Samsung’s Odyssey Neo G9 Is the New King of Gaming Monitors


Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 gaming monitor

Photo: Sam Rutherford

Samsung’s been making gaming monitors for years now, but execs in the company’s display division say last year’s Odyssey G9 was its first flagship gaming monitor. Now there’s a new Odyssey in town, and from what we’ve seen so far, it handily claims the gaming monitor crown.

The new Odyssey Neo G9 is the same size and resolution as its predecessor, but for the newest model, Samsung has switched to a Quantum Matrix panel with miniLEDs and Quantum HDR support. It’s similar to what you find in Samsung’s high-end TVs, but a first for gaming displays. After checking this thing out in person, the impact that new panel has is profound.

Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 gaming monitor

Unfortunately, Samsung says the Neo G9’s low input lag setting is only available when adapter sync is disabled.
Photo: Sam Rutherford

On the Neo G9, peak brightness now tops out at a dazzling 2,000 nits (up from 1,000 nits on last year’s model), with 2,048 dimming zones providing much better contrast while almost completely eliminating the distracting halos you often see on displays with older tech.

As before, pixel response remains blistering quick at just 1ms, while the ridiculously wide 32:9 5,210 x 1440 aspect ratio display gives you more screen real estate than you probably know what to do with—or at least that’s how I felt. The Neo G9’s 240Hz refresh rate has also stayed the same and remains quite impressive for a monitor this big, and it also includes support for variable refresh rates via AMD FreeSync Premium Pro and Nvidia G-Sync compatibility, with both DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.1 connections around back.

In person, the Neo G9’s extreme curvature still seems almost comical, until you actually sit down in front of it and realize that its 1000R bend means that the screen remains the same distance from your eyes regardless of where you’re looking. This means your eyes never have to refocus like they would on a traditionally flat display of the same size, which, along with built-in blue light filters, helps you avoid eyestrain or headaches during long gaming sessions.

But that’s not all. Along with a fancy new panel, Samsung is stepping up the Neo G9’s design by doubling down on that big light orb in back. The old G9 was limited to an assortment of preset patterns and light combos, but on the Neo G9, Samsung has included a new CoreSync feature, which can automatically analyze whatever content you’re looking at and then project similar colors onto the wall behind the monitor, adding a bit of built-in bias lighting.

Samsung’s test setup didn’t do the best job of showing off the Neo G9’s new bias lighting in person, but when everything comes to together, what you get is a gaming experience unlike anything else on the market. In games with native HDR support like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Doom Eternal, the rich shadows and dynamic lighting are downright enchanting, while that huge 49-inch screen wraps around you like a cocoon. And even in games without full HDR like Cyberpunk 2077, the Neo G9’s saturated colors and reflections still looked fantastic. And even though I did a tiny bit of pixel peeping, I had a really hard time spotting fringing or chroma subsampling, which can sometimes appear on high refresh rate displays.

Image for article titled Samsung's Massive Odyssey Neo G9 Is the New King of Gaming Monitors

Photo: Sam Rutherford

Now here comes the bad news: With this much tech crammed inside, the Neo G9 commands an equally jaw-dropping price tag of $2,500—a full Grover Cleveland more than last year’s G9. So instead of idly wondering if this thing will fit on your desk (Samsung even makes an optional VESA mount for wall installations), it seems the G9 Neo may simply be fodder for big-time Twitch streamers who want to flex on their followers. But if you’ve got the funds and the space, the Neo G9 has just taken the crown as the most over-the-top gaming display money can buy.

The Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 will be available for pre-order starting July 29, with orders expected to begin shipping out sometime in August.


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Former NSA Official Jen Easterly Is New CISA Director


Image for article titled CISA Gets a New Director Amidst Ongoing Ransomware Dumpster Fire

Photo: Kevin Dietsch (Getty Images)

America’s top cybersecurity watchdog, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, finally has a permanent director again—and not a moment too soon.

On Monday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Jen Easterly, a longtime military and intelligence professional and former NSA employee, as the new head of the agency.

