Day: July 3, 2021

The best films streaming on Hulu

Cristin Milioti in Hulu's 'Palm Springs'

Stop me if this sounds familiar: It’s a Friday night, you’re in the mood for a movie, you’ve fired up Hulu…and now you’ve spent 40 minutes racked with indecision, just trying to decide which of the endless options in front of you feels right for right now.

Well, we can’t tell you what your heart wants. But we can tell you what our hearts want — what movies we love the most, which ones we never get sick of, which ones we still think about, which ones we’d happily recommend to anyone asking. Like, you know, yourself. Here are the best films on Hulu.

1. Gone Girl

Gone Girl, directed by David Fincher and adapted by Gillian Flynn based on her own bestselling book, stands out as one of the sharpest dissections of modern gender roles put to the big screen. Nominally, it’s a thriller about a twisted cat-and-mouse game played out between a heterosexual married couple, and it’s a spectacularly entertaining one at that. But in the process of puzzling out exactly what happened to Amazing Amy, Gone Girl becomes so much more. It delves into the impossible standards placed on women, the expectations we have of men, the unknowability of a marriage’s secrets, our national obsession with dead white girls, and the vast chasm between public perception and private truth, in ways only fiction can. (*)

How to watch: Gone Girl is streaming on Hulu.

Can’t get enough Fincher? His The Social Network is also streaming on Hulu.

2. Romeo + Juliet

Countless filmmakers have tried to modernize Shakespeare for the big screen, but for our money, few have managed to do it more memorably than Baz Luhrmann with Romeo + Juliet. His is an adaptation that goes way over the top on every single level, and then keeps going several more miles for good measure: Everything, from the flamboyantly colorful costumes (by Catherine Martin), to the unimpeachably cool soundtrack, to the tongue-twisting delivery of the Bard’s best lines, seems to be taking a more-is-more approach. What grounds it is the believably raw passion between its star-crossed lovers, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes at the respective heights of their teen-idol powers. Is it maybe a bit cheesy? Yes. Do we fall for it every single time? Also yes.

How to watch: Romeo + Juliet is streaming on Hulu.

Love a romance with a killer soundtrack? Julie Taymor’s Beatles musical Across the Universe is also streaming on Hulu.

3. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Taika Waititi’s last New Zealand-set film, released after What We Do In The Shadows but before Thor: Ragnarok, follows a spiky, defiant young teenager named Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) who finds himself and his dog Tupac on the lam in the New Zealand bush with a cantankerous and reluctant carer (Sam Neill), pursued by a dogged but well-meaning child services agent. Dennison is a gift in this, his toughness and sweetness and indignant speeches creating one of the most instantly memorable, lovable teenage characters in recent memory. And Neill’s gruff “Uncle” Hec traces the contours of the “taciturn old fella comes to care for the scrappy kid” arc with so much nuance it feels made anew. The utter genius Rachel House, meanwhile, whom Waititi rightly yoinked into the MCU with him in Ragnarok, almost steals the show as the hysterically relentless “villain” of the film. (“I’m like the Terminator. You’re like Sarah Connor. In the first one, before she could do chin-ups.”) 

It’s an occasionally devastating coming-of-age tale for both main characters, a story of the revelation that you can go much farther when you let other people in. But more than anything, it’s hysterically funny. — Caitlin Welsh, Australia Editor (*)

How to watch: Hunt for the Wilderpeople is streaming on Hulu.

Big Waititi fan? Boy, from his early career, is also streaming on Hulu.

4. Bound

Jennifer Tilly in 'Bound'

Jennifer Tilly in ‘Bound’
Credit: Dino De Laurentiis / Summit Ent / Kobal / Shutterstock

Before The Matrix, before Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas and Jupiter Ascending, there was Bound. The Wachowskis’ directorial debut is a slick neo-noir thriller centering on an ex-con (Corky, played by Gina Gershon) and a mobster’s girlfriend (Violet, played by Jennifer Tilly) who fall first into a dangerous affair, and then into an even more dangerous scheme to steal from the Mafia. Compared to the sprawling, effects-heavy epics the sisters became known for later on, Bound feels positively tiny — but what it lacks in scope and budget, it more than makes up for with style, swagger, and seductive allure.

How to watch: Bound is streaming on Hulu.

Up for a very different take on neo-noir? Robert Altman’s idiosyncratic The Long Goodbye is also streaming on Hulu.

5. Die Hard

Die Hard may be a Christmas movie, as a certain subset of its fans are all too eager to point out each December, but its appeal endures year-round. Bruce Willis lends an everyman charm to John McClane, a New York City cop caught in the crosshairs of a terrorist plot during one extremely stressful office holiday party. But it’s Alan Rickman who very nearly steals the show as the slick, scornful villain Hans Gruber. Though John McTiernan’s action classic has inspired several sequels and countless knockoffs in the years since, few have matched or surpassed the 1988 original for sheer, simple fun. (*)

How to watch: Die Hard is streaming on Hulu.

Craving more ’80s action goodness? The Terminator is also streaming on Hulu.

6. Fast Color

Julia Hart’s Fast Color is set in a dystopian, drought-struck near future, and centers on a family with special powers: Ruth (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), her mother Bo (Lorraine Toussaint), and her young daughter Lila (Saniyya Sidney). But it’s not your typical sci-fi superhero movie. It’s less interested in explosive action or intricate mythology than in nuanced character work, charting the family’s emotional journeys as they work to heal the bonds between them and learn to harness their gifts for good. The results are thoughtful, moving, and — in a sea of same-y blockbusters about great powers and great responsibility — refreshingly unique.

How to watch: Fast Color is streaming on Hulu.

Looking for more grounded, emotional sci-fi? Arrival is also streaming on Hulu.

7. Parasite

Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite is a shapeshifter: Just when you think you’ve finally got a handle on the thing, it has a way of slipping through your fingers and transforming into something else entirely. It’s a heist film, a black comedy, a thriller, a horror, a satire, a tragedy, and part of the fun is simply sitting back to see what new shades it might take on next.

Through all these turns, though, the one thing that’s never in doubt is that we’re in the hands of a master. Every frame, every line, and every twist of Parasite feels considered and deliberate, and yet it never feels clinical or contrived, because the twin engines driving the whole thing forward are empathy and rage — specifically, class rage, directed not so much at the 1% (though they do get a healthy skewering) as at the entire rotten system that makes a story like this plausible in the first place. Parasite is one of the most entertaining movies in recent memory, and one of the cleverest, and one of the most deeply affecting. Simply put, it’s the best. (*)

How to watch: Parasite is streaming on Hulu.

Want more where that came from? The Host, also by Bong, is also streaming on Hulu.

8. Akira

Plenty of people have heard of Akira, or have at the very least seen enough of the sci-fi anime classic’s iconic motorcycle to have an association with that title. But have you ever sit down and watched it? It’s time to correct that if not. Akira isn’t just one of the best anime stories ever told, it’s also a shoe-in for virtually any “greatest sci-fi of all time” round-up that gets put together. The story, adapted from the manga created by Katsuhiro Otomo (who also directed), follows Shotaro Kaneda, leader of the Capsules biker gang, as he fights to save his telekinetic friend Tetsuo Shima from forces that want to exploit those abilities. The plot eventually spins outward into a much bigger cyberpunk-fueled story set against the backdrop of a dystopian “Neo-Tokyo” in 2019. — Adam Rosenberg, Senior Entertainment Reporter (*)

How to watch: Akira is streaming on Hulu.

Feeling extra dystopian? RoboCop is also streaming on Hulu.

9. If Beale Street Could Talk

So much of Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk, based on the novel by James Baldwin, plays out in the way people look at each other: with love, with longing, with expectation or anger or pride. All those gazes make the film breathtaking in its intimacy, even as it connects a large cast of characters across years and even countries.

The plot is explicitly about racial injustice — it concerns a young Black man (Stephan James) sent to jail on a false accusation, as his fiancée (Kiki Layne) discovers she is pregnant — and the film does not shy away from the ugliness of their ordeal. But what’s most striking about it is its insistence on joy. Beale Street is a film concerned not just with the hardships of life, but in the big and small blessings that make it worth living anyway. (*)

How to watch: If Beale Street Could Talk is streaming on Hulu.

Interested in Baldwin? I Am Not Your Negro is also streaming on Hulu.

10. The Virgin Suicides

To watch The Virgin Suicides is to fall, as its narrators do, under the dreamy spell of the Lisbon sisters — five beautiful but untouchable teenage girls in 1970s Michigan — and then to be haunted, as its narrators are for decades to follow, by the unknowable mystery of the tragedies that befell them. But what the teenage boys miss even in their obsessive scrutiny of the Lisbons, writer-director Sofia Coppola catches. There are no satisfying answers to be found here. But in the questions, there emerges an empathetic portrait of growing up female in a world that seems more interested in projecting its fantasies and fears onto you than in trying to see you for who you truly are.

How to watch: The Virgin Suicides is streaming on Hulu.

Ready for another teen girl classic? Heathers is also streaming on Hulu.

11. Palm Springs

When Palm Springs arrived in 2020, most movie releases had been postponed because of the pandemic — yet here was a movie, a new movie, a festival darling, about people going quietly insane with monotony and losing grip on time itself.

Max Barbakow’s film showcases a cheerfully nihilistic Andy Samberg, along with Cristin Milioti in her best work to date as his increasingly frenzied companion, in “one of those infinite time loop situations you might have heard of.” Their chemistry makes Andy Siara’s script soar, leaving ample room for J.K. Simmons’ sinister interludes and just the right amount of time travel interrogation. It’s a sharp, original comedy worth revisiting again, and again, and again. — Proma Khosla, Entertainment Reporter (*)

How to watch: Palm Springs is streaming on Hulu.

Stuck in a time loop of time loop rom coms? 50 First Dates is also streaming on Hulu.

12. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

There’s a reason Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid has a reputation as a stone-cold classic: It’s really that good. The story, which centers around two outlaws on the run after a train heist gone bad, provides plenty of thrills, but what really the film special is the chemistry between its two leads, Paul Newman as the charismatic Butch Cassidy and Robert Redford as the sardonic Sundance Kid. Bolstered by witty dialogue from screenwriter William Goldman, their friendship set the gold standard for countless buddy films to come — and remains irresistibly endearing to this day. (*)

How to watch: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is streaming on Hulu.

Ready for a different kind of Western? The Sisters Brothers is also streaming on Hulu.

13. The Princess Bride

Based on the fantasy novel by William Goldman (yes, the same William Goldman from the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid entry), The Princess Bride spins a fairy tale that’s equal parts sweetly sincere and cheekily self-aware. Cary Elwes and Robin Wright star as the dashing Westley and the beautiful Buttercup, a pair of star-crossed lovers who — alongside allies like the gentle giant Fezzik (André the Giant) and the vengeful fencing master Inigo Motoya (Mandy Patinkin) — must prevail over countless sword fights, Rodents of Unusual Size, an evil count, and even death itself on their way to happily ever after. (*)

How to watch: The Princess Bride is streaming on Hulu.

