The Morning After: Tuesday, January 10th 2017

CES 2017 has wrapped up and Engadget is back to the relative normality of another week in tech. That said, we have all our Best Of CES winners, Razer says its prototype hardware was stolen at the show, and the iPhone celebrates its 10th birthday.


Simply the best.
Presenting the Best of CES 2017 winners!

We debated. We argued. One of us even yelled. After a long night of going through our list of finalists, our editors settled on our winners for the official Best of CES awards. Winners include LG, Dell, Razer, Honda and, perhaps surprisingly, Fisher-Price.


Industrial espionage or desperate fans?
Razer’s prototype laptops were stolen from its CES booth

Razer’s CEO Min-Liang Tan confirmed that two of its concept products were stolen from its booth on the last day of the show. “I’ve just been informed that two of our prototypes were stolen from our booth at CES today,” said Tan on his Facebook page. “We have filed the necessary reports and are currently working with the show management as well as law enforcement to address this issue.” In a later statement, the company said it was two of its three-screened laptops, currently titled Project Valerie, that were stolen at the show.


A world before smartphone apps.The iPhone’s legacy, 10 years later

On January 9th, 2007, Steve Jobs gave the world its first glimpse of the iPhone. A decade later, and it’s difficult to overstate the impact it’s had. Associate Editor Jon Fingas looks at all the things that Apple has got right and wrong with its most popular product over the years.


One accidental dollhouse order led to lots of accidental dollhouse orders
Amazon’s Echo attempted a TV-fueled shopping spree

Voice-activated devices can screw up — just ask anyone watching a Microsoft gaming event with a Kinect-equipped Xbox One nearby. However, Amazon’s Echo speaker caused more of that chaos than usual when a 6-year-old girl inadvertently ordered cookies and a dollhouse from Amazon by saying what she wanted. It was a costly goof ($ 170), but nothing too special by itself. Well, until San Diego’s CW6 discussed the snafu on a morning TV show and one of the hosts made the mistake of saying that he liked when the girl said “Alexa ordered me a dollhouse.” The channel then received multiple reports from viewers whose Echo devices tried to order dollhouses when their Echo device heard those magical dollhouse-ordering words from the TV.

But wait, there’s more…

  • OLED TVs will finally take off in 2017
  • MIT’s 3D graphene is ten times stronger than steel
  • Of course I took these eerily detailed 3D selfies at CES

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The Morning After: Weekend Edition


Letter from the Editor

Christmas is right around the corner, but Santa’s not the only one dropping from the sky with presents this holiday season. Amazon’s Prime Air officially began service this week, when a drone made the service’s first delivery in Cambridge, England. So the future of shipping has arrived … for a handful of people in the English countryside.

Many, many more Amazonians will be getting served, however, by Prime Video, now that the company has spun it out into a standalone service. At an introductory rate that’s a third the cost of Netflix, the move creates serious competition for viewing dollars around the world — though it only brings Amazon’s original programming. Still, if critical acclaim is any indicator, you’re getting good value: Both of the two streaming services have shows up for multiple Golden Globes.

One competitor Amazon isn’t (and shouldn’t be) preoccupied with is a new virtual assistant from Japan. It’s a female anime character in a jar. It costs $ 2,500. It will not lift the crushing weight of loneliness that pervades your every waking hour. Oh, and if you’re thinking it’d make a swell Christmas gift, think 2017 — the company’s taking preorders now, but it won’t arrive for a year.


Elon Musk: Supercharger spots are meant for charging, not parkingTesla will tax owners who idle at the Supercharger

More Teslas on the road also means there might be long lines at the local Supercharger. After complaints about owners who leave their car hooked up beyond the time needed for a full charge, Elon Musk & Co. have a fix: idle fees. If you don’t collect your EV within five minutes of it reaching full charge (you’ll get a notification on your phone), then expect a 40 cent per minute charge to sit in that spot.