Easterly is the first permanent director since the unceremonious exit of Chris Krebs, who was fired by President Trump in November after refusing to endorse the President’s claims about election interference and voting irregularities. Since then, the agency has been helmed by interim director Brandon Wales, a longtime DHS employee.

Established in 2018, CISA serves as an operational component of the Department of Homeland Security, focusing on protecting federal networks, as well as providing cybersecurity guidance to government agencies and the private sector. It also focuses on election security and protections for critical infrastructure.

It’s hard to imagine someone with more qualifications for this job than Easterly. She served in the U.S. Army for some 20 years, focusing on intelligence and cyber operations—and actually helped stand up the Army’s first information warfare battalion. She has played different roles at the National Security Agency, including working with the Tailored Access Operations group—one of the most elite hacking units in the federal government. She has also worked for the Pentagon’s U.S. Cyber Command, served as senior director for counterterrorism on the National Security Council during the Obama years, has done security work for banking giant Morgan Stanley…you get the picture.

Whatever her credentials, it’s certainly good to have someone at the helm of our cybersecurity agency again because, you know, stuff hasn’t been so great in that department lately. The last six months have seen some of the biggest cyberattacks on the U.S. ever—from SolarWinds to Colonial Pipeline to Kaseya. The agency would seem to have its work cut out for it for the foreseeable future.


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iOS 15 Features Come for Your Mac


Illustration for article titled macOS Monterey Preview: iOS 15 Features Come for Your Mac

Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo

Of all Apple’s OSes, macOS is the one most people delay updating. How many of you, when you boot up your Mac, banish update reminders for days—sometimes weeks or even months—with a click of “remind me later” rather than wait to finish the task you sat down to accomplish? I would guess a large number. In the days before I regularly blogged about Macs, I confess I did the same.

But macOS 12 is so in sync with iOS 15 that if you update your iPhone—and you will—then updating your Mac makes perfect sense. So many features carry over from one device to another that they now feel like extensions of each other.

If macOS Big Sur was the iOS-ification of the Mac’s aesthetic, macOS Monterey’s headline software features are all lifted straight from the iPhone and work across all your Apple devices. Shortcuts, Apple’s automation app most well-known for enabling users to customize home screen icons in iOS 14, just landed on the Mac after debuting on the iPhone back in 2018. FaceTime gets a huge upgrade, with SharePlay for watching videos, screen-sharing, and listening to music with contacts. You can set up Focus profiles for managing notifications that sync across all your devices. Safari gets a new look, which is not as heinous on the Mac as it is on the iPhone but has the same general vibe. And you’ve long been able to AirPlay content from an iPhone to, say, an Apple TV, but never to a Mac—until now. It all just works.

If I have any disappointments with macOS Monterey so far, it’s that Universal Control, one of the few Mac-specific features in Apple’s overall suite of upgrades this year, has so far not been included in the beta. I rarely get extremely hyped about new Mac features, but I’m so curious to try out this one, which allows you to use a single mouse/trackpad and keyboard to control multiple Macs and iPads arranged next to each other. I’ve been imagining how I can position an iPad Pro with a Mac for the dual-display setup of my dreams—do I go horizontal or vertical?—even going so far as to set up an iPad stand set up next to my iMac. It sits empty, waiting.

While I won’t be describing a Universal Control experience here, I can tell you what it’s like to live with macOS Monterey in general. If you update your iPhone to iOS 15 and like what you see, so far Monterey is a solid, complementary upgrade.

How to Install macOS Monterey

macOS Monterey is now available as a public beta for anyone to try. I’ve been using it on an M1 iMac for a while now, and have had no issues with stability. As always, back up your files and prepare for bugs before installing beta software, and I recommend using it on a device you don’t rely on every day, just to be safe.

You also need to have a Mac compatible with Monterey. For reference, those are: MacBook Air or MacBook Pro from early 2015 or later; MacBook (early 2016 or later); iMac (late 2015 and later); iMac Pro (2017 and later); Mac Pro (late 2013 and later); and Mac Mini (late 2014 and later).

