Why you should give kids toys that look like them

Welcome to Small Humans, an ongoing series at Mashable that looks at how to take care of – and deal with – the kids in your life. Because Dr. Spock is nice and all, but it’s 2018 and we have the entire internet to contend with.


Now more than ever, it’s particularly evident that children need to be exposed to diversity as young as possible. It’s a topic that can inspire hesitation among a lot of parents, but setting the foundation for inclusivity isn’t as hard as you might think. Interactive play with diverse toys can be a great method to accomplish this. 

Diversity – which is often used in tandem with inclusion – in this context refers to having access to toys that represent individuals of a range of races/ethnicities, ability statuses, and genders. There are other aspects of diversity that are more challenging to represent without backstories. For those, books are a wonderful way to introduce aspects of diversity like sexual orientation, financial class, language, neurodiversity, and mental health. 

According to psychologist Dr. Amber A. Hewitt, a specialist in gendered racial socialization, being exposed to diversity via toys has great benefits for identity development. 

“An inclusive toy box can promote positive racial/ethnic, gender, and cultural identity development for children. It’s important for children to see themselves reflected in their toys,” Hewitt explains. She explains how a lack of representation in one’s toy box can send harmful messages ranging from “people who look like me don’t matter” to concerns if there are others who look like them. 

In this way, diverse toys can promote inclusion by literally making members of marginalized groups more visible in a child’s daily life, as well as giving children more models that reflect themselves. 

“All of the messages can impact a child’s sense of self-worth and can perpetuate stereotypes. It’s important to remember that not all of the messages that children receive are verbal. And children learn, including learning messages about identity, through play,” Hewitt says.

It’s hard to think about the subliminal impressions children pick up through toys without thinking of the “Doll Test” of the 1940s. The experiment revealed that all children, including Black children, showed signs of white bias, and the results have been mostly consistent through the years. 

Hewitt also believes it’s essential that we don’t send gendered messages to children during play. “I encourage caregivers and educators to avoid language based on gender stereotypes which perpetuate assumptions about the types of toys boys and girls “should” play with,” she concludes. 

It’s important for children to see themselves reflected in their toys

An inclusive range of toys is vital for children of all stages and demographic backgrounds. Not only for reflections of themselves but also as a means of seeing the diversity of the world. The following items set an excellent foundation for an inclusive toy box. 

By now, you’ve likely heard of Barbie’s new STEM-related dolls, as well as the role model collection that’s inspired by many of our favorite IRL heroes including, Chloe Kim, Katherine Johnson, and Ibtihaj Muhammad.

But if Barbie is just a bit too problematic for your taste, you have another option: The Lammily Doll. The female Lammily doll hit the scene in 2014, and a male version was released in 2016. Based on the body of the “average” 19-year old American, Lammily brings a realistic image to pretend play. The company even sells reusable stickers and kits to simulate real-life milestones like pimples, bruises, and menstruation. Plus they’re produced by a small family-owned company. 

As Dr. Hewitt said above, it’s essential we don’t limit children to the narrow classifications of gender-based toys, as those limitations can enforce unwanted gender stereotypes. Unfortunately, children pick up on messages – such as “Boys shouldn’t play with dolls” – early. Teaching boys, in particular, to feel and express their emotions has benefits throughout their lives. 

The Wonder Crew is a novel set of dolls made with boys in mind. A recent Doll Of The Year winner, Wonder Crew encourages friendship, caretaking skills, and freedom of expression to young boys. According to its creator, the five-option doll set was created to motivate and remind young boys that they can go anywhere and be anything.    

The Friends with Diverse Abilities set brings inclusivity into a dollhouse.

Image: Courtesy marvel

You may not always know the best way to talk your child about people who are differently abled. Thankfully, the Friends With Diverse Abilities Figure Set by Marvel Education provides an interactive doorway to the conversation. 

These action-style figures were created for children from kindergarten to third grade, but they have to potential to spark meaningful conversation for folks of any age. Most of the examples are of physical disabilities, including limited mobility, low vision, and deafness. The set also provides examples of gender, racial, and age diversity. 

If you want to spread the joy, gift them to your child’s daycare or preschool 

Children of the World Memory Game was inspired by the classic song “If you’re happy and you know it” and it also exposes 4-to-7-year-olds, and anyone else who plays it, to cultural diversity. The objective of this game is to match boy/girl pairs with information regarding their traditional attire, country name, and background colors. 

This game is fantastic because it provides an age-appropriate introduction to cultural differences that preschool and early elementary school age children may not encounter otherwise. 

Gifts with their own histories

I’m sure all of us a can remember a time a loved one visited a faraway place and brought back a souvenir. That personal gift connected us to their travel and sometimes created a long-term desire to see the place for ourselves. 

These artifacts aren’t limited to geographic destinations. They can also be from places that highlight critical cultural movements like museums or monuments. Posters, books, and key chains all have the potential for long-term impact when given with love and a detailed backstory.    

However, it’s vital that parents and gift-givers provide cultural context to gifts that relate to specific groups and time periods. If you’re concerned that a gift might be culturally appropriative or otherwise problematic, keep the following guidelines in mind. 

  1. Always include a fact-based description or book that explains the gift within the necessary cultural context in language the child can understand.

  2. Prioritize buying items that are explained and sold by members of the group. 

  3. Teach the child that possession of the item does not qualify them to speak on the culture, specifically over members who belong to that culture.

  4. Historical gifts related to the child’s own lineage or cultural identity can deepen a sense of appreciation and connection. 

Childhood is a time for play, exploration, and fun, but the toys we use to support this can have lasting effects beyond just a pleasant afternoon. 

Read more great stories from Small Humans:   

Facebook hired a new public defender, and he should start with WhatsApp

Today, three shorter items to carry us into the weekend.

One, Facebook has hired a new head of global policy and communications to replace Elliot Schrage. It’s Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom. Clegg is a former European Commission trade negotiator, where he played a role in punishing tech companies for anticompetitive behavior — most notably Google, which received a $5 billion fine for issues involving Android. With Facebook currently in the crosshairs of European regulators over a wide range of issues, Clegg brings a perspective and a clout that the company has previously lacked.

British people have a proud tradition of loathing their elected leaders, and they eagerly traded zingers about Clegg on Friday morning, many of which are funny only if you have a solid grasp of British politics. (It helps to know that Clegg presided over a collapse in support for his party, the Liberal Democrats, and that the party abandoned a pledge to oppose tuition increases for students. The Guardian has a helpful mini-profileembedded in his op-ed about taking the new job.)

