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2018-05-22T13:57:10.312Z
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LG’s new G7 ThinQ has a horrendous name, but the phone itself is pretty important. It’s not a stretch to call this a restart for the company. LG has said that going forward, it’s not going to rush out new phones on the same schedule as Samsung just for the sake of it. Instead, LG plans to spend more time making its new hardware really count. The G7 is the first product designed under that philosophy. It’s got a notch, good cameras, and some AI smarts, but ultimately it’s not as good as it could’ve been or needed to be to really compete.

The biggest problem is price. Some US carriers are selling the G7 for as high as $750, which is even more expensive than Samsung’s Galaxy S9. The S9 is typically the default Android smartphone purchase for many consumers, so it’s genuinely perplexing that LG isn’t trying to undercut Samsung in any meaningful way. I think the G7 offers a strong enough package to cost somewhere between $600 and $650, but over $700 is just pushing it too far.

The G7’s overall design has a lot in common with last year’s V30: glass on both sides, curved edges, and a refined look. It comes in a range of nice colors. My production retail unit is the black model, and I’m starting to feel really over black, slippery, smudgy phones. I’m sure the red and silver versions hide fingerprints much better. The...

Custom console game controller maker Scuf is today announcing a new custom PlayStation 4 peripheral that sports an additional two buttons. The device is also Scuf’s first ever wireless PS4 controller for the US and Canada market. In the absence of an official Sony-made controller in the vein of Microsoft’s Xbox One Elite, this new Scuf model is about as close to a pro gamepad you can get for the PS4. Other options include the wireless Hori Onyx and the pair of official licensed pro gaming models from Razer and Nacon.

The new product line, called Scuf Vantage, sports two so-called “sax” buttons that are described as “unique side-mounted right and left” buttons and positioned on either side of the controller next to the existing bumper and trigger buttons.

The controller also features a few features new to Scuf’s line of PS4 gamepads, including a new audio control option for adjusting volume and muting various sound sources via the PS4 touch bar. Sucf says the Vantage will also come with a removable faceplate for easy customization of the thumbsticks and other aesthetic options.

Image: Scuf Gaming

The device isn’t all that different than Scuf’s current PS4 line, which includes the standard Scuf Infinity Pro and the slightly pricier four-paddle Scuf Impact. With the Vantage,...

“[Forty] percent of men by age 40 struggle from not being able to get and maintain an erection,” exclaims the website for Hims, a recently launched telemedicine startup that sells generic versions of popular baldness and erectile dysfunction treatments. Worried you might be in that 40 percent? Hims has a solution: with the help of sildenafil (also known as generic Viagra), you can have “an erection when you want one, not just when your penis says it’s allowed.”

“Nobody wants to go to the doctor,” says Hims founder and CEO Andrew Dudum as we talk on the phone. With a “sensitive and uncomfortable topic” like erectile dysfunction, seeking help can feel especially intimidating. The Hims model allows users to upload photos and chat with a physician remotely. Instead of having a face-to-face conversation with your physician (or a sex therapist), you can submit your info online and sign up for a monthly subscription of erectile dysfunction medications. You don’t even have to worry about whether or not your insurance company will cover your prescription: Hims sells low-priced generic medications directly to consumers, taking insurance out the equation entirely. (At present, Hims exclusively offers sildenafil. Cialis and Levitra are not currently available as generics.)

Hims is aggressively promoting the idea that a healthy sex life is one where erections occur on demand and last as long as you want

Yet in their attempt to help men sidestep awkward conversations about erectile embarrassment, Hims is...

Google demonstrated a jaw-dropping new capability in Google Assistant earlier this month, allowing the Assistant to make calls on your behalf. While Google Duplex generated controversy and discussion around artificial intelligence, Microsoft has been testing similar technology with millions of people in China. At an AI event in London today, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella showed off the company’s Xiaoice (pronounced “SHAO-ICE”) social chat bot.

Microsoft has been testing Xiaoice in China, and Nadella revealed the bot has 500 million “friends” and more than 16 channels for Chinese users to interact with it through WeChat and other popular messaging services. Microsoft has turned Xiaoice, which is Chinese for “little Bing,” into a friendly bot that has convinced some of its users that the bot is a friend or a human being. “Xiaoice has her own TV show, it writes poetry, and it does many interesting things,” reveals Nadella. “It’s a bit of a celebrity.”