Here’s what it will cost when you lose oneApple’s AirPods are now on sale

Online pre-orders are now stretching into 2017, but you can order a pair of Apple’s new EarBuds. The wireless buds go perfectly with a headphone jack-deficient iPhone 7, whose owners are most likely to lay down $ 160 for the pair + charger. A side effect of the AirPods’ tangle free lifestyle is that you might end up losing one, however, and if you do, the replacement will cost $ 69.


Not to be confused with “The O.C.”Netflix’s weird surprise show ‘The OA’ is now streaming

Last weekend Netflix surprised us by teasing a new miniseries about a mysterious young woman. The trailer left much to the imagination, but the main plot centers on a young woman who was blind before being abducted, and returns to her family seven years later able to see. Its eight-episode length had some hoping for another “Stranger Things” experience. We don’t know if it’s that good, but it’s a perfect choice if you can’t make it out to “Rogue One” this weekend.


League of $ $ $ $ “League of Legends” developer signs a $ 300 million streaming deal

eSports looks poised to make a big leap, and BAMTech, a streaming company part-owned by the MLB, the NHL and Disney (read: ESPN) is ready to buy in. It struck a deal with “League of Legends” maker Riot Games that’s worth over $ 300 million, and it will build an app next year to stream competitions on phones, PCs and other devices.


Looks like someone read “Ender’s Game”DARPA’s OFFSET program will use gamers to playtest drone swarm control

Stop us if this sounds familiar: A government agency is trying to help the military control groups of flying robots, and one of the ways it will learn is by offering a “physics-based, swarm tactics game.” The idea is to let playtesters swap strategies on how to best control a swarm of drone robots, then apply that knowledge to the real thing.


The final stops are at PAX and SXSWNintendo’s Switch console is going on tour

Can’t wait until March to see the Switch? No problem, because Nintendo just announced it’s taking the console on a “Preview Tour” of major cities starting in January.

But wait, there’s more…

  • Meet Waymo: Google’s new (old) self-driving car business
  • Nokia returns with a dumb phone from its new owner
  • The Engadget Podcast Episode 18: In which Terrence drops F-bombs while talking about Yahoo
  • Review: HP Spectre x360 (2016)
  • Dwarf planet Ceres is ‘oozing’ with water

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The Morning After: Tuesday, November 22, 2016

It’s Tuesday, which means Facebook and Instagram have nicked another feature from Snapchat. Meanwhile, the Snapbot has landed in NYC, Apple has a battery problem of its own to deal with and the HTC Evo name makes a triumphant return.


Yo, I heard you liked the OnePlus 3Review: OnePlus 3T

Even though its predecessor is just six months old, Cherlynn Low found the OnePlus 3T “a refinement that not only feels timely, but also well-planned and executed.” It’s missing Android 7.0 Nougat and expandable storage options, but adding an upgraded processor to match the Google Pixel, a slightly larger battery and a new front camera for just $ 40 extra makes this phone a pretty good deal.


Stop us if you’ve heard this one beforeInstagram adds live video and Snapchat-style disappearing photos

Facebook’s quest to offer a version of every Snapchat feature continues with the latest Instagram update. Now, users can send disappearing messages through Instagram Direct, potentially making your next headfirst slide into the DMs less risky. There’s also built-in support for live video, which works a lot like Facebook Lives, except inside Instagram.


Choose the Mad Max: High Octane Collection — trust usHoliday Gift Guide 2016: The Movie Buff

Friends don’t let friends struggle with their home theater setups. Whether you’re ready to spend a lot or just a little, we have a few ideas about what gifts to put in your favorite videophile’s stocking.


Snapbot sightedSnapchat Spectacles have arrived in NYC

So far, Snapchat’s camera-infused sunglasses have been a West Coast-only thing, now they’re in the Big Apple. If you’re willing to try your luck, head to the Spectacles pop-up shop at 5 East 59th Street in Upper Midtown Manhattan and prepare to wait in line. The store will be open through New Year’s Eve (but closed 11/24, 12/24 and 12/25) so you will have a full month of opportunities.


