Probably the standout feature (at least visually) this year is the addition of a 1.4-inch front-facing display, similar to the one found on DJI’s Osmo Action. The new screen is there so you can set up the perfect selfie, or make sure the whole family is in frame before you click record.
The new screen isn’t touch-enabled, but you can choose what it displays. Your options are: Full Screen (a zoomed-in view that fills the whole display), Actual Screen (a live preview of what the camera sees with black letterbox bars, and Status only (current mode, battery life etc.). The first two options will also show this data, just smaller. You can also turn the display off completely if you like.
Bigger rear screen
The Hero 9 is a shade bigger than the Hero 8 (by 5- or 6mm on each side), it’s also 32 grams heavier. Part of the reason why is to accommodate a larger, 2.27-inch screen and a new battery (more info below). The larger display also means on-screen buttons are a shade bigger than before making them easier to poke.
New sensor/5K video
This is a big one. For the first time ever, you can now shoot 5K video with a GoPro (at 30 or 24fps). Photos also get a megapixel bump from 12 to 20, so your videos and images have more resolution than ever before. Note, that there are no new slo-mo modes, so 4K still tops out at 60fps, 2.7K at 120fps and 1080p at 240fps.
The Hero 8 saw the (re?) introduction of mods for the GoPro. Those same mods are back for the Hero 9 with some minor improvements (the $80 media mod is now weather-resistant and comes with a removable foam windshield). The Display mod (a fold-out back screen) returns for $80 also, and the same Light mod ($49) from before is compatible with the Hero 9 too.
Most exciting of all, is the introduction of a “Max mod” for the Hero 9. This introduces some of the best features from the Max to the “regular” Hero 9. That means far superior HyperSmooth (stabilization), a much wider field of view (similar to Max’s SuperView), and 360-degree horizon lock. It also means you’ll be able to add filters to the Hero 9 again — something you couldn’t do on the Hero 8. Whether there will be more official lens mods, or third-party options remains to be seen. The Max mod actually sits on top of the regular lens, so it’s not as straight forward as changing lenses on a DSLR.
The new Media and Display mods are available today, with the Max mod coming next month (the Light mod is the same one already available).
That sound? The chorus of GoPro users saying “hallelujah.” The battery in the Hero 9 is both physically larger and with more capacity. Out with the 1,220 mAh limit of before, in with the new 1,720 mAh cell. GoPro claims the new battery is good for an average of 30-percent more use, see how it fairs in real life in our review. GoPro also claims the new battery is optimized for colder conditions.
Both HyperSmooth and TimeWarp get a little refresh, earning them the “3.0” title. In practical terms, this means improvements to the in-camera stabilization (HyperSmooth) and a new “half-speed” option when recording TimeWarps — like the existing “real-time” mode, just… slower.
Both HyperSmooth and TimeWarp are compatible with the new in-camera horizon leveling. It’s only available in Linear mode for video, but it’ll make sure your horizon stays steady during hard turns of if you mount your camera wonkily. It’s not able to lock the horizon through 360 degrees like Max can, but up to around 45 degrees of tilt will be straightened out, after which the camera with adjust back to the actual angle you’re recording at.
Ever wanted to be able to set your GoPro to turn on and start recording at a certain date/time? Now you can with Scheduled Capture. Don’t want to record hours of footage? Duration Capture lets you tell it when to switch off. Basically, you don’t even need to be at the camera anymore to turn it on, record and switch it off again.
Another new tool is HindSight, which is a fusion of the existing loop recording option (where the camera records for a set time on repeat, without eating up your memory card) and LiveBurst (which takes photos before you press the shutter button). As the name suggests, it allows you to catch something that happened just before you pressed record.
Not a fan of the clunky plastic that you bought old GoPros in? Good news, the Hero 9 not only comes in plastic-free packaging, but it’s now replaced by a carry case you can take with you on adventures. The nylon, zip-up pouch will keep your camera and some accessories safe on the road, and you now have one less thing to throw away.
