The Morning After: DOJ approves Sprint / T-Mobile merger

And why it's time to take Google's Pixel phones seriously.

Hey, good morning! You look fabulous.

Welcome to your weekend! T-Mobile and Sprint have cleared a major hurdle on the way to completing their merger, but first, we'll examine just what is so special about Google's Pixel 3a and go over some other highlight stories from last week. Also, Hideo Kojima dropped a new Death Stranding trailer overnight, and the IRS wants its piece of your cryptocurrency profits.

The deal isn't done yet.Justice Department approves T-Mobile / Sprint merger

The companies will have to sell the prepaid parts of Sprint's business -- Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Sprint prepaid -- to Dish, while that company will gain a chunk of Sprint's spectrum. T-Mobile and Sprint will have to open up more than 20,000 cell sites and dozens of retail locations to Dish. In addition, T-Mobile has to offer Dish "robust access" to its mobile network for seven years while the latter creates a 5G network of its own.

The Pixel 3a is a reminder there is more to be done with the standard slab-like phone.It's time to take Google's Pixel phones more seriously

Methods that other "affordable premium" phone makers have tried include marketing directly to consumers instead of splurging on expensive advertising campaigns. Google's focus on closing potential performance gaps with advanced software makes the Pixel 3a a powerful signal of the company's unique ability to rise above the limits of hardware.

Everybody's doing it.Regal Cinemas unveils its unlimited movie subscription service

Regal Unlimited offers three tiers of membership, ranging from $18 to $23.50 per month (plus tax), and you'll have to download the free Regal App to participate. The "gotcha" is that there is a $0.50 convenience fee for every movie you book through the app, and surcharges apply for special features like 4DX, IMAX, 3D and double features.

Meet Heartman.Hideo Kojima releases two-minute 'Death Stranding' cutscene that premiered at Comic-Con

Kojima's upcoming "cinematic adventure" game for PlayStation 4 is still quite a mystery, but you can learn more from this Death Stranding trailer that debuted at Comic-Con last week. In it, the character "Heartman" -- based on filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn -- explains his connection to the world. His heart stops every 21 minutes, allowing him to spend three minutes exploring "the world of the dead" before he's shocked back to life... for another 21 minutes.

Our most comprehensive set of recommendations ever.Introducing Engadget's 2019 Back-to-School Guide

As editor-in-chief Dana Wollman explains: "In addition to top picks in 11 categories -- everything from laptops to smartphones to gaming and dorm gear -- we went big on tips and buying advice this year. We didn't just want to tell you what to buy, but we wanted to help you choose wisely, and then make the most out of whatever you chose."

Instead of Air, Nike is using these beads to battle Adidas Ultraboost.Nike's Joyride shoes use tiny beads to make your runs more comfortable

Meet Joyride, a responsive cushioning system designed to adapt to individual foot strikes and offer high levels of impact absorption as your feet hit whatever surface you're running on. Nike says the idea is to "make running easy" and give you more personalized comfort, made possible by thousands of tiny, energy-packed beads that form the shoe's midsole. Nike's Joyride Run Flyknit will launch globally on August 15th for $180.

The human ears behind your AI assistant.Apple contractors frequently hear sensitive info in Siri recordings

The Guardian has learned from a source that Siri quality control contractors regularly hear sensitive info, including medical info, criminal activities and even "sexual encounters" -- much like their counterparts at Amazon and Google. They're only listening to less than one percent of daily Siri activations, and frequently only for a few seconds each, but some of them include request-linked data like app info, contacts and locations.

In a statement, Apple said they're studied in "secure facilities" by people who are bound to "strict confidentiality requirements."

But wait, there's more...

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