After pulling

After pulling it three years ago, Google reintroduces Maps for Apple Watch – Ars Technica

navigation —

Also, the company is adding CarPlay Dashboard support to the Google Maps iOS app.

  • The Google Maps app for Apple Watch.

  • Google Maps in CarPlay’s Dashboard view.

Today, Google made two announcements about Google Maps for Apple platforms. First, Google’s app now works with the dashboard view on CarPlay screens, allowing drivers to see maps and media controls side-by-side. Second, Google is relaunching the Maps app on the Apple Watch, with turn-by-turn directions.

CarPlay’s dashboard mode was introduced in iOS 13 late last year, but it only supported Apple Maps. Apple began offering other developers the ability to take advantage of it in March with the release of iOS 13.4, and today marks the finalization of Google’s support for the feature. Google’s blog post announcing the update says it should go into effect for all users of CarPlay-supported vehicles today.

The new Google Maps app for Apple Watch won’t arrive today, though. Instead, Google promises the app is launching worldwide “in the coming weeks.” The app will offer “step-by-step” directions for driving, walking, cycling, or taking public transit.

Google’s announcement specifies that you can get directions to places you’ve previously saved, like the places you’ve set as your home or your workplace. To go somewhere you haven’t previously saved, you’ll have to start the process on your phone, Google’s blog post says.

Google Maps previously offered a Watch app that was an extension of the Google Maps iPhone app, but it was pulled in 2017 with no explanation provided for the move. That was part of a general exodus of major apps from the Watch at the time that also included Amazon and others. Since then, Apple has launched a standalone App Store for the Watch. Previously, users had to initiate Watch app downloads from the iPhone.

Listing image by Google

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After Morning

The Morning After: NASA’s Curiosity rover plots a ‘road trip’ on Mars – Engadget

Surprise, surprise — the $2.65 billion Uber–Postmates deal we mentioned yesterday is happening. While those two try to figure out how to turn a profit from food delivery, NASA has set a course for the Curiosity rover’s “summer road trip.”

Curiosity's Path to the 'Sulfate-Bearing Unit'


The Martian robot’s destination is Mount Sharp’s “sulfate-bearing unit,” using its automated driving capabilities to find the best path. Consider it something to keep an eye on if your vacation plans have been canceled.

— Richard

Engadget’s 2020 Back to School Guide: The best laptops for students

XPS 13, Flex 5 Chromebook, MacBook Air and more.

XPS 13 (2src2src)


A good notebook will not only make it easier for you to finish homework and tune into live-streamed classes, but it will also help you stay in touch with your friends, teachers and study groups. And while long battery life might not seem as important right now, it’s still a huge priority because you’ll want your laptop to keep running all day when we return to a semblance of normal life.

With all that in mind, we picked our new favorite laptops for students. All of them are easy to carry around, have great keyboards, good performance and last all day.

Continue reading.

Microsoft’s first-party Xbox Games Showcase streams July 23rd

It’s Microsoft’s turn to bring out the big games.

Halo Infinite Screenshot Hologram Explosion


Ready to hear about some major Xbox Series X games, after last May’s middling showcase? Microsoft will hold an Xbox Games Showcase as part of Summer Game Fest on July 23rd at 12PM ET. You can watch it on the Xbox website, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. And, after Microsoft killed off its own streaming platform, Mixer, you can catch the showcase on its old nemesis, Twitch, too. Hopefully, there might be a closer look at first-party games this time around, including at what’s perhaps the console’s biggest launch title, Halo Infinite.

Continue reading.

8BitDo is updating one of its Bluetooth gamepads for Project xCloud

The controller goes on sale on September 21st for $45.



8BitDo is releasing a new Bluetooth gamepad designed for use with Microsoft’s Project xCloud game streaming service. The $45 SN30 Pro for Xbox adapts the same underlying design as the company’s SN30 Pro+, symmetrical analog sticks and all, but won’t be out of place in your Xbox controller collection. The major upgrade could well be the companion clip that comes with the controller, with two articulating hinges. It looks hardier than the usual phone holder, with some metallic touches, and can stretch as wide as 86mm, enough for even the biggest contemporary phones. There’s also another $15 clip that works with existing Xbox controllers, too.

Continue reading.

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After protests

After protests, a Unilever skin cream popular in India will no longer promote a ‘Fair & Lovely’ look – The Washington Post

“Fair & Lovely” skin-care creams have been a mainstay of beauty aisles in stores across India and elsewhere in Asia for years. Not anymore.

On Thursday, the company Unilever said it would stop promoting skin “whitening” or “lightening,” and rebrand the skin-care line in response to critics who say the products promote harmful stereotypes around beauty and skin tone. But it won’t go as far as some have demanded: ridding stores of the creams and their connotations, no matter what they are called.

Along with similar brands, Unilever’s line has faced renewed scrutiny in recent weeks, amid a global reckoning with racial injustice, for promoting an image that white or lighter skin is more desirable than darker shades.

