Verizon’s new parental control app lets parents track their kids’ locations

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Verizon has announced that, starting today, its parental controls product, FamilyBase, will be upgraded and renamed. The new parenting controls app, called Verizon Smart Family, will allow parents to manage aspects of their kids’ smartphones like content filters and screen time limits.

Up to six family members can use the app, which provides a variety of ways for parents to monitor how kids are using their phones. Content filters let you block objectionable websites and content in categories like violence and drugs, alcohol, and gambling, or restrict access to certain apps. Parents can also block unwanted contacts, view their child’s text and call history, and check on how much battery the phone has left.

Limits can also be set on phone…

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Motorola announces the Moto G6 and E5 with tall screens and big batteries

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Motorola is introducing its newest range of Moto G and Moto E smartphones today, which will sell in the $100 to $300 range. While these aren’t high-end phones, they’re all important ones for Motorola: the Moto G remains Motorola’s best seller, and the company says it’s the top seller worldwide in its price class; the Moto E, which sells for slightly less, apparently isn’t far behind it.

In the Moto G line, Motorola is introducing the Moto G6 and G6 Play. (There will also be a G6 Plus, but it isn’t launching in the US, so we didn’t get a chance to see it.) The G6 and the G6 Play are similar looking phones, with curved edges on the back and 18:9 displays with thin bezels on the front. They feel nice, though the standard G6 gets closest to…

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Netflix ‘stories’ are here with 30-second video previews in mobile apps

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Netflix is releasing a new feature today called mobile previews, which is essentially a version of stories on apps like Instagram and Snapchat that shows you previews of shows and movies on the subscription service.

The 30-second mobile videos are trailers, and they play vertically, so you don’t have to flip your phone to watch them.

The previews are located at the top of the screen when you launch the app, and they appear as circles you tap on to start the preview. Netflix describes these clips as “slideshows,” and you can add them to your list or watch them immediately.

To skip, just swipe or tap the screen to go to the next preview. (Again, it’s the same interaction you’d use to control similar features on Instagram.)…

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eBay now lets sellers autofill listings by scanning product barcodes

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eBay is updating its Android and iOS apps to streamline the listing process by letting sellers scan the barcode of an item, according to Engadget. While eBay has supported scanning barcodes for some time, it was aimed at buyers who wanted to comparison shop. This new function is now targeted to sellers to help autofill some listing information when a product’s barcode is scanned.

If you have the box for what you intend to sell, you’ll be able to scan the barcode and then mark the condition of the item. Once eBay recognizes the product, it should fill in a basic description, stock photos, and suggest a starting price based on historical data and predictive analysis. If you don’t have access to an item’s barcode, these same actions should…

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How the creators of A Quiet Place made silence so terrifying

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If audiences think about sound design in films at all, it’s usually in the context of dramatic effects: the zruuuuum of a lightsaber, or the noises the dragons in Game of Thrones make. But sound serves an altogether different function in John Krasinski’s directorial debut A Quiet Place. A potent thriller about a family trying to survive an onslaught of monsters with hyper-sensitive hearing, the film deviates sharply from the bigger, better, louder formulas used in most movies, and instead uses lack of sound to create a story filled with almost unbearable tension. It’s meant to make the audience afraid to make the slightest sound, lest they put the characters in danger.

The film’s supervising sound editors, Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der…

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Amazon has picked up an adaptation of Channel 4 conspiracy thriller Utopia

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Amazon Studios has picked up Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn’s adaptation of Utopia, an adaptation of the cult TV show from the UK’s Channel 4. Variety reports that the studio has ordered a nine-episode first season in a direct-to-series order, and it has signed Flynn to an overall deal for additional projects.

The two-season show, which originally aired from 2013–2014, garnered critical acclaim and a devoted fan base before its abrupt cancellation. It follows a group of people who obtain a manuscript of the sequel of a cult graphic novel called The Utopia Experiments, which is thought to have predicted some of the world’s worst disasters. As the characters try and find clues of other potential looming disasters, they’re targeted by a…

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Alexa is becoming more personal with custom responses

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Amazon is introducing a new way to create Alexa skills today, without the need for coding or tech skills. Alexa Skill Blueprints will let the average household customize a variety of questions, with personal answers and responses that are separate to routines. The idea is to make it very easy for anyone create a skill or question / answer that will only run on their Alexa devices. This could be a custom joke response to an Alexa question like “who’s the best dad in the world,” the ability for Alexa to provide a set of instruction for the pet sitter or babysitter, or predefined ‘burns” to roast your friends or father-in-law.

