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#MeTooSTEM founder out at Vanderbilt | Science – News


Neuroscientist BethAnn McLaughlin has left Vanderbilt University.

Lane Turner/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

BethAnn McLaughlin, the controversial neuroscientist who founded the advocacy organization #MeTooSTEM 14 months ago, said today that she has left Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville “by mutual agreement” with the institution.

“My employment and faculty appointment ended July 8. I value my time at Vanderbilt, and I look forward now to exploring new opportunities,” McLaughlin, 51, said in a statement issued through her lawyers.

McLaughlin was denied tenure in 2017 but appealed, saying her tenure process had been tainted by retaliation for her testimony in a sexual harassment case. A faculty committee in February declined to reverse that tenure denial. Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos, who will leave his post next month, accepted the committee’s decision.

Neither McLaughlin nor her lawyer, Ann Olivarius of McAlister Olivarius in Saratoga Springs, New York, would comment further. Vanderbilt issued a statement confirming McLaughlin’s departure and adding: “We thank Dr. McLaughlin for her work at Vanderbilt. We share a strong commitment to the success of women in STEM, and we wish Dr. McLaughlin well in her future endeavors.”

Sharona Gordon, a biophysicist at the University of Washington in Seattle who in February launched a petition trying to save McLaughlin’s job, suggests McLaughlin was not allowed to comment further as part of a legal settlement: “When the most visible face of the #MeTooSTEM movement is silenced, it sends a chilling message to targets of sexual harassment everywhere that the system is stacked against them.”

McLaughlin lobbied AAAS (publisher of Science) and the National Academy of Sciences to adopt policies allowing the ejection of sexual harassers; both have done so in recent months. She was also a key force pushing the U.S. National Institutes of Health to change its policies to deal more forcefully with sexual harassment, a process now in motion.

McLaughlin’s management of the nonprofit #MeTooSTEM, which was incorporated as a 501C3 charity in May, came under fire recently when women leaving the organization’s board accused her of a lack of transparency and of sidelining women of color.

The Red Tea Detox

Top – Uber Comfort lets you request extra legroom and crank up the AC before pickup


Uber is rolling out a new way to request extra legroom, quiet cars, and other amenities that are typically associated with its higher-priced Uber Black service. Dubbed Uber Comfort, the new service will be available today in over 40 markets in North America.

Uber Comfort is presented as a whole new product category in the app, alongside Uber X, Uber Pool, Uber Black, Uber Black SUV, and Uber XL. (Uber’s product lineup varies from city to city.) Think of it as fancier than Uber X, but less fancy than Uber Black. It’s also more expensive: riders can expect to pay around 20 to 40 percent more than a typical Uber X trip, according to a spokesperson.

So what do you get for that extra money? Newer cars, more legroom, and the ability to set the temperature in the vehicle before pickup. Uber Comfort customers will also have the (some would say) controversial power to request a conversation-free ride from their driver. Previously, “quiet mode” was only available to Uber Black customers.

Depending on who you talk to, Uber’s quiet mode is either a useful tool for riders who are deaf or hard of hearing, women who don’t want to have potentially creepy conversations with male drivers, or people with social anxiety or it’s a rude way for rich snobs to silence their drivers with just a tap in an app.

Uber Black customers, typically business travelers with expense accounts, still retain certain perks, like the ability to request help with luggage, access to 24/7 support, and pickup by professional drivers.

Drivers who want to accept Uber Comfort ride requests will need to meet several requirements, including a 4.85-star average rating and a car that is a maximum of five years old. Uber says that vehicles that meet its standards for extra legroom include (but are not limited to) the Toyota Camry, Dodge Durango, Audi SQ7, Chevy Tahoe, and Honda Odyssey.

The addition of Uber Comfort is the latest tweak to the company’s core ride-hailing business since Uber went public earlier this year. The company’s shares plunged 11 percent after the May 10th IPO, making it the biggest first-day dollar loss in US IPO history.

The Red Tea Detox

Top – Ring Stick Up Cam, Smart Lighting, Door View Cam review: wire-free home security


It wasn’t that long ago when installing security cameras and lighting around your home was an expensive, cumbersome process. You needed to wire power and connectivity to the cameras, dig trenches or run wiring for the lights, and then rig up a system to control and monitor it all.

