posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Volunteer Janice MacGurn sets up a polling station sign before opening on primary election day June 5, 2018 in San Diego, California. There are several highly competitive races throughout the state including those for governor and U.S. House and Senate seats. (credit: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images) On Tuesday, polls will be open to voters in eight states, including California, which holds gubernatorial primaries among many other national, state, and local elections. Under California law (Section 2194 of the Election Code), voter data (name, address, phone, age, party affiliation) is supposed to be "confidential and shall not appear on any computer terminal... or other medium routinely available to the public." However, there's a big exception to that law: this data can be made available to political campaigns, including companies that provide digital analysis services to campaigns. In other words, candidates and their contractors can get voter data, but there's little definition in the law as to how they are required to be custodians of that data and how that data ought to be secured. Read 22 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Exxon Mobil oil-processing towers and gas-processing infrastructure. (credit: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg via Getty Images) An economic downturn on the level of the 2008 recession is coming if we keep investing in fossil fuels, researchers say. If fossil fuel-producing countries like the US, Canada, and Russia don't guide their economies away from oil, gas, and coal, then low-carbon technology could render at least some of those investments worthless. According to a paper in Nature Climate Change, approximately $1 trillion to $4 trillion could be lost from the global economy, even taking into account the fact that the Trump administration has hit the brakes on a lot of climate change policy in the US. With or without the US federal government, countries and regions around the world (including US states) are pursuing policies to meet the 2°C climate change goals from the Paris Agreement. At the same time, investment in fossil fuel assets continues. These assets, like drill rigs and pipelines, generally have long lifetimes, so as the world moves to low-carbon and zero-carbon technologies, we can expect that some fossil fuel assets will become valueless before the end of their projected lifetimes. Investors call these valueless assets "stranded." "Irrespective of whether or not new climate policies are adopted, global demand growth for fossil fuels is already slowing in the current technological transition," the researchers from Radboud University in the Netherlands write. "The question then is whether, under the current pace of low-carbon technology diffusion, fossil fuel assets are bound to become stranded due to the trajectories in renewable-energy deployment, transport fuel efficiency, and transport electrification." Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Lenovo Twenty-two days ago, Lenovo started hyping the upcoming launch for its Z5 smartphone. Lenovo VP Chang Cheng shared the above images of an all-screen smartphone on China's Weibo social network. Cheng said the device was a technical breakthrough and that it would have a 95-percent screen-to-body ratio. Three weeks later, neither of those claims appears to be accurate—if they ever were. Lenovo has now made the Z5 available for pre-purchase in China, and the device on Lenovo's site differs significantly from the pre-release hype. Instead of the promised "all-screen" smartphone—which was shown in previous images to be notch-free—we're getting a device with a notch and a sizable bottom bezel. The "95-percent screen-to-body ratio" is now only claimed to be 90 percent. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / David Hogg shakes hands with police before participating in a "die-in" protest in a Publix supermarket on May 25, 2018 in Coral Springs, Florida. (credit: Getty Images | Joe Raedle ) A hoax emergency call falsely claimed there was a hostage situation at the Florida home of gun-control activist David Hogg, leading to a search of the property this morning. A Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO) SWAT team responded to the house but found no one there. "According to BSO, deputies received a call at around 8:30 am, saying someone broke into Hogg's home with an AR-15 rifle and was holding the family hostage," WSVN reported. "Deputies determined that no one was home at the time and that the call was unfounded." Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we have another round of deals to share. While Apple and its WWDC event are dominating the tech world's headlines this week, Google seems to be fighting for the Dealmaster's attention. A number of the Android-maker's devices have gone on sale at various retailers this week, with discounts on the Pixelbook laptop, Home Mini smart speakers, and Daydream View virtual reality headset all happening simultaneously. The Pixelbook discount is particularly notable, as it's one of the biggest sales we've seen on Google's flagship Chromebook. While the $750 deal price is still a good chunk of change to drop on a Chrome OS laptop, it's much better than the premium-feeling notebook's usual $1,000 price tag. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Get used to never seeing this Guitar Hero TV screen (or any like it) starting in December. In an unceremonious blog post this weekend, publisher Activision announced it will be shutting down the servers for Guitar Hero Live's "Guitar Hero TV" mode effective December 1. The move will effectively end access to hundreds of playable songs available only in that server-streamed mode. The retail version of Guitar Hero Live also includes a 42-song "on-disc" soundtrack on consoles, and those songs will still be playable following the server shutdown (an iOS version, which has already been removed from the App Store, will no longer be usable at all as of December). But the game eschews the usual option of purchasing additional songs as downloadable content. Instead, Guitar Hero Live players have free access to the few songs being streamed live at that moment on a handful of curated, rotating Guitar Hero TV channels. Players can also use in-game rewards or microtransaction purchases to essentially rent access to those online songs on-demand, including a "party pass" that gave time-limited access to all available songs. Both of these options will be cut off in December, and the in-game microtransaction purchases that help power those on-demand plays have already been shut off. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
(credit: Comcast) Comcast has agreed to pay $155 million in back taxes to Oregon in order to settle a nine-year property tax dispute. Comcast will also drop its attempt to secure a tax break that Oregon created as part of a failed attempt to bring Google Fiber to the state. Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced the settlement with Comcast yesterday, noting that the legal battle "likely would have continued for many more years because several distinct and complex legal questions were in dispute." Oregon accepted the $155 million payment despite previously arguing that Comcast owed $200 million. "The cable TV company's fight with Oregon tax collectors dates to 2009, when the state changed its methodology for assessing Comcast's telecommunications equipment," The Oregonian wrote. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Anchored to a Canadarm2, NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman participates in the mission's first EVA in 2010. (credit: NASA) After more than seven years, Garrett Reisman will leave his position at SpaceX as director of crew operations. The former astronaut says he will remain as a consultant at the company but could not pass up a job to teach human spaceflight at the nearby University of Southern California. His first day as Professor Reisman was Monday. In an interview, Reisman said he has relished the experience of working at a dynamic company like SpaceX. “I’ve done three spacewalks, so I’ve done a lot of exciting things,” he said. But highlights such as the first flight of the Falcon Heavy rocket, or the first landing of a first-stage booster, were equally thrilling experiences. He watched that first landing in December 2015 from the SpaceX headquarters amid a crowd of thousands of employees. “I was in that throng of people jumping up and down,” he said. Are you crazy? Since leaving NASA in 2011, Reisman has played a senior role in the development of SpaceX’s Dragon 2 spacecraft, which will carry humans to the International Space Station in a year or so. Having both lived on the space station, and then later visited on space shuttle Atlantis to assist with its final construction, he provided an astronaut’s perspective to the company. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / There's more than one way to light a cat video. (credit: Marco Verch) Some people hold the mistaken idea that the only way to solve climate change is to go back to a stone age style of living—maybe bronze age if we’re careful. While that’s not true, describing the necessary changes to our energy system can leave you imagining that we need an all-out moonshot—or several. There has even been criticism of whether the scenarios that limit global warming to 2°C are plausible, given that they rely on large-scale, active removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. But an interesting new scenario published this week shows that even greater climate progress could be achieved without a single carbon capture plant, all while improving the global standard of living. The key to the new plan is efficiency. The 2015 Paris Agreement affirmed the international intent to limit global warming to 2°C and added a new goal to stay under 1.5 °C. But accomplishing this is increasingly unlikely without a drastic change in emissions trends. While improving efficiency has always been an important part of the puzzle, a study led by Arnulf Grubler of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis shows just how far you can take it if you really dig into what it means to be efficient. Their answer is that it can get to you 1.5°C. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Sean Hixon) As if the Easter Island statues weren’t enigmatic enough, a few of them are wearing hats—6.5-foot-wide, 13-ton cylinders of cindery red volcanic rock called scoria. The hats are as much an enigma as the statues themselves. For starters, archaeologists aren't actually sure they're supposed to be hats at all. Their shape—ranging from a straight-sided cylinder to a tapering cone, with a smaller cylinder on top—is similar to a style of woven grass hat that some historians say was once popular in New Caledonia. Carvings found on some statues in Hawai'i could represent similar hats, if you look at them from the right angle. But that same general shape could also represent a traditional Polynesian hairstyle for men of high rank: long hair bound up in a topknot, called a pukao, which is what gives the hats their name. Archaeologists still aren't sure which version, hair or hat, the statues' builders intended, or why fewer than a hundred of the island's several hundred statues, called moai, seem to have been visited by a giant milliner. The hats, or topknots, could be a sign that some statues (or the people, spirits, or gods they represented) were a much bigger deal in Rapanui religious life than others. Maybe the ones with the red hats are just prehistoric Linux fans. Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino) SAN JOSE—Just three years after the release of the first Apple Watch, Apple announced the fifth iteration of its wearable operating system at WWDC 2018. Unlike iOS updates, most watchOS updates haven't brought drastic changes to Apple's device in terms of look and feel. WatchOS 5 doesn't radically alter the experience of using an Apple Watch, but it does add a number of helpful features across different use categories like fitness, communication, and general life organization. We spent some time demoing the software update to learn more about the changes. Workouts and Activity My colleague Samuel Axon and I were immediately excited by the announcement of workout auto detection. (Auto detection allows the Apple Watch to know when you've been working out even if you haven't officially started a workout on the watch.) Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Kindly robot Dolores meets the Man in Black, a vicious human gamer who has brutalized her repeatedly over the past 30 years. Of course, Dolores doesn't remember that—or does she? (credit: HBO) If season two of Westworld doesn’t have you rethinking sex and violence with androids, researchers are hoping that some hard and fast data will. Science fiction aside, advanced sex robots are currently heating up the market, with several companies now offering more and more life-like artificial partners, mostly ones mimicking women. Skeptics fear the desirable droids could escalate misogyny and violence against women, ignite deviant urges in pedophiles, or further isolate the sexually frustrated. Sexbot makers, on the other hand, have been pumping their health claims into advertisements, including that the amorous androids’ could reduce the spread of sexually transmitted disease, aid in sex therapies, and curb deviant desires in pedophiles and other sex offenders. So far, those claims are “rather specious,” according to health researchers Chantal Cox-George of St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in London and Susan Bewley of King’s College London. In an editorial published Monday in BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health, the pair highlight that there are virtually no studies that help bang out the validity of the many health arguments surging around sexbots—arguments both for and against them. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Acura DETROIT, Mich.—You'd think IndyCar might give the teams a little downtime after the Indy 500. But just six days after its most important race of the year, the grid formed up again in the picturesque park of Belle Isle for the Detroit Grand Prix. For one weekend a year, a bumpy street circuit takes over the island's western tip, playing host to a veritable bounty of race cars. There were the open-wheel IndyCars, but IMSA's Weathertech Sportscar Championship was also present and correct, supported by the gravity-defying Super Stadium Trucks and the flame-spitting Trans-Am brigade. When Acura invited Ars to come check it out up close and personal, it didn't take me long to book my flights to Motor City—particularly when the invitation came with a chance to interview the Captain himself, Roger Penske. Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Some of our pesticides harm helpful species, like this bee. (credit: USDA) Glyphosate is the active ingredient in RoundUp, made by Monsanto, and the most widely used herbicide in the world. People have have been squirting it for the past 40 years, and the amount sprayed on fields has gone up about 15-fold since the introduction of RoundUp Ready crops, also made by Monsanto, in 1996. Glyphosate inhibits a metabolic pathway used only by plants, fungi, and bacteria. It is therefore not obviously dangerous for birds, insects, or other animals to consume—any risk of RoundUp use comes from off-target effects. Thus, our EPA and the European Commission have just reapproved the use of glyphosate for the next five years. (RoundUp Ready crops are not planted in Europe, but glyphosate is still used, as it's an effective herbicide.) In last week's Science, two Dutch scientists—collectively, they have backgrounds in ecology, risk assessment, pharmaceuticals, and genetic modification—have questioned whether this reapproval is such a great decision. They suggest that social factors need to be seriously considered in determining how we use agricultural agents. Because glyphosate use has impacts for society that go beyond any physiological effects it may have on humans, and societal factors have not been considered thus far. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Codemasters Evo There's a lot to love about a quick glance at the arcade-combat racing of Onrush. Its blistering speed, giant-jump racetracks, and shrapnel-spewing four-wheelers impress instantly both in screenshot and hands-on modes. This positive first impression absolutely proves the chops of the game's devs at Codemasters Evo, who previously kicked butt in this genre with the Motorstorm series. But for all the game's impressive tech and satisfying slam-to-speed action, Codemasters Evo somehow falls short—incredibly short—of delivering a true successor to the Burnout throne. Both on a macro and micro level, Onrush includes a number of puzzling design decisions and execution bobbles. And the resulting disappointment is downright crushing. Read 28 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
