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Today’s Storystream

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Beefy Bill Skarsgård kills in the first Boy Kills World trailer.

It’s good to see H. Jon Benjamin, jazz musician and voice of Archer, still getting work, even if it is as the inner monologue of a very ripped Skarsgård (John Wick 4), out for martial arts revenge in a post-apocalyptic world.

The Hollywood Reporter called Boy Kills World a “hidden gem” at the Toronto Film Festival last year. It will hit US theaters on April 26th.

The Verge
The Samsung Galaxy Ring won’t be a mystery for long.

The company announced this morning that it’s going to talk about its “new health form factor” at Mobile World Congress, which is going on now in Spain. Samsung says the device is part of a slate of AI-driven “seamless health experiences.”

The Verge is on the ground at MWC, so we should have an idea soon whether the Galaxy Ring is something special.

Reddit’s biggest risk factor is Google

As Reddit gets ready for its IPO, has it grown too dependent on Google for traffic and money?

Here’s five bucks for your trouble.

Following its hours-long nationwide disruption on Thursday, AT&T has announced it is reaching out to “potentially impacted customers” and is slapping a whole $5 credit on their accounts, which it says is the “average cost of a full day of service.”


The Xiaomi Pad 6S Pro is Xiaomi’s new iPad.

Just with beefed-up specs like a 144Hz display and six speakers with Dolby Atmos support, the company said at Mobile World Congress today. It’s powered by a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, and the company says it can get to a 100 percent charge, thanks to 120-watt charging.

And of course, it will have lots of AI features like generating images from your sketches. It costs €699.

A picture of the Xiaomi Pad 6S Pro at Mobile World Congress 2024.
The Xiaomi Pad 6S Pro.
Image: Xiaomi

The future of phones depends on the future of apps

It’ll be hard to evolve today’s smartphone unless manufacturers can get an ecosystem of apps on board with their new ideas. Could AI offer a way forward?

It’s a party in the AVP.

The San Francisco Standard documents some parties where attendees are encouraged to shake their butts while wearing the Vision Pro (from pictures, it seems like most didn’t go along with the ask).

Before you dismiss the idea, consider this: If you don’t have a kid or a dog, “I gotta go; my Vision Pro died” could be a great excuse to leave a party early.

Is LockBit back in control?

It’s been four days since the FBI announced it had disrupted the group, and now, cybersecurity researcher Kevin Beaumont reports that LockBit seems to have surfaced with claims that it has struck back at the US intelligence agency. Malware tracker vx-underground says the group now has new TOR domains.

The US State Deparment has offered a $15 million reward for information that results in arrests of LockBit attackers.

External Link
David S. Goyer is stepping down as Foundation’s showrunner.

Goyer will reportedly continue script-writing for the expansive Apple TV Plus sci-fi show that he helped create, while the head honcho reins to executive producer Bill Bost.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Goyer was butting heads with Skydance over the budget for the show, which Goyer has said before he has an ambitious eight-season plan for.

Glenn or Glenda?

The Vergecast team threw out some ideas yesterday for what random names Google will use for future chatbots. I like “Fancy Geoff.”

Give it a listen if you want to catch up on stuff like Gemini’s first big controversy, The adventures of Apple and the post-quantum cryptography, and your place in Reddit’s AI-training corpus. Also, two lightning rounds!

Threads trending topics roll out to more users.

It’s been 12 days since Meta announced it was testing a way to easily follow what people are talking about on Threads, and now many users are reporting seeing it — including our own Richard Lawler.

I don’t have it yet, because I’m cursed. If you do, you’ll see “Today’s topics” either between posts in the For You feed or in the search tab.

Two screenshots showing “Today’s topics” in the search tab (left) and in the For You feed (right).
Threads finally has trending topics.
Screenshot: Richard Lawler
What makes the Echo Hub stand out?

Basically, it’s just a better smart home device than the company’s Echo Show smart display, but there’s more to it. The Verge’s Jen Tuohy gives you the rundown. Be sure to check out her full review for more detail.

Escape your friends’ escape room plans with Meta’s new MR escape room game.

Meta announced Cryptic Cabinet on Thursday. The “open-source mixed reality showcase” serves as a reference app for developers who want to use its source code to make mixed reality games for the Quest headsets.

But it’s also a standalone game that generates furniture and other escape room puzzle elements in players’ environments. It’s available on the App Lab.

Julius “Zeekill” Kivimäki, Lizard Squad hacker, is arrested (again).

Cybersecurity blogger Brian Krebs reshared this post showing Kivimäki has been arrested in Helsinki after disappearing when a Finnish appeals court overturned his release from prison.

