The hoverbikes are coming

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Autonomous passenger drones might be coming to Dubai this summer, but in Russia I had the chance to check out this startup which literally wants to build a hoverbike.

Emerging from the Skolkovo “startups and science park” just outside of Moscow, human-carrying drone maker Hoversurf has created a single-seat hoverbike which looks awesome, but does rather make you fear for your legs, let alone the legs of other people you might encounter.

The Scorpion-3 is the updated version of the prototype Scorpion-1 I saw being demonstrated on a tennis court, but is fundamentally the same thing. The pilot sits on it like a motorcycle, and flies around just like you might expect a hoverbike to do. However, as you can see from even the official videos, it’s still got some way to go before it matches the hoverbikes you might have seen in movies like Star Trek.

Hoversurf is positioning the bike as an “extreme sports instrument,” and to buy one might set you back at least six figures, so I wouldn’t expect to see the bike on your local highway any time soon. However, they are looking at its “transportation potential.”

Hoversurf has developed its own in-house software to control the Scorpion-3 in either automated mode or with full-manual control. That means it also has in-built systems to automatically control and limit the maximum speed and altitude of the aircraft to prevent accidents. It flies a lot better than the version I encountered, that’s for sure.

Chief Engineer and co-founder Alex Atamanov tells me the electric version will hover around for about 30 minutes, but a hybrid version with a petrol engine will go for a whole hour, which rather puts a few other human-carrying drones into the shade.

Here’s their official video:

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Meanwhile in the U.K., Malloy Aeronautics has developed a “Hoverbike” which it plans to develop with the U.S. Army.

The hoverbike began its life as a Kickstarter project. The hoverbike is designed to do many of the same jobs as a helicopter, but without the problems, price or complexity.

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And if you need a reminder of Hollywood’s ideas about hoverbikes, here are a couple of examples:

The Island – The chase scene:
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Start Trek (reboot)
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The best deals on Apple’s MacBook Pro, Amazon’s Fire tablet, and more

While Apple this week released its new iPad and talked about its upcoming plans for an iMac Pro, let’s not forget its other productivity machine got a refresh not too long ago. The MacBook Pro — with and without the Touch Bar — is Apple’s flagship laptop, and right now it’s available at up to $250 off.

If you’re more in the market for tablets — and you happen to live near a Staples — you might be able to find the shiny new iPad for $30 off. And if you prefer spending less than $100 for a tablet, Amazon’s taking $10 to $20 off of its Fire devices.

Laptops

At Amazon and Best Buy, get up to $250 off select models of the newest MacBook Pro — with or without the Touch Bar. We’re not exactly sure how long the prices will be discounted; some of these models are included in Best Buy’s 2 Day Sale which ends tonight, and Amazon is showing low stock on a few models so you may want to act fast.

Tablets

Headphones

Gaming

Good Deals is a weekly roundup of the best deals on the internet, curated by Vox Media’s commerce editor, Chloe Reznikov, in collaboration with The Verge’s editorial team. You can submit deals to deals@theverge.com and find more Good Deals here.

Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.

Moto E4 and E4 Plus: News and rumors

Why it matters to you

Moto’s E devices have been darlings of the budget-conscious smartphone crowd and the E4 should give customers even more bang for their buck.

Motorola’s E line has proved over the last several years that you can spend double digits on a new smartphone and still get a quality experience. Last year’s Moto E3 launched in the United Kingdom for just 99 pounds ($122), with features like a quad-core processor, LTE, a Micro SD slot, a generously sized battery, and 5-inch 720p display — alongside a slightly more premium variant known as the E3 Power. Now, rumors indicate that Moto is looking to further drive the value proposition forward with two new devices: The Moto E4 and E4 Plus.

Although it is still early, we have some details on what to expect from Moto’s upcoming bargain smartphones.

More: Here’s everything we know about Lenovo’s second-generation Moto Z

Specs

Almost everything we think we know about the hardware powering the Moto E4 comes to us by way of the Federal Communications Commission, which certified two Motorola devices with model numbers XT1762 and XT1773 in March. These are believed to represent the E4 and E4 Plus, respectively, and were discovered by Roland Quandt.

The FCC report mentions a 2,800mAh battery for the XT1762 and a massive 5,000mAh battery for the XT1773. Quandt followed the release of these documents with a short list of alleged specs for the standard E4. According to his tweets, we will see 16GB of storage — an appreciable improvement over the E3’s 8GB — as well as LTE, 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2 low energy, Android 7.0 Nougat, and most notably, another MediaTek chipset.

