Legion gets the mystery box formula right where Westworld failed

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Thanks to the rise of J.J. Abrams and the success of Lost, a significant corner of genre fiction has been in thrall to the “mystery box.” As Abrams said during that now-infamous TED Talk back in 2007, the idea of a mystery box represents “infinite possibility.” It’s an enticing premise: any reader or viewer is naturally compelled by the need to know what might be in a closed box, letting their imagination run wild with the potential.

The problem arises when creators treat the mystery box as an end unto itself, when the mystery is confused for why people are invested in the story or franchise. Abrams himself betrayed the limits of this particular kind of conceit when he said, “I started to think that maybe there are times when mystery is more important than knowledge.” This thinking leads to unfulfilling conclusions and plots with faulty foundations. Westworld, despite becoming a massive cultural phenomenon last year, fell early and often into that trap by focusing on its puzzles, turning its characters into cyphers without believable wants and needs.

I think the key to making a mystery box work is in balancing the unknown against well-written, relatable characters. 10 Cloverfield Lane, a film that felt like Die Hard in a post-apocalyptic bunker, got that right. And if Lost excelled at anything, it was in making its audience care about its cast. Now Legion, FX’s new drama set in the X-Men universe, is showing the strengths of the mystery box style of storytelling just three episodes into its run. Thanks to its characters and careful world-building, it’s swiftly becoming a show that earns its audiences obsessions and theories about what it all means — without sacrificing its own dramatic quality.


HBO

Comparisons between Legion and Westworld were immediate. As Polygon already noted, Redditors are going back and forth right now about how much Legion reminds them of Westworld in how mind-melting it is. “This is going to be Westworld levels of mind f I can tell,” one wrote. “I don’t feel smart enough for this show,” wrote another. “Like Westworld all over again.”

The parallel makes sense, superficially speaking. Both shows are dense, technically stylish sci-fi thrillers. Both shows weave rich mythologies across multiple timelines, with Westworld being set in a simulated Wild West peopled with robots that may or may not have consciousness and Legion set in a world filled with super-powerful mutants that may or may not all exist in the lead’s head. And both shows lend themselves to theories about who and what is real, where the plot is going, and if there isn’t something more sinister running beneath the surface.

Where Westworld differs is in privileging its mysteries and philosophical meditations over character and storytelling. Take William, who is much more an idea than a character. He doesn’t convey any fully realized motivations beyond a desire to be a good person for Dolores’ benefit, and his transformation into the Man in Black is an overreaction to the idea that suffering defines humanity, if not just a twist for twists’ sake. Or consider Maeve: she discovers that she’s a machine and that she’s being controlled, so she sets out to free herself. That’s a powerful and relatable motivation, but the series undermines it by questioning whether or not her actions are dictated by her programming. Don’t get me wrong: exploring the nature of humanity is a worthwhile pursuit, and I loved that about the show. But dancing around what it means to be human instead of creating memorable characters with goals turns the series into a lecture series instead of good TV.

Compounding the problem is how the show conceals information — no matter the illogical gymnastics — to maintain the mysteries until the final episode. So much energy is spent hiding the connection between William and the Man in Black, the true identity of Westworld employees, and the point of the Maze, that the show rapidly became a transparent Pez dispenser, slowly and arbitrarily dispensing treats even though we could see every piece of candy just waiting to be served.


Legion, on the other hand, is laser-focused on its main character by design. Despite being about a mutant with the power to alter reality itself, the story the series lays out is straightforward. David believes he’s a schizophrenic, but he might also be the most powerful mutant alive. So, after learning that people with powers are being targeted by a shadowy government organization, he chooses to learn to control his abilities to save his loved ones and maybe even the world. That’s all David knows, and, as a consequence, all we know. The show establishes David as a relatable person with an understandable purpose: in order to save the world, he needs to better himself. That the show subverts our expectations by asking us to question whether or not what’s happening on-screen is in his head is destabilizing, but always secondary. What he learns about himself drives him and the story forward. And when David learns something, we learn it, too. The show doesn’t withhold for the sake of mystery. Rather, the mystery is a product of its core dramatic premise.

