Sony’s Noise-Canceling Wirefree Earbuds Are on Sale For $189

Need some new headphones? Sony’s WF-1000XM3 wirefree, noise-canceling earbuds ( 9/10 WIRED Recommends) are currently on sale for $189 ($40 off). That’s one of the best deals we’ve seen on these very nice earbuds.

As senior writer Adrienne So noted in her review, the worst part of these premium earbuds is the tongue-tripping name. They’re also a little bulky for exercising, but everything else about them is nearly flawless.

The WF-1000XM3 come in a palm-sized case with a flip-top cover. Sony helpfully includes seven pairs of silicone earbud tips in the box, ranging from soft to firm, making it easy to get a good fit in virtually any ear. The mobile app allows you to track battery life, set the adaptive sound controls, and tweak the equalizer to suit your ears. There’s also a handy feature that lets you turn up ambient sounds from the outside world by holding your finger on the left earbud.

Right now, you can buy the Sony WF-1000XM3 wirefree earbuds at Amazon ($189), Walmart (with Magnetic Charging Case, $188), and Best Buy ($198).

When you buy something using the links in our stories, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Here’s how it works. You can also support our reporting and reviewing by purchasing a 1-year print + digital WIRED subscription for $5.

Are the Sony WF-1000XM3 Wirefree Earbuds for You?

We recommend Sony’s over-ear noise-canceling cans, the WH-1000XM3, as both our Best Noise-Canceling Headphones and our Best Wireless Headphones. But if that pair is too big and bulky, the discounted WF-1000XM3 are our top travel pick in our guide to the Best Wirefree Earbuds.

WIRED: These things sound awesome, and the noise-canceling abilities are so good you may never have to hear your kids/roommates/coworkers again. The earbuds automatically adjust to ambient sounds and offer an easy, touch-based On/Off controls for when you need to hear the world around you. They’re well-made and comfortable, and the battery life is pretty good. We didn’t get the full 24-hours Sony claims, but we managed six hours of battery life and 18 more with the case.

TIRED: They’re not water-resistant. There are no volume controls (just the On/Off feature). They’re a bit bulky for working out.

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9 Easy Mess-Free Indoor Activities and Creative Ideas for Kids

If your kids are home because schools are closed, you’re probably scrambling to find ways to keep them occupied when they’re not being homeschooled. I’ve seen quite a few posts around the internet from well-meaning parents suggesting activities that are indeed fun for kids but are also almost guaranteed to leave your house a wreck.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a job that lets you shelter in place while continuing to work and look after the kiddos, the last thing you need is an extra mess to clean up at the end of the day. I can’t save you from the endless “Mommy, Daddy, look at this! Look at this!” But here are some ways to keep your children engaged, occupied, and having fun without turning the house into a mad science laboratory. Some of these suggestions may require a few minutes of adult guidance, but once pointed in the right direction, kids of the appropriate age should have no trouble.

We have several other guides that might help you as a parent, from instructions on caring for your child if you have Covid-19, educational games and kids podcasts to keep them entertained, and more tips you can read in this sprawling guide.

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Turn Off Your Screen Time Notifications

Hello, hi. It’s been a rough few weeks. The new coronavirus continues to spread. Record numbers of people are filing for unemployment. You’re cooped up at home, maybe with kids. Nothing will make any of this easy. But there’s one small way you can give yourself a break: Turn off your damn screen time notifications.

This story is publishing on a Saturday morning. Tomorrow, millions and millions of iPhone owners will receive an early alert that details how many hours they spent staring at their phones last week. If you tap through, you can see a breakdown, to the minute, of how long you spent each day tapping and refreshing, glassy eyes affixed to Twitter or TikTok or whatever you use to stay informed or forget. The bars will indicate the percentage of time you spent in apps broken down by categories like Entertainment and Productivity, and which specific apps you used the most. Don’t tap through.