Clegg is a former journalist, a centrist, and unlike Schrage, has a large Twitter following. Is he what Facebook needs for the role? A global head of policy and communications needs to be very good at two things: knowing people, and arguing. By that measure, Clegg would seem to fit the bill. In any case, he deserves a chance. Here’s what he said in the Guardian:

I remain a stubborn optimist about the progressive potential to society of technological innovation. It can transform how we work, play and build relationships. It can help to protect our environment and keep our streets safe. It will fundamentally change how we teach our children at school and at home. It is transforming healthcare and transport. If the tech industry can work sensibly with governments, regulators, parliaments and civic society around the world, I believe we can enhance the benefits of technology while diminishing the often unintended downsides.

Of course, managing those unintended downsides will probably represent the bulk of Clegg’s time at Facebook. He’ll have his work cut out for him.


Two, the new head of WhatsApp made his first public comments about an issue of any significance. Chris Daniels, who took over the messaging app during Facebook’s big org-chart shuffle in May, posted to the company blog on Thursday to explain how Facebook is trying to prevent WhatsApp from being misused in Brazil. (This was also the subject of my column yesterday; Daniels’ note hadn’t been posted by press time.)

Anyone hoping to better understand Daniels’ product philosophy will be disappointed by his charmless and notably defensive blog post, which includes the full complement of October 2018 Facebook talking points: misinformation didn’t start with us; most people don’t use WhatsApp to spread misinformation; a global platform will inevitably host both the good and the bad. He also adopts Facebook’s unfortunate tendency to speak about world-scale problems in percentages.

Today, over 90 percent of messages sent on WhatsApp in Brazil are individual, one-on-one conversations. The majority of groups are about just six people — a conversation so private and personal that it would fit in your living room.

(You can stop over 90 percent of asteroids from crashing into your planet and still have a major problem on your hands.)

Nowhere in Daniels’ post does he acknowledge some of the unique ways in which his popular app, with its potent combination of encryption and viral sharing mechanics, has created new and extremely difficult problems for Brazil. (A far-right, anti-democratic climate change skeptic is now poised to win, after his backers funded a fake news campaign on WhatsApp.) Instead Daniels lists six steps the company has taken to reduce its level of harm, before saying “it will take all of us” to solve the problem.

In the meantime, it’s not clear that Daniels even understands what the problem is. He comes across as a colonial governor telling a restless public that the crown is taking their concerns very seriously. Brazil deserves better. So does WhatsApp.


Three, the media had a weeklong fight over whether Facebook intentionally misled them about the extent to which people had an interest in watching video, prompting publishers to lay off their writers in an ultimately fruitless “pivot to video” that impoverished journalists and journalism. The spark was a lawsuit I mentioned here earlier in the week, in which advertisers said a metrics reporting error — which Facebook acknowledged in 2016 — was well known within the company for a year.

At issue is how Facebook reported video views. Here’s Suzanna Vranica with a concise explanation:

For two years, Facebook had counted only video views that lasted more than three seconds when calculating its “average duration of video viewed” metric. Video views of under three seconds weren’t factored in, thereby inflating the average length of a view.

Facebook replaced the metric with “average watch time,” which reflects video views of any duration.

The metric may have been overstated. But as the linchpin of a theory that publishers pivoted to video on a false pretext, it’s pretty flimsy. As Laura Hazard Owen notes, much more important was the way Facebook talked about video, with Mark Zuckerberg himself predicting that video would soon become the dominant form of communication on the platform.

Much of the conversation has concluded that people did not want to watch news-oriented video. This conversation tends to omit the existence of YouTube, on which people do watch quite a lot of news-oriented video. (May I please recommend to you the Vox channel, with 1.1 billion views and a successful Netflix show, or Verge Science, which reached more than half a million subscribers in under a year.)

In 2016, traditional publishers were still having trouble cracking YouTube. But they were willing to take a flier on Facebook, because more than 1 billion people were looking at it every day, and Facebook had turned the knobs on video all the way up. Importantly, some publishers appeared to be succeeding with a video strategy:

In September, Tasty’s main Facebook page was the third-biggest video account on Facebook with nearly 1.7 billion video views, according to Tubular Labs. Viewership per video is also staggering: During the last three months, Tasty’s Facebook videos have averaged 22.8 million video views in the first 30 days alone. That’s better than BuzzFeed’s main Facebook page and the separate BuzzFeed Food account, which averaged 4.7 million views and 1.1 million views per video in the same timeframe.

Overall, Tasty now accounts for 37 percent of BuzzFeed’s video views, according to Tubular. This is all the more remarkable considering BuzzFeed started Tasty just in July 2015.

There were three problems with Facebook video. One, Facebook never figured out a good way for publishers to make money from them. Publishers assumed that some kind of pre- or mid- or post-roll advertising would offer a return on their investment, but it never did. Two, Facebook had a product problem. The News Feed is meant for rapid, near-mindless scrolling; video is meant for intent, lean-back viewing. A handful of formats, most notably Tasty’s, thrived in the News Feed. But most died — which is why Facebook is now shunting video over to its Watch tab, and even there nothing has really broken out of the pack.

Finally, in the aftermath of the 2016 election, Facebook ratcheted down the amount of publisher content in the feed, in the hopes that seeing more of our friends and family would discourage us from sharing viral memes and destroying democracy. Video will still play a major role in Facebook’s future, but it’s likely to look more like the video you see in Instagram stories and less like those square videos with text captions posted on B-roll.

There’s a valid critique of Facebook in there somewhere. But much of the anger feels, to me, misplaced. Journalists would have benefited if Facebook had done a better job predicting the future. But publishers could have done a better job predicting the future, too.

Democracy

Justice Dept. Accuses Russians of Interfering in Midterm Elections

Here’s our first real piece of evidence that Russia is actively interfering in our current midterm election here in the United States. Adam Goldman reports:

Russians working for a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin engaged in an elaborate campaign of “information warfare” to interfere with the midterm elections, federal prosecutors said on Friday in unsealing a criminal complaint against one of them.

The woman, Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, 44, of St. Petersburg, was involved in an effort “to spread distrust toward candidates for U.S. political office and the U.S. political system,” prosecutors said.

McCain’s a ‘geezer’ and Ryan’s an ‘absolute nobody’: Russia’s playbook for sounding American in Facebook propaganda

Craig Timberg, Tony Romm, Brian Fung examine the propaganda in Russia’s US midterm election campaign, which comes out of the unsealed criminal complaint above.

