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06.09.16 | 2:01 pm

Obama endorses Hillary: “I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office”

In a video released this afternoon, President Obama finally gave presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton his blessing. 

"Look, I know how hard this job can be," he said. "That's why I know Hillary will be so good at it. In fact, I don't think there's ever been someone so qualified to hold this office." 

Obama's endorsement follows his meeting this morning with Bernie Sanders, who plans to stay in the race until the primary in Washington, D.C., next week. 

Michelle Obama has supposedly backed Hillary, as well. 

09.29.16 | 6 minutes ago

Why did it take so darn long for Congress to provide funds to fight Zika? 

Funds to stop the spread of Zika, a virus that can be passed from a pregnant women to the fetus and cause serious birth defects, took a very long time to come by. In that time, 23,135 cases were confirmed in the U.S.. A few reasons for the delay: 

* President Barack Obama requested $1.9 billion in February (you read that right, February), but Republicans controlling Congress acted slowly on the request on account of a fight on Capitol Hill. 

* Republicans attached restrictions on any of the money going to Planned Parenthood in Puerto Rico. Democrats blocked the $1.1 billion measure. As a result, $650 million needed to be shifted from elsewhere, including from the fight against Ebola. 

* The seven-week summer break.

09.29.16 | 42 minutes ago

Goodbye, Google Apps—hello, G Suite 

For a decade, Google has offered a suite of apps—including Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, and a lot more—aimed at business users. It started out calling the combined offering "Google Apps for Your Domain" and later renamed it "Google Apps for Work."

Today, at its enterprise-focused Horizon conference in San Francisco, the company announced that it's going to refer to its suite as a suite: "G Suite," to be exact. The new name is meant to convey the integrated and collaborative nature of the productivity tools it encompasses.

Beyond the shift in branding, Google is rolling out some new features for the apps that make up G Suite, such as:

• Calendar is getting a feature that intelligently finds available blocks of time for group meetings, based on what it knows about each user's scheduling habits. 

• Team Drives is a collaboration-focused version of Google Drives.

• The Hangouts videoconferencing service will give every session a phone dial-in for folks who can't do video.

• Search and Assist offers work-oriented, Google Now-style features such as the ability to proactively show you documents you need for a meeting on your schedule.

09.29.16 | 44 minutes ago

Apple’s new “Red Balloon” TV ad artfully pushes new messaging features in iOS 10

Apple now calls messaging in its OS "expressive messaging." The new ad, which began airing on TV on Thursday, features a bright red balloon coming out of a farmhouse window and flying against gray skies and over the ocean until making it to a city setting where it floats through a window to somebody's birthday party. The point is that iOS 10 messaging is now capable of expressing a far wider array of emotional meanings, and in a more compelling way.

It's interesting that Apple sees the messaging app as important enough to tempt buyers to buy the new iPhone 7. Messaging in iOS is far more dynamic than in earlier versions of the OS. You can now add colorful backgrounds (like rising balloons or confetti or disco laser lights), make text larger, smaller, and animated, add video or music within the messages, or add in content from messaging app partners like Jib Jab. A new feature makes suggestions where you might want to replace words with emoji.

09.29.16 | an hour ago

AOL’s new card-based email app, Alto, is actually pretty cool

"AOL's new email app" aren't exactly words that inspire excitement. But this one is actually pretty cool: Alto has several handy features, the most notable of which is the Dashboard, which picks out flights, calendar events, hotel bookings, shipments, and more and converts them to Trello-like cards that are ordered based on their relevance to the user at a given time. 

Alto works with any email account (no address required) and is available for iOS and Android starting today.

09.29.16 | an hour ago

Afternoon roundup: IBM snaps up financial consulting firm, 1 dead in NJ Transit crash

• Last week's bombing in Aleppo, Syria by the Russia-backed Syrian government has resulted in hundreds of deaths and injuries, with almost no medical care accessible in the city. Reuters reports the U.S. is "on the verge of ending its Syria diplomacy with Russia and is looking at new options on how it might seek to end the 5 and 1/2 year civil war."

• IBM has acquired consulting firm Promontory Financial Group to help train Watson to advise banks on regulatory issues.

1 dead, possibly 100 injured after a New Jersey Transit train crashed in the Hoboken terminal on Thursday morning.

Google has rebranded its Google Apps for Work with a new name, G Suite. Watch the video here: 

• Make sure to check this list before you take a selfie at the voting booth, or you could be breaking the law.

09.29.16 | 2 hours ago

Why is IBM buying a financial consulting firm?

Short answer: the technology giant wants to train Watson, its artificial intelligence software, to advise financial institutions on regulatory questions. 