Better still, turn off that notification altogether for a while. If you’re on an Android device instead, turn off its matching Digital Wellbeing features. There’s a time and a place to keep close track of your screen time, but this demonstrably ain’t it.

The truth is that however well-intentioned these time-spent features are—although, are they?—in a Covid-19 world they amount to a weekly nag. You have enough to worry about! A reminder that you looked at a gadget 240 percent more last week than you did before won’t make you look any less next week. It just gives you one more thing to feel bad about at a moment in time when nothing feels particularly good. It scolds your escapism just when you most desperately need it.

Turn Off Your Screen Time Notifications
Photograph: Google 

Besides which! Screen time in and of itself is not necessarily harmful these days. Yes, you should avoid getting sucked into a coronavirus news vortex. Take it easy on Twitter if possible. For god’s sake, turn off your notifications before the constant buzzing drives you mad. But remember that screens have also been shown to reduce anxiety, especially in children. And with most of the country under strict shelter-in-place orders, it’s not like you have culturally enriching alternatives at your disposal. When you’re tired of your book, you pick up your smartphone. It’s either that or stare at the wall.

And even if you’re trying to unglue yourself from your phone these days, you can do it without a weekly guilt trip. It’s time to cut yourself some slack. Here’s how to do it.

Turn Off iPhone Screen Time

If you want to keep Screen Time going but turn the notifications off, head to Settings, then Notifications, and scroll down and tap Screen Time. From there, toggle Allow Notifications off. You’re free!

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How We Ended Up Short on Medical Equipment

The coronavirus outbreak is accelerating in the United States. According to projections, the number of Covid-19 cases in the US is expected to peak around the middle of April. Meanwhile, medical practitioners at hospitals and other health facilities across the country face a shortage of life-saving medical equipment. Without enough ventilators, masks, and tests, the task of dealing with the coming surge in patients becomes significantly more challenging.

This week on Gadget Lab, WIRED senior correspondent Adam Rogers comes on the show to talk about medical supply shortages, why there’s so much conflicting information about whether people should wear masks, and how a global crisis changes the way we communicate.

Show Notes

Read Adam and Megan Molteni’s story about the math behind predicting the course of the coronavirus here. Read Lauren’s story about email etiquette during a pandemic here. Read Tom Simonite’s story about the shortage of masks here. Read Gregory Barber’s story about how hospitals are preparing to deal with equipment shortages here. Follow all of WIRED’s coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic here.

Recommendations

Adam recommends the show Community. Mike recommends the Houseparty app (provided you hobble its data-collection abilities). Lauren recommends the HBO series, The Wire.

Adam Rogers can be found on Twitter @jetjocko. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our executive producer is Alex Kapelman (@alexkapelman). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.

How to Listen

You can always listen to this week’s podcast through the audio player on this page, but if you want to subscribe for free to get every episode, here’s how:

If you’re on an iPhone or iPad, open the app called Podcasts, or just tap this link. You can also download an app like Overcast or Pocket Casts, and search for Gadget Lab. If you use Android, you can find us in the Google Play Music app just by tapping here. We’re on Spotify too. And in case you really need it, here’s the RSS feed.


More From WIRED on Covid-19

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Apple Buys Dark Sky in an Android Worst-Case Scenario

Well, it was fun while it lasted. Dark Sky arrived on Android four years ago this May. On July 1, it will shutter forever, and its website will stop offering forecasts. Eighteen months after that, at the end of 2021, it will pull the plug on its application programming interface. RIP to the best, most beautiful weather app on Android. Cause of death: acquisition by Apple.

Dark Sky will continue to exist on iOS for the foreseeable future, although it seems likely that its best features will be subsumed into the platform’s stock weather app. Android users, though, who pay out a $3 annual subscription for the privilege of receiving its hyperlocal forecasts and to-the-minute rain alerts, will be left out in the cold. (They’ll get a refund if their account is still active when Dark Sky disappears.) Not only that, but the loss of the Dark Sky API will leave popular weather alternatives like Carrot scrambling for an alternate source for their info.

