The Pixel 4 XL hasn’t been able to stop leaking this week, and now we have yet another set of photos showing off the unannounced, unreleased phone.

Several of the leaks we’ve seen this week have stemmed from a Vietnam-based shop that sells imported phones, called D Store Mobile. D Store declined to share how it acquired an unreleased Pixel 4 XL, but it told The Verge that the phone was not a final unit and was more likely a “test model.” It’s not a fake, though, D Store said. Google hasn’t responded to a request for comment.

D Store also sent over 21 pictures of the Pixel 4 XL that we haven’t seen published before. Given how thoroughly this phone has leaked, there isn’t necessarily new information to make out here, but it offers further confirmation of the phone’s specs and what the white model will look like. The phone is supposed to be announced in October.

If you know any details about the Pixel 4 that I don’t, send me an email: jake@theverge.com.

One detail I noticed in these photos that’s been out there, but that I haven’t seen made a point of yet: if these details are correct, the main rear camera will be getting a slightly faster aperture, moving to f/1.73 on the Pixel 4 from f/1.8 on the Pixel 3. Unfortunately, I’m yet to see specs for the rumored telephoto camera — a previous leak said it’d use a 16 megapixel sensor, but I haven’t seen the a similarly detailed spec readout like we have here for the main camera, which makes me wonder if the telephoto sensor is one of the things that isn’t working on this unit yet.

Another quirk: leaks of the upcoming camera app suggest that the phone will shoot in 16:9 by default so that photos can take up the entire camera screen, despite the sensor remaining 4:3. The effect is similar to what Apple is doing on the iPhone 11 models, which take advantage of the phones’ extra wide-angle lens to fill the screen. But it seems like an odd move on the Pixel to take cropped images just to benefit a UI effect.

The app above attempts to detect hardware components and display all the details about them. It’s not clear whether it’s exactly right, but the details largely line up with the rumors and with existing Pixel hardware. The telephoto lens doesn’t appear in the photos we were sent and seems to be undetected.

More spec screens from the Device Info HW app:

There are similar results from the diagnostics tool AIDA64:

Finally, a couple pictures of the security screen, showing this phone is running the latest public build of Android 10:

Wunderlist for Windows Phone

Wunderlist founder Christian Reber has offered to buy back the popular task management app from Microsoft to avoid it being shut down. “Still sad Microsoft wants to shut down Wunderlist, even though people still love and use it,” says Reber on Twitter. “I’m serious Satya Nadella and Marcus Ash, please let me buy it back. Keep the team and focus on Microsoft To-Do, and no one will be angry for not shutting down Wunderlist.”

Microsoft first acquired Wunderlist back in 2015, for a rumored price of between $100 million and $200 million. The software giant has since launched its own Microsoft To-Do app, and it’s clear the Wunderlist acquisition has been complicated. Wunderlist’s API runs on Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft decided to rewrite everything rather than attempt to port it directly over to Azure.

While Wunderlist is still functional, Microsoft has said it plans to shut down the app once all of its features are available in Microsoft To-Do. It’s not clear exactly when that will take place, but Reber is keen to avoid it happening at all. He has confirmed it’s a “serious offer,” but there’s no sign Microsoft is even willing to entertain the offer.

Joi Ito looks off-camera with a solemn expressionRoger Barnett / Flickr

On Saturday, Joi Ito resigned from his position as director of the MIT Media Lab, according to an email sent to The New York Times.

“After giving the matter a great deal of thought over the past several days and weeks,” Ito wrote in the email, “I think that it is best that I resign as director of the media lab and as a professor and employee of the Institute, effective immediately.”

The resignation comes after mounting concern over Ito’s ties with Jeffrey Epstein, a serial rapist and billionaire who had been a significant donor to the lab and to MIT. Epstein donated as much as $800,000 to MIT-related projects over the years, including Ito’s own venture fund.

On August 15th, Ito publicly apologized for his cultivation of Epstein as a donor, which took place after Epstein’s 2008 conviction for soliciting an underage prostitute. His position as director became controversial in the wake of that apology, with some lab employees resigning in shock, while others offered a public show of support.

However, a New Yorker exposé published Friday revealed that Ito had gone to significant lengths to conceal Epstein’s donations, typically marking them as anonymous in internal records. According to The New Yorker, the secrecy was so extensive that Ito began to refer to Epstein as Voldemort, or “he who must not be named.”

The New Yorker piece also suggests Epstein may have served as an intermediary between the MIT Media Lab and other philanthropists, including Bill Gates. The piece cites emails showing that $2 million in donations from Gates were described as “directed by” Epstein. Epstein’s name is concealed in the official records, which say only, “Gates is making this gift at the recommendation of a friend of his, who wishes to remain anonymous.”

Speaking to the Times, Gates’s representatives pushed back against that description, saying, “any account of a business partnership or personal relationship between [Epstein and Gates] is simply not true.”

Labor Day is Monday, September 2nd, in the US. Whether you have the day off or not, we salute our hard-working readers, and we’re here to share the best Labor Day-themed deals from around the internet.

Compared to the holiday season, opportunities to save on tech gadgets during the summer and fall are sparse. But if you’re looking to spend a little cash, these discounts will help you get more for your money. We’ve pulled together deals from brands like Ring, Dyson, Google, and retailers like Best Buy and Amazon below.

If an end date is applicable for any these sales, you’ll find it appended to each discount.

Everything that Satechi makes, including its new dual HDMI USB-C hubs (shown in the image above), is 20 percent off on Amazon for Labor Day. Just add one of its products to your cart and paste in the code SATECHI20 at checkout. This sale ends on September 2nd.

 Image: Hulu

Hulu is only $2.99 per month for six months if you’re a new or returning subscriber (usually $5.99 per month). This deal is only good for the ad-supported plan, and after your sixth month of paying the discounted rate, it will raise to $5.99. This offer ends on September 3rd.

Various Dyson products, including new and refurbished upright vacuums, cordless vacuums, fans, and purifiers, are 20 percent off on eBay with the offer code JGETDYSON. This offer lasts until September 3rd.

 Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

Toshiba’s 55-inch 4K HDR Fire TV Edition is $329.99 at Best Buy, (usually $449.99), and the TV comes with a free third-generation Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker. This TV is the latest model that supports Dolby Vision HDR.

 Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Beats Solo 3 Wireless on-ear headphones are $159.99 at Best Buy and Target. These were originally released in 2016, but they have Apple’s W1 wireless chip that aids in quickly pairing and switching between your iPhone, Apple Watch, and other Apple products.

 Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

The latest revision of the Nintendo Switch, which features improved battery life over the original model, is $279.64 (before tax) at Rakuten with the offer code SAVE15. It’s usually $299.99, so it’s a small discount, but it’s the best price available right now.

 Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Amazon is offering big discounts on some of its Echo products if you’re a student who subscribes to Prime Student. You can save 40 percent on products like the Amazon Echo Plus, Amazon Echo Show 5, and Amazon Echo Spot. The final prices at checkout are almost as good as what we saw during Amazon Prime Day 2019, so they’re worth checking out.

