Weekly rewind: Graphene headphones, $1 cell service, baking bread like a pro

A lot can happen in a week when it comes to tech. The constant onslaught of news makes it nigh impossible for mere mortals with real lives to keep track of everything. That’s why we’ve compiled a quick and dirty list of this week’s top 10 tech stories, from Travis Kalanick’s departure from Uber to how to make your home look Airbnb ready — it’s all here.

Virgin Mobile offers a year of unlimited cell service for $1, with a catch

weekly rewind virgin mobile logo

Virgin Mobile is redefining itself, and part of that new identity involves partnering with Apple and turning its business into the first “iPhone-only” carrier. The carrier’s new program is called “Inner Circle.”

Inner Circle, which Virgin announced at an event in San Francisco, means the carrier is getting rid of all of its Android devices, and will start only selling iPhones. The program starts on July 1, and customers who sign up within the first 30 days will get 12 months of unlimited talk, text, and data for $1. You’ll need to buy an iPhone from Virgin, and set up auto pay to be able to take part in the $1 promotion. In typical carrier fashion, your data is “deprioritized” or throttled if you go over 23GB a month. Video, games, and music on Virgin’s 4G LTE are also “mobile-optimized,” meaning videos are streamed at 480-pixel resolution; music streams at 500kbps or lower; and cloud gaming streams up to 2mbps. After the first year, you will have to pay $50 a month.

Read: Virgin Mobile offers a year of unlimited cell service for $1, with a catch.

Get top dollar for your room on Airbnb with 9 simple photography tips

weekly rewind airbnb bedroom

When it comes to listing a property on Airbnb, HomeAway, or whichever property rental site, a picture might just mean the difference between booking and sitting empty. Between two similar properties, photographs are often a deciding factor, says Sara Gates, the marketing manager for Vacasa, an agency that handles vacation rentals for property owners. Listings with better photographs tend to book more often and even appear higher in the search results — which is why Airbnb photography is important.

But what, exactly, makes a good photograph for a vacation rental? Kimberly Stevenson, Vacasa’s lead photographer, shared a few dos – and a few don’ts – when it comes to Airbnb photography.

Read: Get top dollar for your room on Airbnb with 9 simple photography tips

Do you watch a VR film or play it? ‘Life of Us’ makes it hard to tell

weekly rewind vr t-rex yelling at camera

“You have to experience virtual reality to truly appreciate it.” It’s a common refrain, but that’s not always true. Some VR experiences can captivate those watching from outside a virtual reality headset. Some, like Within’s Life of Us, can catch the eye of just about anyone who walks by.

At Unity’s Vision VR summit in May, Life of Us easily drew the biggest crowd of all the demos on the show floor. You could see it through the exit, and that tiny glimpse provided the inspiration to walk to the entrance at the hall’s opposite end and weave past the other booths to watch attendees playing Life of Us up close.

Read: Do you watch a VR film or play it? ‘Life of Us’ makes it hard to tell

Bake bread like you’re at a boulangerie with the Forneau Bread Oven 2.0

weekly rewind pizza being baked on beach

You don’t have to go to the boulangerie for perfectly baked bread. Just head on over to your oven. With just a little help from Forneau, you can start making loaves that will renew your dedication to carbohydrates (as if your dedication ever really waned). You may remember the first iteration of the Forneau Bread Oven from 2015, which was ultimately backed by nearly 800 people from 20 different countries. And now, the team is back with the latest and greatest version of the oven: The Forneau 2.0.

Read: Bake bread like you’re at a boulangerie with the Forneau Bread Oven 2.0

‘Game of Thrones’ season 7 is coming! Here is everything we know so far

weekly rewind game of thrones white walker

Being a Game of Thrones fan has required extra patience this year. After eschewing the usual production schedule to get the right weather to finally allow winter to come to Westeros, the show’s season 7 premiere was pushed back until summer. In the meantime, we’ve had to obsess over any and all pieces of information we can find.

The season is going to be a crazy one — even for Game of Thrones — as the stakes have never been higher now that the series finale is just 13 episodes away. There are already interesting storylines in progress, from Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) seating herself on the Iron Throne to Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) coming to make her claim on the crown on the backs of her dragons. The great game could play out in so many ways, and it is going to be fascinating to watch it develop.

There is a lot to tie up as we head into the show’s final two mini seasons, starting with season 7’s much-anticipated July 16 premiere. Prepare yourself with everything we know so far — but be warned that there are spoilers ahead.

Read: Game of Thrones’ season 7 is coming! Here is everything we know so far

Fighting fear and frostbite, Chris Burkard surfed Iceland and captured it all

weekly rewind surfing in the arctic

With equal parts excitement and exhaustion, famous surf, lifestyle, and adventure photographer Chris Burkard took time out of his insane promotional tour to speak with Digital Trends about his new surfing film, “Under An Arctic Sky.” The 40-minute film, directed by Burkard and produced by Sweat Pants Media, follows four surfers on their journey to Iceland’s brutal north coast. The reason for the trip? The region just experienced its largest storm in 25 years.

Burkard, a self-taught director, speaker, and author, is also one of the most followed adventure photographers who boasts 2.6 million followers on Instagram alone. However, even with his years of experience, nothing prepared Burkard — or his crew — for the epic challenges of making a surfing film in the world’s harshest weather conditions. With the grueling project in the rear view, Burkard shared with us his reasoning behind switching gears to shoot in some of the coldest places on earth, the backstory of Under An Arctic Sky, and what he truly hopes the film will inspire in others.