At least they’re not explodingApple is replacing some iPhone 6s batteries

Just last week, Apple announced a repair program for the iPhone 6 Plus and its “touch disease,” and now it’s facing a problem with the iPhone 6. The company says a “small number” of handsets have a battery fault that causes them to spontaneously shut down. If your device was manufactured between September and October 2015, then you may be in line for a replacement or a credit.


Not what you’d expect for the holidays.Jony Ive and Marc Newson’s latest project is a… Christmas tree?

It doesn’t have a headphone jack or Christmas lights.


The missing detailNTSB is investigating the first flight of Facebook’s Aquila drone

When Facebook announced its “successful” first flight of the Aquila internet drone on June 28th, it mentioned a “structural failure” just before landing. That may have been worthy of more than a footnote, however, since the NTSB has classified it as an accident.

But wait, there’s more…

  • The HTC Evo is back! (If you live in Europe)
  • 4K Netflix streaming comes to Windows 10
  • What’s on TV this week? Try Netflix’s Brazilian sci-fi series “3%”
  • To battle fake news is to battle brain chemistry

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The Morning After: Friday, November 18, 2016

Is a folding drone the next must-have accessory in your travel bag? We review the Passport, dig into Snapchat’s Spectacle strategy and investigate news for iPhones old and new. Plus: The old Top Gear crew is back today on Amazon with The Grand Tour — that’s one way to head into the weekend.


Desktops are cool againReview: Microsoft Surface Studio

There’s a new option for desktop all-in-ones, now that Microsoft has released the Surface Studio. The Surface Dial accessory brings a unique twist on interaction and touch control, while its slick design and powerful specs help meet the marks pros are actually looking for in a computer. On the other hand, mobile graphics and a stodgy hybrid storage system, plus its high price and the need for more software support, make it hard to recommend switching right away.


Big phone problemsApple’s repair program for the iPhone 6 Plus will fix touchscreen issues — for a price

We’ve been hearing from iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners about a so-called touch disease affecting their phones, and Apple’s response is here. Without copping to a problem with the phones, its repair program will fix your iPhone 6 Plus if it’s having problems with flickering or multitouch for $ 149, out of warranty. The only problem? That may not go far enough, as the CEO of iFixit disputes Apple’s claim that the problem comes from dropped phones, and many people have said it affects the smaller iPhone 6 too.


Bring a wind sock tooReview: Hover Camera Passport

Sure, everyone wants a drone, but most don’t have a drone like this. While it’s not as big as the top-flight units from the likes of DJI and GoPro, Zero Zero Robotics’ Hover Camera Passport combines a tiny form factor and foldable case. It’s small enough that you can bring it along easily, without needing FAA registration. Controlled by an app on your phone, it’s also smart enough to do face and body tracking for optimal selfie angles. Of course, small size means small battery, which means short flight time, plus the fact that a strong breeze could blow away your $ 600 machine in an instant.


Popping tagsInstagram tries to pull in advertisers with new shopping tags

Everyone has to make money, and Instagram’s next big idea is the integration of shopping tags for brands like Warby Parker and Kate Spade. Only on iOS in the US for now, it’s just one of Instagram’s business-focused features currently rolling out.


Comcast will ruin this somehowSpaceX wants FCC approval for its satellite-based internet provider

Focused on more things than reaching Mars, Elon Musk’s space company took the next step in its internet project this week. An FCC filing reveals it’s seeking to launch 800 satellites that will provide internet service in the US, then growing its network to 4,425 satellites capable of 1Gbps connections around the globe.


Experiences, not thingsAirbnb’s latest category rents more than just spare rooms

Airbnb has a new “comprehensive” travel venture that goes beyond just putting you up in a stranger’s house for the weekend. A new Experience category promises access to both short events and longer multi-day “Immersions,” as well as features that help guide travelers to interesting places near where they’re staying. The new features are live in 12 cities now, and will be available in more than 50 next year.


The Galaxy iPhoneIs 2017 the year OLED comes to the iPhone?