Microsoft’s bot can just call you and chat

While most of Xiaoice’s interactions have been in text conversations, Microsoft has started allowing the chat bot to call people on their phones. It’s not exactly the same as Google Duplex, which uses the Assistant to make calls on your behalf, but instead it holds a phone conversation with you. “One of the things we started doing earlier this year is having full duplex conversations,” explains Nadella. “So now Xiaoice can be conversing with you in WeChat and...

After being announced back in February, Alcatel’s 3V is now launching in the US for $150. Though it’s very much a budget phone, the 3V looks and feels surprisingly nice for its low price and limited specs.

The phone looks and feels fairly modern, with a 6-inch, 18:9 LCD display with rounded corners and a 2K resolution. The body is plastic, but it has a simple design that looks like it’s a solid piece. I got to see the phone back at Mobile World Congress, and I was surprised by how nice its display was. That makes enough sense, though; Alcatel phones are made by TCL, which is first and foremost a TV company.

One of the phone’s other highlight features is the presence of dual cameras on the back — a primary 12 megapixel camera, paired with a 2 megapixel for depth effects. I got the impression that the cameras weren’t very good, but it’ll at least give you the option to do portrait style shots like on higher-end phones.

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

The phone has a quad-core MediaTek processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and a 3,000mAh battery. It’s running Android Oreo and has a fingerprint sensor and headphone jack, which is nice. Though it charges over Micro USB and doesn’t support...

Today from 12:00PM ET to 1:30PM ET, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will appear before the European Parliament to answer questions that will likely focus on Facebook’s user privacy policies. The meeting was initially going to be a closed session, but yesterday, European Parliament president Antonio Tajani said that Zuckerberg had agreed to a live stream of the proceedings. It will be available through Tajani’s page on Facebook and the European Parliament’s website. The latter’s live streaming schedule actually lists two events: a handshake between Tajani and Zuckerberg at 18:00 CET (12:00PM ET), and the conference at 18:20 CET (12:20PM ET).

At one hour and fifteen minutes long, this meeting isn’t going to be as exhaustive as Zuckerberg’s two-day session in front of the US Senate and House of Representatives. But it will probably cover similar ground to those hearings, potentially with more emphasis on the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which goes into effect May 25th.

Zuckerberg is expected to stick to the script and apologize, again, according to an excerpt of the prepared remarks seen by The New York Times. “Whether it’s fake news, foreign interference in elections or developers misusing people’s information, we didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibilities,” Zuckerberg plans to say. “That was a mistake, and I’m sorry.”

Facebook rolled out some features last month to comply with GDPR, including a new...

Best Buy is ending its gaming subscription services including the Gamers Club Unlocked (GCU) program, which offered discounts on new games for customers, as spotted by SlashGear. The GCU originally cost $99.99 for a two-year membership before being slashed to $29.99 back in March 2015. With membership, customers could receive 20 percent off new games, including pre-orders, and other benefits like better trade-in credits.

According to a memo released to employees and shared on Twitter, Best Buy will shut down its Gamers Club programs including free membership and paid tiers, and will no longer accept new members. Current members will still receive benefits, but won’t be able to renew their membership once it ends.

Only thing I can contribute to the Best Buy GCU reports is that 'GCU is dead', the memo pictured below was sent out today to employees and is real, current GCU members will get benefits until membership expires but cannot be renewed.RIP GCU pic.twitter.com/T2t2L93wlW— Wario64 (@Wario64) May 18, 2018

The memo is dated May 20th and states that the company’s point-of-sale system has stopped “prompting for enrollment” and that employees should also stop offering GCU to new customers. It’s perhaps unsurprising that Best Buy is cutting the program, given that regular customers would be able to recoup their membership fee pretty quickly. That means the subscription service was likely eating into the...

The Razer Blade has served as the core of Razer’s laptop lineup for years now, but while the compact Razer Blade Stealth and high-end Blade Pro have received recent updates in the past few years, the middle-of-the-road Blade has been largely left out: the basic look has been unchanged since 2013, even as Razer has continued to update internal hardware over time.

The new Blade offers a completely overhauled design

But that changes today with the latest revision of the Razer Blade, which completely overhauls the stagnant Blade design. with a new look, a bigger 15.6-inch display, Intel’s latest eighth-generation Core i7 processors, and NVIDIA’s Max-Q architecture that should let the Blade stand toe-to-toe with the best gaming laptops out there.