GoPro’s trying something different this year. Typically new Hero Blacks cost around $400. The Hero 9 technically costs $450 at launch. But (and it’s a big but) in reality it only costs $350. The deal is, if you sign up for a year of the company’s cloud-based Plus (for storing unlimited videos, discounts on accessories and so on) you get the camera and the subscription for $150 less than if you bought them both separately. Or $100 less if you were just shopping for the camera. What’s more, existing Plus subscribers will receive a voucher for the same amount of discount.
If it’s not listed here, and the Hero 8 does it, then it’s almost certain that the Hero 9 does it too. That includes the recently announced webcam mode, 1080p live streaming, digital lenses, voice control and more. So now you know, you can head to our full review to find out how all those new tricks and tools work in real life.
iOS 14 picture-in-picture video stops working with YouTube’s mobile website
We’ve asked YouTube for comment.
It wouldn’t be surprising if the move was intentional. YouTube Premium offers background playback as one of its major perks, and it wouldn’t be difficult to use PIP on the web to negate that perk. Still, that could easily be frustrating — it would amount to YouTube taking away functionality that was already present, however briefly.
This also comes as promised YouTube 4K support on Apple TV has yet to materialize. The video giant promised that it’s still coming “soon” through an updated app, but it wasn’t ready alongside tvOS 14 like some had hoped. You’ll have to make do with 1080p for a little while longer.
Judge throws out defamation case against Tesla by former employee
A judge in Nevada has dismissed a defamation case by a former Tesla employee, who claimed the company spread a false rumor about him after he admitted leaking internal company information to a reporter in 2018.
Tesla argues in court documents that former employee Martin Tripp violated trade secrets and computer crimes laws when he told a Business Insider reporter that Tesla was wasting a significant amount of raw materials during production of its Model 3.
Tesla identified Tripp as the source of the leaked information, which Tripp later confirmed. He was fired, and Tesla filed a lawsuit claiming he had “unlawfully hacked the company’s confidential and trade secret information.” Tesla CEO Elon Musk emailed Tesla staff telling them an employee had tried to “sabotage” company operations.
Musk then reportedly emailed a reporter at The Guardian telling them a tipster had contacted Tesla to say that Tripp might “come back and shoot people,” at the Nevada Gigafactory. The local sheriff determined the threat was not real, but Tesla issued a press release which was picked up by several media outlets. Tripp later counter-sued Tesla for defamation.
In her ruling, Judge Miranda Du dismissed Tripp’s defamation claim, but refused to dismiss Tesla’s charge that Tripp violated computer crime law in Nevada. “Tripp had a duty not to disclose Tesla’s confidential information,” Du wrote, adding that Tripp knew he was not authorized to share the information with a reporter. “A rational trier of fact could reasonably find that Tripp acted in conscious disregard of Tesla’s rights.”
The case can now move forward to trial.
Hitting the Books: How social media keeps us clicking
Your Brain on Social Media
So our brains are wired to process social signals. What then happens to our brains on social media?
Neuroscientists at UCLA wanted to know, so they created an Instagram-style app to study how the brain reacts when we scroll through photos in our Instagram feed. The app displayed a series of photos in a row, just like on Instagram. The researchers then studied adolescents using fMRI machines and recorded which regions of their brains lit up as they used the researchers’ version of Instagram. They also experimentally manipulated the number of likes a photo got as well as what types of photos the participants saw, including whether they saw their own photos or others’ photos and whether the photos depicted risky behaviors (like drinking alcohol) or neutral behaviors. They’ve since corroborated their results in young adults and for giving as well as receiving likes. As a scientist and the father of a six-year-old, I found what they discovered intriguing and worrisome.