“Our goal has always been to provide the world with the best weather information possible, to help as many people as we can stay dry and safe, and to do so in a way that respects your privacy,” wrote Dark Sky cofounder Adam Grossman in a blog post announcing the move. “There is no better place to accomplish these goals than at Apple.”

That’s certainly true if Dark Sky’s technology eventually becomes the default option for every iPhone and iPad in the world. But it belies the app’s popularity as a stand-alone product. Dark Sky has about 500,000 monthly active users, according to estimates from analytics firm Apptopia. It’s consistently the top-ranked paid weather app on iOS in terms of downloads, and among the top 5 and top 10 weather apps in terms of revenue, in Google Play and the App Store, respectively.

That success has stemmed largely from two Dark Sky trademarks: its beautiful, informative maps and its hyperlocal, near-term forecasts that reliably tip you off when a drizzle is afoot.

Apple declined to comment on the acquisition beyond what’s in the blog post. Dark Sky didn’t respond to questions from WIRED. And while it’s impossible to divine Apple’s ultimate intentions, it’s worth articulating that this wasn’t the company’s only option. It’s just the worst one for Android users.

You could pretty easily imagine a scenario, for instance, in which Apple simply copied everything good about Dark Sky and offered it for free as part of its stock app. It’s a common enough practice that it even has a cutesy name: “sherlocking,” after an internet search utility called Sherlock 3, which Apple copied and effectively killed in 2002. Rude? Yes. But plenty of precedent, and it wouldn’t have affected Android users at all, assuming Dark Sky could maintain its business model after an iOS hit. Which, not to spin the hypothetical too far out of orbit, but it seems like it plausibly could have; Apptopia estimates that 70 percent of Dark Sky’s users are on Android, and the subscription model provides more sustainable revenue than the one-off iOS purchase.

Or! Apple could have kept Dark Sky active in the Google Play Store and maintained its API indefinitely. As unlikely as that may sound at first, remember that Apple is increasingly reliant on revenue from services as iPhone sales continue to taper. Dark Sky’s Android revenue right now is less than the loose change hiding under Apple’s sofa cushions. But continuing to grow the business would have let the company tap into users outside of its own ecosystem, in a similar way that putting Apple Music on Echo devices helped it branch out. And that’s before you get to the potential ancillary benefits.

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The Best Samsung Galaxy S20 Deals (and Which Model to Choose)

Every year, Samsung stuffs more and more tech into its phones—this year it’s touting 8K video recording, 5G, and 100X digital zoom on the Galaxy S20 range. But the added features give those phones staggeringly high price tags. The Galaxy S20 starts at an eyebrow-raising $1,000, and it is the most affordable phone of the lot. Compare that to the cheapest phone in last year’s Galaxy S10 range, the S10e, which started at $750. Yikes. What a jump.

In no way does it mean you need to spend $1,000 on a new phone. There are plenty of good alternatives that won’t make your wallet want to sew itself shut. But if you must have the greatest from Samsung this year, we’ve laid out everything you need to know about the Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, S20 Ultra, and even the new foldable phone, the Galaxy Z Flip. Below, you’ll also find every notable Galaxy S20 deal and order page we’ve found so far. For more details on the phones, check out our full recap of Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event.

When you buy something using the links in our stories, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Here’s how it works. You can also support our reporting and reviewing by purchasing a 1-year print + digital WIRED subscription for $5 (Discounted).

The Right Galaxy for You

Samsung Galaxy S20 phone
The new Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra costs $1,400. Preorders start on February 21.Photograph: Samsung 

The differences between all three Galaxy S20 phones aren’t as great as you might think. Samsung has a handy comparison that breaks it down here.