(credit: Nathan Mattise) Apple on Monday previewed a variety of security and privacy features it plans to add to macOS and iOS operating systems, including encrypted Facetime group calls, password-management tools, and camera and microphone protections. The company also released a beta version of the upcoming iOS 12 that, according to Motherboard, all but kills off two iPhone unlocking tools used by police forces around the world. The feature, known as USB Restricted Mode, requires that users unlock their iPhone with a password when connecting to it a USB device. Motherboard said the beta requires a password each time a phone that hasn’t been unlocked in the past hour tries to connect to a device using a Lightning connection. The password requirement largely neutralizes iPhone unlocking tools provided by companies called Cellebrite and GrayShift, which reportedly use USB connectivity to bypass iOS restrictions on the number of incorrect PIN guesses can be entered into an unlocked iPhone. With those limitations removed, police can make an unlimited number of PIN guesses when attempting to unlock a confiscated iPhone. Previous iOS betas had USB restrictions that required the entering of a password when it hadn’t been unlocked for seven days. Those USB Restricted Modes were later removed before Apple issued final versions of iOS. The restrictions this time around are much more stringent, because police would have no more than 60 minutes between the time they obtain an iPhone and connect it to an unlocking tool. Readers should remember that Apple has previously removed USB Restricted Mode before releasing final versions and may do so again with iOS 12. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Microsoft) Microsoft is buying GitHub for $7.5 billion dollars, and predictably, there's a developer backlash. GitHub, though notionally a for-profit company, has become an essential, integral part of the open-source community. GitHub offers free hosting for open-source projects and has risen to become the premiere service for collaborative, open-source development: the authoritative source repository for many of these projects, with GitHub's own particular pull-request-based workflow becoming a de facto standard approach for taking code contributions. The fear is that Microsoft is hostile to open source and will do something to GitHub (though exactly what isn't clear) to undermine the open-source projects that depend on it. Comments here at Ars, as well as on Slashdot, Reddit and Hacker News, suggest not any specific concerns but a widespread lack of trust, at least among certain developers, of Microsoft's behavior, motives, and future plans for the service. Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: FlightSimLabs) The last time FlightSimLabs made news outside of the insular community of high-end flight simulator fans, it was for some invasive password-extractor malware included with a recent add-on package as an ostensible "anti-piracy" measure. Today, the company is again making waves for what many see as overzealous legal threats in response to legitimate discussion of the company. Today's controversy begins with a Reddit thread that noted FlightSimLabs' A320 add-on installing "cmdhost.exe" files in the "system32" and "SysWOW64" folders inside the Windows directory. The strange filename and location—which seems designed to closely match those of actual Windows system files—made some Reddit users suspicious, especially given FlightSimLabs history of undisclosed installations. FlightSimLabs responded on Facebook last Thursday by saying that the files came from third-party e-commerce service eSellerate and were designed to "reduce the number of product activation issues people were having." This system has been acknowledged in the FlightSimLabs forums in the past, and it apparently passes all major antivirus checks. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Deadfire's presentation feels improved in nearly every way over its predecessor. My sword really likes being stabbed into people. I know this because she (he? it?) told me so. Her name is Modwyr, and she only stops insulting me when the conversation turns toward potential violence. It’s making me uncomfortable, but the bonus stats I get for keeping Modwyr around are too juicy to pass up. I’ve got a god to kill, after all. At least I think I do. There is no shortage of choices to make in Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire. The pirate-centric sequel to developer Obsidian’s throwback RPG doesn’t skimp on that facet of the pen-and-paper role-playing game it replicates. Some of my choices from the previous game have already come back to haunt me, thanks to an imported save, though newcomers have the option to write their own history near the beginning of Deadfire. The god of entropy is pissed. He’s not the one I’m hunting as part of Deadfire’s main story, but I lied to him in the first PoE. Now he’s promising a showdown. I’ll get to that eventually. For the time being, though, I’ve got pirates to hunt, my own crew to manage, several imperialist governments to support or betray, and a talking sword to placate. It’s a lot of intrigue to disentangle—with consequences rearing their ugly heads immediately after doing so. But my player-character is the perfect psychic, soul-reading, pirate lord for the job. Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge SAN JOSE—Apple detailed its next major operating system update at its Worldwide Developers Conference keynote today: macOS 10.14, which the company has named "Mojave," sticking with its California-based naming convention. Tim Cook told the audience that MacOS included a lot of new features for both everyday and pro users, and Craig Federighi kicked off the demo with something that will likely be near and dear to many Ars readers' hearts: dark mode. Dark mode! Night-owls and others who prefer a light-on-dark appearance can now take advantage of an official dark theme for the entire OS. Previously macOS allowed turning the menubar and dock dark, but this new preference appears to apply more extensively throughout the operating system. The new dark system theme matches well with a matching one for XCode, enabling developers to bathe their development environment in cooler dark colors. Desktop help Federighi showed off a live desktop wallpaper updating function that changes your wallpaper throughout the day, but far more interesting was the "desktop stacks" feature, which allows you to organize icons on the desktop into piles, rather than having them spread across the entire desktop willy-nilly. On activating the option, files on your desktop are auto-arranged into stacks based on selectable criteria, such as document kind, date, or by tag. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