If you’re still feeling brave and have a compatible Mac, head on over to enroll in Apple’s Beta Software Program with your Apple ID and follow the instructions for installing Monterey.

Now let’s get into it.

iOS 15’s Flagship Features on the Mac

Shortcuts, a Safari redesign, and AirPlay land on the Mac, just like on the iPhone.

Shortcuts, a Safari redesign, and AirPlay land on the Mac, just like on the iPhone.
Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo

I’ve described in detail what it’s like to use iOS 15 features like FaceTime’s SharePlay and Focus in my iOS 15 preview here. And while they are equally capable on the Mac in Monterey, you might find you use them differently. I don’t find Focus, Apple’s notification-wrangling approach, to be as useful on the Mac as on the iPhone because my interaction with notifications on my Mac is completely different than it is with my iPhone. I don’t really need to use my Work Focus profile on my Mac because, basically, all I use it for is working. I don’t get many dings from messaging apps besides Slack (constantly, forever), and the only notifications I allow are from Messages and Calendar. All that is to say, the Mac is not a screen I have an addiction to, so Focus isn’t quite as necessary here.

FaceTime’s new features are also fun on the Mac, though screen-sharing was a little finicky. I didn’t see controls to share a screen or my window, and I also wasn’t able to turn off screen-sharing when I wanted to—instead, I had to end the call. I expect these are little bugs that will be ironed out ahead of the official release.

FaceTime Portrait Mode is a little aggressive around curly hair, but I don’t hate it.

FaceTime Portrait Mode is a little aggressive around curly hair, but I don’t hate it.
Screenshot: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo

And while I usually use FaceTime on my iPhone or iPad, using Portrait Mode with the iMac’s 1080p front-facing lens is truly next level, and I plan to use this for all future video calls. Thankfully, Portrait Mode will be available in third-party video-conferencing apps, too, not just FaceTime (though it is only supported on M1 Macs). Apologies to all my friends and colleagues in advance for being extra as hell.

Cool new Maps, the Shared With You feature from Messages that allows you to see content your friends have sent you in relevant apps (say, a web link in Safari or a song link in Apple Music), and more iOS features have also arrived on the Mac, making the two devices seem more intertwined than ever before. They’re not game-changers for the Mac, but they do make it easier to pick up on one screen where you left off on another, which is exactly the point of Monterey.

New Safari Is Slightly Less Annoying on the Mac

As terrible as I find the Safari redesign in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, somehow it’s less so on the Mac. Unlike on the iPhone, the address bar doesn’t jump up and down depending on whether you’re typing in it or not, so immediately we’re off to a better start. And while I absolutely hated the color-matched tabs when I started using the redesigned Safari—confusingly, they just made it appear as if my browser was jumping between Light Mode and Dark Mode depending on the page—you can turn that feature off.

The redesigned Safari isn’t so bad on the Mac, but the disappearing reload button is a no from me.

The redesigned Safari isn’t so bad on the Mac, but the disappearing reload button is a no from me.
Screenshot: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo

I do find it weird that my tabs and the address bar are center-aligned in the same spot, which means things can get very crowded (though with Tab Groups, which let you organize tabs into categories and switch between them, a bit less so). That feature is now accessible from a new Safari sidebar, which keeps things pretty streamlined.

And while the button to reload a page has seemingly disappeared, if you hover your cursor over the More menu (behind the ellipses to the right of the search bar), you’ll see it appear again. It’s a neat trick, but also infuriating because why? What problem does this solve? I predict Safari is going to make an awful lot of people mad. Luckily, I primarily use Chrome on the Mac because Kinja doesn’t function in Safari, so at least my Safari woes will be limited to iPhone and iPad.

AirPlay Is Fine, but I Want Universal Control

Apple’s AirPlay 2 is a convenient way to cast content from one Apple device to another, usually one with a bigger screen. I generally use it to cast videos to my Apple TV or music to AirPlay-compatible speakers. Because of other Continuity features like Handoff, I actually always forget that you can’t AirPlay from an iPhone to a Mac—or at least you couldn’t, until now.

