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05.20.16 | 5:39 pm

Samsung is done with the Android Wear OS (Updated)

It was at Google I/O two years ago that Samsung announced its Gear Live smartwatch (now discontinued) running the Android Wear OS. Two years later the collaboration is over.  Samsung executives told Fast Company today that no more Samsung Android Wear devices are in development or being planned. 

The executives said Samsung's own Tizen OS, used in almost all the company's wearables now, is far more battery-efficient than Android Wear. Also, Tizen is becoming the standard OS on other Samsung products from TVs to refrigerators, the executives said.

Update: Samsung responded this way in a statement to Fast Company Monday afternoon: 

"Samsung has not made any announcement concerning Android Wear and we have not changed our commitment to any of our platforms."

07.29.17 | 43 minutes ago

Nike clarifies its stance on sweatshops ahead of protests today

Yesterday, we published a story about how students around the United States are gathering in front on Nike stores in solidarity with workers at a Honduras factory that have lost their jobs because Nike has stopped making apparel there.

Nike has clarified that it did not leave that factory voluntarily, but was rather pushed out because that factory was taken over by Gildan Inc., a large apparel manufacturer that recently acquired American Apparel. "Nike, along with the other brands in the factory, were informed that Gildan would take over 100% of factory production, replacing current brands with their own apparel brands," Nike's spokesperson said in a statement. "We have been advocating that Gildan work to minimize the impact on their workers."

The protests have been organized by United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS). In addition to the issue in Honduras, this organization is protesting that Nike has stopped allowing independent monitoring of its factories. Nike has further clarified that it will continue to allow third party audits of its factories, but has simply chosen not to work with one investigator, the Worker Rights Consortium, since it happens to be founded by USAS, the very group organizing the protests. 

"We respect the Worker Rights Consortium's (WRC) commitment to workers' rights while recognizing that the WRC was co-created by United Students Against Sweatshops, a campaigning organization that does not represent the multi-stakeholder approach that we believe provides valuable, long-lasting change," the statement said.  

07.28.17 | 5:30 pm

Trump boots Priebus, the shortest-serving chief of staff in White House history

Yesterday, the New Yorker's Ryan Lizza wrote about a stupefying, expletive-filled rant Anthony Scaramucci unleashed over the phone on Wednesday night about the White House chief of staff. Included was this tidbit: 

"Reince Priebus—if you want to leak something—he'll be asked to resign very shortly." 

Well, President Trump tweeted this afternoon that he's picked a new chief of staff: his Homeland Security secretary, John Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general and the former commander of the U.S. Southern Command. Priebus "resigned privately yesterday," he told a Wall Street Journal reporter, making him, according to the Washington Post's Dave Weigel, the shortest-serving chief of staff in White House history, dating back to when President Harry Truman created the role.

At Thursday's press briefing, a reporter asked White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about the strained relationship between Priebus and Scaramucci, who had, among other things, implied that Priebus was the White House "leaker." The press secretary explained the tensions between the two rivals as "healthy competition." And, she added, "with that competition, you usually get the best results. The president likes that competition. He encourages it." 

07.28.17 | 4:05 pm

Trump tells police not to be “too nice” when arresting suspects

President Trump told a group of police officers at a Long Island speech on immigration and law enforcement not to be "too nice" when arresting suspects, drawing laughter from the crowd, The Hill reports

Speaking about federal efforts to combat the gang MS-13, blamed for a series of murders on Long Island in recent months, Trump encouraged officers not to bother protecting gang suspects' heads when putting them into police cars. 

"When you see these thugs thrown into the back of a paddy wagon. You see them thrown in, rough. I said, 'Please don't be too nice,' " Trump said, mentioning seeing officers shielding the heads of suspects. "I said, 'You can take the hand away.' "

The Department of Homeland Security and the Dept. of Justice gave an extensive multimedia presentation on the gang during an unusual White House press conference yesterday, as the Senate was gearing up to vote on the ultimately unsuccessful healthcare bill. The NYPD, the country's largest police department, said it would not attend the event; New York is a sanctuary city, and Trump is seeking to tie its and other cities' federal funds to immigration enforcement.

