Water main rupture sets off major disruption in Houston: citywide boil notice, Loop 610 flooded, universities closed

A major water line broke Thursday in Houston, flooding roadways and causing the state’s largest school district, local colleges, polling places and businesses to close.

The flooded roads caused 12 to 15 cars to be trapped on 610 East Loop, but there have been no injuries, Houston fire Chief Robert Peña said. Firefighters were able to rescue three people from the area.

All Houston ISD after-school activities have been canceled, the school district announced in a tweet. The University of Houston and Texas Southern University tweeted that both campuses would be closed for the remainder of Thursday. Houston Community College sent out an alert announcing the closure of several campuses as well.

Four early voting locations are closed until further notice due to the break, according to a press release from Harris County Clerk Diane Trautman. Houston Community College, Young Neighborhood Library, Texas Southern University and Harris County Law Library have been closed, and the limited-ballot polling location has been moved to the Harris County Technology Center. Other early voting sites will remain open until 7 p.m.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a press conference that both ends of the burst 96-inch line have been isolated, and it will take “several hours” for the water pressure to return to normal. The mayor advised residents in the affected area to conserve water as much as possible and to boil water before use.

The Public Works Department is working to fix the problem, he said, and it will take six to eight hours to isolate the line, shut it off, drain the water from the line and make repairs.

“We anticipate things being back to normal certainly in the morning, for schools and everyone else,” Turner said.

The state agencies coordinating with city and county officials include the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Gov. Greg Abbott said at scheduled coronavirus press briefing Thursday.

‘Love is Blind’: All your post-finale burning questions for Jessica and Mark, answered

Spoiler alert!: This story reveals details of Netflix’s “Love is Blind” finale. To avoid any spoilers, stop reading now, lock yourself in a pod to watch and then come back!

If you’ve seen the “Love is Blind” finale, you know there was no need to raise a metallic champagne glass to Mr. and Mrs. Mark Cuevas (should Jessica Batten have wanted to take the last name of her all-in suitor, a decade her junior).

“It’s my wedding day, and I couldn’t be happier,” Jessica says on Episode 10 of Netflix’s captivating and cringeworthy new dating show, explaining that she found “full-blown love” with Mark and making it seem as if she would say “I do.” Even at the altar, she praises and professes her love for Mark, who was 24 when the series was taped in fall 2018.

But when it was her turn to commit, Jessica, then 34, said she thought the two weren’t ready. In her defense, they had met just weeks before, “dating” while isolated in pods and unable to see each other until they were engaged. As the show went on, they moved in together.

Following the finale, we had so many questions, and honestly couldn’t wait for the reunion, taped Feb. 18 and available Thursday on Netflix’s YouTube channel. So we asked the couple a bunch of them (edited for clarity).

Question: Honestly, did you go into the show expecting to walk away with a husband?

Jessica Batten: Absolutely.

Q: Wow, no hesitation?

Jessica: OK, with a husband? Maybe not with a husband… I went into the show feeling like I was going to fall in love, because I’m someone who thinks everything happens for a reason, and I over-dramatized all of it (laughs).

Q: You fell in love. You got very close to finding a husband. How did you feel waking up on your wedding day?

Jessica: I was actually quite ready for it to happen. It had been a month and a half of a bit of a struggle and some frustration. I was memorializing the experiences and taking it all in, but I was definitely ready to sort of let it play out. I already knew what my decision was gonna be. Mark and I had already had conversations about the future of our relationship, and I felt like I was in a good place and I was ready to walk down the aisle and do what I needed to do.

Q: You knew before (the wedding) that you were going to say no, is that what you’re saying?

Jessica: I did. I knew before the wedding day that I wasn’t ready, we were not in a place to commit to marriage that day.

Q: When did you know that you were not going to say “I do”?

Jessica: In Mexico, I started having a lot of reservations, and a woman’s intuition was saying that this probably was not going to happen for us. And I was honest with him then, I was honest with him every moment that I felt anything. I felt like I had gotten in over my head. So I  immediately told him in Mexico: “Oh no, I think I am not necessarily ready for this. I think we have a lot to figure out,” and all that.

Q: In the episode on your wedding day you’re saying you’d found “full-blown love” and you “couldn’t be happier” and you’re ready to exchange vows. So it definitely makes it seem like you’re going to say “I do.” And then you say I’m “too much of a realist to take this big of a chance.” So why that contrast?