Read: Fighting fear and frostbite, Chris Burkard surfed Iceland and captured it all

Lasers and ultrasound may allow ‘while-you-wait’ breast cancer diagnosis

weekly rewind pammoth machine

A device being developed by European scientists may help make breast cancer tests easier and less painful to endure. It’s called the PAMMOTH (or, photoacoustic ultrasound mammoscopy for evaluating screening-detected abnormalities in the breast, if you have time to say it) and combines light and sound sensors to offer a 3D image of the suspected tumor. The goal is to create a “while-you-wait” test that minimizes discomfort and uncertainty of cancer diagnosis.

“Despite advancements in X-ray imaging, ultrasound imaging, and MRI, these clinical imaging [methods] have shortcomings,” Srirang Manohar, project coordinator and professor at the University of Twente, told Digital Trends.

Read: Lasers and ultrasound may allow ‘while-you-wait’ breast cancer diagnosis

Breakthrough lens-less camera tech may mean the end of the smartphone camera bump

weekly rewind iphone camera bump

Engineers at Caltech may have solved one of those awkward smartphone problems of the last few years — the camera bump — by creating a super thin chip designed as an alternative to a glass camera lens. It’s called an optical phased array, or OPA, and it digitally replicates the same light-gathering ability of a glass lens to take a picture. Think of it as a lens-less camera.

Ali Hajimiri, a professor at Caltech and principal investigator on the project, explained how it works. “We’ve created a single thin layer of integrated silicon photonics that emulates the lens and sensor of a digital camera, reducing the thickness and cost of digital cameras.”

Read: Breakthrough lens-less camera tech may mean the end of the smartphone camera bump

We listened to the world’s first graphene headphones, and they floored us

weekly rewind graphene headphones

Graphene, one of the most buzzed-about carbon compounds in material science, has the potential to transform industries, not the least of which is the world of sound. There’s only one problem: it’s really expensive. But audio researcher Peter Gaskell thinks he’s cracked the graphene conundrum.

Ora, a Montreal-based startup Gaskell co-founded with Sergii Tutashkonko (who holds a Ph.D. in material science), wants to be the first to market with graphene-based headphones. Gaskell, who holds a Ph.D. himself in audio recording, stopped by Digital Trends’ New York office to demo his new creation ahead of the company’s crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. They’re tentatively dubbed the GrapheneQ Headphones, and they sound fantastic.

Read: We listened to the world’s first graphene headphones, and they floored us

Uber’s founder, Travis Kalanick, has resigned as CEO

weekly rewind former uber ceo travis kalanick

Uber founder Travis Kalanick has resigned as CEO of the ridesharing company. Kalanick decided to step down on Tuesday night following intense pressure from five major investors, The New York Times reported.

News of the 40-year-old founder’s departure follows mounting criticism over the way the company has been conducting its business, and comes just a few days after the funeral of his mother, who died in a boating accident at the end of last month.

Read: Uber’s founder, Travis Kalanick, has resigned as CEO

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.

We tried all the latest and greatest smartphones to find the best of 2018

Smartphones are perhaps the most important and personal piece of tech on the planet. That’s why it’s important to pick the best phone for your individual needs. Here are the best smartphones you can buy.

The matte-black Leica Q-P is a statement piece for affluent introverts

If the all-black, minimalist Leica Q was just too garish for you, the new Q-P may be exactly what you need. Built on the same tech as the standard Q, it comes finished in a new matte-black paint and foregoes the Leica red dot.

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for November 2018

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.

Bigger than Black Friday: Don’t miss the best Single’s Day deals

Thanks to AliExpress, Single's Day – the world's largest retail day – is no longer a foreign affair. If you're ready to do some early holiday shopping or want to score some discounts ahead of Black Friday, we've rounded up some of the…
Product Review

It's so fast it has a clip-on fan. But the Asus ROG phone isn't just for gamers

Is a gaming smartphone only something a mobile gamer should consider buying? In the case of the Asus ROG Phone, the good news is the device is so capable, and a genuinely impressive all-rounder, that everyone should take a closer look…

Our favorite ebook reader is not a Kindle. Here are all the best options

If you're a bookworm, an ebook reader can be an important part of your life, one that allows you to read your books whenever and wherever you like. But which should you get? Here are five of the best ebook readers available.

Samsung made a $2,700 flip phone with the brains of a smartphone

The Samsung W2019 is a high-end flip phone that comes with flagship specifications such as 6GB of RAM and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845. The device features a pair of S-AMOLED displays, a dual rear camera setup, and an eye-popping price tag.

Google, Samsung, OnePlus, and Huawei face off in an Android battle royale

The good news is that there are some great options in the Android smartphone market right now. The bad news is that too much choice makes it tough to decide. We compare the Pixel 3 XL, the Galaxy Note 9, the OnePlus 6T, and the Mate 20 Pro.

Apple to boost its Amazon presence with listings for iPhones, iPads, and more

Apple is about to start offering more of its kit on Amazon. The tech giant currently only has very limited listings on the shopping site, but the deal will see the arrival of the latest iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and more.

Get your gaming on the go with this list of the 25 best Android games

The Google Play Store is loaded with both terrific and terrible gaming titles. We vetted the store to bring you some of the best Android games available, whether you're into puzzles, shooters, racing games, or something else.

Google’s Gboard now uses A.I. to recommend GIFs based on your conversation

Google is bringing a new feature to Gboard that should make it better for those that regularly use GIFs and stickers. The feature essentially uses A.I. to recommend GIFs and stickers based on your conversation.

Cloudflare’s privacy-enhancing DNS service comes to iOS and Android

Cloudflare's DNS resolver service has been ported to mobile devices, and now anyone with an Android or iOS device can download it for free to take advantage of its speed and privacy-boosting features.