Trump's suggestion to cops echoes the tough-on-crime ethos he has espoused since his campaign, but it's out of step with federal and state laws and policies, not to mention growing public demands for reform and efforts toward a more "democratic" policing. 

07.28.17 | 1:30 pm

After “Take On Me,” here are 5 music videos we’d like to see get the AR treatment

Trixi Studios just used augmented reality for a modern take on the classic 1980s music video "Take on Me" by A-ha. The video was shot on an iPhone using Apple's upcoming ARKit tools and, as you can see in the video below, the results are pretty incredible:

Thanks to augmented reality, music fans can join in the fun, passing into the brave new world where everything is half-sketch and half-reality—no magic portal via a comic book page required. It's mesmerizing for music fans and it got us thinking about a few other throwback videos we would like to get the augmented reality treatment. Here are a few suggestions:

Paula Abdul, "Opposites Attract"

Michael Jackson, "Beat It"

Weird Al Yankovic, "Eat It"

Dire Straits, "Money for Nothing"

Kanye West, "Heartless"

07.28.17 | 1:19 pm

Would you pay Twitter $99 per month for shameless self-promotion? 

Recently, there's been talk of Twitter opting for a subscription model to capitalize on its existing base of power users. After all, for a company that has repeatedly struggled to maintain consistent user growth—as Twitter exhibited yet again during its Q2 earnings yesterdayit may be a fool's errand to keep banking on user growth as a revenue stream

In the meantime, Twitter rolled out a feature that appears to be a step in that direction: An invite-only beta program that automatically promotes tweets and profiles for a monthly fee of $99. Twitter will amplify tweets at random, which means it requires no extra work from users. The intended audience here seems to be brands and small businesses—but you can imagine power users or #thinkfluencers being willing to shell out for some self-promotion. 

07.28.17 | 1:00 pm

Tobacco stocks just went up in smoke after the FDA proposed cutting cigarette nicotine

Tobacco companies got a big surprise today when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that it was planning to make their product less likely to kill people. The FDA is working to cut the amount of nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels, Bloomberg reports. The logic behind the move is pretty straightforward: If nicotine is no longer addictive, people are more likely to stop smoking, which would make them less likely to die from smoking-related causes.

"The overwhelming amount of death and disease attributable to tobacco is caused by addiction to cigarettes—the only legal consumer product that, when used as intended, will kill half of all long-term users," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement announcing the move. 

As the FDA notes, tobacco use causes more than 480,000 deaths every single year in the U.S., and costs society nearly $300 billion a year in health care costs and lost productivity. Also, it's pretty gross.

The surprise move sent tobacco company stocks plummeting, because Wall Street knows that if cigarettes are less addictive people might actually stop buying them, which is bad for profits (but good for the people who are not dead).

07.28.17 | 12:33 pm

Here’s a map of the most popular business jargon in every state (all of it is terrible)

Do you work where the "magic happens" (Hawaii)? Or are you more in the "eye of the tiger" zone (Michigan)? Textio, the service that uses AI to help recruiters write better job postings, scoured its database of a quarter-billion job listings to surface the most prevalent corporate clichés by state—then came up with this map:

Click to enlarge

07.28.17 | 11:45 am

With Starbucks closing Teavana, maybe tea just isn’t the next craft coffee

Everyone is always looking for the next big thing. A few years back, "craft tea" was supposed to be just that. Boutique tea shops began popping up around the world, and it seemed to have a vibe similar to the rise of third-wave coffee. Kevin Rose, for example, has long been a lover and advocate for tea.

But yesterday Starbucks announced it was closing all of its 300-plus Teavana locations, which may be a harbinger for this niche market. In its earnings report, Starbucks explained that "mall-based Teavana retail stores have been persistently underperforming."

Despite the fact that business is booming for the coffee giant, the segment that accounts for the 300-plus Teavana stores saw a decrease in revenue compared to 2016, as well as a marked increase in operating loss. In short, tea isn't the hip moneymaker Starbucks thought it could be. While this case is specific to Starbucks, I myself have anecdotally noticed the decline of hip tea-only vendors, while a market report from September of last year warned that the specialty tea market in the U.S. and Canada was "sluggish."

