Samsung releases another new smart flip phone in Korea, leaving me to cry

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Yet again, Samsung is disappointing me by releasing a smart flip phone in its native Korea, leaving this flip phone fan empty-handed. The company announced its new Folder Flip 2 today, which looks pretty much just like the old version, but with a larger keypad. The phone is also available in both pink and black. The pink is everything I want, and seriously re-creates old Razr vibes.

Spec-wise, the Flip 2 runs Android Nougat, has a 3.8-inch display, 2GB of RAM, a 1,950mAh battery, up to 256GB of storage, and a 1.4GHz quad-core processor. Two models will be made: an LTE model and a 3G version. The phone will cost 297,000 won, or $260.

I’ve written some version of this blog multiple times, but I’ll say it again. I appreciate Samsung…

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Ron Howard is taking over the Han Solo standalone film

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In June, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy announced that Phil Lord and Christopher Miller had stepped down as directors for the upcoming Han Solo film, saying that a replacement would “be announced soon.” According to The Hollywood Reporter, the company has announced that Ron Howard will be taking over the film, and will meet with the cast to get production rolling again.

Howard is an Oscar-winning director, having helmed 2002’s A Beautiful Mind. He also has a long history with Lucasfilm, appearing in the George Lucas’ 1973 movie American Graffiti, and directing the Star Wars creator’s 1988 cult fantasy film Willow. (And yes, he’s also well known for narrating Arrested Development.)

Howard is…

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The Big Sick is a hilarious, tearjerking rom-com starring Kumail Nanjiani

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This review of The Big Sick was originally published on January 21st, 2017 as part of The Verge’s Sundance Film Festival coverage. The film hits theaters this weekend and we’re still just as smitten with the movie, a high-water mark for the romantic comedy genre and an welcome respite from the season’s blockbusters.

Kumail Nanjiani is arguably best known for his role as Dinesh Chugtai on HBO’s Silicon Valley, but I suspect regular readers of The Verge — folks fascinated with technology and the culture that unspools around it — probably know his work on Adventure Time, Bob’s Burgers, The X-Files, and The Indoor Kids. That last one isn’t a movie or television show, but a (now defunct) podcast Nanjiani hosted with his wife, the writer and…

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You can now watch your smart home camera from an Amazon Echo Show

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Amazon’s new Echo Show doesn’t launch until next week, but it’s already getting support from the top smart home camera companies. Nest, August, Amcrest, EZViz, IC Realtime, Vivint, Ring, and Arlo cameras will all work with the Echo Show, allowing you to simply say “Alexa, show me the front door” to get access to your camera feed.

As the integration is linked to Alexa in general, even Echo devices without the 7-inch screen of the Echo Show will be able to tap into audio feeds from the compatible cameras. It’s all part of a new Smart Home Camera Control available to all developers today to make it easy to integrate connected cameras with Alexa.

Amazon’s Echo Show will be available on June 28th, priced at $229.99. The device includes a…

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A guide for buying one of Microsoft’s excellent Surface computers

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Microsoft now has a variety of Surface devices that are designed to replace your laptop. There’s the Surface Book with a removable display, the Surface Pro with a kickstand, and now the new Surface Laptop that is the most traditional laptop Microsoft has ever made. I’ve been using all three extensively recently and have been able to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each. If you’re thinking about buying one of Microsoft’s Surface devices, here’s what you need to know.

Surface Book

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Surface Book

I reviewed the original Surface Book nearly two years ago, and while I’ve been using it as my day-to-day laptop, it’s far from perfect. Microsoft created the Book with a…

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Facebook introduces profile picture protections to stop people from misusing images

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Facebook is introducing new protections for profile pictures for users in India, in a bid to stop people from copying, sharing, or otherwise misusing their images. Users who elect to guard their profile through the new system will ensure that others can’t send, share, or download their picture, and will keep strangers from tagging themselves in the image.

People who opt in will also get a blue shield border around their image, and — on Android at least — Facebook says it will prevent users from taking screenshots of users’ profile pictures “where possible.”

Posted by Facebook Safety on Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The social network says that it was motivated to offer the tools after hearing from Indian social and safety organizations…

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No one is building the smart speaker we actually want

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The perfect smart speaker for the home is easy to describe, and completely elusive. Ask Verge readers for what they wanted in an Echo or HomePod, and the majority would likely land on more or less the same features. And after they finished describing it, and went out to buy it, they would learn that it doesn’t exist. Can someone build us the speaker of our dreams already?