At first, I wondered why this feature would be useful. I never really need to AirPlay a song to my Mac, for instance, because I would just pop open Apple Music or Spotify. And AirPlaying a YouTube video to a Mac is silly because I can navigate to YouTube in a browser. But there are some instances where you might want to use AirPlay with your Mac. Apple highlighted the use of iPad sketching apps, which allow you to AirPlay your drawings to a Mac in real-time. I doodled a bit on an iPad Pro while mirroring my screen to an iMac, and while I’ll spare you the outcome (I’m not an artist), it worked well and there was no lag.

There’s no Fitness+ Mac app, but you can now AirPlay workouts from your iPhone.

There’s no Fitness+ Mac app, but you can now AirPlay workouts from your iPhone.
Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo

A perhaps more mainstream use case for AirPlay on a Mac is Fitness+, Apple’s on-demand workout service. You can now cast those videos from your iPhone to your Mac, if you want to take classes on a larger screen (and you do; they’re terrible on an iPhone). I tested this out, and while the AirPlay settings were a little wonky—the class I chose offered me the option to AirPlay audio but not video—the video showed up seamlessly anyway.

You can also use AirPlay to cast content from one Mac to another, which I haven’t tested yet. I tend to play fast and loose with the betas, but putting a dev beta on both a work Mac and a personal Mac just seemed like a disaster waiting to happen. I’ll be testing this alongside Universal Control in the future, so stay tuned. If you’re hoping to use an older Mac as a second display for a newer one, though, AirPlay is probably not the solution—your machine has to be from 2018 or newer to take advantage of the Mac-to-Mac AirPlay functionality.

Overall, AirPlay works well and can be useful in some circumstances. I’m glad it exists on the Mac. That’s it!

All the Small Things

More than any other macOS release in recent memory, it seems like Monterey is jam-packed with little things that will make a huge difference in the way you use your Mac. For some people, the addition of Shortcuts from the iPhone will make automation on the Mac easier (though if you were already using Automator on the Mac, you’ll have to start easing your way over by importing scripts into Shortcuts).

There’s Quick Note, which lets you hover your cursor in a hot corner (the bottom right for me) to bring up a, as you may have guessed, quick note. This is super useful for jotting down little things, rather than adding random observations and to-do items to one long-running, constantly refreshed note (just me?).

And a little thing that may only be of interest to me, a person who has had to erase many a Mac: With M1 Macs in Monterey, Apple is finally making it as easy to erase and factory reset a Mac as it is on an iPhone or iPad. Instead of walking through a complicated process of starting up in Recovery mode and then using Disk Utility to erase your hard drive before reinstalling macOS, there will be a new option to erase user content from the Mac under System Preferences without completely wiping the OS.

There are other M1-specific features, too, like Live Text, a systemwide feature that lets you look up or translate text in any image. A new Visual Lookup tool will show up in a photo when the Mac’s on-device intelligence recognizes something notable, like an animal or a landmark. I took a photo of a houseplant, the species of which I can’t quite figure out, but alas, Visual Lookup had no diagnosis.

So far, macOS Monterey has been mostly fine, if not a little bit boring. But as soon as Universal Control arrives—god, I can’t wait.


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Facebook and Instagram Debut Financial Incentives for Influencers


Illustration for article titled Facebook and Instagram Are Rolling Out (More) Financial Incentives for Influencers

Photo: AFP / Stringer (Getty Images)

If you thought the deal couldn’t possibly get sweeter for the influencers that flock to Facebook and Instagram to simultaneously bolster their social media followings and line their pockets, think again: On Tuesday, both platforms announced that they’ll be stepping up their respective games in the coming weeks by rolling out a suite of additional financial incentives aimed at keeping the creator class logged on and streaming.

During Instagram’s first Creator Week event, Mark Zuckerberg — the CEO of Facebook, which owns Instagram — debuted new features that will help influencers rack up “extra cash” in exchange for hitting certain milestones. According to Engadget, examples of goals that will translate to extra cash include selling badges within streams or going live with other accounts on Instagram and participating in “Stars Challenges,” on Facebook, which will reward creators for meeting certain streaming milestones and completing other predetermined tasks.

