TIME Companies

Amazon Is Pulling Down Confederate Flag Merchandise

Confederate flag
Joe Raedle — Getty Images The Confederate flag is seen flying on the Capitol grounds a day after South Carolina Gov.

Following Wal-Mart and eBay

Amazon is removing Confederate flag merchandise after a fatal church shooting last week sparked a heated debate over the nature and meaning of the symbol, a company spokesperson confirmed to TIME.

The move comes after several other major companies made similar moves, including brick-and-mortar Amazon rival Walmart and online auction site eBay. Those companies’ decisions increased pressure on Amazon to take similar measures. Pressure also came from several Twitter users who pointed out that Confederate flag gear was beginning to appear on an Amazon page that lists items suddenly selling better than usual over the last 24 hours. The sales of one such item were up 7,000% early Tuesday since the previous day.

Since last week’s shooting, which claimed nine lives at a predominantly black church in Charleston, S.C., several prominent lawmakers and commentators across the political spectrum have begun to question the Confederate flag’s presence on the grounds of South Carolina’s statehouse. While some have defended the flag as a symbol of heritage rather than hate, many argue the flag has irrevocable ties to the violent racism that in part fueled the American Civil War, and as such does not belong in a position of honor at a government facility.

TIME Gadgets

Canon’s Newest Camera Has Utterly Insane Zoom

Canon Powershot G3 X
Canon Canon Powershot G3 X

But is that enough to get people to buy one?

It’s too bad Mazda called shotgun on the “Zoom Zoom” tagline, because it would be perfect for Canon’s latest compact camera.

Canon’s new Powershot G3 X boasts a remarkable 25x zoom lens that’s equal to a 24mm-600mm focal length range. Translation? The G3 X can take really nice photos of stuff that’s very far away — especially because it’s also got an image stabilization system that helps with those telephoto shots.

Some of the other big features on the Powershot G3 X include a 20.2 megapixel sensor, 3.2 inch LCD display, 1080p video recording, high-speed shooting modes and on-board Wi-Fi and Near Field Communication (NFC) for quickly getting photos from the camera to a computer, tablet or smartphone. The G3 X’s sensor is also an inch wide, making it far more capable for low-light photography than typical smartphones.

The G3 X is clearly Canon’s response to the growing number of casual photographers ditching their standalone cameras because smartphones have gotten pretty great at taking pictures that are “good enough.” Canon’s profits were down 29% in the first quarter of the year, matching woes across the industry. The one thing smartphone cameras can’t do very well yet is zoom — the “zooming” you’re doing on your iPhone is really just cropping, and you’re sacrificing the quality of your photograph by doing so.

Still, it’s doubtful many casual photographers would fork over Canon’s asking price for the G3 X — a staggering $999.99 — just to get a little closer to the action. At that price point, an older DSLR body with a medium-budget telephoto lens would probably be a better bet anyway — as long as you don’t mind carrying a big, bulky lens. But if you’re looking for a compact camera with lots of zoom and price isn’t much of a factor, the G3 X looks to be a pretty compelling option.

 

TIME Smartphones

We Might Finally Get An Eye-Rolling Emoji

And it's about time

At long last, an “eye roll” emoji could be coming to your smartphone.

How emoji get approved is kind of wonky, but here goes: The Unicode Consortium is a non-profit group that oversees the communications standard emoji rely upon. The Consortium has approved the “Face With Rolling Eyes” emoji for inclusion in that standard, emoji blog Emojipedia reports.

Here’s a sample emoji from the Consortium. If Apple or Google ever included this emoji in iOS or Android, it would look different.

72x72x1f644-unicode-example.png.pagespeed.ic.qTNY95O1Xa (1)

But this doesn’t mean the eye-rolling emoji will suddenly show up on your iPhone or Android. Apple, Google and other platform-makers have to decide for themselves which emoji to add to their devices. A new emoji getting included in the Unicode Standard just means the new selection is available to those companies as an option.

Back in May, Emojipedia reported that a middle finger emoji is coming to Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 10 operating system.

TIME Video Games

Watch Nintendo’s E3 2015 Event Live Right Here

We'll learn more about the company's plans for the year

Watch live video from Nintendo on www.twitch.tv

Nintendo is set to announce new games and other big news at its E3 2015 event Thursday starting at 12 p.m. ET. Expect new details about its upcoming Zelda and Star Fox titles, and perhaps more specific information about Nintendo’s plans to make games for mobile devices.

There’s a long shot chance we could hear about Nintendo’s next gaming console, currently referred to as the Nintendo NX, as well. But it’s probably not going to make an appearance.

Stay tuned to TIME for more E3 video game news as the week goes on.

TIME Video Games

See the Battle of Hoth Like Never Before in This Star Wars Battlefront Trailer

"Just one more pass"

Electronic Arts just released new gameplay footage for the second most-anticipated Star Wars thing of the year: Star Wars Battlefront.

The new trailer — taken from footage shot in a pre-alpha build on a PlayStation 4 — shows the Battle of Hoth from the side of both the Rebels and the Imperials. You get to see a variety of weapons, ships, cockpits and characters, including big two surprises at the very end.

The footage was shown to an audience during EA’s Monday E3 event.

Star Wars Battlefront is due out across platforms Nov. 17, almost exactly a month before the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters on Dec. 18.