OLED tech just came to the MacBook Pro, and a rumor from Bloomberg suggests that next year Apple will release at least one version of the iPhone using this display technology. Samsung has relied on these screens for models of its Galaxy phones, but word on the street is that obtaining enough supply for the iPhone could be a problem.


They’re playing hard to getSnapchat is relying on fans to get the word out about Spectacles

The first hardware from Snap Inc. is unique not just because of its glasses-integrated camera, but also in how it’s launching. The slow rollout of Snapbots is driving up the hype about where its vending machines will arrive next, without the usual wave of media reviews.

But wait, there’s more…

  • Sony’s cord-cutting service comes to Apple TV
  • Obama: We have to get serious about facts
  • The Prince estate is suing Jay Z’s Roc Nation, saying Tidal’s streaming rights have expired

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The Morning After Weekend Edition: Happy Halloween!


Letter from the Editor

Change is life. It’s what keeps things interesting. It’s also what keeps the cauldron of commerce at a full boil. And in the technology industry, change is constant. This week, Apple and Microsoft revealed new computers that’ll tempt many — particularly folks working in the creative arts — even if they come with eye-watering price tags.

Change can also be cause for consternation. Apple decided to eliminate the headphone jack from its phones a month ago, and yesterday it banished everything without a USB-C or Thunderbolt connector from its laptops. This is the pain of progress. Given enough time, the benefits received will, we hope, be a good bargain. It often is.

In other instances, change comes slowly. Jess Conditt wrote about how powerful video games have become as a medium for cultural and social commentary. Yet respect and investment for such projects trail more “traditional” arts, despite games’ arguably wider potential impact. And finally, Edgar Alvarez explained Amazon’s difficulties in becoming a purveyor of luxury fashion items. It seems that scale and quality can’t mix — at least in the minds of those running haute couture.


Hey, artists use Windows too!They’re used to paying Apple prices, right?

Microsoft wants to be the company for creative types. Like in the worst way possible. The company’s big Surface event this week was all about creating, building and drawing. There was even a little 3D printing thrown in for good measure. Of course, the biggest news was the launch of the Surface Studio all-in-one PC, but we’d be lying if we said MS Paint 3D didn’t kinda steal the show.


Apple wants your fingers to caress its new laptopAll in the name of stimulating your artistic sensibilities

Apple couldn’t let Microsoft hog the spotlight, though. The Cupertino crew held their own big event this week, and the focus was all on the MacBook Pro. The most exciting news was the addition of the Touch Bar on the high-end models — an OLED touchscreen strip in place of those anachronistic function keys. The less exciting news was that Apple ditched basically all the ports except for USB-C. At least they didn’t ax the headphone jack.


Shhh … you hear something?That’s the sound of sick video game sound effects, y’all

Microsoft went all out for the sound on “Gears of War 4.” Most games treat the audio like a second-class citizen, but developer the Coalition fired up some elaborate software that simulates how sound reacts in different environments and how it interacts with different materials to make “Gears 4” seem ultra-realistic. Or as realistic as a game set in the future on an alien world can seem.


R.I.P. VineWe (most of us) hardly knew ye

Twitter announced that it was going to be laying off more than 350 people, and now, it seems, we know where at least some of those cuts are coming from. Vine is coming to an end, and with it the art of six-second video loops. Some Engadget editors will miss it more than others.


What are pro designers saying about Microsoft’s Surface Dial?No thanks, mostly.

We talked to a host of illustrators, designers and other creative types to see what they think of Microsoft’s newest devices. The Surface Studio seems to have piqued their interest. The Dial, on the other hand…


Please don’t do this. Seriously.11 super-sexy Hallow-meme costumes

Look, sexy nurse and policeman are passé. If you’re really looking to leave an impression, you need to blend your love of popular internet culture with your normal raw sexual energy.


Bokeh everywhereiOS 10.1 brings a new photo feature to the iPhone 7 Plus

If you have an iPhone 7 Plus, you don’t need beta software to try out its new “portrait mode” shots. Environments where the background is a similar color to your subject can confuse the camera, but in most situations it did the job of making phone pictures look like they came from a high-end SLR camera.

