Pokémon GO is finally going to let players trade Pokémon

Just shy of two years after launch, Pokémon GO is finally about to roll out one of its most notably absent features: Pokémon trading. A staple of the series, trading lets players swap their Pokémon with another player’s in the never-ending quest to, well, catch’em all. The trading mechanics will be tied into a new Friend system; the Friend system will roll out later this week, with the trading mechanics going live “soon after” (though Niantic doesn’t want to get more specific than that, presumably in case something breaks.) Here’s how it all works:
  • To trade with someone, you must be their in-game friend *and* within 100 meters (~320 ft.) of them
  • To become friends, you exchange your unique Trainer Codes
  • Once friends, you’ll get in-game perks for playing together. Your Pokémon will get attack bonuses when battling gyms together, for example – and when you raid together,
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Ring’s $199 security system will finally ship next month

Way back in October of last year, Ring announced “Ring Protect” — a modular, no contract, DIY home security system. After a few delays, a bit of legal drama and Ring being acquired for a billion dollars by Amazon, the alarm is finally about to ship — albeit with a slightly different (better!) name. Ring Protect has been redubbed as the more intuitive Ring Alarm — a better name if only because competitor Nest has both a security product and a totally different product (a smoke detector) called Nest Protect. Ring’s base level alarm kit starts at $199, which includes a keypad (for arming/disarming the system), one door/window sensor, a motion detector and a range extender. You’ll probably want to add more components, and, fortunately, they’re relatively cheap: another door sensor, for example, is $20, while the motion detectors are $30. Nest’s competing security system packs a few
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This functional pinball machine is built entirely of LEGO

I’ve spent a good chunk of my life piecing together various LEGO projects… but even the craziest stuff I’ve built pales in comparison to this. It’s a fully functioning pinball machine built entirely out of official LEGO parts, from the obstacles on the playfield, to the electronic brains behind the curtain, to the steel ball itself. Creator Bre Burns calls her masterpiece “Benny’s Space Adventure,” theming the machine around LEGO’s classic ‘lil blue space man. It’s made up of more than 15,000 LEGO bricks, multiple Mindstorms NXT brains working in unison, steel castor balls borrowed from a Mindstorms kit, plus lights and motors repurposed from a bunch of other sets. Bre initially set out to build the project for exhibition at the LEGO fan conference BrickCon in October of last year, and it’s just grown and grown ever since. Bre told the LEGO-enthusiast site Brothers Brick that she’s spent somewhere
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Android Auto now works without wires if you have the right hardware

Android Auto — Google’s system for powering your car’s dash display from your phone, and the company’s answer to Apple’s CarPlay — is going wireless. You can leave your phone in your bag, and it’ll still be able to push your apps and content to your in-dash screen. Alas, there’s a catch: To get it all working wirelessly at this point, you’ll need to have some pretty specific gear. You’ll need the right phone (Pixel or Pixel XL, Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL, Nexus 5X or Nexus 6P) and the right head unit — and for now, that means one of just a handful of units announced by JVC/Kenwood earlier this year. The list of compatible devices will grow in time (Google says to expect more “this year”) — but if you want wireless right this second, the options are quite limited.

The entire Myst series will be re-released for Windows 10

Myst holds a special place in the hearts of many. Released in 1993, it was unlike any video game most had seen at the time — and yet, its DNA lingers in countless games released today. It was also the game that made tens of thousands of kids beg their parents for a CD drive. With the game’s 25th anniversary just months away, Myst has found itself in a place no one could have predicted in ’93: Kickstarter. The games original developers, Cyan, have managed to get the rights to all seven games in the Myst universe, and have turned to Kickstarter to re-release it as one big box set. After launching this morning with a target of raising $247,500 dollars, it’s already smashed through its goal and is currently sitting a bit shy of $500k. The games included in the set:

Niantic to settle Pokémon GO Fest lawsuit for over $1.5M

Back in July of last year, Niantic organized an outdoor festival focusing on its augmented reality game, Pokémon GO. In theory, players would come from all around for a day of wandering Chicago’s Grant Park, meeting other players and catching new/rare Pokémon. It… did not go as planned. Widespread cellular connectivity and logistical issues brought the game (and thus the event itself) to a halt before the doors even opened. People booed. People threw things at the stage. People sued. While Niantic quickly announced that they’d be refunding all ticket costs (and giving players $100 of in-game currency), that still left many of the estimated 20,000 attendees out the cost of hotels, transportation, etc. Niantic is settling a class action suit surrounding the festival, TechCrunch has learned, paying out $1,575,000 dollars to reimburse various costs attendees might have picked up along the way. Things like airfare, hotel costs, up to
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Tesla voluntarily recalls 123,000 Model S vehicles

If you own a Model S built before April 2016, you’re probably going to want to swing by a dealer and get it checked out… Tesla has just issued a voluntary recall for 123,000 Model S vehicles, having found that the power steering bolts in some were displaying “excessive corrosion.” Model X and Model 3 vehicles aren’t affected here, nor are Model S built after April 2016. The company says that the corrosion is primarily occurring in cars driven in particularly cold climates, but isn’t limiting the recall to those cars (because, well, who knows where you’ll be driving it a few years from now). In an email outlining the recall to affected owners, Tesla notes that swapping out the bolts will “take around an hour,” and that no accidents or injuries are believed to have been caused by this issue. This isn’t the first time Tesla has issued
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Rachio announces a new smart sprinkler controller, raises $10M