TCL’s SOCL200 in-ear wired headphones (yes, TCL makes headphones) are already cheap on Amazon, usually costing no more than $15. However, using the offer code 50SOCL200 at checkout will knock 50 percent off of their cost. The TCL SOCL300 floored us earlier this year, and the model on sale has bigger drivers, though it doesn’t create a seal in your ear. The bud design looks akin to the AirPods, which rest gently outside of your inner ear. This deal will end on September 14th.

 Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Best Buy is offering a $50 gift card with the purchase of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6. Additionally, the keyboard attachment is 50 percent off with purchase, bringing the accessory down to $89 instead of $179.

Dell’s G3 15.6-inch gaming laptop with a 9th Gen Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, Nvidia’s GTX 1660 Ti, and a 512GB SSD is $829.99 (usually $1,079.99) at Best Buy. Nvidia says that the GTX 1660 Ti performs 1.5x faster than last generation’s GTX 1060, and it’s rare for this graphics card to appear in laptops that sell for less than $1K.

Secure Laptop Hacking Story

Friday afternoon, Jack Dorsey’s 4.2 million Twitter followers got an unpleasant surprise. A group of vandals had gained access to the account, and used that access to blast out a stream of offensive messages and plugs for their group’s discord channel. Within 15 minutes, the account was back under control and the group was banned from Discord, but the incident was a reminder of the serious vulnerabilities in even the highest-profile accounts, and just how insecure phone-based authentication has become.

The hackers got in through Twitter’s text-to-tweet service, operated by the acquired service Cloudhopper. Using Cloudhopper, Twitter users can post tweets by texting messages to a shortcode number, usually 40404. It’s a useful trick for SimplePhones or if you just don’t have access to the Twitter app. The system only requires linking your phone number to your Twitter account, which most users already do for separate security reasons. As a result, control of your phone number is usually enough to post tweets to your account, and most users have no idea.

As it turns out, getting control of Dorsey’s phone number wasn’t as hard as you might think. According to a Twitter statement, a “security oversight” by the provider let the hackers gain control. In general terms, this kind of attack is called SIM hacking — essentially convincing a carrier to assigning Dorsey’s number to a new phone that they controlled. It’s not a new technique, although it’s more often used to steal Bitcoin or high-value Instagram handles. Often, it’s as simple as plugging in a leaked password. You can protect yourself by adding a PIN code to your carrier account or registering web accounts like Twitter through dummy phone numbers, but those techniques can be too much to ask for the average user. As a result, SIM swapping has become one of online troublemakers’ favorite techniques — and as we found out today, it works more often than you’d think.

Chuckling Squad, the crew that took over Dorsey’s account, has been playing this trick for years. Their most prominent attacks up to this point have been a string of online influencers with as many as ten different figures were targeted before Dorsey. They seem to have a particular trick with AT&T, which is also Dorsey’s carrier, although it’s unclear exactly how they gained control. (AT&T did not respond to a request for comment.)

The history of this kind of hack is much older than Chuckling Squad or even SIM Swapping. Any system that makes it easier for a user to tweet will also make it easier for a hacker to take control of the account. In 2016, Dorsey was targeted by a similar attack that took advantage of authorized third party plugins, which have often been abandoned but still retain the permission to send tweets to the account. That technique has grown less prominent as SIM swapping techniques have become more broadly understood, but the basic goals of drive-by vandalism have remained largely unchanged.

Still, the incident is embarrassing for Twitter, and not simply because of the immediate scramble to regain control of the CEO’s account. The security world has known about SIM swapping attacks for years, and Dorsey’s account had been vandalized before. The simple failure to secure control of the CEO’s account is a significant failure for the company, with implications far beyond a few minutes of chaos. Hopefully, Twitter will learn from the incident and prioritize stronger security — maybe even shifting Twitter verification away from SMS — but given the company’s track record, I doubt many people are holding their breath.

Photo: Disney

Netflix announced this week that a number of its fall films will have exclusive theatrical runs before they start streaming. This isn’t the first time Netflix has debuted its films in theaters — a few hit theaters first last year, too — but this year’s theatrical slate is much larger and seems to indicate something of a shift in strategy.

This year, Netflix is putting 10 movies in theaters ahead of time, up from just three last year (though a fourth was added later). It’ll range from a quiet relationships drama (Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story) to an over-the-top comedy (the Eddie Murphy- led Dolemite Is My Name) to prestige fare (Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman).

That’s a significant portion of Netflix’s fall film slate, and it includes movies that aren’t necessarily Oscar bait. I can’t say I know exactly what it means. Maybe it’s some kind of concession to theaters or to filmmakers, or maybe Netflix just sees the value of first-week box office dollars and realizes its viewers won’t be too bothered by the delay. Either way, Netflix is changing, and I’m not entirely sure a return to older release models is for the worse.

Check out 13 trailers from this week below.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

I might be alone on this, but hear me out: this idea that Episode 9 is the conclusion of the trilogy of Star Wars trilogies and should, therefore, return to the ultimate bad guy feels… kind of wrong. Episode 7 and 8 leaned on the past in some critical ways, but this trilogy’s story has ultimately been Rey versus Kylo, and the past didn’t matter much except as narrative framework. With the Emperor’s return, I’m hoping The Rise of Skywalker doesn’t get too hung up on an old villain for some semblance of an overall conclusion and instead gives Rey and crew the finale they deserve. The movie comes out December 20th.

Joker

I continue to be absolutely stunned that this is what DC’s Joker movie looks like. Somehow, it seems to be a dark, personal drama about how a man falls apart and ultimately cracks [insert Gang weed / we live in a society meme, etc.] Obviously, that’s been explored plenty of times in cinema already, but not exactly in the context of superhero films. It comes out October 4th.

Terminator: Dark Fate

The latest attempt to revive the Terminator series in a way that’ll make people care is to bring back Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor. It’s not the worst idea, but really our bigger hope may be that Deadpool director Tim Miller brings some of his wilder sensibilities to the series. Dark Fate looks over-the-top and CGI-filled from this trailer, but the action also looks clean and clear in a way a lot of action films aren’t. It comes out November 1st.

Top Boy

After several years off the air, Netflix is reviving the British series Top Boy, with Drake as a producer. The show looks like a moody, gorgeously shot drama about violence, family, and survival in an impoverished area of East London. The show comes back September 13th.

Briarpatch

Rosario Dawson stars in the first season of this new anthology series that comes in part from Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail. Better yet, the pilot was directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, who made the excellent A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. The show starts sometime next year.

Dickinson

Okay, there is basically zero chance I’m going to subscribe to Apple TV Plus, but if I do, it will be for this Hailee Steinfeld-led party rock take on Emily Dickinson.

The King

Timothée Chalamet stars as Henry V in this adaptation of several of Shakespeare’s plays. I didn’t expect much, but this looks pretty cool. It comes to theaters October 11th and starts streaming November 1st.

Lucy in the Sky

Natalie Portman plays an astronaut in this fictionalized take on the strange and dark events the followed real-life astronaut Lisa Nowak’s return to Earth. From the trailer, the film looks dreamy and tense and beautiful. I’m really interested in the ways it’s playing with aspect ratio. The movie comes out October 4th.

The Laundromat

Along the lines of how The Big Short took on the 2008 financial crisis, Netflix’s upcoming film The Laundromat takes a very eccentric and comedic look at the Panama Papers and the secrets they revealed about how the wealthy stay wealthy. It’s directed by Steven Soderbergh and comes to theaters September 27th before streaming on October 18th.

Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates

Netflix has a three-part documentary coming up that chats with Bill Gates and looks into how he works. It seems like a fun and intimate peek into the tech icon and one of the world’s most prominent philanthropists. It comes out September 20th.

Girl on the Third Floor

My colleague Adi Robertson reviewed this horror film at SXSW and described its story as “restrained [and] sometimes skin-crawlingly tense.” It stars CM Punk and comes out October 25th.

The World According to Jeff Goldblum

There are way too many trailers this week, but I couldn’t bring myself to cut this one. It’s just Jeff Goldblum… doing stuff. It’s great! What a good premise. Everyone’s going to subscribe to Disney+. What a winning proposition.

The New Pope

I wrote five different things as I was watching this trailer and couldn’t narrow it down to one sentiment, so here are all of them in order:

  • Y’all—
  • Is this a real TV show?
  • I’m sorry…………………………………………..
  • What. On. Earth.
  • This is actually a phenomenal trailer.
New Full Body Scanners At Logan AirportPhoto by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Earlier this week, incoming Harvard freshman Ismail B. Ajjawi found himself blocked from entering the US. Ajjawi, a Palestinian resident of Lebanon, had landed in Boston before the start of classes. But The Harvard Crimson reported that after hours of questioning, US Customs and Border Protection agents revoked his visa. Ajjawi said a CBP agent searched his phone and laptop while asking questions about his friends’ social media activity. Then, she “started screaming at me,” Ajjawi said. “She said that she found people posting political points of view that oppose the US on my friend[s] list.”

CBP hasn’t revealed what actually got Ajjawi’s visa revoked. “Specific information on individual travelers cannot be released due to the Privacy Act requirements and for law enforcement purposes,” an agency spokesperson told The Verge. “This individual was deemed inadmissible to the United States based on information discovered during the CBP inspection.”

But his case is just one incident in a troubling and well-established trend of expanding social media surveillance at the border. The Obama-era Department of Homeland Security initially suggested an “online presence” field for people requesting visa waivers, and the Trump administration quickly forged ahead with asking for social media data. Some border agents have aggressively pushed visitors to disclose their account handles, even when the practice was optional. Earlier this year, the State Department started requiring most visa applicants to list their social media accounts.

This week has offered a nightmare scenario for this vetting process. Ajjawi’s account suggests that digital surveillance goes far beyond checking whether a potential immigrant is a criminal threat — and that border officials are treating tenuous social media connections like close, meaningful relationships.

In some ways, checking social media posts isn’t as invasive as looking through private files on a device, something the CBP has done for years to find child pornography or other illegal material. Even so, it can have a chilling effect on speech, making people afraid to express their political views online — or say anything at all, since social media posts can be easily misinterpreted. “There are lots of free speech and freedom of association issues with looking at someone’s social media, even to vet them to come to the US,” says Sophia Cope, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

While people have been detained or physically assaulted for refusing to unlock electronic devices, there have been relatively few major incidents involving social media specifically. It’s not clear that monitoring visa applicants’ posts is very helpful either. The DHS proposed social media rules after reports that San Bernardino shooter Tashfeen Malik had openly posted about jihad online. But the FBI said those reports weren’t true. A 2019 Brennan Center for Justice report noted that DHS pilot programs involving social media surveillance were “notably unsuccessful” at finding national security threats. Instead, co-author Faiza Patel argued on Twitter, it’s most useful for “targeting political and religious views — or even assumptions about them based on what your friends say.”

So is CBP really judging visa applicants on their Twitter feed or Facebook friend list? Cases like Ajjawi’s — where someone was apparently punished for things they didn’t even say — certainly seem to be rare. But we’re also relying on very incomplete data, and more vulnerable visitors could be far more hesitant to tell their stories. “I think there’s something very unique about this set of circumstances,” says Center for Democracy and Technology policy counsel Mana Azarmi, because the incident involves a student at a prestigious university with a prominent university paper that could pick up the story. “That kind of high visibility — we shouldn’t expect that of every interaction with CBP.”

A CBP spokesperson emphasized to The Verge that device searches affect “less than one-hundredth of one percent of travelers arriving to the United States.” But Azarmi points out that we don’t really know how these travelers are chosen — including whether they’re singled out for unfair reasons, and whether they’re regularly asked about troubling details like their friends’ opinions. “Are CBP personnel instructed to do that? Is that something that they’re looking out for?” she says. “We need to know what structure is in place to ensure that travelers don’t face abuse. And we don’t have that kind of information.”

Civil liberties advocates aren’t even sure how border agents might have found Ajjawi’s friends’ posts. Per a rule from 2017, officers are supposed to avoid accessing any data that’s stored outside the device, which includes full social media feeds on a phone or laptop. In this case, an officer could have seen cached posts, they could have looked his friends up on a separate computer, or they could have simply broken the rules — but there’s little outside oversight that would help us figure out which of those scenarios is most likely. The Verge asked CBP to confirm that it would have put devices in airplane mode before searching them; a spokesperson referred us to an information sheet that doesn’t mention the policy.

Unlike texts or emails, it’s hard to make social media truly private without defeating some of its purpose. And other many other law enforcement agencies use publicly available data for surveillance; police, for example, have scraped Facebook and Twitter data to monitor protests. There’s still no consensus on how deeply the government can mine this kind of data. But when there’s so much of it easily accessible, it can be used in deeply troubling ways.

Right now, the best way to protect social media data at the border is simply to uninstall apps and close browser tabs — but that doesn’t settle the question of when the government should be able to look up your friends online. “We should only expect that stories like this will become more common,” says Azarmi of this week’s events. “Because this collection has become more routine.”

Illustration by William Joel / The Verge

Hurricane Dorian’s expected landfall on Florida has Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, and Tampa scrambling to remove bikes and scooters from their streets. If the devices aren’t removed from the streets, they could potentially be picked up by hurricane winds — transforming into threats to people and property.

Miami has demanded that all of these mobility companies remove their products from the streets by noon on Friday, Bloomberg reported, and both Fort Lauderdale and Orlando tell The Verge they’re already removing scooters and/or bikes from their streets. Fort Lauderdale says it expects to be done by Friday at midnight. Tampa has not yet issued a request for removal, but if (or when) it does, the companies will have 12 hours to comply with it. “All of our vendors appear prepared for that requirement, and are staying tuned to the weather notices,” says a spokesperson for the city of Tampa.

In total, Lime has about 1500 e-scooters in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa, as well as about 500 bikes in Orlando. A ground team is collecting the scooters and bikes to store them in a warehouse while the storm passes, a spokesperson said. Lime will meet Miami’s noon deadline, and plans to have its bikes removed from Orlando by mid-day Saturday. Orlando plans to have all bikes removed by Sunday, a spokesperson tells The Verge.

Lime, Uber’s scooter company Jump, Bird and Spin all say they are prepared to batten down the hatches in all the cities in which they operate.

This isn’t Lime’s first hurricane; in August 2017, Lime pulled their bike fleet for Hurricane Irma. Hurricanes aren’t exactly surprising in Florida, the spokesperson noted, so the company has plans for when they occur.

