones at iPhone users (it even helped them migrate), and now that similarity could extend to the processors under the hood. Variety has discovered that Google recently hired Manu Gulati, a key chip designer at Apple, to become its lead system-on-chip architect. While Gulati’s LinkedIn profile doesn’t say much about what he’s doing, sources claim that Google hired him with the goal of designing its own CPUs for Pixel phones. It’s looking for more chip experts, too, and has posted job listings or a “mobile SoC CPU architect” and similar roles.

We’ve reached out to Google for comment and will let you know if it can elaborate on the hire.

It’s not completely shocking that Google would go this route: there were rumblings in 2016 about Pixel phones eventually adopting custom processors. The big concern is whether or not it’s practical. Apple, Huawei and Samsung can all justify in-house CPUs because they sell many millions of devices every quarter. Google hasn’t divulged Pixel sales, but it’s safe to say they’re nowhere near as large as more established rivals with wider availability and bigger marketing budgets. If Variety is accurate, Google is betting either on the Pixel line’s continued growth or is willing to take the likely financial hit that comes with making chips in smaller batches.

The custom chip strategy could also make Google’s Android partners nervous. They’ve had to accept Google as a hardware competitor for years, to varying degrees, but they’ve also known that Nexus and Pixel phones were using off-the-shelf chips that reduced their ability to stand out. If Google can give itself a performance advantage through custom processors, that would change the game. The Pixel line would have an edge over the sea of Snapdragon-based phones on the market, and it might fare better against Huawei and Samsung phones. Apple wouldn’t have as much to worry about (it’s the only choice for iOS, after all), but it might sweat a bit if Google can brag about its hardware brawn.

Source: Variety, LinkedIn

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What we’re listening to in June

We spend every minute of the working day bringing you news, reviews and features on every aspect of technology. Like everyone else, though, we also use tech outside of work hours. Last month we launched a new series about the gadgets we use every day, the apps and services we can’t live without and what we watch and play.

This week, it’s time for music and podcasts. We start with a personal story from Dana Wollman on her on-again-off-again relationship with podcasts, before four other editors offer quick takes on the music and shows they’ve been obsessing over this month.


Dana Wollman

Dana Wollman
Executive Editor

The first time I tried to get into podcasts, it was to impress a guy. He loved podcasts, so I was going to love them too. Looking back, my early collection mostly amounted to NPR’s greatest hits, with a few other public radio standards thrown in. Think: Planet Money, Marketplace, Radiolab, This American Life. Generally speaking, it was basic stuff, with a heavy dose of pundits engaged in rambling conversation.

Being the purist I am, I made myself back-listen to older episodes that had piled up, even news programs like NPR Politics that, by definition, had a limited shelf life. It didn’t help that I had a tendency to listen precisely when my concentration was at its most impaired. Pro tip: If you’re riding the train home drunk from Brooklyn to Harlem at 2AM on a Sunday morning, Ira Glass’s voice isn’t the best pick-me-up.

Soon enough, I burned out. I went on to date men who were indifferent to podcasts, and I ignored all of you as you grew obsessed with Serial. I continued to appear as guest on various programs — including Engadget’s own! — but never subscribed to any myself.

When I finally did give podcasts another try, it was also because of a guy — one who I didn’t want to think about any more.

Incidentally, when I finally did give podcasts another try, it was also because of a guy — one I didn’t want to think about anymore. I had to get out of my head, away from my tired Spotify playlists and daydreams of running into him on the street.

This time around, I started with S-Town from the team behind Serial and This American Life, which launched to critical acclaim about a month before my current podcast kick. Despite those accolades, I somehow loved it even more than I expected. No longer was I nodding off on the train, losing 10-, 15-, 20-minute chunks. I was listening intently, on my commute to work, and then home again. When I walked through my door, the episode continued, on my phone or laptop speaker.

This was aural literature and, indeed, I was as reluctant to finish it as I would have been a great novel. I wanted to talk to people about the storytelling, the narrative arc, the ethical problems with delving into the life of a man who never consented to be profiled, per se. I even tried to get my dad (a book lover in his own right) to give podcasts, and S-Town in particular, a try. Who was I?