But wait, there’s more…

  • The FBI isn’t done with Hillary’s emails yet?
  • I have the power! … of two first-gen Tesla battery packs
  • Sony is working on new PS4 controllers for pro gamers (just don’t call them Elite)

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The FBI wants to crack another iPhone after Minnesota stabbings

The FBI and Apple might be headed for another fight over the case of a locked phone. Last night, FBI special agent Rich Thorton confirmed that the agency is trying to crack an iPhone belonging to Dahir Adan, a 20-year-old Somali immigrant who stabbed 10 people in a Minnesota mall last month. Per Wired, Thorton said the bureau was already sifting through some “780 gigabytes of data from multiple computers and other electronic devices,” but unlocking Adan’s phone could shed valuable light on why he did what he did and help figure out who (if anyone) helped him on his path.

But cracking the phone isn’t a matter of course — the FBI’s currently weighing its “legal and technical” options to get inside the unspecified device. A lot of the FBI’s work here depends on what kind of iPhone they recovered, too — the introduction of iOS 8 two years ago meant not even Apple could decrypt the contents of a locked device running that software.

“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data,” the company wrote in 2014, referring to photos, messages, contacts and more. “So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”

Still, that didn’t stop the FBI cracking from iPhone 5c owned by Rizwan Farook, one of the San Bernardino shooters who killed 14 people in late 2015. The road to that crack was a winding one — the FBI originally pushed Apple for support to unlock the iOS 9-powered device, and got court orders compelling the company to assist. Apple resisted, but the FBI ultimately found a way to crack Farook’s iPhone without Apple’s assistance, a move that apparently cost the bureau a tidy sum. At the time, FBI director James Comey said he hadn’t decided if the bureau would reveal that crucial backdoor to Apple out of concerns it would be closed.

While the FBI might still have that particular ace up its sleeve, the process of sifting through Adan’s data might be way more difficult. Farook’s iPhone 5c lacked the secure enclave that was baked into newer models with the A7 chipset and beyond. It’s unclear at this point how much progress the FBI has made — only time will tell if it’ll try to force Apple to help somehow, or how Apple will response if the government comes knocking.

Source: Wired

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After Math: Tinder profile make-overs and one-terabyte SD cards

Is your new iPhone hissing? Is your replacement Galaxy Note not exploding? Regardless, we shall begin. This week we saw plenty of new (and old-school) cameras at Photokina, one editor tried to improve his odds on dating apps by outsourcing the task, and one of Japan’s pro-league basketball courts got covered in LED screens. We also had our collective minds blown by the mere notion of a 1TB SD card. Arguably, our minds are easily blown. Let’s After Math.

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Apple patches three zero-day exploits after activist is hacked

Apple has rolled out a patch for three previously unknown zero-day exploits that were used to hack into the iPhone 6 of Ahmed Mansoor, an award-winning human rights activist based in the United Arab Emirates. Security company Lookout and internet watchdog group Citizen Lab investigated the attack on Mansoor’s iPhone and found it to be the product of NSO Group, a “cyber war” organization based in Israel that’s responsible for distributing a powerful, government-exclusive spyware product called Pegasus.

The hack took advantage of three zero-day exploits that allowed the attackers to jailbreak Mansoor’s iPhone and install spyware to track his movements, record his WhatsApp and Viber calls, log his messages and access his microphone and camera. Given the high cost of iPhone zero-days and the use of a government-specific spyware product, Citizen Lab believes the UAE is behind the hack. The UAE has previously targeted Mansoor.

“We are not aware of any previous instance of an iPhone remote jailbreak used in the wild as part of a targeted attack campaign, making this a rare find,” Citizen Lab writes.

Once Citizen Lab discovered the zero-days, it contacted Apple and says the company responded promptly. Apple released a software update today, iOS 9.3.5, that addresses the three flaws.

Source: Citizen Lab, Apple, Lookout

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