First, let’s describe it. The speaker of our dreams delivers high-quality audio, links with other smart speakers, plays music from all the major streaming services, can be controlled by voice, and is relatively affordable. You can get any three of those five in a smart speaker on the market today, but you’ll never be more than 60 pecent satisfied.

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Watch a KFC sandwich fly to the edge of space

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Today, a historical feat is taking place, one that will wow space and fried chicken aficionados alike: a Kentucky Fried Chicken sandwich is traveling to the edge of space aboard a balloon. The fried chicken will float in the upper atmosphere for a few days, before traveling back to Earth at a speed of 2,000 feet per minute.

The mission may seem like a gimmick, but it’s actually going to be an important step for World View Enterprises, the high-altitude balloon company that’s launching the sandwich. World View is using a balloon, called the Stratollite, that’s designed to float about 100,000 feet in the air. This high-altitude vehicle is designed to eventually stay up into the stratosphere for months to a year at a time, providing…

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Germany’s biggest industrial robotics company is working on consumer robots

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You might not have heard of Kuka, but you’ll almost certainly know its products. The German firm is one of the world’s top manufacturers of industrial robots, and its robot arms are instantly recognizable thanks to their signature orange livery. But in the future, Kuka’s robots might become an even more familiar sight, with the company saying it’s now exploring the world of consumer robotics.

In an interview with The Financial Times, CEO Till Reuter said the change was being pushed by Kuka’s new parent company, Chinese home appliance maker Midea. “Midea is not doing any robotics or automation, so Kuka is automation for Midea,” Reuter told the FT. “And they are very well connected to the…

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LG’s latest ridiculous OLED screen is transparent, flexible, and taller than Tom Cruise

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How’s this for an incredibly specific record: LG announced today that it’s created the world’s first flexible, transparent 77-inch OLED display. That’s one huge display. Taller, in fact, than Tom Cruise. According to Google, Cruise is 5ft 7 or 170 centimeters tall, and as this display is 77-inches on the diagonal with an aspect ratio of 16:9, that means its longest side measures 170.5 centimeters. It’s taller than Cruise, but not if Cruise wears shoes.

Some more stats: the screen has a UHD resolution of 3840 x 2160, offers up to 40 percent transparency, and can be fixed with a curvature of up to 80 degrees. You can see what this all translates to in real terms with the picture above — it means you’ve got a massive, curved screen with a…

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I broke my iPhone 7 screen

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Hey, just wanted to let everyone know: I dropped my phone the other day and the screen broke. I was out on the back patio, and when I sat down the phone slipped out of my windbreaker pocket. A two-foot fall onto concrete is all it took.

When I picked up the phone, I could immediately tell it was cracked. “This is my life now” was the first thought in my head. That thought is still all I have to work with.

Last year I did the Emotional Tech Support hotline with my friend and colleague Ashley. At least half of the calls we received were from sad people who had broken their phone screens. This, I believe, is the third iPhone screen I’ve broken. And it probably won’t be my last.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

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First look at Samsung’s Bixby Voice preview for Galaxy S8

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The Bixby button on the side of Samsung’s fantastic Galaxy S8 is finally getting its most important feature: voice support. The company has started rolling out an update to enable Bixby Voice for Galaxy S8 and S8+ owners in the United States who signed up to test Samsung’s rival to Google Assistant, Siri, and Cortana. It’s in very early beta — this is day one — and Samsung will be putting more work into the feature before Bixby Voice is widely released. That’s a very good thing, because the outlook is pretty rough at launch. If you’re going to actually start pushing that Bixby button several times a day, Samsung’s got real work to do.

First things first. If you registered to be a beta tester, make sure you’re running the current version…

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Riva Audio’s multi-room Sonos competitor launches in the US

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Riva Audio is best known for its Bluetooth speakers, but earlier this month, the company released its new multi-space wireless speakers much later than originally planned. The WAND series is comprised of two speakers: the Arena and the Festival. Both include multiple ways to play music, including Wi-Fi, DDMS, Spotify Connect, AirPlay, DLNA, Bluetooth, and Chromecast. The more expensive Festival has an optical input, too. You can also distribute analog inputs over Wi-Fi to other speakers. For comparison, Sonos only works over Wi-Fi.

The larger Festival costs $499 while the Arena costs $249. Because it’s smaller, the Arena is portable and can be bought with an optional battery pack that Riva says should last for up to 20 hours. (That…

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Todoist’s Slack competitor is for people who hate constant notifications

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A new team communication app called Twist has a way for people to get more done at work: fewer notifications.