Rachio, the company that builds WiFi controllers for your garden sprinklers (think Nest Thermostat, but for watering your plants instead of heating your house), is back with a new one. They’ve also raised $10M in a Series B round. So what’s new in this Gen 3 version?
  • A new hardware design, which the company tells me is meant to feel “sort of like an MP3 player”
  • 5ghz WiFi support (in addition to the existing 2.4ghz support)
  • Support for a new Flow Meter that the company says will ship in May, allowing the Rachio to know exactly how much water it’s putting out and do things like detect leaks in your sprinkler system. If a leak is detected, the Rachio knows to shut off the water.
  • Expanded support for more types of sprinkler systems
  • Support for a new version of Rachios “Weather Intelligence” system that uses data from satellites
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Amazon’s new GameOn API helps developers add eSports competitions to their games

Here’s a curious bit of news for your Monday morning: Amazon wants to be the backend for gaming tournaments. They’ve built a new, AWS-powered platform called “GameOn” for third-party developers, allowing them to easily add things like tournaments, leaderboards and leagues to their games. Fittingly for Amazon, there’s a product fulfillment aspect to the new API — competition organizers can offer up real-world prizes to players (assuming said prize is available on Amazon), and Amazon will handle the process of getting it to the winner. The developer would have to pay for the prize, of course — but they won’t have to deal with getting a player’s address, packaging and shipping the prize, etc. At the end of a competition, winning players would see something like this: Tap the box and a browser window opens to an Amazon page. Login to your Amazon account, accept the prize, and
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Wing It is a Facebook Messenger bot meant to get you out of the house

“I should go on a weekend trip,” you think to yourself. “I’ll go to the mountains!” And then the weekend comes and all the hotels are booked and you’re tired and the mountains are far and hey look, Netflix! Wing It is a Facebook Messenger bot that tries to get you out of that rut. You punch in your criteria, and it’ll pop up every once in a while when it finds trips that fit the bill, recommending accommodations and an activity or two in the area. Wing It asks just a few questions off the bat: Where do you live? How far do you want to go? Is it just you and a partner, or a big group of friends? How much is each person looking to spend? A few minutes later, it’ll respond with a short list: a few places to stay and some things you might
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Aalo is do-it-yourself, customizable, re-purposable furniture

Buying furniture sucks. Getting rid of it later is worse. Aalo, part of the Y Combinator Winter 2018 class, is trying to fix both sides of that equation. They want you to design and build your own furniture… and when you’re done with it, turn it into something else. They’ve built a system of interlocking, interchangeable parts which you can use to build their designs or create your own. “Furniture”, here, mostly means things to sit your stuff on at this point — not stuff you sit on. Think bookshelves, tables, and shoe racks — not couches, beds, and chairs just yet (though people have built benches with it.) Some examples: [gallery link="none" ids="1608424,1608422,1608423,1608425"] The system is currently made up of around ten different components, from different lengths of beams to different types of connectors and mounts. Furniture can be ordered in pre-arranged kits — but if you’re
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Nest’s video doorbell is now shipping

Back in September of last year, Nest announced its first smart doorbell. When it would actually ship, however, was left sort of up in the air; all the company said at the time was to expect it sometime in Q1 of 2018. Turns out, that means today. The Nest doorbell — or the Nest Hello, as it’s known — is now shipping for $229. Nest also mentioned a few other bits of news:
  • The front door lock/touchpad they built in partnership with Yale, also announced back in September of last year, is now shipping
  • They’re now making external, wireless, battery-powered temperature sensors for the Nest Thermostat (previously, the thermostat only really cared about the temperature of whichever room it was in). You can add up to six sensors. One sensor will cost $39, or a three pack goes for $99. The sensor (pictured at the bottom of this post) is
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Twitch will now give Prime users free games each month

A bit of fun news for Amazon / Twitch Prime users: you’re going to get some free games each month. Twitch has just announced Free Games With Prime, a program in a similar vein as Microsoft’s Games with Gold on Xbox Live, or Sony’s offerings alongside PlayStation Plus. In short: each month, they’ll offer a […]

Twitch will now give Prime users free games each month

 A bit of fun news for Amazon/Twitch Prime users: you’re going to get some free games each month. Twitch has just announced Free Games With Prime, a program in a similar vein as Microsoft’s Games with Gold on Xbox Live, or Sony’s offerings alongside PlayStation Plus. In short: each month, they’ll offer a selection of PC games. Download them within the offering window,… Read More

Lighthouse’s 3D sensing, AI-powered camera is now available for $299

 What happens if you take a home security camera, throw it out, and head back to the drawing board with engineers from the world of self-driving cars behind the wheel? That’s the basic premise behind Lighthouse. They’re trying to build a camera that, thanks to its 3D-sensing lasers and a mountain of machine learning chops, has some sense of what it’s looking at. After years in… Read More

Nest rolls out a $5 cloud recording plan for its cameras

 Just a quick bit of news for those with Nest cams around the house: a new, cheaper Nest Aware (read: the cloud recording service that also gives the camera a bit more smarts) plan is on the way. Nest has long offered two plans: a $10/month plan that lets you store the last 10 days of video history, and a $30/month plan that gave you 30 days of video history. This new plan will cost $5 per… Read More

One of Nest’s cameras can now double as a Google Assistant

 After Google announced earlier this month that it was going to wrap Nest back into Google’s hardware operation, everyone figured we’d see a bit more overlap between the two. Sure enough, just two weeks later: the Nest Cam IQ Indoor is getting support for Google Assistant. Nest says the app update that lets users toggle Google Assistant functionality should hit sometime today. The… Read More