“We recognize that the use of the words ‘fair’, ‘white’ and ‘light’ suggest a singular ideal of beauty that we don’t think is right, and we want to address this,” Sunny Jain, the president of Unilever’s beauty and personal care division, said in a statement.

Some activists say changing the name and branding is only a start.

Poorna Bell, a writer who has been outspoken on the issue, told the BBC she found Unilever’s announcement “hugely disappointing” and called for the line to be discontinued all together.

“It doesn’t do enough to make reparations for the untold mental and emotional damage done by colorism,” she said, referring to discrimination against people with dark skin tones. “Renaming the products doesn’t mean anything — that’s still just colorism by another word.”

Unilever isn’t new to the controversy around skin lightening. Last year, the company removed “shade guides” and before-and-after images from product labels after campaigns by consumers.

The matter saw a resurgence earlier this month, when, like many businesses around the world, Unilever issued a statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. “We have a responsibility for racial justice,” the company said in an Instagram post.

Critics responded with objections to the company’s messaging on whitening products.

“But what are you doing about helping to end racism?” one user wrote in response to the Instagram post. “Fair and Lovely needs to STOP creating a culture of shame! You aren’t committed to justice and equity until you stop manufacturing Fair and Lovely!”

Unilever is not alone. Having pledged to fight racism in response to global anti-racism protests following the police killing of George Floyd in May, consumers are questioning company’s track records.

Across much of Asia and Africa, skin-whitening products bring in millions of dollars in business for companies. In India, Bollywood stars have promoted them. In Africa, 40 percent of women bleached their skin, according to a 2011 study by the World Health Organization. The market research firm Global Industry Analysts estimated that the international market for skin-lightening cosmetics could reach $12.3 billion dollars by 2027.

But backlash is mounting, and companies have begun to respond.

Last week, Johnson & Johnson said it would stop selling skin-whitening products in India, Asia and the Middle East. Other major personal-care companies, such as L’Oréal and Nivea, still offer items claiming to lighten or prevent the darkening of skin. Calls for boycotts of these brands, and the companies who produce them, are simmering online.

Modern brands have tapped into stereotypes about skin tone with deep roots in Asia and Africa, entwined with hierarchies wrought by centuries of colonialism, according to historians. Conversation about this history have become increasingly mainstream.

“Colorism is a persistent social force in India, and many South Asian countries,” the model and “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi wrote on Instagram. “I know it made me feel insecure growing up. We need to dismantle this harmful relic of colonialism through representation for all skin-tones.”

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After George

After George Floyd, Fresh Scrutiny of Old Cases – The New York Times

In the wake of outrage over Mr. Floyd’s death, several deadly episodes involving the police are receiving renewed attention.

Credit…Andy Cross/The Denver Post, via Getty Images

ATLANTA — The story of Elijah McClain’s death, which came after he was confronted and detained by police officers last year in the Denver suburb of Aurora, Colo., did not go unnoticed by residents and the local news media in the weeks that followed.

Articles were published, and a few modest rallies were held. But it was nothing like the avalanche of fresh attention his killing received after the death last month of George Floyd sent thousands of protesters onto the nation’s streets, including in Colorado.

Now the story of Mr. McClain — a 23-year-old black man who had committed no crime but was reported as “suspicious” by a 911 caller — has come to occupy a central place in the state’s emotional and fast-moving debate over police reform.

Mr. McClain’s mother was a high-profile presence in the Statehouse this spring as legislators debated a sweeping police reform law. The city of Aurora recently banned a type of controversial hold that had been used to detain Mr. McClain, and jettisoned an outside investigator — who had been hired to look into the killing — because he was a former police officer.

“If George Floyd didn’t die, I don’t think people would have paid attention to Elijah McClain,” said Tay Anderson, an activist and director of the Denver Public Schools board, in an interview. “I think people would have continued to ignore it.”

Instead, celebrities like the singers Michelle Branch and Kacey Musgraves have been sharing Mr. McClain’s story on social media. And nearly 1.4 million people have signed a petition asking for the officers to be taken off duty and for a more rigorous investigation into Mr. McClain’s death.

Mr. McClain’s killing is among many deadly episodes involving the police that are now receiving renewed scrutiny in the wake of outrage over the death of Mr. Floyd, who gasped for breath beneath the weight of a police officer’s knee, a fatal encounter that was captured on video.

The death of Mr. Floyd, who was black, also unleashed a tsunami of demonstrations against police brutality and entrenched systemic racism, in turn elevating several cases that had been little known to the world but had burned like scars in the minds of neighbors.

Across the nation, from San Francisco to Houston to Duluth, Minn., the names of other men and women killed in confrontations with the police are now on the lips of protesters or back on the pages of the local newspapers.


Credit…Courtesy of the family

Some police killings that have followed Mr. Floyd’s have become flash points, such as the fatal shooting this month of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. Within days, the police chief resigned, the police officer who pulled the trigger was fired and then charged with murder, a second officer was put on administrative duty and charged with assault, and the mayor announced a series of measures aimed at overhauling the Police Department.