The biggest change right off the bat is the new design. Razer is jumping from the 14-inch panel featured in the earlier Blade models to a 15.6-inch display (a move that helps differentiate the middle-of-the-road Blade from the Blade Stealth, which got upgraded from a 12-inch to a 13.3-inch model last year). The increase in screen size doesn’t mean that the relatively compact Blade is jumping up in size, too — instead, Razer is killing the massive bezels that dominated the old model of the Blade, with the actual laptop measuring...

Razer is updating its Core line of external GPU enclosures today, introducing a new Core X model and adding support for Apple’s MacBook Pro laptops with Thunderbolt 3 ports.

The Core X is designed as a new, entry level model for Razer’s external GPU line, costing just $299 (as opposed to the Core V2’s $499 price tag), although it loses out on some of the Core V2's more advanced features like USB and Ethernet ports and Razer’s Chroma lighting. That said, the Core X does offer some improvements over the Core V2, with 100W pass-through charging over Thunderbolt, an integrated 650W power supply (versus the V2’s 500W), and support for larger 3-slot GPUs (compared to the 2.2-GPU size on the V2.)

Razer says that Macs will only work with AMD Radeon cards, though

The Core X (and the Core V2) also works with Apple’s macOS laptops, in addition to the previously offered Windows 10 support, although Razer says that you’ll need to be running High Sierra 10.13.4 or higher and be using a Mac-compatible AMD Radeon card. It’s worth noting that Nvidia does make official drivers for many of its cards for Macs which might work even without OS-level support like AMD, but your mileage may vary and Razer — at least on paper — only recommends AMD GPUs for Mac use with its enclosures.

The Core X is available today from Razer’s website for $299, although like the...

A testing subdomain on HTC’s website, spotted by Roland Quandt, has confirmed the already-leaked specs and design of HTC’s next flagship phone, while also giving us an indication of its price. Priced at 5,888 yuan in China (roughly $920) with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, the U12 Plus appears poised to compete against the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy S9, Apple’s iPhone X, and Huawei’s P20 Pro. Not a budget model, in other words.

Aside from the obvious absence of a notch, HTC is also deviating from the hot trends of 2018 by not having an OLED screen: the display listed on the spec sheet is a 6-inch WQHD+ (1440 x 2880) Super LCD6. The U12 Plus is also set to have Boomsound speakers, IP68-rated water and dust resistance, a microSD card slot for storage expansion up to 2TB,a 3,500mAh battery, and a Snapdragon 845 processor beating at its heart.

The testing website has quickly been pulled down, so HTC has at least been quick to correct its mistake, though the images, price, and spec confirmation have all made their way out into public knowledge already. That doesn’t leave much for HTC to reveal at its launch on Wednesday.

...

President Trump has been ignoring White House protocols meant to keep his phones secure, according to a report this evening in Politico. The story says that Trump carries at least two iPhones, one for calls and one for browsing Twitter and reading news. These are supposed to have features like the camera disabled and be inspected on a regular basis; but according the report, that hasn’t been the case.

The phone used for calls reportedly still has its camera and microphone installed, which are obvious hacking targets that could reveal a great deal of intelligence to adversaries. In the past, President Obama made it sound as though his phones had both the camera and microphone taken out to remove this risk. Trump’s phones do, at least, have their GPS disabled, according to the report.

It’s not clear if the camera and mic are still present on the phone the president uses for Twitter. But the report does still bring up security concerns: aids would like Trump to swap the phone out monthly to ensure it stays secure, but an anonymous official said that he’s refused to do so because it’s “too inconvenient.” Another anonymous source seemed to confirm this, saying that the phone doesn’t need regular swap outs, because of security features enabled on the phone and Twitter account. It’s reportedly been five months since the phone was last checked.

The report says it’s unclear how often Trump’s call-making phone is...

Comcast has launched new Xfinity xFi Pods, which are mesh Wi-Fi extenders meant to combat dead zones in homes. We wrote about the pods last year, but their launch was delayed. They are small pods that can be plugged into an outlet and paired with the xFi Wireless Gateway or the xFi Advanced Gateway. The xFi Pods are supposed to keep checking Wi-Fi connections in the house and monitor their own performance.

To set up the xFi Pods, all you need to do is download the xFi mobile app, which is available for iOS and Android, and the app will give you instructions on how to pair the Pods with the compatible router. Then you can continue to monitor the status of all your Wi-Fi devices through the app.