Satirical fairy tales your thing? Shrek is also streaming on Hulu.

14. 28 Days Later

Ah, the fast zombies movie. There’s a lot that stands out about 28 Days Later, from it being the sweetest fruit of a collaboration between director Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland to the credit it’s gotten for reviving the zombie genre of horror movies (Robert Kirkman’s comic The Walking Dead arrived a year later). But the thing that most people remember about 28 Days Later is a new, fast-moving breed of zombie that’s inherently more terrifying and also rooted in the deeply unsettling fiction — especially in 2021! — of a global pandemic setting off a different kind of zombie apocalypse. — A.R. (*)

How to watch: 28 Days Later is now streaming on Hulu.

Can’t get enough of fast-moving zombies? Train to Busan is also streaming on Hulu.

15. Jennifer’s Body

Jennifer’s Body may have received a chilly reception upon its release in 2009, but as it turns out, it wasn’t so much a bad movie as one that was ahead of its time. Directed by Karyn Kusama and written by Diablo Cody, the feminist cult classic stars Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried as teenage BFFs whose lives are ripped apart when the former becomes possessed by a demon and starts killing local boys. Alternately creepy and hilarious (“You’re killing people!” / “No, I’m killing boys” will never not be funny), but shot through with an undercurrent of heartbreak, Jennifer’s Body speaks volumes about sexual abuse, female friendships, and the hell that is a teenage girl.

How to watch: Jennifer’s Body is streaming on Hulu.

Want more from Diablo Cody? Young Adult is also streaming on Hulu.

16. Fargo

25 years after its release, Joel and Ethan Coen’s Fargo remains so beloved, there’s a whole TV series that keeps trying to recapture its magic. But there’s still nothing like the original, with its mix of bleak humor, unexpected warmth, and “Minnesota nice.” Frances McDormand leads Fargo as Marge Gunderson, a small-town police chief investigating a spectacularly bungled kidnapping perpetrated by a desperate used car salesman (William H. Macy) and two career criminals (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare). You’ll groan at the grisly kills (one involves a wood chipper), laugh at the awkward details, and maybe come away realizing that Marge is right — there is more to life than a little money.

How to watch: Fargo is streaming on Hulu.

Like your murders with a side of comedy? The Nice Guys is also streaming on Hulu.

17. MLK / FBI

Directed by Sam Pollard and produced by Benjamin Hedin, MLK/FBI explores the damning relationship between its title subjects — the FBI’s consistent harassment of Martin Luther King Jr. at the height of his role as a civil rights activist. J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI spied on King, exposed his personal affairs, and planned to discredit him in the eyes of the American people and thereby destroy the civil rights movement from within.

The full story has yet to be told — more documents will be declassified in 2027 — but Pollard’s film sets your teeth on edge, exposing the insidious actions of institutions that are supposed to protect and uphold American values. The system is broken, and MLK/FBI reminds us that it has been that way for a long time. — P.K. (*)

How to watch: MLK / FBI is streaming on Hulu.

Fascinated by the late ’60s? Summer of Soul (… Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) is also streaming on Hulu.

18. Galaxy Quest

This loving parody of, and tribute to, Star Trek‘s storytelling tropes and obsessive fandom has a heart of gold that would make Gene Roddenberry himself proud. Galaxy Quest sees the has-been cast of the eponymous cult sci-fi TV serial plucked off the regional fan-convention circuit by a people from a far-flung world who believe the show to be documentary footage of their heroics — making the pissy, self-absorbed, and cynical actors the very real last hope of the adoring (and adorably literal-minded) aliens.

A stacked cast — including Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, plus Rainn Wilson and Justin Long in their first film roles — is armed with a sweet and sly script that remains one of the best Hollywood stories ever about the power of falling in love with a fictional world. — C.W.

How to watch: Galaxy Quest is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Prefer the real thing? Star Trek Beyond is also streaming on Hulu.

(*) indicates write up adapted from previous list.

Somebody slapped a Starlink satellite dish on their car’s hood. Police slapped them with a ticket.

A lineup of Starlink satellites in orbit, captured across multiple exposures.

Sometimes innovators are punished or laughed at, or they’re simply ahead of their time.

I’m not sure that’s the case here but whatever. You’ve still got to hand it to a motorist who apparently attached a Starlink satellite dish to the hood of their car. Starlink, for the unaware, is Space X’s satellite-based internet service provider.

Anyway, here, look at this innovation.

The California Highway Patrol posted on Facebook that the driver claimed the dish only blocked their view “when I make right turns,” which wouldn’t be great. CNBC reported that CHP gave the driver a ticket for the obstruction and that the motorist told an officer they used the dish to work from their car.

“Yes, it is in fact illegal to mount a satellite dish to the hood of your vehicle, obstructing your view under section 26708(a)(2) of the California Vehicle Code,” CHP Antelope Valley wrote on Facebook. “You also may not hang things from your rear view mirror, mount a GPS or cell phone in an unapproved location on your windshield, or display a handicap placard while the vehicle is in motion under this section. It’s about safety folks.”

As The Verge noted, Elon Musk, head of Space X, once said in a 2020 earnings call that he supposed “technically, you could buy [a Starlink antennae] and just stick it on the car.” He noted on Twitter, however, that it definitely wasn’t intended for cars.

Tweet may have been deleted

Musk said this week that Starlink has more than 1,500 satellites in orbit and more than 69,000 users. He has said the goal is to bring more affordable internet to places with lower populations.

“It’s really meant for sparsely populated areas,” Musk said during an interview at Mobile World Congress.

Got it: rural areas and not the hood of a car.

This Week in Apps: iOS 15 public beta arrives, Android App Bundles to replace APKs, app consumer spend hits new record

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications and the overall app economy.

The app industry continues to grow, with a record 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in global consumer spend in 2020. Consumers last year also spent 3.5 trillion minutes using apps on Android devices alone. And in the U.S., app usage surged ahead of the time spent watching live TV. Currently, the average American watches 3.7 hours of live TV per day, but now spends four hours per day on their mobile devices.

Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re also a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus. In 2020, investors poured $73 billion in capital into mobile companies — a figure that’s up 27% year-over-year

This Week in Apps will soon be a newsletter! Sign up here: techcrunch.com/newsletters

Top Stories

Android App Bundles are now going to be required

This week Google announced it will require new apps to be published using the Android App Bundle as of August 2021. The company first launched the Android App Bundle standard, which replaces the APK, in May 2018 as part of its modern development push. Since then, the majority of the top 1,000 apps and games have switched over to AABs including those from companies like Adobe, Duolingo. Gameloft, Netflix, reBus, Rainy, and Twitter. Today, there are over 1 million apps using AAB in production.

AABs solve some problems with the aging APK standard, particularly around larger apps and games. With AABs, developers don’t have to create an APK that contains everything for every type of Android device. They offer a way to quickly and more efficiently download the assets needed for a particular device, and they do so in a way that focuses on getting the user or player to the app or game’s content as fast as possible.

But not everyone agrees the change is for the better. Those who utilize APK Hosting sites like APKMirror or APKPure to download and share apps worry that the shift to AAB is a way to force users to use the Play Store instead of alternatives. Meanwhile, Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney — who is taking on tech giants over their alleged app store monopolies with both lawsuits and lobbying — pointed out that the move away from the more open APK standard is about locking users into Google Play.

This is one of the many reasons we mustn’t accept the argument: “If you don’t like iPhone’s restrictions, buy an Android phone”.

Both companies have run amok, trampling the rights of users and developers alike. The distinction is just that Apple’s several steps ahead. https://t.co/m2ZIv7PnbK

— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) June 30, 2021

Consumer Spending on apps hits record $64.9B in the first half of the year

Consumer spending in mobile apps hit a record $64.9 billion during the first half of 2021, according to preliminary data from app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower. This figure represents a 24.8% increase in spending seen across both the App Store and Google Play, compared with the year-ago period. But while industry experts believe the accelerated shift to mobile fueled by the pandemic is a trend that will continue, it’s worth noting that — despite the new record — the growth rate for consumer spending has slightly slowed, and the download growth slowed more dramatically.

From the first half of 2019 to the first half of 2020, consumer spending on mobile apps grew 28.4% from $40.5 billion to $52 billion, for comparison — slower than the 24.8% seen in the current period.

Weekly News

Platforms: Apple

✨ Apple launched the public betas of iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and watchOS 8. Although developers already had access to early builds, this week was the first time the public could get their hands on Apple’s latest software before its official launch this fall. One of the biggest changes in iOS 15 is the addition of “Focus” modes that give users more control over when and who can bother them with calls, texts and notifications during different contexts — like work, driving, sleeping, and more. Users will also gain access to SharePlay interactivity on FaceTime, iMessage improvements, the ability to FaceTime with Android friends via web links, spatial audio, Live Text (which unlocks info from your photos), app privacy reports, and upgrades to most of Apple’s core apps, and more.

Platforms: Google

✨Google is implementing stronger security measures on Google Play developer accounts in an attempt to crack down on spam and other malicious apps. Previously, the company required only an email and phone number to create a Google Play developer account. Now it will require an account type (personal or organization), a contact name and physical address, and it will require developers to verify their email and phone number. Google says the changes will allow it to better communicate with developers and will help to “make sure that every account is created by a real person with real contact details.” It’s also now mandating that users of Google Play Console sign in using Google’s 2-Step Verification.

Samsung and Google previewed their wearable platform ahead of the next Galaxy Watch launch. The two companies agreed to partner on wearables in order to better compete against Apple Watch. At Mobile World Congress, Samsung showed off the first device to feature the One UI Watch user experience and the new unified platform built in partnership with Google.

E-commerce

Instagram adds a new feature that will allow businesses in the U.S. to designate themselves as being Black-owned businesses using badges that appear on their profiles and on their product shopping pages. It may also be highlighted in places like the Shop tab, to help more potential customers discover the business.

Walmart partnered with mobile couponing app Ibotta on a multi-year deal that will offer cash-back rewards to Walmart customers that will be applied directly to customers’ Walmart accounts, where they can be used for future purchases. The offers will be made available on Walmart.com and inside the Walmart mobile app.

Following Apple and Google’s lead, Shopify dropped App Store commissions. However, it’s dropping its cut to 0% for the first million, and then will only take a 15% commission on “marginal” revenue above that $1 million. The change could increase pressure on other app stores to make further adjustments to their models in the future.

Augmented Reality

Rakuten Viber has partnered with Snap to bring augmented reality Lenses from Snapchat to its own Viber calling and messaging app. The over 30 Lenses will be built using Snap’s creative tools, including Bitmoji, Camera Kit, and Creative Kit and will offer AR-enabled messaging and photos to Viber’s users. The deal is another example of how Snap is growing its licensing business for its AR and creative tools alongside the development of its own social app.

Google’s Arts & Culture app created a new feature called Art Filter that allows everyone to learn about significant pieces of art from around the world and put themselves inside famous paintings using AR. Google talked this week about its work with MediaPipe to utilize their face mesh and 3D face transform tech to create custom effects for each of the artifacts chosen.

