The best gaming deals this Black Friday include discounts on PS4 Slim, Xbox One X, and new games

There’s no better time to take the plunge on a new game console or finally pick up a game you’ve been reading and watching YouTube videos about for months than Black Friday. Typically, every major retailer, as well as the game publishers and console makers, has a handful of solid deals on hardware, software, and accessories. This year, there are especially good deals on Sony’s PlayStation 4 Slim, the whole Xbox lineup, and a number of the year’s biggest games.

The current console generation’s life cycle is projected to come to a close around 2020, which makes this year’s deals especially attractive, considering the devices likely won’t see another equally dramatic price drop until the formal announcement of Microsoft and Sony’s new hardware, which are likely to be shown off around 2020 or 2021. Unfortunately, the Nintendo Switch remains full price at $299, save one Best Buy bundle and one eBay one, and we can expect that to hold through the holidays with the launch of the new Super Smash Bros. Thankfully, you can put any money you may have been saving for a Switch toward a fair number of PS4 or Xbox games.

Most of these deals kick off on Wednesday or Thursday and stick around through Cyber Monday. But GameStop’s actually began yesterday, and pretty much all of them can be purchased online instead of being in-store only. Here are the best deals from Amazon, Best Buy, eBay, GameStop, Microsoft, Newegg, Target, and Walmart.

Amazon

Starting 11/23:

Check out the rest of Amazon’s Black Friday deals here.

Best Buy

Starting November 22nd:

Starting November 23rd:

Check out the rest of Best Buy’s Black Friday deals here

GameStop

Check out the rest of GameStop’s Black Friday deals here.

eBay

Available later this week:

Red Dead Redemption 2 + Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (Xbox One) is $69.99 (usually $119.99)

Check out the rest of eBay’s Black Friday deals here.

Green Man Gaming

Starting 11/22:

Microsoft Store

Check out the rest of Microsoft Store’s Black Friday deals here.

Newegg

Starting November 21st:

Starting November 22nd:

Check out the rest of Newegg’s Black Friday deals here.

Target

Starting November 22nd:

  • PS4 Slim with Spider-Man will be $199.99 (usually $299.99)
  • PlayStation VR bundle will be $249.99 (usually $349.99)
  • Nintendo Switch bundle with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe will be $299.99 (usually $359.99)
  • Nintendo 2DS with Super Mario Maker will be $79.99
  • PS4 and Xbox One wireless controllers will be $39.99 (usually $59.99)
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 will be $45 (usually $59.99)
  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Forza Horizon 4, Soul Calibur VI, and more, will be $35
  • God of War, Far Cry 5, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, and more, will be $25

Check out the rest of Target’s Black Friday deals here.

Walmart

Starting November 21st:

Check out the rest of Walmart’s Black Friday deals here.

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Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 drops to $799 in time for Black Friday 2018

If you’re looking for a discount on a powerful Android phone, Samsung is discounting its entire 2018 phone lineup, which includes the Galaxy Note 9, S9, and S9 Plus. Each model is currently $200 off of its usual cost, and those prices will last through Cyber Monday (November 26th).

This means the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is $799 right now at several retailers, including Amazon, Samsung, and B&H Photo. This deal comes with no caveats. It’s an immediate discount, not credits on your bill as with most mobile deals these days. And you can use the phone with any wireless carrier. The 512GB model is $1,049, which is just $50 more than the 128GB Note 9 usually costs.

For those who want to spend less, the Samsung Galaxy S9 with 64GB of storage is $519, down from its usual $719 asking price. Aside from its slightly smaller size, it’s not too far from the Note 9 in terms of power and design, and it can similarly be used with any carrier. The Galaxy S9 Plus starts at $639 for the 64GB model, if having two cameras and a bigger display is important to you.

Regardless of which Samsung phone you’re after, these are the cheapest prices that we’ve seen so far, and they aren’t likely to be topped this year. Google will be discounting its Pixel 3 to $649 (usually $799) and Pixel 3 XL to $699 (usually $899) starting on November 22nd, but Samsung’s discounts offer a lower barrier to entry for an Android phone with a lot of power, the best screens around, a headphone jack, and more.

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The Walking Dead finds its groove without Rick Grimes

At times, the latest season of AMC’s The Walking Dead has felt muddled, as if new showrunner Angela Kang was confused about what she wanted the show to be. Is she making a daring drama that surprises audiences with fearless storytelling decisions, or continuing the stunts that have defined the last few seasons? Does she want to improve on the comic-book morality of the long-running comic series, or is she more interested in treading water and setting up an upcoming Rick Grimes movie trilogy?