Last year’s Moto E3 devices launched in September, so there is likely a very long way to go until we see the E4 debut — and a lot of time for more leaks. Look for updates to increase as we approach the fall.

Future Vision

Reports surfaced this week offering more details about Microsoft’s upcoming Project Scorpio platform. This new architecture that’ll end up in 2017 Xboxen is likely powerful enough to display 4K games and power a VR headset—capabilities that will help Microsoft gain back some ground in the console wars that Sony has captured with last year’s PSVR. The hosts discuss XBox, PlayStation, HoloLens, Oculus, and where Microsoft can take things from here. In the second half of the show, Paul Sarconi returns to tell us about his time spent with NextVR, the team producing 360-video basketball broadcasts for Gear VR and Daydream.

Some links: Two previous reports on Project Scorpio. The Verge story about the Xbox of the future. Every Hank Scorpio scene from The Simpsons. Jessi Hempel goes hands-on with the HoloLens for WIRED. Read all our virtual reality coverage. Recommendations this week: The CoffeeSock, Midori MD notebooks, and the Retro from Slickwraps.

Send the hosts feedback on their personal Twitter feeds. David Pierce is @pierce and Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab.

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Master your Samsung Galaxy S8 with these tips and tricks

Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is finally here, and it’s a looker. The South Korean company’s phone packs a gorgeous edge-to-edge curved screen, a beefed-up front-facing camera, a top-of-the-line processor, and a new virtual assistant powered by artificial intelligence. But like many devices of the Galaxy S8’s caliber, not every feature is easy to use — or find.

Luckily, we’ve spent enough time with the Galaxy S8 to get a handle on a few of its most useful functions. Here’s what you need to know.

More: Show your Galaxy S8 you care with one of these great cases

S8 tips for Bixby, S-Health, and emojis

How to use Bixby

Bixby, Samsung’s new AI-powered assistant, is a tap away from every screen. The Galaxy S8 has a dedicated Bixby button that will eventually trigger actions like sending a photo to a friend and casting a video to a smart TV. For now, though, it pulls up Bixby Home, Samsung’s take on a Google Now-style anticipatory assistant.

Bixby Home consists of cards highlighting the weather forecast, breaking news, and more. But it’s more than just an organizer. Home learns your preferences and habits over time — if you typically call a loved one after work, for example, it’ll serve up contact info at the appropriate time each day.

There’s more to Bixby than Home. Saying “Hey Bixby” pulls up Bixby Voice, a Siri-like voice assistant that gives restaurant recommendations, dictates text messages, controls Samsung’s Connected line of smart home products, and more. Bixby Vision, yet another component of the overarching AI, recognizes objects and text in images and directs you to relevant shopping links.

How to schedule a doctor’s appointment with S Health

Whether you’re feeling under the weather or due for a physical, the Galaxy S8’s built-in S Health app has you covered. Thanks to deep integration with WebMD and Amwell, you can browse symptoms and drugs, find nearby pharmacies, schedule an online visit with a doctor, and reserve a video appointment with a certified physician.

The new S Health app is capable of more. It can store information regarding upcoming appointments like symptoms, photos, prescriptions, and insurance information, and it offers quick access to emergency services.

How to use the new emoji

The Galaxy S8 ships with a bundle of new emoji from Emoji 4.0, the newest collection of icons approved by the Unicode Consortium. They include a giraffe, broccoli, a pretzel, chopsticks, a scientist, judge, pilot, teacher, and a boy with bunny ears.

Using them is as easy as pulling up the Galaxy S8’s default keyboard and tapping the emoji button. Then, it’s just a matter of scrolling through the the list until you find the one you want.

This whale trapped in a metal frame is swimming up the California coast

A gray whale with a metal frame caught around its head is making its way up the coast of California. No one knows exactly where the whale is or how it got entangled, but a bunch of volunteers are currently keeping their binoculars trained on the ocean to catch it. They hope to find the whale so professionals can free it before it dies, or disappears.

The animal was first spotted between San Diego and Los Angeles on Saturday April 1st, and it is expected to make an appearance near San Francisco between Friday and Saturday, according to calculations by Peggy Stap, executive director of the non-profit Monterey Bay Marine Life Studies. She is also co-founder of the Whale Entanglement Team — a volunteer group of spotters and certified disentanglers that works with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to respond to reports of entangled whales.

(Whale watchers who see an entangled whale should call NOAA’s hotline at (877) SOS-WHALE and should not attempt to help the whale themselves.)

