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Facebook Messenger Calls Can Now Be End-to-End Encrypted

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Image for article titled Voice and Video Calls Can Now Be End-to-End Encrypted on Facebook Messenger

Photo: Jeff Chiu (AP)

Facebook wants you to know that Messenger is getting a little more secure and private (or as private as anything built by the company can be considered). In a nutshell, users now have the option to make voice and video calls end-to-end encrypted on Messenger.

But wait, weren’t those already end-to-end encrypted? Well, that’s what yours truly thought, but the company has only offered this security option for one-on-one text chats in recent years. In a news announcement, Facebook said it decided to add the new end-to-end encryption option to Messenger in light of the increase in audio and video calls in the recent year, which makes sense considering our pandemic restrictions.

The company pointed out that during this period, there were more than 150 million video calls a day on Messenger.

Other Facebook products, such as WhatsApp, already have end-to-end encryption built in. End-to-end encryption ensures that only you and the recipient have access to content in messages and calls. No one else, including Facebook, can read your messages or listen to your calls. Nonetheless, Facebook said users can always report an end-to-end encrypted message “if something’s wrong,” presumably referencing situations like harassment.

End-to-end encryption hasn’t reached all of Messenger yet, including group chats as well as group voice and video calls. Facebook said it would be testing these features with some users in the coming weeks.

In addition, Facebook also unveiled an update to its disappearing messages feature in Messenger, which allows users to control how long someone can see their messages in a chat before they disappear. With the update, users have more options to specify how soon they want their messages to disappear, ranging from five seconds to 24 hours.

Finally, the company will also be testing end-to-end encryption on Instagram direct messages. This test will involve adults from certain countries and will allow them to opt-in to receive end-to-end encrypted messages and calls for one-on-one conversations.

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Apple’s Magic Keyboard with Touch ID Finally Available to All

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Image for article titled You Can Finally Buy Apple's Magic Keyboard with Touch ID Without Buying an iMac

Apple finally brought Touch ID to its desktop computers earlier this year with an upgraded version of its wireless Magic Keyboard featuring an added fingerprint sensor. To date, it’s been exclusively available with Apple’s new M1-powered iMac, but it now finally appears to be available as a standalone accessory through Apple’s online store.

As spotted by Rene Ritchie who reported their findings on Twitter, the $179 Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and Numeric Keypad and shorter $149 Magic Keyboard with Touch ID can both be purchased from the online Apple Store right now, although it doesn’t seem like they’re available for pickup from any of the company’s brick-and-mortar stores just yet. Like the keyboard that debuted alongside and ships with Apple’s new 24-inch iMac powered by the company’s in-house M1 processor, the standalone version also includes dedicated keys for Spotlight, Dictation, Do Not Disturb, and for quick access to emoji characters in addition to the fingerprint sensor. But unlike the iMac bundled version, the standalone keyboards are only available with a silver and white finish. If you really want a Magic Keyboard with a splash of color, you’re going to need to spring for a new iMac.

The Magic Keyboards bundled with the new iMac are color-matched to the computer, but the standalone versions are only available in a white and silver finish.

The lack of color choice isn’t the only restriction with the standalone Touch ID-equipped Magic Keyboards. The added security feature only works with Macs powered by the M1 processor, which in addition to the new iMac also includes the M1 MacBook Air, M1 MacBook Pro, and the M1 Mac Mini. It won’t, however, work with the M1-powered iPad Pro, for those looking for a clever workaround to Face ID. The keyboard itself will still work fine on an older Intel-powered Mac, including all the shortcut keys, but being able to unlock the machine, or switch user profiles with a fingerprint, is not supported.



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Facebook News Consumers Are More Anti-Vaccine Than Fox Viewers

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Image for article titled Facebook News Consumers Are More Anti-Vaccine Than Fox News Viewers, Study Finds

Photo: At Washington, DC Facebook headquarters, activists [the Real Facebook Oversight Board] lay body bags and call for Facebook to stop disinformation that leads to Covid deaths on Wednesday, July. 28, 2021 in Washington. (Eric Kayne/AP Images for All the Citizens Ltd.) (AP)

Joe Biden might want to consider re-backpedaling after backpedaling his accusation that social media companies [Facebook] are “killing people” by spreading vaccine conspiracies and bunk. A new study suggests that Facebook’s news consumers are inordinately unwilling to get the covid-19 vaccine.