The late Sen. John McCain was “an old geezer.” House Speaker Paul Ryan is “a complete and absolute nobody.” And the investigation into possible collusion between President Trump’s campaign and Russia is a “witch hunt” led by “an establishment puppet.”

Name the subject, and Russian disinformation operatives had a playbook on how to pass themselves off as politically active Americans as they secretly sought to manipulate U.S. voters online – on both the right and the left – with incendiary phrases, glib putdowns and appeals to pre-existing political biases. And the same tactics honed during the 2016 presidential election carried over into the runup toward the 2018 midterm congressional vote.

Disinformation Spreads on WhatsApp Ahead of Brazilian Election

Mike Isaac and Kevin Roose examine the state of disinformation in Brazil ahead of the election:

“People entered this election with a sense of hyperpolarization,” said Roberta Braga, an associate director at the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based foreign policy think tank. “There is a lot of distrust in politics and politicians and political establishments in general.”

“People entered this election with a sense of hyperpolarization,” said Roberta Braga, an associate director at the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based foreign policy think tank. “There is a lot of distrust in politics and politicians and political establishments in general.”

‘Corrupt Chris’ and ‘Two-Faced Tammy’: Candidates Try Their Best Trump Impressions

Trumpian name-calling is now a feature of many state and local elections, Kevin Roose reports.

New Research Shows Facebook Making Strides Against False News

Tessa Lyons cites new research showing that the volume of fake news shared on Facebook has declined by more than 50 percent:

First, Alcott, Gentzkow and Yu published a study on misinformation on Facebook and Twitter (PDF). The researchers began by compiling a list of 570 sites that had been identified as false news sources in previous studies and online lists. They then measured the volume of Facebook engagements (shares, comments and reactions) and Twitter shares for all stories from these 570 sites published between January 2015 and July 2018. The researchers found that on Facebook, interactions with these false news sites declined by more than half after the 2016 election, suggesting that “efforts by Facebook following the 2016 election to limit the diffusion of misinformation may have had a meaningful impact.”

Last week, a University of Michigan study on misinformation (PDF) had similar findings about the effectiveness of our work. The Michigan team compiled a list of sites that commonly share misinformation by looking at judgements made by two external organizations, Media Bias/Fact Check and Open Sources.

Exclusive: Twitter pulls down bot network that pushed pro-Saudi talking points about disappeared journalist

Twitter suspended a network of suspected Twitter bots on Thursday that pushed pro-Saudi Arabia talking points about the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the past week.

Khashoggi misinformation highlights a growing number of fake fact-checkers

Days after the reported murder of Jamal Khashoggi, misinformation is everywhere, report Daniel Funke and Alexios Mantzarlis:

Saudi media outlets reported a conspiracy theory that Khashoggi’s fiancée is fake in an apparent effort to discredit Turkish and American intelligence. Reuters fell for a fake news story about the firing of a Saudi general consul. Some accounts are promoting a nonsensical video from a guy who wears a strainer on his head. And the Saudi government itself has threatened anyone who spreads “fake news” online with lengthy prison terms and heavy fines.

Elsewhere

Inside Facebook’s Stormy Debate Over ‘Political Diversity’

Issie Lapowsky talks to recently departed Facebook engineer Brian Amerige, who had accused the company of a “political monoculture that’s intolerant of different views.“ But he’s leery of becoming a poster boy for Republicans complaining about “bias.”

“I have every confidence that they take these issues really, really seriously, and they’ve treated me with a lot of respect,” Amerige says. “They’re pretty intimately involved.”

Last week, Amerige left Facebook over disagreements about the company’s platform-wide hate speech policy, which he describes as “dangerous and impractical” for a platform that promotes openness. But he had spent the two months before that working closely with Facebook’s human resources team on ways to foster what he calls “political diversity.” One initiative Amerige says they discussed was an updated employee speech policy that would draw a distinction between attacking people’s ideas (which would be permitted) and attacking their character (which would be prohibited). He’s unsure whether Facebook plans to implement the ideas.

Google engineer refused to code a censored product for China

Speaking of departed employees, PRI’s The World talks to ex-Googler Vijay Boyapati, who quit in 2007 over the company’s decision to enter the Chinese market.

When I was there, I thought it was morally wrong for two reasons: One was that there had been no internal debate about it in terms of Google News — the product I’d worked on. And so I wanted to bring that up because I thought it was the wrong move for Google. If a journalist does have the courage to write about something controversial and Google was asked to censor them. And as someone who’d worked on the product, you’d have the knowledge that someone’s voice had been silenced by something that you built. And that makes me deeply uncomfortable.

The Hunt for False News

Facebook is launching a new series of blog posts in which they describe how they found fake news and determined it to be false. In episode one, learn if a Saudi Arabian man actually spit in a woman’s face.

I fell for Facebook fake news. Here’s why millions of you did, too.

Speaking of fake news, Geoffrey Fowler got taken in by a video that showed a commercial plane appearing to do a barrel roll during landing:

The photorealism of Tsirbas’s clip played a big role in making the fake story go viral. And that makes it typical: Misinformation featuring manipulated photos and videos is among the most likely to go viral, Facebook’s Lyons said. Sometimes, like in this case, it employs shots from real news reports to make it seem just credible enough. “The really crazy things tend to get less distribution than the things that hit the sweet spot where they could be believable,” Lyons said.

Even after decades of Photoshop and CG films, most of us are still not very good about challenging the authenticity of images — or telling the real from the fake. That includes me: In an online test made by software maker Autodesk called Fake or Foto, I correctly identified the authenticity of just 22 percent of their images. (You can test yourself here.)

Launches

YouTube introduces mini-player for desktop browsers

YouTube has finally rolled out mini-players for browser users. The mobile app has used it for quite some time. This will allow users to continue watching a video while browsing for something new at the same time.

YouTube tweaks its video embeds to include easy channel subscribe button

Big day for little YouTube updates! In addition to the one above, and this one, which is just what it says on the tin, you can also now buy concert tickets on Eventbrite from music video pages.

Takes

David Simon talks to the creator of Godwin’s law about his Twitter suspensions.

The creator of The Wire talks to the creator of the law that as the length of an online conservation continues, the odds that it will eventually include a comparison to Hitler approaches 1. Simon hits hard on his pet issue, which is that he should be able to call a Nazi anything he wants to:

The last thing that Twitter should be doing is policing decorum, or trying to leech hostility from the platform. Why? Because the appropriate response to overt racism, to anti-Semitism, to libel, to organized disinformation campaigns is not to politely reason with such in long threads of fact-sharing. All that does is lend a fundamental credence to the worst kind of speech—which, grievously, seems to be the paradigm that Twitter prefers at present. It’s a paradigm that offers two basic choices: Ignore the deplorati—which allows the dishonesty or cruelty to stand in public view and acquire the veneer of credibility by doing so. Or worse, engage in some measure of serious disputation with all manner of horseshit, which also grants trash the veneer of credibility.