But what about all the podcasts and trend pieces? you might ask. Isn’t it a sign a show’s good when it makes everyone want to talk about it every week? To that I say, sure, that’s one way a show can be enjoyable. Picking apart a mystery in public is fun, especially when it’s in fashion. But when a series seems more intent on surprising its audience every week instead of creating relatable characters whose decisions, and not the machinations of some offscreen influence, inform the plot, then the balance is in favor of mystery being the reason to tune in. Solving a mystery without caring about who it affects and why is a hollow endeavor.

By the end of Westworld’s first season, I felt satisfied in knowing that some of my theories had been confirmed. But I’d be lying if I said I had deep feelings for or investment in any character. Mystery, to use the Abrams phrase, wound up being more important than knowledge. That was compelling to a point. But the show still feels like prologue for the real show waiting to happen. On Legion, the stakes were set and clarified from the outset and the questions it asks are more meaningful because they have weight in its world. It’s the mystery box done right, and you don’t need a couple dozen podcasts to see that as great storytelling.

Somebody save Huawei from itself

Over the past couple of years, few companies have made as much progress on the global stage of mobile technology as Huawei. Better known for providing networking infrastructure for most of its history, Huawei is quickly becoming a household name in the West, just as it’s well known in its native China. But still, this old engineering giant has a few things to learn about the proper way to present its products.

Back at IFA in September, Huawei’s Nova series launch featured a 20-minute selfie masterclass from a random Instagram user. It was peculiar, it was patronizing, and it was perplexing. It also made me completely forget about the Nova phones that we were supposedly there to see. Here is but a quick highlight reel of it:

After that event, I felt a newfound antipathy toward Huawei’s new products, which I didn’t experience when I’d seen and used them earlier. The company literally made me hate its phones by the way it was pitching them. Oh, irony, thy name is Huawei.

As if to prove that IFA was no fluke, Huawei outdid itself here at Mobile World Congress. The company interrupted the launch of its new P10 flagship event for a solid 11 minutes of Pantone explaining the colors green and blue. I wasn’t at the event in person, but the howls of fellow journalists stuck listening to that could be heard reverberating around the world via chat clients and social media.

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Starting at the 12-minute mark in the video, a well meaning Pantone representative starts to break down these two colors like some sloppily assembled color interpretation website. Green reminds us of renewal or trees, we’re told. We should drink more green, we’re told (which, frankly, I’d have liked to get a little more elaboration on; is that advising us to make broccoli juice or what?). Green is “almost out of touch with reality, but into another sphere.” I’ve no idea what she meant by that, I just know it had nothing to do with the Huawei P10.

Cue the camera switching to a crowd shot, where a couple of hundred impassive bodies are frozen in place by a sense of overwhelming incredulity. Six minutes is half an eternity in a new product presentation, so you’d better be sure that time is invested in a compelling pitch that builds people’s anticipation. Instead, Huawei and Pantone filled out the other half of an eternity with a breakdown of what blue is all about. That portion featured blue moons, the innovative idea that blue is associated with the sky, and the premise that blue has depth and mystery. You know, like the blue ocean.

Huawei’s events aren’t the thing that will make or break its products, but they’re the most direct way that the company speaks to its users. And that, much more than its products, is what needs the biggest improvement from the company.

P.S. — The photo at the top of this article is from Huawei’s booth. No, I can’t explain it either.

Microsoft’s new Xbox Game Pass subscription grants access to more than 100 games

Microsoft is launching a new game subscription service today for Xbox owners. Dubbed Xbox Game Pass, the new service will be priced at $9.99 per month for access to more than 100 Xbox One and Xbox 360 backwards compatible games. Titles like Halo 5: Guardians, Payday 2, NBA 2K16, and SoulCalibur II will all be included, and Microsoft is promising a diverse range of games from top publishers. One publisher that’s not on the list is EA, which is presumably sitting out as it has its own EA Access subscription service on Xbox One.