Facebook fired back at President Biden’s comment earlier this month with a blog post and a study from Carnegie Mellon University’s Delphi Group. It reported that, of millions of Facebook users, 85% of U.S.-based users were vaccinated or planned to get vaccinated. “President Biden’s goal was for 70% of Americans to be vaccinated by July 4,” they sniffed. “Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed.” Biden later clarified that misinformation is killing people.

But the study didn’t account for people who consume news through Facebook, potentially exposing them to its massive disinformation mill and targeting them with the content that Facebook believes will get the most engagement. The new study of that user group nudges Facebook off its high horse.

Researchers from numerous universities, specializing in various public health and political science-related fields, surveyed 20,669 people from all 50 states and D.C., between June and July 2021. They found that 25% of people who only got news from Facebook in the previous 24 hours say they won’t get vaccinated, putting it above only Newsmax (41%) and slightly below Fox (23%).

Image for article titled Facebook News Consumers Are More Anti-Vaccine Than Fox News Viewers, Study Finds

An alarmingly high portion of people got their news (“news”) through Facebook. About a third (31%) had consumed news from Facebook over the past 24 hours, ranking Facebook as the second-largest news provider below CNN. Researchers didn’t define Facebook “news,” which could range from anything from user-generated content to Tucker Carlson to the New York Times.

Image for article titled Facebook News Consumers Are More Anti-Vaccine Than Fox News Viewers, Study Finds

As researcher David Lazer, political science and computer science professor at Northeastern University, pointed out to Gizmodo, Facebook’s numbers simply align with overall population data. “The 85% figure, depending on the threshold [the Delphi Group] used, roughly matches our numbers for the general population for being ‘potentially’ willing to get vaccinated,” he wrote. “Indeed, most surveys find about 15% of the population that is really hardcore that says they will never get the vaccine.”

Facebook and Delphi’s numbers (including people probably willing to get vaccinated) gel with the CDC’s report that nearly 70% of the U.S. adult population has received at least one dose of the vaccine and the Kaiser Family Foundation’s finding that 16% of U.S. residents don’t plan to get the vaccine unless forced to. Facebook’s estimate of 85% of users who got vaccinated or are willing to get it matches up.

Facebook could clean up the site, and activists and researchers have been telling it, for a year, about the culprits. And if it really wants to place the blame on users, it could stop algorithmically recommending the most “engaging” content, be it from Ben Shapiro or Aunt Charlene. Facebook will never be able to say it’s done everything it can to fight misinformation as long as it continues recommending content as a business practice. A March 2021 report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate found that 73% of vaccine disinformation originated from just twelve people. Today, the activist group Real Facebook Oversight backed up those findings with a report that over 83% of posts with the most engagement this quarter came from five disinformation spreaders.

That group also dropped a bunch of body bags at Facebook’s door this morning, pictured above. Facebook’s policy communications director Andy Stone tweeted that they’re out for “cheap stunts” and linked to the insubstantial blog post stating that 85% of U.S. Facebook users are vaccinated.

There’s no way to prove that people are dying specifically because of pieces of information they read on Facebook, but associating a primary vaccine disinformation source with death is not a performative exaggeration. As covid-19 case rates are doubling and tripling, especially in states with paltry vaccination rates like Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama, we’re reading daily reports of sufferers who wished they’d gotten the vaccine on their deathbeds. Doctors are pleading with the public to reconsider.

A pastor told Dallas-Fort Worth’s Fox News affiliate that he regretted believing disinformation after a brush with death. A 27-year-old who suffered a severe case said he’d believed he didn’t need the vaccine because he was young and fit. One mother who nearly died told ClickOrlando.com that she let disinformation-spreaders influence her with government conspiracy theories. A grieving mother recounted her 28-year-old son’s dying words to the Washington Post: “This is not a hoax, this is real.”