By contrast, this is Jump’s first rodeo. The company, which was acquired by Uber in 2018, operates 250 scooters in Miami and 300 in Tampa. Jump says it will meet Miami’s deadline, and may remove the Tampa scooters as well, depending on the storm’s expected path.

For Spin, which has operated in Florida for less than a year, it’s the first time they’ll have to remove scooters due to weather hazards too. “The team is always monitoring weather to ensure conditions are safe, and if they are not, we adjust our fleet accordingly,” a spokesperson at Spin says. The company says it will retrieve all scooters before the storm is expected to arrive.

Bird said only they are monitoring the conditions across Florida. Their response to the hurricane might include “pausing our service when weather does not permit safe riding, and can sometimes lead to removing Birds from the road during periods of inclement weather such as hurricanes,” a Bird spokesperson said.

Lyft and Bolt — two other scooter companies that operate in Miami — didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Update, August 30th at 4:34PM ET: Added more information from the cities of Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, as well as Spin.

Image: Zens

It’s been nearly five months since one of the all-time great Friday news dumps: On March 29th, Apple abruptly canceled the AirPower wireless charging mat that would supposedly be able to charge your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods simultaneously no matter where you placed them. But wireless charging firm Zens is betting it can do some of what Apple couldn’t by introducing the Zens Liberty.

Zens claims the Liberty uses a set of 16 overlapping wireless charging coils to let you charge your Qi-compatible devices from any spot on the mat — just like AirPower was supposed to, though AirPower was rumored to have 21 to 24 coils. The Zens Liberty can charge two devices at once, unlike AirPower’s planned three, but it charges each at 15 watts, faster than most wireless chargers. Your Apple Watch may not work, by the way: none of Zens’ promotional materials show it on the charger.

 Image: iFixit
Patent filings show what Apple’s AirPower charger might have looked like inside.

We also don’t know if the Zens Liberty’s multi-coil design overcomes the engineering challenges that were rumored to have sunk AirPower, including overheating and possibly emitting signals more powerful than US or EU regulations would have allowed. If Apple couldn’t figure it out, I’m pretty skeptical Zens managed to do so.

If you’re willing to roll the dice on such a new product, though, Zens says the Zens Liberty will be available in two flavors this November: a $139.99 “Kvadrat edition,” which has a nice-looking fabric on top of the aluminum mat, and a $179.99 limited glass edition, which replaces the fabric with a pane of glass that lets you see the mat’s charging coils underneath.

 Image: Zens

For an AirPower alternative that’s available now, we recommend the Hard Cider Labs SliceCharge Pro, which, though it only has six charging coils, can charge two devices on the mat as well as an Apple Watch via an integrated watch charger.

Image: Marvel

The Black Widow movie is finally happening, and Marvel Studios co-president Kevin Feige brought an exclusive trailer to Disney’s D23 Expo, to prove it. Like the new Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer, the Black Widow trailer hasn’t been posted online yet, but here’s what it looks like.

Feige debuted the trailer during Marvel’s segment of Disney’s big Studios panel. It opens with a montage of footage collected from various Marvel movies, including The Avengers, Avengers: Endgame, and Captain America: Civil War. It sets up Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow as a two-timing spy, relying on conversations between Tony Stark and Romanoff in Civil War.

After the Avengers footage, the trailer travels to Budapest, which Clint Barton (Hawkeye) has periodically referenced in the Avengers movies as significant to Natasha’s history. There’s an amazing fight scene between Romanoff and a woman named Yelena Belova. Belova becomes the second Black Widow in the comics series, and is referred to as Romanoff’s sister in the trailer. It’s a lengthy fight, with the combatants breaking plates on heads and dodging quick knife jabs. It’s reminiscent of the close-up fight scenes in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

From there, the trailer opens up with a better tease of what to expect from the movie. Stranger ThingsDavid Harbour plays Red Guardian, a Soviet equivalent of Captain America. He’s seen interacting with Romanoff and the rest of the assassins he calls their “family.” They run around in white suits, but their goals are unclear.

The trailer ends with Black Widow battling the film’s main villain, Taskmaster. He has the incredible ability to mimic and replicate his opponents’ moves. This seems to hint that Black Widow will be full of intense fight scenes. It’s unclear when Marvel will release the trailer online. The last time Marvel Studios was at D23, Feige debuted the trailer for Avengers: Infinity War, which didn’t show up online for months.

Black Widow is a prequel to the events of Iron Man 2 and The Avengers, the first films that featured Natasha Romanoff. It will explore her life before she teamed up with a group of superheroes. Marvel Studios first announced it was giving Scarlett Johansson her own Black Widow movie in January 2018, after a years-long fan campaign highlighting the fact that Black Widow is one of the only original Avengers who doesn’t have her own movie. Even the Hulk, who is technically owned by Universal Pictures, and who Disney struck a deal with in order to use the character, has one movie in the MCU. Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye also doesn’t have his own movie, but he’s getting a dedicated TV series on Disney+.

Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth all took multi-movie deals with Disney when they joined Marvel. Although Johansson reportedly asked for a stand-alone Black Widow movie for years, the company didn’t budge. It took more than 10 years of MCU movies to get to 2019’s Captain Marvel, Marvel Studios’ first film led by a female character.

Black Widow will be released on May 1, 2020.

black-panther-still

In the Studios panel at D23, Marvel Studios co-president Kevin Feige confirmed that Black Panther 2 has been scheduled for release on May 6, 2022. Director Ryan Coogler said the team is “taking their time with it” in order to get it right.

That places Black Panther 2 directly between some of Marvel’s new franchises, like The Eternals, and other series installments, like Thor: Love and Thunder and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

If San Diego Comic-Con was Marvel Studios’ way of ushering in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Disney’s biennial trade show D23 was a reminder that sequels to important movies are still coming.

Unlike Star Wars, which is taking a theatrical break after lackluster box office and critical success for spinoffs Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Solo: A Star Wars Story, Marvel Studios shows no sign of slowing down. It’s only getting bigger. Many of Marvel’s upcoming sequels will intertwine directly with Disney+ series. The events of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will reference the Disney+ series WandaVision, for example.

Feige didn’t comment on whether movies like Black Panther 2 will relate to series like WandaVision, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, or Loki, but don’t be surprised if they do.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will conclude the current Star Wars trilogy, and a new trailer showcased at Disney’s D23 Expo teases what that end looks like.

Although Disney hasn’t made the trailer public, we can give you a brief description of what happened since we were there. The trailer opens with footage from all nine Star Wars films. A voiceover declares that there have been “a thousand generations, but this is your fight.” Rey, Poe, and Finn are preparing for the biggest fight of their life. Battleships tear through the skies, as Rey and Kylo Ren meet in the middle of a war-torn planet, ready to fight. The best bit of all? Rey is wielding a red, double-sided lightsaber.

Leaks will probably show up online — they always do — but an official version of the trailer might not come for some time. Marvel debuted the trailer for Avengers: Infinity War at D23 in 2017, but that trailer didn’t come out publicly for months. This new trailer comes just a couple of months after Lucasfilm debuted the first one at Star Wars Celebration in April.

