Uber’s regulatory battles continue as Berlin bans the service over safety concerns

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Yet another city government is cracking down on the taxi app Uber. The Berlin State Department of Civil and Regulatory Affairs announced that it was banning the use of Uber on safety grounds and would fine the fast-growing startup roughly $33,450 if it continued operations, and will hit Uber drivers with a $26,760 fine for working with the service. This follows an April ban on Uber in Belgium and widespread taxi strikes in London, Paris, and Barcelona, which snarled streets and had local regulators scrambling for solutions. Uber also has operations in Asia, and the local government in Seoul, South Korea has been openly discussing a ban.

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YouTube’s redesigned TV app puts focus on channels and playlists

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Today YouTube announced it’s rolling out a new TV interface that’s specifically been “designed for the big screen.” The updated app is already available on Xbox One, and should be available for other set-top boxes in the very near future. Based on a quick glance, it’s a bit strange for YouTube to say the new look was specifically designed for the television; it’s really just a new sidebar that nearly identical to the one iOS and Android users are used to.

But it does succeed in making your channels and subscribed playlists easier to get to, which is a welcome change. Underneath the sidebar, YouTube still looks very similar to what was there before. But the focus here is clearly playlists and getting videos from the site’s most popular…

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Before drones, the US Air Force shot at real pilots for target practice

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As an Army Air Force pilot during World War II, one could expect to take fire from time to time — but the bullets weren’t always coming from Axis aircraft. Sometimes, it was your fellow servicemen and women taking the shots.

The Bell P-63 Kingcobra fighter, developed in 1942, never got much love from the American military, which had a preference for the legendary P-51 Mustang. Instead, over 2,400 Kingcobras ended up in Soviet control under Lend-Lease, a wartime program to provide American allies with gear to fight Germany and Japan. That doesn’t mean the US didn’t put the P-63 into service, though: it ordered a bunch as the RP-63 “Pinball,” a substantially modified P-63 designed specifically to be fired upon for target practice. Though…

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The best fitness tracker you can buy

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I sit at a desk too much. I drink too much coffee. I don’t sleep very well. I have an odd feeling those three things might be connected. This thing on my wrist agrees with that assessment.

After a few months of wearing and interacting with a fitness tracker, I have a shockingly clear picture of my lifestyle. Some of the news is good (living far from the subway is actually a good thing), some is bad (seriously: too much coffee), but it’s all eye-opening. And with the right device, it can be…

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Twitter says it will improve harassment policies after Zelda Williams quits service

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Twitter has long received flack for its weak responses to clear instances of abuse over its network, but now it finally says that it’s going to do… something. In a statement provided to The Washington Post with regard to the harassment of Zelda Williams, Twitter’s vice president of trust and safety says that the company is currently “evaluating how we can further improve our policies to better handle tragic situations like this one.” He says that may include making Twitter’s policies stricter with regard to self-harm or private information, and it could also mean better watching out for users who have just had a family member die.

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Taser wants every cop to have a head-mounted camera

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You hear a click, like the sound of a light switch. Or a pencil being snapped.

You’re facing away from it, looking straight ahead, just as you were instructed. The click and the searing pain you feel are nearly instantaneous. But your mind tricks you into thinking that there’s a distinct period between the click and your first realization that something’s gone very wrong…

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Motorola sends invites to a launch event for phones, headsets, and the Moto 360

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We’re waiting for a few things from Motorola: the 360 smartwatch, the successor to the Moto X, and anything else the company soon to be owned by Lenovo might have to show us. And on September 4th, we’re going to get at least a glimpse. Motorola has just sent out invites to press to “a Moto Launch Experience,” complete with a Cootie Catcher that opens up to reveal the phrases “Choose To Discover” and “Choose to Have Fun.” (Apparently choice is important to Motorola. Who knew?) When it closes, there are four icons: A phone with an X in the middle, a phone with a G, a watch, and what appears to be a Bluetooth headset.

This isn’t exactly the most secretive invite we’ve ever seen. We’re apparently going to see two phones, the 360, and a…

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The ‘Batman v. Superman’ movie has taken over downtown Detroit

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A wedge of space on the border of Corktown and Downtown is a mega movie set right now, thanks to the production of Batman V Superman (the release date is March 25, 2016). Streets are blocked off and security is tight, but much can still be seen of the set, which is along 6th Street from Porter to Howard. And yes, one of the things you can see in this photo gallery is Ben Affleck, who is rumored to be renting in Royal Oak this summer…

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Tom Hanks just released a typewriter app for iPad

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Tom Hanks has made it well known that he’s one of the few remaining typewriter diehards, but today he’s taking that passion digital. He’s releasing an iPad app called Hanx Writer that recreates the typewriter experience on a tablet: keys clack, the paper moves side-to-side, and new sheets need to be rolled in each time you start a page. “Hanx Writer is just my little gift to the future Luddite hipsters of the world,” Hanks tells USA Today. Hanks’ app does make some updates for the modern age, adding in impressive new technologies like a “delete” key — though those who want the true experience can set it to just cross out unwanted marks with Xs instead. Hanks created the app in collaboration with the agency Hitcents.