“We believe that you should be rewarded for the value that you bring to your fans and to the overall community,” Zuckerberg told creators during the event.

In addition to the new milestones, Instagram will also be rolling out an option for creators who sell their own products to link to them in-app, with additional options to earn commission directly from shopping posts.

The cash incentives seem explicitly designed to keep influencers, well influencing, which, in addition to lining creators’ pockets, serves the dual purpose of attracting more users to Instagram and Facebook.

Notably, the bonuses also seem to be explicitly targeted towards mid-range creators, rather than content behemoths with massive online followings. This seems to be in line with Zuckerberg’s recently stated goal of establishing a sort of “creator middle class” — the subset of influencers that, despite having substantial platforms, are not yet big or influence-y enough to merit sponsorship offers from big-name brands.


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Fossil to Launch Premium Watch That Runs on New Wear OS in Fall


Fossil’s first cellular watch, the Gen 5 LTE.

Fossil’s first cellular watch, the Gen 5 LTE.
Photo: Victoria Song/Gizmodo

Fossil, the biggest Wear OS wearables maker, is planning to launch a new, premium Gen 6 smartwatch this fall that will run on Google’s revamped operating system for the devices.

Fossil executives told CNET on Saturday that their upcoming Android smartwatches will be entirely new, featuring chips with faster performance, better battery life, and global LTE cellular options. The company plans to launch a sole premium watch, its most successful category, as its flagship under the new Wear OS. However, other brands in the Fossil Group, which include Diesel and Michael Kors, will likely develop their own watches.

According to CNET, the newest Fossil smartwatch should have features similar to what Google and Samsung offer. In May, the tech behemoths announced that they would be partnering up to create a new smartwatch operating system that aims to be 30% faster at launching apps and allows for features such as continuous heart rate monitoring and sleep tracking.

“All of the software benefits that Google’s talking about and launching with the unified platform is something we’ll be building into that as well,” Fossil chief commercial officer Greg McKelvey told CNET.

As far as hardware goes, Fossil said it has some “pretty major” upgrades planned for its future smartwatches. These could include faster performance, better battery life, and more advanced health features.

For those wondering about the buttons and the screens, Fossil seemed to hint that not much would be changing on that front. Steve Prokup, the company’s senior vice president of connected devices, said Fossil would continue to support multiple configurations of buttons in the market at the same time, but it doesn’t plan on going to extremes.

“I think you’re still going to see a variety of offerings across even our products, as well as manufacturers… not so much that you’re going to have a watch that ends up having four, five, six dedicated buttons or no buttons,” Prokup said.

The watch’s touchscreen would remain the principal way to interact with the device, Prokup explained, while the buttons and crowns would be design flairs and shortcuts.

There is some bad news if you already own a Fossil smartwatch now, though: They won’t be able to upgrade to Google’s new Wear OS.

Although the company was tight-lipped on price, CNET speculated that it could be on par with the newest Apple Watch Series 6, which starts at $400. Fossil claims that a great product that innovates will be worth the price, but we’ll have to wait and see.


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Android 12 Feature Will Let You Opt Out of App Tracking


Google will soon let you opt-out of third-party tracking from any app you download from the Play Store.

Google will soon let you opt-out of third-party tracking from any app you download from the Play Store.
Photo: Florence Ion/Gizmodo

With Apple’s developer conference just around the corner, Google is reportedly planning to follow in its rivals footsteps by letting Android users opt out of being tracked by the apps they download from the Google Play store.

A Google support page detailing how users can opt out of third-party tracking has generated a bit of buzz. Originally surfaced by the Financial Times, Google will introduce a switch for users later this year that turns off sharing the Advertising ID, which is the device identifier that lets marketers see your activity from app to app. (It’s also one of the identifiers that manufacturers had access to during the covid-19 contact tracing privacy snafu.) Android users can already limit system-wide ad-tracking or manually reset their Advertising ID to help throw off being tracked, but this new setting will let users opt out of any alternative device identifiers that developers also use to track your activity across apps.