First, seeing photographs with more likes was associated with more activity in brain regions responsible for social cognition, rewards (the dopamine system), and attention (the visual cortex). When participants saw photos with more likes, they experienced greater overall brain activity, and their visual cortex lit up. When the visual cortex lights up, we are concentrating more on what we are looking at, paying more attention to it, and zooming in to look at it in greater detail. To ensure that differences in the images were not driving the results, the researchers randomized the number of likes across images and controlled for photographs’ luminosity and content. The results held true whether participants were looking at their own photos or others’ photos. In short, when we see social media images with more likes, we zoom in and inspect them in greater detail. We pay more attention to online information when it is valued more highly by others. You might think, Well, the photos that get more likes are probably more interesting. But the researchers randomly assigned the likes, which means it was the likes themselves, not the photos, that were triggering the activation of the visual cortex.
Second, having more likes on one’s own photos stimulated the mentalizing network—the social brain. When participants were looking at photos of themselves, they responded to those with more (randomly assigned) likes with significantly greater brain activity in regions associated with social skills. They also recorded greater neural activity in the inferior frontal gyrus, which is associated with imitation. When we view photos of ourselves, our brains activate regions responsible for thinking about how people view us and our similarities and differences with them. In other words, when we think about our own photos, we perceive them in their social context—we think about how other people are thinking about them.
Last, more likes on one’s own photos activated the dopamine reward system, which controls pleasure, motivation, and Pavlovian responses. The dopamine system makes us crave rewards by stimulating feelings of joy, euphoria, and ecstasy. When psychologists James Olds and Peter Milner gave rats the ability to stimulate their own reward system by pushing a lever, they found the rats would drop everything, stop eating and sleeping, and push that little lever again and again until they died from exhaustion.
Ivan Pavlov extended our understanding of rewards by proving he could condition dogs to associate a reward (like food) with an unrelated stimulus (like a bell) so that the stimulus alone would make the dogs salivate. This cognitive binding of stimulus and reward enabled Pavlov to stimulate the brain’s reward system with a symbol (a bell)—in the same way likes stimulate and reward us with social acceptance and digital praise. Seeing likes stimulates our dopamine system and encourages us to seek social approval online for the same basic reason that Olds and Milner’s rats kept pushing their levers, and Pavlov’s dogs salivated at the sound of a bell.
So our brains are wired to process and be moved by the social signals that the Hype Machine curates. But was the Hype Machine really designed with that in mind? Sean Parker answered that question about Facebook’s design in an interview with Mike Allen in 2017: “The thought process was all about, ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’ ” he said. “And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever, and that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you more likes and comments. It’s a social validation feedback loop. . . . You’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”
Social media is designed to be habitual. Not only do those “little dopamine hits” keep us coming back, but they are delivered to us on a “variable reinforcement schedule,” meaning they can happen at any time. That’s why we’re always checking our phones, to see if we received any social dopamine. Random reward delivery keeps us constantly engaged. And the rewards are tied to sounds, vibrations, and notification lights that make us salivate for social approval as Pavlov’s dogs salivated for food. These designs activate our desires for connection, competition, and avoidance of a “fear of missing out” (FOMO). When you put it all together, it’s a recipe for a habit.
The neuroscientific evidence suggests that our habitual use of social media is driven by the rewards and reputational signals we receive from it. One study showed, for example, that brain responses to increases in reputation relative to others’ reputations predicted Facebook use, while increases in wealth did not.
But when Dean Eckles, Christos Nicolaides, and I studied running, we found that social media’s influence on our habits could also be healthy. It depends which habits are supported. When we analyzed millions of people’s running behavior over many years, we found people’s social media connections and solidarity with their running peers over social media helped them stick with their running regimens and made their running habits resilient to disruption. The notifications and social signals played a key role in solidifying these good habits.
Our research reminded us that social media holds the potential for promise and peril, but it also taught us that we should care about how the Hype Machine stimulates our brains because, by doing so, it changes our behavior. How does the Hype Machine’s cognitive design affect our behavior? That is the next crucial question in the quest to understand the Hype Machine’s impact on our world. And my friend and colleague Emily Falk set out to answer it. She studies the neural basis of social influence—the relationship between the social signals the Hype Machine curates, the brain functions those signals activate, and the behaviors those brain functions relate to.
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