The science of tracking hurricanes has seen huge advancements in recent years, allowing forecasters to better predict paths and overall impact of the large storms before they actually reach land. Warning systems and preventative measures are getting better, but it’s an imperfect science, and even measuring the sheer power of a hurricane as it’s happening can be difficult.
In a new announcement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Hurricane Michael, which made landfall in October of last year on Florida, has now been upgraded from a category 4 storm to a category 5. This makes the storm the first category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the United States since 1992’s Hurricane Andrew.
NOAA was able to make this determination based on data that was gathered after the storm had already hit the coast, piecing together the true intensity of the storm after it had been declared a category 4 based on real-time observations.
Scientists at NOAA’s National Hurricane Center conducted a detailed post-storm analysis on all the data available for Hurricane Michael and have determined that the storm’s estimated intensity at landfall was 140 knots (160 mph). This final wind intensity is a 5 knot (5 mph) increase over the operational estimate and makes Michael a category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale at the time of landfall on October 10, 2018, near Mexico Beach and Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.
It’s worth noting that while the storm has now been officially categorized as a category 5 hurricane, that only indicates that some of the winds produced by the storm were moving that fast.
“Category 5 winds were likely experienced over a very small area at and near the coast, and the change in estimated wind speeds is of little practical significance in terms of the impacts associated with the storm,” NOAA explains.
However, the storm was still incredibly devastating in terms of damage to infrastructure as well as its human impact. Michael was responsible for 16 deaths and an estimated $25 million in damages, according to the latest NOAA figures.
Amazon is now offering the option to US customers to access Amazon Prime Music service without having a Prime membership or Amazon Music Unlimited subscription.
But before you rush to try the service, it comes with quite a few caveats. First of all, it is ad-supported, which should be expected but still worth mentioning.
Second, and more importantly, it only works on Alexa-enabled devices, such as the Amazon Echo products, Sonos One, etc. This means you won’t be able to play it through any of the Prime Music apps on any platform or the web.
Lastly, you can’t just play any song you like. The ad-supported version allows playing stations, so you can tell Alexa to play music from an artist or genre and it will play a station, which is basically a playlist that it will create out of that request.
Of course, if you want to be able to play any song you like, anywhere you like or without ads, Amazon is happy to remind you that you can just get all that by subscribing to the service.
If you’ve paid attention to tech industry news to any degree over the past day or two, you’re no doubt aware that Samsung is dealing with a bit of unpleasant scrutiny at the moment over reports of early units of its forthcoming Galaxy Fold phone mysteriously breaking. Definitely a bad look for Samsung and suggestive that the company may have rushed its first foldable handset into production, or that there may at least have been some issues around quality control.
It was hard not to be reminded of those reports about Galaxy Folds breaking after a day or so of normal usage while watching the behind-the-scenes video that complements Apple’s latest “Shot on iPhone” commercial.
At one point in the behind-the-scenes footage, which you can watch above, one of the filmmakers is shown basically helpless when a shark snatches up his iPhone. With the phone secure in the shark’s jaws, the filmmaker swims after him and ends up successfully retrieving it. And the phone appears to be fine after that.
For the new commercial, titled Don’t Mess with Mother, Apple hired production company Camp4 Collective to showcase the iPhone XS’s video capabilities while capturing scenes from mother nature. The outtakes video includes scenes from a volcano, in the water with sharks and on mountains, the whole thing giving off a thrilling, “you are there” vibe. At one point, we see a monkey playing with and scrutinizing an iPhone.
The idea is apparently that iPhones can capture images and video of stunning quality in nature, with the inadvertent reminder that they can withstand some tough elements too. Just something to think about as we get closer to the April 26 launch date that Samsung has decided to stick to for its ridiculously expensive foldable phone that it’s still hoping people will take a chance on, despite the easy breakage some reviewers have experienced.
Revelations about apps from the Google Play Store sneaking past available protections and collecting gobs of user data without permission are nothing new, but a new investigation has revealed an especially troubling pattern of behavior among one particular set of apps.