Facebook has historically chosen to sweep criticism under the rug with broad statistics about disinformation it’s removed and its number of moderators and pledges to change and add labels, but none of that translates to meaningful responsibility as a leading news source.

So Facebook’s hands-off attitude has reached Executive Branch intervention time. Earlier this month, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that, fine, the Biden Administration will do the job. She said they’re tracking covid-19 misinformation on Facebook and are making a series of recommendations for the company, and days later, Facebook told Biden to quit “finger-pointing.”



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

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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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iOS 15 Features Come for Your Mac

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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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Snapchat’s App Will Stop Crashing If You Download the Update

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Illustration for article titled Snapchat Says App Will Stop Crashing If You Download the Update

Photo: Carl Court / Staff (Getty Images)

The most recent version of Snapchat has been plagued by a bug that forced it to crash upon launching, but no longer! An update has been made available in the App Store to correct the issue, which was seemingly only affecting the iOS version of the app (Android users don’t see to have experienced the same issue).

Ironically, the bug appears to have been imbedded in a maintenance update released on June 28 to fix a number of bugs users of the messaging platform had been experiencing.

The issue first came to light after a number of Snapchat users took to Twitter to complain about the bug, which reportedly saw the app displaying a “something went wrong — please try again later,” error message while trying to load the app right before suddenly crashing. After The Verge’s Mitchell Clark tweeted about the issue, Snapchat’s senior vice president of product, Jacob Andreou, replied with a little sweaty-face emoji to let everyone know that the bug has since been corrected.

On Monday, Snapchat’s support team let users know they were aware of the issue, advising would-be Snappers (?) in a tweet to “Hang tight, we are looking into it and working on a fix!”

Indeed, an updated recently added to the App Store does seem to solve the problem, and it’s more than likely that the patch was fast-tracked after Snapchat’s product team became aware of just how many people the bug was affecting. (Snapchat — which is sort of circling the drain of obsolescence anyway — really can’t afford to piss off users like that at this point.)

If your phone hasn’t automatically grabbed the update on its own, pulling down on your profile picture in the top right corner of the App Store should refresh the available updates and allow you to download the fix.



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What to Expect From Microsoft’s Windows 11 Event

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Microsoft's teaser photo for the Windows 11 event.

Microsoft is probably announcing Windows 11 and we’re ready.
Image: Microsoft

It’s about time Microsoft introduced something new, and we’re pretty sure that what’s on the way is a new version of Windows. Specifically, we expect to see Windows 11, because Windows 10X has all but kicked the bucket before it even had a chance. (RIP.)

We won’t know for sure what Microsoft has in store until the official event kicks off on Thursday, June 24 at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT. But there are screenshots galore of the Windows 11 developer preview build, plus a support bulletin from Microsoft letting us know that Windows 10 will be killed off by 2025. That date will be here before you know it, so it’s time to start considering what updating your PC will look like.

Here’s what we think we know so far.

Here Comes the Sun Valley

A screenshot from the leaked developer preview.

Microsoft’s new look for Windows 11, if leaked developer preview screenshots turn out to be the final version.
Image: Baidu

Windows 11 is going to be a significant visual update, based on what we’ve seen so far. Originally dubbed Project Sun Valley, rumors have been circulating that the company would push through a new interface this fall. That speculation became even stronger after Microsoft officially killed Windows 10X, which was envisioned as a version of the OS for use on dual-screen touch devices, like the Surface Duo. But the company let us know it was merely shifting directions and that it would fold the development on Windows 10X into the next version of Windows.

We expect a tablet, laptop, and desktop-friendly operating system, based on what’s been shown off so far, with visual elements that lend themselves to a cross-platform experience. A user on the Chinese site Baidu was the first to leak screenshots. Since then, other outlets have gone hands-on with the developer preview, showing similar screenshots and features.

The previously rumored floating Taskbar is alive and well in the preview build. It defaults to the middle of the screen on the first launch, though you can return to the previous default on the bottom left-hand side. You might also start working on your eulogy for Live Tiles. The preview build shows the widget-like feature is gone from the Start menu, replaced instead by a more simplistic launch pad of sorts with pinned apps and recently accessed files.