In the New Orleans area, demonstrators have protested the fatal shooting of Modesto Reyes, a black man who was shot by sheriff’s deputies in suburban Jefferson Parish two days after Mr. Floyd’s death on Memorial Day. (The Sheriff’s Department said Mr. Reyes pointed a gun at deputies as they were chasing him.)

The reverberations of the moment have also reached back decades: In Minnesota last week, Mr. Floyd was invoked as part of a successful effort to secure the posthumous pardon of Max Mason, a black man wrongly convicted of raping a white woman 100 years ago.

“As I told the pardon board, the case of Max Mason is like the case of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Philando Castile,” said Jerry Blackwell, the Minneapolis lawyer who drafted the pardon application, mentioning the names of other black men whose violent deaths have become high-profile human rights causes. “What they all have in common is a stereotypical and racist view of black men in this country.”

It remains to be seen whether the renewed focus on many of these less prominent cases will have a tangible effect on their outcomes.

Sam Walker, an expert on police accountability at the University of Nebraska Omaha, said it was not clear whether old, closed cases would be reopened for investigation. But at the very least, he said, the new attention underscores the fact that problem cases are not anomalies.

“What I think is important is the extent to which the public discussion in the African-American community on these old cases really represents the collective memory that exists, that doesn’t exist for whites,” Mr. Walker said. “It dredges up all these old issues and passions: This happens all the time; justice is never done.”

District attorneys tend to deny that public opinion factors into their decisions to prosecute or not. But four days after Mr. Floyd’s death, the district attorney in Austin, Texas, took the unusual step of announcing that she would send a local case, the death of Michael Ramos, who was fatally shot by the police in April, to a grand jury.

Grand jury proceedings are secret, and normally prosecutors do not signal when one is being convened. But the district attorney, Margaret Moore, said times were different now.

“I thought it was important for the people of Travis County to know we are indeed prosecuting the case. I was hopeful that it would help this community,” she said. “Because of the heightened attention to these cases, the anger, the fear, the frustration — all of which I came into office three years ago intending to address in this community — I’m modifying now to answer the new demands of the moment.”

Outrage over Mr. Floyd’s death ushered renewed attention to several recent deaths. Breonna Taylor was fatally shot in March when the Louisville police broke down the door of her apartment in a raid that found no drugs. Her case garnered scant attention until after Mr. Floyd’s death, when the number of Google searches for her name immediately began to rise.


Credit…Emily Kask for The New York Times

In Oklahoma City, the police released video of the death of Derrick Scott, who died a year ago in police custody after a confrontation with officers. In Kansas City, Mo., this week, prosecutors announced the indictment of a white police detective for the 2019 fatal shooting of a black man, Cameron Lamb, whose name was among many that local demonstrators have been raising in street protests.

And in Houston, activists have been ratcheting up pressure on the Police Department to release body camera footage of the killing in April of a mentally ill 27-year-old Latino man, Nicolas Chavez. A harrowing video shot by a resident appears to show officers shooting Mr. Chavez multiple times while he is on his knees.

In some cases, news outlets have played a key role in bringing new details to light. In Austin, protesters have memorialized Javier Ambler, another Texas man, who died in March 2019. Williamson County sheriff’s deputies tried to stop Mr. Ambler for failing to dim his headlights, according to news reports, and then pursued him when he did not stop. They held him down and Tased him while he pleaded that he had congestive heart failure and could not breathe.

A film crew for “Live PD” was with the pursuing officer and filmed the encounter, but later claimed to have destroyed the footage because, the host said, the show had a policy of not showing fatalities. The show has since been canceled.

The Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV, the local ABC affiliate, had been requesting more information on the case for months, but had only recently obtained police documents and video, The American-Statesman reported. The newspaper published an article on June 8 that said Mr. Ambler had cried, “Save me,” before deputies shocked him a final time.

“His death never made headlines,” the article stated.

Street protests, too, have given the family members of those killed by the police a receptive audience for their stories.

On June 6 in Washington, Kenithia Alston, the mother of a young man killed by police officers two years earlier, took a microphone and told a street packed with hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters about her fruitless struggle to convince the capital’s Metropolitan Police Department to release the full, unedited body camera video of the incident.

“So what I’m asking all of you here today is to tweet, Facebook, Instagram — tell this mayor to release the body cam!” Ms. Alston said.

Four days later, the Georgetown Law Civil Rights Clinic filed a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit against the city government on Ms. Alston’s behalf. The suit claims that her 22-year-old son Marqueese Alston was confronted and chased by the police “without good cause or valid basis” and shot 12 to 18 times.

The Police Department did not respond to questions about the case, but in news reports at the time, they said that Mr. Alston had fired at officers with a handgun. Ms. Alston said she was able to view a short, edited version of the body camera footage, but that it did not convince her that her son was armed. She also said it shows that her son was “running away from police when he was shot.”

Ms. Alston felt like some headway was being made. “It seems like people are starting to pay attention now,” she said.

