This Walmart delivery guy sure looks happy. You know why he looks so happy? Because he’s on his way to a customer’s house with a load of groceries, and he’s going to have the whole place to himself.
The next big thing in grocery shopping is store-to-fridge delivery, even when you’re not home. It’s Walmart’s latest attempt to lure American consumers away from Amazon, and it just might be crazy enough to work. As long as you’re willing to get past the whole “there’s a complete stranger in my house” thing.
Walmart does make it all sound incredibly convenient, though. You’ve got a lot going on, what with your job, your family, your cat, and all the hilarious and super-important Imgur uploads you need to check out before the end of the day.
You don’t have time to shamble from aisle to aisle at a store to re-stock your shelves. You don’t even have time to park, run in, and grab your pre-packed order. Well, maybe you do have the time to do that… but who wants to deal with the hassle of navigating a busy Walmart parking lot after a long day just to grab a few provisions?
Not you, not when someone will gladly take them to your house and pop them right into the fridge so they don’t spoil. Just think about it… Instead of dreading an after-work shopping trip you could simply shop for your groceries furtively during that boring departmental meeting and arrive home later to a bevy of dining options.
It really does sound pretty awesome, and it’s not like Deliv doesn’t do background checks on the people they hire. Plus it’s super easy to set up a houseful of connected cameras these days if you want to monitor the process from entry to exit.
It’s a bad time to be a cable TV executive. Streaming services are popping up faster than big cable companies can throttle them, and years of bad customer service mean that customers are chomping at the bit to switch to something else. Recent data has indicated that a steady trickle of customers have already started switching to streaming, but a new survey of 1,200 consumers hints that it could be more of a tidal wave than a drip.
RBC Capital Markets surveyed 1,200 US consumers to understand their attitude towards cable TV. Of the respondents, only 55% said that they’d continue to subscribe to cable or satellite TV. According to RBC’s analysis, that means only 68 million households are interested in keeping pay TV long-term.
Right now, there are 86 million households subscribed to pay TV. That means 18 million households that currently have cable subscriptions are open to leaving soon. Steven Cahall, the RBC analyst, described this as implying “subscriber declines still have lots of potential downside.”
In simpler words: get ready for a bloodbath.
The only saving grace for cable companies is that for now, streaming services are still relatively expensive. “Skinny” packages like Sling TV or YouTube TV cost around $40 per month, which when added to an internet subscription, is pretty close to the cost of cable and broadband anyway.
But going forwards, all that could change. The media industry is being shaken up, including a shift in content ownership towards companies like Netflix. That has the potential to undo some of the bundling restrictions currently put in place by content owners, which in turn could result in cheaper, a la carte TV options. With more competition as a result of streaming services, it’s just a matter of time.
For better of for worse, Apple is a trendsetter in the mobile world. It was for the better when it kicked off the screen resolution wars, but it made things worse when it killed the 3.5mm audio jack.
In some cases, Android manufacturers genuinely try to compete, but sometimes they just blindly copy. When HTC went with USB headphones, they enabled USonic – a unique feature. But we think a couple of Chinese brands dropped the 3.5mm jack just to make their phones look even more like an iPhone.
With that in mind, how long do you think it will be before screen cutouts become popular on Android phones? LG had something of the sort with V10’s and V20’s secondary screen, the Essential phone jammed the selfie camera in the middle of the status bar, so it’s already happening.
Of course, Apple had to cram an entire Kinect so the large cutout was unavoidable. Essential could have put the selfie cam below the screen, like the Xiaomi Mi Mix did. Still, putting it at the bottom means the selfie cam is looking up your nose.
So, how do you feel about screen cutouts? Are they worth it to get a great feature (like iPhone’s TrueDepth camra) while keeping the bezels slim? Are only smaller cutouts acceptable or not at all?
Stepping onto the other side of the camera, Max decides he wants to learn more about motors, from motor control to motor drivers. Luckily, Felix is on hand to play teacher as he takes Max on a comprehensive tour. Will the combination of DC motors, transistors, electromagnets and Arduino coding prove too much for Mr. Olmstead to master? Or can Felix push his new student to create a successful working concept? Connect with the team over on the element14 Community.
When August first introduced its smart lock in 2014, it bested the competition by pairing high design and high tech in a way that other smarthome brands couldn’t. With its latest, third generation August Smart Lock, you get updated tech in a simpler, newly designed package. But the sales pitch hasn’t changed: With an August attached to your door, you can use your phone as your keys, text your best friend or delivery driver a digital key, and unlock your door automatically when you’re nearby.