Fintech

Venmo introduced a new feature that allows users to add a “good and services” tag to payments sent to personal accounts to differentiate them from personal transactions. The system is meant to protect buyers and sellers, Venmo says. Buyers on these transactions will be eligible for Venmo’s Purchase Protection Program, but sellers are unable with the new fees associated with the change as Venmo will now deduct 1.9% of the transaction plus 10 cents from the money sent to the seller.

Intuit-owned finance and budgeting app Mint added the ability to track cryptocurrency investments across a number of supported exchanges, including Binance, BlockFi, Coinbase/Coinbase Pro, Gemini, Kraken, PayPal, and Robinhood. As a result, the app shot to No. 12 overall on the U.S. App Store on Wednesday and became the No. 1 app in the Finance category, though it has since dropped in ranking.

Social

TikTok is expanding its max video length to 3 minutes, up from 60 seconds, after testing this feature publicly for many months with a select group of creators. The feature will allow for more long-form video content, potentially making TikTok even more of a threat to YouTube.

Pinterest bans weight loss ads on its platform, becoming the first major social platform to take this sort of action. The company says social media plays a role in promoting harmful beauty standards, and ads that glorify weight loss contribute to a rise in disordered eating behaviors rather than healthy habits.

Instagram is developing its own version of Twitter’s Super Follow with “Exclusive Stories.” Instagram confirmed that the screenshots of an “Exclusive Stories” feature recently circulated across social media are from an internal prototype that’s now in development, but not yet being publicly tested. The feature would allow creators to offer Stories that only members (likely paying subscribers) would be able to see. These would appear on their profile in different colors and would display a message that their Story was only for members when others tried to view them. They could also be saved as Highlights, and can’t be screenshot, according to the leaks.

TikTok’s latest transparency report revealed the company removed 11,149,514 accounts in Q1 2021 for violating community guidelines or terms of service, which is fewer than 1% of total accounts. Of those removals, 7,263,952 were accounts belonging to children under 13.

Trump and Parler reportedly discussed a deal that would move the bulk of Trump’s social media presence to the right-wing Twitter alternative, according to New York Magazine. The deal would have seen Trump taking 40% of Parler’s revenues had it gone through. Parler was okay with the rev share, but wouldn’t ban Trump’s critics from the app, which scuttled the deal, the report said.

Instagram is testing a feature that would allow anyone to be able to share a link directly in their Stories through a linking sticker, which would work the same way the swipe-up links currently do. The company said the test is looking to understand how many people would use links, if available.

Twitter offered users a chance to receive one of seven free NFTs this week, which were minted on Rarible in editions of 20, making for 140 NFTs (get it?) in total. The NFTs were offered to those who replied to a post from the company’s main Twitter account, and could signal Twitter’s plans to invest in making NFTs more a part of its platform in the future.

Messaging

AT&T joined T-Mobile in switching its customers to use the Android Messages app as their default mobile messages app for both SMS and RCS services, making Verizon the only U.S. carrier that has not made a partnership deal with Google. RCS has a lot of advantages over SMS, including no character limits, the ability to send larger files, typing indicators, better group chat, Wi-Fi support and end-to-end encryption for one-on-one group chats. This makes it a more compelling alternative to Apple’s iMessage, but it requires carrier adoption.

Audio chat comes to the workplace as Slack this week released a new audio tool called Slack Huddles that allows users to have real-time conversations with colleagues in Slack’s app instead of typing. The company also offered more details about an upcoming feature that allows users to leave video messages and it showed off an upgraded employee directory. The video messages tool is being piloted while the directory is currently available to a limited number of Business + and Enterprise Grid customers.

The U.K. issued guidance to messaging apps operating in the country to not use end-to-end encryption on children’s accounts, asking companies to consider the risks that e2e poses to younger users, as it makes it more difficult to identify illegal and harmful content that takes place on private channels. A government spokesperson stressed that there’s a way to implement strong encryption in a way that’s consistent with public safety. Privacy activists disagree with this stance.

Telegram rolled out group video calls to its mobile and desktop apps after initially promising the feature was coming back in April 2020. The company says group video calls are limited to up to 30 people but it plans to increase that limit in the future.

WhatsApp is testing a redesigned voice message feature that will show short waveforms when the user is recording the message. After recording, the user can stop and listen to their message before sending it, too.

Dating

Dating app Bumble is planning to open its first cafe in New York later this month. The launch was originally planned for 2019, but was delayed due to the pandemic. The new venue, Bumble Brew, is being enabled by a partnership between the dating app maker and Italian restaurant Pasquale Jones. Decked out in Bumble’s yellow, the new cafe will open next to the restaurant, to offer a place for daters to meet for either coffee, cocktails or a meal.

Streaming & Entertainment

Netflix users on Android devices will now be able to start streaming titles that have only partially downloaded, which could help in the scenario where you’ve forgotten to download your favorite shows before boarding a plane. Before, until the download completed, you couldn’t watch any portion of the video at all.

Chinese TikTok rival Kuaishou and Tencent acquired the short-form rights to the upcoming Tokyo and 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics from state broadcaster CCTV. This makes the app the first short-form and livestreaming platform globally to become an official broadcaster of the Olympics.

Amazon Music Unlimited is giving subscribers up to six months of Disney+ for free (or three for existing subscribers). Disney’s isn’t the first to bundle a streaming deal with music. Hulu and Spotify had once done the same.

Spotify launched its Spotify Audience Network ad marketplace to advertisers and Megaphone publishers in Australia, Canada and the U.K., following its U.S. launch in February. The marketplace lets advertisers buy audio ads on and off the Spotify platform.

Gaming

Microsoft’s Xbox division announced the expansion of its Designed for Xbox mobile gaming accessories to iOS alongside the launch of the Xbox Cloud Gaming beta becoming available to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members on Windows 10 PCs and Apple phones and tablets via the web browser at xbox.com/play.

As part of the accessories program expansion, the Backbone mobile controller joined the Designed for Xbox family with the Backbone One for Xbox, which supports all iPhones running iOS 13 or later. It also added OtterBox Power Swap Controller Batteries, a battery pack compatible with Xbox consoles, Android and iPhone devices.

Health & Fitness

Google announced this week an update to its Passes API which will allow developers to build functionality into their websites and apps to export COVID-19 test and vaccination records to a digital format that can be saved either in the Google Pay app or directly on the users homescreen as a shortcut. The API will only be open to developers at healthcare organizations, government agencies, and other organizations authorized by public health authorities, initially in the U.S.

Travel

App Annie spots signs of a pandemic recovery in its Q2 2021 report, noting in particular a rebound in travel apps. The firm found that monthly hours spent in Travel and Navigations apps are on an upward trend in markets like the U.S. and the U.K., where the rollout of vaccinations has been strong. South Korea is seeing an even better recovery, as time spent in travel apps has surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Travel apps in Brazil, France and India, however, have not yet reached pre-pandemic levels.

Drones

Alphabet’s Wing launched a free app in the U.S. called OpenSky aimed at both commercial and recreational drone pilots. The app shows pilots where it’s okay to fly using color-coded maps with greens, yellows and reds. It also allows pilots to submit requests to fly in controlled airspaces and receive near real-time authorizations. This feature works in hundreds of airspaces. The app had previously been available in Australia only.

Education

Facebook is launching an educational app called Sabee in Nigeria, which is the first of the company’s new efforts to more directly target the country, and eventually, the African continent, with new mobile products. The app is being published by the company’s NPE Team, an internal R&D incubator, which had focused on new social experiences until now.

Security & Privacy

Twitter users now have the option to use security keys as their only form of two-factor authentication (2FA), which the company notes is the most effective way to keep your Twitter account secure. Twitter has offered the option to use security keys as one of its 2FA options since 2018. However, this initial support only worked for Twitter.com, not the mobile app, and required users to have another form of 2FA enabled, too.

Funding and M&A (and IPOs!)

💰 Tapcart, a “Shopify for mobile apps,” raises $50 million Series B led by Left Lane Capital. The company offers a drag-and-drop builder that allows anyone to create a mobile app for their existing Shopify store and communicate with customers via push. Shopify was among the participating investors.

💰 BreezoMeter, an iPhone app that measures air quality, raises a $30 million Series C led by Fortissimo Capital, bringing its total raise to date to $45 million. The company uses AI and machine learning to gather and understand data from multiple sources, including more than 47,000 sensors worldwide.

💰Istanbul-based Dream Games raised $155 million Series at a $1 billion valuation in a round co-led by Index Ventures and Makers Fund. The mobile puzzle game developer is best known for Royal Match, which has 6M MAUs and $20M/month in revenue.

💰Apple and Snap partner Jigspace, “the Canva for 3D,” raised $4.7 million Series A in a round led by Rampersand. The free JigSpace app lets anyone combine presets and templates of 3D-modeled objects to create their own “Jigs” (models). The app has over 4 million users on the App Store.

💰South Korea edtech app maker Mathpresso raised $50 million in Series C funding from GGV Capital, Yellowdog, Goodwater Capital, and KDB. The service is used by over 9.8M users

📈 Robinhood files for its IPO. Earlier in the week, Robinhood agreed to pay $70 million in fines and restitution as part of its settlement with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority over providing customers with “false or misleading information. The SEC, however, is still investigating the trading halt related to GameStop and other meme stocks. Robinhood has 18M accounts and $80B in assets. It will trade under “HOOD” on the Nasdaq.

💰 Women’s social networking app Peanut launches a microfund called StartHER to begin investing in early, pre-seed stage startups led by women or other historically excluded groups.

🤝 Social media app LYKA, focused on Southeast Asia, inked a deal with music-streaming technology company Tuned Global to integrate an immersive music-streaming service directly inside its app. The partnership will allow LYKA to provide on-demand streaming of music, video, and podcasts to the app’s users.

📈 Chinese m-commerce app Dingdong made a small gain during this week’s IPO, with shares that closed at $23.52, up 2 cents from its offer price, on its first day of trading. The app allows customers to buy fresh produce, meat, seafood and other daily necessities.

💰 Vietnamese investment app Infina raised $2 million in seed funding for its Robinhood-like app launched in January 2021, which now has some 500,000 trading accounts.

🤝 Gaming chat app Discord acquired AR startup Ubiquity6, which had raised $37.5 million in funding from top investors including Benchmark, First Round, Kleiner Perkins and Google’s Gradient Ventures. The startup had recently abandoned some of its projects, indicating it may have been struggling to find traction. Deal terms weren’t disclosed.

📈Edtech unicorn Duolingo filed to go public following 129% revenue growth in 2020. The 400-person company had $161.7 million in revenue in 2020 and had recently turned profitable.

💰 Family app Life360 announced a $2.1 million investment round from celebs and influencers who will now help to advise the company on new features and help with product marketing. The round was led by Bryant Stibel, the firm co-founded by the late Kobe Bryant and business partner Jeff Stibel. Other investors included Vanessa Bryant, Joanna and Chip Gaines, Tony Hawk, Chris and Jada Paul, TikTok influencer Billy Perry, and Nicole and Michael Phelps. Life360 currently trades on the ASX.