The truth is, I like my brain better on podcasts. I’m learning, I’m thinking critically and I’m not ruminating — or if I am, it’s nowadays usually not about myself. In my case, podcasts have distracted me from disappointment and sadness. But I’ve heard various friends say the same, including people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and others still who would otherwise find their workweek dull and repetitive.

In addition to S-Town, I’ve binge-listened to Codebreaker, The Leap and Still Processing, along with the first season of Serial. You guys were right: It’s pretty good. For politics, my current diet includes Pod Save America, Lovett or Leave It and the occasional Pod Save the People, with a tolerable amount of overlap there. My Dad Wrote a Porno is the only podcast that can make me laugh out loud on the subway, though I’ve also been enjoying 2 Dope Queens, a standup-comedy roundup hosted by Jessica Williams ofThe Daily Show fame.

Not everything I’ve tried has stuck. I feel like the only human on the planet who doesn’t find Jordan, Jesse, Go! funny. I listened to Missing Richard Simmons with interest but ultimately found it ethically suspect, with one interview, in particular, amounting to a character assassination. I also gave The Human Race from Runner’s World, Girl Friday and New York Magazine‘s Sex Lives a try, but haven’t yet committed to any of them.

I did also give news podcasts another shot, by the way. The Daily from the The New York Times is a 20-minute morning podcast in which host Michael Barbaro interviews two or so Times reporters about whatever big story they broke the afternoon or evening before. I’ve been enjoying the concise length, the added insight and, in particular, the behind-the-scenes element of hearing journalists discuss their work. Even so, listening to The Daily still sometimes feels like eating my vegetables before I can proceed to dessert (in this case, true crime stories and tales of dating schadenfreude). Maybe news podcasts really aren’t my jam.

My Favorite Murder

Jessica Conditt

Jessica Conditt
Senior Reporter

Like many women across the world, my life is tinged with the subtle yet constant anxiety that, one day, when I least expect it, I’m going to be raped and murdered. On top of this anxiety — or perhaps because of it — I’ve sustained a lifelong obsession with the macabre mental processes of serial killers. How do they choose their victims? Why do they do such horrific things? Would I be able to spot a murderous sociopath at the bar? Would he be able to spot me?

My Favorite Murder doesn’t answer all of these questions, but it scratches all of my most morbid itches. It’s hosted by two hilarious women, Georgia Hardstark (Drunk History) and Karen Kilgariff (Mr. Show), who manage to infuse the most disturbing descriptions of brutality with sarcasm, wit and warmth. My Favorite Murder is a podcast about the violent death of innocence, but it feels more like a slumber party at Rory and Lorelai Gilmore’s house.

True crime has been hot since Serial and Making a Murderer burst onto the scene, and there’s no shortage of podcasts covering crazed killers. But My Favorite Murder occupies a unique space within the genre. Consider The Last Podcast on the Left: It’s a fantastic show that happens to be hosted by a group of dudes who often dive into murders from the perspective of the killers, using words like “prostitute” to describe female victims without pause. My Favorite Murder tends to focus just as much attention on the killers and the victims, often with an undertone of, “That could have been any of us.” This is usually followed by a joke about the dangers of men with briefcases, of course.

My Favorite Murder has spawned a litany of fan-favorite lines, including “Fuck politeness,” “You’re in a cult. Call your dad,” and “Stay out of the forest.” But, the show’s sign-off offers a perfect summary of its place in the true-crime podcasting universe: “Stay sexy and don’t get murdered.”

Future Islands

Jamie Rigg

Jamie Rigg
Reviews Editor, Engadget UK

I swear by my Spotify Discover playlist, but first thing on a Monday morning, my brain typically relegates it to white noise. On this initial playthrough, it’s rare a track stands out enough to steal my attention away from stimulants and Twitter. One recent such song, however, was “Vireo’s Eye” by Future Islands; thus started a several weeklong binge of the band’s back catalog.

The dominant bassline and muffled, repeating vocals of “Vireo’s Eye” gave me serious Cure vibes, leading me to believe Future Islands were an ’80s group that had somehow passed me by. I was surprised to see, then, that the synthpop act — Wikipedia’s description, not mine (I’m useless at genre determination) — had released a new album just a few weeks before my fortuitous discovery.

Turns out that Future Islands have only been around for the past decade, but the influence of late-20th-century rock and pop is palpable throughout their music. And that is very much my jam — or one of them, at least. For a time, the five albums available on Spotify were even upgraded to offline download status, which is quite the honor considering storage space on my 16GB iPhone is at a premium.