Jessica (who has not seen the edited finale): Gosh, I didn’t have any of that context, so thank you. I figured what would play out is I look a little relieved that day, and I’m excited and all of those things, and I felt like me and Mark were on the same page. I really wanted to get out of a pressure-filled situation that was leading to a marriage that I didn’t think we were ready for.

Q: So you and Mark had already had a conversation. Were you were surprised that he said he wanted to marry you then, on the altar?

Jessica: Yes, to say the least.

Q: And what were you feeling when he said yes?

Jessica: It was interesting, because we had discussed a lot of the details of the wedding. He and I had to choose who are we going to have as our bridesmaids and a lot of the details…  but when the doors opened I realized there were, like, five more groomsman than we discussed, and I thought, “Oh, welp, I think he’s gonna say yes,” and that’s exactly what happened.

Q: In the episode, you say “I’ll apologize to whoever I need to apologize to.” Did you apologize to Mark, or anybody?

Jessica: I did apologize to him, and I apologized to his mom. You know, I apologized to him every single day of that experiment (laughs) to be honest with you. I was like, “I’m so sorry this is happening,” or “I’m so sorry that I don’t feel like I can do this or that because it’s untruthful.”

Q: Ultimately, why couldn’t it work between you two?

Jessica: The pods (were) very 15 minutes today, an hour tomorrow. I probably spent four or five hours in total talking to him. Once we were in Mexico, and you’re with somebody 24/7, there’s a lot of other dynamics that play in – interactions with other people, and you’re having very long conversations and you’re spending day in and day out together. It just wasn’t right. We’re just at different life stages, and it became very apparent.

Q: In the pods, you also had a connection with Barnett. Do you think things could’ve worked out with him?

Jessica: No. I don’t. I don’t think that would’ve worked out, either. I don’t think my guy was there, unfortunately, but I tried really hard.

Q: Were you surprised that Barnett and Amber made it all the way and got married?

Jessica: I was initially shocked. But after we got out of the pods, and I saw them together and they were so happy, I wasn’t surprised at all. I knew they were going to go through with it… and I was just super happy for them. There was no resentment, no “I want to go get your man,” or anything like that. I was fully supportive of them.

Q: You mention you had hopes of falling in love when you signed up for the show. And it appeared that you were very hurt by Barnett and that you had a special connection. And then you went back to Mark. Looking back, do you feel like Mark was any sort of fallback guy, or were your feelings for him genuine?

Jessica: I can see how it looked. It literally looked like I went from one room of being broken up with to the next room, accepting an engagement. There were a lot of feelings that I was processing during that time. Barnett represents a guy that I normally go for who’s unavailable… and the whole time Mark had been there. He had been wanting a relationship since Day 1, and that also represents someone in my life who I don’t tend to go for. So, I was drawing all of these parallels from the pods to my real life, and I felt like this is what was meant to be. I’m supposed to walk away from this guy who’s eluded me before, and I’m supposed to end up with the guy who’s been there since Day 1.

Q: But you were genuinely in love with Mark?

Jessica: 100%. I watch the episode back, and I was fully in love with him. I wouldn’t have told him I loved him if I didn’t feel that in the moment, but I think a lot of it was sensationalized due to the uncomfortability of the living situation. I hadn’t talked to my friends, I hadn’t talked to my family. You have no TV, no internet. You’re with these 15 women in this pod which is really a soundstage in south Atlanta. Life starts to get pretty weird, and you’re having these connections with these men, and it feels different than if you just met them in the real world.

Q: Are you dating anybody now?

Jessica: I’m actually dating around, but nothing serious. I didn’t date for a long time, after the show, but I recently started up again. It’s been really great. I’m actually in L.A. now. So it’s been a nice change from Atlanta. Atlanta is a tough place to date…

The day after talking to Jessica, we talked to Mark.

From the beginning, Mark Cuevas was smitten with Jessica.

Q: Jessica said you guys had conversations about not being ready to wed. Was that true?  

Mark Cuevas: I wear my heart on my sleeve. And I made this promise before I did this experiment that I’m gonna stay true to myself no matter what. Even though those conversations might’ve been (had), once I saw her walking down the aisle, I just felt what I felt in the moment, and I think the hopeless romantic in me was like, “We can do this.”