TIME Video Games

Watch the Mass Effect Andromeda E3 Announcement Trailer

A new Mass Effect game is finally coming

The hotly anticipated next entry in game developer BioWare’s Mass Effect series will drop in the holiday 2016 season, the company announced at an E3 2015 event Monday.

Aside from its title — Mass Effect Andromeda — we don’t know all too much about this upcoming game. BioWare said the footage above is from a “conceptual prototype,” so it’s pretty early days for the first Mass Effect game since 2012.

Check out the footage above for more on Mass Effect Andromeda.

TIME Video Games

Watch the Heart-Pounding New Trailer for Gears of War 4

It could be a new direction for the franchise

Gears of War 4 is coming to Xbox One for the 2016 holiday season, Microsoft announced at its E3 2015 event Monday.

Microsoft treated the E3 crowd to a fairly lengthy demo of Gears of War 4, featuring a male and female character on the prowl for some kind of alien creature. Faced with some kind of electromagnetic tornado of imminent death, the pair duck into a castle for cover — only to find it covered in what appear to be alien egg sacs. Finally, there’s a guns-a-blazin’ shootout near the end.

Beyond these scant details, we still don’t know much about Gears of War 4 — or just “Gears 4″ for short. Check out the trailer for yourself above.

TIME Video Games

Here’s Everything Microsoft Announced for Xbox at E3 Today

Microsoft had a busy Monday

Microsoft had a plethora of Xbox news at E3 2015 on Monday dealing with titles from Halo 5 to Minecraft. Here’s a roundup of everything you might have missed:

Xbox One is getting backward compatibility. It will launch with 100 titles later this year and let you play the Xbox 360 games you already own for free.

Halo 5: Guardians has a new multiplayer mode. It’s called “Warzone,” and it looks like the Battlefield series, with 24-player modes and maps that are up to four times bigger. Halo 5 is out Oct. 27.

Microsoft is making a new Xbox One controller. The “Wireless Elite” has highly customizable buttons and works with Windows 10 as well:

Forza 6 has a release date. It’s out Sept. 16. Get ready to drive real fast, again.

So does Dark Souls III. Well, it’s “early 2016.”

Gears of War 4 is coming out for “holiday 2016.” Here’s a gameplay preview, while a remastered version of the original is out today to tide you over.

You’ll be able to play some Xbox One games before they’re finished. It’s called Xbox One Game Preview and it’s similar to what Steam does with Early Access.

Microsoft rebuilt Minecraft for the HoloLens. And it looks flipping fantastic.

TIME e3 2015

Microsoft’s Xbox One Just Fixed Its Biggest Problem

Something players have been clamoring for since day one

Microsoft is adding backward compatibility to its Xbox One console, the company announced at its E3 event Monday to great applause from the crowd. The feature will let Xbox One owners play older Xbox 360 titles on their new console, with added features.

“Last year, the team decided to tackle a feature that has consistently been at the top of your request list,” said Xbox head Phil Spencer. “Your Xbox 360 games, the games you’ve invested your time and money in, and the games you want to continue to play, will be playable natively on your Xbox One.”

The Xbox One backward compatibility will roll out by the holidays with around 100 titles at launch. Players will not be charged to access the Xbox 360 games they already own, the company said.

TIME Smartphones

Why We Finally Have the First True ‘Smartphones’

It's about time

When did smartphones become “smart?” Was it when they added Internet browsers? Multi-touch-sensing screens? Poop emoji? There’s nothing truly smart about any of those features, many of which had been around for years before the iPhone revolution. In fact, our phones were still pretty dumb for years after the prefix “smart” started getting attached to them and then pretty much everything else.

That is finally changing. With Apple’s announcement Monday of a smarter, “proactive” Siri that absorbs your behaviors and predicts what you’ll need and when, the company is finally joining rivals Google and Microsoft in making smartphones that actually are. Smarts, or intelligence, isn’t simply a matter of more sensors, more processing power, more features. It means being able to change behavior by employing all that technology.

Google has long led the way with Google Now, which can, for instance, pull up your electronic boarding pass when it’s time for your next flight or map the best route to the office based on current traffic conditions. Microsoft’s Cortana, which is being improved and included as part of the company’s upcoming Windows 10, is equally intelligent, if not potentially moreso. And now Siri is getting smarter, too.

There’s something new and a little strange about this kind of electronic intelligence. Namely, they feel like a combination of magic and “well, duh.” All the information your phone needs to let you know it’s time to leave for your next meeting is already baked in—your calendar app has your appointments, your GPS knows where you’re at right now, your mapping app is getting live traffic data. Why shouldn’t your phone be able to tie all that together for you? Android users have known this pleasure for years, Apple loyalists are about to learn it, many for the first time.

That’s the simple stuff, though. Things get more interesting when your phone starts trying to learn your daily habits and serve you up the content it thinks you want at a given moment. It sounds promising—no more awkwardly fiddling through folders and apps searching for what you want. But how accurate could it possibly be? Are we predictable enough—boring enough, in other words— that Siri will really get us?

Sadly, for me at least, the answer is yes. Siri will learn that I open up one news reader on the subway every weekday morning, but I prefer a different one on weekends. She’ll learn that I text my fiancée to figure out dinner plans almost every afternoon. She’ll learn the embarrassing amount of time I spend reading Marvel comics after work. And that’s when I will get an actual smartphone.

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