The Rise of Skywalker is a momentous film — not just because it’s reuniting Mark Hamill (presumably as the Force ghost of Luke Skywalker, who died in the previous film, The Last Jedi), the late Carrie Fisher (via footage shot for The Force Awakens), and Billy Dee Williams reprising his role as Lando Calrissian. It’s also the last Star Wars movie fans will see for a couple of years. Disney is taking a break from Star Wars movies, according to Disney CEO Bob Iger, who suggested that audience fatigue was the reason the Star Wars spinoffs Solo: A Star Wars Story and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story didn’t do as well as the company hoped. Solo was also critically panned.

The Star Wars franchise is set to return to the big screen in 2022 with a new movie from Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson also has a trilogy in the works. Still, people looking for their Star Wars kick won’t have to go far. There are four Star Wars series in development for Disney’s streaming service, Disney+The Mandalorian, an Obi-Wan series, a Rogue One spinoff, and a return of The Clone Wars.

The trailer was not immediately posted online, but Disney did release a new poster for Rise of Skywalker, seen below. The film will be released on December 20th.

Correction (August 25th, 3am ET): The original story said the next Star Wars movie is out in 2021. It’s out in December 2022. The story has been updated to reflect these changes.

Disney

The biennial D23 conference in Anaheim, California was full of exciting news for fans of Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In a panel dedicated to the upcoming streaming service Disney+, the company announced a wave of new shows and spinoffs, and shared details and trailers from previously announced series. From the first first trailer for the Star Wars spinoff The Mandalorian to Marvel Studios’ three new Disney+ series, there’s a lot of ground to cover. Here’s everything we learned.

Marvel

Marvel Studios co-president Kevin Feige led a packed segment of the panel, with a number of big reveals. There are three new Marvel shows coming to Disney+: She-Hulk, Moon Knight, and Ms. Marvel. The first series will focus on Bruce Banner’s cousin, Jennifer Walker, who becomes a version of the Hulk after Banner gives her a blood transfusion. Moon Knight follows a mercenary named Mark Specter who operates as a cloaked avenger while dealing with his own issues. Ms. Marvel will follow Kamala Khan, a Muslim-American teenager from Jersey City who gains shapeshifting abilities. She was introduced to comics in 2013.

Feige also revealed new facts about a number of previously announced shows that are known to connect to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. WandaVision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier will bring back some minor MCU players: Kat Dennings, who played Jane Foster’s assistant Darcy in the first two Thor movies, will reprise her role in WandaVision. Randall Park will return as FBI agent and S.H.I.E.L.D. veteran Jimmy Woo from Ant-Man and the Wasp. Emily VanCamp will also return as Sharon Carter, the grand-niece of Captain America’s love interest Peggy Carter. She’ll join Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.

Marvel also brought a first-look clip for What If?, the animated series that explores alternate-universe scenarios for Marvel characters. The company showcased episodes featuring a zombie version of Captain America, Peggy Carter as Captain Britain, Star-Lord as a black man, and Iron Man as a giant mech piloted by skinny Steve Rogers. Feige said the show will see “most” of the MCU cast returning to voice their characters, including Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, but he didn’t offer other specifics — for instance, on whether Chris Evans would return as Steve Rogers, or zombie Steve Rogers.

 Photo: Disney

Star Wars

There weren’t as many announcements for the Star Wars franchise, but the ones included in the panel were significant.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is coming back in February 2020, Lucasfilm CEO Kathleen Kennedy announced at the panel. Dave Filoni’s much-loved animated show ended without resolving its open plots, but as the company announced at Star Wars Celebration earlier this year, it’s retuning as a Disney+ exclusive series with a seventh season. A previous teaser trailer gives some hints of what to expect from the series, but the news at D23 was the planned release date.

Lucasfilm also confirmed that an Obi-Wan series starring Ewan McGregor is in development, and will begin shooting in 2020. McGregor was onstage to make the announcement, and told the crowd that it felt “so nice” to finally be able to admit he was returning to the role. The show starts filming next year.

There wasn’t much information on Lucasfilm’s other Star Wars series, including the Rogue One spinoff that follows K-2SO and Cassian Andor. That series still doesn’t have a title. But the panel did feature the first publicly shared trailer for The Mandalorian, the first live-action Star Wars TV series, inspired by bounty hunters Boba and Jango Fett, and featuring Game of Thrones’ Pedro Pascal in the lead role.

Pixar and Disney

News was light during the Pixar and Disney section of the panel, but Disney revealed a couple of trailers for its original content heading straight to Disney+. The live-action remake of Lady and the Tramp was by far the most exciting, but it was bookended by first-look trailers for the Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader Christmas film Noelle, and for Jeff Goldblum’s unscripted show The World According To Jeff Goldblum.

Pixar also teased its upcoming series, including the highly anticipated Monsters At Work, starring Ben Feldman and Aisha Tyler. The series, which follows Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University, follows a big purple monster who just graduated from college and got a job scaring kids. His first day at work is great until he learns the company he’s working for is switching over to making kids laugh, leaving him in a state of crisis over his role. How millennial!

The company also showed off a short that will be part of its own series, Forky Asks a Question. The show is based on Toy Story 4’s angsty spork-toy character, voiced by Tony Hale, and it’s a comedic series with some additional educational materials. The first episode is all about money, with Ham (Toy Story’s favorite piggy bank) helping explain finances to the clueless spork.

Disney Channels

The biggest moment out of the Disney Channels segment was dedicated to High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. In spite of that terminally clunky title, the series is one of Disney+’s most anticipated programs. It follows a group of kids who go to the school the original High School Musical is based on. They’re putting on their own production of High School Musical. Yes, the show’s creators are aware of how meta they’re being. The debut trailer pokes fun at the intricacies of it all, making it feel a little like Glee.

On top of that, the teen sitcom Lizzie McGuire is coming back, with Hilary Duff back in the title role and creator Terri Minsky returning as the showrunner. The series jumps forward to find Lizzie as an adult pushing 30 and living her best life, according to Duff, who was onstage for the presentation.

“She’s older, she’s wiser, she has a much bigger shoe budget,” Duff said. “She has her dream job. She has the perfect life right now.”

Some of these titles will start streaming on November 12th, when Disney+ launches. Others are in various states of development, or literally just announced. What’s clear from the rapid fire conference is there’s no shortage of effort — and no pennies spared.

Purported Sonos Move Bluetooth speaker with base station. | Image via WinFuture

We’re getting a better look at the long-awaited portable bluetooth speaker from Sonos thanks to a slew of new images posted by WinFuture. The German publication that specializes in Microsoft leaks has posted what it says are “official marketing images” of the new speaker, while also giving us a name for product model S17: Sonos Move.

The images give us a first look at the stationary base station as well as the built-in handle whereby the Sonos Move can be undocked and transformed into an ordinary Bluetooth speaker via a toggle button on the rear. We’re also getting a first look at how the Sonos Move charges, either via the USB-C jack or the two charging contacts near the base of the speaker. It’s a clever design that lets you extend your Sonos whole-home audio network into the backyard or a bathroom, for example, or to places far beyond the reach of your Wi-Fi signal like the beach or a park.