A BuzzFeed analysis recently found that several Android apps that happen to be among the most-downloaded on the Google Play Store may in fact have been sharing data they collect with the Chinese government. One of the apps in question, a selfie app, has been downloaded more than 50 million times and all of them have reportedly been “committing large-scale ad fraud and abusing user permissions,” according to the report.
Some of the apps in question include:
Total Cleaner Smart Cooler Selfie Camera WaWaYaYa AIO Flashlight Samsung TV Remote Control
The main problem here seems to stem from developers exploiting the Google Play Store’s rules and procedures to hide who they are and to offer up apps that aggressively abuse user permissions and commit ad fraud. Among the collection of apps Buzzfeed found that fit this bill are the TV remote app that says it “might” use the microphone in your phone to record sounds while you watch TV, a Chinese-language app for kids that sends personal data to servers in China, and a flashlight app that you’d think would be pretty basic but nevertheless asks for dozens of sketchy permissions.
A Lifehacker followup to BuzzFeed’s investigation notes the apps in question have been downloaded close to a combined 100 million times, thanks in part to the developers hiding their country of origin and who owns the app. One of the things that should have been a giveaway with apps like these, though, is that they asked users for permission to use everything from a user’s location data to their phone sensors as well as personal contact information.
Consider one of the apps we mentioned above. As BuzzFeed notes, the Selfie Camera app had been downloaded more than 50 million times from the Google Play store, and it also maintained a 4.5-star rating after thousands of reviews. In 2017, the report continues, Google highlighted it as one of the most popular new apps in the UK — all of which, you’d think, would seem to give it a stamp of approval.
The app, however, was found to have code that fraudulently clicks on ads without the user realizing it, something that gobbles up data and drains the phone battery (Google banned the app, and several others, after BuzzFeed’s report was published).
To keep yourself safe, Lifehacker offers the reminder to be on the lookout for apps that include a high number of permissions, and especially permissions that seem weird for the app to have in the first place. The AIO Flashlight app we mentioned above, for example, asked for almost three dozen permissions, when a simple flashlight app would only need probably a fraction of that number to operate.
The SAFEGO, which normally retails for $44.95, is perfect for anyone that enjoys an adventurous lifestyle. It’s a small but durable lockbox that’ll keep your most valuable possessions safe while you’re at the beach, camping, or traveling. Simply insert anything you want to protect, lock it up, and then secure it to any fixed object.
With an interior volume of 88 cubic inches, the SAFEGO offers enough space to hold practically anything you need to protect. It’s made with a durable ABS plastic that’ll survive even the heaviest of impacts, the zinc alloy lock is rust resistant, and it even features a convenient earphone opening so you can listen to your music while your device is safely locked away.
There’s almost a limitless number of applications for the SAFEGO, too. Use it at the beach, for hotel stays, while on a cruise, or at the park. Students will love it too as it makes dorm living far more secure. And it’s a must-have item for travelers that plan to stay in youth hostels. Anytime you need to keep a valuable item secure, the SAFEGO is all you’ll need.
The SAFEGO comes in your choice of three colors: Black, White, or Blue. Though they may look different, each offers the same abilities and will keep your treasured possessions safe from harm.
BlackBerry had previously launched the BlackBerry KEY2 Red Edition with a few key differences (no pun intended) over the standard KEY2 version that’s currently available. BlackBerry is announcing the device’s US availability.
For starters, this is the KEY2 Red Edition. It’s a totally red version of the KEY2, not to be confused with the KEY2 LE, which was announced back during IFA as a similar-looking Atomic Red color option. The exposed metal parts of the phone are bright red while the QWERTY keyboard remains black and the physical keys are silver.
The Red Edition is made of the same 7000 series aluminum and features all the same specs as before, but the Red edition is the first US variant to come with 128GB of on-board storage. Previously, if you wanted that much internal storage, you had to import the device from Europe. The Red Edition also comes with newly-designed packaging and a pair of red BlackBerry-branded headphones that match the paintjob of the KEY2.
This new edition also debuts a redesign of the BlackBerry Hub+ app with a new look and updated UX. It also adds a new “action bar” to the Hub+ app for quicker access to shortcuts like search, sort, and compose.