  • The whole Galaxy S20 line is a spectacle: I’ve spent plenty of time with all three phones now, and you can expect excellent performance in all of them phones thanks to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 processor. The hardware is top-notch, perhaps a bit excessive with specs like 12 GB of RAM, but the 120-Hz screen refresh rate is a highlight, as it makes scrolling and gaming on the phones look a whole lot smoother. They all have in-display fingerprint sensors, 8K video recording, 5G connectivity, and the usual flourishes like wireless charging, a MicroSD card slot, and IP68 water resistance.

  • Galaxy S20 ($1,000+) is the smallest of the lot: If you want Samsung’s best but don’t want to carry around a phablet, get the S20. It has a reasonable 6.2-inch screen and all the same specs as the S20 Plus, except for a slightly smaller 4,000-mAh battery (that still lasts a really long time). It’s missing the time-of-flight camera from its bigger sibling, which is used for improved depth with Samsung’s portrait mode and better augmented-reality effects, but it’s not a huge loss at all. It is the only phone in the lineup to come in pink, if that’s worth anything. Our review (9/10 WIRED Recommends) has more details.

  • Galaxy S20 Plus ($1,200+) is for big-screen lovers: The only reason to buy this over the S20 is if you want a sprawling 6.7-inch screen, though at that point you may as well shell out for the slightly better S20 Ultra. The bigger battery over the S20 doesn’t mean it lasts longer since it needs to power more screen, and the extra time-of-flight camera doesn’t add much. Like the S20, the 64-megapixel telephoto camera maxes out at 30x digital zoom, which doesn’t matter because you don’t get flattering results anyway—everything looks blotchy.

  • Galaxy S20 Ultra ($1,400+) is for shutterbugs: The standard camera on the previous two phones opts for 12 megapixels and a 1/1.76-inch image sensor, but the S20 Ultra goes the extra mile with a larger 1/1.33-inch sensor and an absurd 108 megapixels. That larger sensor does mean better photos at night, and the giant megapixel count nets more details in your shots (and larger file sizes). But wait, there’s more! The 48-megapixel telephoto camera goes up to 100X digital zoom, which is absolutely overkill, but the 10X hybrid zoom is what makes it shine—the other two S20 phones do offer this, but the quality isn’t as good. Did I mention it also has a 40-MP selfie camera and a gargantuan 6.9-inch screen? Naturally, there’s an even bigger battery. Check out our review (8/10 WIRED Recommends) for more.

  • Galaxy Z Flip ($1,380+) is for early adopters: I spent 24 hours with Samsung’s newest foldable phone, and I didn’t want to give it up. The clamshell style has grown on me, but it’s not going to make you more productive or anything like that. It purely saves a little more space in your pocket, but it’s damn fun to flip it open (or snap it shut to end a call). It’s the most polished foldable phone I’ve used so far, but despite a glass screen, there are multiple reports of it scratching or cracking at the crease. Buy it at your own risk if you want something different and have the money to spend, but in a year, expect foldables to be cheaper and look and feel even more mature.

Word to the Wise

Here’s some friendly advice before you drop four figures on a new phone.

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Moment Springtime Sale: Our Favorite Deals on Lenses and Gear

The WIRED Gear Team has lots of positive things to say about Moment’s smartphone photography lenses. Usually, our biggest gripes have to do with how pricey the equipment can get. If you’ve had your eye on Moment’s lenses, bags, or other gear, now’s a great time to check them out. Moment is holding a Spring Cleaning sale with up to 60 percent off some products.

If you’ve been eying a photo upgrade for a while, the company doesn’t discount its products all that often. This sale ends midday Wednesday, April 1.

Some of the best deals in the sale include:


If you buy something using the links in our stories, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Here’s how this works. You can also support our reporting and reviewing by purchasing a 1-year print + digital WIRED subscription for $5 (Discounted).


More Great WIRED Stories

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‘Hope You’re Well’: Emailing Through a Time of Pandemic

Early last week, Sarahjane Sacchetti paused before sending an email to the staff of Cleo, the San Francisco–based benefits startup where she’s the chief executive. A people operations manager at the company had forwarded her information about California’s state-wide shelter-in-place order, and Sacchetti wanted to email the update to all company offices—which span nine states across the US—and go over best practices for working from home for everybody.

