Google’s Pixel 3 launch event will happen on October 9th

Google’s Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are hardly a secret at this point, having leaked out again and again over the last few weeks. But they’re still not quite official. The phones just took one big step closer to real, with Google sending out invites for a “Made By Google” event that will almost certainly focus on the phones. The invite itself doesn’t say much, besides that it’ll happen at 11 am on October 9th in New York. They also use a “3” (as in Pixel 3) to make a heart in “I <3 NY”, presumably no accident. The rumor mill, meanwhile, has said plenty. Like that the Pixel 3 will likely have a Snapdragon 845 processor, 4GB of ram and a 12.2 megapixel camera behind a 5.5″ display. The beefier Pixel 3 XL, meanwhile, is said to bump things up to a 6.71″ display (complete
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LEGO built a life size, drivable Bugatti from over a million Technic pieces

In what just might be the wildest thing anyone has ever built with Lego, the company behind the bricks has built a full-size, driveable model of the Bugatti Chiron supercar. Seriously. Built partly as a passion project amongst Lego’s creative team and partly as a promo to show off at the Italian Grand Prix, the model’s final piece count clocks in at over one million Technic pieces. (Technic, for the unfamiliar, is Lego’s line of interconnecting rods, gears, axles, motors, and other parts a bit more complex than the bricks and blocks the company is best known for.) Lego says that all in all, the build process took just shy of 13,500 hours. They started brainstorming back in June of last year, with actual construction beginning in March of 2018. When LEGO first sent over the video above, my first thought was that there was some CG trickery going
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Nest’s door lock will soon play nice with Google Home

Back in March, Nest and Yale teamed up to release a smart door lock to complement Nest’s then brand-new video doorbell. It’s a solid piece of hardware, but it had a curious quirk for something made under Google’s watch: it didn’t work with Google Home or Google Assistant. That’ll change later this week. On August 29th, the lock will be getting an update that adds Google Assistant and Home support to bring a handful of voice-powered tricks into the mix. Things like:
  • Locking the door with a “Hey Google” command
  • Asking Google Assistant whether or not the door is locked
  • Add locking the door to part of a custom, multi-step routine, like a “Goodnight” routine that shuts off the lights, turns off the TV, and bolts the doors.
You’ll be able to lock the door by voice – but, it’s worth noting, not unlock it… because, you know, security.
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Pokémon GO is getting a big new ‘Special Research’ quest next week

Just a few months back, Niantic added its first “Special Research” to Pokémon GO. Sort of like an in-game quest, the research had players complete a series of tasks (often over a number of days) to unlock an otherwise unobtainable Pokémon. Now they’re back with another one. The company will be adding a second Special Research quest to the game on August 20th. Whereas the last set unlocked Mew from the first generation of Pokémon games, this one brings out Gen II’s Celebi. This technically isn’t the first time Celebi has appeared in GO — attendees of GO Fest back in July got an early crack at a Special Research quest specifically tailored to the event, with the final reward being the opportunity to catch Celebi a solid month before anyone else. Though a bummer to anyone who couldn’t make it to Chicago, it was a fitting way to debut
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Grabb-It wants to turn your car’s window into a trippy video billboard

It reminds me of something out of Blade Runner. Maybe it’s because it looks a bit futuristic – a bit unreal. Maybe it’s because I’m looking at an ad somewhere I never expected to see one, like the skyscraper-height ads of Ridley Scott’s future. Grabb-It turns a car’s side rear window into a full color display, playing location-aware ads to anyone who might be standing curbside. They’re currently aiming to work with rideshare/delivery drivers, enabling them to make a bit of extra coin while doing the driving they’re already doing. As the driver crosses town, the ads can automatically switch to focus on businesses nearby. Near the ball park? It might pitch you on tickets for tonight’s game. Over in The Mission? It could play an ad about happy hour at the bar behind you. So how’s it work? I couldn’t figure it out at first glance – but once
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Discord is launching a game store

Just a few weeks back, Valve moved into Discord’s turf a bit with a dramatic overhaul of Steam’s chat system. Today, Discord is returning the favor by playing with the idea of selling games through its namesake chat platform. The company says it’ll launch a beta of the game store later today, though it’ll initially be limited to a small slice of its userbase (which now sits at 150 million users). More specifically, the beta will roll out to just 50,000 users from Canada at first. It’ll be dabbling in game sales on two fronts: they’ll directly sell some games, while other games will be added perks for its Discord Nitro subscription service. Whereas Valve has massively increased the number of games on Steam over the last few years by opening up to third parties through things like Steam Greenlight or (more recently) Steam Direct, Discord is pitching this as
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Patrick Stewart is returning to the role of Jean-Luc Picard for a new Star Trek series