In 1935, the reply to Streicher or Goebbels quoting The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and asserting that Jews drink the blood of baptized Christian babies is not to begin arguing that “no, Jews do not drink Christian baby blood” and deliver a long explanation of The Protocols as a czarist forgery in chapter and verse. The correct response is to call Julius Streicher a submoronic piece of shit, marking him as such for the rest of the sentient, and move on to some more meaningful exchange of ideas. So it is with Twitter.

And finally …

COMO III: Content Moderation and the Future of Online Speech

I’ll be in New York City on Thursday to speak at this conference about content moderation on big platforms. If you see me, please say hello!

Talk to me

Send me tips, questions, comments, and fun ideas for what I should do in New York City next week: casey@theverge.com.

Just try not to obsess over this retro, Nintendo-inspired Bluetooth game controller that’s on sale

Just to let you know, if you buy something featured here, Mashable might earn an affiliate commission.
Go retro with 8Bitdo.
Go retro with 8Bitdo.

Image: 8Bitdo

If you ever meet a time traveler from 1986, he or she is going to have a lot of questions about our modern world.  Why is your wardrobe so devoid of neon?  Where are the flying cars? Are you honestly telling me Corey Feldman ISN’T the biggest movie star on the planet?  

But one way you can make your new friend feel right at home is with an 8BitDo N30 Bluetooth GamePad, a video game controller specially designed to look like the controllers of yesteryear — available on sale for just $21.99.

The 8BitDo N30 Bluetooth GamePad has a feel that’s incredibly authentic to old-school Nintendo controllers. It works with Nintendo Switch, Steam, Android, Mac OS, Windows, and Raspberry Pi devices.  And if your new pal’s head explodes when he sees you magically controlling the game wirelessly via Bluetooth, there’s also a USB cable included, so he can plug it in and feel right at home.

Even if you don’t meet any time travelers, the 8BitDo N30 Bluetooth GamePad is a fun way to play games the old fashioned way.

Google Pixel USB-C earbuds review

Google’s Pixel Buds, the company’s first attempt at wireless earbuds, suffer from a variety of issues. The charging case feels flimsy, stowing the wire around the case is a chore, we often run into pairing issues, and the earbuds don’t always have the best fit. They also cost  $159 – they’re still sold on the Google Store — which is the same price as Apple’s superior “true” wireless AirPods.

Instead of taking another stab at a wireless product this year, Google went the simpler route with USB-C wired earbuds that are now included with every purchase of a Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL smartphone. You can also buy them for $30, and all features work on phones running Android 9 Pie or, eventually, higher.

We’re quite happy with these affordable and wired buds. Google has ported over many of the smart Google Assistant features that debuted in the Pixel Buds and make the earbuds even more useful, whether you’re listening to music or not. The sound quality is a bit better than what you get with Apple’s Lightning EarPods, and you don’t need to worry about charging or pairing.

Good sound, open-ear style

Google has carried over the “open-ear” style it used with the Pixel Buds to the USB-C earbuds. If you want earbuds that can block out the rest of the world, look elsewhere. We like being able to hear our surroundings, which is intended with this design, as it helps us stay aware in the bustling streets and subway stations of New York City. There were only one or two times we weren’t able to hear our music at full volume, and it was when the subway was pulling up at the station.

This style also means the earbuds leak sound, though not as much as Apple’s EarPods. They still might not be ideal for an open office where your co-workers don’t share your same indelible love of ABBA’s greatest hits.

Google Pixel Buds
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Google Pixel USB-C earbuds also share a similar design aesthetic to the Pixel Buds, except they’re much more miniature. There’s still a loop you can adjust to help keep the buds in your ear, but there are no touch controls. They also look a bit plain, with an all-white design that makes them easy to mistake as Apple’s EarPods from afar. We would have liked to have seen some visual flair here, like the colored power buttons on the Pixel phones.

The fit in the ear is comfortable, and we’ve never had the earbuds fall out — the adjustable loop helps make sure they stay in. Over time, they slide slightly away from the ear canal, and we found ourselves pushing them a tad inwards every now and then. This may depend on how the earbuds fit in your ear, though.

Surprisingly good sound

Quite frankly, Google’s in-ears sound much better than they have any right to given their $30 price tag. Based on their look, we expected a similar tinny sound signature to Apple’s Earpods, but we couldn’t have been more wrong. As soon as we popped them in and pressed play, we found an exciting and vibrant soundstage worthy of actual praise.

The Pixel USB-C buds punch well above their weight in terms of both musical weight and definition. We were astonished at the amount of low-end these eartip-less headphones could provide. They smack the meaty bass lines from Dr. Dre’s The Chronic and Outkast’s Southerplayalisticcadillacmusic out of the park, providing one of the most enjoyable listening experiences that we’ve ever had on such a cheap pair of headphones.

The high end is also something special, with acoustic guitars and string lines popping out of mixes like Star Rover’s densely layered new single Snow Moving, rather than glomming together in an overwhelming musical clump like they do on other affordable headphones.

We also enjoyed listening to classic lo-fi recordings like Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska on the little earbuds, which seemed to lend a more authentic “listening to a cassette player in the 1980s” experience to Springsteen’s gritty tape recordings.

Google Pixel Buds
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

If you’re seeking a utilitarian pair of earbuds to throw into a backpack, laptop bag, or back pocket and not have to worry about, we think that these are some of the best-sounding you’ll find. You really do get significantly better audio quality than you’re paying for — especially if these little in-ears were included with your recent Pixel purchase.

Assistant is fast, useful notification alerts

There’s a little button on the inline mic on the wire – just press it to play or pause music, and you can increase or decrease music volume by tapping the hidden buttons above and below. Our favorite feature is accessing Google Assistant, which you do by pressing and holding the black button.

Having Assistant at the ready just a button away dramatically changes the way we use our phone.

On phones running Android 9 Pie, just press and hold the button and speak a command, and Assistant will respond quickly. You can control your smart home products, get turn-by-turn walking directions, ask Google queries, play podcasts or music — basically anything you can do with a Google Home. Having Assistant at the ready just a button away dramatically changes the way we use our phone, as we often asked it to perform tasks like set reminders as we walked along a busy street. It’s great.