You can grab the new KEY2 Red Edition now at Best Buy and Amazon for $699 Unlocked. As a reminder, the unlocked version is compatible with Verizon. This new edition comes at a premium of $50 as the regular price for the Black Unlocked 64GB version of the KEY2 has a regular price of $649 but as of the writing of this post, Best Buy is selling it for $599.
If that price is too steep, there’s always the Atomic Red BlackBerry KEY2 LE which retails at $499, but that one has a slower CPU, lower-cost build materials, 2GB less of RAM, and a smaller 3,000 mAh battery.
A trusted Apple insider earlier this week shared additional details about the upcoming iPhone 11 series of phones, focusing on the camera upgrades the iPhone maker has reportedly planned.
Among the details Ming-Chi Kuo offered was a claim that some of the iPhone 11’s cameras will adopt a new “black lens-coating” technology to make some of the lenses look “inconspicuous.” While his prediction may indeed prove to be accurate, Kuo may have included an incorrect detail in his report, one that’s already fueling crazy talk.
We’ve heard for a while now that the 2019 iPhones will have triple- and dual-lens cameras, and Kuo says the same thing in his latest research note to customers (via MacRumors):
We forecast the camera upgrade will be one of the new 2H19 iPhone’s major selling points. Critical spec upgrades are as follows. (1) Rear cameras of 6.5-inch OLED, 5.8-inch OLED, and 6.1-inch LCD will likely upgrade to triple-camera and dual-camera, respectively. A super-wide camera will be newly adopted by the triple-camera system, which is equipped with the 12MP/1um CIS provided exclusively by Sony. (2) The front camera of all three new iPhone models will likely upgrade to 12MP CIS+5P lens (vs. current 7MP CIS+4P lens).
Well-known leaker @OnLeaks provided an iPhone 11 render a while ago that showed what a triple-cam module would look like. It’s not the best-looking design option, but it’s a sacrifice people will surely live with:
Getting back to MacRumors’ account of the new Kuo report, we’ll focus on this part:
Kuo says the rear super-wide-angle lens and front camera lens on the next iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max will adopt “black lens-coating technologies,” which will make the lenses look “inconspicuous,” as hinted at previously.
This prompted @OnLeaks to offer various examples of what such could look like, using his previous iPhone 11 render:
Let’s check out the image above in greater detail:
Yes, the “special coating” renders are hideous, but this coating is such an inconsequential feature that it shouldn’t matter much. How much time does anyone spend looking at a phone’s rear camera design anyway?
That said, no matter how well-informed Kuo might be, I think he may have gotten his facts slightly wrong. It’s very possible that the selfie cam will adopt a black lens-coating, but it seems unlikely for any of the rear lenses to receive a similar treatment.
Reports from Asia back in late September said that camera parts maker Largan was developing a so-called “pure-black” coating for selfie cameras. The purpose of this coating is to make the selfie cam invisible to the naked eye. It’s a cosmetic effect meant to make all-screen phones with notches look even better, especially when the display is turned off, and especially devices with notches. The feature makes sense because the entire front panel of an all-screen phone is usually
Lil Dicky tapped some music artists to create “Earth,” a bizarre animated video that urges people to protect the environment. (Photo Credit: Lil Dicky/YouTube)
Earth Day is around the corner, and to raise awareness about climate change, Lil Dicky shared Earth, a bizarre animated music video that features many musicians including Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and Snoop Dogg, as safari creatures and weed plants.
On Thursday, Lil Dicky dropped Earth on YouTube, and the hilarious music video has generated more than six million views so far. The video, which was created in partnership with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, aims to encourage better environmental practices worldwide and appreciate the beauty of our planet.
“Like a lot of people, I had a vague idea that something bad was happening here on Earth, but I didn’t really realize how insane our climate crisis is and how screwed humanity is about to be,” Lil Dicky told VICE in a press statement. “It’s full-on crazy! If we don’t get our act together now, and change a lot about our fundamental behavior, Earth will become unlivable alarmingly soon.”