Did you ever think Patrick Stewart would return to the role of Jean-Luc Picard? Neither did he. But he will! Sir Pat Stew himself just announced the news on Instagram, timed to line up with an on-stage announcement at the Star Trek Las Vegas 2018 convention:
I will always be very proud to have been a part of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but when we wrapped that final movie in the spring of 2002, I truly felt my time with Star Trek had run its natural course. It is, therefore, an unexpected but delightful surprise to find myself excited and invigorated to be returning to Jean-Luc Picard and to explore new dimensions within him. Seeking out new life for him, when I thought that life was over. During these past years, it has been humbling to hear stories about how The Next Generation brought people comfort, saw them through
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Google Maps’ location sharing will now share your phone’s battery status, too

Early in 2017, Google added a feature to Google Maps that lets you opt to share your location in (near) real time with your close friends and family. Now they’re fleshing out that info with another important little detail: your phone’s remaining battery charge. It looks like this: Wondering why anyone might care about the status of your battery? If you try to ping someone’s location and their phone is dead, there’s not much an app can do. Most location sharing apps will just sit there and spin while it waits for some sort of response, leaving you to worry about all the reasons their phone might not be responding with a current location. Did they lose signal? Did someone steal their phone? By clueing you in on whether someone’s phone is just about to die, you’ve at least got a better idea as to what’s going on. The folks
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Tesla is building its own AI chips for self-driving cars

“We’ve been in semi-stealth mode on this basically for the last 2-3 years,” said Elon Musk on an earnings call today. “I think it’s probably time to let the cat out of the bag…” The cat in question: the Tesla computer. Otherwise known as “Hardware 3”, it’s a Tesla-built piece of hardware meant to be swapped into the Model S, X, and 3 to do all the number crunching required to advance those cars’ self-driving capabilities. Tesla has thus far relied on Nvidia’s Drive platform. So why switch now? By building things in-house, Tesla say it’s able to focus on its own needs for the sake of efficiency. “We had the benefit […] of knowing what our neural networks look like, and what they’ll look like in the future,” said Pete Bannon, director of the Hardware 3 project. Bannon also noted that the hardware upgrade should start rolling out next
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Apple is ending its App Store Affiliate Program in October

Seemingly out of the blue, Apple has just announced that its iTunes Affiliate Program will no longer include apps for iOS or macOS. These changes will go live on October 1st, 2018. The program previously allowed individuals, blogs, YouTubers, etc to link to an app and earn a small cut of the sale if a purchase was made. When the program first launched, affiliates would make 7% of any app purchase (or a little less than 7 cents on a 99 cent app.) In April of last year, they dropped that down to 2.5%. With this news, the commission is gone completely. The broader iTunes Affiliate Program itself will live on, but only for music, movies, books, and TV purchases. Here’s the full text from Apple’s own newsletter
Thank you for participating in the affiliate program for apps. With the launch of the new App Store on both
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Four million people are using Apple’s OS betas

For the past few years, Apple has made early versions of its operating systems available to those willing to brave the bugs. Through its beta software program, anyone willing to deal with spotty battery life or a crash or three could load up pre-release builds of iOS, macOS, watchOS or tvOS. Ever wonder how many actually take advantage of it? According to Tim Cook on today’s earnings call, more than four million people are currently running on the betas. Alas, that’s as detailed as he got. He didn’t break down which platforms had the most beta users (though I’d bet iOS or macOS lead the way), nor what percentage of that beta group was developers (accessing the beta to debug their apps before the update) versus consumers (who just want to poke around the new goods early). For reference: As of February of 2018, Apple had 1.3 billion
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Firefox is getting a new logo (or ten)

When you think of “Firefox”, you probably think of something that looks like this: Or, perhaps, something like this: That logo (or some iteration between the two) has been the browser’s logo since it launched back in 2002. Its time for change, Mozilla says. In a blog post about “evolving the Firefox brand”, Mozilla Creative Director Tim Murray outlines the company’s thinking: Firefox isn’t just one browser now. With side projects like Firefox Rocket (the company’s browser for connections with less bandwidth) and Firefox Reality (Firefox, but for virtual reality), the company is finding it needs a bit more wiggle room with its design language. While they shared a few work-in-progress potential logos, they were quick to note that none of them are final. They might tweak things over time (and they’re asking for feedback), or just go back to the drawing board all together. The whole thing might
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Tesla is making a $1500… surfboard?

Tesla is no stranger to branded merch. Its got the standard company swag — the hats, the shirts, and the mugs. It’s got quirkier stuff, like miniature Teslas for kids and USB chargers shaped like the Superchargers that juice up their vehicles. And now they’ve got… surfboards? While it’s now gone for some reason, a product page went live in its shop early this morning detailing a $1500 Tesla-branded board (we’ve asked Tesla for insight, but it sounds like they sold out.) Electrek caught the description before the page vanished:
“Designed by the Tesla Design Studio in collaboration with Lost Surfboards and Matt “Mayhem” Biolos, surfboard shaper for World Surf League Championship athletes. The Limited Edition Tesla Surfboard features a mix of the same high-quality matte and gloss finishes used on all our cars. The deck is reinforced with light-weight “Black Dart” carbon fiber, inspired by the interiors
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Google Assistant can now do things automatically at a scheduled time