Accessing Assistant through the buds works with devices running Android 8.1 Oreo or lower as well, but you need to wait to hear a sound before you start speaking, and in general it’s just not as fast.

You can also get real-time translations just by asking Assistant to help you speak a language. It’s powered by Google Translate, so the results are often a little funky, but it does the job, and it’s incredibly fast. It’s handy if you don’t know the language in a country, and the translated audio plays from the phone’s speaker so the person you’re talking to can hear it.

What doesn’t work on phones running anything lower than Android 9 Pie is notification alerts. With Pie phones, Assistant will say the name of an app when you get a notification (you can choose which app notifications you want to hear), and if you press and hold the volume-up button on the inline microphone, Assistant will read out the notification. We love this feature so much we’ve found ourselves keeping the earbuds in our ears even when we didn’t want to listen to music, just to hear notifications as they come in because it meant we didn’t have to take out our phone. The downside is unlike the Pixel Buds, there’s no way to respond to notifications with your voice, which is disappointing.

You can also press and hold the volume-up button at any time to hear the time and all the latest notifications on your phone. A simple tap of the black button on the inline mic will make Assistant go silent.

Price and availability

The Google Pixel USB-C earbuds cost $30 and are available from the Google Store now.

Our Take

The Pixel USB-C earbuds do not require charging or pairing, which takes away a lot of the pain points we have with Google’s Pixel Buds. They sound good, are comfortable, have a good deal of smarts thanks to Google Assistant, and best of all, they’re affordable.

Is there a better alternative?

Yes, but you may have to spend just a bit more. Shure’s SE112 cost $50, but they offer better sound and isolation. They will also work on a variety of devices as they use a 3.5mm headphone cable. Google’s Pixel USB-C earbuds are limited to computers and Android phones with USB-C ports.

Check out our best cheap headphones guide for more.

How long will it last?

We do wish Google used a more durable material for the wire, as it feels like it doesn’t take much to break them. We expect them to last you one to two years, provided you care for them well. We know some people who’ve eked out years on their cheap earbuds, but the Pixel USB-C earbuds aren’t the most durable on the market.

Should you buy it?

Yes, more so if you have a phone that runs Android 9 Pie. Chances are if you bought a high-end Android phone this year, you’ll be getting the upgrade at some point this year. Check out our guide to see when your phone will get version 9.0 Pie.

Google Pixel USB-C earbuds Compared To

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Review

Kids can be considerably less respectful of electronics than adults, to put it politely. Most parents have at some point reclaimed their phone or tablet only to find it has developed a new scratch or crack of indeterminate origin, or perhaps finger smears of an unknown substance. You can only watch your iPad sprayed by an unguarded sneeze or dig it out of the bottom of the toybox so many times before you resolve to get kids a tablet of their own.

Amazon’s Fire HD 8 Kids Edition could be the perfect solution. Packed with curated, age-appropriate content, wrapped in a rugged bumper with a no-quibble replacement warranty, and coming in at just $130 this is the child-friendly tablet of your dreams.

Set it and forget it

While you could buy a standard Fire HD 8 tablet with 32GB of storage for $110, Amazon has packed in way more than an extra $20’s worth of value here. The Kids Edition tablets are some of the most thoughtfully designed kid-focused electronics around, but to be honest the bar isn’t very high.

No parent wants to allow their child free reign in the app store to install whatever they like, but that means kids are constantly asking if they can install this or that and you have to check it for suitability and then install it if you approve. The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition dispenses with this problem entirely. During setup you’ll create profiles for your kids, and there is the option to create multiple profiles and allow them to share a tablet if you like.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition
Simon Hill/Digital Trends

You’ll set their age and the age range of content you feel is suitable for them and Amazon will serve up a carefully curated buffet of cartoons, apps, and games that are age-appropriate. The content rotates, so there’s always something new and it includes lots of recognizable characters from Disney, Cartoon Network, PBS, Nickelodeon, and more.

The Kids Edition tablets are some of the most thoughtfully designed kid-focused electronics around.

There are more than 20,000 books, movies, TV shows, and educational apps and games on offer as part of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited. It’s a subscription service that costs $3 per month for one child or $7 per month for a family of up to four kids if you have Prime membership, or $5 and $10 per month respectively without Prime. However, you get a one-year subscription included with your new Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablet.

We’ve found that the kids love the content it serves up. They’ll watch Spongebob or Teen Titans Go, they’ll play Star Wars or Peppa Pig games, and they’ll even dip into the odd app that looks vaguely educational. They enjoy being able to choose their own content and install it without having to ask and the great thing is you have peace of mind they’ll never be accessing anything unsuitable.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Compared To

Excellent parental controls

There’s still some argument about how much screen time is safe for kids, but everyone is conscious that we need to impose some limits. Amazon provides extremely granular tools for parents to dictate precise limits and even break allowances down into specific goals, so you might limit your child to one hour of screen time a day but specify that 30 minutes of it should be spent reading.

It’s relatively easy to set parental controls on a Fire tablet and you don’t have to drill down into specifics if you don’t want to. You could just set a daily time limit, bedtime hours when the tablet can’t be used, and an age range and be done with it. But if you want to get more specific, you have the power to do it.

Both Apple and Google are playing catch up when it comes to parental controls, although Google’s Family Link app is also very good and there are lots of third-party parental control apps out there.

With the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition, when the time limit runs out or it’s bedtime, your child will see a message pop up on screen to tell them. They can come and ask you to extend the time, but you’ll have to enter your PIN to do so. It should go without saying that you need to guard that PIN well.

You can also check the Parent Dashboard on any device at the Amazon website to see precisely how your child has been using their time on their Fire tablet. It provides a breakdown of their activity over the last seven days.

Curated content with limits

The Fire HD 8 runs Amazon’s Fire OS over a forked version of Android, which means you won’t find any Google apps or services on it.

As good as the curated content is, there will be times when your child comes to you and wants that iPad game they played or an app a friend has been talking about. You can install things from outside the FreeTime Unlimited program, but you’ll need to do it manually and you are limited to Amazon’s App Store, which has far fewer options than Google’s Play Store or Apple’s App Store. When our kids were younger this was rarely an issue, but as they’ve grown it has definitely become a problem.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition
Simon Hill/Digital Trends

Another issue you’ll run into is that some content can’t be streamed or played without an internet connection. Amazon has thankfully now added the option to download videos, but you’ll need to plan ahead to ensure you’re well stocked before a car trip or vacation. Irritatingly, some games also insist on an internet connection for no obvious reason, but thankfully many don’t.

