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Here’s how App Actions in Android 9.0 Pie work, and how to control them

When accessing apps on your smartphone, you want it to take as little effort as possible — especially if they’re ones you use on a daily basis. Android’s latest operating system, Android 9.0 Pie, does just that with App Actions.

Powered by machine learning, the OS predicts “Actions,” or shortcuts, you’re about to perform based on your smartphone usage and the time of day. For example, in the morning at your usual commute time, App Actions might suggest navigation on Google Maps or resuming the audiobook you’ve been listening to, whereas plugging in your headphones after work might throw up a suggestion for a Spotify playlist or to call your partner or a friend.

Similar to Apple’s Siri Suggestions in iOS 12, different Actions will begin to automatically appear within the App Drawer on your phone the more you use it and it learns about your habits. To help you get the most out of the new feature, we break down how to use App Actions and how to turn it on or off.

How to turn App Actions on or off

Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

If you’re upgrading from Android 8.0 Oreo to Android 9.0 Pie on an existing device, the new App Actions should be turned on by default. If not, long-press on the home screen and tap Home settings, then tap on Suggestions and toggle on Actions. It may take some time to appear since the feature uses artificial intelligence to create suggestions based on your smartphone habits. To turn off App Actions, follow the same steps and toggle it off.

How to use App Actions

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

When in the App Drawer, App Actions will appear as a pair of rectangular lozenges underneath the first row of apps. For now, it only shows two suggestions at a time. When tapping on either one, it automatically launches the app and may jump directly to a specific point in it, such as a favorite playlist or frequently accessed message thread. You can also drag the specific action on to your home screen and save it as an icon. That way, the exact shortcut is bookmarked and will launch specifically where App Actions suggests.

How to tailor your App Actions

Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

If you think your App Actions aren’t accurate or you want to alter the apps, you can change them. By long-pressing on the Action, you can slide the app to the upper-right hand corner of the screen where it says “Don’t show.” This will remove the current Action and populate another suggestion in its place instead. If you accidentally long-press the app or change your mind, you can slide it over to “Cancel” in the upper-right corner instead. As mentioned above, this is also where you can turn an Action into an icon on your display by dragging it to the home screen.

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U.S. Navy wants to ‘weaponize slime’ to stop enemy ships

Whether it’s autonomous ships with no crew or ultra-strong underwater glue inspired by mussels, the U.S. Navy has some pretty intriguing research projects. Their latest? Weaponized slime, capable of being fired at enemy vessels to stop them in their tracks.

The synthetic slime is being created by a team of researchers at Utah State University, who have been awarded a 15-month Navy contract to carry out the work. It is based on the slime of a real, eel-like creature called a hagfish, which defends itself against would-be attackers by using a jet of slime to fill predators’ mouths and gills with goo. This slime swells up by a factor of several thousand when it comes into contact with sea water.

“We are attempting to create hagfish thread keratins synthetically,” Justin Jones, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at Utah State University, told Digital Trends. “Hagfish thread keratins, in their native form, rival spider silk in their mechanical properties. The problem is that farming hagfish for these threads is likely impossible. That necessitates producing the individual proteins that comprise the thread keratin using another host system. We have chosen to produce the proteins in E. coli due to our group’s experience, the economics of scaling the process, as well as the robust amount of protein produced in this system.”

Once the slime proteins have been manufactured using modified E. coli bacteria, they will then have to be formed into fibers. For this, the team will rely on their previous experience “wet spinning” spider silk proteins to develop a method for re-creating the hagfish thread keratin fibers. The goal is to create a synthetic fiber comparable to its native counterpart.

At present, the U.S. Navy stops boats — such as those it suspects contain smugglers — by firing a plastic rope with a pneumatic launcher, designed to tangle in the boat’s propeller. The hope is that this new method could prove to be safer, more effective, and less likely to injure the occupants of the other vessel.

Before you start getting concerned about the possible polluting effects of firing massive amount of slime into the water like an oil spill — yes, they’ve thought of that, too.

