Apple's new iPad Pro 'folds like a piece of paper' during a stress test

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Apple would probably rather skip the references to Bendgate. It’s not like anyone’s walking around with an iPad Pro in their pocket, right?

That may be true, but it’s still alarming to see just how fragile the newly released iPad Pro actually is. YouTuber JerryRigEverything put the tablet through a multi-part stress test, including the damning bend test, and he was left with a mangled wreck of an Apple device.

This is a great video to check out if you’re mulling a new tablet purchase. While, yes, the iPad Pro is hardly pocket-sized, it’s very easy to imagine things getting bendy if someone were to accidentally sit on one.

This is also a fun show if you’re a fan of watching pricey new technology get systematically, violently torn apart in the name of science.

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SpaceX drops plans to make Falcon 9 rockets more reusable

For a while, SpaceX has dreamed of making its Falcon 9 rocket as reusable as possible, and not just the first stage. Now, though, it’s having a change of heart. SpaceX has scrapped plans to make the rocket’s second stage reusable. Instead, Elon Musk said, it’s focused on “accelerating” development of the BFR. Musk also teased a significant design shake-up, calling it “delightfully counterintuitive” and a “radical change” compared to the previous design.

Musk didn’t say when he expected the BFR to be ready in the wake of the strategy shake-up. In March, SpaceX aimed for early orbital launches by 2020.

It’s not completely surprising that SpaceX might shift focus. The company’s ultimate aim is to retire Falcon 9 in a few years once the BFR is ready. It would be pouring resources into a rocket whose shelf life could be quite limited by the time it’s truly reusable. BFR, meanwhile, represents SpaceX’s long-term future. What the spaceflight firm loses in near-term cost-cutting and waste reduction could be worthwhile if it speeds up the arrival of a long-term solution.

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How brands can benefit as voice streamlines product discovery, drives sales, and boosts customer loyalty (GOOGL, AAPL, AMZN, MSFT)

Not too long ago, if your friend had a smart speaker like Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Assistant in their living room, it seemed like a rare novelty. Within a matter of months, however, smart speakers have started becoming household staples — and they’re still only at a fraction of their growth potential.

Business Insider Intelligence

One of the biggest drivers of adoption has been increased functionality. Smart speakers aren’t just changing the music and turning on the lights; they’re helping consumers find new products and make purchases — and they’re quickly becoming a preferred method of shopping.

In fact, nearly a quarter of consumers globally already prefer using a voice assistant over going to a company website or mobile app to shop. This share will jump to 40% by 2021, according to Capgemini.

Consumers are on board with the prompt, convenient nature of shopping with smart speakers — and brands who join them stand to reap massive rewards. The Voice in Retail Report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, highlights the value voice brings to the shopping funnel and how retailers can implement it throughout the customer journey.

Here are three ways brands can capture consumers with voice technology:

  • Driving product purchases: Voice assistants make spending faster and easier when consumers are unable to use their hands. The ability to make a purchase on any channel and the addition of personalized, intelligent elements to the shopping experience are simplifying the transition from product discovery to product purchase.
  • Heightening customer loyalty: Brands can leverage voice assistants in the post-purchase phase to track delivery status, automate part of the return process, interact with customer service, offer feedback, and collect consumer behavioral and transactional data.
  • Shifting consumers’ spending behaviors: Smart device ownership has a snowball effect, so as the smart device ecosystem reaches the mainstream, consumers will flock to connected cars, smart home devices and appliances, and connected virtual reality and augmented reality (VR/AR) headsets.

Want to Learn More?

Shoppers are interested in using voice assistants for every stage of the customer journey, from initial product search and discovery to post-purchase customer service and delivery status. And retailers that take advantage of consumers’ desire to leverage voice will be in a stronger position to heighten customer engagement, increase conversion times, drive sales, and boost operational efficiency.

The Voice in Retail Report from Business Insider Intelligence examines the trends driving the adoption of voice commerce, details the role of voice throughout the customer shopping journey, outlines how brands can benefit from implementing voice in their strategies, and explores what’s ahead for the technology in retail.

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The DC/CW Elseworlds Crossover Gets the Mashup Comic Cover It Deserves

Body-swapped heroes clash!
Image: Amy Reeder (DC Comics)

It’s only appropriate that getting Grant Gustin and Stephen Amell into each others costumes—and oh, like, the arrival of Batwoman herself on TV—is marked with its own comic book cover.

Last year’s Crisis on Earth-X has seemingly kicked off a new tradition for the CW’s now-annual smushing together of its DC heroes: creating a comic book ouroboros by giving these live-action versions of comics characters their very own special cover. This year, DC has revealed that artist Amy Reeder was given the task of bringing Elseworlds to life, and it’s a pretty delightful mashup of our heroes and the sinister villains seemingly behind this multiversal chicanery.