This clean-sheet re-do isn’t the big, round knob you might associate with August. I think that the first locks wore their Yves Béhar-designed exteriors quite well. This new pill-shaped model is still made from high-quality aluminum, but it’s a little less striking than previous generations. Instead of the entire smart lock acting as the manual deadbolt switch, the new Smart Lock has a comparably petit lock on its face.
August Smart Lock
Affordable new price. Doesn’t skimp on features like DoorSense. New design is still minimalist and clean.
No Alexa or HomeKit compatibility. Auto Unlock can be hit-or-miss due to Bluetooth geofencing.
How We Rate
1/10A complete failure in every way
3/10Serious flaws; proceed with caution
4/10Downsides outweigh upsides
5/10Recommended with reservations
6/10Solid with some issues
7/10Very good, but not quite great
8/10Excellent, with room to kvetch
Like August’s other locks, this one supports things like automatic locking and unlocking. You even get the latest feature They left out things like Alexa, Z-Wave, and HomeKit integration, but added in a feature called DoorSense. Using a secondary sensor, the Smart Lock can now tell if the door has been left ajar.
Previous models of the August lock cost over $200, but this Smart Lock lowers the entry level to only $149. That makes it cheaper than most competing smart locks from Schlage, Kwikset, and Yale.
August has also made this lock compatible with a Wi-Fi bridge it calls August Connect, which lets you use the August app locally or remotely. Naturally, August’s lock integrates with the rest of its ecosystem, so you can add its Smart Keypad and Doorbell Cam to fully deck out your door. When used together, you can obsessively track guests who open the door with their digital key and even see photos of who’s been ringing your doorbell in one simple timeline inside the August app.
The manufacturer claims the Smart Lock takes just 10 minutes to install, and while I didn’t time it on a stopwatch, I was definitely impressed by the straightforward and painless process. For most people, installing an August lock will be well within their DIY skills, and the August app’s step-by-step video instructions helped enormously. I’m confident most homeowners and renters could pull this off no sweat.
The only negative thing I have to say is that the lock can be a little fussy. Because it relies on Bluetooth to connect with your smartphone, its geofencing is imperfect at best. More than a few times I arrived at my door only to find that the lock hadn’t found my phone yet, so auto unlock hadn’t occurred. It was frustrating to assume my door would be open when it wasn’t. Also, since you miss out on integration with other smarthome systems, this Smart Lock might function better as a standalone rather than a piece of a larger, unified home-monitoring system.
If you’ve had your eye on a smart lock, the low price and easy installation make the August Smart Lock great. For busy homes with a lot of visitors, or even Airbnbs, August finally offers an intelligent replacement for the old spare key under the mat.
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In theory, handing your smartphone video over to the police if you have evidence of a crime is the right thing to do — it provides accountability and could be the key to a conviction. However, those contributions are about to enter a gray area. Axon (the brand formerly known as Taser) has confirmed that it’s working on a “Public Evidence Product” that would let you submit photos and videos to Evidence.com, its cloud platform normally used for police footage. That doesn’t sound so bad on the surface, but the handling and potential motivations are raising concerns that this amounts to excessive privatization of the justice system.
Axon maintains that it doesn’t own or watch footage, which instead goes directly to the department. However, civil rights advocates are concerned that it might still use the shots for profit, or for things other than the direct case at hand (such as building biometric databases). And what happens if the footage concerns police abuses. Shouldn’t it go to an independent body? Even if Axon lives up to its promise not to watch footage, it’s not going to be completely neutral ground.
There’s also the question of whether or not it’s wise to encourage crowdsourcing for criminal evidence. Axon says its effort isn’t a “fishing expedition,” so your neighbor can’t use this to snitch on your littering habit. This is aimed at specific crimes where there’s already a case. However, there’s a worry that this may spur people to take unnecessary risks, such as doing things that expose them to immediate danger or intimidation. This could help police land convictions they might not otherwise get, but there are plenty of opportunities for unintended consequences.
As the new iPhone trio lived through its second week of existence, the initial hype is starting to wear off. Even the start of the sales of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus on Friday didn’t help much and the Plus dropped from our top 10 chart.
The iPhone X held on to the first spot, but it’s advantage over the Note8 is now minimal and chances are we’ll have a new leader come week 39.
The iPhone 8 slipped to third, ahead of the resurgent Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro. The Xiaomi Mi A1, also improved and is now in fifth.
The Galaxy S8 got sixth, ahead of the third Apple smartphone on the chart – the returning iPhone 6s.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 is another phone to come back to the top 10, snatching the eight spot, while the vivo V7+ maintained its ninth position.
The Nokia 6 just held onto the last spot on the popularity chart.