 Image via WinFuture
 Image via WinFuture

The Verge previously revealed additional details based on information provided by a person familiar with the speaker’s capabilities:

  • The speaker is larger than it may look in the photos. It’s both taller and slightly wider than the Sonos One / Play:1.
  • It supports hands-free voice commands from either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
  • When in Bluetooth mode, the speaker cannot be controlled with the Sonos app. It behaves like any other Bluetooth speaker. You pair it and play.
  • Hands-free voice commands for Alexa and Google Assistant are also (currently) unavailable in Bluetooth mode.
  • In regular Wi-Fi mode, the speaker appears like any other Sonos device in the app — but with a battery indicator.
  • Like other recent Sonos speakers, the portable one will support Apple’s AirPlay 2.
  • It’s the first Sonos speaker to support Auto Trueplay, utilizing the speaker’s built-in microphones to automatically fine tune the audio output.

We still don’t know the battery life, waterproof / dustproof rating, ability to pair with other Sonos speaker(s) for stereo or surround sound, or, importantly, the price. As far as dates go, Sonos is hosting a press event that kicks off on August 26th, so it’s a good bet we’ll get all the details then.

For more images of the Sonos Move be sure to check out WinFuture.

Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Earlier this week, a number of reports pointed to an exchange program for Nintendo Switch owners looking to upgrade from the original model. According to these reports, Nintendo would offer a free upgrade for those who purchased their Switch after July 17th, when the new model with improved battery life was announced. However, today the company says that these reports are untrue. In a statement to The Verge, a Nintendo spokesperson explained:

We do not have a Nintendo Switch exchange program. We always want players to enjoy their Nintendo Switch systems, and if anything ever gets in the way of that, we encourage them to visit http://support.nintendo.com for support, or to contact our consumer support team.

While the new model and the original look identical, there’s one major difference: battery life. According to multiple teardowns, the new model features between 4.5 and 9 hours of battery life, up from the 2.5 to 6.5 range of the original. Otherwise, the two devices appear the same. If you’re looking to pick up the new Switch, be sure to follow this guide.

Of course, there’s another new model of the Switch on the way as well, one with a much more drastic redesign. On September 20th the company is launching the Nintendo Switch Lite, a smaller and cheaper tablet built exclusively for portable play.

Cortana Windows Phone 8.1

Not only does Microsoft have human contractors listen to some of your Skype and Cortana voice recordings, those contractors are paid poorly and given repetitive tasks, according to a report by Motherboard. And thanks to this new report, we now have an idea of what those contractors actually do with the Cortana recordings they listen to.

Motherboard says contractors earning merely $12–$14 an hour are expected to transcribe and classify Cortana voice commands into more than two dozen topic areas, including gaming, email, communication, events, home automation, and media control. These transcribed recordings are used to help teach the Cortana assistant to better understand speech. Contractors are expected to work through a grueling 200 classification tasks an hour — that’s three a minute, or one every 18 seconds on average. They do have the potential to earn a bonus of an additional $1 an hour, according to contracts shared with Motherboard.

Big tech companies have recently come under scrutiny for how they use human labor to power and train their services. The companies like to portray these tasks as accomplished by AI, but recent investigations have shown that it’s often repetitive work done by poorly-paid humans. Microsoft’s contractors listening to Cortana audio is one small example — content moderators at Facebook, on the other hand, are regularly exposed to extremely traumatic photos and videos and work in horrific conditions, as The Verge has reported.

In addition to Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook have all been found using human contractors to quietly listen to conversations recorded by their products. Apple, Google and Facebook have all paused the practice of using humans to review audio, but it doesn’t look like Microsoft is pressing pause: so far, the company has simply updated its privacy policy to state that humans may be listening to audio from Cortana and Skype Translator.

Microsoft declined to comment for this story.

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

This weekend, you can save on a variety of tech products, including the sixth-generation iPad, the PlayStation Classic retro console, Sony’s WH1000X-M3 wireless noise-canceling headphones, and more.

The sixth-generation iPad is $299.99 at Best Buy. What makes this deal worth your while is that it’s for the 128GB model, which is rarely available at a discount. This configuration has stayed at $329.99 for a while, so this is a pretty sharp price drop. Amazon currently offers this discount, too, but it has gone in and out of stock since yesterday.

Since this iPad was released in early 2018, Apple has released four other models (the 11-inch iPad Pro, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the iPad Air, and the iPad mini). Still, Dieter Bohn’s review rings true: it remains one of the best tablets that you can get for under $500, and now it’s cheaper than ever.

 Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

This is more of a PSA than an actual deal, but if you’re interested in upgrading to the newer Nintendo Switch model, which has better battery life, GameStop is offering an acceptable amount of trade-in credit for its Pro subscribers.

You can get $200 back for your traded-in Switch, and through September 15th, GameStop will give you an extra $25 in credit, totaling to $225 toward the cost of the device.

 Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

A few of our reader-exclusive offers from our Verge Deals event are still happening, and this is one of your last opportunities to save on these hand-picked deals.

Sony’s WH1000X-M3 wireless noise-canceling headphones (black and silver) cost $298 at BuyDig, matching the lowest price we’ve seen. If you enter the offer code THEVERGE at checkout, you’ll also get a $25 Hulu gift card with your purchase.

 Image: Mophie

Mophie is offering readers of The Verge a 20 percent site-wide discount that can be used on anything it sells, including the Dual Wireless Charging Pad shown above. To redeem this deal, enter the code VERGE20 at checkout.

Ikea

Ikea is formalizing what has recently become all too obvious: the company is making a major bet on smart home tech as a source of new revenue. To do this, Ikea announced that it will invest heavily in a new “Ikea Home smart” business unit with end-to-end responsibility for its burgeoning portfolio of smart devices. With access to 780 million shoppers who visit Ikea stores each year, the announcement also serves as a wake-up call to smart home incumbents like Google and Amazon.

“We have decided to invest significantly in Home smart across Ikea to fast-forward the development. This is the biggest New Business we are establishing since the introduction of Children’s Ikea,” said Peter van der Poel, manager Ikea Range & Supply, aka, the box that sits above Ikea of Sweden within the complicated Ikea Group org chart.

The new business unit is helmed by the aptly-named Björn Block, and sits alongside Ikea of Sweden’s ten other business units that include Lighting, Livingroom & Workspace, Textiles, Kitchen and Dining, and Ikea Food.

Ikea’s smart home ambitions first became visible in 2015 with the introduction of tables and lamps that could wirelessly charge Qi-compatible phones. In 2017, it expanded into affordable smart lighting, before partnering with Sonos for this month’s launch of relatively inexpensive whole-home audio. Ikea’s first smart blinds will start sales in the US on October 1st. What’s next?

Ikea’s just the latest corporate behemoth to wager on smart home riches, joining Google, Apple, and Amazon. Fortunately for them, Ikea has so far taken a platform agnostic approach, supporting the Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa ecosystems through its Tradfri gateway. IDC predicts global sales of about 830 million smart home devices in 2019 before doubling to 1.6 billion in 2023. It’s no wonder then that the company is so optimistic about expanding beyond conventional home furnishings.

“By working together with all other departments within Ikea, the business unit of Ikea Home smart will drive the digital transformation of the Ikea range, improving and transforming existing businesses and developing new businesses to bring more diverse smart products to the many people,” said Block in a press release announcing the restructuring. “We are just getting started.”