But last night’s episode, “Stradivarius,” offered the clearest example yet of what she has in mind for her reworked version of the series. With Rick’s departure out of the way, The Walking Dead was able to dig into its new characters, explore the relationships that have evolved in the years since Rick vanished, and dive into the implications of three very different communities struggling to align themselves. “Stradivarius” is heavy on dialogue, character-driven scenes, and implied mystery. It features real loss and relatively few zombies — so much so that at times it felt like an episode straight out of the show’s first few seasons. It’s glorious.

Warning: Spoilers for The Walking Dead season 9, episode 7 below.


Daryl gets a dog

Bryan: There are a lot of moments to touch on in this episode, but one in particular does a nice job of setting the tone: Daryl’s dog. In this episode, the audience learns that after Rick died, Daryl went out to look for the body — which, of course, still hasn’t been found — and then never came back to any of the communities. He’s just been out on his own, doing what he does, though he has taken up with a pet whom he has apparently named Dog. (That seems like the most Daryl thing possible, in the best way.)

I haven’t been on the Daryl Dixon love bandwagon for years now. I found the moral duality he represented early on in the show to be fascinating, but for far too long, he’s seemed like a character without purpose. Fans love him, and Norman Reedus is the kind of actor you can watch do a silent smolder for days, but there was no real point to his existence. He’s been a little like the rug in The Big Lebowski — something everybody talks about, and some people are extremely invested in, because boy, does it tie the room together.

But the way he cares about that dog… it’s a minor touch, but it’s as if he’s put all the love, compassion, and care he has for other human beings into that animal. Maybe I’m getting too feelsy with this because my wife and I just welcomed a puppy into our home, but the entire thing plays as if Daryl’s reaction to losing Rick was to shut down and swear off humans, because caring about them can hurt. The dog, however, is reliable, won’t bring up political problems, and won’t flip to work for the bad guys at a moment’s notice. The dog is Daryl’s haven, and he feels he can keep that thing safe by himself, without having to rely on anybody else.

That is, of course, until he can’t — and a group of walkers almost take out Daryl and Dog. Only Henry’s last-minute intervention saves them both, and not long after that, Daryl decides maybe it’s time to come in from the wilderness with Carol and Henry after all. It’s a small beat, but it’s an exceptionally smart and cleanly executed one that’s able to convey a whole lot about Daryl’s headspace, emotional state, and what he prizes in life — without any lengthy monologues or over-orchestration.

Nick: The more I read about Daryl’s dog, the more on board I am with it as a plot device. Apparently, Kang told EW it’s been batted around as an idea for Daryl since as far back as season 2. It makes much more sense for the loner side of Daryl’s character to have come out in full force during the bigger of the two recent time-skips. (A dog probably wouldn’t have survived many of the big moments between Hershel’s farm and Alexandria.)

But you’re right — Daryl has needed something to flesh him out since he somewhat stagnated as a character many seasons ago. Daryl became a loyal lieutenant and right-hand man to Rick, but then he didn’t have anywhere else to go. The show batted around the idea of turning him into a villain, giving him a crisis of conscience with the Dwight storyline and having him push the boundaries of the group’s use of violence in the lead-up to and during the Saviors war. But it’s always felt like the show was wasting all the fan goodwill and Reedus’ clear dedication to the character on shallow subplots. For the last couple of years, he’s mostly existed in service of supplementing other characters’ arcs.

Now that Daryl has a clear theme going for him — he’s distraught over his role in Rick’s death and the fractured interpersonal relationships that led to that moment — it’s much easier to believe his newfound dedication to caring for a pet and the unconditional love it provides. I’m just hoping the dog doesn’t become either a bit of plot armor for Daryl, or a meta device the writers can use to toy with the audience. I could see situations in which the dog brings Daryl perilously close to danger time and again, only for the writers to pull them both out of trouble at the last moment to joyous celebration from viewers. I could also see them continuously tease a grisly end for the dog to whip up a social media frenzy, only to calm it down at the last minute by giving fans what they want and keeping the dog safe. Either scenario is a bit too much of the old-school Scott Gimple playbook, and as much as I really don’t want to see a beloved pet get taken by the walkers, I hope the show walks a realistic line and keeps the tricks to a minimum.