Q: Were you shocked that she didn’t reciprocate and say, “I do?” or did you expect that?

Mark: I mean, it hurt. I was disappointed, but it was such an intense experience, and we were both trying to figure it out. Jess is always gonna have a special place in my heart no matter what.

Q: You said you needed to be honest for yourself, but is there any part of you that wishes you hadn’t said “I do” just so Jessica wouldn’t have been surprised?

Mark: Once you’re up there and you hear the music come on and they open these doors (and) she walks down the aisle … I still get emotional thinking about it because that day no one could’ve told me anything. I was on Cloud 9, and I had that same rush because to me it’s like, “Wow! I deserve this love.” And sure, the outcome didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to, but living in the moment you can never regret the things you do, because everything’s a lesson.

Q: You’ve identified yourself as a hopeless romantic. Do you feel, looking back, that you genuinely loved her the first time she said hi to you?

Mark: People say love at first sight, for me it was like first voice. All the women in this whole experience are beautiful people and wonderful. It’s just Jess was the one that stood out no matter what, and it was real to me. I was 24 at the time and, again, I love hard, and I don’t regret anything from it.

Q: What was it like seeing Jessica at the reunion?

Mark: It was good to see her. She looked as beautiful as ever… We talked, we were friends, and it was water under the bridge.

Q: Have you connected with anyone like you did with Jessica since the show?

Mark: It’s hard to compare how I connected with anybody as I connected with Jess.

Q: For those criticizing Jessica, what should they know?

Mark: We’re the first people to ever do this. Jess was figuring it out just as much as I was. I really wish people would cut her some slack, because she is beautiful and a really deep, loving person.

 

Taylor Swift, Man

The Taylor Swift vs. Scooter Braun feud continues in “The Man,” the latest single from last year’s Lover.

The video, Swift’s solo directorial debut (she’s credited as co-director on previous Lover singles “ME!,” “You Need to Calm Down” and “Lover”) takes the song’s conceit to its logical conclusion, following a — you guessed it — man with an eerily familiar face.

“There’s a song that I had wanted to write conceptually for a very long time, because over the course of my life it has occurred to me that we have a bit of a double-standard issue in our society,” Swift explained before performing the track at the Tiny Desk last year.

After rounds of shots, a tennis match temper tantrum, a workplace meltdown and a “Leo on a boat in Saint-Tropez” scene comes the reveal: It’s all a video shoot, directed by Swift, who offers the direction to the actor (also played by Swift, but voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), “Could you try to be sexier? Maybe more likable this time?”

In classic Swift fashion, the visual treatment is full of not-so-subtle nods. A prominent “No Scooters” sign on the 13th Street Station, with previous album titles and scrawled on the subway tile wall near a “Missing: If Found Return to Taylor Swift” sign, points directly to her latest object of ire, Scooter Braun, manager of Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen and Ariana Grande, among others. There’s also the closing credits — “Directed by,” “Written by,” “Owned by,” and “Starring,” all attributed to Swift.

The backstory: In 2018, Taylor Swift announced a new recording deal with Universal. Last year, ahead of the release of Lover, her former label, Big Machine Label Group, was sold to Braun’s Ithaca Holdings. That sale meant that Braun’s company had control over Swift’s master recordings for her first six records. A public feud followed as Swift announced plans to re-record those early albums in order to own the rights and rallied her fanbase ahead of performances at the VMAs and the American Music Awards.

The video also comes on the heels of the release of Miss Americana. Directed by Lana Wilson, the Netflix film chronicles the aftermath of 2017’s Reputation and the making of Lover, plus the behind-the-curtain process by which Swift, who had long avoided public statements on politics, arrived at her first endorsement.

Wireless power over distance creeps closer to your home at CES 2020

This story is part of our continuing coverage of CES 2020, including tech and gadgets from the showroom floor.

I’ve been excited about wireless power over distance since the first live demo I saw five years ago. It felt a little bit like magic, as interesting technology innovations can do from time to time. There were already a number of players in the space back then, though few that could, or would, show you a working demonstration.

In the years since, I’ve seen many prototypes, watched panels power devices a few feet away, and been told repeatedly that the first consumer products were imminent. I’ve listened to clever scientists and inventors explain the technicalities. I’ve heard enthusiastic marketers talk up products that were about to change all of our lives. But they simply never materialized.