I don’t know about the other many people, but I, for one, can’t wait to see if Ikea can do for the smart home what it did for design.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Many companies set up their own, secretive divisions to develop new devices and technologies. There’s Lockheed Martin’s Skunkworks division, which produced the U-2 spy plane and the SR-71 Blackbird. Apple assembled a secret working group to develop the iPhone. Facebook set up its own division as it delved into hardware in recent years. A new report from CNBC outlines the drama behind the company’s secretive hardware division, Building 8, and how it struggled to develop its own hardware to compete with the likes of Amazon and Google.

Building 8 is the division where Facebook has worked on some of its outlandish ideas, like a system that would allow users to type using their thoughts, modular smartphones, and ultimately, a video-calling device that would eventually become the Portal. In 2015, Facebook brought in former DARPA and Google technologist Regina Dugan to run the division, but she ended up leaving after only 18 months on the job. Facebook ultimately disbanded the hardware group in a year later in December 2018, and shifted its personnel and projects to other parts of the company.

CNBC’s report takes a look at the rise and fall of Building 8, the challenges that it brought to Facebook, and why the company split up, revealing some interesting details about it along the way.

Facebook initially became interested in a home assistant-type device shortly after Amazon launched its Echo speakers, and Dugan was brought onboard to help the company realize some of its hardware ideas. One of the projects a predecessor to the Portal called “Little Foot”, an iPad that moved towards a person in a room. As Facebook increasingly looked towards video, the Building 8 team began developing it as a video chat device. CNBC says that they experimented with a variety of sizes, including ones the size of a large television, and that “the ideal experience would be a wall-to-ceiling product.”

The report notes that Building 8’s secretive nature caused some resentment between it and other divisions within the company. It had an enormous budget, and when select Facebook staff members were invited to visit, to look at early prototypes, like the Portal, its brain-reading devices, and an AR project called Project Sequoia (which resembled “the hologram-like computers in ‘Iron Man’ movies), they were assigned an escort. Those visitors were invited to Building 8 with a slab of metal — which was machined on-site into a bottle opener when they arrived. They were then handed a bottle of beer.

Other issues apparently arose with the timeline Facebook reportedly set for some hardware devices: the company apparently wanted Building 8 to ship its first product in a year, something that Facebook disputed to CNBC. That seems to be the reason for Dugan’s exit from the company, and when Facebook placed Andrew “Boz” Bosworth in charge of its hardware efforts, she left months later.

The problems didn’t stop there. Former employees told CNBC that “when it came to technological decisions, Bosworth offered little direction.” On top of that, Facebook was rocked by a privacy scandal in March 2018, which prompted him to delay the Portal’s release, and “rethink the design.” The device ultimately ended up being announced last October, and was released in November. In December, the Building 8 team was renamed and its projects moved to other divisions.

Despite that turmoil, Facebook is currently still working on a variety of devices. It’s apparently working on a new version of the Portal — including one rumored device code-named “Ripley”, which is apparently a camera that can be mounted on a television, turning it into the larger Portal devices that the company initially thought about. The company is rumored to be speaking with streaming services like Disney and Netflix about bundling their services with the device.

Tesla announced today that it’s bringing back a useful perk new customers who buy a new Model S or Model X vehicle: unlimited charging at its supercharger stations. The announcement comes after sales of the two models have slowed and after the company had greater-than-anticipated losses in its latest quarterly earnings report.

The company made the announcement in a Tweet (via TechCrunch), saying that all new orders would come with free unlimited charging at its network of Supercharger stations.

Tesla has used free charging as an enticement for new buyers in the past. The perk extended to its Model S and Model X vehicles until 2017 for anyone who purchased a new vehicle. However, CEO Elon Musk had called the program “not sustainable,” and after January 2017, the company announced that it was restructuring the perk: new drivers would get up to 400 kWh of power a year (about a thousand miles), after which point they’d have to pay. The company has brought the perk out a couple of times: drivers could give their fellow drivers without the perk a referral code that granted them unlimited charging, but that was phased out earlier this year.

Now, the perk appears to be back as a way to help entice drivers to check out its more expensive offerings. At the end of July, Tesla announced its latest set of earnings, in which it revealed that it had lost $408 million in the last quarter. That dip appears to be due to slowing sales for the Model S and Model X, as they’re a more profitable product for the company.

Photo by Andrew Liptak / The Ver

Genre is an odd thing. At times, it’s merely a sales tactic, where similar books are grouped together in a bookstore to make them easier to find. But it can also be a codified canon of literature in which authors are engaged in a decades-long conversation, bouncing themes and tropes off one another. Every now and again, a book or author will come along that really breaks away from the conversation and ignores those tropes and conventions. One recent example is Singaporean author JY Yang, who published the final installment of their genre-blending Tensorate series last month.

The series is made up of four short novellas: The Red Threads of Fortune, The Black Tides of Heaven, The Descent of Monsters, and The Ascent to Godhood. It’s set in a world where an oppressive monarchy called the Protectorate is facing an entrenched revolution from a rebel group called the Machinists. The Protectorate holds onto power by controlling who can utilize a magical system known as Slackcraft, and it utterly controls the lives of its subjects. However, it’s grown decadent and corrupt over the decades, and under the reign of Lady Sanao Hekate, The Protector, it’s brutally cracked down on its citizens. That’s given rise to the Machinists, who work to topple the government, all while bringing power to the people with the help of machines that take the place of Slackcraft and those who control it.

 Image: Tor.com

Yang plays out their story through an incredible blend of science fiction and fantasy. There’s magic, dinosaurs, weird scientific experiments, spycraft, revolutionaries, mad scientists, and more, all packed into the four books. The Red Threads of Fortune and The Black Tides of Heaven each tell the story of Sanao Hekate’s children: Mokoya, who has prophetic visions, and Akeha, who can innately understand what motivates people into action. Akeha leaves the Grand Monastery to join the Machinists, while Mokoya sets off on her own after the death of her daughter, hunting Naga, giant monsters that roam the world.

In The Descent of Monsters, we follow Chuwan Sariman, a Tensorate investigator who is trying to piece together what happened at an experimental science facility, and who ultimately finds a horrifying conspiracy that shows just how far the Protectorate will go to hold onto its power. In the latest and final installment, The Ascent of Goodhood, we learn how the Protectorate came to be, and how Sanao Hekate became its leader.

The arc of Yang’s story feels eerily relevant in 2019. It’s a story about the balance of power in society, and how corruption sets in quickly, no matter what one’s original intentions are. We see glimpses of how that happens: the experimental and immoral programs that the Protectorate sets up to try and hold onto power, and the lengths that the Machinists will go to take on their enemies. Along the way, Yang shows how those conflicts impact the people involved, and how they rationalize what they’re fighting for.

The series hails from Tor.com, an imprint of Tor Books that’s been experimenting with digital-first, and shorter novellas and novelettes for the last decade. The same publisher released Martha Wells’ fantastic Murderbot series, which demonstrated that long-form storytelling doesn’t necessarily need to be in the structure of your standard novel. Wells played out Murderbot’s story in four installments, each with their own arc and characters.