In the video, a young boy finds a Jumanji-like book and opens it to discover an animated world complete with all types of wildlife and greenery. The starlets in the music video? Adam Levine, Halsey, Zac Brown, Wiz Khalifa, Sia, and other music artists contributed to backup vocals and skits. Oh, and we can’t forget about Snoop Dogg’s brief cameo as a “nature-obsessed” weed plant. And, you’ll get to see Lil Dicky and Leonardo DiCaprio have a major bro moment at the end of the video.
To learn more about Lil Dicky’s Earth video and join the cause, visit the “We Love the Earth” website here.
If you’re an aspiring skywatcher looking for a good reason to stay up past your bedtime and gaze into the cosmos, I have good news: Friday, April 19th will feature a full moon. However, if you’re eagerly anticipating tonight’s full moon because it carries the nickname “Pink Moon,” I have a devastating truth to reveal: It won’t be pink.
Tonight’s full moon — or “Full Pink Moon” or “Pink Full Moon” or whatever you see it called around the web and beyond — carries its nicknamed not based on its actual color, but rather because it’s the first full moon of April, when lovely pink flowers known as ground phlox first begin to bloom. Yeah, it’s kind of a bummer.
The Pink Moon follows the trend of naming moons based on agricultural schedules set by early farmers that used cues from the Moon for a variety of things, according to the Farmers’ Almanac. It’s said that lunar cycles helped Native American farmers track the changes in season, though there’s some dispute over which tribes actually used which naming conventions, and how widespread the practice was.
Nevertheless, these old labels have seeped into our popular culture and are now used widely. Hence, we know all about the Harvest Moon, Wolf Moon, Pink Moon, Beaver Moon, and the like.
Regardless of how much stock you put into the naming schemes, tonight’s full moon will probably be worth your time to check out. We’re just a few days past perigee, the point where the Moon is closest to Earth, so it’ll appear large and bright in the night sky, as long as the weather cooperates. Just don’t expect it to be pink.
Image Source: RICHARD WAINWRIGHT/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock
The emergence of 3D TLC flash has enabled a new class of budget-friendly bus-powered external SSDs. Flash memory has also seen a recent drop in prices, and this has made high-capacity drives affordable. Current external flash storage devices fall under one of four categories:
Thumb drives with a direct flash to USB interface External SSDs implementing one of the following configurations: SATA drive behind a USB bridge NVMe drive behind a USB 3.1 Gen 2 bridge NVMe drive behind a Thunderbolt controller
Today’s review takes a look at two 2TB drives from Seagate (under the LaCie brand) and Western Digital. They belong to the second category in the above list, placing a SATA drive behind a USB 3.1 Gen 2 bridge.
Introduction and Platform Analysis
Thumb drives usually come with USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 interfaces, and are meant to plug in directly into the host port without an extra cable. Capacities have been steadily increasing, though very few high-end models boast of peak performance in the 300 – 400 MBps range. Most low-end and mid-range thumb drives have write speeds of the order of 20 – 80 MBps, and read speeds of the order of 100 – 150 MBps. Over the last few years, we have had vendors place a 2.5″ SSD board behind a SATA – USB 3.0 bridge. These have now evolved into M.2 SATA SSDs behind a much smaller and more power-efficient SATA – USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C bridge. Such external SSDs now make up the bulk of the mid-range and high-end bus-powered external direct-attached storage devices. Consumers requiring very bus-powered external storage with very high performance are served by Thunderbolt 3 SSDs that are surprisingly affordable despite their performance profile. These SSDs put a M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD behind a Thunderbolt 3 controller and deliver performance equivalent to an internal PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 NVMe drive (up to 3 GBps). Recently, we have seen PCIe 3.0 x2 NVMe SSDs behind a NVMe-USB 3.1 Gen 2 bridge that provide performance numbers of around 1 GBps.
The LaCie Portable SSD has the same internals as that of the Seagate Fast SSD that we had reviewed back in September 2018, while the WD My Passport SSD 2TB variant is similar to that of the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD covered in the same review. However, the WD My Passport SSD 2TB variant uses a different firmware (in addition to the changed capacity) that enables hardware encryption compared to the one in the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD.