But Ms. Alston’s lawyer, Zina Makar, a supervising attorney at Georgetown Law, said the case’s higher profile may only do so much for a matter that will ultimately be settled in court. “The interest is helpful,” Ms. Makar said, “but it doesn’t necessarily change the hurdles we have to jump.”


Credit…Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

Despite the growing clamor to look at new cases, some families know that theirs will not be among them — and they instead take solace in the ways in which the protests are pushing for broad criminal justice reforms.

In 1986, Jimmie Lee Bruce Jr., 20, was home from college for winter break and went to the movies in Walkill, N.Y., with friends. He was killed by a white police officer, moonlighting as a security guard, who put him in a chokehold in the parking lot. His mother, Maude Bruce, 75, was the president of the Ellenville, N.Y., chapter of the N.A.A.C.P.

She said that at the time there were rallies for her son outside the police station, and in Albany, where the governor acceded to demands to appoint a special prosecutor. Two grand juries declined to indict the officer, she said.

Ms. Bruce said there was no chance the case would be reopened. But recently, she listened as the assemblyman who represented her at the time testified in Albany in favor of a bill to ban chokeholds, which passed and was signed into law.

“He said Jimmie Lee Bruce Jr. didn’t die in vain,” she said, “because 36 years later, we are here.”

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After Jemima

After Aunt Jemima And Uncle Ben, Lloyd’s Of London And Britain’s Biggest Pub Owner Apologize For Links To Atlantic Slave Trade – Forbes


Business giants in Britain have apologized for their historical role in the transatlantic slave trade, in the wake of global anti-racism protests that have toppled statues of slave traders and forced brands, such as Aunt Jemima, to replace imagery and symbols linked to slavery.

Lloyds Of London Announce Interim Results

A concierge waits outside the Lloyd’s Building, the home of the insurance institution Lloyd’s of … [+] London

Getty Images


Insurer Lloyds of London, founded in 1688, is believed to be the world’s largest insurance market and insured slave ships.

The market said in a statement first reported in The Telegraph newspaper: “There are some aspects of our history that we are not proud of.

“In particular, we are sorry for the role played by the Lloyd’s market in the 18th and 19th-Century slave trade,” it added.

The U.K.’s biggest pub retailer and brewer, Greene King, also addressed their link to slavery in a statement from CEO Nick Mackenzie, who said: “It is inexcusable that one of our founders profited from slavery and argued against its abolition in the 1800s. While that is a part of our history, we are now focused on the present and the future.”

The brewer was founded in 1799 by Benjamin Greene, who owned plantations, more than 200 slaves, according to a University College London database, and was opposed to the abolition of slavery.

Both companies have committed to investing in Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and developing diverse talent internally.

The apologies come hours after governors at Oxford University’s Oriel College agreed to take down a highly contentious statue of colonialist and benefactor Cecil Rhodes, following years of the “Rhodes Must Fall” campaign to have it removed.

Crucial quote

Lloyds said in its statement: “This was an appalling and shameful period of English history, as well as our own, and we condemn the indefensible wrongdoing that occurred during this period.”

Additional info

Up until 2015, the British government was still paying debts for the compensation to the descendants of slave owners for the “loss of human property”. The compensation began after slavery was abolished in 1833, and the U.K. government pledged £20 million ($25 million) at the time to pay the funds. Greene received about £500,000 in the scheme.

Key background

The past few weeks have forced companies and institutions to start publicly acknowledging and confronting their historical links to slavery and racism. On Tuesday, Quaker announced it would replace the Aunt Jemima pancake mix syrup criticized for being a racist caricature, while rice brand Uncle Ben, owned by Mars and bearing the ;likeness of a Black man, will “evolve”, the company said.

News peg

Black Lives Matter protests have been sustained for almost a month following the death of unarmed Black man George Floyd in police custody on May 25, with demonstrators calling for an end to racism and police brutality. The movement has spread to industries spanning food, entertainment, education and beyond, with critics and employees applying pressure on corporations to address institutional and systemic racism within the workplace and branding, and to go beyond making anti-racism statements on social media.

Further reading

Aunt Jemima—Long Denounced As A Racist Caricature—Removed By Quaker Oats (Forbes)

Uncle Ben’s Brand Will ‘Evolve’ Following Aunt Jemima’s Removal (Forbes)

Oxford College Votes To Remove Statue Of Colonialist Cecil Rhodes (Forbes)

UK taxpayers were paying compensation to slave traders until 2015 (The London Economic)

Adidas’s Staff Disquiet Over Racism Boils Over With Calls To Investigate HR Chief (Forbes)

Legacies of British Slave Ownership database (UCL)

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After small

After a rush for more small business funding, PPP loan money remains untapped – CNBC

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks surrounded by Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) during a signing ceremony for the “Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act,” approving additional coronavirus disease (COVID-19) relief for the U.S. economy and hospitals treating people sickened by the pandemic, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, April 24, 2020.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

In 14 days, the Small Business Administration processed 14 years’ worth of loans, in the first round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program. The second round has been an entirely different story.