Not all of Future Islands’ tracks are quite as anthemic as “Vireo’s Eye,” which is the perfect introduction to their signature sound of slightly OTT vocals, commanding bass guitar, melancholic undertones and healthy doses of synth. It’s variety within the band’s catalog that’s kept me coming back, though. “Walking Through That Door” and “Long Flight” are relatively high-intensity, whereas “The Great Fire” and “Where I Found You” sound like tracks pulled from Donnie Darko‘s slow-dance playlist. Then there’s the aching vocals on “Beach Foam,” which make it one of my favorites.

A friend tells me that vocalist Samuel Herring is even more charismatic live than he sounds on studio recordings, so I’ll most definitely be catching a Future Islands gig the next time the opportunity presents itself.

The Handsome Rambler

Timothy J. Seppala

Timothy J. Seppala
Associate Editor

Hannibal Burress isn’t the only comedian with a podcast, but he’s the only one I listen to. In fact, The Handsome Rambler is the only podcast I listen to, period. Like my boss Dana, I took an extended break from podcasts, but my reasoning was I got tired of listening to video game shows and not having a commute means my time for listening was basically nonexistent. And when I’m home, I’d rather listen to music than talking heads or my TV. After switching over from night shift recently, though, I started walking a few miles a day for exercise and needed a soundtrack for my jaunts — something to completely zone out to and take my mind off from work and current events. At the recommendation of my coworker Richard Lawler, I gave Rambler a spin.

I’m a stand-up comedy nerd and have devoured almost everything Burress has put out in the past few years. I even saw him play in Michigan last fall. I’m not sure what I was expecting out of Rambler but what’s there never fails to make me smile. The show isn’t him just testing out new material or talking solo into a mic for an hour. More often than not, it’s just Burress having a conversation with his friend and touring companion Tony Trim about everything from the Airbnb reviews they’ve gotten, life on the road and the different “energies” everyone gives off.

The best parts, though, are the commercials. A running joke is that once he finishes his comedy career, he’s going to become a rapper and producer. He doesn’t have a record contract, so commercials for MeUndies, Seat Geek and Squarespace are his outlet. They’re absurd in the best way possible, usually freestyle rapped over a beat from Trim. There’s no real way to do them justice by describing them, though, but know that Autotune and a Moog Theremini appear in the most random places at the most random times. Listen to the SoundCloud embed above to hear what I’m talking about.

Lofi Hip Hop Radio

Nick Summers

Nick Summers
Associate Editor, Engadget UK

At the peak of Vine’s popularity, I was obsessed with a six-second subgenre that blended classic anime moments with relaxing, jazz-infused beats. I’ve seen the terms “vaporwave” and “chillwave” attached to the movement, but honestly, I have no idea if they’re accurate — music categorization isn’t my forte. What I can confirm is their sumptuous tone and considered, note-perfect editing. Studio Ghibli films were a popular choice, no doubt because of their slow, melancholic tone. Cowboy Bebop, Akira and Neon Genesis Evangelion would crop up too, slowly stretching the genre and the people that stumbled upon it.

Vine’s collapse left a Spike Spiegel-shaped hole in my heart. Thankfully, a similar community has popped up on YouTube. Channels like AnimeVibe and Lophee are posting the same sort of music in full, but with anime stills or fanart in the background. The thoughtful editing is gone, and while that’s a shame, I can still appreciate the music and nostalgic anime callbacks. My favorite upload, however, is a 24-hour livestream managed by “ChilledCow.” It’s a nonstop playlist of lo-fi hip hop that is constantly updated with new tracks from up-and-coming beat-makers. For a writer like me, it’s the perfect office soundtrack.

The legality of such a setup is unclear. From what I can tell, ChilledCow has (or at least seeks) permission from all of the artists he or she streams. YouTube, however, was never designed to support internet radio, and I have a hunch this playlist breaks some service terms somewhere. Regardless, it’s a hypnotic, serene and lovingly crafted playlist that never fails to brighten my mood. The looping GIF ripped straight from Studio Ghibli’s Whisper of the Heart. The live chat box that slowly scrolls by as new listeners voice their appreciation. It’s a weird but wonderful corner of the internet — one that I hope keeps streaming for many months to come.