IBM announced today that it had acquired the firm, Promontory Financial Group, for an undisclosed amount. It plans to engage some of Promontory's 600 employees in training Watson on topics of interest to banks and similar customers. 

Promontory emerged as an influential Wall Street force following the 2007-09 financial crisis, but has faced scrutiny for its close ties to both executives and regulators. Last year Promontory paid New York State $15 million to settle a two-year investigation into its business dealings. 

09.29.16 | 2 hours ago

Trump’s transition team will meet with tech industry groups next week in Washington

Up to now, Donald Trump hasn't had much of a relationship with the tech industry—he hasn't raised much money from that sector, has few prominent supporters (aside from investor Peter Thiel), and hasn't traveled to Silicon Valley to schmooze industry leaders. But next week, the head of his transition team, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, will host a meeting in Washington, D.C. between some of Trump's advisers and trade group reps from the Information Technology Industry Council and the Internet Association, reports Politico's Morning Tech newsletter. Those groups may not be household names but they represent industry giants like Facebook, Apple, Google, and Microsoft.

09.29.16 | 3 hours ago

Is it legal to take a selfie in the voting booth in your state?

New Hampshire's ban on voting booth selfies is unconstitutional, according to a three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in Boston. In a strongly-worded opinion, the court ruled that the state's law which made such selfies a crime, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, was "like burning down the house to roast the pig."

"Voting is an act of extraordinary importance," said William Christie, a co-counsel on the case, adding "And it is because of this importance that the First Amendment also ensures that citizens are free to communicate their experiences at the polls, including the people for whom they voted if they so wish."

Here is a map, via NBC News, showing which states allow selfies and which ones don't allow it:

09.29.16 | 4 hours ago

NJ Transit train crash in Hoboken kills at least one person, injures 100 

Here's what we know so far about the crash of a Pascack Valley Line train in the Hoboken terminal, which took place at around 8:30-8:45 this morning: 

• About 100 people have been injured, with "multiple critical injuries," according to an NJ Transit spokeswoman. Only one has been confirmed dead. (Earlier reports had said three.) 

• The train appears to have gone through a bumper stop at the end of the track, crashing between the platform and the station's waiting area. 

• Passengers claimed the train wasn't slowing down as it pulled into Hoboken station. One person who was in the fifth car told the New York Times the crash felt like "a major skid." 

• The cause of the crash is still not clear, though law enforcement officials say it was likely "accidental or caused by operator error." 

• Rail service in and out of the station has been suspended, for both NJ Transit and PATH trains. 

09.29.16 | 10:38 am

QUIZ: Read this redacted book review and try to guess who the subject is

Yesterday's review by the New York Times's longtime book critic Michiko Kakutani of a new biography raised a lot of eyebrows. Though the life story profiles a notorious historical figure, the review was described as a "brilliant subtweet" for its striking parallels to a certain current political personality. 

We've blacked out any names or identifying details mentioned in the review—and included a few choice substitutions. Take a look for yourself and tell us if it's not completely frightening:

Redacted book review

09.29.16 | 10:05 am

Investment app Robinhood introduces Gold, its moneymaking membership

Robinhood, the free investment app that allows you to tinker with the stock market using small sums of cash, is rolling out its first paid features. Today the company is announcing Gold, a new $10-per-month membership that will give users more opportunity to invest

● Members can start trading 30 minutes before the market opens and can continue trading two hours after its closes daily. 

Investment loans: Robinhood will lend Gold members money to invest. The amounts vary, but the program effectively allows members to double what they have in their account. If you have $2,000, Robinhood will loan you an additional $2,000.  

Instant cash-outs: Once you sell stock, you can immediately reinvest or pull money instantly from your connected bank account. 

Since launching in 2014, Robinhood has amassed one million users who have made $12 billion in transactions. The company's offerings have largely been free and some have questioned how it will ultimately make money. This rollout is the first real step toward monetization. 

09.29.16 | 10:00 am

Simple Bank launches joint accounts for anyone who’s sharing expenses

Remember Simple Bank? The online-only bank emerged five years ago with the goal of giving customers a deeper understanding of their finances with charts and budgeting goals. Now, after being acquired by Madrid bank BBVA, it's launching its first new product in a while: joint accounts. 

Simple is marketing its "shared cards" to couples of all types: roomies, life partners, parents and their kids—any duo (or trio) that has to pay for things together. To get one, all parties first have to have their own individual Simple account. But once open, it allows people to set up a pot from which to draw money for bills and whatever else. What's interesting about Simple's joint account is that it's able to identify who is spending what. If you use the joint account to buy your morning coffee, your account will identify that you spent money from the account at your local coffee spot. The other person on the account will get a push notification saying you did this. The product makes banking together a little more transparent than ordinary joint accounts, but will not stop your partner from draining the account.