Entanglements are not uncommon for whales and other marine mammals, which can become stuck on traps and abandoned fishing gear. When that happens, they can drown, starve, or die from infection. The gray whale with the metal frame is the second one entangled in fishing gear to be spied along California’s coastline in less than a month. In March, a gray whale with gill nets and fishing lines wrapped around its tail was spotted several times off the coast of Southern California — but conditions were too dangerous to attempt a rescue, GrindTV reports.

Right now, Eastern North Pacific gray whales are making their long migration from the shallow lagoons of Baja California, Mexico, where they breed, to the Bering and Chukchi Seas off the coasts of Alaska, where they feed. These massive creatures, which can grow to 50 feet in length and up to 80,000 pounds, are bottom feeders — sucking up the sediment on the ocean floor and the little crustaceans that live in it.

It’s not at all clear how the gray whale that’s been making headlines got entangled in the metal frame. We don’t even know what the frame might be. “We’ve dealt with lots of weird things, and more often or not the entanglements involve rope,” says Pieter Folkens, a marine mammal illustrator who has been specially trained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to free whales from entrapping lines and fishing gear. “We’ve never had a whale wrapped in metal before.”

It’s possible that it’s a piece of metal from an aquaculture pen, Folkens says, but that’s a “W-A-G — wild ass guess,” he adds. In fact, we don’t even know if the frame goes into the whale’s mouth or around its chin at the moment, which complicates attempts to plan a rescue.

The reports of entangled whales are on the rise — with 71 entangled whales reported off the west coast from Mexico all the way to Canada in 2016. Of those, 48 were confirmed — a record number since NOAA began keeping count in 1982. That could be due to a variety of reasons, including a rebounding population of whales, and even just more people reporting the entangled animals to authorities.

The Dungeness crab fishing season also opened later than usual last year, because of unsafe levels of the neurotoxin domoic acid. With the shortened season and limited areas open to fishing, the crab traps were more concentrated in places that also had a lot of humpback whale activity. “So there was a pretty heavy co-occurrence, or overlap, between high concentration of whales, and high concentrations of gear,” Justin Viezbicke, the California stranding coordinator for NOAA, told The Verge. “That usually equals problems.”

Front of the NOAA entangled whales brochure.
Brochure by NOAA

In 2016, the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group came up with a new best practices guide to try and curb the number of entanglements. “We very much are trying to work with the fishermen, and we realize that these guys’ livelihoods depend on it,” Viezbicke says. But, he adds, these entanglements could put a sizeable dent in the populations of whales living off the west coast of North America. “If we keep going at this rate, it’s problematic — and so we have to find more solutions, and try to be more preventative.”

Folkens is currently waiting for the whale to be spotted again. If it is, and if conditions are safe enough to send a team into the water, the first step will probably be to affix a satellite tracking buoy to whatever is entangling the whale, Stap says. That way, they’ll be able to find the whale again. “You’ve got to think about it like a moving needle in a moving haystack,” she says. The team may also trail floating balls off the whale to slow it down, making it easier for a disentangling team to catch up to it again.

But Stap, Folkens, Viezbicke say they won’t know what they’ll be able to do to free the whale until they have more information. “Do we add more drag to something that’s on the head? If it’s in a bad position it could cause more problems than good,” Viezbicke says. “That’s the hard part for us — that there’s still a lots of unknowns. And with unknowns, there’s increased risk.”

Let’s Blaze: How stoners found a dope livestreaming home

For one, there’s the reality that your entire social media account could get shut down for showcasing pot.

That may vary from one platform to the next, but the possibility — and fear of it — remains. Even legitimate, legal businesses have had their pages torn down. In September, a review site in Canada called Lift Cannabis lost its entire Instagram account and 11,000 followers for showing photos of legal marijuana from licensed producers.

In Instagram’s community guidelines, it says even legal drug use isn’t allowed. Facebook, for its part, holds community standards that strictly prohibit any content promoting the sale of cannabis (even if it’s happening where the drug is legal). But even users showing marijuana that they’re not selling have been shut down.

And Facebook’s advertising opportunities for the cannabis industry, as you can probably guess, are no more accommodating. “Avoid using images of smoking-related accessories (like bongs and rolling papers),” the Facebook advertising policy reads. “Avoid using images of either recreational or medical marijuana.”

It makes for an online environment where the cannabis industry has trouble even existing.

“Facebook and Instagram were critical for us from a marketing perspective and for keeping in touch with our customers,” Joe Hodas, director of marketing at Colorado-based cannabis products seller Dixie Elixirs, told Fortune. “It really cuts off an arm, so to speak.”

As a result, these businesses find Toke With a much more welcoming, secure place where weed is readily accepted. And of course, so do people like Zeus, or StonedGamer.

