The Morning After: Wednesday, April 19th 2017
Hey, good morning!
This morning, we put Samsung’s Galaxy S8 through its paces, finally seeing why Facebook bought VR company Oculus, and started replaying a 20-year-old game. (Because it’s free.) Welcome to the Morning After.
Two of the best phones available right now.
Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus review: Redemption is here
Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is mostly a slam dunk. It’s brilliantly designed, brimming with horsepower and has a beautiful screen. That’s all most people will need, and our gripes are minor. It’s too bad virtual assistant Bixby is still incomplete — its voice interface doesn’t work yet, and the stuff we did get can be hit-or-miss. Fortunately, Bixby is strictly optional, and the rest of the phone is remarkably polished. Long story short, if you’re looking for a new phone, this should be at the top of your list.
The headphone maker enters a new product category with help from an architect.
Master and Dynamic developed its own concrete for its first speaker
It’s important to make a statement when you branch into a new product family. Master & Dynamic has been designing some of the best-looking headphones you can buy for just under three years; today it’s introducing its first speaker, the MA770. It’s not just any wireless speaker, though. Rather than using wood, plastic or metal for the primary material on the MA770, Master & Dynamic chose concrete.
Power overwhelming.Download ‘StarCraft’ and ‘Brood Wars’ for free, right now
Blizzard just made its hit game Starcraft available for free on PC and Mac. The company will release a proper Remastered edition later this year with upgraded online capabilities and graphics upgraded for 4K-quality resolution, but you can get the old-school feeling back right now. Yes, a Zerg rush is still just as satisfying 20 years later. See you on Battle.net.
Rumors.Apple is definitely working on new iPhones
The latest batch of iPhone rumors has arrived — rather conspicuously timed to match Galaxy S 8 reviews — as Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports the company is working on three new models to debut this fall. Those following along have probably heard much of this before, but this new report suggests that the anticipated “10th Anniversary” iPhone 8 or X will have a curved screen without upgrading from LCD tech to OLED. It’s also unclear whether screen based Touch ID fingerprint scanning will make it into the high-end model, or if it will launch at the same time as the two other new iPhones we’re expecting.
Still $299Sony squeezes a new 1TB hard drive into the PS4 slim
The PS4 slim just got a little more room, packing a 1TB hard drive instead of the 500GB storage it featured originally. It’s just one more thing to consider when you’re choosing between this and a PS4 Pro, but the better news is that its price hasn’t changed at all.
Steve Ballmer’s new project is an open database of government spending
USA Facts will be your new favorite website for dinner table arguments about taxes.
Our leaders may be determined to make their daily dealings less transparent, but they probably didn’t reckon on bored Steve Ballmer. The former Microsoft CEO has spent more than $10 million on a new project to open up the US government budget. USA Facts, as profiled in the New York Times, is an open, searchable database that tracks where almost all of your federal, state and local tax dollars are spent.
Five years left to train.eSports joins the 2022 Asian Games as a medal event
Esports will form part of the 2022 Asian Games, set to be held in China, with medals and everything. The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) said it wanted to reflect “the rapid development and popularity of this new form of sports participation.” It marks an evolution from next year’s 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, where eSports will debut as a demonstration sport. Come 2022 however, it will be a medal event, given equal footing with long-established athletic events.
And you can get it right in your browser, too.
Google Earth feeds your wanderlust with ‘Voyager’ stories
Google Earth’s latest update ratchets up its time-killing potential several notches. The major changes center around the home page, a new ship’s wheel icon… and adventure. Well, it’s actually called “Voyager.” Google Earth has always been about finding and investigating, but Voyager is about enabling that encouraging that with curated content. Yes, even Google Earth isn’t immune to the current trend for “stories,” or in this case, curated tales from around the world (literally). These stories are essentially themed journeys around the planet peppered with rich media such as 360 videos, and Street View (including inside buildings and underwater). And for those not sold by Facebook’s Social VR, you can also put your Oculus Rift headset to use flying around Google Earth as well.
That Oculus buyout makes sense now.Facebook Spaces finally delivers on social VR
Three years ago, when Facebook bought Oculus for $2 billion, many scratched their heads in befuddlement. Social networks and virtual reality seem like such strange bedfellows; one is about connecting you to the world, while the other appears to do the opposite. But CEO Mark Zuckerberg envisioned a world where VR is a place for communication, not isolation. And, many years later, we get Facebook Spaces. It’s the company’s answer to social VR and Senior Editor Nicole Lee found it surprisingly compelling.
But wait, there’s more…
- AMD’s mid-range Radeon 500-series video cards are here
- Facebook’s latest Messenger makeover is all about business
- Murders, suicides and rapes: Facebook’s major video problem
- Review: Samsung’s Gear VR controller