Yang takes that a step further in their series: not only are they sketching out a massive world and story between the four installments, they’re playing with the form that those stories take. The Red Threads of Fortune and The Black Tides of Heaven are relatively conventionally told, but Yang takes a slightly different approach with The Descent of Monsters, writing out a thriller through the use of official reports, documents, and letters. The Ascent of Goodhood, meanwhile, is a one-sided conversation between Lady Han and an unnamed partner.

With that unconventional approach, Yang plays out a much larger story than the four slim books would otherwise suggest. We get the outlines of a grand history and epic struggle between an oppressive empire and the people who oppose it. In the form of an fantasy saga, this story might have been written with excruciating detail (looking at you, George R.R. Martin), but here, Yang covers the high points, telling the stories of the key characters, and allowing the reader to connect the dots and put together how they fit alongside one another. It’s an appealing format, especially for an impatient reader like myself.

doom 560 2

Bethesda says it’ll get rid of the strange requirement that players must log into an online account before they play the newly re-released versions of Doom, Doom II, and Doom 3, which went live yesterday. Players quickly criticized Bethesda for the seemingly ridiculous limitation — the first of these games was released more than 25 years ago, at a time when there was obviously no internet requirement.

The online login will be made optional in a coming update, Bethesda said today. The publisher said the requirement, which signed players into its BethesdaNet service, was included to let players participate in a program that let them unlock items in Doom Eternal, a game that isn’t out yet. Bethesda now says the login “should be optional.”

No timeline was given on when the requirement would be removed. Bethesda says it’ll “update everyone when a fix is ready.”

Game publishers have a long history of frustrating players with digital rights management (DRM) restrictions in an attempt to protect games from piracy. Those restrictions have often gone too far, preventing players from transferring games between devices in reasonable ways or even just cutting off access when the internet is down. The addition of a login requirement to BethesdaNet appeared to act as another form of DRM, whether that was intentional or not. Clearly, Bethesda got the message that it went a little too far in modifying decades-old games.

The Doom re-releases are out now for the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.

Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Elon Musk has long touted the potential that the in-car displays found in Teslas have for drivers: they can not only provide information, but entertainment as well. To that end, he says that the cars will soon be able to stream video from Netflix and YouTube.

Tesla has already unveiled games that drivers can play on the displays: in June, Bethesda studios announced at E3 that drivers would be able to play Fallout Shelter. Tesla has also released Cuphead and some classic Atari games, like Tempest, Pole Position, and Missile Command. On Friday, the company revealed that drivers would be able to play chess in the Tesla Arcade.

The games only work while the car is parked, and players can use the steering wheel as a controller. The same is the case here, although Musk notes that when regulators approve self-driving, Tesla will allow passengers to stream video while the car is in motion. Musk didn’t unveil a timeline for the feature to roll out.

The desire to allow drivers and passengers to watch video isn’t a total surprise — Musk noted at E3 that the ability to watch YouTube was coming. Up until this point, the display doesn’t support HTML5, so such a feature isn’t possible in the cars right now, although one owner found a way around that.

The ability to catch up on your Netflix queue or to play a video game in the car holds some appeal for anyone who’s been stuck waiting in a car for a kid’s practice or stuck on a long car ride with them. (There’s a reason why some minivans come with TV screens.) And when cars can eventually drive themselves, passengers will want something to do while riding to their destination.

But there are huge concerns that would come with any such feature. Test vehicles are required to have a driver behind the wheel to take over in case something goes wrong, and even as self-driving technology improves, it’s hard to imagine that going away completely. There’s also been one high-profile incident in which TV was a problem: a fatal crash in 2017 between an Uber self-driving vehicle and a pedestrian, in which the car’s test driver was watching The Voice on Hulu.

Promotional images for The Expanse, featuring Drummer, Amos, Holden, Naomi, and Alex.Image: Amazon Studios

Today at the Television Critics Association, Amazon announced that it has renewed its science fiction series The Expanse for a fifth season.

Last year, Amazon picked up the series for a fourth season after the Syfy Channel canceled it, and it announced at San Diego Comic-Con that the new season would debut in December 2019. Along with the news, Amazon released a new teaser for the upcoming fourth season.

Set centuries in the future, the series is based on a book series by James S.A. Corey, and follows the crew of a spaceship as they navigate a war between various planets in our solar system. Season 4 will follow the events of the fourth book in the series, Cibola Burn, although at this point, it isn’t clear whether or not season 5 will follow the events of the fifth, Nemesis Games. Amazon did not announce when the series would enter production, or when it would be released.

The company also announced that it was renewing fantasy series Carnival Row for a second season. That series, which stars Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne, is set to debut on August 30th.

Photo: Sony Pictures

Marvel’s Spider-Man films have been a standout for me in the MCU. What I think it comes down to is this: they’re not about superhero stuff all that much. It’s all grounded in Peter just trying to figure out life as a teenager, and his journey and failures as Spider-Man reflect that.

Far From Home took a small step away from the very fun high school drama that grounded the first film in this series, but it still stayed rooted enough in that world that it felt more like a genre-infused twist on a road trip movie than a magical powers / save the world kind of film.

These are also films that have understood that having a connection with the villain makes the whole story so much more tense and powerful. I will admit: I don’t think the villain’s scheme in Far From Home made any sense at all, but our connection with the character still goes a long way.

Check out eight trailers from this week below.

Zombieland: Double Tap

For a movie with zombie right in the title, there’s surprisingly little zombie action in this trailer. Mostly, a full decade after the first Zombieland, it’s just the original cast returning to have a lot of fun goofing around in their apocalyptic universe. It’ll come out on October 18th.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

It seems far too hard to tell a story about Mister Rogers that is simply about Mister Rogers, so A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood approaches it by going through the eyes of an interviewer who’s surprised to find just how affable he really is. It’s based on a real interview, which you can read here. The film comes out on Thanksgiving.

Gemini Man

Here’s the thing: if I were a studio executive and wanted to make a lot of money, I would absolutely greenlight a movie that starred two Will Smiths. Is the result extremely goofy? Sure seems like it. But it’s still two Will Smiths fighting each other. The film comes out October 11th.

Harriet

Kasi Lemmons, an actor and director who most recently was behind an episode of Luke Cage, is directing this tense-looking biopic about Harriet Tubman that turns her work on the Underground Railroad into a borderline action movie. It’ll come out on November 1st.

Jojo Rabbit

So you just directed a really popular, really successful Marvel movie… what’s your next move? If you’re Taika Waititi, it’s to star as Hitler in a World War II satire that you also wrote and directed. If you liked Thor: Ragnarok, you’ll probably like this. It’s due out on October 18th.

Catherine the Great

HBO has a Catherine the Great miniseries coming up, and all you really need to know is that it stars Helen Mirren. The series will debut sometime this fall.

The Goldfinch

Scoring a trailer with The National is basically cheating, and that kind of sums up how I feel about the adaptation of The Goldfinch so far. It’s an emotional book adaptation, and you can see the film trying to hold it all together as it jumps between timelines, as signified by slight changes in glasses styles. The film will come out on September 26th.

Angel Has Fallen

I had no idea this series was successful enough to make a third entry, but apparently the second one was a big hit internationally. The third film has Gerard Butler once again playing a Secret Service agent, except this time, he has to save the president and go on the run, The Fugitive style, after he’s framed for an attack. It’ll hit theaters on August 23rd.