Ring’s latest products this year address those challenges head-on: they are inexpensive, easy to install, and run on batteries or even solar so you don’t have to run wiring to them at all. Ring has had battery-operated doorbells for a few years, but now, it has a whole suite of products that require no wiring and very little work to install.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been testing Ring’s Stick Up Cam, Smart Lighting, and Door View Cam, each of which addresses a different need depending on your situation. If you’ve been wanting to install security lighting and cameras in your home, it’s never been easier than now.

Ring Stick Up Cam

Ring Stick Up Cam Battery.

The $179 Stick Up Cam Battery is a battery-powered connected security camera, complete with motion alerts, full HD resolution, and night vision. It can be mounted almost anywhere inside or outside of your home in just minutes.

One of the more clever things about the Stick Up Cam is its flexible, built-in stand, which lets you either place it on a shelf or mantle inside or invert it and quickly install it under an awning outside with just three screws, as I’ve done. It can also be positioned to mount the camera flat against a wall.

From there, the Stick Up Cam behaves very similarly to Ring’s popular video doorbells: it connects to your home Wi-Fi network, records clips and provides push alerts to your phone when it detects motion, and has a two-way microphone and speaker so you can communicate with someone who is in front of the camera with your phone or Amazon Echo Show. You can customize the range for the motion detection as well as the time of day when you’ll get alerts so you don’t get pinged all day long if it’s near a busy entryway. Ring’s app provides a way to view clips that are captured by the camera as well as adjust its motion detection and alert settings. The Stick Up Cam allows you to get motion alerts, view the live feed, and use the two-way communication features out of the box. But to review any recordings, you’ll need to pay for Ring’s Protect cloud service, which starts at $3 per month or $30 per year.

I mounted the Stick Up Cam above a deck on the side of my house, which seems to make the most sense for this kind of product. I can have it monitor an entryway — the door to my deck — without the need to install a full doorbell that won’t ever be used. The Stick Up Cam uses the same battery as the Ring Video Doorbell and Video Doorbell 2, and in my testing, it should last about three months between charges. Ring also sells a wired version of the Stick Up Cam and one that comes with a solar panel, but both of those require more complicated installs. Changing the battery doesn’t even require taking the camera down from its mount, but if you’re putting in a spot that’s way high up and hard to reach, you might want to consider just getting the wired version and deal with the extra install process at the beginning.

Smart Lighting

Ring Smart Lighting Pathlight.

The new Smart Lighting line is Ring’s first product of this kind, coming from the company’s acquisition of lighting company Mr Beams. Simplified, the Smart Lighting line is a set of exterior lights and motion detectors for your home that are connected to the internet, so you can manage them and get notifications from them in the Ring app. They function a lot like Ring’s various outdoor cameras, without the whole camera part.

The line includes floodlights, spotlights, a light to mount on steps, a motion detector, and pathlights for a walkway. All of the lights can run on battery power and wirelessly communicate with the necessary $49.99 Smart Lighting Bridge to connect them to the internet through your home Wi-Fi network. There’s also a transformer that can be installed on existing landscape lighting to connect that to Ring’s system.

I’ve been testing the Pathlights, which are available in a two-pack with the Bridge included for $79.99 or standalone for $29.99, as well as the $24.99 Smart Lighting Motion Sensor. The Pathlights actually have motion sensors built into them, so they don’t need the secondary sensor, but if you want to trigger them from farther distances or around blind corners, the motion sensor can do that wirelessly.

The Ring Smart Lighting Pathlight has adjustable brightness and 360 degrees of lighting. It also has a built-in motion sensor.

The Pathlights run on four D-cell batteries for up to a year, according to Ring, and they provide 360 degrees of lighting. You can adjust the brightness, timeout duration, and when they turn on and off through the Ring app.

The Smart Lighting system is easy to set up — you do it all through the Ring app, and it can be up and running in minutes — and requires no wiring or time-consuming installation process. But compared to standard motion-sensing lights you can buy, they are expensive. The real worth of the Smart Lighting system is found when it’s paired with Ring’s other products, like the video doorbells or cameras. You can use the motion detectors on the Smart Lighting products to trigger mobile alerts or the cameras to start recording clips, or you can control them with voice commands to Amazon’s Alexa assistant.

The Ring Smart Lighting Bridge is necessary to connect the lights to the internet and control them with the app.