The pause lasted 35 minutes. Sacchetti says she wanted to acknowledge the stress that the coronavirus was causing, express empathy, and thank everyone for working so hard. She included a personal anecdote about her biggest achievement that week: Getting her 3-year-old to be completely silent during a 45-minute work call. “The barrier to hit Send is certainly far higher for me right now,” Sacchetti says. “And the pleasantries have changed. It’s no longer, ‘Hope you had a good weekend.’ It’s ‘Hope you’re doing OK.’”

As Covid-19 tears its way through communities across the globe and as fears about the virus and its impact increase, emails have taken on a different tone. People who are in the fortunate position of being employed are thinking twice before they dash off a transactional email without acknowledging the coronavirus; as a result, our inboxes are now filled with well wishes from mere acquaintances—or in some cases virtual strangers. As more and more people throw in “Hope you and your family are healthy,” it’s become as much of a boilerplate as previous email openers. But others say personal email threads have now become a kind of lifeline for them and their friends, in a way they haven’t been since the “golden age” of emails back in the 1990s; that emails, arguably, are better for posterity than IMs.

The question is whether these are lasting changes. One English professor, who last year published a book on email, firmly believes that our email styles or “philosophies” are unlikely to change long-term. The reason? Most people are still not very emotionally invested in email.

“When I think of all of the things that are going to change in the world after coronavirus, culturally and politically, I don’t think email is in the top 100,” says Randy Malamud, author of Email (Object Lessons). Still, he says, there are ways we could all be writing better emails right now.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

“Hope you’re well.”
“Hope this email finds you healthy.”
“Hope you and your family are healthy and safe during these uncertain and unprecedented times.”

If you keep an active email account, you’ve likely received a note that includes a phrase like this over the past few weeks. And you’ve probably sent one. “In business, we’ve always had ways to try to relate to people. There are many things where you wish people well or empathize, whether it’s a loss in the family or a birth in the family,” Sacchetti says. “But now we have this ubiquitous experience that all of us are going through, on a spectrum.”

“Emails now be like: I hope you are staying safe, sheltered in place, stocked with toilet paper, and healthy during these absolutely unprecedented, wild, chaotic, terrifying times. Just wanted to follow up—” tweeted a Yale law student, in a tweet that has more than 200,000 likes.

You might even feel like you’re doing something wrong if you don’t include these acknowledgements. “You kind of feel like you have to start every email with that, and if you don’t you feel guilty,” says Clare Goggin Sivit, a digital marketing consultant based in Portland, Oregon. “It’s so much more emphatic than it was in previous times. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily more genuine, but it does seem darker now, a little bit more apocalyptic.”

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Nonprofits and Companies That Are Helping to Fight the Pandemic

It’s been a tough few weeks for everyone. At times, it can feel like the world is unraveling. Whether you’re dealing with sickness, social distancing, working from home for the first time, and/or trying to homeschool kids, it isn’t easy. We all want to get back to normal.

We don’t know when that will be, and what normal will look like, but we wanted to point out a few of the organizations, companies, and brands (big and small) that are chipping in to help. While the government has been struggling to administer tests and get enough supplies for health care workers, these organizations have directly helped on the front lines, donated proceeds and supplies, or helped prioritize especially vulnerable customers.

Updated on March 30: We’ve added a few more companies to the list.

Nonprofits on the Frontlines

If you’d like to donate directly to the charities helping Covid-19 relief, here are a few you might consider.

  • Feeding America has a Covid-19 Response Fund that is helping to ensure food banks across the country can feed those in need right now, including the children who rely on school meals to eat.

  • Doctors Without Borders is sending aid to the countries hit hardest by Covid-19 and strengthening the infection controls in its already established programs, as well as maintaining existing help in the 70-plus countries it regularly assists.