The Xbox Game Pass subscription won’t be a streaming service, instead you’ll be able to download full games and add-ons onto an Xbox One console. If you decide to cancel the subscription you’ll lose access to the games, but Microsoft is offering discounts for people who want to purchase titles separately. Just like most subscription services, Microsoft is planning to refresh the list of games each month so some will be cycled in and out of availability.

Microsoft is planning to test the Xbox Game Pass subscription with Xbox Insiders before it’s made available more broadly in late spring. Select members of the Xbox Insider Program in the Alpha Preview ring will get access to a small number of titles today, and Xbox Live Gold members will also get early access in late spring just before the broader launch.

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Google now lets apps display sale prices in the Play Store

Google is now providing a formal way for developers to offer a sale on their apps, letting potential buyers know exactly how much of a discount they’re getting and how long the sale is going to run for.

It’s taken a weirdly long time for Google to add this feature for developers. Other content in the Play Store, like TV shows, have already been able to indicate sale prices. But developers have had to manually change the price of their app if they wanted to offer a discount.

That was a frustrating approach since it didn’t signal to visitors that a discount was being offered, and repeat viewers may have been left wondering why an app’s price kept changing.

Now, apps that are on sale will show a crossed-out “list price” above a purchase button that features the sale price. A banner will appear beneath the button stating when the sale will end.

Google has put a number of restrictions on how developers can offer sales, seemingly to prevent apps from permanently being offered at a discount to trick potential buyers. Sales must discount the app by at least 30 percent, last at least one full day, and last no longer than eight days. Developers will also have to wait 30 days after the end of one sale before starting a new one.

Finally, sales only affect the app’s purchase price — they aren’t able to be offered on subscriptions or in-app purchases.

This is a small update overall, but it really ought to be handy for both developers and consumers. Developers get a new way to promote their apps, and consumers get clarity and lower pricing.

If we’re lucky, maybe Apple will bring this feature to the iTunes Store one of these years.

Watch a teaser trailer for Snowpiercer director Bong Joon-ho’s new Netflix film

Snowpiercer director Bong Joon-ho is bringing his next film straight to Netflix. Okja, a mysterious monster movie starring Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Lily Collins, and 13-year-old South Korean star Ahn Seo-hyun, will debut on the service sometime in June.

Erik-Jan de Boe, the Academy Award-winning effects supervisor for Life of Pi, was responsible for the visual effects and the script was co-written by Bong and journalist / documentarist Jon Ronson (The Men Who Stare at Goats, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed).

The film centers on Ahn Seo-hyun’s character, a young girl who lives in the woods with her best friend Okja, a genetic science experiment that you catch only a glimpse of in the trailer. It has elephant skin and nice eyes. You also catch a glimpse of Tilda Swinton’s character, who looks to be a mad scientist in the vein of Silicon Valley. She has a platinum blonde bob and lots of Jurassic Park-sounding philosophies. You do not, for some reason, catch a glimpse of Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, but here is a photo of him from when the film shot in New York City last summer:

Okja will premiere globally on Netflix in June and will have a limited day-and-date theatrical release in the U.S. #JakeGyllenhaal #Okja pic.twitter.com/fT5JUQzSVs

— JakeGyllenhaal FF (@GyllenhaalicsFF) February 28, 2017

Okja will have a limited theatrical release in the US following its online debut, mimicking the release strategy that Netflix used for its first original film, Beasts of No Nation. This project is much bigger, with a $50 million budget compared to Beasts’ $6 million. Netflix probably doesn’t have to worry too much about traditional box office hauls, as Beasts of No Nation made only $91,000 in ticket sales but still won a SAG Award for Idris Elba, was streamed over three million times, and apparently encouraged the platform to keep dabbling in prestigious film projects.