(credit: Valentina Palladino) SAN JOSE—Apple announced tvOS updates on the WWDC stage, though the company didn't confirm whether these features amount to a whole new version number. No huge changes mark the latest version of tvOS, but Apple did include support for Dolby Atmos surround sound, a feature that many pointed out as a missed opportunity in the Apple TV 4K. The Apple TV 4K came out at the end of last year, and it represented a pretty big update to the streaming device since competitors like Roku added 4K support to their devices already. While it supported Dolby Vision HDR, the device did not support Dolby Atmos surround sound at launch. Apple's next tvOS update will bring that feature to its set-top boxes, essentially allowing streamed content to produce richer sound experiences than they did before. Existing iTunes purchases will receive Atmos sound-channel upgrades for free, Apple confirmed during the WWDC keynote. The company did not confirm whether similar support will come to older Apple TV devices. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Apple is announcing watchOS 5, a major update to its smartwatch platform. There's a big focus on new fitness and health features. You can now challenge any of your friends to a seven-day exercise competition, which will compare your tracking stats to your friends'. The winner will get an award to add to their collection, kind of like real life achievement system. There are also new workout types like yoga and hiking. Outdoor running can now track your rolling mile pace—how fast you ran for the last mile—and will alert you if you're falling behind your desired pace.  If you forget to start workout detection at the beginning of your workout, watchOS' new automatic workout detection can retroactively credit you with workout time. It can also give you a heads up if you forget to stop the activity tracking. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Lisa Brewster / Flickr) A recent hack of ticket-distribution website Ticketfly exposed more than 26 million email addresses, along with home addresses, phone numbers, and first and last names, according to the Have I Been Pwned breach notification service. The intrusion provides the latest reminder that users should provide incorrect or incomplete information to online services whenever possible. More about that later. The breach was first reported last week by Motherboard, which said the breach was carried out by a hacker who had first offered to provide Ticketfly officials with details of the underlying vulnerability in exchange for one bitcoin, worth roughly $7,500. When the officials didn’t respond, the hacker defaced the site and published the user data online, Motherboard said. Have I Been Pwned said over the weekend that the data included 26.1 million unique email addresses, names, physical addresses, and phone numbers. It didn’t include password or credit card data. In a blog post, Ticketfly officials said they were in the process of bringing the ticket service back online. Part of that effort involves working with forensic and security experts to investigate the hack and to better secure the new site against similar intrusions. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Asus After the Razer phone, Sony Xperia Play, and I guess the Nokia N-Gage, someone is trying to make a gaming smartphone again. This time it's Asus, which has tapped its PC gaming sub-brand, "Republic of Gamers," to create the Asus ROG phone. The phone is still made out of the usual high-end smartphone parts, with a Snapdragon 845, with 8GB of RAM, 128GB or 512GB of storage, and a generous 4,000mAh battery. Asus says the Snapdragon 845 is the "world's fastest," thanks to "speed-binned" parts and a "GameCool vapor-chamber cooling" system. By grabbing only the best parts and extra cooling, Asus has been able to give the SoC a moderate clock increase from the usual 2.7GHz to 2.96GHz. The display is a six-inch, 2160×1080 AMOLED with HDR support. Rather than the usual 60Hz refresh rate, this OLED panel goes up to 90Hz. That won't quite match the refresh speeds of Razor's 120Hz LCD, but it's something. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Valentina Palladino) SAN JOSE—iOS 12 is coming to iPhones and iPads later this year, and as expected, it primarily focuses on performance and stability, with a few new features. The new software was announced during a keynote presentation at Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), as expected. Apple says the update will be available on all the same devices as the current iOS 11 release, and that the company is putting a particular focus on ensuring the update works smoothly on older devices such as the iPhone 6 family. To give a point of reference, Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, said iOS 12 will launch apps up to 40% faster and bring up the keyboard up to 50% faster on an iPhone 6 Plus. Federighi said the update will make a compatible phone "instantly ramp up performance to its highest state" when it recognizes that it needs a performance boost—such as when you're loading an app—then more quickly bring it down to help preserve battery life. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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