In the hills of Los Angeles, at his Highland Park home, Zeus has created a little oasis in honor of his two favorite things. His bedroom is filled with High Times posters, a colorful collection of glassware from pipes to dab rigs, Simpsons memorabilia, and weed-loving swag like trucker hats that say “Play High, Stay High.” An arcade game and flat-screen TV are the few sources of light in the dimly-lit stoner cave.

He chats away after blazing through a sizable blunt. It’s left him baked and firmly planted on the couch, a game of Minecraft blaring on the big-screen TV before him. His eyes are laser-focused on the images of buildings and grass hills passing on the screen, a scene he narrates in great detail. “I built all of this,” he says of his digital creation with pride.

Beyond just getting high and playing video games, Zeus also earns a living hosting tournaments around California for people to do just that. These contests invite people to come get high and then wander into a maze of arcade and video game-playing. Meanwhile, Zeus also writes for Snoop Dogg’s Merry Jane and High Times.

Promoting his endeavors simply isn’t possible on arguably the biggest social platform for gamers: Twitch. Tales of other gamers getting their Twitch accounts deleted for an on-camera bong hit has been enough to keep Zeus off the platform — a precaution that makes sense considering Twitch’s no-nonsense stance.

“We discourage broadcasting the use of cannabis/marijuana on our services,” Chase, PR director of Twitch, wrote in an email to Mashable. “If doing so violates your local laws, causes you to inflict harm upon yourself, or is a focus of your broadcasts, this type of activity is entirely prohibited.”

Review: Mevo by Livestream

Mevo_TA.jpg

If you’re hosting your own live raw foods cooking show or DIY watch repair series on the web, you’re going to need a quality video streaming device. Makers, artists, thinkers, and tinkerers have started capitalizing in on the power of live video to bring their audiences into their studios and into their minds.

As the in-house social video producer here at WIRED, I’ve used livestreaming to showcase our editors testing new games, nerding out about new headphones, and following established artists.

Most live video producers these days use a smartphone rig, which involves cables, mounts, mics, and a handheld stabilizer. The Livestream Mevo ($399) makes the experience simpler, primarily because it’s a dedicated camera made just for broadcasting live video. You can set it in the room, pair it with the app on your phone, turn on auto-editing mode, and stream straight to the websites it supports. For now, that list includes Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, and the company’s own web-based platform, Livestream.

While the Mevo has a bit of feature catch-up to do, it’s a great tool for the blooming solo artist or entrepreneur—mostly because it’s an all-in-one package.

WIRED

With the Mevo, Livestream is clearly pushing the boundaries of how a camera should look and feel. It’s a rather un-camera-like cylinder under three inches tall, making it perfect for hiding within a scene and for getting people to forget a camera is watching them. The sleek black exterior is made of a sturdy, water-resistant material which encases the camera lens, so you don’t have to worry about dropping the camera, shooting in drizzle, or getting the lens dirty. A colored light around the top rim of the cylinder indicates the camera modes: charging, recording, low battery, Wi-Fi status, on and off. You can place the camera anywhere, or slot it into the included mount that screws onto a tripod.

The Mevo is very simple to use. Once you connect the camera to your phone and your social media profile, you can start streaming within minutes. The app allows you to cut between medium and close-up shots, and it even smooths out pans and zooms. This is the perfect introductory camera for those who want a straightforward livestream setup.

TIRED

While this was a great first iteration, Mevo will definitely benefit from updates. The camera itself can capture a 4K video image, but the streaming video image maxes out at 720p. The image also has a slight fish-eye effect, and doesn’t look as good as an image from my iPhone’s camera. The Mevo is also outperformed by the iPhone in low-light situations. The audio, unfortunately, is also not great. The sound can be improved, but only with additional devices.

The Mevo app must be running at all times in order for the livestream to function. This is extremely limiting. If you exit the Mevo app, it will stop your livestream. Unfortunately, I learned this from experience.

The camera is battery-powered and rather efficient—it lasts about an hour per charge—but the Mevo app will guzzle up your iPhone’s battery. The app will also make your phone very hot; during shoots, the iPhone grew uncomfortably warm in my hands.

Because the quality of the video, I am still using my iPhone over the Mevo. Also, while the Mevo works best when stationary, a smartphone on a hand-held stabilizer allows me to move fluidly within a scene and to go in for a close-up. However, I would still recommend the Mevo for its ease of use. Beyond connecting it to the app, there’s little technical savvy required to stream live video to a global audience.

RATING

6/10 – A solid choice for beginners, but a bit limiting for more experienced streamers.

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