The Morning After: Apple's new fitness feature is a guided walk with Dolly Parton

Engadget, Mat Smith and Richard Lawler
·4 min read

How are those mid-pandemic, new-year-new-you fitness goals going? My diet is still atrocious, but I’m grinding out my workouts. We’ve got two stories today that take different approaches to coaxing us all into being a little more active.

Future Fit
Future Fit

Through the app Future, Senior Editor Nicole Lee hired a remote personal trainer that cut her no slack, while Apple surprised us all with a new Fitness+ feature that spices up your outdoor walks with celebrity narration. Isn’t that just a podcast? Er, kind of. However, the first wave of stars, such as Dolly Parton, Draymond Green and Shawn Mendes (ugh, I’ll skip), will include a selection of music tracks to go alongside their walking ruminations.

All you need is your Apple wearable, a Fitness+ subscription and a pair of wireless headphones — you can leave your phone at home. New episodes will arrive every Monday from now through the end of April.

— Mat Smith

Apple shuffles hardware execs to make room for a mysterious new project

Something is in the works, and it’s probably not another pair of expensive headphones.

Former Apple Senior VP of Engineering Dan Riccio is now focusing on a mysterious “new project” at Apple where he will still report directly to CEO Tim Cook. For it to need leadership from a guy who’s run everything from iPad development to Macs to the recent AirPods Max, it must be big, right? Based on recent rumors, the best bet is Apple’s augmented/virtual reality headset, with the Project Titan car initiative close behind.

Riccio will still hold the title of Vice President of Engineering, but his replacement on the executive team is John Ternus. Ternus has been the VP of engineering since 2013, and Apple’s announcement notes he was a key figure in developing its custom M1 CPUs.
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‘Babylon 5 Remastered’ is available to buy or stream on HBO Max

The new version is available only in 4:3 aspect ratio.

Babylon 5 on HBO Max
Babylon 5 on HBO Max

Nearly 30 years after its first broadcast and close to 20 since its troubled DVD release, Babylon 5 is finally getting a polish. Warner Bros. is launching Babylon 5 Remastered both as a digital download (from iTunes and Amazon where available) and on HBO Max.

Speaking to Engadget, a Warner Bros. spokesperson explained how they scanned the original Babylon 5 Remastered camera negative then transferred the film sequences into 4K before they downscaled it to HD, with a dirt and scratch clean-up as well as color correction. The show’s CGI and composite sequences, meanwhile, were digitally upscaled to HD with only some minor tweaks where absolutely necessary.

Engadget has extensively covered the interesting and tortured journey that Babylon 5 took to reach home video. Rather than repeat ourselves here, we’d recommend you read this report from 2018 explaining the story in-depth.
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How Biden and Harris could refocus the White House on science

The administration has committed $300 billion to R&D and breakthrough technologies as part of its Innovate in America plan.

The new Biden administration plans to make a clean break from Trump’s openly hostile stance towards the sciences. Among the many departures from his predecessor’s policy positions, Biden has pledged to “restore trust in science” and “pay great attention” to scientists as a matter of course in crafting responses to the COVID pandemic and climate change.
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Huawei may spin off its P and Mate smartphone brands

The company has denied the reports, again.

Honor / Huawei
Honor / Huawei

After selling its spin-off phone brand, Honor, last year, Huawei may do the same to its premium Mate and P smartphone series, in a bid to get around US sanctions, according to a Reuters report. The company — which denies the sell-off — has reportedly been talking to a consortium led by investment firms backed by the Shanghai government since as far back as last September. In summer 2020, Huawei topped the global smartphone sales charts with 55.1 million units shipped.
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Twitter’s new ‘Birdwatch’ experiment crowdsources fact-checking

Birdwatch is Twitter’s latest effort to fight misinformation on its platform.

Birdwatch
Birdwatch

“Birdwatch allows people to identify information in Tweets they believe is misleading and write notes that provide informative context,” Twitter wrote in a blog post. This “community-driven approach” crowdsources fact checks directly from Twitter users.

Under the pilot program, users can apply to participate, and it will only be available to a “small test group” initially. Approved Birdwatch contributors can select tweets with misinformation and append their own notes, similar to a fact-checking website. It’s one of Twitter’s biggest forays into fact-checking.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter still hasn’t established formal partnerships with third-party fact checkers. Twitter added: “We know this might be messy and have problems at times, but we believe this is a model worth trying.”
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