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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Samsung Says It Will Let You Fix Your Own Galaxy Phone

Does your Galaxy phone have a galaxy of cracks running across the screen?

If so, this is your moment. Samsung has announced that it will soon give you its official blessing to hack away at (some of) your own devices.

Samsung says it will offer consumers access to device parts, repair tools, and repair guides. The specifics of the repair terms are still a little limiting: The company says it will sanction users to fix only the display, back glass, and charging ports. Batteries and other internal tidbits are still off limits. The only products supported in this reparability endeavor are the Galaxy S20 and S21 families and the Galaxy Tab 7+. Those were all released in the last couple of years, and the list notably excludes this year’s Galaxy phones and tablets. Samsung says it will make parts and services available for other devices in the future, but it hasn’t given any specific dates.

The company’s new repairability program comes in the form of a partnership with the right-to-repair advocacy group iFixit. It will start sometime this summer.

The move comes during a cooling-off period in the battle between repair advocates and companies that are keen to keep control over their products. Last November, Apple said it would work to make repair resources available to customers. Just last week, tractor company John Deere announced a similar, if more limited, plan. Some of these efforts have been lacking, and each company’s proclamations leave out some specifics. (Samsung itself bungled a previous partnership with iFixit.) Still, the momentum behind the movement is there.

“It’s another sign that right to repair is on the march,” says Nathan Proctor, the head of the US Public Interest Research Group’s right-to-repair campaign. “I think it more of an indication of where we are—clearly gaining momentum and forcing companies to get ahead of coming regulations—than anything else. I doubt Samsung will be the last company to announce something like this. They all see the writing on the wall.”

Let’s check out what else was new and shiny this week.

Windows and Android Play Nice

Gone are the days of sitting at the computer and having to extend your hand six inches to grab your phone off the desk to read a text message. Microsoft has updated and renamed its Your Phone app that linked mobile and desktop operating systems. Now called Phone Link on the Windows 11 desktop, the updates are an effort to iron out the sync issues between Windows PCs and Android phones.

New design and usability tweaks make it easier to access and sift through phone content using your PC. Using the desktop app, you can send and receive texts and phone calls as well as access your photo roll and some Android-native apps. The corresponding Android app has also been renamed to Link to Windows. Hopefully this trend toward blindingly obvious app names continues. Rename Uber Eats to Burrito Bringer. Change Facebook to Uncle’s Rants.

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Hey, speaking of Facebook …

Meta Really Wants You to Stop TikTokking

On a scale from “lol wut” to “ugh, obviously,” how shocked would you be if I told you Meta did something sketchy?

The company previously known as Facebook has run through a gamut of negative press over the past few months and seems keen to turn that criticism on someone else—ideally, a competitor. According to emails shared with reporters at The Washington Post, Meta hired the political PR firm Targeted Victory to plant news stories about TikTok’s influence on children, as a way to sow public distrust in the Chinese company. Sure, TikTok has its own problems, but as the Post’s reporting shows, those problems don’t involve students slapping teachers.

Chat Changes Coming to Instagram

There are some changes coming to Instagram’s messaging feature. You’ll soon see some quality-of-life improvements like the ability to reply to messages without leaving the main feed, as well as the ability to share posts more quickly. The update (available now in “select countries”) also gives users the ability to create polls, send messages that won’t trigger a notification, and send audio clips from Spotify, Amazon Music, and Apple Music.

Enter the Oktagon

Take a listen to this week’s Gadget Lab podcast, where WIRED senior writer Lily Hay Newman goes deep on the Lapsus$ hacker group that compromised hundreds of companies’ Okta logins. Please note that we recorded this episode before Friday morning's news about the two British teens who have been charged in the Lapsus$ hack.


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