Back at Google I/O, Google announced two new features for Google Assistant: custom routines and schedules — both focusing on automating things you do regularly, but in different ways. The first lets you trigger multiple commands with a single custom phrase — like saying “Hey Google, I’m awake” to unsilence your phone, turn on the lights and read the news. Schedules, meanwhile, could trigger a series of commands at a specific time on specific days, without you needing to say a thing. While custom routines launched almost immediately after I/O, scheduling has been curiously absent. It’s starting to roll out today. As first noticed by DroidLife, it looks like scheduling has started rolling out to users by way of the Google Home app. To make a schedule:

Atlassian’s HipChat and Stride to be discontinued, with Slack buying up the IP

Hipchat, the workplace chat app that held the throne before Slack was Slack, is being discontinued. Also being discontinued is Atlassian’s own would-be Hipchat replacement, Stride. News of the discontinuation comes first not from Atlassian, but instead from a somewhat surprising source: Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield. In a series of tweets, Butterfield says that Slack is purchasing the IP to “better support those users who choose to migrate” to its platform.

Facebook’s ‘Watch Party’ rolls out to all, letting Groups watch videos together

For the past few months, Facebook has been testing something it calls “Watch Party”. It’s a feature that would let Facebook Groups host shared video streaming sessions, with everyone in the group being able to see/comment on the same videos at the same time. Take the Facebook Live concept and swap in a queue of pre-selected videos to make a sort of ad hoc video channel, and that’s a Watch Party. Today the company is rolling the feature out to all Facebook Groups. Here’s how it’ll work (screenshots borrowed from Facebook’s demo video): 1) Starting a watch party is just like posting anything else to a group’s wall. Give it a caption to catch people’s attention, maybe give it an image, and post away. 2) Add a few videos to start filling the queue 3) Once a few people have joined, the stream will start. The video will be synced
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Segway’s whacky new roller shoes will cost $399

Did you know Segway is making a pair of self-balancing roller shoes? It is! The company has been tinkering with all sorts of new form factors since it was acquired by Ninebot in 2015, from half-sized Segways to kick scooters. Next up: inline… shoe… platform things. Called the Segway Drift W1s, they sorta look like what would happen if you took a hoverboard (as in the trendy 2016 hoverboard-that-doesn’t-actually-hover “hover”board, not Marty McFly’s hoverboard), split it in two and plopped one half under each foot. It released a video demonstrating the shoes a few weeks back. Just watching it makes me feel like I’ve bruised my tailbone, because I’m clumsy as hell. Pricing and availability was kept under wraps at the time, but the company has just released the details: a pair will cost you $399, and ship sometime in August. Oh, and they’ll come with a free helmet,
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Valve’s answer to Discord is now live for everyone

Just a month ago, Valve announced Steam Chat — an overhaul to its aging chat system, and the company’s answer to rapidly growing competition from apps like Discord. At the time, it was a beta limited only to those who were granted access. Today it’s opening up to all. As Devin put it when the beta features rolled out, the previous chat system “may as well be ICQ.” It was useful for a quick chats, but it felt much too limited for anything beyond that. The new Steam Chat, meanwhile, takes a huge step toward being a modern chat offering. It groups contacts by the game they’re playing, shows whether or not they’re currently in-game or in a match, offers easy access to your “favorite” contacts and allows for big group chats and persistent channels. It supports inline media (GIFs! SoundCloud! YouTube!), encrypted voice chat and has
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Epic hid an Easter egg in Fortnite to acknowledge the game’s greatest failed rescue

For being in charge of what is probably the biggest game in the world right now and all the responsibilities that come with that, Epic is proving itself quite capable of changing things up on the fly. Case in point: Last week, a video went viral showing one player making a valiant effort to save another player — a competitor, no less! — who had found themselves in a more or less inescapable section of the map… only to have things go wonderfully, hilariously wrong at the last second. Today, a tombstone marking the mishap appeared in-game. Here’s the video of the original rescue mission, as streamed by would-be hero Muselk (wait for the end):

The whole thing is like an unintentional lesson in comedic

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Pokémon GO gets ‘Lucky’ Pokémon obtainable only by trading

Pokémon GO just got a little surprise update, complete with a curious new feature: “Lucky” Pokémon. Most things in Pokémon GO are adapted from things that already exist in the Pokémon universe. Items like incense, lucky eggs and the like all exist in the main Pokémon series (though what these items actually do tends to be a bit different in GO). Lucky Pokémon, as far as I know, is a new concept altogether. So what are they? And how are they different from existing Shiny Pokémon? Shiny Pokémon are rare variations of existing Pokémon with colors that differ from the standard. You might tap on your 398th Dratini, for example, only to find that it’s bright pink instead of the standard blue. You might randomly tap a Minun to find that it has green ears instead of blue, or an Aron with red eyes instead of blue. It’s a fun
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