Since I didn’t really need to use the Motion Sensor to turn on the lights, I stuck it in my mailbox (about 70 feet from where I have the bridge set up in my living room) and set it to give me push alerts whenever it detected motion. This has reliably worked to let me know when the mail has arrived and has been more reliable than the Zigbee contact sensors I’ve used in the past for the same purpose. Ring says it is using a proprietary RF protocol to connect the lights to the bridge, which provides longer distances and more reliable connectivity.

Overall, the Smart Lighting system’s value is in its ease of use and expansive connectivity. You’d be hard-pressed to find another connected lighting system that’s this accessibly priced and easy to install.

Door View Cam

The Ring Door View Cam can be installed in place of a standard peephole viewer.

Ring is perhaps best known for its video doorbells, which let you get alerts when the bell is rung, see who’s at your door, and speak to them through your phone. But even though it has an extensive line of wired and battery operated versions, none of those are particularly useful for apartment dwellers.

That’s where the $199 Door View Cam comes in. It’s basically a Ring Video Doorbell 2 that can be mounted on the peephole of a door without damaging the door itself. You can remove the Door View Cam when you move out and replace the original peephole without leaving a mark.

Much like the Video Doorbell 2, the Door View Cam is a 1080p camera with night vision and motion detection. It runs on a rechargeable battery (the same one as the Stick Up Cam and Ring’s other video doorbells), and it allows for two-way communication through your phone.

Cleverly, the Door View Cam preserves the ability to look through the peephole to see who’s there, so you don’t have to pull your phone out just to see who’s on the other side of the door. There’s also a cover on the inside of the door to prevent someone from looking back through it at you.

You can still look through the peephole when the Door View Cam is installed or block the view with a privacy shield.

Ring says it takes as few as five minutes to install the Door View Cam. Based on my testing with a demo door, I agree, provided your door’s thickness is between 34mm (about 1.3 inches) and 55mm (about 2.2 inches). The Door View Cam comes with all of the tools and hardware you need to set it up.

Like the other video doorbells Ring makes, you can adjust the zones for motion detection on the Door View Cam, which can help prevent false triggers if there’s a lot of foot traffic in front of your door. It’s also possible to configure “privacy zones,” which will prevent the camera from recording areas you specify, such as a neighbor’s entryway.

At $200, the Door View Cam is a little harder to justify compared to Ring’s more permanent video doorbells, as it is only really useful to apartment dwellers who have regular visitors at their door and not ones with an external buzzer or lobby in their building. But it does provide an option for those who can’t use a traditional video doorbell that requires a permanent installation.

The overarching theme with Ring’s product releases this year is ease of installation and use. You can get other video doorbells (though you’ll have a hard time finding another option that works on batteries), security cameras, and landscape / security lighting for a lot less than what Ring charges, but you’ll likely have to deal with much more complicated wiring power and connectivity, if connectivity is even an option. And then you won’t have the integration across the whole system that Ring is offering. Ring’s combination of wire-free installation and integration across its entire line of products is tough to beat, even if it does cost more at the outset.

Photography by Dan Seifert / The Verge

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.

The Red Tea Detox

Top – Israel’s failed lunar lander will live on in Firefly Aerospace’s new Moon spacecraft


Israel’s first lunar lander crashed into the Moon’s surface in April, but the design of the doomed spacecraft may live on during future missions to the Moon. US company Firefly Aerospace announced that it is partnering with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to create a new lunar vehicle based on the crashed spacecraft’s blueprints. Firefly says this lander will build upon “lessons learned” from the accident to ensure that the new lander does not meet the same fate.

The lander that IAI built was called Beresheet, and if it had been successful, it would have been the first privately funded vehicle to touch down on the surface of the Moon. While Beresheet launched successfully and made it into lunar orbit, its landing was botched when the spacecraft’s main engine temporarily shut down during the descent to the surface. As a result, Beresheet came in too fast and slammed into the Moon rather than lightly setting itself down.

After the accident, the nonprofit that operated the lander, SpaceIL, vowed to send another lander to the Moon called Beresheet Shtayim, or Beresheet “Two.” But last month, SpaceIL ultimately decided to scrap the second Moonshot to focus on an undisclosed space mission.

An artistic rendering of SpaceIL’s Beresheet lander if it had landed on the Moon successfully.
Image: SpaceIL

Now, components of the Beresheet design are getting another chance at landing on the Moon. Firefly Aerospace is one of nine companies that NASA that was selected as part of the agency’s CLPS program — an initiative to send small robotic landers to the lunar surface. NASA recently picked three of the nine companies to send the very first spacecraft to the Moon for the program, but Firefly is still in the running and could be selected for upcoming missions.