💰Age of Learning, the creator of childhood education app ABCmouse, raised $300 million in a new round of funding led by TPG. The new investment more than doubled the company’s valuation to $3 billion. The company says it will use the funds to accelerate international expansion and the development of its next generation of apps.

💰Exercise and corporate wellness app Gympass raised $220 million in Series E funding. The Brazil-based app saw a record 4 million monthly check-ins across its network of more than 50,000 global partners in May.

💰Digital greeting card app Givingli raised $3 million in seed funding in a round led by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six. The app aims to modernize the digital greeting card business for Gen Z users and monetizes through a $3.99 per month premium subscription and gift card sales. Snap also invested in the round after earlier partnering with the startup on a Snap Mini app.

💰Buzzer, a live sports app, raised $20 million in Series A funding from a number of sports and entertainment backers, including Michael Jordan, Naomi Osaka, Patrick Mahomes and others.

Downloads

Brickit

Image Credits: Brickit

The new Brickit mobile app is a Lego fan’s dream and an impressive use of computer vision technology. The app is able to quickly analyze a pile of Legos to identify which bricks you have in your collection. It then serves up some projects where you have all, or at least most of, the bricks you need to build. The process is very fast, too — the app makes sense of hundreds of bricks in your pile within just seconds. Brickit doesn’t come from Lego directly, however, which limits some of its capabilities in terms of integrating with Lego’s larger library of instructions. But, in time, it will likely generate some data on the Lego collections users have at home which could make it an interesting acquisition target for Lego, in addition to the tech itself.

Ho-ly shit pic.twitter.com/5dr2rqWKTc

— Alexander Klöpping (@AlexanderNL) June 30, 2021

Reading Rec’s

Three Weeks with iOS and iPadOS 15: Foundational Updates by Federico Viticci for iMore. A great in-depth review and analysis of what’s new with Apple’s latest software update.

Tweets

It really is quite incredible that ~30 days after a major iOS release 70% of users have updated. Apple’s multi-year push to get most users on auto-update and then tightly managing the rollout is such a fantastic thing for the platform. (chart by @alexdbauer) pic.twitter.com/OKrgjZjH8m

— David Barnard (@drbarnard) June 30, 2021

oh https://t.co/TzWogtOkzb

— drew olanoff (@yoda) July 1, 2021

This new app called “Fave” just launched — it’s basically a social network for fandoms.

Currently, it’s only for Swifties.

Turns out no one remembered to claim @​taylorswift. 🙈

So I’m now Taylor Swift on a platform about Taylor Swift. pic.twitter.com/YFSuIzEJ0y

— Noah Evans (@ThisIsNoahEvans) June 30, 2021

 

 

Hubble celebrates the Fourth of July with a gorgeous cosmic fireworks show

These aren’t actually fireworks you’re seeing, but they sure look the part.

As we head into Independence Day weekend in the United States, a new Hubble image drop from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) is here to kick off the festivities. While fireworks as we know them aren’t actually a thing in the vacuum of space, expansive star clusters like this one certainly look the part.

This Picture of the Week depicts the open star cluster NGC 330, which lies around 180,000 light-years away inside the Small Magellanic Cloud. The cluster — which is in the constellation Tucana (The Toucan) — contains a multitude of stars, many of which are scattered across this striking image. The most stunning object in this image is actually the very small star cluster in the lower left corner of the image, surrounded by a nebula of ionised hydrogen (red) and dust (blue). Named GALFOR 1, the cluster was discovered in 2018 in Hubble's archival data, which was used to create this latest image from Hubble. To better understand this star cluster, specifically whether the nebula surrounding the cluster also contains a bow shock, scientists will need high resolution infrared imagery from the upcoming NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope. This image also contains clues about the inner workings of Hubble itself. The criss-cross patterns surrounding the stars in this image — known as diffraction spikes —  were created when starlight interacted with the four thin vanes supporting Hubble’s secondary mirror. As star clusters form from a single primordial cloud of gas and dust, all the stars they contain are roughly the same age. This makes them useful natural laboratories for astronomers to learn how stars form and evolve. This image uses observations from Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, and incorporates data from two very different astronomical investigations. The first aimed to understand why stars in star clusters appear to evolve differently from stars elsewhere, a peculiarity first observed by the Hubble Space Telescope. The second aimed to determine how large stars can be before they become doomed to end their lives in cataclysmic supernova explosions. Links  Video of A Scattering of Stars

This Picture of the Week depicts the open star cluster NGC 330, which lies around 180,000 light-years away inside the Small Magellanic Cloud. The cluster — which is in the constellation Tucana (The Toucan) — contains a multitude of stars, many of which are scattered across this striking image. The most stunning object in this image is actually the very small star cluster in the lower left corner of the image, surrounded by a nebula of ionised hydrogen (red) and dust (blue). Named GALFOR 1, the cluster was discovered in 2018 in Hubble’s archival data, which was used to create this latest image from Hubble. To better understand this star cluster, specifically whether the nebula surrounding the cluster also contains a bow shock, scientists will need high resolution infrared imagery from the upcoming NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope. This image also contains clues about the inner workings of Hubble itself. The criss-cross patterns surrounding the stars in this image — known as diffraction spikes —  were created when starlight interacted with the four thin vanes supporting Hubble’s secondary mirror. As star clusters form from a single primordial cloud of gas and dust, all the stars they contain are roughly the same age. This makes them useful natural laboratories for astronomers to learn how stars form and evolve. This image uses observations from Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, and incorporates data from two very different astronomical investigations. The first aimed to understand why stars in star clusters appear to evolve differently from stars elsewhere, a peculiarity first observed by the Hubble Space Telescope. The second aimed to determine how large stars can be before they become doomed to end their lives in cataclysmic supernova explosions. Links Video of A Scattering of Stars
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Kalirai, A. Milone

Say hello to star cluster NGC 330. This bright region of space sits about 180,000 light-years away from Earth, tucked inside a dwarf galaxy known as the Small Magellanic Cloud. It’s one of our own Milky Way galaxy’s closer neighbors, though it’s tiny by comparison, with only hundreds of millions of stars compared to our own roughly 100 billion.

This image, like most other Hubble imagery we see, is actually a composite that combines a scene snapped by the satellite’s Wide Field Camera 3 with “data from two very different astronomical investigations” that, respectively, looked at how stars inside of clusters evolve differently from non-cluster stars, and how large stars of any type can get before they explode in a supernova.

All the stars you see in this brilliant cluster are around the same age, which is a product of how star clusters are formed (and a reason why such celestial bodies are often a target for research). The lens flare-like patterns you see emanating from certain stars, however, isn’t a natural occurrence; rather, it’s a little gift from Hubble itself.

As NASA’s blog post notes: “The crisscross patterns surrounding the stars in this image, known as diffraction spikes, were created when starlight interacted with the four thin vanes supporting Hubble’s secondary mirror.”

Shohei Ohtani’s Babe Ruth impression is the only way I watch baseball. It rules.

Gaze upon Shohei Ohtani punishing a baseball for the crime of daring to exist in his presence.

I used to be a baseball fan. Hell, I used to play the sport (albeit, kind of poorly).

Now though, I cannot even recall the last televised game I watched. Baseball isn’t a part of my life, with one massive, glaring exception: viral clips of Shohei Ohtani.

But first, let’s backtrack. More than a decade ago, during the Jimmy Rollins-Chase Utley-Ryan Howard era of the Philadelphia Phillies, I lived and died with the team. I, a millennial with an attention span no longer than this sentence, followed baseball religiously. What a world.

As time passed, however, I kind of just gave it up. There’s too much stuff to do. Too many things that need my limited attention and time. And baseball was kind of boring. I’ve got reality TV to watch, dammit. Sure, I’ll still go to a baseball game, but that’s more about hanging out in the sun, having a couple beers, and eating a hot dog.

So yes, that’s all to say I don’t really care about baseball anymore. Or at least I didn’t. Enter Shohei, the grim reaper of baseballs.

I will watch any and all viral Shohei Ohtani clips. If you don’t know who he is, picture a vengeful demigod swinging a Louisville Slugger. Try to grasp the vast power of the ocean concentrating on hitting a silly little ball. Imagine an axe chopping softened butter.

Why am I wasting my time trying to describe it. Watch this.

Tweet may have been deleted

Hear the violent sound this ball makes, as if it briefly came to life, only to immediately wail for mercy.

Tweet may have been deleted

Here is our hero, a 26-year-old Japanese murderer of baseballs, hitting his 30th home run, most in the league. Notice how his bat cuts downward, slicing into the ball like a scythe whipping through long grass, searing the ball to the opposite side of the field.

Tweet may have been deleted

He hits a ball like it he is ordering it to never stop its flight.

Tweet may have been deleted

Oh and in case this all wasn’t enough: He’s a freaking dominant pitcher. Nobody — and I mean nobody — does that anymore. It’s unheard of in the modern era. It is not possible. Nobody pitches and plays the field — let alone do both at an All Star level.

The only comparison is Babe Ruth. Literally. That’s it. We’re only halfway through the season and Ohtani has already blown past the all-time high for homers the Great Bambino hit in a season where he also pitched a significant number of games.

Tweet may have been deleted

Tweet may have been deleted

So, no, I will not watch a full baseball game. But I will search Ohtani’s name on Twitter and see the latest feat completed by the giant of a man. I cannot tell how many times I’ve been sucked down this rabbit hole. Ohtani did what? OMG look at that. Holy hell how does he swing so hard. Etc. Etc.

And honestly, this feels like the ideal way to take in baseball. I don’t have to sit for freaking four hours and cheer for the long relief pitcher eating innings. I just spend 30 seconds of my life watching baseballs get ground into a fine powder. Not to go all they should make the entire plane out of the black box…. but they should make all baseball out of Shohei dingers and splitters. It’s kind of what I’ve done for myself.

Leave sacrifice bunts for the purists. Being a diehard is for the birds, baby. I’m here to watch viral clips of a man who seems like he was dropped on this Earth to exact vengeance on puny white baseballs.

But, in all seriousness, this does feel like one small, good thing the internet can do. I can appreciate Ohtani, and see stuff that makes me genuinely giddy, on command. No watching a whole-ass game. No thanks. As long as we’re all being drenched with the internet’s permanent waterfall of hate spew, we might as well portion ourselves a bit of joy as well.

I find supreme joy in watching Ohtani disregard the laws of the baseball gods. He makes anything possible on the diamond, the laws of physics and man be damned.

It is the only way I watch baseball: thirty seconds at a time and absolutely slack-jawed. And it rules.

Netflix lays out a new He-Man story in its latest ‘Masters of the Universe’ trailer

Fans of He-Man have lots of questions about what to expect from Netflix’s star-studded Masters of the Universe: Revelation series, created by Kevin Smith and based on the classic Mattel toys. This latest trailer at last brings some answers for the first part of the series, which spans five half-hour episodes.