Image: Comcast

The xFi Pods come in three-packs for $119 and six-packs for $199, which doesn’t include shipping and handling. They’ll be available in select Xfinity retail stores, from the xFi app, and on the website. Comcast says it plans to introduce a monthly payment plan option as well.

Lava spilling off the southeastern edge of the island of Hawaii is producing a noxious haze where it hits the seawater. Made out of hydrochloric acid, steam, and shards of volcanic glass, the gas is hazardous to anyone who breathes it. But while the mixture is dangerous, it shouldn’t put many people in danger.

The noxious fumes are called “laze,” which volcano experts say is way less peaceful than it sounds. The stuff forms when lava hits the cool ocean, almost like water on sauna rocks — if the steam that sizzled off had acid and glass in it. The more lava, the more laze. But this isn’t the first time we’ve seen laze floating over a spot on Hawaii’s coast, according to Robin Andrews for IFL Science. So scientists have had time to study it. “We know it’s a hazard to people who are right in the thick of it, so it’s important to stay clear of it,” says volcanologist Michael Poland with the US Geological Survey.

Most people have left the area because of the lava, Poland says. “It’s a few kilometers before you get to any sort of residential area that’s still occupied, and at that point it should dissipate,” he says. So the people who are most likely to be exposed are the geologists and emergency managers working in the area — who are trained to avoid the laze — or tourists who shouldn’t be...

Despite a new Spotify policy on hateful content or conduct that removed R. Kelly’s music from the service’s official playlists, the musician’s streaming numbers have been unaffected, according to The Associated Press. Before the policy change on May 10th, his music received an average of 6,584,000 streams per week on Spotify; in the week after the announcement it received 6,676,000 streams.

Kelly’s music was originally blacklisted from the curated playlists created by Spotify — but not from the service itself — because of the numerous allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation leveled against him over the years. A 2017 BuzzFeed article reported on an abusive sex cult allegedly created by Kelly, where women said he physically punished them for breaking his “rules” and controlled their every move. His behavior received renewed attention as the #MeToo gained steam, resulting in a #MuteRKelly campaign supported by numerous women of color in the Time’s Up movement.

We join the call to #MuteRKelly and insist on the safety + dignity of all women. We demand investigations into R. Kelly’s abuse allegations made by women of color + their families for two decades. We call on those who profit from his music to cut ties. #MuteRKelly #TIMESUP #WOC pic.twitter.com/TYmDRVIH00— Ava DuVernay (@ava) April 30, 2018

After Spotify decided to deemphasize Kelly by not actively promoting him on their playlists,...

Microsoft and Google are jointly disclosing a new CPU security vulnerability that’s similar to the Meltdown and Spectre flaws that were revealed earlier this year. Labelled Speculative Store Bypass (variant 4), the latest vulnerability is a similar exploit to Spectre and exploits speculative execution that modern CPUs use. Browsers like Safari, Edge, and Chrome were all patched for Meltdown earlier this year, and Intel says “these mitigations are also applicable to variant 4 and available for consumers to use today.”

However, unlike Meltdown (and more similar to Spectre) this new vulnerability will also include firmware updates for CPUs that could affect performance. Intel has already delivered microcode updates for Speculative Store Bypass in beta form to OEMs, and the company expects them to be more broadly available in the coming weeks. The firmware updates will set the Speculative Store Bypass protection to off-by-default, ensuring that most people won’t see negative performance impacts.

“If enabled, we’ve observed a performance impact of approximately 2-8 percent based on overall scores for benchmarks like SYSmark 2014 SE and SPEC integer rate on client 1 and server 2 test systems,” explains Leslie Culbertson, Intel’s security chief.

As a result, end users (and particularly system administrators) will have to pick between security or optimal performance. The choice, like previous variants of Spectre, will come down to individual systems and servers, and the fact that this new variant appears to be less of a risk than...

I know a lot of people love Google Photos, but sometimes you realize that the service is missing some elementary stuff. For example, there hasn’t been a Favorites feature until now. Google has announced that, over the next week, it’s rolling out that functionality. You’ll be able to tap a star at the upper right of any photo in your library, and it’ll automatically show up in Favorites.

A Favorites album is created as soon as you begin starring images. And that’s pretty much it! Nothing fancy. If you don’t see the option to star a photo, you don’t have Favorites just yet. The wait shouldn’t be more than a few days, though.