Google announced a Play Store policy change in an email to developers. Those who try to access advertising IDs from users who have opted out will only see a “string of zeros” rather than the explicit numerical identifier.

From the Google support page:

As part of Google Play services update in late 2021, the advertising ID will be removed when a user opts out of personalization using advertising ID in Android Settings. Any attempts to access the identifier will receive a string of zeros instead of the identifier. To help developers and ad/analytics service providers with compliance efforts and respect user choice, they will be able to receive notifications for opt-out preferences. Additionally, apps targeting Android 12 will need to declare a Google Play services normal permission in the manifest file.

Unlike on iOS, it’s unclear if the tracking feature will be on by default or if Google will make this a known feature or something that’s buried deep in the settings panel. But we’ll likely have answers by the time Android 12 rolls out publicly. Google is phasing the rollout to apps running on Android 12 devices starting in late 2021, with expansion for more devices coming in early 2022.

Google has been working overtime to change the narrative on how it approaches privacy. The company has added a bunch of granular privacy controls over the years, dating back to permission-selection features introduced back in Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but with Apple using privacy as a key selling point for its devices, there’s a renewed push for Google to answer. The company recently announced a new safety section in the Google Play Store a few weeks back.

Privacy has clearly become a company-wide initiative, considering Google’s move to create a new tracking alternative—one that binds your activity directly to its servers.

And the more features that Google can push out to make its platforms and the services integrated into it seem safer, the more it maintains consumer trust to hold on to that top spot on the market share leaderboard.

Being an Android user has always been about choice. It’s nice that Google is adding an option to make Android users feel better about being on the platform after the security features Apple introduced to iOS. This is certainly the first feature I’m choosing to take advantage of once I update to Android 12.


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The Kid from ‘David After Dentist’ Is Now in College and Selling an NFT of His Viral Video to Pay Tuition


Illustration for article titled The Kid from 'David After Dentist' Is Now in College and Selling an NFT of His Viral Video to Pay Tuition

Image: David DeVore

It seems like every internet meme is getting the NFT treatment these days. The latest is “David After Dentist,” one of YouTube’s earliest viral videos. In 2008, David DeVore recorded his then-seven-year-old son, David Jr., babbling now-iconic lines like “Is this real life?” in a medication-fueled haze after a tooth extraction.

The video has racked up more than 140 million views since it was posted in 2009. And now, 12 years later, the younger DeVore’s moment of viral fame is helping to fund his college education.

The DeVore family is auctioning “David After Dentist” as an NFT, with proceeds going toward college tuition for both David and his brother, according to a press release.

“It kind of feels like 2009 all over again,” the elder DeVore said in an interview with the Verge Thursday. “NFTs are like the wild west right now, it’s like back when we went viral and social media was in its infancy.”

The auction went live on Thursday and is open for 24 hours but could be extended for late bids, DeVore Sr. told the outlet. His son, who is now 20, is studying computer science at the University of Florida and has perfect teeth, he added.

The “David After Dentist” NFT is the first offered by Views, a collective launched by viral video distributor Jukin Media and influencer management firm Night Media to help creators mint their meme-worthy content using NFTs. NFTs of other viral videos, including “Pizza Rat” and the “Ok Boomer” TikTok, will also be going up for auction at a later date, according to Forbes.

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are unique digital tokens tied to the blockchain that signify ownership of a data asset. The art world became obsessed with them earlier this year, with collectors shelling out millions of dollars to own essentially digital trading cards, and now everyone from toy manufacturers to video game companies and influencers is getting in on the buzz.

Stories like that of David and “Disaster Girl”, who also NFT-ified her meme to help pay for college, have me wondering: Is this the new American dream?


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Google Might Scrap “Hey Google” for Some Voice Assistant Tasks


Illustration for article titled Soon You May Not Have to Say 'Hey Google' to Get Your Phone's Google Assistant to Listen to You

Illustration: Leon Neal (Getty Images)

If you’ve ever wanted your Google Assistant to get moving without having to say, “hey Google,” all the time, you may be getting your wish in the near future.