“Hagfish thread keratins are comprised of protein and protein alone,” Jones continued. “Therefore they do not contribute to plastic waste problems in the world’s waterways. With mechanical properties that outperform some petroleum-based polymers, they are an ideal biomaterial to use to deploy in order to stop maritime vessels without causing further pollution.”

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Google Cameos helps celebrities post answers to the internet’s questions

Google wants to make it easier for celebrities to reach their audience. To that end, the company released a new app called Cameos, which is available for iOS and really targeted specifically at celebrities.

Through Cameos, celebrities can essentially record videos answering some of the more popular questions asked on the internet. Then, those videos will show up straight in Google’s search results — allowing users to get information about celebrities straight from the celebrities themselves.

Anyone can technically download the Cameos app, but once downloaded, most people won’t be able to use it. Cameos requires that access is granted by Google before it can be used. Celebrities who do gain access to the app can then browse the web for popular questions about them, then answer any questions they choose to answer through a video. After a celebrity starts using the app, Google says it will push them to answer new questions and searches as a way to make sure that content remains timely. Once a question is answered, Google says the response to the question will be posted quickly to Google search results, so that users can find the videos when they search for a celebrity.

Of course, just because this app is available, that doesn’t mean we should expect to see videos from celebrities showing up in Google search results anytime soon. First, celebrities have to start actually using the app, and there is no guarantee that will actually happen.

Cameos is actually an extension of the “Posts on Google” feature that has been rolling out over the past few years. The feature allows some people and organizations to post directly to Google search results. Initially, it was aimed strictly at only a handful of celebrities, movie studios, and sports teams, but over the past year or so, Google has been rolling out the feature to local businesses as well. Earlier this year, Google also expanded the feature to musicians.

Interestingly enough, the new app is currently only available on iOS — which probably says more about the people Google is trying to reach than Google itself. We’ll have to wait and see if an Android version of the app ever gets released.

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MacRumors Giveaway: Win AirPods Retro From ColorWare

For this week’s giveaway, we’ve teamed up with ColorWare to offer MacRumors readers a chance to win a set of custom-painted AirPods that have been designed to look like a classic Macintosh.

The AirPods Retro case has been painted a soft beige shade that matches the design of Apple’s earliest computers, with gray lines representing faux vents. There’s also a rainbow colored button at the back that mimics the classic rainbow-colored Apple logo, and an all-over matte finish.

ColorWare has painted the AirPods themselves a nice matching beige color, for an overall look that’s sleek and a throwback to the early Apple design language all at once.

AirPods Retro, priced at $399, aren’t cheap, but you’re not going to find AirPods that look like this anywhere else. These are also a limited edition from ColorWare and won’t be available to purchase for long.

ColorWare has been offering custom-painted electronic accessories for years now and has established itself as a company that offers impeccable quality thanks to years of experience perfecting the painting process.

ColorWare uses a coating process that includes a primer, an application of a proprietary color formula, and an X2 liquid plastic coating that protects the new color for all of its AirPod paint jobs, and speaking of other paint jobs, ColorWare also offers custom AirPod painting in a range of colors. Pricing for a custom paint job starts at $299, and ColorWare is now one of the only companies offering custom AirPod painting.

Because ColorWare is using traditional AirPods for the Retro AirPods paint job, full AirPods functionality is intact, with a W1 chip for easy pairing, a long battery life, a built-in accelerometer for ear detection, iCloud support for quick device switching, and support for gestures.

We have one set of AirPods Retro to give away to a MacRumors reader. To enter to win, use the Rafflecopter widget below and enter an email address. Email addresses will be used solely for contact purposes to reach the winner(s) and send the prizes. You can earn additional entries by subscribing to our weekly newsletter, subscribing to our YouTube channel, following us on Twitter, or visiting the MacRumors Facebook page.