It’s rumored that Okja may debut at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

Bloggers are panicking over changes to Amazon’s affiliate system

Thursday night, members of Amazon’s associates program got some urgent and unexpected news. Rumors had been swirling for weeks, but a late-afternoon email made it official: on March 1st, the affiliate rates would be changing, shaking up one of the web’s longest-running ways to make a quick buck.

“These changes simplify the fee structure,” the message read, explaining the new rate structure. “We want to reward associates that can refer sales across those categories.”

For Tracy E. Robey, who runs the beauty blog Fanserviced-b, the impact was more stark: a pay cut. With the affiliate cut for a typical purchase dropping from 8 to 6 percent, she anticipates that her checks from Amazon will go down by as much as 20 percent. For Robey, her blog is still more of a sideline than a job, but as she looks to expand her growing business, she says that drop could have real consequences.

“[Amazon‘s affiliate program] has been a really good thing for a long time for lots of people,” Robey says. “I don’t think it’s really hit yet what this means.”

Small-scale bloggers like Robey won’t be the only ones hit by the rate changes. Publications like The Wirecutter have built thriving businesses entirely on affiliate payments, which are made by vendors like Amazon whenever a referred customer buys a product. Though a number of companies offer similar programs, Amazon’s affiliate system is the most lucrative, and auto-tagged product links have become a significant part of many online businesses’ revenue. (That includes The Verge, which auto-generates affiliate links in some cases.) Though the relationship can be lucrative, it’s also entirely subject to Amazon’s discretion — and as Robey and others are learning, it can often change with little to no warning.

It’s hard to predict exactly what Amazon’s new rates will mean for those participating in the program, but there’s plenty of reason to be nervous. The most immediate change will be the end of Amazon’s “variable standard program fee” rates, which gave sites a higher cut as they drove more business to Amazon. The scale ranged from 4 to 8.5 percent, depending on how many products visitors bought in a given month. Robey says she never had trouble selling enough products to earn an 8 percent rate.

As of March 1st, that standard will be replaced with a new category-by-category system. That means affiliates selling products in certain favored categories will get higher rates, including “digital video games” and “luxury beauty,” while most products see a steep drop-off. Amazon says the changes were made to simplify the system and that most associates will come out ahead, although it’s unclear how to square those predictions with the falling rates.

Amazon has already made similar adjustments in many overseas markets. In 2015, the company moved its European affiliate program to a category-based structure, and according to the affiliate management firm GeniusLinks, the result was more of a subtle chill than a freeze-out. “There’s definitely some pain as a result of it,” says GeniusLinks CEO Jesse Lakes, “but we haven’t had a single client who stopped doing business because of the new payout structure.”

Amazon has long offered short-term bounties and bonuses around specific products, but the new system gives the company more power than ever to promote certain brands and categories. Affiliates hawking Amazon’s own products, like Prime Video, Prime Music, and Kindle Unlimited, will receive significantly higher rates than physical versions of the same media from traditional publishers.

Robey is particularly rankled by the distinction between “beauty” and “luxury beauty” — a difference between a 6 and 10 percent commission under the new system. Almost none of the products she covers are grouped in Amazon’s luxury beauty category, although she considers many of them luxury goods. The result is a major incentive to write about brands in the favored category, although Robey says she won’t change the products she writes about.

Still, as Amazon shifts its attention to new ventures in streaming and personal assistant hardware, many see it as an ominous sign for the affiliate program. “Amazon has done such a great job taking all their profit and dumping it back in to their business. And investors are now asking Amazon to show a profit,” says Lakes. “I’m not surprised that they’re whittling a few percent here and there.”

Google Home will launch in the UK before June

Google’s AI-powered smart speaker, Google Home, is going to launch in the UK before June, according to a report from BBC News. Google exec Rick Osterloh told the publication the rough launch date at Mobile World Congress, going on to say that the search company was uniquely positioned to beat its main rival in the sector, Amazon’s Echo.