After a rush to replenish the program with $310 billion in additional funding, the second funding round began April 27. More than a month into round two, there’s more than $120 billion still left unallocated for small businesses.

Compare that to the first round, where in less than two weeks, during an unprecedented economic crisis, over a million loans accounted for some $350 billion in funding. 

As of May 30, 4.4 million loans have been made in both rounds of the PPP program for a total loan value of $510.2 billion.

The amount is lower than had been last reported by the agency a week earlier. The SBA said the totals reflect cancellations including duplicative loans, loans not closed for any reason and loans that had been paid off.

The SBA declined to comment on demand for the program.

Since the average loan amount has fallen in value from the first round of funding, to $114,000, some say the capital is reaching truly small businesses. But the question remains — why has funding demand dampened in round two, when many small businesses are still hurting?

A few things are at play on Main Street, according to Richard Hunt, president and CEO of the Consumer Bankers’ Association. He cited potential audits for businesses who take on the loans, enhanced unemployment that may make it difficult for businesses to lure workers back to the job and duplicative applications, which canceled one another out, as factors. 

Some businesses are also likely concerned about adhering to the law as written in order to have the loan forgiven.

Small business borrowers need to spend 75% of the loan on payroll and the remaining 25% on other expenses such as rent and utilities, and use the loan within eight weeks of disbursement, among other rules, in order to avoid repayment, which means they may be reluctant to apply.

“The fear factor is real,” Hunt said. “The 75/25 formula, maybe that was too high, and the rules are too complex.”

The CBA is calling on Congress to forgive loans of less than $150,000 in part to encourage small businesses to borrow and begin using the money. It added that such a move would save more than $7 billion and tens of millions of hours of paperwork. A letter advocating for this change says in part, “This threshold would account for 85 percent of total PPP recipients, but less than 26 percent of PPP loan dollars. Lenders would continue to meet the PPP requirements provided by SBA for these loans, but the loan forgiveness process would be faster for these small businesses.” 

Hunt said that while borrowers have received the loan and may be waiting to use it, it’s unlikely that other potential changes from Congress to the 75/25 formula and the time period in which to use the loan will encourage more borrowing in round two.

“If I were a small business owner, and I knew my livelihood was at stake, I would have applied by now,” he said. “I don’t see a massive rush into the banks because some of the rules change.”

Recent National Federation of Independent Business survey data of its membership show that most small businesses interested in the loan have already applied for it. Those not applying may not be able to use the loan easily or simply may not realize they are eligible for the program, according to the findings. 

Applications and demand in round one were also pacing differently, said Kevin Kuhlman, the NFIB’s vice president of federal government relations. The replenished funding allowed businesses on the sidelines to think about what aid might be needed.

“Everyone knew round one would go quickly, and everyone was encouraged to borrow the maximum amount — it was first-come, first-served and there may not be more coming,” Kuhlman said. “Everyone took a deep collective breath in round two when the funding came.”

Changing guidance may have also kept some businesses on the sidelines. The SBA and Treasury have issued new or updated guidance about a dozen times since the program was put into place on forgiveness, audits, eligibility and more. Beyond that, taking on such a loan might not be a worthy endeavor for small businesses unsure what the future holds.

“There is no doubt in my mind that PPP restrictions have dampened demand,” said Karen Kerrigan, president and CEO of advocacy group The SBE Council. “Many will receive minimal forgiveness, and given the uncertainty of economic recovery and when many can reopen, business owners fear for their survival and do not want to take on additional debt.”

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After Galaxy

Galaxy Z Flip: After 3 months, I can’t stop using it – CNET


Juan Garzon/CNET

Last year, if you told me about all the things that would happen in 2020, I’d shake my head with disbelief. This includes the fact that I’d like the Galaxy Z Flip foldable phone. When it launched in February I was skeptical because just a year before, Galaxy Fold reviewer units had a number of issues. Then there was the Motorola Razr. It launched before the Flip and even though it was more expensive and had less impressive specs, I found its approach to foldable design more appealing.

Fast forward to now though, and the Galaxy Z Flip has won me over. I use it just like a regular phone, which seems silly to say but one of my biggest knocks against foldable phones so far is how they don’t quite hold up to real-world use. Initially, I was protective about the phone; now I’m less cautious and it’s still holding up.

Most of all, the Galaxy Z Flip is fun and that’s something I don’t say about many phones. Folding and unfolding it is as enjoyable as it was the first time I did it. Closing the phone shut to end a call brings me a level of satisfaction that I don’t get from an iPhone 11 Pro or Pixel 4. And opening it with a whip-like flip of my wrist makes me feel like a badass.

I know the Galaxy Z Flip isn’t the perfect phone or the most powerful. It doesn’t have the best cameras or battery life. It is laughably expensive. And yet I can’t stop using it. After three months, is the Galaxy Z Flip worth $1,380? Yes. The high price reflects that it is a phone that can physically fold in half. Should you pay $1,380 for this phone? No. But for those of you who want to flirt with the Wild West of mobile phone design, the Z Flip offers much to enjoy.