Due to the complexities of international laws regarding giveaways, only U.S. residents who are 18 years or older and Canadian residents (excluding Quebec) who have reached the age of majority in their province or territory are eligible to enter. To offer feedback or get more information on the giveaway restrictions, please refer to our Site Feedback section, as that is where discussion of the rules will be redirected.

a Rafflecopter giveawayThe contest will run from today (August 10) at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time through 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time on August 17. The winner will be chosen randomly on August 17 and will be contacted by email. The winner will have 48 hours to respond and provide a shipping address before a new winner is chosen.

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Best Samsung Galaxy Note 9 cases

You can hardly fail to be impressed by the feature-packed Samsung Galaxy Note 9. It’s packing plenty of power, has a gorgeous curved display, and sports a souped up S Pen stylus capable of doubling as a remote control. But for all it’s tempting features this phone is still a glass sandwich that runs the real risk of picking up scratches or cracking if dropped.

Check out some of the best Galaxy Note 9 cases and get yourself some protection.

Incipio DualPro Case ($30)

Dual layer cases that combine flexible and hard materials are commonplace now, but Incipio designed one of the first in the shape of the DualPro series and it’s still going strong. This case has a shock absorbing interior wrapped in a tough, polycarbonate shell. It will cushion your Note 9 in the event of a fall from up to 10 feet. It does add some bulk to an already big phone, but that’s the price of proper protection. There’s also a lip around the screen, accurate cutouts, and chunky covers that make the buttons easy to find and use without looking.

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Speck Presidio Grip Case ($45)

One of our favorite case series, the Presidio Grip is also a dual layer case with flexible material surrounded by a polycarbonate shell that safeguards your Note 9 from drops of up to 10 feet. It also has chunky button covers, accurate openings, and a raised lip to protect the screen, but what sets it apart is the ridged pattern that adds a flourish of style and serves a practical purpose in enhancing grip.

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Moment Photo Case ($24)

This slim case comes with a back panel in black canvas or walnut wood. It offers basic protection from bumps and minor drops, but the real attraction is the ability to add Moment’s lenses for enhanced photography, which can be securely attached to the case. You can pick up a wide lens for $100, a superfish lens for $90, and lots more. You can also fit a filter mount for $40 and buy an array of filters to get the precise look you want. If you want more from the Note 9’s excellent camera, then you need to check out Moment’s wares.

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Otterbox Symmetry Series Case ($55)

Offering excellent drop protection Otterbox’s cases are fashioned from a combination of flexible rubber and hard polycarbonate. The Symmetry Series isn’t quite as protective as the Defender, but it’s also less bulky and restrictive. You can get the usual combination of complementary colors, but there’s also an eye-catching triangle design for people who want something less muted. The button covers, generous cutouts, and raised lip to safeguard the screen are all spot on.

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Skech Polo Book Case ($45)

If you’re a fan of folio-style wallet cases, then this one from Skech may interest you. Plain black styling gives it a business feel and the synthetic covering is durable with cutouts for the camera and fingerprint sensor on the back. Open it up and you’ll find three slots for cards, with the front one windowed for an ID, and a money pocket behind. Best of all the minimal hard shell that holds your Note 9 in place is detachable for when you want to travel light.

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Tech21 Evo Check Case ($45)

This slim, transparent, check-patterned case comes tinted in orchid pink, ultra violet purple, or smokey black and the ridged bumper section provides impressive drop protection for falls of up to 10 feet. It allows easy access to everything and has the usual raised beveled edge at the front to safeguard the screen. This case is also easy to grip, so you’re less likely to drop your Note 9 in the first place.

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Snakehive Vintage Wallet Case ($30)

If you’re after a good-looking, real leather case, then you could do a lot worse than Snakehive. Crafted from full grain cowhide nubuck leather, these wallets cases come in a range of interesting colors from burnt orange to navy. You’ll find three card slots in the cover alongside a larger money pocket and there’s a magnetic clasp to keep the cover securely closed. A basic plastic shell holds your Note 9 in place, but there are cutouts for the ports and camera.