Picking up after the events of the beloved ’80s cartoon, Revelations opens into an Eternia — the setting for these stories — where the magic that created it is fading. Whatever the cause may be, it sounds like this is a big enough threat that one-time enemies may have to work together. Though it also sounds like He-Man’s arch-nemesis Skeletor, voiced here by Mark Hamill, may not be on board with that plan.

We won’t have to wait much longer to find out more. Part 1 of Masters of the Universe: Revelations comes to Netflix on July 23.

‘Lovecraft Country’ showrunner takes a swipe at HBO after the show’s cancellation

Lovecraft Country won’t be returning to HBO for a second season.

The network confirmed the news in a Friday announcement. Lovecraft Country was adapted from Matt Ruff’s 2016 novel, which used historically racist author H.P. Lovecraft’s notions of cosmic horror to fuel stories set in the American South during (primarily) the 1950s.

“We will not be moving forward with a second season of Lovecraft Country. We are grateful for the dedication and artistry of the gifted cast and crew, and to Misha Green, who crafted this groundbreaking series. And to the fans, thank you for joining us on this journey,” HBO said in a statement on Friday (via The Hollywood Reporter).

Green, who served as Lovecraft‘s showrunner, didn’t comment on the cancellation directly, though she did share a tiny peek at t he “Season 2 Bible” on Friday after the news emerged. The theoretical second season would have carried the subtitle “Supremacy,” and it was to have introduced viewers to a reorganized “Sovereign States of America.”

Tweet may have been deleted

Markings on the restructured U.S. map in Green’s tweet suggest the Season 2 journey would have spanned the length of the map’s “Whitelands,” between southern Pennsylvania and northern Texas. Though that’s just a red dot and a red X; who’s to say what the route from one to the other would’ve looked like?

It’s a tantalizing tease, but perhaps the bigger standout feature of Green’s tweet is her choice of hashtag. The “#noconfederate” hashtag ties to a social media pressure campaign that sprung up after HBO’s announcement of the show Confederate.

It was pitched as an alt-history sci-fi drama set in a world where the U.S. southern states successfully seceded as a result of the Civil War. The show would have picked up generations later, introducing a reimagined North America where the nation founded by the former U.S. states evolved slavery into a modern institution.

Notably, Confederate was to be spearheaded by Game of Thrones executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss — both of whom are white. So the #noconfederate pressure campaign was conceived to protest HBO’s support for the idea. It seemed to work. The network went relatively silent after the show’s announcement in 2017, and the project was ultimately confirmed as canceled in 2020.

Which brings us back to Green’s tweet. The #noconfederate hashtag existed for a very specific purpose: To protest the existence of an ill-advised TV project that many felt had no business being in the hands of two white creators (particularly in light of some of the criticism directed at Thrones). It’s hard to read Green’s use of it in response to the Lovecraft cancellation as anything other than a swipe at HBO.

Confederate never ended up happening, but not necessarily because HBO was cowed by the criticism. The network only ever went as far as acknowledging that the initial announcement was handled poorly. And when news emerged in 2020 that it was, in fact, no longer happening, it only came after Benioff and Weiss had stepped away from a high-profile Star Wars project that was apparently derailed by a deal they’d struck with Netflix.

In other words: HBO never really closed the book on Confederate in a way that suggested it had actually listened to critics. So Green’s use of the hashtag now is a little reminder of the network’s fraught recent history with another alt-history project that it seemed only too willing to press forward with until other business considerations — as opposed to social considerations — surfaced.

Green will be fine, though. She co-created the excellent Underground on WGN America, and despite the cancellation, Lovecraft Country has proven to be a winner with critics and audiences both. She has a number of other projects lined up, including a sequel to the Alicia Vikander-starring Tomb Raider movie, (tentatively) titled Tomb Raider: Obsidian.

How to change the watch face on your Apple Watch

It's as simple as tapping on the display.

One of the best things about an Apple Watch is how customizable it is. Any old watch lets you switch the band, but with an Apple Watch, even your watch face can match your mood, your outfit, or both.

While changing your watch band is a straightforward process, switching up your watch face might not seem so simple (at first). Don’t worry though — it’s child’s play once you get the hang of it.

Here’s how to change the watch face on your Apple Watch in a few easy steps.

How to change it directly on your Apple Watch

All it takes is a long press on the display.

All it takes is a long press on the display.
Credit: screenshot / apple

You can scroll to the left or right to see some of your options.

You can scroll to the left or right to see some of your options.
Credit: screenshot / apple

Press your Apple Watch’s Digital Crown so that the current watch face appears. Then, long press on the display until the watch face is minimized. From there, you can swipe to the right or left and choose from your already saved watch faces.

If you don’t like any of the already saved options, you can also swipe all the way to the left until you reach the ‘New’ option. You can then scroll up and down through the additional watch faces and tap ‘Add’ when you find one you like.

If you don't like any of your saved options, you can add new ones to your watch face library.

If you don’t like any of your saved options, you can add new ones to your watch face library.
Credit: screenshot / apple

When you find one you like, you can tap 'Add.'

When you find one you like, you can tap ‘Add.’
Credit: SCREENSHOT / APPLE

Depending on the watch face, you can also edit the style, color, and complications. Once you’re done, press the Digital Crown to save and set the watch face.

You can change the color by turning your Digital Crown.

You can change the color by turning your Digital Crown.
Credit: Apple / screenshot

Tap on the display to change a specific complication.

Tap on the display to change a specific complication.
Credit: screenshot / apple

To edit any of the existing watch faces in your library, long press on the display and tap ‘Edit’ underneath each one. Then, swipe to the left to cycle through your editing options.

How to change it using your iPhone

You can also control the face options on your watch using the Watch app on your iPhone.

Under the ‘My Watch’ tab, you’ll find all your saved watch faces. When you tap on ‘Edit’ in the right-hand corner, you get a screen where you can rearrange the sequence of the watch faces that appear on your Apple Watch. Simply long press on the hamburger button on the right, and move it wherever you’d like.

You can change the colors of the watch face.

You can change the colors of the watch face.
Credit: screenshot / apple

You can also change the complications.

You can also change the complications.
Credit: screenshot / apple

You can also tap a specific watch face to edit its color, complications, and more. Once you’re done, tap ‘Set as current Watch Face.’ This is also where you can remove a watch face from your library.

Lastly, there’s the ‘Face Gallery’ tab. Here, you’ll find a ton of different watch face options separated by categories such as “Activity,” “Gradient,” “Infograph Modular,” “Motion,” and more. As with the other watch faces, you can also edit each one to your liking by tapping on each option.

The 'Face Gallery' tab has tons of watch faces to choose from.

The ‘Face Gallery’ tab has tons of watch faces to choose from.
Credit: screenshot / apple

When you pick one you like, tap 'Add.'

When you pick one you like, tap ‘Add.’
Credit: screenshot / apple

Once you’re done tweaking the design, tap ‘Add’ on the top right and it’ll automatically save to both your Watch app and your Apple Watch.

That viral Selkie puff dress only works for the Instagram fantasy world

If you are a being of this world, the Selkie puff dress might not feel like it's

Don’t trust anything on the internet — until Mashable tries it first. Welcome to the Hype Test, where we review viral trends and tell you what’s really worth millions of likes.


If you’re like me, then the Instagram algorithm’s got you pegged as some kinda aspiring fairy-princess-mermaid-goddess-witch (maybe you’re even part of the magical Instagram niche). So, in all likelihood, you’ve probably seen those irresistibly dreamy ads for Selkie’s viral puff dress.

At its core, the Selkie dress is a bewitching promise of fantastical escape from it all, for the reasonable price of $245. The small, independent, woman-owned high fashion boutique brand’s Instagram feels like a secret garden into a femme fairytale land, where this foppishly girlish garment is all you need to earn passage into their beautiful, otherworldly alternate dimension.

It’s no mystery, then, why the popularity of the handmade Selkie puff dress — which was always in high demand and perpetually out of stock before — only soared higher during the pandemic. More than ever, trapped alone inside our dreary bedroom walls, folks needed this kind of playful pretend dress-up that Selkie captures. It became far more than a dress, serving instead as a retreat (however brief) from the soul-crushing realities of the pandemic, a luxury we could justify purchasing with the disposable income usually spent on the social lives we could no longer have.


I wish I lived in the Instagram fantasy world the Selkie dress was made for.

I’m sure the Selkie puff dress served this purpose admirably for so many who desperately needed it, too. Some — like the ethereal goddesses who make up the array of diverse, size-inclusive models featured in Selkie’s marketing — only need to wear this kind of statement piece in order to seduce themselves and everyone around them into believing in that spellbinding alternate reality.

But for others like me, putting on a dress that looks like it was carried to my apartment on the backs of angel wings only heightened my awareness of my depressing surroundings, the jarring juxtaposition feeling more like a cruel reminder than an alluring invitation to escape.

I wish I lived in the Instagram fantasy world the Selkie dress was made for, where women and femmes are given wholesale permission to embody whatever unearthly magical beings they choose. But I live in this world, as a grown adult human woman with a job and bills, where flouncing about my daily life dressed as an oversexed Baby Princess Peach is perceived by other’s (*cough*cough* men) as an invitation to let their most disturbing fantasies run wild.

This is only exacerbated by the fact that the Selkie puff dress is extremely sheer, especially around the breast area. And in the real world, human women tend to have nipples that photoshop can’t erase — nipples which man-made human laws have deemed a literal crime to expose in public.

Yaaas kitchen puff dress queen, give us NOTHING!

Yaaas kitchen puff dress queen, give us NOTHING!
Credit: SELKIE

At the same time, I still wasn’t ready to let go of the enchanted world Selkie wants to allow us all to live in. My disappointment in their most popular puff dress only made me go right back to the website to try and find a more, uh, socially acceptable fantasy.

Like many other people though, the Selkie puff dress entered my life during the darkest depths of the pandemic, as my city (Los Angeles, which is coincidentally also Selkie’s headquarters) became the U.S. epicenter of the virus. Crushed beneath the weight of being left to the wolves by our government leaders while untold, unstoppable, ever-mounting suffering kept piling up outside my window, I reached my limit. It’s selfish, I know, but the final straw that threatened the last vestiges of my ailing mental health was the prospect of spending Christmas and then (months later in May) my second birthday still stuck in this pandemic hell world with what seemed at the time like no end in sight.

So I bought the damn Selkie dress.

Though sky-high demand and covid-related production issues meant it wouldn’t arrive until spring, I gave my future self the gift of looking forward to the celestial escape the puff dress represented. If I was going to be forced to spend the last remaining birthday of my 20s alone in my apartment, I’d at least look like a princess goddamnit.

I wasn’t the only one with this exact same thought, either, as social media posts of folks in the Selkie dress even gave our timelines a brief respite from the horrors of existing in 2020.

Tweet may have been deleted

When months of delays outside the company’s control kept pushing the arrival date of the dress further and further back, Selkie’s customer service was extremely apologetic and kind (without even knowing I was press). I offered my understanding in return, but did gently ask if there was still a chance it’d arrive in time for my birthday. They vowed to do all they could. When it wasn’t possible, they even gave me a full refund for the pink puff dress that arrived just a week too late.