Apple’s new iPhones support wireless charging – a feature that has been slowly gaining popularity in recent years. But the Qi standard has been kicking around the mobile world for about 8 years by this point, pioneered by the Palm Pre smartphone (and the Touchstone charger).
Wireless headphones are nothing new – Bluetooth has been able to carry audio since the early days. Apple took this to the extreme with the AirPods, they don’t even have a wire connecting the two ear plugs!
But pairing your handset to your headphones can be a pain, what if it can be done wirelessly? We’re talking about NFC, of course, first appearing on the Nokia 6131 in 2006. The first Android with NFC was the Nexus S and Apple later adopted the tech but in a restricted fashion.
Apple AirPods • A Nokia wireless charger with NFC
That would be mobile payments. Google Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay all work over NFC. The tech is occasionally still used for pairing, but more advanced features – like sharing web pages and files – rarely see any actual use.
Before Bluetooth or Wi-Fi there was Infrared. It didn’t require expensive hardware so it was embedded in many feature phones, allowing them to transfer data (be it files or contacts). But it was slow and only worked in line of sight. The old geeks among us still remember the pain of nudging your phone halfway through sending a huge file (like a single MP3).
Infrared got a second lease on life as an IR blaster, allowing phones to act like remote controls for the tech at home. That feature has been rapidly disappearing though, with “smart” appliances getting a big marketing push. Alexa, turn on the TV.
Samsung Pay • Miracast
Of course, we’re not going to watch broadcast TV, instead we’ll cast the screen of our phone to the TV with Miracast. This was adopted with Android 4.2 and first used in phones like the Nexus 4 and Xperia Z. This feature marked the sharp decline of HDMI ports on phones.
Voice commands have been available on phones for years. Of course, the implementation on feature phones over a decade ago was almost comically bad. A new breed of voice assistants have improved the experience of commanding your phone at a distance – Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant and Bixby, everyone seems to have an assistant now.
Apple is trying to make biometric authentication wireless – replacing the fingerprint reader you have to touch with FaceID you just look at. What else do you think will go wireless?
Uber may have lost its London taxi license with no small amount of drama, but it’s already willing to make concessions. The ridesharing outfit’s city manager Tom Elvidge tells the Sunday Times that he would “like to know what [Uber] can do” to “get this right.” He’s willing to make tradeoffs to get business back, in other words. That’s a sharp contrast to Elvidge’s tone on Friday, when he denounced the move and was promising an immediate legal response. And importantly, it sounds like officials might be willing to give Uber a break.
Times insiders claim that Transportation for London is encouraged by the warmer stance and says that it’s open to talks. It’s not certain how close Uber and TfL are to actually sitting down and talking, but this is clearly the first step. There’s no secret as to what changes Uber is likely to make, at least. In Denmark, Uber had talked about guaranteed benefits like paid sick time — it may promise better conditions for drivers.
The conciliatory attitude isn’t completely unheard of, but it does suggest that Uber’s change of leadership might be having an effect on the company’s once antagonistic approach. After all, new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi suggested that Uber was paying the price for its historical behavior — it’s hard to imagine the previous management saying it earned any kind of punishment. While Uber doesn’t have that much of a choice if it wants to return to such an important market (TfL has the upper hand here), it’s notable that Uber is changing its tone more quickly than it has in the past.
If you’re going to have an iPhone – and our poll shows that maybe you don’t – get the iPhone X. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus barely registered on the charts – they didn’t improve enough, making them boring (not a great thing for an expensive phone).
The voters liked the iPhone X, it’s a massive departure from the traditional iPhone design that has gotten quite stale. The upgrade to AMOLED was a welcome one and the TrueDepth camera/animoji seem fun.
It’s damn expensive though. Not that Apple’s phones were ever cheap, but the X is a hard hit to the wallet – especially if you’re paying in euros rather than dollars.
Anyway, we think that Apple has nothing to worry about when it comes to iPhone X sales – those will sell out as fast as Apple can make them. Things are looking good for the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus sales too, but it remains to be seen if they will be better or worse than iPhone 7 sales.
You’d be forgiven for wondering what was happening with Super Mario Run. After a flurry of activity in its first few months, things have mostly quieted down. However, Nintendo is about to spark a bit of life into its signature mobile game. It’s releasing an update on September 29th that adds some (frankly needed) variety. You can play as Daisy, for instance. There’s a new world (World Star) with new gameplay elements, and a Remix 10 game mode that randomizes parts of 10 levels for a fast, perpetually fresh experience. You can also listen to your own music while you play, and your character will even don headphones to reflect that you’re not listening to the usual Super Mario themes.