The new recruits

Bryan: Last week, I found the introduction of the new group of survivors — Yumiko, Magna, and Luke, among others — a little flat. They were just thrown in without much ceremony, yet were intended to be the focal point of Michonne’s ire in a way the audience was clearly supposed to invest in. I didn’t. Thankfully, “Stradivarius” quickly moves to address those issues with, yet again, clean and efficient storytelling. Luke is obsessed with musical instruments as a way of reminding himself what separates humanity from other living creatures. It’s revealed that Magna and Yumiko are a couple, better explaining Magna’s actions in the previous episode. Most importantly, the group finds that their lost friend Bernie has in fact become a zombie, and Michonne quietly dispatches him instead of forcing any of the others to do it themselves.

All these things are built around fleshing out characters and creating human stakes. The Bernie incident isn’t impactful because zombies are scary; it works because Magna and the others have lost a friend, and it’s clear how much losing him means to them. Luke explaining his obsession with instruments — which is not a fetish, he clarifies, despite the joke his fellow group member Connie makes — makes him feel more like a well-rounded person, rather than a chess piece being shuffled around a board.

Once again, these may seem like trivial moments to highlight, but as an audience member, they’re the precise kinds of details that make me care about the people in this show. The zombie infestation is too grand a threat; the constant battle between communities too familiar and well-worn. The only way to keep caring about any show nine years in is to be deeply invested in its characters, and it really did feel to me in “Stradivarius” that the show was starting to execute a course-correction, and a welcome one. I got the same feeling from Aaron and Jesus’ encounter. We learned about the backstory of the different communities, yes, but it was more about the relationship between those characters, and how they’ve forged their own alliance, even though they’re from communities that aren’t speaking with each other.

It’s an important reminder, particularly when some audiences have been as frustrated as we have been at times. When The Walking Dead stops playing games, it still knows how to be quietly effective and dramatic television, and that’s the reason I signed up to watch back in 2010 in the first place.

Nick: I tend to sympathize with viewers who think The Walking Dead has too many characters. For years, the show has introduced new, peripheral faces to the mix, only to have them deliver one line a week, or suddenly shoulder a big, dramatic narrative arc that doesn’t ultimately pay off, or immediately fades from memory. I couldn’t even tell you the name of the Hilltop character Carol had a brief romantic relationship with prior to settling down with Ezekiel, and I still cringe at the thought of stereotype-heavy characters like T-Dog ever making their way onto an otherwise solidly progressive TV drama.

So I’m a bit torn on Magna and Luke’s group, if only because I’m fearing the worst: that they’ll be given a lot of expositional responsibilities during the next upcoming story arc, only to be killed off for the emotional payoff, while keeping the main cast intact. It’s happened so many times before, and it’s such a reliable move from a writing standpoint, even if it’s lazy, and even when the audience pretty much knows it’s coming. Still, the show has done this effectively in the past, like when it killed off Rick’s love interest Jessie and her two teenage sons in Alexandria. To this day, that scene is still shocking for how brutally executed it was, even when the audience could guess what was coming.

The character development with the new group is top-notch, and miles ahead of what we might have gotten last season or before that, when new faces became The Walking Dead’s easy way to fill screen time. The investments being made into Luke’s love of musical instruments and Magna’s tough exterior slowly unraveling feel real and earned, and I’m looking forward to them becoming mainstays of the cast, at least for as long as the show deems them necessary. Perhaps I’ll be proven wrong and these characters will became pivotal fixtures of this season and those in the future, but for a show that involves its viewers so heavily in the art of contract negotiation, I can’t help but wonder how long these actors have signed on for.


The Maggie mystery

Bryan: While Rick Grimes’ removal has now been dealt with (until the new movies at least), Maggie’s disappearance is still up in the air. “Stradivarius” deals with it in the most inconsequential way possible, having it all play as backstory that people talk about, though Maggie herself is never seen.

Granted, this is a way to work around the fact that actress Lauren Cohan is working on a new TV series, Whiskey Cavalier, and will not be a series regular like she has been in the past. It wouldn’t have made sense to make a big to-do of Maggie’s disappearance right on the heels of Rick’s “death,” so instead, the audience just learns from others that she’s gone elsewhere, Jesus took over in her stead, and Michonne doesn’t even know that Maggie has left until this very episode. But again, the show not making a big deal out of it plays as a strength. The entire scenario becomes about the impact Maggie’s departure has had on the characters that are still present and accounted for, rather than making it some extravagant meta-event.

