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Pokémon Go creator Niantic Labs’ newest augmented reality game based on the Harry Potter universe is available now for both iOS and Android in the US, a day earlier than we anticipated it would launch in the region. The game, called Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, is similar in style to Pokémon Go, asking players to traverse a virtual map overlaid on the real world and collect magical artifacts. Originally, Niantic and its partner Portkey Games, the new subsidiary of Warner Bros. Games dedicated to the J.K. Rowling franchise, said the title would be available on Friday, June 21st in the US and the UK as part of the beginning of its global rollout. It’s not clear if it is also available in the UK, but US users should have no problem downloading it if they follow the App Store and Play...

On a party-line vote, the FCC today approved a controversial measure that gives mobile phone carriers more power over text messages. The agency’s Republican leadership has pushed for the measure, which would classify text messaging as an information service. The move will give carriers leeway to stop spam texts without fear of breaking the law, Chairman Ajit Pai and his Republican colleagues have argued, and will keep robotexts from taking over phones the way robocalls have. The classification, Republican commissioners at the agency have argued, will only preserve the status quo. Chairman Pai said ahead of the vote that “the FCC should not make it easier for spammers and scammers to bombard consumers with unwanted texts” and cited support for the move from a group of attorneys...

Earlier this week, Apple began a clearance sale on the iPhone SE, its nearly three-year-old, 4-inch smartphone modeled after the iPhone 5S, at a $100 discount. It was the second round of recent sales after an initial batch sold out the previous weekend. And like any budget-adverse tech journalist with an impulse buying compulsion, I felt this was the appropriate moment to hop on the backup phone bandwagon. So I bought one. (Unfortunately, it sold out quick, again.) I’ve always appreciated the classic 5S design, with its overtly rounded corners and its sturdy, not-so-delicate dimensions. It never felt like it really required a case, and its smaller screen and more comfortable, one-handed use is something I’ve thought far too much about as I’ve ferried around an iPhone X and now an XS...

In a widely anticipated move, Ford and Volkswagen announced Friday their plan to expand their seven-month-old alliance to include autonomous and electric vehicles. As part of the deal, VW will invest a whopping $2.6 billion in Argo AI, the autonomous vehicle startup based in Pittsburgh that practically no one had heard of until Ford’s own eye-popping $1 billion investment in 2017. VW will invest $1 billion in cash, as well as $1.6 billion in assets that include the auto giant’s Munich-based Autonomous Intelligent Driving team, which will be absorbed by Argo. After the deal goes through, Argo’s post-money valuation will be over $7 billion. In January, the two auto industry powerhouses announced they would join forces to build pickup trucks and commercial vehicles, but today’s...

Disney is teaming up with Spotify to launch an official hub that will collect all of the studio’s original music in one place. The Disney Hub is separated into a number of playlists: Hits, Favorites, Classics, Singalongs, Princess, Marvel Music, and Star Wars. Spotify users can expect some overlap between the playlists, but Disney is making tracks available from its films (both live-action and animated), theme park attractions, Disney Channel originals, and classic tunes from decades ago available on the app. More than two billion minutes of Disney songs have been streamed on Spotify this year alone, according to the company. A ranking system will also be public for subscribers, so they can see what the most popular songs are among fans. The current ranking is: “Let It Go” - Frozen...

When Attorney General William Barr announced Monday that the U.S. had charged four Chinese military hackers in the giant Equifax hack of 2017, he also confirmed something that cybersecurity experts had long suspected: China was also behind the hack of information on some 500 million Marriott hotel guests in 2018. Barr also mentioned the 2015 hack of the Office of Personnel Management, another major breach that included sensitive information from about 21.5 million Americans who had done work for the federal government. In doing so, Barr publicly confirmed that China has been collecting troves of personal data on U.S. citizens for years. Beginning around 2014, a host of American organizations that store personal identifying information were hacked, with either the government or major...

Google might be content to just tweet out photos of its upcoming phones, but Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 looks to be following a more traditional script. The latest: Shara Tibken at CNET is reporting that “people familiar” say it will launch on August 7th in New York City. The first week of August certainly is the right timeframe for a Note launch. The Note is traditionally Samsung’s premier platform for showing off new phone technology (setting aside the Galaxy Fold for a moment, anyway). This year, rumors point to the company creating two different sizes, one of which will be 5G, and neither of which will have a 3.5mm headphone jack. Most recently, we have the above-pictured, leaked render from @Onleaks and Pricebaba which shows Samsung getting closer to eliminating the top and...

AI has definitively beaten humans at another of our favorite games. A program, designed by researchers from Facebook’s AI lab and Carnegie Mellon University, has bested some of the world’s top poker players in a series of games of six-person no-limit Texas Hold ‘em poker. Over 12 days and 10,000 hands, the AI system named Pluribus faced off against 12 pros in two different settings. In one, the AI played alongside five human players; in the other, five versions of the AI played with one human player (the computer programs were unable to collaborate in this scenario). Pluribus won an average of $5 per hand with hourly winnings of around $1,000 — a “decisive margin of victory,” according to the researchers. “It’s safe to say we’re at a superhuman level and that’s not...

A group of senators introduced a bipartisan piece of legislation Tuesday that would limit the Trump administration’s abilities to scale back pressure on the Chinese tech giant Huawei without an act of Congress. The Defending America’s 5G Future Act, led by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), would block the Trump administration from single-handedly allowing Huawei to conduct business with American companies. If approved, it would also keep the Commerce Department from removing the Chinese company from its “Entity List,” codifying a recent Trump administration executive order. That list prevents companies like Huawei from purchasing US tech without government approval. The group of lawmakers signed onto the bill have long sought to block Chinese telecom companies...

Apple has shut down Facebook's ability to distribute internal iOS apps, from early releases of the Facebook app to basic tools like a lunch menu. A person familiar with the situation tells The Verge that early versions of Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and other pre-release "dogfood" (beta) apps have stopped working, as have other employee apps, like one for transportation. Facebook is treating this as a critical problem internally, we're told, as the affected apps simply don’t launch on employees’ phones anymore. The shutdown comes in response to news that Facebook has been using Apple's program for internal app distribution to track teenage customers with a "research" app. That app, revealed yesterday by TechCrunch, was distributed outside of the App Store using Apple's enterprise...