Although you can remove the garish pink, blue, or yellow case to reveal a less embarrassing plain black tablet beneath, we think your kids will also outgrow the curated content. Amazon suggests the tablet is good for kids up to age 12, but our 9-year-old has abandoned his Fire tablet now, complaining about a lack of things he wants to play or watch. Much depends on your child’s tastes.

Performance is just good enough

We’ve bought and tested several gadgets and tablets for kids and there are plenty of manufacturers out there talking up their wonderful educational credentials and then packing their content onto the cheapest, nastiest hardware available.

While the Fire HD 8 is certainly no speed demon, it performs well enough. There’s a quad-core processor inside clocked at 1.3 GHz and backed by 1.5GB of RAM. We’d like to see that climb just a touch higher, because there are sometimes long loading times and irritating pauses.

The display is an 8-inch IPS LCD with a resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels, which translates to 189 pixel-per-inch (ppi). To give you a point of comparison, the iPad scores 264ppi. The screen is sharp enough and generally bright enough that content is always legible, though viewing angles aren’t great.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition
Simon Hill/Digital Trends

You also get 32GB of storage in the tablet and there’s a MicroSD card slot to expand that by up to 400GB. The dual speakers have Dolby Atmos support and they’re loud and clear. There’s also an audio jack and a built-in microphone.

The front and rear cameras are both rated at 2-megapixels and the main camera can also record 720p video. The quality of most photos and videos is awful, but our daughter enjoys making both, so it’s a nice feature to have. If you already have a Fire HD 8 Kids Edition and you’re wondering what has been upgraded this year, it’s just the front-facing camera which went from VGA to 2 megapixels.

While the Fire HD 8 is certainly no speed demon, it performs well enough.

The best thing about the performance is the battery life, which Amazon claims can stretch to 10 hours between charges. We think six hours or so is more accurate for kids gaming and watching movies, but that’s still good.

Sadly, you have to charge via Micro USB cable and that’s tough for adults to plug in the right way first time, so kids can really struggle with it. We recommend snagging a cable with a detachable magnetic tip that stays in the tablet – this has enabled our daughter to charge the tablet up herself really easily.

Price, availability, and warranty information

Amazon charges $130 for the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition and it comes with a special two-year worry-free warranty. That means, even if your child drops it and breaks it repeatedly, Amazon will replace it every time. The only thing you’re not covered for is theft or loss.

Our Take

The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablet is the complete, affordable package for young kids. It’s easy to set up, it works well, and it’s automatically filled with a rolling menu of good quality content. The case will keep it safe, but if it doesn’t you can get it replaced without any hassle. The limitations pale into insignificance next to the benefits.

Is there a better alternative?

For $130 the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is the best you’re going to do. If your kids want a bigger tablet, then check out the Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition at $200.

If your budget allows, you might consider the Apple iPad (2018) at $330, but remember that you’ll also have to buy a case and a bunch of content which will bump the price up considerably beyond that.

How long will it last?

Thanks to the chunky protective case and the two-year warranty you can expect to get at least two years from your Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablet.

Should you buy it?

Yes. If you have a child between the ages of 3 and 9 years-old, we think this tablet makes the most sense.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro vs. P20 Pro: Which 2018 Huawei flagship is best for you?

It doesn’t seem that long ago that the Huawei P20 Pro burst onto the scene with its stunning twilight finish, upping the ante for smartphone cameras everywhere with a triple lens setup. Yet here we are barely six months later with a new Huawei flagship sailing into view. The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is certainly bigger, but is it better than its predecessor?

At first glance, these phones share a lot of similarities, but we’re about to dig a bit deeper to uncover all the differences and help you choose between them.

Specs

Huawei Mate 20 Pro  Huawei P20 Pro
Size 157.8 x 72.3 x 8.6 mm (6.22 x 2.85 x 0.34 inches) 155 x 73.9 x 7.8 mm (6.1 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches)
Weight 189 grams (6.66 ounces) 174 grams (6.14 ounces)
Screen size 6.4-inch AMOLED display 6.1-inch AMOLED display
Screen resolution 3,120 x 1,440 (538 pixels-per-inch) 2,240 x 1,080 pixels (408 pixels-per-inch)
Operating system Android 9.0 Pie Android 8.1 Oreo
Storage space 128GB, 256GB 128GB, 256GB
MicroSD card slot No – features proprietary Nano Memory Card No
Tap to pay services Google Pay Google Pay
Processor Kirin 980 Kirin 970
RAM 6GB, 8GB 6GB, 8GB
Camera Triple sensor 40MP and 20MP and 8MP rear, 24MP front Triple-lens 40MP, 20MP, and 8MP rear, 24MP front
Video 2,160p at 30 frames per second, 1,080p at 60 fps, 720p at 960 fps 2160p at 30 frames per second, 1080p at 30 fps, 720p at 960 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 4.2
Ports USB-C USB-C
Fingerprint sensor Yes (In-display) Yes (front)
Water resistance IP68 IP67
Battery 4,200mAh

Fast charging

Qi wireless charging

4,000mAh

Fast charging

App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support T-Mobile, AT&T T-Mobile, AT&T
Colors Emerald green, midnight blue, twilight, pink gold, black Black, blue, pink gold, twilight
Price 1,049 Euros (around $1,220) $1,000
Buy from Huawei Huawei
Review score Hands-on 4.5 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

huawei p20 pro 23
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The newer Huawei Mate 20 Pro has Huawei’s latest Kirin 980 processor inside. Huawei claims that it’s 20 percent faster and 40 percent more efficient than the Kirin 970 which graces the P20 Pro. Both phones are available with 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM or 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. Only the Mate 20 Pro allows for storage expansion via a card, but it won’t take any Micro SD card, you will have to spring for one of Huawei’s proprietary NM Cards.

Not only does the Mate 20 Pro have a bigger battery, it also supports much faster charging at up to 40W, giving you 70 percent battery life in just 30 minutes, compared to just over 50 percent for the P20 Pro. Just to seal the deal, the Mate 20 Pro also supports Qi wireless charging which the P20 Pro lacks.

Winner: Huawei Mate 20 Pro 

Design and durability

Both of these phones have notches at the top of the displays, but the P20 Pro’s is smaller. They also both have bezels at the bottom, though the P20 Pro is starting to show its age with that lozenge-shaped fingerprint sensor, while the Mate 20 Pro has an in-display fingerprint sensor. The sides of the Mate 20 Pro are also more curved. On the back, you will find Huawei’s gorgeous paint job — we especially love the twilight finish — but the P20 Pro’s triple lens camera module definitely looks better than the big square module on the back of the Mate 20 Pro.