Similar to the Seagate Fast SSD, the LaCie Portable SSD has a square form-factor and a traditional 2.5″ SSD board inside. The 9mm x 79mm x 94mm device comes in at 82grams. Unlike the silver gray / black exterior of the Fast SSD, the LaCie Portable SSD sports a completely black exterior with a gold lining around the ridge.
Two 18in. cables – a Type-C to Type-C, and a Type-C to Type-A one are bundled. Value additions include two free
The OnePlus 7 is coming on May 14th, according to a recent report, just as other rumors seemingly confirmed that OnePlus would have three different versions in stores this year, including the regular, Pro, and Pro 5G models. A new discovery now suggests that OnePlus is looking to bring its phones to every major US carrier.
The OnePlus 6T was the first OnePlus phone to launch on a US mobile operator, and T-Mobile’s involvement clearly helped OnePlus sell even more handsets in the US than before, according to recent statistics. Redditors have found job openings on OnePlus’s website that clearly mention all the other major US carriers by name. The Chinese smartphone vendor is looking for Senior Technical Account Managers for AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon.
OnePlus has yet to announce anything on the matter, and T-Mobile remains the only US carrier stocking OnePlus phones for the time being. But it makes absolute sense to see OnePlus working on expanding its presence in the US. The best way to do it is by inking deals with US carriers. Not only would carriers make future OnePlus phones easier to buy, but OnePlus could also get more market share thanks to the extra exposure.
Not to mention that OnePlus will have a 5G phone in stores this year, and carriers like Sprint and Verizon may be interested in stocking this particular device. The OnePlus 7 Pro 5G will first hit EE in the UK this quarter, but it’s very likely other mobile operators launching their 5G networks this year will be interested in the handset. Both Verizon and Sprint plan to launch a variety of 5G devices this year, including the Galaxy S10 5G and the LG V50 ThinQ.
What happens when your drop your phone and shatter the screen? Or when its battery starts to grow noticeably weaker? These common technological woes are things that you should be able to remedy yourself—just buy some parts, get some tools, and fix your device. But it’s not that simple. Gadget manufacturers have been increasingly restricting access to the parts, tools, and knowledge required for regular consumers to fix their broken tech. Instead, consumers have to turn to authorized repair technicians, and often pay a lot more, to get something fixed.
Our guest this week, Nathan Proctor, is the national director of the Right to Repair Campaign for US PIRG. Proctor and his team advocate for state and federal legislation that secures consumer access to hardware and software so they can handle these repairs themselves.
Also this week, Peter Rubin tells us about what to expect from the new PlayStation console Sony plans to release next year, and we discuss the problems with early review units of the Samsung Galaxy Fold smartphone.
You can always listen to this week’s podcast through the audio player on this page, but if you want to subscribe for free to get every episode, here’s how:
If you’re on an iPhone or iPad, open the app called Podcasts, or just tap this link. You can also download an app like Overcast or Pocket Casts, and search for Gadget Lab. If you use Android, you can find us in the Google Play Music app just by tapping here. You can also download an app like Pocket Casts or Radio Public, and search for Gadget Lab. And in case you really need it, here’s the RSS feed.
There are so many companies these days that sell robot vacuums, and many of them are actually quite good. There’s still only one Roomba though, and iRobot’s lineup of advanced robotic vacuum cleaners is still widely regarded as the best in the business. No other company offers the kind of reliability an features that Roomba does, and the brand’s most popular model is discounted right now on Amazon. That’s right, hurry and you can save $78 on the iRobot Roomba 690 Robot Vacuum!
Here’s more from the product page:
Sleek, premium design complements your home décor; includes 1 Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barrier for more control over where your robot cleans 3-Stage Cleaning System and Dual Multi-Surface Brushes pick up everything from small particles to large debris Patented Dirt Detect sensors alert Roomba to work harder on concentrated areas of dirt, such as high-traffic zones of your home Full suite of intelligent sensors guide the robot under and around furniture to help thoroughly clean your floors Clean and schedule from anywhere with the iRobot HOME App; compatible with Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant
As the era of Mini LED backlighting takes off in earnest, Acer has become another major supplier of displays to announce a monitor incorporating the tech. The ConceptD CM7321K is a high-end PC monitor that will be aimed at graphics and video professionals who need a wide color gamut, a high contrast ratio, a very high luminance, and a Delta E<1 color accuracy.