  • The World Health Organization is coordinating efforts across the world to respond to existing cases and prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading.

  • Oxfam America is organizing efforts to increase the delivery of clean water and sanitary supplies to refugees and those living in higher-risk environments.

  • The Red Cross is in desperate need of blood donations if you’re in a position to do so.

  • World Central Kitchen is delivering chef-prepared meals to those in need.

  • Team Rubicon, a veteran-based company that provides services during natural disasters and emergencies, has assembled teams across the country to help with logistics, packaging and distributing food, and even supplementing hotline staffing.

  • Half-Table Man Disaster Relief has been working to feed those in need, including the Coast Guard in Staten Island and the elderly.

Also, be sure to look at local food banks as well as neighborhood Facebook pages that are organizing mask-making and care package efforts.

Grocery Stores That Are Helping Seniors

Nonprofits and Companies That Are Helping to Fight the Pandemic
Photograph: MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images
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How to Disinfect Everything: Coronavirus Home Cleaning Tips

There’s something deeply unsettling about stepping out of the home-from-work boredom of self-isolation into the tense, ambient panic of grocery shopping during a pandemic. Normal is a double-sided coin now. At home, things feel hyperreal and outside they feel entirely surreal—two steps removed from the flashback scenes in a post-apocalyptic movie. You may feel a tension between helping yourself and helping your community. Daily life during the novel coronavirus pandemic is all about disorienting contrasts like these.

It might seem more productive to read our Coronavirus Gear and Supplies Guide and start filling your pantry with canned goods and essentials, but cleaning and sanitizing surfaces in your home can help lower the chances you or a loved one will contract Covid-19 and lower the chances you might spread it to someone else. Keeping your home (and self) sanitized helps everyone.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends we all take steps to clean and sanitize high-touch surfaces in our homes. Below, we get into the weeds of how long the virus might last on surfaces, which disinfectants may kill it, and the steps you should take to keep clean.

To Keep Yourself Virus-Free

Wash Your Hands

You’ve heard it a million times by now, and you’ll hear it a million more, but the best way to lower your risk of contracting Covid-19 (or pass it on to someone else) is to wash your hands after you cough, sneeze, touch your face, use the restroom, or are about to leave one place for another. You should wash your hands when you leave and return from the grocery store, for instance.

If you can find any, hand sanitizer is a fast cleaning method that works wonders. (Here’s how to make your own.) Hand sanitizer is no substitute for washing your hands with soap and water, though. Using soap and water can also be a little easier on your hands. It won’t necessarily kill all pathogens, but if you wash your hands properly, it’ll wash them away. The World Health Organization has detailed instructions (which we’ve all seen in meme form) on how to properly perform the 20-second hand wash.

It’s also important to liberally moisturize your hands. Dry, cracked skin is at greater risk for all kinds of infections, so after you wash, apply a little moisturizer. It’s nice! Most moisturizing lotions have similar ingredients, starting with water and glycerin, so the brand doesn’t really matter. (Here are some hand lotions on Amazon.) If your hands are extra dry, look for something dermatologist recommended with an “intensive” label, like Eucerin Advanced Repair or Neutrogena Hydro Boost.

(Note: If you buy something using the links in our stories, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Here’s how this works.)

Stay Home

Even if you’re not sick, just stay home if you can. Being in large crowds or going out to restaurants pose unnecessary risks not just to yourself but to the people around you. The more you’re in public, the more chances the novel coronavirus has to hitch a ride on your hands, clothes, or person. Millions of people are very vulnerable to this virus. Putting yourself at risk also puts them at risk.

“There will be a sizable portion of people who are older, or who have other health conditions, and if they get sick all at once, they’re going to overwhelm the health care system. So we’re trying to decrease the number of transmissions,” Dr. John Townes, head of infection prevention and control at the Oregon Health & Science University, told WIRED.

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