Kivimäki was initially arrested in France last year for allegedly hacking the Vastaamo online therapy center and leaking patient info online.

Instagram is preparing a “Friend Map” feature.

Alessandro Paluzzi, who discovers a lot of Instagram features before they’re announced, posted an update on something he’d spotted in the app months ago: the ability to see where your friends are on a map. Snap’s Snap Map is similar, as are features built into Android and iOS.

According to the images Paluzzi posted, Friend Map would be opt-in, and location data end-to-end encrypted.

Apple apparently considered leaning even harder into the iPhone’s notch.

Before the Dynamic Island, one of the company’s concepts may have involved a temporary notch growing out of the side of the phone, similar to a mock-up MacRumors made based on information it had seen.

What do you think? Would this have been interesting or terrible?

“Why do the stupid M&M machines have facial recognition?”

A student at the University of Waterloo in Canada asked that in a post showing a vending machine error message that revealed a facial recognition app had failed.

Student publication mathNEWS found that the machine’s maker, Invenda, advertises that it gathers “estimated ages and genders of every client.” But don’t worry, Invenda told Ars Technica the machines are “fully GDPR compliant.”

The school is reportedly removing the machines.

A picture of an out-of-order vending machine message showing the error pop-up.
Oops, you weren’t supposed to see this.
Image: SquidKid47
The Verge
The Justice Department has released its answer to Google’s antitrust trial brief.

Filed in conjunction with a coalition of states, it’s making an argument that should be familiar to trial-watchers: Google is paying billions of dollars a year to stifle competition in the search market, and advertisers and consumers are facing the fallout.

Google is not focused on spending its money, attention, and time on improving general search and search advertising because it does not have to. Recognizing how such evidence would land with the public, regulators, and courts, Google attempted to obscure these facts. ... Despite these efforts the record is clear: consumers have little choice, lose out on better products, and sacrifice their privacy — with advertisers paying higher prices — because there are no meaningful alternatives to Google.

Closing arguments are expected in May.

The Odysseus lunar lander is laying on its side.

During a NASA press conference Friday evening, Intuitive Machines co-founder and CEO Steve Altemus showed the attitude of its lunar lander, the first from the US to reach the Moon’s surface in over 50 years.

As Swapna Krishna explains, they believe it tipped over after catching a foot on the surface while landing, but fortunately, it’s still getting sunlight to power the battery. Plans for the coming days include deploying a CubeSat it’s carrying called EagleCam to take photos from the surface.

The birth of a salesman

The Flip shopping app is a TikTok knockoff, filled with wannabe influencers making pennies per video view — myself included.

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Temu dominates app download charts even as US lawmakers reportedly float import ban.

China hawks in Congress are concerned that shopping giant Temu has not done enough to ensure it’s not working with suppliers using forced labor. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) is among those pushing to list Temu as a violator of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which could effectively ban its imports, The Information reports.

Meanwhile, the Chinese e-commerce app sits among the top free apps on iOS and Android.

Things are about to get real weird in Faerun.

Larian Studios keeps giving the people what they want with each Baldur’s Gate 3 update. The most recent patch added a bunch of new kiss animations, some sweet, some very spicy. But there’s one ask from the BG3 community that Larian’s director of publishing says is coming soon: official mod support.

With mod support, patches to the game are less likely to break mods and it’ll be easier overall to make mods for the game. Prime opportunity for some freaky, frightening, or just plain fun additions to the game.

External Link
Pay for your pies.

Tesla reportedly stiffed a Black-owned bakery during Black History Month, canceling an order for thousands of dollars worth of piesafter asking the owner to double the amount.

Today, Musk vaguely tweeted he’d “make things good with the bakery”. Meanwhile, the community has stepped in to help.

AT&T tried to get Game of Thrones to Go 90.

Before 3 Body Problem premieres this spring on Netflix, WSJ Magazine dug into David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to discuss this new book-to-TV adaptation and, of course, their last one too.

They reveal AT&T execs asked if GoT could be shot vertically for phones and discussed making “snackable” mini-episodes (like, quick bites, you might say). They also said an idea to end Thrones with three movies instead of 13 episodes split across two seasons was rejected, apparently with a reminder that HBO doesn’t stand for “Away Box Office.”

Three men seated on a bench, the one in the center is smilin directly at the camera as the other two look elsewhere.
D.B. Weiss (left) and David Benioff (center) with former “True Blood” writer Alexander Woo (right).
Image: Chantal Anderson for WSJ. Magazine