If Firefly does mount a lunar mission, the company’s lander, called Genesis, will leverage much of the Beresheet design as well as the IAI team’s flight experience. “Firefly Aerospace is excited to partner with Israel Aerospace Industries to provide the only NASA CLPS program flight-proven lander design,” Shea Ferring, Firefly’s vice president of mission assurance, said in a statement. The name of the lander is also a nod to Beresheet, which means “Genesis” in Hebrew.

Firefly declined to give additional details about Genesis, including how much payload it can carry and when it will fly for the first time, saying that information will be available in the near future. In fact, Firefly has yet to fly any rockets at all. The company was resurrected after going bankrupt in 2016 and is working toward the launch of its first small rocket called Alpha by the end of this year from California. The Genesis lander is designed to fly on another vehicle Firefly plans to build, called Beta, though that rocket does not have a target launch date yet.

The Red Tea Detox

Top – Fender Ten 5 review: all about that treble


Glorious guitar maker Fender got into the headphones business back in 2016 by acquiring Aurisonics, a small Tennessee company manufacturing in-ear monitors. In the time since, the portfolio of Fender earphones has grown to cover budgets from $99 to $1,799 and tastes as diverse as those of bassheads and treble-favoring audiophile purists. Today’s example is the $1,199.99 Fender Ten 5, which leans away from the bass emphasis of my favorite Fender product to date, the dark and rumbling FXA7, and toward a brighter and more accurate sound signature. It’s more money for a more precise and punctilious sound that should entice the pros and enthusiasts while still pleasing casual listeners as well.

After a month of testing the Ten 5s, I find myself surprised by just how much I enjoy their sound, even while I remain an avowed and unrepentant bass devotee.

I’m well aware that, for most people, there are no circumstances in which spending more than $1,000 on earphones is a justifiable expense. And yet, you could say the same thing about Omega watches, Hermès sweaters, or one of Tesla’s fancier paint options. In all cases, the people who splurge on the extra luxury do it with the goal of obtaining something rare, exclusive, or just straight-up better than whatever else is on the market. How does Fender’s new pair of earphones fit into that paradigm?

Well, their sound reminds me of the $4,000 Focal Utopia. I’ve done a lot of reviews since the Utopia, and I’ve never written those words before. Fender’s Ten 5s have a level of detail, clarity, and naturalness to them that genuinely approaches the quality of Focal’s big and mighty over-ear headphones.

When listening to the drums in Kenji Kawai’s “Ghosthack” on the original Ghost in the Shell soundtrack with the Ten 5s, I can practically visualize how open the player’s palm is when hitting the drum’s leather. On the same album, there are a couple of tracks with chants where the vocals just claw at my soul. I mean that as a compliment. The music has emotive urgency but no sonic harshness. Fender has put the spotlight on vocals without overstepping into the eardrum stabbing that headphones with less refined, more shouty treble perform.

Bjork, the ultimate genre-straddling artist, also sounds amazing and engaging through the Ten 5s. Six minutes into Led Zeppelin’s “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” when the song reaches its crescendo and Robert Plant pushes his voice to its limits, I really feel his anguish.

As to digging out the finest detail from a recording, Nero’s My Eyes has some whispering, hissing voices in the background that get veiled or concealed on most other headphones, but I hear them on the Utopias and the Ten 5s. These little nuances aren’t strictly essential for enjoying the music, but they certainly enhance that enjoyment, even if it’s merely by providing the sense that you’re getting the full, unadulterated version of the song the artist recorded.

The Ten 5s have a sonic balance that, to my bass-loving ear, sounds treble-forward. They don’t offer a particularly relaxed listen, and they don’t hold back when singers hit the high notes in their music. And that’s the point of these earphones. There are tons of earbuds, costing a fraction of the price, for when you just want to pump background noise into your skull. The Ten 5s are tuned to make you feel the music, and they’re so damn pure, controlled, and emotive, that I can’t help but be sucked in by their performance.

Fender achieves high marks with almost every genre of music. The obvious weakness of the Ten 5s’ sound is bass-heavy hip-hop and electronica. Exactly the music that made me a little addicted to the Fender FXA7s’ sound in 2016 — Aphex Twin, Booka Shade, Clams Casino, Infected Mushroom, Nine Inch Nails, Two Fingers — just feels a little too light and airy with Fender’s newer and pricier model. No, I’m not about to recommend that you spend even more money to have a pair of each Fender model. Just be aware that if your musical tastes lean toward the more synthetic and darker realms, these are just not the buds for you. I like to listen at loud volumes, which is great with headphones with big bass, but it’s fatiguing when the treble is the part of the mix pushed to the foreground.