As well as depicting Supergirl, Superman (not in his new black suit), Batwoman, and the bodyswapped versions of Green Arrow and Flash, the cover includes LaMonica Garrett lurking in the background as the Monitor, and our first look at Jeremy Davies’ character, Doctor John Deegan, a mysterious figure who works at Arkham Asylum and is apparently the catalyst that brings our heroes together and to Gotham in the first place.

While it might not have quite so much of the “everyone is here!” vibes of the Phil Jiminez art created for Crisis, it’s still a great little cover filled with cute nods—right down to even borrowing Elseworlds’ titling from the comics. Alas, this is just promotional art, there is no actual comic: you’ll have wait until Elseworlds kicks off on The Flash December 9.


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CIA Says Saudi Crown Prince Ordered Jamal Khashoggi’s Killing, But Trump Isn’t Convinced

Photo: Alex Wong (Getty Images)

President Donald Trump appears to be once again publicly questioning a determinative assessment by his own intelligence community on a vital national security issue.

Previously, Trump tried to discredit the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia attacked the U.S. presidential election with a series of targeted hacks. Now, Trump reportedly is skeptical about a CIA assessment reported Friday that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind the kidnapping, torture, assassination, and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month.

The Washington Post first reported that the CIA concluded the crown prince likely ordered Khashoggi’s assassination, based on multiple sources, including phone calls between the prince’s brother Khalid bin Salman and Khashoggi, and between a member of the 15-man hit squad and a top aide to Mohammed. Intelligence analysts—including CIA Director Gina Haspel—also have listened to an audio recording of the killing provided by the Turkish government and obtained through surveillance of the Saudi consulate where the attack occurred.

Additionally, the CIA says it’s nearly impossible that such a large operation would be carried out at a Saudi government consulate using government planes and diplomatic cover without the crown prince’s approval.

On Saturday, Trump said he would discuss the assessment with the CIA, claiming, “We haven’t been briefed yet,” according to the Post. But he has been briefed about the likely role Mohammed, a close ally of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, played in the killing. Nevertheless, Trump privately “remains skeptical,” according to the report, and continues to seek ways to “avoid pinning the blame on Mohammed,” White House aides said.


In one of the phone calls cited by the CIA, Saudi security official Maher Mutreb allegedly called Mohammed aide Saud al-Qahtani from inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. He reportedly told the aide that operation had been completed, the Post reported.

Other intercepted calls between Prince Khalid, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, and Khashoggi allegedly show that Khalid helped lured the journalist to the consulate in Turkey, where he had hoped to pick up marriage documents. Khalid denied those accounts on Twitter, claiming he had never spoken to Khashoggi by phone.


A spokeswoman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington also strongly denied the CIA’s assessment.

But Saudi Arabia’s constantly evolving statements regarding Khashoggi’s assassination are laughable. The latest version seems to be that the crown prince did order Khashoggi’s abduction, but his death was somehow a bungled operation by “rogue” Saudi agents. Saudi officials now say Khashoggi was killed by tranquilizers before he was dismembered, according to The New York Times.


This week, a Saudi public prosecutor charged 11 people for their alleged involvement in the “rogue” operation, five of whom could face the death penalty.

And on Thursday, the U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions against 17 people allegedly involved in the killing, freezing their assets and barring companies from doing business with them.

According to New York Times White House correspondent Mark Landler, “As evidence of MBS’s role in the Khashoggi killing piles up, Trump has dropped any pretense of faulting the Saudi prince,” he tweeted. Trump “once called it ‘the worst cover-up ever.’ Now, after CIA judgment, he says, ‘we were told that he did not play a role’ & calls Saudis a ‘spectacular’ ally.”


Another curveball was thrown on Saturday afternoon in a statement put out by the State Department. “Recent reports indicating that the U.S. government has made a final conclusion are inaccurate. There remain numerous unanswered questions with respect to the murder of Mr. Khashoggi,” the State Department said.


Well, that clears it up.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders added that Trump had spoken to CIA Director Gina Haspel and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo while en route to California to survey damage from the ongoing wildfires.

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Bill Maher incurs the internet's wrath after belittling Stan Lee and comic books

Bill Maher
Bill Maher
Image: Roger Askew/REX/Shutterstock

Commentator Bill Maher disparaged Stan Lee, the seminal creator of iconic comic book superheroes like Spider-Man, The Hulk, and The Fantastic Four, in an unsolicited 293-word Saturday morning blog titled “Adulting.”

Twitter was quick to rebut Maher’s cultural musings after he mocked the late Lee’s widely-appreciated work, belittled millions of people who value comics, and broadly labeled comics as “stupid stuff.”