The unadulterated joy I felt ripping open that package when it finally came was the closest I’ve felt in years to waking up on Christmas day as a kid. Its delicate fabric felt as otherworldly as it looked on Instagram. Yet when I put it on and looked in the mirror, a wave of sadness overcame me.

The dress did not instantaneously transform me into an ethereal, celestial creature made of cotton candy like it did for others. I instead gazed upon the reflection of an ordinary mortal woman, just some lady, only now with her nips out in what looked like an out-of-season Halloween costume.

I don't know how to become

I don’t know how to become “that girl,” but would take any class from a Selkie model
Credit: selkie

Also by that point, Los Angeles was re-opening after consistently scoring the lowest national numbers of new COVID-19 cases. During pandemic isolation, I might’ve been able to say “fuck it” and live my dreams as a nips-out siren type. But the sudden return to society was already causing anxiety-inducing realizations of how bad I’d gotten at being human, and all the social norms I now had to agonizingly relearn.

Could I really afford the added stress of reemerging into this scary post-pandemic world dressed like a lost cast member who strayed too far from the Bridgerton set? Could I stomach casually striding down the litter-strewn pavement of Sunset Boulevard on a Tuesday afternoon, waltzing past all our unhoused neighbors suffering under the LA summer heatwave, dressed like a horny prepubescent doll moonlighting as a puff pastry? I simply could not imagine going about my day in this heightened-reality femme fever dream of an outfit without at least a few well-meaning people stopping to inform me that, “Ma’am, this is a Wendy’s.”

Obviously, I don’t blame Selkie for my own personal hang-ups.

For one, I think I failed to take my measurements properly (despite the website’s best efforts). For another, the dress is as beautifully crafted as advertised. Most importantly, there are plenty of folks made of stronger stuff than me (or at least who don’t have a social anxiety disorder) who can absolutely exude the fantasy the puff dress promises without batting an eye.

The real fantasy here is that her hair is *less* messy in the subway shot.

The real fantasy here is that her hair is *less* messy in the subway shot.
Credit: selkie

The Selkie models are themselves often pictured crossing the barrier between our disparate dimensions, flitting effortlessly between wearing the dress in pedestrian IRL settings and the magical Instagram settings. Their shoots aren’t all Venetian castles, with plenty of bedrooms and cityscape backdrops included in the product images. Better still, their models include the marginalized folks typically excluded from these opulent Instagrammable beauty ideals, whether it’s fantasy genre scenery, the high fashion industry, or cottagecore and romantic Victorian aesthetics.

But the struggle of bringing all that into the real world comes down to the fact that the puff dress (and others like it), while clearly catering to a feminine gaze, is still also unavoidably subjected to the reality of life under the male gaze.


Fashion aesthetics like the puff dress are unavoidably in conversation with the pedophilic male gaze that has dominated our culture for centuries.

The Selkie puff dress, it can be argued, is part of a pantheon of fashion aesthetics that — while gorgeous and potentially empowering in some ways — still glorify the infantilization of adult women and, by extension, the sexualization of underage girls. Japan’s storied Lolita fashion scene is also often subject to this same debate, though it comes with its own socio-cultural, historical, and community-specific nuances.

Regardless of the creators’ and wearers’ intentions, fashion aesthetics like the puff dress are unavoidably in conversation with the pedophilic male gaze that has dominated society for centuries.

It’s the same pedophilic male gaze that Tavi Gevinson, a teen fashion mogul who grew up to become a writer and actor, called out recently as a major source of the trauma both she and a teenaged Britney Spears fell victim to. A majority of our mass media industries, from fashion to music to TV and film, is grounded in normalizing the sexual exploitation of young girls. In recent decades, it’s been rebranded as feminist empowerment — but it’s an empowerment still defined and controlled by the grown men who use their actual power to prey on said underage girls. As a culture, we still systematically disempower girls in every way that matters, only to then offer them (and the women they grow up to become) a false sense of power derived from being sexually desired. But we’re only desired for fitting this feminine ideal of youth, physical smallness, and naïveté that makes men feel strong and superior by contrast.

Now, I am the last person who can cast any judgment on women and girls who like playing into this gender norm, or who seek to reclaim it for themselves. I literally buy into this aesthetic myself. I spent $245 on that babydoll-cut Selkie dress precisely because it fits my style, best described as sexed-up-little-girl-who-murders-you-in-your-sleep.

How does she make the dress look better in the city than the fantasy world?

How does she make the dress look better in the city than the fantasy world?
Credit: selkie

But it’s one of those things that, while we can’t blame women and girls for enjoying it, we still need to recognize how it’s rooted in the fucked up patriarchal ideals that victimize and oppress us. I can’t blame Selkie — and won’t blame us — for finding this kind of alluring, fantastical escapism wherever we can in a society systematically designed to rob us of all joy.

In my heart of hearts, I think the fantasy that the Selkie dress embodies is actually a desperate desire to go back to the precarious innocence of girlhood — those brief, shimmering moments of pubescence when we didn’t realize the thrilling newfound power we had was infected by creepy older men sexualizing our transitioning bodies.

Wearing the puff dress and wanting to live in its Instagram fantasy world isn’t our crime. It is, perhaps, even a way of unconsciously processing or even consciously reclaiming the traumas of girlhood by wearing whatever the hell we want as grown ass women.

The aesthetic of the Selkie puff dress is "girlish," to say the least.

The aesthetic of the Selkie puff dress is “girlish,” to say the least.
Credit: selkie

So the problem isn’t the dress, or our desire to take part in an alternate reality where we’re allowed to be magically super-powered, ethereally detached from patriarchy, unabashedly the center of attention, and luxuriously dripping in the opulence of a royal status that used to be women’s only chance at governmental power. That’s all awesome. The real problem is all the disturbing ways others treat our return to girlhood daydreams as something inherently sexual, the men who see our love of playing dress-up to escape back into our youth as only a performance for their titillation. Women don’t get all fucking weird and predatory about it when men dress up as their favorite childhood comic book superheroes, do we?

At the end of the day, I just wanted to feel like a princess on my birthday again — to feel as alive and as special as I did when I was the girl in kindergarten class who for several weeks insisted on coming to school dressed in her Snow White Halloween costume. Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll live in a world where Selkie’s Instagram doesn’t feel so diametrically opposed to our oppressive realities. Maybe (hopefully) one day I can wear whatever I’d like without fear of what it might bring out in men.

Until then, I’ll keep endlessly scrolling Selkie’s feed and dreaming on.

What is critical race theory?

The debate about critical race theory will impact what's taught in classrooms, who wins future elections, and broader culture wars.

Let us, the custodians of the news cycle, be the first to say it: A dense academic theory from the 1970s doesn’t just find its way into the news at random.

That’s another way of saying there’s a reason you’ve likely seen the words “critical race theory” in headlines lately. Critical race theory (CRT) is an analytical framework used by legal scholars to study systemic, institutional racism — but that’s not necessarily how it’s being used in its current spurt in prominence.

In recent months, Republicans have introduced dozens of bills in state legislatures attempting to put limits on what educators can and cannot teach with respect to allegedly “divisive” concepts, many of which concern race. The language of the bills varies slightly, but a majority seem to be fueled, in large part, by a growing fear among conservatives over “critical race theory,” which Republican leaders have used as something of a catch-all term to describe any mention of race or racism in academic and governmental settings.

To date, at least five states (Oklahoma, Texas, Idaho, Iowa, and Tennessee) have already passed laws intended to curtail certain classroom discussions pertaining to what they’re calling “critical race theory.” And conservative panic about critical race theory transcends national boundaries: The Australian Senate has also voted to eliminate critical race theory from its national curriculum. In the U.S., Republican leaders have particularly been incensed by an inaccurate notion that critical race theory teaches white students that they’re all innately racist, and that they should feel guilty.

The current uproar has stark implications for what’s taught in classrooms, who wins future elections, and broader culture wars — so here’s what you need to know about the three simple words dominating tweets, headlines, and school board meetings right now.

What is critical race theory?

For starters, it’s not something that would ever be taught in a kindergarten classroom, despite the repeated focus on banning critical race theory in K-12 schools, Dr. Khiara Bridges, a law professor at UC Berkeley and author of Critical Race Theory: A Primer, says. “Critical race theory is a legal theory that emerged in law schools in the 1970s, 1980s,” she says. “It was a response to the perceived, and I would say, obvious failures of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

At that time, major pieces of legislation intended to achieve some version of racial equality had just passed as a result of the Civil Rights Movement — yet racial inequality remained rampant. For a group of legal scholars, including Derrick Bell and his then-student Kimberlé Crenshaw, who later also coined the term intersectionality, which refers to the way identities like race and gender intersect, the question became…”why?” Critical race theory emerged to interrogate that question, Bridges explains. As a framework, critical race theory often focuses on the idea that racism is systemic, and fundamentally steeped in the legal system.

Take an injustice like the Flint Water Crisis. As Bridges also notes in her book, some would say that race is merely a descriptor when discussing what happened in Flint, arguing that it cannot be used to explain why those who were exposed to contaminated drinking water were predominantly Black people.

A critical race theorist studying the topic, however, would analyze the historical factors that led to the crisis primarily impacting Black people, with their studies grounded in the idea that racial injustice is built into society’s foundational building blocks.

Bridges points out that the framework has since evolved to “analyze multiple questions around law and racial inequality,” spanning topics like affirmative action, the criminal justice system, and racial disparities in health. Dr. Keffrelyn Brown, a professor of cultural studies in education at the University of Texas, Austin, adds that as an analytical framework, critical race theory also extends beyond legal studies now, “and it’s been applied in different disciplinary areas, including education. It is simply an explanatory framework for the history and present day conditions of race and racism.”

To truly understand the term, it’s important to dwell a bit on the word “theory.” Critical race theory isn’t like a scientific theory that can be tested with an experiment (and answered with a right or wrong answer). It is more like Foucault’s theory of power, which provides a clarifying framework for conceptualizing “power” in different contexts —another concept kindergarteners are not constantly learning about, Bridges explains. “Those things aren’t falsifiable at all,” she says. “Rather, it’s a theory for how to look at and understand society, how to explain society.”

As a result, Bridges stresses that there are plenty of disagreements among critical race theorists — for example, whether to focus on “institutions, structures, and macro level processes” (which she does) rather than on, say, implicit bias, which “directs us to interrogate individuals” while ignoring “the structures under which these individuals exist,” she says. “There’s a lot of contention within the theory, and that’s what makes it better,” Bridges adds. “Whenever somebody — in good faith — questions my scholarship…it makes my scholarship better.”

How did critical race theory become controversial?

For decades, critical race theory primarily lived in the hallowed halls of academia. So how did it suddenly end up in school board meetings, on Twitter, and all over the news? And why are people up in arms about it?