To help spur interest, Nintendo will cut the full game’s price in half between September 29th and October 12th.
It’s no secret that Nintendo is less than thrilled with the game’s performance. Although it was successful in its first few months compared to many mobile games, it didn’t become a major contributor to Nintendo’s bottom line. However, this update shows that Nintendo is committed to mobile gaming for the long haul — it’s not stopping work on a title just because it’s no longer the hot new thing (it helps that this is clearly Nintendo’s marquee mobile game).
The real question is whether or not an update will spur a mini renaissance — that’s not so clear. Few games achieve the same evergreen status you get out of a title like Angry Birds or Words With Friends. And it doesn’t help that Super Mario Odyssey for the Switch is right around the corner. If you’re a big fan of Nintendo’s ex-plumber, you’re probably focusing your attention on that title instead.
Puerto Rico is suffering on an unimaginable scale in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Many have been displaced from their homes, and the entire territory may go without electricity and reliable communication for months. And while the human tragedy is clearly the most important concern, it’s also having a terrible effect on the scientific community. Researchers have learned that the Arecibo Observatory and its signature radio telescope took significant damage when the hurricane passed over. All staff members are thankfully safe for now, but an atmospheric radar line feed and a 39-foot dish (used for Very Long Baseline Interferometry) were lost in winds that reached up to 155MPH. The gigantic central dish is intact, although the line feed’s collapse punctured it in places.
To make matters worse, the situation is dire for on-site staff. The National Science Foundation understands that team members have generators, a water well and food for a week, but the roads may be impassable for days.
The hurricane compounds what was already a difficult period for the observatory. The NSF doesn’t believe it can keep funding Arecibo itself, and has been looking for partners who could shoulder the burden. Now, the telescope’s future is even more in doubt. While it sounds like repairs are feasible, can the NSF or any potential allies justify funding those repairs? It wouldn’t be as simple as shutting down Arecibo (there are environmental considerations), so its fate is very much in limbo. The only certainty is that Puerto Rico needs help right now — please consider donating to a relief fund if you can.
You’re about to get a chance to watch an out-of-the-ordinary NFL game wherever you happen to live. The league and Yahoo (disclaimer: yes, they’re part of our parent company Verizon) are streaming a special game in London on September 24th at 9:30AM Eastern. Virtually anyone worldwide can see the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars take to the field in Wembley Stadium for free. In addition to tuning in on Yahoo’s website, you can catch the game through the NFL’s website and its apps.
Yahoo is also streaming the other London games, including the Dolphins versus the Saints on October 1st, Cardinals versus Rams on October 22nd and Browns versus Vikings on October 29th.
The web giant definitely doesn’t have a lock on NFL game streams — there’s been a fierce battle for the rights to air regular season matches. Between this and Amazon’s deal, though, there will be a surprising amount you can watch without paying for a dedicated streaming service or (gasp) a TV package.
Verizon owns Engadget’s parent company, Oath (formerly AOL). Rest assured, Verizon has no control over our coverage. Engadget remains editorially independent.
State officials finally know if they serve one of the 21 states Russia tried to hack during the 2016 Presidential elections. Homeland Security and other agencies found out in 2016 that Russian government hackers tried to get into some states’ voting registration systems, but it took a year for the secretaries of state to convince the DHS to disclose its findings. The agency has only decided to tell authorities if they were targeted during the elections on Friday, because it “would help [them] make security decisions” way before the 2018 midterm elections begin.
Senator Mark R. Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said: “Its unacceptable that it took almost a year after the election to notify states that their elections systems were targeted, but I’m relieved that DHS has acted upon our numerous requests and is finally informing the top elections officials in all 21 affected states that Russian hackers tried to breach their systems in the run up to the 2016 election.” The states affected by the hacking attempts include Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington.
According to Homeland Security, the attackers only got into the systems of a handful of states despite targeting almost two dozen. In some cases, like in Illinois, the attackers altered voters’ records and got away with their sensitive details, but investigators didn’t find any evidence that they tampered with actual voting machines. Office of Intelligence and Analysis Cyber Division acting director Samuel Liles once said, however, that the attackers might not have altered vote counts, because their real purpose was to look for vulnerabilities to exploit.
Welcome back to Video IRL, where several of our editors talk about what they’ve been watching in their spare time. This month we’re talking about the latest Marvel/Netflix series, The Defenders, to find out if it’s as bingeworthy as previous efforts. Billy Steele hopped into HBO’s archives to check out The Night Of and explains why this is a crime series you won’t want to miss, and finally, Richard Lawler talks about The Man from Nowhere without mentioning that he always cries at the end.