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Spigen Liquid Crystal Case ($20)

You may want to avoid covering up Samsung’s stylish design, in which case this simple, flexible, transparent TPU case could fit the bill nicely. You’ve got the full range of cutouts required, slim button covers, and air cushions in the corners to help deflect drop damage. Don’t expect rugged protection, but this case should be enough to ward off scrapes and protect your Note 9 from minor drops.

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Samsung Protective Case ($38.50)

The textured back of this official case from Samsung reminds us of strengthened luggage, but it also enhances grip considerably. It has well-defined button covers, accurate openings for everything from the camera to the S Pen, and it comes in black or grey. The headline feature is the kickstand on the back which bears the Samsung logo – perfect for propping your Note 9 in landscape and enjoying a movie on that impressive 6.4-inch display.

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Mobile Fun

LifeProof Next Case ($80)

Will your Note 9 be accompanying you on adventures into the great outdoors? This could be a good case for you if you want protection against dust, dirt, and snow. It forms a tight seal with your Note 9 shielding your ports, buttons, microphone, and speakers and preventing anything unwanted from gaining access. The thick bumper section also provides protection from falls of up to 6.6 feet. It is quite bulky, but the transparent back allows Samsung’s design to shine through and the bumper section comes in black or rose.

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Munich and Shanghai are getting their own Nvidia esports boot camps

Andy Boxall

Competitive gaming teams are about to get a great new training opportunity in both Asia and Europe. Following the success of its GeForce esports boot camp in Silicon Valley, hardware giant Nvidia will be opening similar camps in both Munich and Shanghai later this year.

The Nvidia GeForce esports boot camps are designed to allow top-tier gaming teams to refine their skills and stay sharp while they’re traveling around the world for events. The camps offer three meals each day to team members, as well as gaming rigs “mirroring the setups of the world’s biggest gaming tournaments,” complete with 240Hz G-Sync monitors. These monitors offer 4K resolution and high-dynamic range, as well as a dynamic refresh rate that automatically syncs between the GPU and the screen. Nvidia also promises ultra-low latency on the monitors, which should help players in quick-moving first-person shooters.

“If you’re part of the top esports scene, you have to prepare yourself and your team to win,” Nvidia said in a blog post. “Communication, teamwork, team building, physical workouts, diet, sleep routines, strategies, and, of course, game skills all have to be honed.”

Nvidia highlighted games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive for the camps, but it appears another game could be a popular choice. Blizzard apparently wants The Overwatch League’s matches to be played in teams’ own cities by 2020, and it just so happens that one of its current teams is based in Shanghai. The Shanghai Dragons likely need the extra help more than any other team in the league, as the team managed to post an unspeakably bad 0-40 first season.

Other games Nvidia is helping teams prepare for include Dota 2 — as The International is quickly approaching — as well as League of Legends. Fighting games, which have traditionally found an audience on consoles rather than PC, don’t appear to be emphasized.

Esports have continued to soar in popularity in recent years, and they’re even being considered for inclusion in a future Olympics. A forum to discuss this possibility was held by the International Olympic Committee and the Global Association of International Sports Federations in July. If allowed in, esports will likely first appear in the 2024 games.

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A brand-new Mac can be hacked remotely during its first Wi-Fi connection

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

If you’re using a company-issued Mac running a version of Apple’s operating system prior to MacOS High Sierra 10.13.6, you will want to tell your system administrator to upgrade your OS to the latest version. At the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, researchers demonstrated a method where a malicious actor could remotely take control of a new Mac due to vulnerabilities with Apple’s corporate Device Enrollment Program (DEP) and Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools.

A new Mac could be compromised when it connects to a Wi-Fi network, security officer Jesse Endahl from Fleetsmith and Dropbox staff engineer Max Belanger discovered. Apple has since patched the security flaw last month when it released the MacOS 10.13.6 software update, so companies will want to migrate their Mac fleet to the latest software and not issue employees a Mac with a prior version of the OS out of the box.

“We found a bug that allows us to compromise the device and install malicious software before the user is ever even logged in for the very first time,” Endahl told Wired. “By the time they’re logging in, by the time they see the desktop, the computer is already compromised.”