The short answer is that timing matters — and so does language itself. Bridges says that in her book, Critical Race Theory: A Primer, she had observed that there might be something “easily exploitable about the fact the theory calls itself ‘critical race theory,'” because it’s incredibly broad. “It kind of makes it hard to point to something and say, ‘there [critical race theory] is,'” she says.

Tweet may have been deleted

Kimberlé Crenshaw ultimately coined the phrase, and Bridges wonders “if, in 40 years hindsight, she wishes that she had said something like, ‘critical legal studies of law,’ like just [built] law in there somewhere, so that this theory could be anchored to the law.”

In any case, even if the concept got its roots in legal studies, that’s not how it’s currently being used by many conservatives right now. Some critical race theorists, Crenshaw and Bridges included, see the foundations for the current conservative backlash around critical race theory in the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020. During that time, many businesses, schools, and other organizations offered anti-racist seminars and trainings, and an overall cultural shift seemed to have trickled down to even the most mundane places.

“I woke up one morning in May, and I had an email from my yoga studio telling me that they were going to ‘do better’ when it came to racial justice,” Bridges says. “I went on Amazon to order some toilet paper, and Amazon told me that Black Lives mattered.”

In the view of some scholars and analysts, that provided fertile ground for waging a culture war from those who appeared to be threatened by increased public understanding about white supremacy, anti-Blackness, and systemic racism. “Trump was eyeing November 2020 at the same time, trying to get re-elected, and we all know that he leveraged those protests to make it into something like Black Lives Matter versus everyone else… American versus ‘un-American’ people; radicals versus people who love this country,” Bridges says.

Around the same time, the conservative activist Christopher Rufo was critiquing certain anti-racist training modules, inaccurately arguing they were endorsing “segregationism” and “group-based guilt.” When discussing them on conservative news shows, he started using the term “critical race theory,” which he discovered when following the footnotes on certain texts.

Rufo assisted in drafting a memo issued by former President Trump in September 2020 that barred federal agencies from conducting training on topics concerning “critical race theory” and “white privilege,” (President Biden has since rescinded the ban.) Meanwhile, Trump was also stridently critical of the 1619 Project, a journalism effort from the New York Times that chronicles the impact of chattel slavery on U.S. history. (A small group of historians have critiqued aspects of the project, but by and large it’s seen as a crucially educational endeavor, with its creator Nikole Hannah-Jones winning a Pulitzer Prize for her work.) Trump referenced the project in an alarmist diatribe against critical race theory that misinterpreted the concept.

All told, it seemed as if conservatives had found an ominous specter — critical race theory — to unite around, even if the term was being used in a way largely divorced from its academic meaning. Conservatives have particularly taken issue with critical race theory’s concept of systemic racism, claiming that teaching critical race theory in schools (more on that in a second) amounts to teaching kids that their country is “fundamentally and irredeemably racist,” and that “every white person is a racist,” as Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, recently said it did. (Bridges and Brown both clarify that this interpretation of “critical race theory” is not within the academic scholarship.)

It’ll be years, Bridges notes, before scholars like herself truly understand the full picture behind the current public conversation concerning critical race theory, particularly because we’re in the middle of a battle over politicized language that has yet to fully unfold.

In any case, there is evidence to suggest the term “critical race theory” was intentionally weaponized to some degree, at least by the originator of its current explosion in usage. Rufo told the New Yorker about his specific use of the term “critical race theory,” saying that “…cancel culture’ is a vacuous term and doesn’t translate into a political program; ‘woke’ is a good epithet, but it’s too broad, too terminal, too easily brushed aside. ‘Critical race theory’ is the perfect villain.” He also tweeted that “the goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think ‘critical race theory.'”

Tweet may have been deleted

Others don’t necessarily see the progression so linearly, but agree that the way critical race theory is being misunderstood in the public eye has major implications, regardless of how it ended up on the tip of everyone’s tongues. “I think that there are many different entry points that one could use to talk about why we ended up at this place,” Brown says. She says that an increased recognition of racial violence, such as George Floyd’s murder, led to “a lot of attention being placed on trying to understand racism not as simply something one person does to another person, but a real systemic and structural problem.”

“I think it is not surprising that critical race theory is becoming a catch-all phrase for any effort that is an attempt to understand diversity, inclusion, and equity — all things we’ve made some progress in,” she continues. “We’ve made some progress in addressing those issues in schools and in society, and as a result, we’ve got this pushback.”

Wait, so are schools going to stop teaching about race because of “critical race theory” bills?

Not necessarily — but the bills and the conservative uproar around critical race theory do have serious implications for anyone who cares about the fate of lessons about systemic racism in schools.

Brown and Bridges both agree there’s essentially zero chance that critical race theory, as it’s understood as a graduate-level analytical framework, is actually being taught in any K-12 classroom in the country. As the slate of anti-CRT bills proves, though, that hasn’t stopped efforts to turn the heightened focus on critical race theory into an issue for school boards, parents, and students to debate. (And lately, that debate has frequently turned to chaos at school board meetings.)

“I do not believe, nor do I have any evidence of any content standards, curriculum standards, that lay out the need for teachers to teach critical race theory,” Brown says. She explains that there may be teachers who understand critical race theory themselves, and “may use that as an explanatory framework to help them make sense of what’s there, but they’re not teaching critical race theory as a theoretical framework.” In short, it’s possible that a teacher’s background understanding of critical race theory could inform how they explain a lesson about “the role racism has played historically” in, say, a social studies course, but Brown maintains she doesn’t know “of really any K-12 schools that teach about theoretical frameworks.”

There’s no unified national curriculum for public schools in the U.S., though Common Core State Standards provide some uniform standards for math and English. That said, states and school districts can determine education standards on a smaller scale, which is where anti-CRT bills are being introduced. In the past, this curriculum model has led to discrepancies in what kinds of historical lessons are taught around the U.S., including language used in schools concerning the Civil War.

“This isn’t the first time that there’s been debate, contention, and controversy placed on curriculum,” Brown adds. “In fact, I would say curriculum is one of the prime places where political battles have been waged, at least since the 1800s, and definitely since the emergence of widespread, K-12 public education, with the understanding that what students are taught is viewed as potentially powerful.”

Right now, it stands to be seen how much the bills will actually impact classrooms. The legal standing for many of these bills is faulty, legal scholars say, and they stand to face challenges in court due to their limits on free speech. At its core, the conservative pushback around teaching anything about racism points to a larger attempt to obscure the ugliest parts of our country’s history, and Bridges and Brown say anyone interested in having young people educated about race, power, and inequality should stay vigilant about keeping those kinds of lessons in schools.

“I think at least one of the aims of the bills is just to create enough confusion and fear on the part of some parents, and on the part of some educators, to just not do this work,” Brown says. “So, if you don’t do the work, you’ve accomplished the aim of not actually addressing racism.”

What should you do if you want lessons about race and racism to stay in schools?

First of all, say it. That means showing up at school board meetings, writing letters and emails to education officials, and/or reaching out to your congressperson, particularly as critical race theory continues to dominate the conversation. “You need to let your school districts know that you want your children to understand racism, but more importantly, they also need to be talking about diversity and equity,” Bridges says. “I don’t know what the lasting impact will be of these efforts,” she adds. “It’s not the first time that multiculturalism and diversity have been challenged [in school curricula]. I don’t think it will be the last time, and I don’t think that it will go away. But I do think that it will lead to a conversation. For those of us that know [teaching students about race] is important work…we have to stand up for its relevance and importance.”

Bridges, meanwhile, is optimistic that if we can move away from the “ridiculous” notion that “critical race theory in K-12 schools means that everybody is going to be taught that every single white person is racist,” we might instead “enter a dialogue as a nation about how…K-12 schools should introduce concepts like systemic racism, like structural racism, like intersectionality.”

“That’s a much more productive conversation than ‘let’s keep critical race theory out of K-12 schools,'” she continues. “How about we engage in these democratic discussions around what we think kids should learn, and how. I think that would be much more productive, and much more American, than simply banning ideas.”

How to connect your AirPods to a Peloton

Connect your AirPods to your Peloton bike following these simple steps.

If you’re lucky enough to have a Peloton bike, you know they come with all sorts of high-end frills. But what about connecting your Peloton bike to wireless headphones?

While it’s not as easy to pair them as it would be on an Apple device (AirPods automatically pair with Apple devices when the case is opened), you can still connect your Apple AirPods to your Peloton. Here’s how:

Making the connection

Maybe your Peloton is set up in a community space that can get noisy, or you just want to get lost in the music. Whatever your reason, it’s easy to pair your AirPods to your Peloton and groove your way through cardio.

According to Peloton, you can connect in a few simple steps:

  1. Make sure your AirPods aren’t connected to any other device and that their Bluetooth option is enabled. They should be disconnected from everything, even your phone, for this to work.

  2. With the AirPods in the case and the lid open, hold the button on the back of the case until the amber light starts blinking — about three to five seconds. This will reset your AirPods, which you need to do in order for them to pair with a non-Apple device. Once they’re reset, you can put them back into pairing mode and try to pair them with your Peloton’s touchscreen.

  3. Close the lid to your AirPods case. On your Peloton’s touchscreen, you should see a list of available Bluetooth devices to pair with in the Bluetooth menu (get there by going to Settings, then Bluetooth).

  4. Find “AirPod” or the custom name you’ve given your AirPods, in the list of available Bluetooth devices and click on it. After a few seconds, you should see the status change to “paired.”

  5. Go back to the Featured page by tapping on the Peloton logo in the lower center of the touchscreen.

  6. Choose a ride to test the connection and make sure your AirPods are connected and working. Adjust the volume to a good level.

After that you should be good to go. If you’re still having trouble connecting, you can try resetting the connection and pairing your AirPods again.

Mashable Image


Credit: apple

Keep in mind that since your Peloton isn’t an Apple device, you won’t be able to use features like Siri while your AirPods are paired to your bike. You will be able to listen to Peloton’s audio through your wireless headphones, though. Also, you’ll need to use the volume controls on the Peloton to change the volume in your AirPods.

One last thing: Make sure you disconnect your AirPods when you’re finished! If someone else is using the Peloton with their AirPods and you open your AirPod case within pairing range, the Peloton will connect with your AirPods instead and kick the person on the bike off the connection.

Everything you need to know before seeing ‘Black Widow’

Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) in Marvel Studios' BLACK WIDOW, in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access.

It’s been almost a decade since The Avengers brought together this century’s most popular super team. Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and the Hulk all got their own movies before the team-up, but fans have fairly consistently pointed out how messed up it is that the only original female Avenger, one Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, didn’t get her own standalone film. (Hawkeye didn’t get a film either but let’s be real, nobody was collecting signatures to watch Jeremy Renner shoot CGI bullseyes for two and a half hours.)

Anyway, they’ve fixed all of that now. Black Widow is starring in her own movie! I mean, it’s a little weird that she only got it after her character died in Avengers: Endgame, but hey, better late than never, right?

To prepare for Black Widow, the first Marvel movie to come to theaters since 2019, here’s a handy guide on what you need to know about Natasha before watching her standalone. First up, the trailer:

And onto the Q&A.