“You don’t need experience building skills or coding to get started, says Steve Rabuchin, Amazon Alexa VP. “My…

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Widescreen laptops are dumb

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Samsung Notebook 9 Pen

I’ve been thinking about aspect ratios. After years of phones, laptops, tablets, and TV screens converging on 16:9 as the “right” display shape — allowing video playback without distracting black bars — smartphones have disturbed the universality recently by moving to even more elongated formats like 18:9, 19:9, or even 19.5:9 in the iPhone X’s case. That’s prompted me to consider where else the default widescreen proportions might be a poor fit, and I’ve realized that laptops are the worst offenders.

Ask me to name the best laptops on the market, and my answer would be some ordering of Apple’s MacBook Pro, Microsoft’s Surface Laptop and Surface Book, and Google’s Pixelbook. Not coincidentally, Microsoft and Google’s machines have a…

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The final Deadpool 2 trailer is all flying motorcycles, slapstick, and snark

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The final Deadpool 2 trailer dropped this morning, about a month ahead of the movie’s premiere. As with past trailers, this one shows off a decent amount of Josh Brolin’s Cable, who’s joining the series as the newest evil villain, and X-Force, Deadpool’s group of mutant superheroes.

In classic Deadpool style, the sequel looks like it’ll feature a lot of slapstick violence, explosions, flying motorcycles, kicks to the face, and goofy one-liners, like Deadpool’s breather in the middle of a gunfight: “Ohh, your bullets. They’re really fast.”

The movie also stars Zazie Beetz as Domino, T.J. Miller as Weasel, and Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, among others.

Deadpool 2 hits theaters on May 18th.

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Watch this robot bend pipe cleaners into hearts and stars

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Pipe cleaners probably played a large role in your life when you were a kid. Remember all those hours spent twisting the furry wires into weird and fun shapes? If the thought of doing that for hours hurts your hands, a Japanese tinkerer named Yoshihito Isogawa has created a robot that does the bending for you (as spotted by Gizmodo).

When a pipe cleaner is fed into the machine, the robot moves the wire along until two robotic prongs can grab and bend the pipe cleaner into shape. It’s a clever machine, and the shapes are much more even and symmetrical than what most human hands can create. The device looks simple, but it can make a variety of shapes like a heart, a star, and a cross. You can select the shape you want with the control…

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Programming a song on Nintendo Labo with Toy-Con Garage took all of my brainpower

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Over the last few weeks on YouTube, Nintendo’s been teasing what you can do with Labo — the DIY cardboard accessory kit for the Switch — which comes out this Friday. One of the most intriguing videos was a demonstration of Toy-Con Garage, the programming platform within Labo’s software. Using the toy piano included in the Variety Kit, a makeshift cardboard guitar, and multiple controllers (including one attached to some Crocs), Nintendo showed off a Labo band.

Nintendo

There’s some really creative use cases for Toy-Con Garage, much of which allow for Rube Goldberg machine-like possibilities. But using the Switch as a tool for music production seemed like one of the most practical and promising features of Labo, so I…

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Honor’s new flagship has a notch and comes in psychedelic colors

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Honor, Huawei’s lower-cost sub-brand, has announced its latest flagship phone: the Honor 10. Building on the solid View 10 and taking some cues from the impressive Huawei P20, the Honor 10 is the first Honor phone to really look like a high-end 2018 device.

Which is to say that yes, it has a notch. But like the P20, it also has an eye-catching iridescent finish and an all-glass body. There’s a fingerprint sensor below the screen, which is a 5.84-inch 1080p LCD with a tall aspect ratio, and the bottom edge of the phone houses a USB-C port and a headphone jack.

Image: Honor

The processor is the same AI-equipped Kirin 970 chip seen in the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, the P20, and the View 10. As for the cameras there’s a…

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OnePlus is releasing an Avengers-themed OnePlus 6 in India

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OnePlus has confirmed that it’s partnering with Marvel on an Avengers-themed edition of the upcoming OnePlus 6. The phone will likely be exclusive to the Indian market, as was the case with last year’s Star Wars-branded OnePlus 5T.

“OnePlus’ association with Marvel Studios is a manifestation of the enduring love and support they have garnered from its respective community over the years with a purpose to go beyond the ordinary and achieve groundbreaking innovations in mobile technology only to create the best user experiences,” OnePlus said in a statement obtained by Android Central, noting that the deal “marks a step towards strengthening our association with Disney India.”

There aren’t any pictures of the Avengers edition yet, because…

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Assembling Ikea furniture should be a new benchmark for robot dexterity

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Assistant professor Pham Quang Cuong (L) and researcher fellow Francisco Suárez-Ruiz (R) from NTU Singapore pose next to a robot arm and the IKEA chair it helped assemble.