The Z Flip’s beautiful but cursed display

I love and hate this display. When it’s clean, the tall narrow screen is amazing and vibrant. Videos look outstanding. The 21.9:9 aspect ratio is also really wide, so there are black bars on the sides of most videos. I watched widescreen films like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, though, and they fit the display incredibly well. 

But once in a while, the plastic polymer coating got in the way of the screen’s beauty, especially when there were fingerprints on the screen which the coating seems to attract endlessly. When I wipe smudges clean with my shirt sleeve, they don’t come off as easy as a phone without plastic polymer on it.

Then there’s the crease. Ah, the crease. One thing I noticed after three months of using it is that I physically feel the crease constantly with my fingers. The Z Flip’s crease cuts across the middle of the screen and if I scroll through apps like Instagram or Twitter, my finger goes over it like a car rolling over a seam in a concrete driveway. But this doesn’t particularly bug me and because it’s a horizontal crease instead of the vertical one on the Galaxy Fold, I actually see it less. To me, the crease is like background music at a restaurant. I notice it but forget about it after awhile. Just like how I got used to notches on phones, I am now used to the crease.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip impresses from almost every angle

See all photos

The Z Flip’s Flex Mode

It brings me an endless amount of delight how small the phone is closed. I never hesitate to take it with me because it’s very pocketable (though the mileage inside women’s pants pockets may vary). The Z Flip opens up into a phone as tall as the Galaxy S20 Ultra, albeit a skinner version of that.

I like having to open the phone in order to use it because I’m more selective about what I’m doing. The only time this feels tedious is messaging, I have to open the phone to read a text and reply and then I close it. If I get another reply, I have to start the process over. I’d be so happy if I could reply to messages from the outside display even just with my voice, 

Over time, I stopped closing the phone shut as much and instead left it open at a 90-degree angle. This made it look like a mini laptop and it meant I could keep a message thread open or mindlessly scroll Instagram or Twitter. Samsung calls this half-fold position Flex Mode, and it is excellent for filming vertical video too. I honestly didn’t expect to use the Z Flip this much as a video camera but in Flex Mode the phone becomes its own tripod, meaning I had more options where I could set it to get the perfect shot than a regular phone.


Angela Lang/CNET

In the next version of the Z Flip, I hope Samsung embraces the video capture aspect more. There are rumors that the Galaxy Z Flip 2 will have a third exterior camera. If that turns out to be true, there is an opportunity here to turn the Z Flip into the ultimate phone for capturing video. Samsung would need to make the third camera identical to the main one, but rotate it 90 degrees (think Motorola One Action). That way when the phone is in Flex Mode it can capture vertical video with the existing two cameras and horizontal video with the third camera.

Flex Mode also has a software component where apps adapt to the L-shaped position. But only a few apps take advantage of it, and even then it feels limited. The Gallery app, for instance, puts photos on the top half and navigation controls on the bottom. But when I go to edit a photo, the picture moves from the top half of the screen to the center. Why not keep it at the top part of the screen and use the bottom half to make adjustments?

With Android 10, I can have two apps display in a split screen, which I’ve done for Zoom meetings (on the top) and email (on the bottom). It is a nice way to use the device without holding it. But again, functionality is limited.

One of the things I enjoy most about positioning the Z Flip at different angles is that I can fit the phone around my face when I’m talking on a call instead of having it be flat. It’s so early 2000s and I enjoy it almost as much as ending calls by closing the phone shut.

The itsy-bitsy teenie weenie exterior display

The tiny, pill-shaped display on the phone’s exterior is incredibly cool and minimalist, but it’s also kind of useless. I enjoy seeing the time and battery status, and using it to skip tracks in Spotify. But the display turns off too quickly to read notifications and I can’t find a setting to adjust that. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

Sarah Tew/CNET

Taking selfies with it is an odd experience too. The display becomes a viewfinder and allows you to use the exterior cameras for higher-resolution images, but the preview on the screen is misleading because it doesn’t reflect the actual framing of the photo.

The usefulness of exterior displays on foldable phones varies. The one on the Galaxy Fold tries to do too much and feels cramped. On the other hand, the Galaxy Z Flip’s screen is horribly simplistic. The Motorola Razr hits the sweet spot in-between the two.

While I understand that phone makers have to strike a balance between the size and utility of exterior displays, the one on the Z Flip can still be improved. Samsung could go the Motorola route and make the screen a touch larger, or enable notifications to be displayed longer. It also needs to have some capability to let users take basic actions with notifications.

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Dust, debris and durability

When the Z Flip launched, there were concerns about its flexible display and long-term durability. After three months of regular use, I don’t see a single scratch or nick on the display (though again, there are lots of smudges). The body has a tiny scuff from when the phone slid off my desk and onto the floor. While we’re on that subject, I haven’t dropped the phone but it has dropped by itself several times. The exterior coating is ridiculously slippery and there were many times when I’d leave it on a counter or table and come back to find it on the ground because it slid off. 