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The company behind Tinder acquires controversial Q&A site Ask.fm

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Interactive Corp, better known as IAC, is the digital holding company run by Barry Diller. It owns a wide portfolio of online companies and today the BBC reports that it will be acquiring Ask.fm for an undisclosed sum. IAC already owns Ask.com and About.com, so Ask.fm will fit into a suite of online question-and-answer services. British politicians including Prime Minister David Cameron have criticized the site, saying Ask.fm does too little to prevent suicide and police cyberbullying.

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This is how we shop in the future

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By Ellis Hamburger and Ben Popper

There’s something special about the mall. The smell. The squeaky-clean floors. The blinding light and ethereal music that seems to emanate from the air itself. The suburban mall has always been an essential communal watering hole, a place to see and be seen, and a place to window shop. But — the golden age of the mall is over, it seems. During the 2013 holiday season, US stores got half the foot traffic they did three years ago, says The Wall Street Journal.

Instead, we’re shopping online and shifting our attention towards new watering holes — apps like Instagram, Pinterest, and Wanelo — places to show off our new designer jeans and designer vacations. It is estimated that by the end of 2014, nearly a…

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You have a right to record the police

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A suburb of St. Louis, Missouri has been under a dramatic siege since Saturday, when a police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown. In the wake of the killing, protests have engulfed the community — drawing a heavy-handed police crackdown with St. Louis County Police officers armed with assault weapons and outfitted with military equipment. Many of the striking images have come from reporters on the front lines, but also from citizens holding nothing more than their smartphones.

Tonight, around 10PM ET, a St. Louis County Police line demanded that a crowd of protesters turn off their cameras. Minutes earlier, the police had ordered what appeared to be a peaceful crowd to disperse, firing smoke grenades…

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‘Street Fighter’ combos are so much cooler without the fancy camerawork

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Why should you spend 14 minutes watching every single Ultra combo from Ultra Street Fighter IV? Because thanks to some tweaking by YouTube video-maker moo422, you’re seeing all the action — not just the cinematic close-ups you get while playing the game. Get an unvarnished, no-holds-barred look at the gritty world of competitive supernatural street fighting, where characters flicker in and out of existence for repeat shots, slam hard into thin air, and conjure up props from nowhere.

It’s actually more fascinating to watch the way that different fighters’ complicated Ultra moves spread out, unobscured, across the stage. If you just want to see what the martial arts style of your favorite character looks like without the game’s normal…

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Intel wants to track Parkinson’s patients using wearables

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It’s not hard to find a wearable device that can track your activity at all hours of the day, but aggregating that data from large groups of people has proven to be a more difficult task. So much so that a number of big technology companies including Apple, Samsung, and Google are now trying to help people harness data into something meaningful. Now you can add Intel to the list. Today the company announced a partnership with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research that aims to track and analyze those with Parkinson’s disease using wearable devices. The hope is to better monitor patterns and pick up on symptoms while potentially shedding more light on the disease to work on a cure.

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Humans are starting to look like horses right before the Model T

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Are robots coming for your job? Experts are divided, and opinions range from cheery placidity to paralyzing fear. YouTube user CGP Grey, in a new video, makes an effective case for the latter.

Robots are already replacing jobs in every sector, he says, an argument that’s been made before. More importantly, he pops a hole in inflated economic optimism. “Better technology makes more better jobs for horses” sounded like a reasonable phrase right until Henry Ford started pumping out Model Ts, and yet, replace “horses” with “humans” and you have an argument that’s being made right now.

The video may be too pessimistic by the end, but the thesis still stands. Should we be afraid of robots stealing our jobs? If we’re unprepared, then yes.

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Verge hack week is coming!

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It’s going to be bonkers.

Here’s the scoop: next week (August 18-22) we’re going to totally blow up The Verge and let Vox Media’s insanely-talented product team take over. Dieter and I will be covering breaking news, which will be hilarious and wonderful, and we’ll have a series of guest posts about The Future from ridiculously smart people across the whole of Vox Media…

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