I remained optimistic that we would see wireless power over distance before too long, but that enthusiasm has been tempered and dulled slightly by the slow progress.

Concerns around safety, regulatory approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), low efficiency and high power loss — these are just some of the reasons that wireless power over distance still feels … well, distant.

Powercast

I’m wary of saying that it’s about to arrive again, but CES 2020 feels like tangible progress. In fact, it’s the first year where I’ve managed to find a working product you can actually buy. Powercast sells a wireless transmitter on Amazon . The company announced a Wireless Charging Grip for Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Controllers at the show and it will go on sale in the next couple of months. As long as you leave the controllers within a couple of feet of the transmitter, they’ll stay charged up.

While the amount of power that’s being sent is low and the distance is short, Powercast has still managed to achieve something that has proved elusive for most of the companies vying in this space by delivering a product to market.

Ossia Cota Home

Ossia’s new design

I met with Ossia again to see its new reference design, the Ossia Cota Home, a kind of power router for the home or office that’s capable of sending power several feet. Ossia CEO Mario Obeidat told me that the technology is ready to go into homes and it’s working with several partners, including phone case maker Spigen, to create a consumer product. The partnership with Spigen was announced at CES last year, and is apparently still on track to bear fruit in 2020. Spigen may sell a phone case bundled with a transmitter for somewhere around $100 or so.

He also told me that Ossia has been working on a project with Walmart and hopes to trial e-ink price tags with the retail giant. These price tags could be powered and updated simultaneously via Ossia’s ceiling tile. Because the new tags are e-ink, the power would only be needed to make changes, so it could be transmitted in very short bursts.

Obeidat seems unconcerned about some of the new players joining Ossia and Energous in this space.

“Delivering meaningful power at real distance — 10, 20, 30 feet, because of our efficiency,” says Obeidat. “That’s where we have differentiated ourselves from others.”

I also met with Wi-Charge at the show. It has technology that employs infrared light to send focused bursts of power to devices like cameras in hard-to-reach places. One example was a smart faucet from Hansgrohe with a small display on it that’s capable of turning on automatically when it senses you and lighting up the water. Wi-Charge is a good fit for an environment like that where wiring could be complicated and potentially dangerous.

The company also has a PowerPuck, which is a circular device that can be plugged directly into an outlet or screwed into an existing light fitting. The PowerPuck automatically detects receivers and can deliver up to 2W to up to three devices simultaneously — think security cameras and smoke alarms.

There’s potential for Wi-Charge to increase the power it delivers, and it’s fairly efficient compared to radio frequency technology. It’s also safe, because we’re accustomed to a lot of infrared light from the sun. While a Wi-Charge spokesperson told us that smartphone charging is possible, he said the big barrier is infrastructure. The issue of having to have transmitters everywhere and receiver technology built into devices is an obvious hurdle.

GuRu wireless power over distance

A robotic solution

The last demonstration I went to see was from GuRu, a newcomer to the scene with a clever solution to the distance problem. First, the CEO showed me a standard-looking transmitter sending a few watts of power a couple of feet to light up a bulb and charge a smartphone. GuRu’s technology is directional and beams can be focused on specific targets.

More impressive was GuRu’s robot, which looks like a robot vacuum cleaner, but has a transmitter on top. This is a clever way of getting around the fact that the power delivery drops significantly at longer distances. The idea is that the robot can go around your house at night while you sleep and charge up all your gadgets, from controllers to phones to tablets to cameras, so everything is ready to go the next morning.

GuRu is still awaiting FCC clearance, but it looks to be a major player that could make a splash in the near future.

“We’ve been fairly stealth,” CEO, Florian Bohn told me with a smile. “But now we’re ready to signal that wireless power over distance is here and it’s ready.”

With regulatory approval out of the way or pending, and plenty of working prototypes, the next step is to get transmitters on sale and persuade manufacturers to integrate receivers into devices. There’s still a long way to go and questions to answer on the efficiency, particularly at a time when we’re growing more conscious of our power usage, but wireless power over a distance is creeping closer to our homes.

Pokémon GO had its best year ever, earns $894 million in 2019

Pokémon GO, which was released in 2016, defied the odds and exceeded its revenue from its launch year with earnings of nearly $900 million in 2019.

