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A couple of years ago, Instagram launched Instagram Direct, a built-in messaging system that lets users share photos or videos with each other -- either one-on-one or in groups of up to 15 people. Now, with over 85 million monthly users, it's time for Instagram Direct to get an update. That's finally happening today with a few new features, which include threaded messaging and a way to share Instagram content as Direct messages.

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An upgraded LG webOS TV

If you're still rocking a first-generation webOS TV and regret that you didn't hold out for a webOS 2.0 set, don't worry -- you'll soon catch up in some respects. LG is promising a Value Pack Upgrade that gives your webOS 1.0 TV four core features from 2.0, including favorite channels in the launcher, improved search, instant input detection and quick settings. You should also see overall boosts to ease of use and performance. The pack isn't the same as a full-on webOS 2.0 upgrade, but it might alleviate your early adopter's remorse when it starts rolling out on September 21st.

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This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer's guide to the best technology. Read the full article here.

A road trip can be a memorable adventure, but all adventures require a little planning. At The Wirecutter, we spend dozens of hours on each of our reviews to find the best gear for every part of your life. This year we drove 1,500 miles through four states to bring you our essential recommendations for your next road trip. Here are eight of our favorites.

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GERMANY-ANIMAL-FEATURE

The Meerkat team isn't done envisioning features that might give its live streaming app an edge over Twitter's Periscope -- not by a long shot. It's rolling out updates for Android and iOS that let you both poll your viewers and share pictures, making it easy to ask a question (we can imagine a lot of "what should I do next?" streams) or recount some of your earlier adventures. You'll also see live hashtags that help you both widen your audience and keep tabs on what's trending. These additions probably won't have you ditching Periscope if you're a committed user, but they might just tip the balance if you're not sure what to use for your broadcasts.

[Image credit: Matthias Hiekel/AFP/Getty Images]

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Citizen Mars S1:E1 | Uncommon People

More than two years ago, Mars One began its search to find those it will send on a one-way trip to the Red Planet. In the time since, plenty of questions have been asked about the organization and its plans to colonize a world 140 million miles away. Will we have the technology and scientific know-how to deliver four humans safely to the Martian surface by 2027? Can those people build a sustainable settlement so far from Earthly aid? What are the psychological and physical tolls of both the six-month trip and the ensuing mission? Can a reality TV show actually pay for it all?

Despite those and other questions, people from around the world pledged their time and money to Mars One for the opportunity to go on its mission. Earlier this year, the pool of applicants seeking to live and die on Mars (starting in 2027) was whittled down to a group of 100. Citizen Mars is a five-part series about a group of those would-be astronauts.

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Google has a new logo. A few weeks after the company announced a huge restructuring effort that will split the search, advertising and internet giant into several different organizations, the new Google is showing off a new identity. The iconic four colors and "Google" over a white background remains unchanged, but the font is significantly different, removing the serifs that have been part of the letters for years. All in all, it's a flatter, slightly more modern design -- one that also evokes the company's new Alphabet logo -- but it'll certainly take some getting used to.

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three scoops of ice cream  good ...

In the future, you might not have to rush to eat your ice cream cone on a hot summer's day. Scottish researchers have discovered a naturally occurring protein that binds the air, fat and water in ice cream, which slows melting. The move would prevent your dessert from becoming a puddle, and spare companies from deep freezing their treats for as long as they do today. You could see higher-quality ice cream, too -- the protein promises a smoother texture without as many ice crystals or saturated fats.

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Sign up for the Interactive Coding Bootcamp, now 92 percent off

Sometimes a "good enough" career demands re-evaluation. Whether you're looking to seriously upgrade your abilities as a professional developer or are just getting started in the field, a portfolio of current, real-world apps is essential to make a strong impression. Make it happen with this 12-week comprehensive online Interactive Coding Bootcamp for only $39 -- a 92 percent discount from its usual price.

Ever wish you could transport those pen doodles and hand written notes to the digital world? The Neo smartpen N2 lets users write on paper with ink while the same data is sent via Bluetooth to the Neo Notes app or saved in the pen to sync later. The app lets you transcribe written text, record audio alongside the progress of a drawing and share content as .png, .jpg or .svg vectors. So far you've needed one of the company's NCode notebooks, but later this month you'll be able to print your own properly coded pages using the free N Toaster app for Mac and PC. Want to give your notes a makeover for 2015? Three lucky Engadget readers will each get a Neo smartpen N2 and a pack of eight notebooks to get you started. All you need to do is head down to the Rafflecopter widget below for up to three chances at winning.

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CyanogenMod Cid

If you've been sitting on pins and needles waiting for the community-focused CyanogenMod firmware to both make the leap to Android 5.1 and fix that nasty Stagefright MMS exploit, you can relax. Hot on the heels of Cyanogen OS 12.1 (for devices like the OnePlus One), CyanogenMod 12.1 is arriving with both the perks from Android 5.1.1 as well as a Stagefright patch that theoretically keeps you safe. There are also Stagefright fixes for CyanogenMod 11 and 12.0, in case you can't run the new operating system right away. There are a lot of devices to cover with this rollout, so don't be alarmed if you don't see a download right away -- if your phone or tablet is already running CyanogenMod's decidedly non-standard code, there's probably an update waiting in the wings.

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