“IRL” is a recurring column in which the Engadget staff run down what they’re buying, using, playing and streaming.

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The Morning After: Friday, June 9th 2017

Hey, good morning! You look fabulous.

As this week wraps up we’re getting you ready for E3, and digging into Boston Dynamics’ new owner. Plus: A peek inside the new iMac.


The Japanese company has a ‘vision of catalyzing the next wave of smart robotics.’Softbank buys Boston Dynamics (and its robots) from Google

It’s been over a year since Google’s parent company Alphabet said it wanted to sell its robotics company Boston Dynamics, and now it has a buyer: Softbank. The Japanese company has been working on its own robots for years, including the helpful Pepper, and now they’ll be under the same umbrella as Handle, Big Dog, Atlas, WildCat and all the rest.


So many leaks that the company put out their own images.OnePlus shows off the OnePlus 5 – at an intentionally specific angle

It’s only been two days since OnePlus announced the June 20th launch date for its upcoming OnePlus 5 flagship phone, but it didn’t take long before leaks started to appear. With that dual camera, LED flash, antenna bands and shade of gray, commenters were quick to point out the heavy resemblance between this device and the iPhone 7 Plus, which is presumably why OnePlus decided to post the above image to make a point. Indeed, from this angle, the OnePlus 5 appears to feature a unique outline running from the side to the top. But, well, besides that, it still looks a lot like an iPhone.


It’s not done yetNASA’s Mars 2020 concept is perfect for Space Batman

NASA showed off a futuristic-looking concept of the Mars 2020 rover with a shiny black body and intimidating wheels at the Kennedy Space Center. If you think that it looks like it popped right out of a superhero movie or a video game than an actual vehicle meant to explore the red planet, then you’re right.


The ultimate GoProGoPro finally shows its all-in-one 360-degree shooter.

The first action camera from GoPro made for shooting 360-degree video is this Fusion. It has a 5.2K resolution but is still only a shade larger than the Hero5 Black. Despite this early preview, key facts like how much it will cost are still unknown.


Throw-and-go aerial selfie revolution isn’t quite here just yet.Flying the DJI Spark drone by waving your hand isn’t as great as it sounds

James Trew has been waving his arms at drones for the last few weeks. No, his brain hasn’t finally broken — he was testing out the DJI Spark. The drone, which can be controlled by gestures. may have an innovative new control method, but James believes it’s not quite the spontaneous, simple experience it needs to be for new drone owners.


But it isn’t easy and it will void your warrantyIt is technically possible to replace the RAM and CPU in a new iMac

While we tested what it’s like to use one of Apple’s newest all-in-ones, iFixit took their usual route of pulling one apart to see what’s inside. They found CPU and RAM that aren’t soldered to the motherboard which is a good thing for upgrades and repairs, but there’s just one small catch. Accessing them requires removing the screen and voiding your warranty.


And new ‘collaborative gameplay’ is on the way‘Pokemon Go’ anniversary celebration includes big IRL events

We’re coming up on one year since the launch of Pokemon Go, and after some ups and downs, it’s time to celebrate. The game’s developers are planning events worldwide as well as in game. More importantly, they also mentioned that gyms will shut down temporarily while they work on some new “collaborative gameplay” features that could bring head to head battles into the app.


It’s all CG, but it’s a start.‘Life is Strange’ studio’s ‘Vampyr’ arrives this November

The makers of Life is Strange, Don’t Nod, has decided to go full-tilt fantasy on its new game, Vampyr. A new trailer shows more of the studio’s supernatural take on 1918 London and confirms a November release date on PS4, PC and Xbox One.The new teaser, however, doesn’t reveal much in the way of gameplay, only showing pre-rendered footage of people lurking moodily in dark places. With the developers promising players a semi-open world, fast-paced combat, and an environment where every in-game action carries a consequence, it’s all sounding rather ambitious.

But wait, there’s more…

  • Those awkward AirPods will automatically link up to your Apple TV
  • Oppo’s 4K Blu-ray players are the first with Dolby Vision HDR
  • Roli expands its modular music gear with the touch-friendly Seaboard
  • Super realistic racing returns with ‘Project Cars 2’ in September
  • The trailer for life-creating sim ‘Everything’ could make gaming history and win an Academy Award

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