The location-based mobile game made $894 million in 2019, according to Sensor Tower Store Intelligence, which was more than the earnings of $832 million when Pokémon GO took the world by storm in 2016. It is a rare feat for a free-to-play game to make more money at a later year after launch, as most fail to keep players’ interests over time.

In 2017, Pokémon GO made $589 million, still a hefty amount but much lower compared to the previous year. This may be attributed to issues such as hardcore players trespassing and causing accidents, as well as the failure of Pokémon GO Fest in Chicago’s Grant Park in July 2017 that resulted in a class-action lawsuit.

The game recovered in 2018, making $816 million, before marking its best year ever in 2019.

Sensor Tower attributed much of Pokémon GO‘s growth to the launch of in-game events, improvements to real-world events, and significant updates that keep on adding content to the mobile game. The report mentioned the introduction of Team Rocket at the end of July 2019, which resulted in the game’s fourth- and fifth-best months ever with revenue of $116 million and $126 million in August 2019 and September 2019, respectively.

In comparison, the best months of Pokémon GO were the first three months since its 2016 launch, with $256 million in July, $195 million in August, and $141 million in September.

Sensor Tower revealed that most of Pokémon GO‘s revenue in 2019 was from the United States, where it made 38% of its earnings, or $335 million. Japan came in second at 32%, or $286 million, followed by Germany in third at 6%, or $54 million.

Niantic Labs is estimated to have made more than $3.1 billion from Pokémon GO, and while the developer does not keep all of it as it is in a revenue-sharing agreement with The Pokémon Company, in which Nintendo owns a significant stake, it is still a massive haul.

It remains to be seen what Niantic Labs has in store for Pokémon GO in 2020, but fans are likely looking forward to many years of catching Pokémon in augmented reality.

Everything coming to Apple TV+ that we know about so far

The streaming video environment is more crowded than ever these days. Not to be left out, Apple launched Apple TV+ on November 1 and has been slowly adding original content. They’ve since signed overall deals with the likes of Alfonso Cuaron, Kerry Ehrin, Jon M. Chu, Justin Lin, Jason Katims, Lee Eisenberg, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Meryl Streep, and studios A24, Imagine Documentaries, and Oprah. Clearly, they mean business.

With so many options out there, cord cutters have a lot to consider when it comes to deciding which streaming service to invest in. Of course, one of the biggest factors will be just how compelling each service’s movies and television shows are. In order to help you make an informed decision, here’s all the original content already on Apple TV+, what we know is coming, as well as everything that’s been rumored so far.

Released

Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet

Co-created by It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia creators/stars Rob McElhenny and Charlie Day (as well as Megan Ganz), Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet follows a team of video game developers and stars McElhenney as the fictional company’s creative director, Ian Grimm. It was recently renewed for a second season.

Little America

This anthology series developed by the Oscar-nominated writing duo of The Big Sick, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, explores the immigrant experience by focusing on the true stories of immigrants in the U.S. “We wanted to focus on the immigrants doing everyday life stuff,” explained Nanjiani. The majority of writers and directors are either immigrants or the children of immigrants, and the show is intended to remind audiences that there’s “no such thing as the other. Only us.”

For All Mankind

A sci-fi series from Battlestar Galactica‘s Ronald D. Moore that explores what would have happened if the international space race had continued long after it actually ended. The first trailer for the alternate-history series debuted June 3 during Apple’s keynote presentation at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference.

The Elephant Queen

This documentary narrated by Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) follows a mother elephant, Athena, as she travels across the African savannah with her herd following the loss of their waterhole.

The Morning Show

One of the biggest projects Apple is working on — given both its A-list cast and Apple’s resource investment — is this series that explores the behind-the-scenes drama of a morning TV news show. The Morning Show will team Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston both in front of the camera and as producers, while also bringing Steve Carell back to television. The series will “pull back the curtain on the power dynamic between women and men,” according to Witherspoon and Aniston. Apple has already ordered two seasons of the series.

Ghostwriter

A reboot of the popular 1990s children’s series of the same name, the new version will follow a group of kids who must solve the mystery of a ghost’s unfinished business after it begins bringing fictional characters to life in their neighborhood.