Fender’s Ten 5s distinguish themselves best when handling acoustic instruments and vocals, and the detail and airiness of their sound simply comes at the expense of earthshaking bass.

As to the matter of comfort and fit, Fender has a unique advantage over everyone else in its thermo-plastic elastomer tips. These soften with the warmth of your ear and grow more comfortable the longer you wear them. They also offer a great seal to insulate your music from exterior noise. Fender hasn’t much changed the basic exterior shell or these tips from its earliest models, and with good reason. I’d say this design is the closest you’ll get to the fit of custom-designed earphones without actually going to customs.

The one annoyance I have with the Ten 5s is their over-ear cable hook. It’s no worse than any others of that kind on the market, but I’m growing less tolerant of that design these days. In the age of the featherlight and totally wireless AirPods and Galaxy Buds making audio technology basically forgettable, I’m losing my enthusiasm to fiddle with wires, hooks, and seating my earbuds just right. On more than one occasion, I’ve opted to go out with a wireless pair of buds instead of the vastly superior Ten 5s just because I knew my windows for listening to music and radio would be limited or interrupted.

Fender ships the Ten 5s with a detachable, subtly color-coded, tangle-resistant wire, along with a truly heavy duty and enormous carrying case. One of those inclusions encourages the buds’ portable use while the other might help them survive a natural disaster but does nothing to help me use them on my commute. With their good noise isolation and light weight, I think the Fender Ten 5s can definitely serve as a luxurious pair of portable buds.

You’ll want to have a high-quality DAC to feed these on the move, such as on LG’s flagship G and V phone series or from the Hidizs Sonata HD dongle. But that’s just for the sake of quality, the power requirements of the Ten 5s are minimal. They derive their name from the single 10mm dynamic driver and the five balanced armature drivers inside each earbud, which is a lot of tiny speakers to help these earphones get super loud on demand.

The Fender Ten 5s are one of the most articulate pairs of earphones I’ve tested. They draw out details that most other headphones smudge up, and their technical performance is hard to fault. But do they make exemplary sonic performance more accessible physically or more affordable monetarily? It’s hard to argue that they do. And for something that costs as much as they do, Fender’s Ten 5s needed to have some of the enchanting sonic quality that thrilled me with the bassy FXA7s, but that’s exactly the thing I find them lacking.

Photography by Vlad Savov / The Verge

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.

The Red Tea Detox

Top – VAIO announces tiny SX12 laptop with tons of ports


VAIO has announced the SX12, a laptop with a 12.5-inch screen and more I/O options than many far heftier machines. It’s the follow-up to the S11, and features much more efficient use of space with a larger screen and keycaps in about the same size body.

Just look at everything you can plug in! That’s three USB-A ports, one USB-C for charging, HDMI, a full-size SD card slot, a headphone/mic port, an Ethernet port, and even VGA. The keys now stretch to the edge of the laptop, and the bezels have been slimmed down. The SX12 uses Intel 8th Gen quad-core Core i5 or i7 processors and have an optional LTE module. It weighs 888 grams, or a little under two pounds.

The Verge recently reviewed VAIO’s SX14, which this is basically a smaller variant of. We found that it was a practical, lightweight machine with a comfortable keyboard and strong performance. The cramped trackpad and underwhelming battery life were downsides, and you might not expect those to improve in a smaller machine, but the trackpad doesn’t appear to have been shrunken any further at least.

The VAIO SX12 will go on sale in Japan this week, priced anywhere between 119,800 yen (~$1,100) to 216,800 yen (~$2,000) based on storage, color options, and processor. No word on a US release yet, but the S11 and SX14 made it over, so there’s a good chance that this one will follow.

In any case, it’s proof that you can make a thin and light laptop without sacrificing connectivity. Now how about a VAIO P resurrection?

The Red Tea Detox

Top – Canon’s G7 X III supports YouTube live streaming and portrait video


Canon’s PowerShot G7 X line has now officially gone full vlogger with the third entry in the series. The new G7 X III looks similar to its predecessor and still pairs a 24-100mm-equivalent f/1.8-2.8 lens to a 20-megapixel 1-inch sensor (now using stacked technology), but now has a few features that explicitly target YouTubers.