Typically, when you begin setting up a Mac, the device communicates with Apple’s servers to identify itself. If Apple’s server recognizes that the Mac’s serial number is registered with the DEP, it will initiate an MDM configuration sequence. Most companies hire a Mac management firm, like Fleetsmith, to help facilitate MDM provisioning to allow Macs to download the necessary programs required by the company. For security, Apple employs certificate pinning to identify web servers, but when the MDM hands off to the Mac App Store to download enterprise apps, “the sequence retrieves a manifest for what to download and where to install it without pinning to confirm the manifest’s authenticity,” Wired reported.

This opens up a vulnerability where a malicious hacker could replace the original manifest with a malicious one. When this happens, the computer could be instructed to download malware, like keyloggers, spyware, cryptojacking software, or software that could monitor the corporate network and spread itself to other devices. “And once a hacker has set up the attack, it could target every single Apple computer a given company puts through the MDM process,” Wired said.

Though the attack cannot be easily pulled off, it still represents a dangerous vulnerability given that hackers can just target one Mac to gain entry into an entire corporate network. “The attack is so powerful that some government would probably be incentivized to put in the work to do it,” Endahl said.

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Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1180 Founders Edition graphics card could have two fans

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

A rumor stemming from the recently leaked printed circuit board for Nvidia’s upcoming GeForce GTX 1180 (or 2080) add-in graphics card claims that Nvidia redesigned the drum fan to accommodate an open-air dual-fan design. This rumor specifically focuses on the Founders Edition model, which would make it the first Founders Edition-branded card from Nvidia to sport two fans.

Speculation points to two reasons for a dual-fan setup. First, the GTX 1180 may simply require more power than even the GTX 1180 TI, requiring a better, two-fan design to keep the components cool. Second, Nvidia may simply be competing with its hardware partners who will undoubtedly produce GTX 1180 cards with custom dual-fan designs.

Pictures of the printed circuit board, the foundation that plays host to the graphics chip, memory, outputs and all the required transistors, appeared on Baidu last week. Presumed to be a reference board for Nvidia’s hardware partners like EVGA and Zotac, we got a glimpse of the slots for power connectors and memory chips, the new SLI connection, and more.

Many reports state that the smaller port connector seen on the printed circuit board is reserved for a USB-C port. But unnamed sources claim Nvidia will include a proprietary connector designed specifically for virtual reality headsets. While it could still resemble a USB-C port, it will reportedly support 120Hz refresh rates based on the current HDMI 2.1 specification over a single cable.

Right now, the memory amount provided on the GTX 1180 is unclear outside its use of Micron’s new GDDR6 memory. While there is no disputing that serving up the GTX 1180 with a mere 8GB of GDDR6 would be a “downgrade,” Nvidia could reserve 16GB for the GTX 1080+ to offer two price models instead of one. This card is expected to arrive on September 30.

A recent email from one of Nvidia’s hardware partners to an unknown retailer explained why Nvidia and its partners delayed the GTX 11 Series. The email also provided a release schedule, listing the GTX 1180 to arrive first on August 30 followed by the GTX 1170 and GTX 1180+ on September 30 and the GTX 1160 on October 30. Nvidia hardware partner Galax also spilled the beans saying that we’ll see the new series by September.

“The release time of the next-generation Nvidia graphics card will not be far away,” a Galax representative states. “Players will be able to see the information about the new graphics card in September. The performance will certainly have a breakthrough growth and will support the most advanced Nvidia ray tracing technology.”

Nvidia is expected to reveal the GTX 11 Series during its pre-show Gamescom event on August 20. Called the GeForce Gaming Celebration, it will be held at an off-site location in Cologne, Germany. It’s open to everyone provided there’s enough space, but Nvidia is supposedly flying in members of the press to cover the event. That’s a long way to fly just to showcase games running on GeForce GTX 10 Series cards. That said, the GTX 11 Series reveal will likely be one of Nvidia’s “spectacular surprises.”

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