See

A fantasy epic starring Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard, the series is set centuries after a virus has killed off all but a few million people and rendered the survivors blind. Momoa asked the audience at Apple’s presentation to close their eyes, saying, “Imagine every human experience available to you … experienced in this way.”

Helpsters

Developed with Sesame Workshop and featuring both new and familiar puppets from the Sesame Street world, the kid-friendly series will use principles of coding to solve problems.

Snoopy in Space

The beloved Peanuts character Snoopy heads off into space for this animated adventure that has him take command of the International Space Station. Hilarity is likely to ensue.

Dickinson

A comedy series based on the life of poet Emily Dickinson that stars Hailee Steinfeld (Bumblebee) as Dickinson and Jane Krakowski (30 Rock) as her mother.

Dear…

From Emmy and Peabody winner R.J. Cutler, this series will profile internationally-renowned leaders like Oprah Winfrey, Spike Lee, Yara Shahidi, Stevie Wonder, Misty Copeland, and many more using letters written to them from fans as a medium.

Amazing Stories

A revival of the sci-fi /fantasy anthology series of the same name, Amazing Stories has Steven Spielberg on board as producer. (Think Jordan Peele’s new Twilight Zone series, but on Apple’s service instead of CBS All Access.) According to Spielberg, the first season is intended to provide a “single thematic experience” for audiences despite telling stand-alone stories. One episode will feature a World War II pilot whose plane travels into the present day.

Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth

Meryl Streep will provide voiceover narration of this upcoming animated short film about Earth Day. Jacob Tremblay (Room) voices a 7-year old child who learns about the planet. Chris O’Dowd and Ruth Negga provide the voices for his parents.

Defending Jacob

Based on the 2012 New York Times best-selling novel of the same name, Defending Jacob tells the story of a crime that shakes a small Massachusetts town to its core. It stars Chris Evans, Michelle Dockery, Jaeden Martell, Cherry Jones, Pablo Schreiber, Betty Gabriel, and Sakina Jaffrey.

Visible…

This docuseries is produced by Ryan White, Jessica Hargrave, Wanda Sykes, and Wilson Cruz and focuses on the LGBTQ movement’s impact on television. It will feature narration from Janet Mock, Margaret Cho, Asia Kate Dillon, Neil Patrick Harris, and Lena Waithe.

Central Park

Central Park First Look for Apple TV+

An animated musical comedy from Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard, Nora Smith, and Josh Gad, Central Park will follow the Tillermans, a family that lives in Central Park. The voice cast includes the likes of Josh Gad, Leslie Odom Jr., Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Tituss Burgess, Daveed Diggs, and Stanley Tucci. From the first-look image, it looks like it will be made in a similar animation style to Bob’s Burgers.

Little Voice

J.J. Abrams and musician Sara Bareilles team up for this series that follows a young musician in New York City learning to find herself and her voice. Bareilles will serve as co-creator, co-producer, and composer on the series.

Trying

Apple’s first original series from the U.K., Trying stars Rafe Spall and  Esther Smith as a couple who are trying to have a baby. Apple, however, describes the series’ larger theme as about “growing up, settling down and finding someone to love.”

Servant

This series from Sixth Sense filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan follows a Philadelphia couple whose marriage is disintegrating after a terrible tragedy, and the mysterious force that enters their lives. Rupert Grint, Lauren Ambrose, and Toby Kebbell star in the series.

Time Bandits

Thor: Ragnarok and What We Do in the Shadows director Taika Waititi has been hired by Apple to helm a TV adaptation of the 1981 fantasy film Time Bandits, which follows a young boy who embarks on a series of time-traveling adventures with a group of dwarfs.

More Animal Crossing: New Horizons details revealed in Nintendo Direct

After a quiet lull, Nintendo revealed a swatch of new details about Animal Crossing: New Horizons in its latest Direct presentation. The 25-minute video unveiled new customization tools and confirmed the return of several familiar features and faces.

The Deep Dive Into Deserted Life livestream made it clear that New Horizons won’t be a departure for the series. Several staples of the franchise made an appearance in the presentation, including buildings like Nook’s Cranny, Able Sisters, and the Museum.

Previously, Nintendo only detailed Resident Services, where players can craft items. The Direct gave more details about its function, showing how it can be used to customize furniture with hand-made designs and make changes to houses once players upgrade their tent. When Resident Services expands, it will allow players to build bridges and slopes around town through a Construction Consultant feature.