“We’ve got so much history with people using our search products and people using voice queries through Android phones… that we’re able to much better answer these types of questions,” said Osterloh. “All this data really helps in us making sure we understand what the user is looking for.”

Google Home launched in the US last November, powered by Google Assistant. Like the Echo, Home can answer basic questions, carry out simple tasks like setting timers, and also be used to control smart home products. However, unlike the Echo, it can also remember the context of questions, allowing users to ask queries like “Who is the president of the United States?” and then follow-ups like “When was he born?”

Amazon, though, has a sizable head start in the smart speaker department. Last week, the company announced that it had launched more than 10,000 skills for its digital assistant Alexa. It’s been available in the UK since last September.

When rivers caught fire and bald eagles were poisoned: why we need the Environmental Protection Agency

Children play in front of a smelter pumping lead and arsenic residue in the air of Ruston, Washington; a woman holds a glass of black, undrinkable water from her well in Ohio; and the view from the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan is so hazy with smog that the New Jersey skyline is impossible to see. These scenes were captured in the early 1970s as part of a project, called Documerica, that was commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency to document pollution in the US. Today, the photos show what America looked like before environmental protections were put in place — and they serve as an important reminder of why we need those protections.

Today, the future of the EPA is uncertain. The new EPA leader, Scott Pruitt, has made a career out of suing the agency for its environmental regulations, working hand in hand with the fossil fuel industry. President Donald Trump is expected to drastically cut the EPA’s budget and workforce, as well as roll back many of the regulations that empower the agency. And a bill meant to terminate the EPA by December 2018 was recently introduced in the House by three Republican congressmen.


Photo by Erik Calonius / US National Archives
A woman holds a jar of undrinkable water from her well in Ohio in 1973. She filed a damage suit against the Hanna Coal Company, which owned the land around her house.

But most ordinary people haven’t forgotten life before the EPA — and the majority of them don’t want these cuts to the agency. More than 60 percent of Americans want to see the EPA’s powers preserved or strengthened under Trump, according to a Reuters / Ipsos poll released last month. And it’s not just liberals, either — almost half of Republicans wanted the EPA to continue in its mission as well. Only 19 percent of Americans would like to see the agency “weakened or eliminated.”

“There’s tremendous public support for clean air and clean water, and the basic mission of the agency is tremendously popular,” Paul Sabin, an environmental historian at Yale University, tells The Verge. “People are counting on the government to provide those protections.”


Photo by Chester Higgins / US National Archives
A smoggy view from the George Washington Bridge in 1973.

In fact, when the EPA was created in 1970 by Republican President Richard Nixon, there was broad bipartisan support for it. “Restoring nature to its natural state is a cause beyond party and beyond factions,” Nixon said in his 1970 State of the Union speech. “It has become a common cause of all the people of this country.” That’s because in the 1950s and ‘60s, Americans could witness pollution firsthand — not just in EPA photographs.

Most US cities — from New York to Los Angeles, which was renamed the smog capital of the world — were engulfed in smog. In 1948, in the small town of Donora, Pennsylvania, 20 people died and many others got sick because of toxic, thick yellow smog produced by the local zinc plant and steel mill. In 1969, a layer of oil and debris floating on the surface of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland was set on fire when sparks from a train landed on the polluted water. The iconic image of the burning river, published in Time, sparked outrage, but in fact the photo was taken in 1952, when a similar accident occurred. Though the Cuyahoga is the most famous, burning rivers across the US were not an unusual sight back then.


Photo by Gene Daniels / US National Archives
Children play in the yard of a home in Ruston, Washington, while a smelter stack showers the area with arsenic and lead residue in 1972.

The EPA — and environmental regulations like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act the agency enforces — helped change all that. From 1970 to 2015, national emissions of pollutants like lead, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide have declined by an average of 70 percent. These and more changes meant 160,000 people in the US didn’t die prematurely due to air pollution in 2010 alone. But deaths aren’t all of it: 86,000 emergency room visits and 13 million lost days from work were also prevented. That’s good for human health and for the economy. Since the 1980s, the EPA has also worked with local authorities to clean up some of the most polluted sites in the US, from landfills that caught fire to radioactive waste housed close to residential areas.