First of all, the camera now supports uncropped 4K video recording at 30 frames a second, something Canon keeps failing to implement on many of its high-end cameras. More unusually, the G7 X III can stream video directly to YouTube over Wi-Fi, and it has options for recording mobile-friendly portrait video. There’s also an external mic input and a USB-C port for charging.

If you’re more interested in using a premium compact camera for photography, the G5 X Mark II could be for you. It barely keeps anything from 2015’s original G5 X, which was a much bulkier camera. Instead, it’s basically the same design as the G7 X III, which is to say it’s firmly within the premium 1-inch category first defined by Sony’s RX100 line.

The G5 X Mark II’s main selling points over the G7 X III are its pop-up OLED electronic viewfinder, which looks similar to recent Sony RX100 models, and its expanded zoom range. The lens is 24-120mm-equivalent and f/1.8-2.8, which is a pretty impressive range to maintain large apertures across. The 20-megapixel 1-inch stacked sensor matches the G7 X III’s.

The G7 X III will sell for $749 with black or silver color options, while the G5 X Mark II costs $899 and is only available in black. Both cameras will be in stores next month.

The Red Tea Detox

Top – Serious Zoom security flaw could let websites hijack Mac cameras


Today, security researcher Jonathan Leitschuh has publicly disclosed a serious zero-day vulnerability for the Zoom video conferencing app on Macs. He has demonstrated that any website can open up a video-enabled call on a Mac with the Zoom app installed. That’s possible in part because the Zoom app apparently installs a web server on Macs that accepts requests regular browsers wouldn’t. In fact, if you uninstall Zoom that web server persists and can reinstall Zoom without your intervention.

Using Leitschuh’s demo, we have confirmed that the vulnerability works — clicking a link if you have previously installed the Zoom app (and haven’t unchecked a certain checkbox in settings) auto joins you to a conference call with your camera on. Others on Twitter are reporting the same:

Leitschuh details how he responsibly disclosed the vulnerability to Zoom back in late March, giving the company 90 days to solve the problem. According to Leitschuh’s account, Zoom doesn’t appear to have done enough to resolve the issue. The vulnerability was also disclosed to both the Chromium and Mozilla teams, but since it’s not an issue with their browsers, there’s not much those developers can do.

Turning on your camera is bad enough, but the existence of the web server on their computers could open up more significant problems for Mac users. For example, in an older version of Zoom (since patched), it was possible to enact a denial of service attack on Macs by constantly pinging the web server: “By simply sending repeated GET requests for a bad number, Zoom app would constantly request ‘focus’ from the OS,” Leitschuh writes.

You can “patch” this issue yourself by ensuring the Mac app is up to date and also disabling the setting that allows Zoom to turn your camera on when joining a meeting, illustrated below. Again, simply uninstalling Zoom won’t fix this problem, as that web server persists on your Mac. Turning off the web server requires running some terminal commands, which can be found at the bottom of the Medium post.

Jonathan Leitschuh

We have reached out to Zoom for comment and will update when we hear back.

The Red Tea Detox

Top – How to get Gmail, Maps, and other Google apps on an Amazon Fire tablet


The best thing about the Amazon Fire 7 tablet is its $49 price. The worst thing is that its Android-based Fire OS 6 software lacks most of what makes Android, well, Android. It (like Amazon’s other Fire tablets) lacks any of the standard Google apps, like Google Maps, Google Photos, or Google Drive. What’s worse is that the built-in Amazon Appstore is a stand-in for Google’s Play Store, and most of the apps you know and love aren’t available.

However, there is hope if you don’t mind tinkering a bit. Amazon allows the installation of apps from outside sources on all of its Fire tablets, which means you can install the Google Play Store. Once you enable this feature, you’ll be able to sideload Android packages (APKs) — in other words, manually force apps onto your device that otherwise wouldn’t be supported.

In this how-to, we’re going to show you how to sideload the Google Play Store and the requisite apps that are required in order to get it running on an Amazon tablet. It’s not the most straightforward process, but it’s worth the effort.

Luckily, this doesn’t require rooting your Amazon Fire tablet, so there’s no immediate risk of voiding your warranty. However, Amazon doesn’t offer troubleshooting support for issues that you may encounter. So proceed with caution and know that certain APKs may not work as intended. And if you’re considering sideloading APKs that usually cost money, show your support by buying them via the Google Play Store on your browser.