It’s OK to play favorites. Rolling out this week, tap the ⭐️ button to mark a photo as a favorite. Head to the Albums tab and view all your favorites in one place. pic.twitter.com/eWnSMDKQ72— Google Photos (@googlephotos) May 21, 2018

Photos will also soon let users heart photos that have been shared with them, making things feel a little more social and Instagram-like. At I/O earlier this month, Google announced other new Photos features that include AI-suggested quick edits to improve photos, color pop, and the ability to colorize old images. The first two of those new capabilities have already rolled out to users.

Coming soon, you can give some love to the photos...

How bad is the situation with Android emoji, despite Google’s attempts at an overhaul? So bad, in fact, that Twitter is updating its Android app with custom emoji because most Android phones are never on the same (or latest) software release, so users often aren’t seeing the same icons.

The problem gets even worse when iOS users publish tweets with emoji that Android users don’t have (resulting in those boxes seen in the “before and after” shot). It’s actually pretty sad and even more embarrassing that Twitter had to step in and address the issue.

Regardless of what emoji your phone comes with, from Android KitKat, Nougat, or even Lollipop, Twitter will override and provide you with its own set of “Twemoji” starting today, according to Emojipedia. Moving forward, no matter what the software situation is on your Android phone, you’ll be seeing the same emoji within the Twitter app.

Actually, you might have seen these emoji before and you’d be correct — the new Android “Twemoji” are the same used on the desktop version of Twitter. At least that experience won’t be as fragmented.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the final details of the dual-motor, all-wheel drive version of the Model 3 over the weekend, including a top-of-the-line variant that is more expensive than a base-level Model S or X. While we’ve known for a long time that these were coming, this is the most clarity Tesla’s offered yet about specs, pricing, and options.

Taken one way, it’s a sign Tesla is working through the early production struggles of the Model 3 and is ready to start offering more diverse options, much like it does with the Model S or X. But Tesla also needs to sell these more expensive Model 3s to grow its revenue at a time when the company is spending more money than ever. In the meantime, Tesla is holding back on making the cheapest version of what is supposed to be the company’s “mass-market” electric car — a decision that Musk says is a matter of life and death for the company.

Dual-motor Model 3s will start at $54,000 for now — without Autopilot

The Model 3 technically starts at $35,000, which is how it has held onto that “affordable” moniker. But Tesla decided early on in production that the first version of the Model 3 it would make was the one with the long range battery pack (an extra $9,000) and the premium upgrades package ($5,000), which together bump the starting price to $49,000. All-wheel drive...

A kid playing with the new Lego City set about Arctic exploration might think that scientists excavate mammoths and saber-toothed cats out of ice cubes using enormous saws, ice crawling machines with huge claws, and four propeller choppers. The reality, unfortunately, is not nearly as sci-fi, according to experts.

“The real version is a lot dirtier, murkier, a lot more kind of like a home-improvement kit you got out of the back door to get the job done,” says Victoria Herridge, a paleobiologist and scientific associate at the Natural History Museum in London. “The animals themselves would be more like a zombie version of a mammoth as opposed to a pristine one.”

Image: Lego

The new Lego City set is coming out on August 1st, and it features an Arctic exploration base equipped with snowmobiles, giant trucks with cranes and spinning saws, a supply skiplane and helicopter, as well as ice corers, laptops, and cameras. When Mark Carnall, the collections manager at Oxford University Museum of Natural History, first saw the images of the set, he tweeted that he wasn’t “too sure on the veracity of the scientific equipment.”

“Your average paleontologist who works on permafrost on things like mammoths and sabertooths would be very envious with the range of gear,” Carnall tells The Verge.

...

If you use tape to hang up a drawing, it’s tricky to later get that tape off without ruining the image. When the drawing in question is centuries old, the stakes are far higher. But researchers have figured out how to fix this problem, and their tape-removal method has already revealed secrets from a 16th century drawing. This innovation is just one technological advance that’s helping us learn about the past, from confirming a cause of death to reading thousand-year-old manuscripts.

To solve the tape issue, scientists at the University of Florence developed a clear, rubbery gel that can be cut to the exact size needed. Just stick it on the tape, and gently peel both the gel and the tape off. (They explained the process in a paper published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.) Using this method, the researchers found the words “di mano di Michelangelo” (“from the hand of Michelangelo”) under a piece of tape stuck on a drawing of a detail from Sistine Chapel. Is this claim real? Why would someone want to hide this? Others are now investigating, though the researchers suggest it’s probably...