Acer’s ConceptD CM7321K monitor uses a 10-bit 31.5-inch IPS panel featuring a 3840×2160 resolution, 600 – 1000-nits brightness (typical and peak in HDR mode), a 4 ms response time, a 60 Hz refresh rate, and 178°/178° horizontal/vertical viewing angles. The key feature of this display is its backlighting, with 1152 Mini LED zones for dynamic local dimming.
Backlighting based on hundreds (or thousands) of independently-controlled Mini LEDs promises to bring capabilities of LCDs closer to those of OLEDs when it comes to contrast ratio, color gamut, and brightness. Leading panel suppliers demonstrated prototypes of products outfitted with this kind of backlighting last year, with plans on the TV side of matters to start commercial shipments of Mini LED Ultra-HD televisions in 2019. As it appears, Acer and ASUS will be ready with their PC displays featuring this innovative backlighting this year as well.
In case of the ConceptD CM7321K monitor, thanks to its Mini LED-based full area local dimming (FALD) backlighting with 1152 zones, Acer is rating its contrast ratio as 100,000,000:1 when adaptive contrast management (ACM) is in use, Though it goes without saying that like other adaptive contrast setups, Acer’s ACM contrast ratio should not be compared head-to-head to ‘usual’ contrast ratio reported by manufacturers. Meanwhile the wide spectrum of the backlight means that the display can cover 99% of the AdobeRGB and 89.5% of the Rec.2020 color gamuts.
To ensure that professionals get a good experience out of the box, Acer has validated its ConceptD CM7321K with Pantone color institute, and will ship the monitor pre-calibrated to a Delta E<1 color accuracy (presumably for all color gamuts it will support). The display also carries VESA’s DisplayHDR 1000 badge, so it meets the VESA’s highest standards for a HDR monitor, and this means it will support at least HDR10 (no word on Dolby Vision, though).
As far as connectivity is concerned, the monitor has two Thunderbolt 3 connectors (one input and one output to daisy chain two LCDs), four HDMI 2.0b inputs, as well as one DisplayPort 1.2. In addition, the display has two 3 Watt speakers.
If you visit BGR with any frequency, you know that we love a good iPhone leak as much as any other website. Not every leak, render, and report pans out, but they typically help us form a rough outline of what to expect from Apple when it finally unveils its next flagship smartphone every September. But every once in a while, questionable leaks need debunking before they get out of control, like the latest supposed iPhone 11 leak.
On Friday, concept designer Ben Geskin shared a blurry photo of Foxconn CEO Terry Gou holding what, at a glance, appeared to be an unreleased iPhone. Geskin theorized that this may be the iPhone XI/iPhone 11, probably because the camera array appears to be larger than what appears on the iPhone XS or XS Max.
In fairness, if anyone was going to be able to get a hold of a prototype of an unreleased iPhone, the CEO of one of Apple’s biggest suppliers would be a prime candidate. That’s not to say that this theory makes a great deal of sense, but crazier things have happened. Unfortunately, the theory begins to collapse in on itself rather quickly after a closer look at the video from which the photo was pulled. Check out the device in question at 0:45 and 1:15:
The device in his hands does indeed look unlike any iPhone currently on the market, but as our own Mike Wehner was quick to point out, there are plenty of phone cases that can give the appearance of a larger or differently-shaped camera array. In fact, this case on Alibaba goes a long way in making the iPhone XS Max look like the device Gou is holding in the video above. And you might also notice that the camera array, while “larger” than expected, appears to have the same layout as the array on the XS and XS Max, with a flash sandwiched between two lenses.
The iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Max, on the other hand, are rumored to feature square arrays with triple-lens cameras contained within. Nothing of the sort is to be found in this video. So, as ready as we are for a video of the next iPhone out in the wild, the Foxconn CEO was not responsible for the biggest leak of 2019.