“I’m not saying we’ve necessarily gotten stupider,” Maher wrote, before adding, “The problem is, we’re using our smarts on stupid stuff.” 

Distilling decades of comic book history, culture, and meaning down to a short, oversimplified opinion is naturally going provoke the ire of the public, especially those who possess a greater familiarity of both comics and Lee’s intellectual influence. 

As Mashable’s Adam Rosenberg wrote following the comic legend’s Nov. 12 death: “Lee, and through him Marvel, recognized that superheroes were still fundamentally human, capable of all the same flaws and fears as anyone else. It’s a mindset that led to more human stories, but also one that unavoidably flirted with the political climate as well.”

As New York Times reporters Jonathan Kandell and Andy Webster noted, “Under Mr. Lee, Marvel transformed the comic book world by imbuing its characters with the self-doubts and neuroses of average people, as well an awareness of trends and social causes and, often, a sense of humor.”

Maher, forever a firestarter, probably wrote what he wrote to provoke a response. That doesn’t make the drags aimed at him any less entertaining, though.

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Texas schools make slavery a 'central' fact of the Civil War and no one can believe it

Image: Shutterstock / Mikael Damkier

Kids in Texas will finally learn that slavery was the primary reason for all the fighting during the Civil War, and people can’t believe it took the state this long to decide that. 

The state Board of Education confirmed that starting in 2019, public school curricula will include the fact that slavery played a “central role” in the war. During the vote Friday, the board also added Hellen Keller and Hillary Clinton back to the lesson plans. The two women were controversially removed in September in an effort to “streamline” the statewide standards. 

The previous curriculum listed sectionalism and states’ rights before slavery in statewide social studies standards. According to NPR, Republican board member David Bradley wanted students to learn about the other causes because “each state had differences and made individual decisions as to whether or not to join into the conflict.” 

“I mean, that’s the definition of states’ rights,” he argued.

Although Democrats on the board pushed for slavery to be the only taught cause of the Civil War, the majority-Republican board drew up a compromise. In the new set of standards, public schools will teach students about “the central role of the expansion of slavery in causing sectionalism, disagreements over states’ rights, and the Civil War.” 

Lawrence Allen Jr., the only black member of the board, hopes the new standards will reinforce the connection between slavery and the Civil War since there’s no “consensus” over the war’s causes.

“And so if we can’t drive it to a consensus in our state, we need to let our students look at it from all points of view,” he said. 

The wider population of Americans (and other social media users), however, can’t believe that it took Texas this long. Although it’s a step forward in acknowledging the country’s dark history, many believe it isn’t enough. 

The changes will take effect in August 2019 for middle and high school students, and 2020 for elementary schoolers, more than 156 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the United States.

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The Boring Company has completed digging its first tunnel

Elon Musk’s Boring Company reached a new milestone this week: it completed digging out its first tunnel in LA. Musk posted a video of the breakthrough to his Twitter account, showing off the machine reaching the end point, which the company calls O’Leary Station.

The video shows a crowd assembled at the end point watching as the machine breaks through. In October, the Boring Company Twitter account posted an image of the station, which ArsTechnica notes is named for a SpaceX/Boring Company employee who recently passed away.

Work on the 2-mile test tunnel began last year, and earlier this month, Musk posted a time-lapse video of his walk down its length, saying that the the tunnel is still expected to open to the public on December 10th. The company has some big plans for the area: it plans to dig additional tunnels, and recently got approval to build a prototype tunnel that would allow the company to transport a car from the garage to the tunnel.

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Tumblr is missing from Apple’s App Store

Tumblr’s iOS app is missing from Apple’s App Store. Tumblr says that it is “working to resolve an issue with the iOS app,” but it’s not clear if the app is missing from the store because it was removed by Apple, or by Tumblr itself.

Earlier this week, users reported that there were issues with searching in the iOS app while Safe Mode was off. According to PiunikaWeb, Users who deleted the app in an attempt to reinstall it discovered that it was now missing from the App Store, although some users reported that they could re-download the app by going to their purchases page. As of this afternoon, Tumblr noted that it was “still working on the issue with the iOS app.”

It’s not immediately clear why the app isn’t available, although there was some speculation that there might have been due to a certain type of inappropriate content. We’ve reached out to Apple and Tumblr for comment, and will update this article if we hear back.

Apple has removed apps from the store in the past. Earlier this year, it booted Telegram after it became clear that the messaging app was being used to distribute child pornography. Apple’s iOS guidelines make it clear that any apps available on the store must have some sort of content filter to screen out such material, and Tumblr is famously permissive of NSFW and adult-oriented content. This has caused headaches for the company before — in 2016, the Indonesian government blocked the site for a short while over adult content, although it reversed its ban a day later.

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