Last week in tech: Brookstone died, Movie Pass changed again, and Apple entered the four comma club

You can have summer fun and stay up on all the latest tech news, too.
last week in tech

If you’re the type of person who forms sentimental bonds with retail stores, then 2018 is shaping up to be a tough year. Toys R Us made its exit earlier this year, and this week we found out that Brookstone is packing up its massage chairs and closing its mall-based gadget stores. The week wasn’t all bad news, however. Here’s a rundown of what you missed in the tech world while you were (hopefully) out enjoying the summer.

Listen to the latest Last Week in Tech podcast episode!

The PopSci tech team was a scrappy skeleton crew last week as some of us tried to absorb some precious sunlight into our bodies. That didn’t stop the podcast train from rolling, however. This week’s episode includes answers to some of your most pressing technology questions, the lowdown on new tech for vinyl records, and an expert look into the fastest supercomputer on the planet.

You can listen to the new episode in the player above, subscribe on iTunes, follow us on SoundCloud, or add us to your Stitcher.

This probe-shaped camera lens takes insane photos and videos

Laowa makes some truly fascinating camera lenses, and its latest creation is a foot-long, probe-shaped close-up rig that allows shooters to capture insects and other tiny subjects with surprising detail. Despite its shape, the 24mm f/14 Probe lens is a wide angle with a field of view that’s a little wider than that of your smartphone camera. Its small f/14 aperture doesn’t let in much light (a built-in LED light at the tip helps add illumination to the scene) but helps provide enough depth of field to keep tiny subjects in focus. That’s typically a big challenge with macro photography.

Facebook launched some tools to help prevent the internet from ruining your life

The big, blue social media company is still under fire at the moment for a variety of issues from privacy to fake news, all of which are propelling Facebook’s push for responsibility. Last week, Facebook introduced its Digital Literacy Library, which takes materials from the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University in an effort to equip users identify possible security risks and false information.

Facebook also introduced new tools for tracking time spent on its services (including Instagram) to help prevent you from shoveling hours of your life into a bottomless hole of scroll. Google (including YouTube) and Apple are both already touting features like this in their upcoming software, so if you want to know how much of your life you’ve spent looking at cute DIY videos, you’ll soon have no shortage of ways to get that data.

Of course, we could all probably stand to learn something from the way the people who make tech actually use it themselves.

Apple added a comma to its market value

Tim Cook and company celebrated last week as Apple crossed over $1 trillion in market value. It’s the first public company to do so. The company wasn’t exactly making it rain for others, however, as it abruptly cut off its App Store affiliate program, which gave partners (Disclosure: participated in this affiliate program) a small kickback if a user clicked a tracked link and made a purchase. The program will run until October.

Movie Pass changed its deal again

Writing about Movie Pass is hard because the service changes its terms on a weekly basis. Users expected a price hike last week, but now that’s reportedly not happening anymore. Instead, it seems users will soon hit a three movie cap per month. By the time you read this, however, the company could have changed its mind again as it has done more than a dozen times in the past.

Motorola’s Moto Z3 will have an optional 5G add-on

The latest modular phone from Motorola is called the Moto G3 and it will be the first in the line to officially support a 5G add-on that will arrive in the coming months. The 5G accessory will include a Qualcomm X50 modem so it can hop onto 5G networks when that becomes more feasible in the real world.