The ultimate photo shoot: on location in Iceland with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

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The ultimate photo shoot: on location in Iceland with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

By Austin Mann

As with any smartphone in 2014, there’s no more important feature than the camera. It’s what we use to take photos with our friends and families, how we remember what we ate and what our kids looked like way back when.

The camera has always been one of the iPhone’s most impressive feature, and this year, Apple says it’s gotten a huge upgrade. The iPhone 6…

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Ride-sharing apps may have caused taxi use in San Francisco to drop 65 percent

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This week, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency unveiled the latest statistics on cab use in the city. In short, If you’re a cab driver, it’s bad news. Between March 2012 and July 2014 the average amount of monthly cab rides declined from 1,424 a month to 504.

What happened? The short answer is the obvious one: Uber and Lyft are growing. The start-ups have put a serious dent in the taxi industry, and San Francisco is pinning it as the major factor in the decline. But it’s difficult to say what else might be happening; the companies don’t share their data publicly, and so it’s hard to directly correlate cab rides with Uber rides. Regardless, the taxi industry in the city is now providing incentives to drivers to keep them…

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The Vergecast, live today at 4:30PM ET!

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PEOPLE. The Vergecast is back. And about damn time, too.

We’ll be streaming the show live every Thursday at 4:30PM ET from now on, and all of our usual podcast feeds will be back in action. We’ll be playing with the format a little here and there as we go, so let us know what works and what doesn’t. But our basic foundation of goofballs goofin’ will remain in place. Let’s be honest: it’s all we really know how to do.

So. What should we talk about this week?

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Terry Gilliam says the devil convinced him to join Twitter

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Terry Gilliam cracks himself up. I know because I’m not trying to be funny, but there’s a dry chuckle every few minutes I spend on the phone with the 73-year-old founding member of Monty Python, director of such mind-bending films as Brazil, 12 Monkeys, Time Bandits and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, among many others. Gilliam’s latest movie, The Zero Theorem, which opens in select theaters the US this Friday, September 19th, has critics sharply divided. Some think it’s a mess, while others…

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Apple offers mixed signals on whether police can access your passcode-protected data

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Last night Apple made a huge privacy-focused publicity blitz, led by a letter to the public written by CEO Tim Cook. The message was clear: Apple cares about keeping your data secure. But there’s something a bit odd about Apple’s now very public privacy stance. On a page explaining Apple’s handling of government information requests, the company says this:

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The Assassin’s Creed curriculum: can video games teach us history?

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In Level Five, a movie first released in 1997 by the experimental French filmmaker Chris Marker, a young woman replays a World War II strategy game on an outdated computer again and again, working through various combinations of keystrokes in search of a different outcome, though it seems the game is hard-wired to only allow her one option.

The winning scenario she’s looking for is a less gruesome end to the Battle of Okinawa, where soldiers and civilians facing certain defeat committed…

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Yelp pays $450,000 in FTC lawsuit after letting children sign up for accounts

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Yelp is the latest company to settle a children’s privacy case with the Federal Trade Commission. The agency posted a settlement today, saying Yelp would pay $450,000 for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a rule that limits how sites can collect information from people under 13. In its original complaint, the FTC said that while Yelp’s website screened users when they signed up, from 2009 to 2013, Yelp’s mobile app let anyone, regardless of age, register for an account. Once they had, they could post photos and reviews, and Yelp collected location data from their phones, thus accepting personal information on “several thousand individuals” who indicated that they were between 9 and 13 years old.

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What happens to literacy when the internet turns into a giant TV station?

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Video is the future of the web. You can no longer launch a new smartphone, inaugurate a Kickstarter campaign, or even announce a business partnership without accompanying it with a slickly produced video teaser. Video is the destination point for a grand shift toward more visual communication online — one that makes the web accessible to more people than ever, but also risks losing one of its most fundamental benefits.

“Communication in the 21st century has become increasingly multimodal,” says Professor Carmen Lee, co-author of Language Online: Investigating Digital Texts and Practices. While the text-based Craigslist may still look the way it did in the late ’90s, the rest of the web now relies on images, both moving and still, to…

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Anki Drive drops price of its racing game and announces Android app

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Anki Drive, the robot racing game that launched just under a year ago, is dropping its prices ahead of the holidays. The starter kit, which includes a race track and two toy cars enhanced by artificial intelligence, is now $149 , down from $199. Expansion cars continue to cost $69.99, and the company is selling a new one for the holidays: Spektrix, a “trickster” car whose weapon scrambles the traffic in front of it.

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The time for the Galaxy S6 is now

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The new iPhone is here and it’s amazing. The new Moto X is here and it’s brilliant. But where’s Samsung? The Korean company that still sells the most smartphones worldwide seems to be off in the corner, doodling on its Galaxy Note 4 and muttering under its breath about how it invented the big-screen smartphone. Samsung can feel justifiably proud for showing the way, but its lead has been undermined by its American competitors who can now claim to have the two best phones on the market. A response is called for, and it must be something more substantial than sharp-tongued ads, it should be something corporeal that people can buy. A Galaxy S6, perhaps.