What’s Black Widow’s whole deal and how did she become an Avenger?

Natasha Romanoff is a former Russian operative turned SHIELD agent who doesn’t need superpowers to be formidable. She was trained from childhood in the Red Room, a Russian spy factory that specialized in turning young girls into living weapons, but she defected from the Red Room with help from then-SHIELD agent Clint Barton/Hawkeye. She’s been a good guy ever since.

Natasha joined the Avengers after first appearing in a supporting role in Iron Man 2, and she considered the Avengers her family up until the events of Captain America: Civil War.

What happened there?

There’s a whole movie about it and it’s very good but the important thing is that the Avengers broke up. Natasha initially sided with Tony Stark on his side of the conflict, but she betrayed Team Iron Man during a critical battle at the Berlin airport to allow Captain America to escape. The rest of Team Cap was captured and thrown into prison (including Hawkeye, Ant-Man, Wanda Maximoff, and Falcon), but Natasha slipped away and just kind of disappeared after her betrayal.

She came back though, right?

Yeah, she joined up with Captain America and Falcon at some point and they did a whole vigilante thing for a few years, evidenced by their traveling together in Infinity War. Then Thanos happened and after a very long, complicated chain of events she, uh, died.

Okay, but is she Marvel dead or dead-dead?

Unlike Vision, Gamora, and Loki, Natasha is dead-dead in the MCU. She sacrificed her life to get the Soul Stone for the Avengers and there’s no coming back from that. Well, Gamora came back from that, but that’s because the Avengers created a time paradox. Black Widow does not get a paradox.

So this movie is about a dead Avenger.

Yes. It’s a mid-quel — a movie that takes place during or between the events of other movies. In this case, Black Widow takes place in the time between Natasha disappearing into exile in Civil War and her appearing with the remains of Team Cap in Infinity War.

So what did she do in that time?

From the promotional material for Black Widow, it seems like Natasha went back to her roots and met up with some familiar faces from her past for a new adventure. Those include fellow Red Room graduate and sort-of sister figure Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh); a Russian super-soldier called the Red Guardian (David Harbour) who has some fatherly connection to her; and her mother figure Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz). Going by Marvel’s standard patterns, it’s safe to assume they have to fight a bad guy.

Do we know about the bad guy?

We know about Taskmaster, an elite assassin with the unique skill of being able to replicate anyone’s physical movement just by watching them. This muscle memory makes Taskmaster one of the most dangerous human fighters in the MCU, since at any point in a fight ol’ Tasky can start using their opponent’s moves against them. From the trailer it looks like Taskmaster has been studying the Avengers fairly closely and will be using a lot of iconic Marvel hero moves against Black Widow. Yay cool fight choreography!

Even though we know how Natasha’s story ends, it’s pretty cool that we get to spend a little more time getting to know her better before this Black Widow takes her final bow in the MCU. Black Widow is the first of four Marvel movies slated to come out in 2021 though, and there will be plenty more questions to ask once Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals, and Spider-Man: No Way Home approach their release dates. See you then.

Black Widow premieres in theaters and on Disney+ (with Premier Access) July 9.

Celebrate the weekend with 19 great tech deals

Treat yourself this holiday weekend.

This coming Fourth of July weekend, you may want to celebrate by treating yourself to a thing or two. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your tech collection, optimize your WFH setup, or expand your home gym, here are 19 limited-time deals — active as of July 3 — that you don’t want to miss out on.

Sitpack 2.0 Compact Collapsible Seat

We’re embracing the comeback of concerts and festivals, but that also means tired legs and blistered feet are incoming. With the Sitpack, you can take a seat anywhere regardless of the terrain by just popping it out and leaning on it. While it typically retails for $65, you can snatch it up and rest your weary legs for only $34.95.

TREBLAB Z2 Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Enhance your wireless listening experience with the Z2s from TREBLAB, which are equipped with TREBLAB’s most advanced sound technology, aptX, and active noise cancellation. A pair is usually $259, but you can snag them on sale for $78.99 for a limited time.

Toybox 3D Printer Deluxe Bundle

Featured on Shark Tank, the Toybox is an easy-to-use 3D printer that lets kids and adults alike create and print their very own toys. With simple, one-touch functionality and a companion app, you can upload your own designs or choose from the ever-expanding toy catalog. For a limited time, you can also get it on sale for just $359.99 (regularly $469).

Prima 1080p HD Pocket Projector

Have impromptu movie nights wherever you are with this pocket projector that is as slim and light as a cellphone. It boasts 200 lumens. Score one on sale for $299 (regularly $799).


Prima 1080p HD Pocket Projector — $299

Credit: Prima Projector

FOCI: Focus-Boosting Wearable

Life is riddled with distractions, but this little device can help you stay focused. When it detects that you’re starting to lose focus, it switches colors, allowing you to self-regulate and control your own procrastination. And for $89 (regularly $129), you can practice sustained focus.


FOCI: Focus-Boosting Wearable — $89

Credit: Tinylogics

TAP STRAP 2: All-in-1 Wearable Keyboard, Mouse, and Controller

You can turn your hand into a keyboard, mouse, and controller with the TAP STRAP 2, an advanced wearable that lets you send a text or command to your electronic devices just by tapping your fingers on any surface. It has accelerometers built into each finger-ring, which then register which fingers you are tapping and sends the associated letter, number, symbol, or macro to a paired Bluetooth device. Get it on sale for $100 (regularly $199).w

Naztech Ultimate Power Station: Qi Wireless + 5 USB + 4,000mAh Battery

Aptly called the ultimate power station, this hub is the charging solution you’ve been waiting for. It can refuel up to six devices simultaneously, and with its 50 watts of charging power, it’s ideal for homes and offices with limited outlets and multiple devices that need high-speed charging. It usually retails for $59, but you can snag it on sale for $49.99.

Apple Watch Wireless Charger Keychain

Charging your Apple Watch on the go will be a little less tedious with this keychain. It replaces the typical charging cable and wirelessly charges the touch-sensitive Apple Watch with a magnetic charger. Get it on sale for $19.99 — 59% off the usual price tag of $49.

Shyn Sonic Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush with 8 Whitening Brush Heads, Charger, and Travel Case

Make your dentist proud with this dental hygiene set. Featuring Shyn’s ADA-approved, award-winning, premium sonic toothbrush and Rembrandt’s one-week whitening kit, it gives you a deep clean and will leave your chompers looking great. With this deal, you can get the set for only $59.95 (regularly $170).

Cashew Smart Wallet with Biometrics and Bluetooth

Successfully funded on Kickstarter, this smart wallet features a fingerprint reader to ensure only you have access to it and its contents. It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth so you can find it if you lose it, and even has a buzzer that rings to help you find it. This wallet can be yours for $109 (regularly $149) for a limited time.

LifePro FlexCycle Under Desk Exercise Bike

The FlexCycle was designed to help you build cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength even when you’re stuck at work. It’s small and portable enough to fit right under your desk, and it features eight adjustable tension settings. Take it home for only $149.99 (regularly $187).

Deeper Connect Nano Decentralized VPN Cybersecurity Hardware

This decentralized VPN and firewall solution works even without a subscription while having the same types of features you’d want from a VPN. Get it for $299.

Raycon E50 Wireless Bluetooth 5.0 Earbuds

Bring premium audio wherever you go with the Raycon E50 Eardbuds. Designed to offer quality sonics, a tangle-free experience, and prolonged battery life, they are ideal for folks living an active lifestyle. While they’re normally $119, you can grab a pair on sale for $64.99.

VVFLY Smart Snore Eye Mask

You can try to stop sounding like a freight train every night with the VVFLY eye mask, which is engineered to identify snoring, then gives out very small sounds or vibrations at 36 levels to encourage you to stop snoring. It usually goes for $99, but you can get it on sale for $58.95 for a limited time.

Ultimate Charger: Portable Multi-Device Power Bank

Getting a dead battery when you’re out and about can put a damper on your day. This highly-rated power bank can charge your laptop at full speed while simultaneously powering up two other devices. It’s usually $179, but you can get it on sale for $120.

Tech-Inflate Digital Air Pump

No more manual pumping and guess testing the inflation — this digital air pump does all the work for you. It lets you preset the PSI (pounds per square inch), and automatically stops inflating once the preset pressure set has been reached. It works with multiple types of balls and it’s on sale for just $49.99 (regularly $99) for a limited time.

GlocalMe G4 Pro LTE Mobile Hotspot with 9GB Data

You can’t always rely on your mobile data when you’re on the go. It’s nice to have something like the GlocalMe G4 Pro in tow, as it provides an immediate and reliable 4G LTE mobile internet connection without any SIM card or roaming fee. Normally $169, it’s on sale for $149.99 for a limited time.

Copernicus Mini Drone

This mini drone comes packed with features that let you capture beautiful moments from different points of view. It comes with a 320-degree flight and 120-degree wide-angle shooting, a 4K HD camera, and a companion app that’s incredibly easy to operate. Get it on sale for $70 (regularly $90).


Copernicus Mini Drone — $70

Credit: Genius Depot

CYCL WingLights 360 Mag: Turn Signals and Permanent Sidelights

Your headlights and taillights are important for increasing your visibility on the road, but have you considered sidelights? Ideal for bicycles and e-scooters, the WingLights 360 Mag features indicators that flash bright amber to signal riders’ direction intentions to other road users, allowing for a safer ride. For a limited time, you can grab a set on sale for $54.99 (regularly $81).

Save over 70% on a secure subscription to Private Internet Access

A two-year subscription to Private Internet Access VPN is on sale

TL;DR: A two-year subscription to Private Internet Access VPN is on sale for £50.65 as of July 3, saving you 73% on list price.


With everything you use the internet for — finance management, personal taxes, photo storage, etc. — you really can’t afford to skimp on your security. Online privacy should be at the top of every internet user’s list, but so many people still don’t understand the importance of truly protecting yourself and your information online. 

Software has evolved since the early days of the internet, and now it’s easier than ever to protect your servers and your personal information. All you need is the right software that will take the stress away and manage your security without you having to lift a finger. With the Private Internet Access VPN, you can get the peace of mind you’re looking for in a few clicks.

Private Internet Access (PIA) works by masking your identity as you browse, unlocking websites, and allowing you to surf at blazing speeds. It uses powerful Blowfish CBC encryption to keep your data under lock and key. It blocks all ads, trackers, and malware automatically on any website you visit. It even blocks unwanted connections with an advanced, automatic firewall that protects you without you having to do anything. You can unlock powerful protection on up to 10 devices simultaneously with paired bandwidth that ensures your browsing speeds stay lightning-fast, no matter how many people in your home are surfing at the same time.

No matter what you’re buying or what you’re doing online, your privacy will be protected by always masking your location and IP address, so hackers won’t even know you’re there, much less have access to your information. You can safely access 10,000 plus servers in more than 70 countries completely incognito.

A two-year subscription typically costs you £194. But for a limited time, you can slash 73% off and get full browsing protection for only £50.65. Plus, with your purchase, you’ll also get a £10 store credit to use on the Private Internet Access website.