Something Huawei has improved is the water resistance, with the Mate 20 Pro scoring an IP68 rating compared to the P20 Pro’s IP67 rating. Both can handle a short dunk without damage, but the Mate 20 Pro can handle slightly deeper water. Neither is going to handle falls well, so you’ll want to look at some good cases.

We’re going to give the Mate 20 Pro the nod here, but we do think the P20 Pro looks better from the back.

Winner: Huawei Mate 20 Pro 

Display

Hauwei Mate 20 Pro
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

You’ll find top-quality AMOLED screens in both of these phones. The P20 Pro has a 6.1-inch display with a 2,240 x 1,080-pixel resolution which translates to 408 pixels-per-inch (ppi). The Mate 20 Pro has a slightly bigger 6.4-inch display with a 3,120 x 1,440-pixel resolution for a pixel density of 538 ppi. The taller display in the Mate 20 Pro isn’t just bigger, it’s also sharper and so it wins this round.

Winner: Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Camera

Hauwei Mate 20 Pro
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Huawei has stuck with a triple lens setup on the Mate 20 Pro, just like the P20 Pro, but there are some differences. The Mate 20 Pro has a main lens rated at 40 megapixels with an f/1.8 aperture, with an ultra wide-angle lens with 20 megapixels and an f/2.2 aperture, and a telephoto 8-megapixel lens with an f/2.4 aperture. On paper, the P20 Pro set up looks familiar with 40-megapixel, 20-megapixel, and 8-megapixel lenses, but the monochrome lens we loved so much in the P20 Pro is gone. Huawei has essentially swapped the monochrome lens for a super wide-angle lens and the Mate 20 Pro camera is likely to be more versatile as a result.

Both phones have a 24-megapixel front-facing camera for stunning selfies, but only the Mate 20 Pro offers proper facial scanning and 3D Live Emoji.

Winner: Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Software and updates

Huawei EMUI
EMUI 9.0 Beta Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

While the P20 Pro launched with Android 8.1 Oreo, Huawei has started to roll out the Android 9.0 Pie update. The Huawei Mate 20 Pro launches with Android 9.0 Pie on board. Both feature Huawei’s EMUI on top which adds various customization options and extra features. The software experience on these phones is going to be identical and we expect them to continue to get updates for a similar period of time, so there’s no dividing them here.

Winner: Tie

Special features

Hauwei Mate 20 Pro
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Although most of the special artificial intelligence features are available on both phones, powered by the dedicated neural processing unit, the newer Mate 20 Pro chip should prove faster and more capable. The Mate 20 Pro also supports much faster charging and a special reverse wireless charging ability that enables it to act as a wireless charger for another phone, though we’re not sure you will want to donate your extra battery life very often. Factor in the FaceID-like, front-facing camera capabilities and the Mate 20 Pro is the clear winner here.

Winner: Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Price

The P20 Pro was never officially released in the U.S. and it would have cost you close to $1,000 to import one when it was first released, but that price has dropped considerably and you can pick one up now for between $700 and $800. By contrast, the new Huawei Mate 20 Pro is going on sale at 1,049 euros, which is a staggering $1,220. There is a chance Huawei will release it stateside in the new year, probably for closer to $1,000, but we can’t say for sure.

Overall winner: Huawei Mate 20 Pro

It’s more powerful, boasts a bigger screen, faster charging, and a more versatile camera, but the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is also considerably more expensive. The Huawei P20 Pro is still a strong flagship that outperforms many big competitors, so if you’re choosing between these two right now, we wouldn’t blame you for snagging it and saving the difference. If you already have a P20 Pro, the Mate 20 Pro isn’t enough of a jump to merit an upgrade, but it is definitely the better phone.

Editors’ Recommendations

This city is letting people try out self-driving cars for free

If you’re visiting Arlington, Texas, and have been itching to try out an autonomous vehicle, you’re in luck. 

Starting Friday, three Drive.ai self-driving cars (and eventually five) will be available to ride — for anyone, not just office workers, city officials, or a select group of “early riders.” Back in July, Drive.ai piloted the autonomous Nissan NV200 vans in Frisco, Texas. The Arlington deployment will be around for the next year.

“This is a not a quick demonstration,” CEO Bijit Halder said in a phone call this week.

If you’re interested, you can download the Drive.ai app or order a car from a kiosk at five pickup points. The cars are taking passengers along three routes that hit the Dallas Cowboys stadium, the Texas Rangers ballpark, the Arlington Convention Center, restaurant districts, and other venues. 

The cars aren’t entirely driverless — there’s a safety driver in the driver’s seat and a “chaperone” in the passenger seat. But they’re still recognizable as self-driving cars. CEO Halder called them “distinct.” They’re bright orange and blue, with a special city emblem on the side. “Self-driving cars should stand out and proclaim itself as a self-driving car,” Halder said.

Drive.ai has three self-driving cars in its second Texas city.

Drive.ai has three self-driving cars in its second Texas city.

Human-robot interaction is a key component of Drive.ai’s vehicles. Digital panels on the car have images and words displayed to tell pedestrians, bicyclists, and others on the road what the car is going to do, such as stop for you to cross. They also inform people outside the car whether it’s in self-driving or manual mode.  

Here’s what that looks like on the road.

The year-long pilot will provide a trove of feedback about the self-driving experience, something Halder relishes.

Back from the experience in Frisco, the autonomous vehicle company had thought riders would ask about safety. Instead many passengers asked about controlling the music that played during the ride. Halder took this as a promising sign. “If you’re bored, I’m happy,” he said.

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Facebook’s fight against fake news is actually working. Sort of.

Facebook’s promise to fight fake news is finally starting to work. Well, sort of. It depends on where you look. 

Almost two years after the company vowed to start taking its fake news problem seriously, some of those efforts are beginning to pay off, even if things aren’t moving nearly fast enough for some.

The social network has introduced a new series called “The Hunt for False News,” which includes specific examples of widely shared fake news on the platform. 

It’s partly a status update on the company’s efforts to fight misinformation and partly an effort at instilling a bit more media literacy in users (assuming they think to check Facebook’s official blog posts in the first place). The initial post provides three examples of fake news stories that have made the rounds on Facebook over the last several months:

  • A story titled “NASA will pay you $100,000 to stay in bed for 60 days!” (Spoiler: they won’t.) 