It can be difficult to keep track of the progress being made in robotics, but one useful (if informal) marker is how good machines are at assembling Ikea furniture.

Why? Because putting together your average Billy bookcase involves skills that are intuitive for humans but challenging for robots. Figuring out how a number of components fit together to make a finished product is basically one big 3D puzzle involving complex movements and the manipulation of delicate items like pins and screws. For bigger pieces of furniture, you also have to coordinate multiple actors. (Although admittedly, robots find this part easier than humans.)

With that in mind, here’s your latest Ikea Robot Assembly update: they’ve got better again.

In a paper p…

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Avengers: Infinity War may be gearing up to fix Marvel’s X-Men continuity problem

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Warning: major spoilers for Avengers: Age of Ultron and the comics crossover event House of M ahead.

In 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel Studios introduced the speedster hero Quicksilver — and then promptly killed him off. There are a lot of potential reasons for Pietro Maximoff to die in the film series, rather than joining the Avengers with his sister Wanda, aka the Scarlet Witch. Marvel Studios may have wanted to avoid confusion with the version of Quicksilver appearing in the X-Men films. Avengers Tower was getting pretty crowded, as the MCU built up more and more characters. The film was also scripted and directed by Joss Whedon, who has a track record of killing off heroes at the ends of his stories. But the best reason for…

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Snapchat is turning its Lenses platform into a shopping mall for brands

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Snapchat has slowly but surely been building out Lenses, its augmented reality face filter platform, both as a way to keep users hooked on taking selfies and as a way to earn money from advertisers. Starting this week, Snapchat will introduce its new Shoppable AR feature, which will let advertisers display and sell products through the app’s Lenses, according to TechCrunch. The new feature builds on one Snapchat first introduced nearly three years ago when it first let companies create branded filters on its Lens platform and shortly thereafter opened its Lens Store to sell the AR face masks for $0.99 a pop.

Now, advertisers can add a button to a Lens that takes users to a website where they can buy an associated product. The feature is…

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Facebook is testing a way to let people watch video premieres in Facebook Live

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Although the ability to publish pre-recorded video to Facebook Live has been an option for some time, it’s required the use of third-party programs like OBS and Wirecast. Now, Facebook is testing a feature called Premieres, which will let creators publish already-made videos to Facebook Live, as reported today by Engadget.

While there isn’t much information on Premieres yet, it appears to be angled toward content like movie trailers, Facebook Watch shows, and music videos, and it would come with Facebook Live functions like chat. Essentially, it’s a way for publishers to bring the experience of a television premiere or film trailer drop to Facebook, allowing people to experience a new video together in real time. “We’re testing this now…

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The final trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom shows that people never learn from their mistakes

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Universal Pictures has released its final trailer for J.A. Bayona’s upcoming Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

In the first pair of trailers for the film, we saw that the park’s location, Isla Nublar, is also home to an erupting volcano, which threatens to wipe out both the abandoned park and the dinosaurs that live there, four years after the events of 2015’s Jurassic World. This new trailer shows that we can expect more from the film than an elaborate air rescue: there are people who are looking to save the dinosaurs for reasons other than their appeal as theme park attractions. They want to use them as weapons.

The trailer reveals that the situation forces Claire Dearing’s (Bryce Dallas Howard) new outfit, the Dinosaur Protection…

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Solo: A Star Wars Story reminds us that no one knows how to say Han’s name

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Solo: A Star Wars Story — and, more specifically, Donald Glover — will pay homage to one of the more puzzling aspects of the original trilogy: Lando Calrissian and his unexplained ability to make everyone mispronounce Han’s name.

Since the original trilogy, there’s been some debate on the true pronunciation of “Han.” Lando consistently uses a version that rhymes with “can,” while characters like Luke doggedly stick to “hon.” Last year, YouTuber Khai Button helpfully collected a comparison comprised of moments from the original trilogy.

You could almost chalk the difference entirely up to Lando, except that George Lucas himself seems to use Can Han. Curiously, other characters throughout the original trilogy will also occasionally slip…

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Rampage may stoke CRISPR fears, but scientists say it could be educational, too

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When David Liu, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard, first saw the trailer for the latest Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson movie Rampage, he rolled his eyes. Liu has been working with the gene-editing tool CRISPR for about six years, developing a gene therapy that might one day treat human hearing loss, among other things. In Rampage, a rogue CRISPR experiment is responsible for turning a gorilla, a wolf, and a crocodile into huge, savage monsters. When Liu saw the trailer in a movie theatre, he chuckled and said out loud, “Seriously?”

Yes, seriously. Rampage is a dumb action movie that features unbelievably indestructible monsters, an equally indestructible Dwayne Johnson, and several mentions of CRISPR. Though some…

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