Windows users with multiple monitors will get some help navigating around. Split and multi-pane views will become easier to place by simply maximizing the app window and selecting which mode to view apps. PCWorld showed off a screenshot of the different layout possibilities. Microsoft is also fixing a bug where apps rearrange themselves on the desktop after you resume sleep.

Microsoft is Setting Up a New Storefront

Microsoft, please bring Windows users a new store.

Microsoft, please bring Windows users a new store.
Screenshot: Microsoft

Alongside Windows 11’s new look, you can bet that Microsoft will announce the long-awaited reconstruction of its wilting app store. The Microsoft Store arrived in Windows 8 in response to Apple and Google’s unified app ecosystems at the time. But as Microsoft’s smartphone initiative tanked, so did development. What exists now is a clunky shell, with apps that can be procured from other trusted sources, leaving many users to wonder why it exists in the first place.

The company will also change some of its app submission policies, which leads us to believe it’s been working on how to entice developers behind the scenes. Developers will be allowed to submit unpackaged Win32 apps to the store and host updates on their preferred content delivery network (CDN). They can also use a third-party commerce platform within the apps. The move will help simplify the submission process to the Windows app store, giving us, the users, more incentive to head in there and grab an app.

A New Font for Microsoft Office

A screenshot depicting five new Microsoft fonts and how they look typed out.

A new default font to go with a new look.
Screenshot: Gizmodo

Microsoft Office is available on platforms outside of Windows, but the two still go hand-in-hand—sort of like a sibling and a cousin born months apart. Since Windows 11 is getting a new look, so might Office, which we can safely assume is why we’re voting for a new default font to replace Calibri. If you’re interested in the outcome, you can vote, too. The result won’t be finalized until 2022, though if you’re a Microsoft 365 subscriber and are curious about what the selection looks like, you can already try them out.

AirPods Will Finally Work on Windows

Moving on from aesthetic changes to more practical ones: If you’re an iPhone or iPad user with AirPods that won’t play nice with your Windows machines, there is hope on the horizon. Microsoft is expected to use the event to announce support for the Advanced Audio Codec (AAC) over Bluetooth. Currently, Windows only supports SBC and AptX over Bluetooth. But Apple’s headphones use AAC as its default compression codec.

To that end, we’re also hoping to see Microsoft make changes to its audio selection menu. Its current iteration is messy and convoluted to use and shows the same audio device listed with its varying compatible codecs.

I’m a Gamer. What About Me?

A screenshot of Xbox Game Pass on Windows 10.

A better experience for Xbox Game Pass may come with the Windows 11 update.
Screenshot: Joanna Nelius/Gizmodo

Gaming is another significant part of Microsoft’s MO—a sort of “yin” to the “yang” of its business- and enterprise-friendly ethos. The preview build already shows Xbox Game Pass games fully embedded into Windows 11, along with social-sharing links and an external link to the Xbox Store. The Xbox Game Bar and Windows Game Mode appear untouched, but Microsoft could be working on something for the fall release that it will tease at the event. And once the new Microsoft Store is live, it’ll be interesting to see how the Steam library and other parts of your PC gaming life integrate into the new interface.

There is no information yet about potential gaming performance increases. The focus seems to be on a unified experience for PC gamers, which Microsoft has struggled with over the years despite its reign as the gamer’s desktop platform.

Anything Else?

Microsoft already held its annual Build developers conference, so we’re not going to get all the in-depth details on the changes to Windows 11 at the event on June 24. We’re likely to get more of a top-down, macro view of what’s next for Windows users. The interface overhaul will likely be the main focus, and we’ll learn more about Microsoft’s philosophy behind how it designed the OS.

The core Windows experience you already know and sometimes painstakingly use daily for work should remain relatively untouched. Windows Insiders will likely be the first to play with the new preview of the operating system before the rest of us will get a chance to go hands-on with it. Hopefully, Microsoft leaves us with enough to feel satiated until it’s time to upgrade—and lets us know how much it will cost.



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Facebook and Instagram Debut Financial Incentives for Influencers

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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

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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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