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Snapchat’s New Snap Spectacles Will Have Two Cameras, Cost $350Snapchat Launches New Original Programming, Multiplayer Games Stay on target WhatsApp has introduced a new way to keep in touch with friends and family.The instant messaging service on Monday launched a revamped status feature, allowing folks to share fleeting photos, videos, and GIFs for 24 hours.WhatsAppAs reported by Geek sister site PCMag, the new function utilizes the recently redesigned in-app camera; users can personalize media with emoji, text, and drawings “in an easy and secure way,” WhatsApp co-creator Jan Koum wrote in a blog post.“Yes, even your status updates are end-to-end encrypted,” he added.WhatsApp in April turned on full end-to-end encryption via the Signal protocol developed by Open Whisper Systems, promising that every phone call, message, photo, video, file, and voice message is safe from prying eyes (and ears).“Encryption is one of the most important tools governments, companies, and individuals have to promote safety and security in the new digital age,” application co-founders Koum and Brian Acton said last year.The latest version of the app includes a Status tab, where you’ll find updates from people in your WhatsApp network, PCMag explained. Like Snapchat Stories (or, more fittingly, Instagram Stories), content lasts only 24 hours; you can mute specific users, and reply to people privately.WhatsAppWhatsApp debuted on Feb. 24, 2009, as a way to let family and friends know what you’re up to; folks could quickly push a line of text—”at school,” “at the gym,” or “battery about to die”—to all contacts at once. The service eventually expanded into a full-blown texting platform, with more than 1 billion users worldwide.This isn’t the first time Facebook—parent company of WhatsApp and Instagram—has stolen a page from Snapchat’s book. After failing to acquire the ephemeral messaging service in 2013, Facebook simply duplicated its functions (and not very creatively) via Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories, and now WhatsApp Status.“Just like eight years ago when we first started WhatsApp, this new and improved status feature will let you keep your friends who use WhatsApp easily updated in a fun and simple way,” the company said. read more
Stay on target We can’t tell you who we are. Or where we live. It’s too risky, and we’ve got to be careful. Really careful. So we don’t trust anyone. Because if they find us… well, we just won’t let them find us. The thing you’ve got to know is that everyone is in really big trouble. Yeah. Even you.War destroys innocence, forcing children to mature far too soon to take up arms against an opposing force they’re almost certainly far too young to fully comprehend. Imperialism will kill us all. And war? It never ends. There are only slight reprieves during which each side reassesses their needs and determines aims they’ll attempt to accomplish when the war returns. Old men start wars but it’s children who fight them, who die for them.These are just a handful of the lessons I learned the first time I read K.A Applegate’s young adult series Animorphs.Books 1 and 2 in the ‘Animorphs’ series (Photo Credit: Scholastic)There’s no way to talk about Animorphs as a whole without talking about how it ends, so if you somehow just now realized there’s an absolutely insane series of young adult novels about kids who fight aliens by transforming into animals, maybe come back after you’ve blown through all 60+ of those. If you’re okay with the spoilers, proceed.If you read the first book in the series as a kid there’s a good chance you have no idea how this story ends. Looking at it as an adult though, it’s clear that Jake, Cassie, Tobias, Rachel, Marco, and Ax are doomed from page one. Applegate’s writing lacks the sentimentality of young adult standbys like Harry Potter or A Wrinkle in Time. The books feel dangerous, with Applegate’s prose never more in its element than when describing the kids’ grotesque transformations into animals, body horror sequences that would make David Cronenberg gag. It’s only fitting. War destroys the body inside and out. Why pull punches when describing child soldiers preparing for battle?It’s also impossible to not notice the obvious as an adult: the Animorphs are young. Like, incredibly young. 13 years old at the start of the book, too young to do so much as hold a summer job at a pool’s snack bar or see movies that depict violence that pales in comparison to what they experience every day. When you read them as a kid this feels natural, appropriate, even. These kids are you. They’re your age. They have the same problems- you know, outside of the whole “fighting an alien invasion” part. They use the same slang. It’s only in adulthood that you realize that half the effectiveness (and half the intended horror) of the books is how painfully young these warriors still are.Books 3 and 4 in the ‘Animorphs’ series (Photo Credit: Scholastic)All of this is to say that when you’re a kid, it reads as utterly shocking that the series ends with the apparent death of almost the entirety of the team (shoutout to Cassie for making it out of the Yeerk Wars alive). In retrospect though, the Animorphs are doomed from the start. The final book in the series, The Beginning, opens with Rachel’s death and closes with the boldest final line in a young adult novel: “Full emergency power. Ram the Blade Ship.”With that line, an entire generation of young sci-fi readers were introduced to the concept of nihilism. It read as cheap, shocking, and terrifying to readers as kids but rereading that moment as an adult, it’s tough to not be impressed by how brazen, bold, and unapologetic K.A Applegate is in that moment. She wrote the series with a very specific set of themes and ideas in mind and never once compromises them for the sake of comforting her readers. This is crucial to the series’ appeal and longevity. Applegate does not pander. She trusts that her audience is mature enough to handle a story like this — even if said audience doesn’t realize it yet.It’s also impossible to talk about Animorphs today without talking about when it came out versus where we are today. The final book was released over the summer of 2001, mere months before America was forever changed and plunged into a decade-long combat that still seems endless to this day. Applegate’s story can’t help but feel all the more relevant more than a decade later. The war rages on with the generation that grew up on Animorphs forced to handle the fallout of a conflict they never asked for. It’s now entirely commonplace for high school students to spend their Saturdays organizing protests and writing to their congressmen rather than, you know, being high school students. The burden of responsibility has been thrust onto them and they handle it as best they can. What’s more, many of those high school students as of this year weren’t alive when some of the incidents that have led to the state of the nation occurred. They have, quite literally, inherited a war older than they are. It isn’t right. But it’s where we are now.Books 5 and 6 in the ‘Animorphs’ series (Photo Credit: Scholastic)And again, this is exactly what Applegate meant to communicate through the series. In a letter to fans who felt cheated by the ending, she wrote: “And to tell you the truth I’m a little shocked that so many readers seemed to believe I’d wrap it all up with a lot of high-fiving and backslapping. Wars very often end, sad to say, just as ours did: with a nearly seamless transition to another war.”In this respect, Applegate feels less an author and more a prophet. She knew what was coming — or at least understood that history repeats itself, that the cycle will remain unbroken despite our best efforts. In Animorphs she seeks to entertain, yes, but also to warn, to inform. Applegate disguised a powerful, relevant anti-war parable as an explosive sci-fi epic and got away with it. Most young adult series from the ‘90s invoke pleasant nostalgia when reevaluated today. Applegate’s only speaks more to the moment than it did 10 years ago.More on Geek.com:How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love ‘Harry Potter’ Again8 Sci-Fi Books That Highlight Climate Change11 Scandinavian Novels That Would Make Kick-Ass Movies How ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ Traumatized a Genera…Interviews With Late Nintendo President Satoru Iwata Are Becoming a Book read more
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