Samsung is alone among Android phone manufacturers in being able to turn a consistent…

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Darrell Hammond will take over for Don Pardo as the voice of ‘Saturday Night Live’

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It seemed like the inevitable choice. When Don Pardo, the longtime voice of Saturday Night Live since the very beginning, passed away last month, speculation over his successor by and large pointed towards the one man who has professionally imitated Pardo in the past, former SNL cast member Darrell Hammond. Today NBC announced (via USA Today and the New York Times) that Hammond will, in fact, take over as the show’s new announcer.

Said SNL creator Lorne Michaels to NYT:

“There were a lot of sweet ideas about carrying on with Don somehow… Because everyone has a Pardo impression. But he had the greatest run and he’s a completely beloved figure. So I thought: Don’t turn this into something else. That period ended.”

Hammond was a…

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Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 launching in US on October 17th, pre-orders start tomorrow

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The Galaxy Note 4 will launch in the United States beginning October 17th, Samsung announced today, and pre-orders for the company’s latest phablet kick off tomorrow. AT&T has separately announced that it will start shipping pre-orders on October 14th, though the carrier isn’t specifying a date for widespread retail availability just yet. It’s selling the Note 4 for $299.99 on-contract, $34.42 per month with AT&T Next 18, or $41.30 per month with AT&T Next 12. Unsubsidized and contract-free, the device runs $825.99.

T-Mobile will start its pre-orders a bit later on September 24th, but has already confirmed the Note 4 will be available on October 17th. There, the phone can be had for 24 monthly payments of $31.24. Presumably Verizon…

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Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 goes on sale in the UK on October 10th, pre-orders open tomorrow

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The latest member of Samsung’s successful Note phablet family is nearly ready to make its retail debut. Samsung has this morning announced UK availability of the Galaxy Note 4 for October 10th, with pre-orders opening up at Samsung Experience Stores from tomorrow. The Note 4 was already a highlight device for Samsung, combining its latest and best technological advancements, but now that the iPhone 6 Plus has arrived, it stands as the most direct challenger to Apple’s incoming device. The ongoing clash between Apple and Samsung that got its start in smartphones is now moving to this larger size class and it’ll be fascinating to see how it develops once the Note 4 and its upgraded S Pen are on the market to do battle with the 6 Plus.

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Microsoft’s next version of Office includes a Clippy-like helper and a very dark theme

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Microsoft is busy preparing a “Windows Technical Preview” for later this month, but the software maker is also privately testing an “Office Technical Preview” for the next version of its popular Office suite. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s Office plans tell The Verge that the company has been distributing copies of a future version of Office to partners and testers recently, providing an early look at new features.

While testing is in the early stages, we understand Microsoft is adding the “Tell Me” helper found in its Office Online apps to the desktop versions. Tell Me sits at the top of documents as a type of help and search tool. It’s similar in function to Clippy, providing a quick way to discover features and ask questions…

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Amazon beats Google to purchase .buy domain for $4.6 million

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Amazon might not be able to create its own .amazon domain, but that’s not stopping the online retail giant from securing the .buy domain instead. Amazon is paying nearly $4.6 million for the top-level .Buy domain, beating a bid by Google. A similar auction for the .tech generic top-level domain (gTLD) saw it fetch $6.7 million from Dot Tech LLC, a group set up to create an online environment for the technology industry as a whole. Google also reportedly lost out on the .tech domain, but it will have plenty of opportunities to secure others thanks to its interest in more than 100 top-level domains.

The .vip domain was also sold as part of the recent auction, and Irish domain resellers Minds + Machines secured it for just over $3 million….

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Amazon upgrades the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 with more speed and better sound

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Last year, Amazon completely overhauled its Kindle Fire line of tablets with thinner, lighter designs, high-resolution displays, and high-end processors. This year it’s sticking with a tried and true formula: the new Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, available for preorder today, looks exactly like its predecessor. But Amazon isn’t completely resting on its laurels: the new model has an even faster processor, better Dolby sound, and a new version of Amazon’s Fire OS. Its $379 price (Wi-Fi with Special…

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The new Kindle Voyage e-reader is shockingly good

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It’s hard not to fall immediately in love with Amazon’s new top-of-the-line e-reader. It’s called the Kindle Voyage and it ticks off virtually every single hardware complaint I’ve had about the Kindle Paperwhite. Available for preorder now and shipping in October, it’s selling for $199 and will sit alongside the Paperwhite and a new low-end Kindle — which gives Amazon a full lineup of three touchscreen e-readers (a GSM 3G version will be available for $60 more).

The Voyage is thinner, lighter,…

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