I had a similar reaction to the way the episode just casually revealed that Daryl has a mysterious “X” scar on his back, matching the one Michonne had in the previous episode. There is clearly backstory there — who gave them the scars, and what do they mean? — but the show is keeping its powder dry, revealing their existence slowly and patiently. Nick, I’m sure if there’s a comics parallel to these scars, you already know exactly where this is headed, but as someone who only watches the show, I really appreciated how these kinds of moments were handled. Hyping up comics fans does not seem to be the driving priority; making good television is, and that path is going to serve The Walking Dead well if it sticks to it.

Nick: For me, the Maggie story is a sore spot in an otherwise really solid episode. I maybe understand why it had to be done, and the constraints under which the show had to send off one of its longest-running and most important characters with just a few bits of dialogue. But it really does feel unfair to Lauren Cohen that they couldn’t have done something a bit more substantial, and I can see fans justifiably bemoaning how poorly it was handled. Whether Maggie returns feels besides the point. She’s gone now, and it happened offscreen, which is just a bummer all around.

One silver lining here is how Kang and the writers have worked it into the plot. Sure, it could have been a one-off scene where Siddiq tells Michonne that Maggie has up and left, and that’s that. But the fact that it’s information that was purposefully kept from Michonne, as well as a secret between an inner ring of hopeful Alexandrians and Hilltop members who want to reunite the groups, is a promising sign that The Walking Dead will twist an unfortunate bit of contractual fallout into a substantial plot device with a meaningful outcome. It would be a nice turnaround if Maggie’s absence is what pushes the communities to come back together again to fight whatever threat is hiding out in the woods, as was made clear with Rosita’s opening scene this episode.

As for the scars, I don’t actually know what the show is getting at, which is refreshing, because for all of Kang’s improvements this season, it still does feel like every curveball is a reworked comic reference being put to good use. I’m assuming some serious stuff went down in the last six years that truly fractured Alexandria and the Hilltop, with Rick’s death and Maggie’s indirect involvement being the catalyst.

And for the first time since Negan’s nebulous backstory — the details of which are mostly and inexplicably still a mystery — I really hope the show turns back time a bit and gives us a telling flashback. Hell, I’d take a multi-episode detour if The Walking Dead really wants to show us the aftermath of the bridge, and whether it really did result in serious physical altercations between the main cast members. For now, I can only assume we’ll know more later, perhaps when Michonne finally comes face to face with the others for the first time in years. At the very least, it’s an encounter that has me genuinely excited, proving that The Walking Dead can still create real drama between its characters, drama that doesn’t feel like it’s been manufactured to serve some greater conflict.

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Pre-Black Friday deal alert: Ring Video Doorbell 2 and Echo Dot for $140

My favorite Black Friday deals to recommend are the ones I can’t resist buying myself — and that’s exactly what happened when I saw that Best Buy is selling the Ring Video Doorbell 2 plus a free third-gen Echo Dot smart speaker for $140 right now.

Normally, it’s $200 for the doorbell and $50 for the speaker, so that’s effectively $110 off. Mind you, we have seen the Ring Video Doorbell 2 hit $110 by its lonesome, but only once before.

You’ll also need to log in to a My Best Buy account to get the $140 price ahead of Black Friday, but it’s free to sign up.

For the price, you’re getting one of the best doorway-mounted security camera and new-package-notification systems out there, with some key upgrades over the original Ring (which can still be found for $100), including higher-resolution 1080p video and a rechargeable, swappable lithium-ion battery that can last several months on a charge. That means super easy installation if you don’t want to hard-wire it to your home.

In case you’re curious how the different Ring doorbells stack up, here’s Amazon’s chart:


I’ve been in the market for a video doorbell, and I’d already narrowed it down to the three best-reviewed versions that don’t cost an arm and a leg: Amazon’s Ring Video Doorbell 2, Google’s Nest Hello (which is also $50 off this Black Friday), and the Skybell HD. I was leaning toward Skybell because that company doesn’t charge an additional monthly subscription fee for cloud video storage.

But at this price, plus a free third-gen Echo Dot (the one that’s actually a decent speaker), I’m going for the Ring. I just ordered one.

Here are some other deals you can nab right now, ahead of Black Friday.