‘Marvel’s The Defenders’
Mat Smith Bureau Chief, UK
If you’ve seen all the other shows that have fed into Defenders, this Marvel team-up isn’t going to change how you feel about each of the protagonists. Jessica Jones gets nearly all the good quips, aside from Madame Gao (an imperious old woman that scared the crap out of heroes and villains alike in those other Netflix shows), and even uses a car to ram a resurrected ninja/love interest. Danny Rand, the Iron Fist, is still petulant, myopic and just ugh — if anything, it’s good to have human punchbag for everyone else to riff off. Other heroes “forget” his mystical title, despite the fact that Rand says it to anyone and everyone who’ll listen. I hoped they’d at least offer some highlights to the Fist, but he’s still the weakest part.
The story mostly centers around Daredevil and the Iron Fist, and there are several surprises in the last half of the eight episodes to keep things interesting. Luke Cage seems to take a backseat: He’s all voice of reason and stoic calm most of the time. (This is funny to me because in the old comics, it was usually the other way around, as Fist would tell Cage to not take it all so seriously. Then again, Cage also wore a golden tiara thing, so, you know, maybe things are better this way.)
Once I’d finished it all, and believe me, I binged like a lot of viewers, I felt a little underwhelmed. It’s not that it was bad, it’s just that perhaps my expectations were too high. Despite being like an Indie Avengers supergroup, I didn’t feel like any of the heroes evolved much during this team-up run, and the threat didn’t ramp up as much as I’d hoped it would, barring a four-on-four match-up in the final few episodes. The group thing works fine; it’s just that some of the solo artists do better work on their own.
‘The Night of’
Billy Steele Senior News Editor
If you’re looking for something to fill the void left by True Detective and remedy the disappointment of the second season, HBO’s latest crime thriller will do the trick. The Night Of is set in NYC and chronicles one really bad night out for Nazir Khan. What starts out as relatively innocent sneaking out and taking his father’s cab to go to a party, ends up with him being accused of a murder he doesn’t remember committing. Well, mostly because of the cocktail of drugs and alcohol he consumed.
Riz Ahmed is spectacular in the lead role as Khan. He adapts from being a sheltered college student to becoming a murder suspect whose new home is Rikers Island. In fact, Ahmed just won a well-deserved Emmy for the character. Along the way, fellow inmate Freddy Knight, played by Michael K Williams of The Wire fame, takes Naz under his wing. In exchange for protection in prison, Naz has to do some illicit activities to repay the debt. And of course, that creates a whole other set of issues.
John Turturro is also outstanding in the role of John Stone, a lawyer that hangs out around police stations looking for clients. Stone thinks this is another open-and-shut case where he can get paid to convince his client to take a plea deal. And because it’s a high-profile murder case, he’ll earn much more than his usual fee. During the course of the show, it’s amazing to watch Stone’s change of heart towards Naz while dealing with his own personal struggles — all of which culminates in the attorney’s epic closing argument.
The best part? It’s only eight episodes, which means it’s easily bingeable in a weekend — if you’re as determined as I was. The shorter season also kept the pace moving along at a good clip, and the show never felt like it was dragging or filling time like some 13-episode series tend to do. What’s more, The Night Of works so well as a one-season show. While there have been rumblings about a second installment, I’d be perfectly fine with HBO keeping this to one season. Unless of course, Turturro comes back as John Stone — then I might be convinced to change my tune.
‘The Man from Nowhere’
Richard Lawler Senior News Editor
If you, like me, have a leaning towards classic action flicks from a few decades ago, then Korean movies can fill the hole left by current Hollywood movies that rely too heavily on quick camera cuts and CGI. A few you should check out include I Saw the Devil, No Tears for the Dead and, my favorite, The Man from Nowhere.
This 2010 release lived up to its title, suddenly appearing and instantly becoming one of my favorite movies. It fills its two-hour runtime with a visceral, close-up brand of violence all paced to match the way we learn about its main character’s backstory. A mysterious pawnshop loner turns out to be a former special-forces operative, who deliberately chews through a crime syndicate that has kidnapped a little girl he befriended. It’s not the most original plotline, but the mix of story and action is perfect, and star Won Bin — who I hope will return to action movies someday as he is sorely missed — pulls off every bit of subtle emoting necessary to carry the role.
It closes with an action scene that I won’t spoil but can honestly say is a favorite along with anything seen in either The Raid movie. Emotional stakes combined with excellent choreography and cinematography take it to another level and should earn this flick a spot on your shelf.
“IRL” is a recurring column in which the Engadget staff run down what they’re buying, using, playing and streaming.