Of course, it should be noted that the tea market is huge—in fact, it's global consumption numbers are much bigger than coffee, according to Statista. But the craft part of it, which has received much fanfare for years, may just not be the next big thing. At least not for Starbucks. 

[Photo: Starbucks]

07.28.17 | 11:31 am

Watch an international team of astronauts get launched into space

Hopefully NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik, Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos, and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency like each other, because they are about to spend at least the next four months together living in very tight quarters on the International Space Station. The new roommates are getting launched into space at 11:41 a.m. from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, NASA reports, and we can watch the Real World: Space Station unfold live on NASA TV this morning. (Watch here.)

Before fighting over closet space and fridge shelves at the ISS, the trio will travel for six hours in the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft before docking to the space station's Rassvet module at 6 p.m. ET, with NASA TV coverage of the docking beginning at 5:15 p.m. They will be greeted by Expedition 52 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos and NASA Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer (who probably already called dibs on the good bunks). 

07.28.17 | 10:28 am

Microsoft has an AI-powered answer to Google Photos

Two years after the launch of Google Photos, Microsoft is building similar artificial intelligence features into its own Photos app for Windows 10. A preview version of the app, spotted by Windows Central, can show photos of specific people using facial recognition, and can also search for categories, colors, months, and other generic terms. Microsoft hasn't officially announced these features, but they'll likely arrive later this year with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

Even then, Microsoft will have more catching up to do. Last month, Google Photos added photo printing, suggestions on who to share photos with, and a way to automatically share all your photos with a trusted contact. And as of May, Google's service had reached 500 million users.

07.28.17 | 10:08 am

Three things to watch for when the Tesla Model 3 launches tonight

In just a few short hours, the keys to the car industry's future will be handed over to the 30 customers who were first in line to buy Tesla's new Model 3. The car is Tesla's first foray into affordability, with the initial price point starting at about half the cost of Tesla's previous models, or around $35,000—although with an expected $7,500 U.S. tax credit, that price falls to $27,500. Tesla boss Elon Musk has made a few announcements about the new compact car that will seat five adults, but he may have a few surprises up his sleeve. Here are three things to watch for when the Tesla 3 launches tonight: 

1. Autopilot

Model 3s will come with the hardware for Autopilot—Tesla's partially self-driving system—already installed in its cars, but it's unclear when that feature will be fully functional and which features customers will have to pony up additional funds for. As Bloomberg notes, Musk has hinted that some of the most exciting self-driving features, like automatic lane changing, would be available around the time that the Model 3 was ready for launch (aka now). 

2. Impressive Efficiency

Some sleuths over at Electrek think they've found the average efficiency of Tesla's vehicles buried in its website coding—237 Wh per mile, which would make the Model 3 extremely efficient if not one of the most efficient electric vehicles in the U.S. The car has a range of 215 miles (346 kms) on a charge.

3. New Model S and Model X

Bloomberg thinks that Tesla might not only unveil its Model 3, but also roll out updated versions of its Model S and Model X cars. Adding new features to their more expensive models is a way for the company to make sure potential buyers are still drawn to their ultra-luxury cars. 

Setting up for Model 3 handover tomorrow night …

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on

07.28.17 | 9:53 am

Sir Patrick Stewart, I forgive you for being in the zero-rated “Emoji Movie”

To no one's surprise, Sony's animated Emoji Movie is being savaged by critics. It currently holds a zero rating on Rotten Tomatoes and will likely join the ranks of such box-office bombs as Monster Trucks. From the moment I first heard that Patrick Stewart lent his enviable voice to the film as a poop emoji, I was disappointed—so disappointed, in fact, there is no emoji to express it. 

But Patrick, I forgive you. I watched you explore the galaxy through seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, saw you bring the house down in Becket's Waiting for Godot, and respect the hell out of your Shakespearean chops. This a small blemish in an otherwise stellar career, and I know great things are on the horizon. Make it so, Patrick.   

[Photo: Maximilian Bühn, CC-BY-SA 4.0]