After the failure of the Fire Phone and the so-so Fire TV, it was hard to get excited about Amazon's $180 Echo wireless speaker. At best, it seemed like a superfluous device that simply mimicked voice-powered tech from our phones in monolithic speaker form. At worst, it felt like yet another way for the company to insert itself into your life -- all in an effort to make you buy more crap from Amazon. I'll admit, I wasn't in any rush to nab an Echo of my own after it was first announced (Prime members with a special invite were able to get it for $99). And, curiously, Amazon didn't make review units available at the time, either. But now that Echo is widely available to everyone, I was finally able to get my hands on one to test out. Surprisingly enough, I ended up falling for it big time.

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Today on In Case You Missed It: Remy Martin installs NFC-enabled caps on its cognac bottles to prevent shady saloons from pulling the old switcheroo, Nike lets Google Cardboard users to play soccer as Neymar Jr., and a London-based artist creates custom Power Gloves that can carve through wood and stone.

From the cutting room floor: This Auburn Fire Department quadcopter makes a special delivery of lifejackets and tow lines to a couple of guys stranded in the middle of a river.

Let the team at Engadget know about any interesting stories or videos you stumble across by using the #ICYMI hashtag @engadget or @mskerryd.

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Eurobest Festival Of Creativity, Day 1

Before a company announces a device, it has to pass through the FCC's secretive bunker to ensure that it's wireless radios are safe for human contact. Droid Life has trawled through the most recent list of anonymized gadgets to find A4R-GG1, a Google-hewn offering that might, just possibly, be the new version of Google Glass. The clues aren't exactly concrete, but include the fact that the hardware isn't classified as a smartphone, tablet or media device. It's equipped with 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth LE and a built-in rechargeable battery, so clearly it's also meant to be taken around with you.

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The conflict between Uber and France takes another turn with the news that the company will suspend UberPOP from 8pm (France time) today. The ride-sharing outfit has suffered plenty of protest from taxi drivers, who have attacked cars and drivers in recent weeks. In order to protect the safety of both the company's personnel and passengers, Uber has agreed to halt operations until at least September 30th. That's when the nation's constitutional court will rule on if a decision to ban the service was legal.

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Calif. state Sen. Leland Yee indicted

Oh, the irony. Disgraced former senator Leland Yee has pleaded guilty to charges of taking bribes in exchange for votes, racketeering and promising to smuggle guns into the US from the Philippines. Of course, like so many beautiful twists of fate, Yee was a prominent moral crusader who led a campaign against violent video games. The senator authored AB-1179, legislation that would have outlawed the sale of said titles to California's teens, which was defeated by the Supreme Court. Way to keep our kids safe, Leels.

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Kyocera Verizon

Microsoft can cross out another patent dispute in its list, now that it has settled its issue with Kyocera. Redmond filed a lawsuit against the Japanese electronics maker back in March, claiming that the latter's Android phones infringe upon seven patents it owns, including their messaging and location tracking features. Several Android device manufacturers, such as HTC, ZTE and LG, have been paying Microsoft royalties to use its patents for quite some time. It's unclear if money will change hands when it comes to this particular deal, though, since its announcement only talked about signing "an agreement expanding" an older one. The two have apparently signed a cross-patent license after making peace, allowing them to use each other's technologies in their own devices.

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Early summer on the East Coast hasn't been its usual level of brutal this year, but it's only a matter of time before smartphones start wigging out in the heat. Things only get trickier when you're charging up in your sweltering car, so Chevy cooked up an "active phone cooling" system to keep gadgets from overheating in their 2016 range of vehicles. Don't get too carried away, though: That's just a high-falutin' name for an air vent that points at a warm phone while it's wirelessly charging.

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N64 Controller

Microsoft has an exorbitant $150 controller coming this year that it hopes will make up for the Xbox One's middling gamepad, but that won't make the upcoming Rare Replay feel any more authentic when you play. The folks at Hyperkin -- makers of the Retron 5 console -- know this and set forth a challenge: mod a Nintendo 64 controller to work with Microsoft's latest game console. And they succeeded. Mostly. As you'll see in the video below, the three-pronged paddle can navigate the console's dashboard and select apps, but, since there's only one analog stick, that rules out it playing nicely with a vast majority of modern games. The wiring is a bit wonky and certain inputs trigger at random, but, from the sounds of it, the project is far from over.

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G-shocks

When America's greatest actor needed to defuse a bomb mounted to a passenger bus, there was only one name he could trust to keep time: Casio. Like Keanu Reeves, the company's fallen out of the limelight a bit since then. It has a comeback plan, though: smartwatches. As The Wall Street Journal tells it, the outfit thinks it has what's necessary to compete in the crowded space too. Namely, a rich history of making watches that do more than tell time. It expects the device to hit "a level of smartwatch perfection" by being durable, easy to put on and generally being comfortable to wear.

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Dinosaurland in White Post, Virginia

In what is being called the "most comprehensive" study of its kind, a team from the University of Chicago claims that it has revealed the massive amount of genetic change needed for woolly mammoths to adapt to their arctic environment. The study, which was published on July 2 in Cell Reports, shows that genes controlling everything from skin and hair development to fat metabolism, insulin signaling -- even skull shape -- differed from their contemporary elephant kin.

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Rumors of a fully Android-powered BlackBerry device popped up again last month, and today Evan Blass aka evleaks has posted a picture showing a glimpse of the phone. Specs for the alleged "Venice" popped up on N4BB a couple of weeks ago, calling it a slider with a 5.4-inch screen, 18MP rear camera and 1.8GHz Hexa-core CPU. According to Blass, the Venice will run Android, and is coming to AT&T first.

Update: We're told the picture is of the old Passport with the screen mocked up, but the "Venice" is coming, and should have a more sensible profile.

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Russia's Progress 60 rocket on the launchpad

The International Space Station has had a tough time getting supplies lately between two rocket explosions and an orbital failure, but it's going to get an important lifeline in the near future... hopefully. Russia is about to launch Progress 60, a cargo ship that will ferry over 3 tons of much-needed food, fuel and other equipment to the ISS. You won't have to wait until its expected Sunday arrival to find out how it fares, though. NASA is streaming the launch at 12:55AM ET -- tune in below and you'll have a sense of whether or not Progress 60 fares any better than its ill-fated predecessor.

Update: After a successful launch, Progress 60 is on its way to the ISS. It's scheduled to dock with the station at 2:30AM ET Sunday, which will also be covered live on NASA TV.

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