  • A video captioned “Man from Saudi spits in the face of the poor receptionist at a Hospital in London then attacks other staff.” (The video was old and originated in Kuwait.)

  • A photo that falsely identified a man as the attacker who stabbed a candidate in Brazil’s upcoming presidential election.

All of the stories were eventually debunked by Facebook’s third-party fact checkers and demoted in News Feed. But not before these items were shared. In the case of the fake story about NASA, the story still “racked up millions of views on Facebook,” before it was debunked.

“We’re getting better at detecting and enforcing against false news, even as perpetrators’ tactics continue to evolve. And while we caught and reduced the distribution of many pieces of misinformation on Facebook this summer, there are still some we miss,” writes Facebook product manager Antonia Woodford.

“We’re getting better at detecting and enforcing against false news, even as perpetrators’ tactics continue to evolve.”

On the whole, Woodford says that Facebook is getting better and better at stopping the spread of fake news. Elsewhere, academic studies have also suggested the company’s efforts have been paying off. A September study found that websites peddling fake news have seen significant drops in Facebook engagement since 2016 — results  Facebook has also touted as proof its fake news initiatives are working. 

But while progress may be being made, experts have pointed out that there are still serious issues with Facebook’s approach: There simply aren’t enough third-party fact checkers to keep up with the constant flood of misinformation, for one.

Consider this, from a story this week in The Wall Street Journal, which detailed the experiences of some of Facebook’s fact-check partners, including Factcheck.org (emphasis added):

Out of Factcheck’s full-time staff of eight people, two focus specifically on Facebook. On average, they debunk less than one Facebook post a day. Some of the other third-party groups reported similar volumes. None of the organizations said they had received special instructions from Facebook ahead of the midterms, or perceived a sense of heightened urgency.

Reading this, it’s not difficult to understand why it’s so hard for fact checkers to address false information before it’s widely distributed in Facebook’s News Feed. It’s always going to be faster to share something that’s inflammatory and wrong than it is to professionally debunk it. Which brings up another issue: How many people who see or share a fake news story also see its debunking, which can come days or even weeks later? 

Facebook has said that it notifies users and page administrators when a story they had previously shared is debunked by a fact checker, but that hardly guarantees they’ll actually see the message (particularly in an era when there’s an overwhelming amount of spammy Facebook notifications to begin with). It also does nothing to address those who may have seen the original post somewhere on Facebook but didn’t turn around and share it themselves. 

These issues are even more amplified in countries where false information is especially prevalent and Facebook is particularly influential. Earlier this month, The New York Times reported on the impossible task facing Facebook’s fact checkers in the Philippines.

There, fact checkers not only can’t keep up with the pace of false information, but also, they regularly deal with death threats and other harassment, according to the report. 

The same is true in Brazil, where fact checkers are using WhatsApp to try to counter rampant fake news ahead of the country’s elections. (These efforts aren’t going nearly far enough, according to many experts.)

Facebook, for its part, is aware that it has to keep doing more, even if it can’t wipe fake news out entirely. 

“Because it’s evolving, we’ll never be able to catch every instance of false news — though we can learn from the things we do miss. As a company, one of our biggest priorities is understanding the total volume of misinformation on Facebook and seeing that number trend downward,” product manager Tessa Lyons writes.

So while there is reason to be optimistic about Facebook’s efforts to get ahead of fake news, the problem is still far from solved.

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It’s about time! A USB-C magnetic charger for the Apple Watch has finally arrived

Apple Watch Series 4 Review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

While most of the recent buzz surrounding Apple has been about the iPhone XR, the company has also introduced a new accessory to its lineup for the Apple Watch. First spotted by 9to5 Mac, a USB-C charger for the smartwatch is currently listed on Apple’s site and will be available starting October 24.

Featuring a 0.3-meter cable and coming in at $29, the new Apple Watch charger doesn’t look any different than its predecessors, you’ll now be able to purchase an Apple Watch charger that’s compatible with current MacBook models — aside from the MacBook Air.

apple watch usb c charger

The news comes only a day after Apple sent out invites to its hardware event on October 30, where the company is expected to debut its new iPad Pro, as well as new Mac models. While any rumors have yet to be confirmed, it’s been reported that the iPad Pro will ditch the Lightning port for USB-C as well — but we’ll have to wait until the end of the month for any concrete information.

The new charger also arrives just in time for those who purchased an Apple Watch following the release of the Apple Watch Series 4, which boasts a few new features. Since there’s a 30-percent larger display and a redesigned modular watch face, users can see more detailed information like stocks, heart rate, track scores, and more. The smartwatch also has the ability to screen your heart rhythm in the background and send you a notification if it detects irregular rhythm — which could point to atrial fibrillation.

Battery life on the Series 4 remains the same, with 18-hour all-day battery life. Apple increased outdoor workout time to 6 hours, with full GPS tracking for long bike rides. In our review of the smartwatch, we found that with only notifications turned on and shutting it off overnight, it was able to last close to 24 hours — but that’s without GPS, fitness tracking, or cellular.

As for the new USB-C charger, 9to5Mac notes that it won’t charge your Apple Watch quicker than the Type-A since the induction charger on the back of the Apple Watch remains the same. But it will be far more convenient for those who use their MacBooks as a power source.

Editors’ Recommendations

Super Deluxe gets shut down by Turner, again

Super Deluxe, Turner Broadcasting’s home for wonderfully weird and wacky comedy, is shutting down. Deadline reports that Turner Media decided to axe the internet-turned-TV comedy hub 12 years after the company was first acquired. Super Deluxe helped start the careers of some of today’s best comedians, including Maria Bamford and Tim Heidecker.

This isn’t the first time Turner has shut down Super Deluxe. After launching in 2006, Super Deluxe was rolled into Adult Swim in 2008. Turner decided to bring it back as a standalone network about three years ago, with a focus on creating longer-form TV series.

Super Deluxe co-founder Shahruz Shaukat confirmed the news on Twitter earlier today, adding in a follow-up tweet that the team had known “since the beginning of the year basically.”

Turner’s statement to Deadline about the decision to shut down Super Deluxe said there had been issues regarding “duplication with other business units in our new WarnerMedia portfolio.”

“Super Deluxe found inspiring ways of connecting with a new generation and many of their best practices will be adopted by other Turner properties as we redirect this investment back into our portfolio,” the statement reads.

AT&T, which merged with Time Warner earlier this year, is gearing up to launch a streaming service with multiple WarnerMedia networks.