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NASA will send its rover to a Martian delta to look for signs of ancient life

NASA scientists selected the spot on Mars where they plan to land their next rover in 2020 — a region that was likely an ancient river delta on the Red Planet. The spacecraft will aim to touch down in Jezero Crater, an area that may have been habitable billions of years ago. NASA took particular care in selecting this spot to explore; someday, samples collected by the rover could be returned to Earth for study.

This new rover is the successor to the last one that NASA landed on Mars in 2012, known as Curiosity. That robot has been exploring a region on Mars known as Gale Crater, a spot that also was a lot wetter in the past than it is today. Curiosity has learned a great deal about its little slice of Mars over the last six years. It found organic material in the Martian soil and detected methane — a gas mostly produced by life here on Earth. But with the new Mars 2020 rover, NASA hopes to finally get an answer to a long-burning question: did biological life ever actually survive on the Martian surface?

To decipher this, Mars 2020 is designed to be the first step in what is known as a Mars sample return mission. While in Jezero Crater, the robot will dig up tantalizing rock samples that might contain evidence of past life on Mars and store those materials in caches on the surface. Then at some unknown date, NASA will launch a second mission to the Red Planet to collect the Mars 2020 samples and bring them back to Earth. That way we can study these Martian rocks in our own sophisticated laboratories, to truly understand what ancient Mars was like.

A Mars sample return mission is one of the top priorities of the planetary science community right now. It’s also an incredibly difficult type of mission to pull off. To get samples off of Mars, NASA will need to land a bunch of sophisticated technology on the surface of the Red Planet, including a rocket capable of taking off from the ground. That way, the samples will have enough energy to break free of Mars’ gravity and travel through space back to our planet.

So far, NASA doesn’t have a plan for how it’s going to get the Mars 2020 samples off of Mars, but the space agency hopes to launch this follow-up mission in the late 2020s, with a return to Earth sometime in the early 2030s. “I don’t have any updates today,” Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said today during a press conference announcing the landing site. “The work is continuing.”


But first, the Mars 2020 rover will select the samples that are most compelling for further research. To pick the perfect place for that, NASA experts and other planetary scientists met in a series of four workshops over the last four years. They were able to narrow down the landing site from more than 60 possible options. Jezero Crater, in the planet’s northern hemisphere was one of four finalist sites. And it ultimately won because of its potential for containing ancient biosignatures — signs of life from long ago.

Perhaps the most attractive aspect of Jezero Crater is that it was once home to flowing water. An asteroid impact may have carved out the site, creating a crater that’s 28 miles wide and more than 1,600 feet deep. Scientists believe the crater was filled with water between 3.5 and 3.9 billion years ago. Inside the crater is a delta, which tells researchers that water flowed into the lake, depositing sediments and other materials into the crater along the way. Since lakes are pretty habitable environments on Earth, that makes Jezero Crater an attractive option. And the flowing water also raises the odds that microbes or other life was transported into the region and got trapped. “The delta is a good place for evidence of life to be deposited and then preserved for the billions of years that elapsed since this lake was present,” Ken Farley, a project scientist on Mars 2020 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said today during a press conference.

Jezero Crater is also home to a lot of interesting and diverse rocks, which makes it a great place to explore from a geology standpoint. It’s thought to have at least five different types of rock, the most exciting of which is known as carbonate. This kind of rock is created from interactions between water, rock, and gases in the atmosphere like carbon dioxide. Carbonates could hold clues as to what the ancient Mars atmosphere was like billions of years ago. And it also may be another place in which microbes thrived — separate from the lake.

While Jezero Crater boasts some great features for research, the area isn’t exactly the best place to land a spacecraft. There are a lot of boulders and rocks in the area, as well as cliffs and depressions, which will pose a challenge for a vehicle that needs to touch down gently. But the Mars 2020 rover will come equipped with a sophisticated landing routine, like its predecessor Curiosity, including a tether-like contraption known as a sky crane that will lower the vehicle gently to the ground. Engineers have also been able to refine their landing systems in recent years, so that the spacecraft will be able to avoid particularly choppy areas, according to NASA.

There’s still a lot of development that needs to be done to prepare the Mars 2020 rover for its launch. The robot is slated to take off on top of an Atlas V rocket in July 2020, with a landing scheduled for February 2021. In the meantime, NASA is focused on landing another spacecraft on Mars this week — a robot called InSight, which will sit on the surface of the Red Planet and study the world’s interior. InSight has been traveling to Mars since its launch in May and is scheduled to land on Monday, November 26th.