The building will be home to fan-favorite Isabelle, who will return for the game.

Other new customization features will allow players to alter an island’s terrain, letting them add or remove cliffs and rivers via an Island Designer App in the game’s Nook Phone. The app will also allow players to freely pave paths around their island once unlocked.

Home decoration receives a slight overhaul, allowing players to select and move multiple pieces of furniture at once.

A big part of Animal Crossing’s appeal is its online and local multiplayer modes, which are handled through an island’s airport for New Horizons. Among the new features is Party Play, which allows four of one island’s residents to play together on one Switch. Online play will feature a restriction that prevents players from using axes and shovels on the island unless they are designated as a “Best Friend.”

Regular free updates are planned for the game, which will bring seasonal events. The first will be available on launch day, bringing a Bunny Day event to the game. So far, Nintendo only revealed that free updates will include more events, something that’s always come baked into the game, and further amiibo support. Beyond the updated content, the game features regular seasonal activities and recurring events such as fishing tournaments and bug-offs.

New Horizons will utilize the Nintendo Online app with a Nook Link tool. In addition to providing communication options via voice or text, the app will allow players to scan QR codes from Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Happy Home Designer and import custom designs into New Horizons.

Amiibo support returns to the series, letting players invite villagers to their island through the new Campground building.

While all of the new features are exciting for fans, the Direct did feature one rub. Nintendo touched on the game’s controversial decision not to allow cloud saves, saying that players would only be able to recover lost save data through a service backup in “special cases.” However, players can only retrieve their data once, and they have to be a Nintendo online member. It’s also available “sometimes after launch,” so it won’t be in the game come release day.

The short video is packed with even more details, from bee stings to returning characters like Gulliver and Sahara, giving the sense that New Horizons is a more of a traditional Animal Crossing game than its deserted island setting initially implied. We’ll soon see what else returns to the game when it launches March 20, just after its special-edition Switch arrives.

More Animal Crossing: New Horizons details revealed in Nintendo Direct

After a quiet lull, Nintendo revealed a swatch of new details about Animal Crossing: New Horizons in its latest Direct presentation. The 25-minute video unveiled new customization tools and confirmed the return of several familiar features and faces.

The Deep Dive Into Deserted Life livestream made it clear that New Horizons won’t be a departure for the series. Several staples of the franchise made an appearance in the presentation, including buildings like Nook’s Cranny, Able Sisters, and the Museum.

Previously, Nintendo only detailed Resident Services, where players can craft items. The Direct gave more details about its function, showing how it can be used to customize furniture with hand-made designs and make changes to houses once players upgrade their tent. When Resident Services expands, it will allow players to build bridges and slopes around town through a Construction Consultant feature.

The building will be home to fan-favorite Isabelle, who will return for the game.

Other new customization features will allow players to alter an island’s terrain, letting them add or remove cliffs and rivers via an Island Designer App in the game’s Nook Phone. The app will also allow players to freely pave paths around their island once unlocked.

Home decoration receives a slight overhaul, allowing players to select and move multiple pieces of furniture at once.

A big part of Animal Crossing’s appeal is its online and local multiplayer modes, which are handled through an island’s airport for New Horizons. Among the new features is Party Play, which allows four of one island’s residents to play together on one Switch. Online play will feature a restriction that prevents players from using axes and shovels on the island unless they are designated as a “Best Friend.”

Regular free updates are planned for the game, which will bring seasonal events. The first will be available on launch day, bringing a Bunny Day event to the game. So far, Nintendo only revealed that free updates will include more events, something that’s always come baked into the game, and further amiibo support. Beyond the updated content, the game features regular seasonal activities and recurring events such as fishing tournaments and bug-offs.

New Horizons will utilize the Nintendo Online app with a Nook Link tool. In addition to providing communication options via voice or text, the app will allow players to scan QR codes from Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Happy Home Designer and import custom designs into New Horizons.

Amiibo support returns to the series, letting players invite villagers to their island through the new Campground building.

While all of the new features are exciting for fans, the Direct did feature one rub. Nintendo touched on the game’s controversial decision not to allow cloud saves, saying that players would only be able to recover lost save data through a service backup in “special cases.” However, players can only retrieve their data once, and they have to be a Nintendo online member. It’s also available “sometimes after launch,” so it won’t be in the game come release day.