Before you install APKs, you’ll need to allow app installations from outside sources.

How to enable sideloading

The first step is to enable installations from unknown sources (essentially, any source that isn’t Amazon).

  • Click on the “Settings” app in the app drawer (find it by swiping up on the home screen)
  • Tap “Security & Privacy,” which should be about halfway down the page
  • Toggle on “Apps from Unknown Sources”

How to install Google Play Services

Next comes the fun part: manually downloading and installing Google Play Services. It’s fairly simple to do, but it requires just a bit of background knowledge before you get started.

First, you’ll need to find out the software version of your Amazon Fire tablet so you can download the correct APK. The latest Amazon Fire 7 tablet runs Fire OS 6, which is based on the Android 7.1 Nougat operating system. (Yep, it’s confusing!) Fire OS 5 is based on Android 5.1 Lollipop, which is a little easier to remember.

To find your tablet’s OS version:

  • Open the “Settings” app
  • Scroll down to “Device Options” near the bottom of the screen
  • Select “System Updates” to see the system version

With that information, you can now download and install the four APKs necessary to get the Google Play Store working correctly: Google Account Manager, Google Services Framework, Google Play Services, and Google Play Store.

You don’t need to worry about matching the Google Play Services and Google Play Store APKs with your Android version number. The latest APKs listed work for devices that have at least Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and this includes all Fire tablets.

  • First, open the Fire tablet’s Silk Browser app (which is where you want to be doing your downloading). You’re going to be getting the APKs from APKmirror.com. (I trust this site and have used it to load APKs onto an Amazon Fire 7 as well as personal devices in the past without issue. But again, proceed at your own risk.)
  • You’ll need to make sure that you’re downloading the right APK file. To do this, when you go to the download page for each app (see below), try to match your tablet’s Android version (remember: Fire OS 6 = Android 7.1 Nougat and Fire OS 5 = Android 5.1 Lollipop) with the number listed at the end of the APK file in the listing.
  • Download then install Google Account Manager, Google Services Framework, Google Play Services, Google Play Store in the order listed. Per TechJunkie, installing them out of order will result in the Google Play Store not working, and I can confirm this.

Amazon’s preinstalled Docs app is also a file manager. Who’d have thought?

How to access locally stored files on the Fire tablet

If you navigate away from the APKs you’ve downloaded and need to find them again, Amazon’s preinstalled “Docs” app on the Fire tablet is also, strangely, a file manager. To access your downloaded files, open the app, click the menu button near the top left of the display, then tap “Download” under “Local Storage.” Just keep in mind that the APK file names will be long and difficult to understand, but if you downloaded them in the order listed above, the time stamp on the file should help you figure out which file to install first, second, third, then fourth.

  • If you installed these APKs correctly, you’ll be able to launch the Google Play Store app and sign into your Google account. From there, you can download any app or game that’s available.

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The Red Tea Detox

Top – Apple’s Texas Hold’em game returns to the iPhone


Apple’s Texas Hold’em game was released over 11 years ago for the iPhone as the first game ever sold on the App Store. Today, seemingly out of nowhere, Apple has updated the game with a refreshed version that actually works on today’s iPhones, as spotted by 9to5Mac.

The App Store page for Texas Hold’em claims that the update is to celebrate “the 10 year anniversary of the App Store.” That’s a bit strange: the App Store’s 10th anniversary — which, not coincidentally, was the same day that Texas Hold’em launched for the iPhone — was last July. But better late than never, I guess.

The new update adds new characters, modernized visuals, and, most importantly, an update for the 64-bit architecture that Apple launched with iOS 11, along with support for the far larger screen sizes that Apple devices now have, compared to 2008.

Texas Hold’em is a game with a fair amount of history for Apple. The original version actually launched as one of the first games for the click wheel iPod back in 2006. Apple continued to use Texas Hold’em as an early tech demo when it was released as the first game on the App Store in 2008, showing developers the kinds of games that could be made using Apple’s SDK and how the iPhone’s touch interface could be used to offer new gameplay experiences.

Apple never really updated Texas Hold’em after that release, though. The version history on the App Store only lists one other update, and the game was eventually removed from the store in 2011.

The updated version is now a free app (with no in-app purchases), instead of the $4.99 it originally cost when it first launched. It’s available to download on the App Store for anyone looking for a nice dose of iPhone nostalgia.

The Red Tea Detox

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