When closed, there is an air gap between the two halves of the screen. The only downside I’ve noticed is that it lets dust and lint collect on the display. Unlike with review units of the Galaxy Fold, I haven’t had problems with dirt or dust getting under the display or into the hinge mechanism.

My biggest takeaway when it comes to durability is that I can use it just like a regular old smartphone. I don’t baby this phone, or worry that I might break it. Daily use over months and years will be the true test for its durability.

Last year’s performance is fine in use

In terms of performance, using the Z Flip is like using a Samsung Galaxy S10E. Both aren’t at the top of the Samsung spec heap; that title goes to the equally priced Galaxy S20 Ultra. But I never felt limited by the phone’s performance. Animations look smooth and apps launch quickly. I do wonder what the lifespan of this phone will be in terms of software support, however.

The battery, which is middling, is perhaps the biggest compromise when compared to a regular phone. I barely get through a day and a late-afternoon charge is typical. It’s not awful, but it needs a charge by dinner time.


Angela Lang/CNET

Galaxy S10 cameras on the Galaxy Z Flip

In terms of cameras, I won’t go in-depth on this (just check the original review for that info). In short, the cameras are good, but not great. It’s essentially the S10 camera system, which includes an ultrawide-angle camera (with less resolution than the S10) and a main wide angle camera that lacks a dual-aperture. Photo and video image quality earns a solid B compared to the A+ of the Google Pixel 4 or iPhone 11 Pro.

In use, the camera always had chops for capturing a photo or video in any situation. Heck, there’s even night mode on this puppy. Check out the video below made entirely of footage filmed on the Galaxy Z Flip.

At the end of the day, I think there is a lot to admire about the Galaxy Z Flip, but for most people it is still far more of an experiment than a dependable daily driver. That said, if you want the cutting edge, warts and all, it’s definitely worth checking it out in a store (when we can do that again) or waiting for it to go on sale.

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After Employees

After employees receive threats, one city is forced to nix rule requiring face masks in businesses – CNN

(CNN)An emergency proclamation issued Thursday in Stillwater, Oklahoma, requiring the use of face masks in stores and restaurants was amended Friday after threats of violence.

“In the short time beginning on May 1, 2020, that face coverings have been required for entry into stores/restaurants, store employees have been threatened with physical violence and showered with verbal abuse,” Stillwater City Manager Norman McNickle said in a statement.
“In addition, there has been one threat of violence using a firearm. This has occurred in three short hours and in the face of clear medical evidence that face coverings helps contain the spread of Covid-19.”
Due to the threats of violence the city has decided to amend their emergency order but still want people to wear face masks whenever possible, the statement said.
The proclamation issued Thursday required, among other things, businesses to require patrons to cover their faces to combat the spread of coronavirus.
But on Friday, Mayor Will Joyce softened the rule to encourage, not require, face coverings, after several reports emerged of employees being verbally abused and being threatened with physical violence while trying to enforce the order — all in just three hours of the rule going into effect.
“Many of those with objections cite the mistaken belief the requirement is unconstitutional, and under their theory, one cannot be forced to wear a mask. No law or court supports this view,” said City Manager Norman McNickle in a statement. “It is further distressing that these people, while exercising their believed rights, put others at risk.”
McNickle went on to explain the importance of face coverings in preventing the spread of coronavirus. The masks have been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
“It is unfortunate and distressing that those who refuse and threaten violence are so self-absorbed as to not follow what is a simple show of respect and kindness to others,” he said.
Still, the city is changing the rule, as officials “cannot, in clear conscience, put our local business community in harm’s way, nor can the police be everywhere,” McNickle said.
Since April 3, the CDC has recommended that Americans should wear “cloth coverings” in public places.
The updated guidance was in light of new evidence that many people were spreading the virus asymptomatically — meaning that even people not exhibiting symptoms were spreading it by coughing, sneezing or even simply talking in close proximity.
“The idea about the face mask is to prevent the virus from coming out of somebody’s mouth and nose, mostly out of their mouth,” said Dr. Joseph Vinetz, a professor in the infectious disease section at Yale School of Medicine, to CNN in April. “They prevent somebody, when they talk or sometimes when they sneeze or cough, from expelling virus and leading to infection in other people.”
Masks, however, are not a substitute for social distancing, which is still required to slow the spread of the virus.

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After April

After the best April for the Dow and S&P 500 in 82 years, is ‘sell in May’ in the coronavirus era a smart strategy? – MarketWatch

In One Chart

It’s shaping up to be the best monthly return for the Dow and S&P 500 since 1987

MarketWatch photo illustration/iStockphoto

Sell in May and go away! It is one of the most well-known maxims in the investing world, but it may not necessarily hold true this time around as investors face one of the most significant public-health crises in history.

The Wall Street adage refers specifically to the six-months on, six-months off seasonal pattern that sees the market, on average, underperform from May through the end of October.