On Friday, Android Police spotted a new featured dubbed “Guacamole” after updating the Google app on Android. The update introduced a new Guacamole menu in the Google Assistant settings list for some users, the outlet reported, although it’s not functional yet. Nonetheless, according to screenshots of the menu posted by Android Police, Guacamole is apparently a voice shortcuts feature that will allow users to skip saying “hey Google” for help with quick tasks.

In order to enable the feature, users have to click and read, presumably, a set of terms and conditions. We say “presumably” because the link included in the menu doesn’t work yet, so we haven’t been able to confirm this. (We did try, though).

Just what exactly will these quick tasks consist of? 9to5Google reports that these quick tasks include alarms, timers, and calls. As an example, the outlet said that the feature will allow you to say “stop” or “snooze” to stop an alarm. It also stated that users will be able to say, “answer the call,” or “decline the call.”

Now, I don’t use Google Assistant, but I do use an Amazon Echo Dot that always plays a wonderful BTS playlist in the morning to wake me up. I’m a beast in the morning, and when I grumble, “Alexa, stoooooop,” I always feel the thing is paying attention to me. I don’t think I would get that same feeling of sleepy satisfaction if I just said, “stop.” That’s just me though, and this is a very particular situation.

9to5Google notes that Google is only testing the Guacamole feature with employees at the time, which is why it began showing up on some users’ phones. As with other features under development, there’s no guarantee that this one will ever make it to the mainstream. We just have to wait and see.


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Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube Execs to Testify at Senate Hearing


Illustration for article titled Policy Executives at Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to Testify at Senate Hearing on Algorithms

Photo: Chip Somodevilla (Getty Images)

Next week, policy executives from Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter will testify at a Senate Judiciary hearing on algorithmic amplification, Politico reports. Social media recommendation algorithms have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, and Democratic lawmakers have voiced concerns about how they can fuel extremism and the spread of misinformation online.

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law is hosting the hearing, which is scheduled for April 27. It will feature testimony from Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of content policy; Lauren Culbertson, Twitter’s head of U.S. public policy; and Alexandra Veitch, YouTube’s director of government affairs and public policy for the Americas and emerging markets. The panel will also hear from two outside experts: Tristan Harris, president of the Center for Humane Technology, and Joan Donovan, research director at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy.

Congressional aides that spoke with Politico said the committee may call on big tech CEOs like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey for future panels. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, who chairs the subcommittee, said he was considering that option in an interview with the outlet last month.

However, by first hauling in the platforms’ policy executives instead of their CEOs, the panel aims to focus discussions on structural issues and content moderation and avoid “the typical airing of grievances” about the platforms at large that have dominated previous hearings, according to the congressional aides. They also hope to drum up bipartisan support by focusing on these sorts of systemic issues as opposed to how platforms handle specific content, such as political speech, Politico’s sources said.

Democratic lawmakers have been increasingly pushing to hold social media platforms accountable for how their recommendation algorithms amplify harmful and extremist content. In January, House Representatives Tom Malinowski of New Jersey and Anna Eshoo of California sent a series of letters to Big Tech CEOs calling on them to rework their recommendation systems, particularly in the wake of the Capitol Hill attack on January 6. Last month, Malinowski and Eshoo reintroduced legislation to amend Section 230 so that online platforms lose liability immunity if these systems promote content that leads to real-world harms, such as acts of terrorism or civil rights violations.

On Friday, Coon reiterated his concerns about algorithmic amplification and outlined plans to make holding social media companies accountable one of his subcommittee’s top priorities.

“Social media platforms use algorithms that shape what billions of people read, watch and think every day, but we know very little about how these systems operate and how they’re affecting our society,” he told Politico. “Increasingly, we’re hearing that these algorithms are amplifying misinformation, feeding political polarization and making us more distracted and isolated.”

The hearing is slated to begin at 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday, April 27 and will be livestreamed on the Senate Judiciary’s website here.


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