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Twitter redesigns iOS app to de-emphasize follower counts

Twitter has made follower counts appear less prominent on its iOS app by making the font size smaller in a new redesign effort, according to a Twitter spokesperson. The change comes after CEO Jack Dorsey repeatedly said that he wants to rethink how the company could prioritize “meaningful” conversations over numbers like retweets, likes, and follows.

Follower counts are just one piece of information that has been de-emphasized by way of this redesign. A Twitter spokesperson told The Verge that other details like locations, birthdays, join dates, mutual follows, and following counts have been made smaller as well. The type and spacing sizes have been changed to prioritize some pieces of information on user profiles over others, the spokesperson said.


The change is subtle, but it’s part of Twitter’s plans to rehash some of the features of the platform. By decreasing the font sizes, users’ eyes aren’t drawn to the number nearly as much as when it’s larger.

In past interviews, Dorsey has repeatedly noted that he would like to make follower counts a less important feature on user profiles. By emphasizing an account’s number of followers, Dorsey believes it incentivizes individuals to post more polarizing content that has the potential to go viral and attract more followers, creating a more divisive and toxic discourse on the platform.

In an interview in New Delhi, Dorsey said that when developing the platform, he and his team initially “made the [followers] font size a little bit bigger than everything else on the page. We did not really think much about it and moved on to the next problem to solve. What that has done is we put all the emphasis, not intending to, on that number of how many people follow me. So if that number is big and bold, what do people want to do with it? They want to make it go up.”

Follower counts are one part of Twitter’s rethinking of some of the core aspects of its platform. Rumors arose last month that the company was deliberating whether to remove the “like” feature for tweets as well, but it never confirmed those reports.

Some of these changes appear to be on Android already, like the follower account font size, but other pieces of information, like join date, still appear larger.

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Google Photos for iOS adds portrait depth editing

In early October, Google rolled out a depth-editing feature for Google Photos on Android, allowing users to adjust the bokeh intensity of their portrait photos. A month later, that same feature has now come to the iOS version. For any portrait images you’ve taken, you can adjust the blur and also tap to change the focus area of those shots.

Google seems to be doing its own processing when you move the depth slider around; the results are noticeably different — in some cases, better — than what I get with Apple’s Photos app. There are several other camera and photo editing apps that can utilize the depth data from the iPhone to increase or decrease bokeh. Tapping an area of the photo to change the focus didn’t make a huge difference in my short time testing that feature. Dialing back the blur basically does the same thing.


But I do like the Color Pop option that’s also new (on iOS) with this update. Tap on your main subject and it will remain in color, but the rest of the photo will be desaturated to black and white. It takes some tapping around to hit the right spot if you want the whole subject to be in color. Color Pop was previously something that the Assistant section of Google Photos would apply to some shots automatically, but now you can do it manually for any portrait image you want.


Both depth editing and Color Pop should be available now if you’re running the latest version of Google Photos on your device. Open up a portrait shot, tap the edit button (you’ll see Color Pop appear as the first filter option), and then hit the edit button a second time to get to the depth slider, which is beneath the existing bars for light and color.

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Instagram will remove fake likes and follows

Instagram wants to fight fake likes, follows, and comments by more actively removing them. Any fake likes and follows from accounts that use third-party services to get more engagement are going to now be removed for violating the platform’s Community Guidelines and Terms of Use, the company announced as part of policy change today.

Instagram says it has built machine learning-powered moderation tools that will help identify which accounts use these services and automatically remove the likes, follows, and comments. Any accounts that are identified as using third-party apps to boost popularity will be notified within Instagram that its fake likes have been removed. They’ll also be prompted to change their password, in case the third-party apps have compromised their account security.

As Instagram grows into a platform for influencers and brands to hawk more products, more accounts will inevitably turn to third-party apps to artificially boost the popularity of posts. Just this week, The New York Times reported on the phenomenon known as “nanoinfluencers,” or people with as little as 1,000 followers now trying to earn free products in exchange for advertising those items on Instagram. Like with Twitter’s crackdown on bots, weeding out fraudulent activity is something Instagram will need to continue addressing if it wants to protect the integrity of its ad business.