Markets have enjoyed a solid run up April thus far, following a withering bout of selling prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic that has infected well over three million people—1 million in the U.S. alone—and claimed the lives of nearly 230,000 globally, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average

was looking at a gain of 11.1% so far in April, while the S&P 500 index

was headed for a 12.7% return month to date, while the Nasdaq Composite Index

was on pace for a 15.5% gain in April, with those returns representing the first monthly advance for the equity benchmarks this year.

The monthly rally for the Dow and S&P 500 would mark their best since 1987 and the best April since 1938, according to Dow Jones Market Data. The Nasdaq Composite’s rise would be its best since 2000 and its best April on record, while the small-capitalization Russell 2000 index

is on track for its sharpest monthly rise since 2011 and its best April since 2009.

On top of that, the major benchmarks are roughly 30% off bear-market lows put in on March 23.

Apparently, stock-market investors are betting that the viral outbreak that has devastated the jobs market, pushing the total number of Americans to around 30 million and likely driving the unemployment rate to the worst levels since the Great Depression, is likely to eventually subside.

So what does that mean for investing at the beginning of May.

While this strategy has been true over the long term, as MarketWatch’s Mark Hulbert points out here, it hasn’t been true in recent history, with seven of the past eight years (see attached table), producing positive gains in the six-month sell period, as shown below in data compiled by LPL Financial.

Over the longer term, the strategy is a time-tested one, writes Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial, who says that the coming six-month period has “indeed been the worst six months of the year, up only 1.5% on average,” (see attached table):

That said, Detrick says the April bounce for stocks means “a well-deserved pullback during these troublesome months is quite possible.”

That thinking gibes with some other strategists, reports MarketWatch’s William Watts, who notes that Barry Bannister, chief institutional equity strategist at Stifel, who had one of the most bullish calls at 2,950 on the S&P 500, believes that stocks may struggle for further gains after the Federal Reserve’s monetary policies laid the groundwork for the current rally.

The S&P 500 presently stands at 2,905, down 1.2% from Wednesday’s close as stocks face headwinds Thursday afternoon.

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After Tiger

After ‘Tiger King,’ Celebrities Rally Around Passage of Big Cat Public Safety Act – Yahoo Entertainment

Click here to read the full article. ” data-reactid=”19″ type=”text”>Click here to read the full article.

Tiger King” became a phenomenon that essentially broke the internet in recent weeks, celebrities are rallying around a federal bill that would protect the kind of big cats that are featured in the show.” data-reactid=”20″ type=”text”>After Netflix’s docu-series “Tiger King” became a phenomenon that essentially broke the internet in recent weeks, celebrities are rallying around a federal bill that would protect the kind of big cats that are featured in the show.

Blackfish” that exposed the maltreatment of aquatic dwellers held captive in SeaWorld, has penned a petition alongside the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Her plea, which has been backed by the likes of Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara, Edie Falco and Iggy Pop, is in support of a federal bill called the Big Cat Public Safety Act.” data-reactid=”21″ type=”text”>Gabriela Cowperthwaite, who directed the eye-opening 2013 documentary “Blackfish” that exposed the maltreatment of aquatic dwellers held captive in SeaWorld, has penned a petition alongside the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Her plea, which has been backed by the likes of Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara, Edie Falco and Iggy Pop, is in support of a federal bill called the Big Cat Public Safety Act.

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  • “Documentaries can be powerful forces for change, sometimes through a call to action and other times simply by telling a story that entertains, creating a window into a world viewers weren’t previously aware of,” Cowperthwaite said in a statement. “But at some point, there is a pivot and the passion of their millions of viewers lands somewhere useful.”

    She continued, “‘Tiger King’ and its audience can do that now. The world of big cat captivity requires a call to action, and I’m encouraged that through this partnership with the Animal Legal Defense Fund and support for our petition by the entertainment industry, we may see enough pressure lead to the passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act.”

    Joe Exotic and his crew tending to hundreds of exotic animals, interviewing other colorful figures in the world of big cats like Carole Baskin and Doc Antle. There are currently more tigers living in captivity the U.S. than in the wild, and the petition highlights the dangers of keeping these animals in cages. Those actions can forcefully separate newborn cubs from their mothers to drugging tigers to be “compliant and docile,” eventually killing or selling the tigers into pet trade when they are “no longer profitable.”” data-reactid=”29″ type=”text”>“Tiger King” features Joe Exotic and his crew tending to hundreds of exotic animals, interviewing other colorful figures in the world of big cats like Carole Baskin and Doc Antle. There are currently more tigers living in captivity the U.S. than in the wild, and the petition highlights the dangers of keeping these animals in cages. Those actions can forcefully separate newborn cubs from their mothers to drugging tigers to be “compliant and docile,” eventually killing or selling the tigers into pet trade when they are “no longer profitable.”

    “Netflix’s docuseries ‘Tiger King’ has become a cultural phenomenon since it was released and has made big cats — and those who abuse them — a popular topic of conversation,” Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells said. “It’s important for us to move beyond

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