Created by Doist, the team behind productivity app Todoist, Twist’s biggest differentiator is that it’s based on asynchronous communication. With an interface that feels more like a message board, Twist has channels, which then contain threaded conversations underneath. The threads are meant to encourage in-depth conversations versus one-line interactions, and every response in a thread can be set to notify the entire group, or only certain people. All notifications are centralized, and appear in the Inbox, located in the top left.

Image: Doist

Twist, which launched in beta in January and opened to public…

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Fact-checking Owl City’s description of being hugged by 10,000 fireflies

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Come with me, if you will, back to 2009: the ninth year of the third millennium and the year Owl City released its hit song “Fireflies.” “Fireflies” eventually reached the No. 1 slot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, in part because it presented the world with a new scientific conundrum: can fireflies hug?

Here’s the lyric that started it: “Cause I’d get a thousand hugs / From ten thousand lightning bugs / As they tried to teach me how to dance.” Yesterday, Owl City’s Adam Young attempted to explain his lyrics, in response to a fan who asked on Twitter, “Does each firefly hug you 1,000 times or do only 1/10th of the bugs give you a hug?”

Young…

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Apple is asking music labels to take a smaller cut of revenue from streaming

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Apple is asking music labels for a reduction in the revenue rate it pays out from its music streaming service, according to sources close to the situation. Apple is renegotiating its licensing deals for Apple Music and iTunes with the three major music labels, which expire at the end of the month. The negotiations were first reported by Bloomberg.

According to sources, the negotiations with Apple are not as contentious as past and ongoing negotiations with Spotify have been. While the deal is more complex due to the inclusion of iTunes, the rapid growth of Apple Music and the slowed decline of digital downloads on iTunes has pleased both sides.

While Apple is chasing a discount, its new deal likely won’t match Spotify’s as the two…

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This coffee table-sized NES controller looks great, but plays poorly

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The retro gaming market is having a bit of a Renaissance lately, thanks to Nintendo’s NES Classic console and the ever-expanding industry dedicated to re-creating, refurbishing, and resurrecting nostalgia-fueled products of the past. Hardware maker Retro-Bit is a big part of this community — the company makes classic console controllers, adapters, consoles, and USB emulators. It even revealed an all-in-one Game Boy cartridge-compatible gadget called the Super Retro Boy earlier this year.

Now, Retro-Bit has a new product that is more outlandish than any old-school gaming hardware you might have seen before. It’s called the Mega Table, and it’s a full-blown coffee table-sized…

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This adorable driverless bus will soon be making stops at the University of Michigan

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Starting this fall, students at the University of Michigan will have access to an entirely new form of transportation in the form of this adorable, completely autonomous shuttle bus.

The university plans to deploy two of the shuttles, manufactured by French startup Navya, to service a two-mile route between the Lurie Engineering Center and the North Campus Research Complex on Plymouth Road. The shuttle can carry a maximum of 15 passengers, and lacks a steering wheel or pedals. The vehicles are being deployed in partnership with Mcity, the university’s 32-acre testing facility automakers and tech startups often test their self-driving cars.

“This first-ever automated shuttle service on campus is a…

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NASA’s Mars rover is really good at laser-blasting rocks without human input

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For the last year, the Curiosity rover has been studying the surface of Mars with more independence than ever before, saving human time and energy. The partly autonomous exploration is also helping people sidestep the constraints of working across vast distances in space.

This new capability is powered by software called Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science, or AEGIS. It allows the rover to control its own use of ChemCam, an instrument that learns the chemical composition of rocks by zapping them with a laser and studying the resulting gasses. Between the new software’s deployment in May 2016 and April 2017, the rover did this 52 times after moving to a new location.

Combined with the observations controlled by NASA…

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Sega wants to turn its classic catalogue into ‘the Netflix of retro gaming’

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Sega exited the video game console business nearly 20 years ago, but the company still retains some of the industry’s most iconic characters and beloved classic catalogs. That explains why Sega decided to put resources toward an all-new initiative it’s calling Sega Forever. Announced earlier this morning, Sega Forever is the new banner with which the publisher will reissue games from its backlog on iOS and Android, starting with five titles to be released tomorrow in the US. A new title every two weeks after that, and every game will start out free, with players having the option to turn off advertising forever with a $1.99 in-app purchase.

The first five Sega Forever games are Genesis titles: Sonic the Hedgehog, Comix Zone, Altered…

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