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Overwatch’s next hero is Sigma, a scientist who controls gravity

Overwatch Sigma

Blizzard has revealed the 31st hero to join the ranks of Overwatch. Today, the company released a short animated trailer that showcases Sigma, a scientist who appears to have survived some sort of dramatic event that left him with the ability to control gravity in some fashion. “Gravity is a harness,” Sigma says in the trailer. “I have harnessed the harness.” Blizzard also describes him as “an eccentric astrophysicist who hopes to unlock the secrets of the universe, unaware that he is being used as a living weapon.”

Unfortunately, the animated clip is mostly a teaser that doesn’t actually show Sigma in the game, so we don’t know anything about his special abilities or even what class of hero he is.

Sigma follows the release of the combat...

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WhatsApp has arrived on KaiOS, the OS used by the Nokia 8110

Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge

KaiOS, the phone operating system used on feature phones like last year’s Nokia 8110 remake, finally has an official version of WhatsApp. The app can be downloaded from the KaiStore for KaiOS devices with 256MB or 512MB of RAM, and it will come preinstalled on select phones starting in the third quarter of this year. The KaiOS version of the app supports both calling and messaging, and it includes end-to-end encryption just like it does on Android and iOS.

WhatsApp has been gradually released for select KaiOS devices over the past year. Last September, the app came to JioPhone handsets, which run the OS, and Android Authority reported that it came to the Nokia 8110 back in April, but only in India. Today marks the first time it is...

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This website uses AI to turn your selfies into haunted classical portr

A selection of portraits produced by the AI Portrait Ars model.

Bored of using AI to age yourself into a desiccated husk? Why not use it to turn your selfies into harrowing but artistic portraits instead? Head over to aiportraits.com, home of a fun little widget built by researchers at the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab, and upload a photo to try out an artistic transformation for yourself.

The site uses an algorithm trained on 45,000 classical portraits to render your face in faux oil, watercolor, or ink. There’s a huge number of styles included in this database, covering artists from Rembrandt to Titian to van Gogh, with each input producing a unique portrait.

The algorithm doesn’t just copy the lines of your facial features, but it uses them as a base to generate an entirely new...

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Etsy is acquiring Reverb, a new and used music gear marketplace

Amplifier And Effects Pedal Hardware Shoot Photo by Neil Godwin/Guitarist Magazine via Getty Images

Etsy, the e-commerce platform for handmade goods, is acquiring music gear marketplace Reverb for $275 million in cash. The site, which sells new, used, and vintage musical instruments and accessories, will continue to operate as a standalone business.

The two companies have a natural connection to each other, with Etsy CEO Josh Silverman describing Reverb “as the ‘Etsy’ of musical instruments.” Reverb CEO David Kalt also credited Etsy with giving him the confidence to launch his own marketplace. Kalt, a former guitar store owner, started the site in 2013 to create a place where musicians could buy and sell instruments from each other. Kalt will step down from the CEO position after the acquisition closes, which is expected in the third...

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Slack’s new desktop app loads 33 percent faster and uses less RAM

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Slack is unveiling a new version of its desktop app for Windows and macOS today that promises big performance improvements. Slack has rebuilt its desktop app to focus on speed, and the company claims Slack will now launch 33 percent faster than before. The Slack app will even use 50 percent less RAM than before, according to the company.

Both of these performance improvements will be noticeable for many of Slack’s customers, but they’re particularly key if you use multiple workspaces in the existing Slack desktop app. Slack has totally rebuilt the desktop app so that all of the underlying code is multi-workspace aware. The result is that Slack will no longer create a standalone copy for each workspace and take up RAM for each instance....

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Microsoft invests $1 billion in OpenAI to pursue holy grail of artific

Some of OpenAI’s recent work has included improving robot dexterity. | Photo: OpenAI

Microsoft is investing $1 billion in OpenAI, a San Francisco-based research lab founded by Silicon Valley luminaries, including Elon Musk and Sam Altman, that’s dedicated to creating artificial general intelligence (AGI).

The investment will make Microsoft the “exclusive” provider of cloud computing services to OpenAI, and the two companies will work together to develop new technologies. OpenAI will also license some of its tech to Microsoft to commercialize, though when this may happen and what tech will be involved has yet to be announced.

OpenAI began as a nonprofit research lab in 2015 and was intended to match the high-tech R&D of companies like...

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The Boom 3’s Magic Button turned a good speaker into the best one

In today’s digital age, it sometimes feels like hardware has taken a back seat to the software that drives our devices. Button of the Month is a monthly look at what some of those buttons and switches are like on devices old and new, and it aims to appreciate how we interact with our devices on a physical, tactile level.

The Ultimate Ears Boom has long been the best Bluetooth speaker around. But for all its popularity, the line of speakers was plagued for years by a critical flaw: it lacked a play / pause button. Then, in 2018, it finally got one, and the addition has made all the difference between the Boom being a great Bluetooth speaker and the single best option for taking music to the pool.

The Magic Button (its name, not mine) does...

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Instagram quantified our popularity, and now it wants to fix it

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales

Instagram announced a fundamental change in April: users in Canada would begin testing a new feature that hides the number of likes their posts receive. The announcement was met with uncertainty over how it would change the way we use Instagram. But after a couple of months in testing, people appear to love it.

“Without seeing the Likes count on feed posts now, I find myself more clearly focused on the actual quality of the content being posted,” user Matt Dusenbury tells me over Instagram direct message.

People in the test group can still see the number of likes their posts garnered, so long as they tap through it. Everyone else, however, cannot. Instagram says the goal is to make people “focus on the photos and videos you share, not...

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Dota 2 tournament The International 2019 surpasses $30 million prize p

Dota 2 The International 8 Photo courtesy Valve.

The International remains the most lucrative e-sports tournament for at least another year, with a prize pool that grew to more than $30 million over the weekend.

Valve’s massive Dota 2 tournament, which is heading into its ninth annual iteration, features a prize pool that’s largely crowdfunded, a tradition dating back to 2013. Back in May, Valve released a “battle pass” for the game, which is available at different tiers and earns players special features like rare in-game cosmetics and special limited events. A quarter of that money is used to fill out the prize pool for Dota 2’s biggest tournament of the year. Last year’s event, which took place in Vancouver, featured a then-record $25.5 million purse.

The $30 million milestone is...

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