Although Instagram has long removed fake accounts, it hasn’t taken action against fake likes before. According to the company’s press release, the platform is planning on taking more measures against fake activity in coming weeks.

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Fallout 76 players launched so many nukes at once that they crashed a server

After launching the world’s first end-game nuke last week, a group of Fallout 76 players wanted to perform an experiment. What would happen if they launched multiple nukes at once? Turns out, detonating too many bombs will overload the game.

Nukes, Fallout’s take on raids, are a mechanic that allows players to transform a location so that it spawns higher-level enemies with better loot. Nuking a locale isn’t supposed to be easy: you have to collect multiple codes that spawn randomly, and then you have to figure out a cipher to put these codes into use. Some players, however, have automated the cipher process in addition to amassing a lot of codes through plenty of playtime. So now Fallout 76 players have to make decisions about whether to offload their payload on the map.

It’s a decision that affects many players, and it doesn’t come lightly. Already, many are reporting nukes going off in Morgantown, one of the first locations that players visit after starting the game. Needless to say, unprepared players can’t handle the tough monsters that Fallout 76 generates in a nuclear landing zone. Fortunately, the game warns residents before a nuke goes off in any given location.

YouTuber Nickaroo93 and his crew launched three nukes at once over the weekend, and seconds after doing so, they were kicked from the server. The game had stopped responding:

The server crash wasn’t a surprise to the crew. In the clip, they hypothesize that it might happen. Even so, the gang wanted to see it first-hand, Nickaroo93 told The Verge.

There are three sites in the game you can launch nukes from, so we originally wanted to see if it was possible to launch the nukes from each of the sites,” Nickaroo93 said. “When we found out it was possible, we decided to launch them in the same area at once.”

Since the announcement, there’s been a lot of anxiety over nukes and whether players can take advantage of their sheer power to overwhelm others on a server. And while it’s true that Nickaroo93’s group now has enough influence to impact everyone’s game on their server, they don’t necessarily think the mechanic is unbalanced.

“I personally don’t see it as something to abuse,” Nickaroo93 said. “If a player is in a server when the nuke launches, and they don’t want to deal with it, they can simply leave their world and join a different one. Whenever I saw someone launch another nuke while I was playing I got excited at the prospect to explore something new!”

He does, however, believe that Bethesda can improve the nuking mechanic. As it stands, players can simply collect a nuclear keycard and then generate a code online via a website, which is something that can apparently be done in about an hour once you’re at a high enough level, Nickaroo93 says. Bethesda does seem open to finessing the nuke mechanic: this morning, a patch went out that fixed an issue with how the game drops nuclear codes. For now, though, Nickaroo93’s squad will continue their nuke experiments.

“The next thing we want to try is launching the nukes at three different regions of the map to see if the servers can handle the load,” Nickaroo93 said. “The idea of exploring three different irradiated areas sounds amazing, and we hope it’s possible.”

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Deadpool 2 brings in Fred Savage for remixed Once Upon a Deadpool

Once Upon a Deadpool’s first teaser can almost be viewed as Ryan Reynolds’ attempt to prove to Disney that Deadpool can exist within a family-friendly universe — but maybe that’s overly pessimistic.

Once Upon a Deadpool is a remixed version of Deadpool 2, told by Reynolds’ Merc with a Mouth to actor Fred Savage. Consider this a PG-13 version of Reynolds’ superhero franchise, which is most notable for earning an R rating. Savage’s inclusion in the movie is described by 20th Century Fox as “an homage to Savage’s starring role in the 1987 bedtime-story classic The Princess Bride.

It sounds over-the-top and ridiculous, but that also defines what makes the Deadpool franchise so beloved in the first place. Reynolds did say that the intention was always to make some PG-13-rated version of the movie, which could appeal to a larger audience.

“Fox has been asking for a PG-13 basically since the start in 2006,” Reynolds told Deadline. “I’ve said no since 2006. Now, this one time, I said ‘Yes’ on two conditions. First, a portion of the proceeds had to go to charity. Second, I wanted to kidnap Fred Savage. The second condition took some explaining.”

20th Century Fox is also donating $1 from each ticket sold to “Fudge Cancer.” The charity organization’s real name is “Fuck Cancer,” but the founders “graciously changed their name to be more PG-13 friendly for the 12 days of Once Upon A Deadpool’s release,” according to 20th Century Fox.

Once Upon a Deadpool will hit theaters on December 12th.

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