The short video is packed with even more details, from bee stings to returning characters like Gulliver and Sahara, giving the sense that New Horizons is a more of a traditional Animal Crossing game than its deserted island setting initially implied. We’ll soon see what else returns to the game when it launches March 20, just after its special-edition Switch arrives.

Netflix teases time-twisting season 2 of The Umbrella Academy

It’s been just over a year since the premiere of The Umbrella Academy on Netflix, and with filming on the second season concluded, fans are finally getting a peek at what season 2 will bring for the show’s dysfunctional family of superheroes.

Netflix released a series of posters on Twitter featuring each of the show’s main characters’ eyes framed by an umbrella-shaped pattern. The series of character-specific images were preceded by a promotional image for the second season with the tagline “When are they?”

“This time travel thing? It gets messy,” Netflix wrote in the accompanying tweet. “The cast of Umbrella Academy is back for Season 2!”

After the first season of The Umbrella Academy ended on a cliffhanger that saw the siblings journey back in time — with some help from Number Five (Aidan Gallagher) — in the midst of an apocalyptic event, fans were left wondering where the next season would send the reluctant heroes. The Netflix teasers suggest that a journey through time is indeed in their future (or is it their past?), but judging by the events of the first season, their adventure isn’t likely to go smoothly.

Netflix renewed The Umbrella Academy in April 2019, just two months after the series launched on the streaming service. There’s no word on when the second, 10-episode season will premiere, but filming on the new season reportedly concluded in November 2019.

The Umbrella Academy is based on the comic book series of the same name written by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Bá, and was developed for TV by Steve Blackman (the Fargo TV series) and Jeremy Slater (Death Note). The series follows a group of adopted siblings with extraordinary powers who spend their childhood as a superhero team, only to grow estranged in later years. They reunite years later when their father dies, only to find themselves caught up in a world-threatening mystery tied to their past.

Season 2 of The Umbrella Academy is expected to bring back first-season stars Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, David Castañeda, Aidan Gallagher, and Justin Min, as well as Cameron Britton and Mary J. Blige, who portrayed the time-hopping mercenaries Hazel and Cha-Cha. Several new cast members for season 2 were also announced, with Ritu Arya, Yusuf Gatewood, and Marin Ireland all joining the series.

Arya will portray Lila, “a chameleon who can be as brilliant or as clinically insane as the situation requires,” while Gatewood will play Raymond, “a born leader with the smarts, gravitas, and the confidence to never have to prove it to anyone.” Ireland will play Sissy, “a fearless, no-nonsense Texas mom who married young for all the wrong reasons.”

Westworld Season 3 trailer: HBO sends the show into the unknown

HBO’s Westworld ventures into a brave, new world in its third season, and the stakes have never been higher.

The season 3 trailer for Westworld arrived online Thursday in advance of the show’s return in March, and it offers a preview of the war to come between the android hosts — now free of the confines of the titular, high-tech amusement park — and the unsuspecting human world.

Over the course of the series’ first two seasons, the park’s androids achieved a form of sentience and eventually rid themselves of human control, staging an uprising that swept across the park and left more than a few human bodies in its wake. In the second season, several hosts managed to find a way out of the park, and the third season picks up in the aftermath of their departure from the park’s borders.

Along with chronicling the androids’ experiences in the human world, the season is also expected to introduce another new theme park — this time, with a World War II theme. The latest trailer offers a preview of some of the environments and tense events the new park holds for its visitors, whether android or human.

Season 3 of Westworld brings back many of the show’s regular cast members, including Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores, Thandie Newton as Maeve, Jeffrey Wright as Bernard, Tessa Thompson as Charlotte, and Ed Harris as William.

The series also adds a few familiar faces to the third-season cast, including Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul, Master of None actress Lena Waithe, Black Swan actor Vincent Cassel, musician Kid Cudi, and professional football player Marshawn Lynch.

Created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, and executive produced by the aforementioned duo along with  J. J. Abrams, Jerry Weintraub, and Bryan Burk, HBO’s Westworld series is based on the 1973 film of the same name that was written and directed by Michael Crichton. Westworld consistently ranks among the premium cable network’s most-watched shows. The series’ first season still holds the record as the network’s most popular first season of any original series produced by HBO so far.

Season 3 is scheduled to premiere March 15.