The EPA has also played a central role in saving wildlife like the iconic bald eagle. After World War II, the birds were ingesting the widely used pesticide DDT. It turned out DDT made eagles lay eggs with such weak shells that the adult eagles would crush the eggs in the nest as they tried to incubate the next generation. By 1963, fewer than 500 nesting pairs of bald eagles remained. In 1972, the EPA banned DDT — which by then was also shown to pose health risks to people — and bald eagle populations rebounded. In 2007, the birds were taken off the threatened and endangered species list.


Photo by Gary Miller / US National Archives
An illegal dumping area off the New Jersey Turnpike, facing Manhattan across the Hudson River in 1973.

“The American environment is dramatically improved from what it was in the 1970s, before the EPA was created,” says Cody Ferguson, an assistant professor of history at Fort Lewis College who’s currently researching the EPA’s Documerica project. And the EPA has “played a central role in affecting those improvements.” Bob Deans, at the Natural Resources Defense Council, says it a bit more bluntly: “The EPA is the last line of defense between environmental ruin and a livable world,” he tells The Verge. “Do we want our children to drink water with lead in it? Do we want our rivers catching on fire? Nobody wants these things.”

In his first speech to the EPA, Pruitt said that he wishes to give responsibility for environmental protection back to the states. But pollution doesn’t respect state boundaries. For instance, acid rain in the Northeastern US, which was causing strong environmental damage in the Adirondacks in the 1980s, was largely due to pollution coming from Midwestern states like Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan, Deans says. So by setting national standards, the EPA can make sure every state complies with regulations — and prevents damage to surrounding states from ones that might have looser regulations. “An important thing the EPA does is create a level playing field across the nation,” Sabin says.


Photo by John Neubauer / US National Archives
Raw sewage flows into the Potomac River in Washington, DC, in 1973.

Today, the environmental challenges aren’t as obvious as those of the ‘60s and ‘70s — with burning rivers and cities choked by smog — but they’re as important as ever. Climate change will pose new threats to our environment and health, from rising sea levels to heat waves and more destructive natural disasters. We’re in the middle of a mass extinction. And lead in drinking water is a problem that still affects millions of Americans across the US. “To some degree, we’ve started taking the environment and environmental protection for granted,” Ferguson says.

But if the EPA’s authority is diminished or the agency is terminated, all those years of progress might go to waste. The environmental degradation recorded by the EPA’s photos in the 1970s wasn’t so long ago. “We have to acknowledge that just because we had this success, we have these improved conditions, doesn’t mean that the job is anywhere near done,” Ferguson says. The EPA is “the top national steward to protect our environment and health,” Deans says. “What could be more important?”

The RIAA wants internet companies to begin filtering pirated content

The Recording Industy Association of America (RIAA) and 14 other groups have called for stronger regulations that would require internet service providers (ISPs) to block pirated content, in a bid to reform a takedown system that the groups describe as “antiquated.” As Ars Technica reports, the RIAA outlined its proposal in a letter last week to the US Copyright Office, weeks after the US ended its six-strike Copyright Alert System because it was deemed ineffective at deterring piracy.

The groups say that the “burdensome” takedown process outlined under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) has led to “an endless game of whack-a-mole” that has obliged rights holders to file repeated takedown requests with ISPs. The current system obliges ISPs to “expeditiously” remove pirated content after receiving a notice, and grants them legal protection in copyright infringement cases.

The RIAA and other groups are calling on regulators to implement a more precise time frame for ISPs to remove pirated content. They also proposed mandating filters and automated identification systems that would prevent flagged content from being uploaded again.

That would place more of a burden on ISPs and web companies, and it could pose technical challenges. As Ars Technica reports, Google told the Copyright Office last week that 99 percent of the links it was requested to take down last month “were not in our search index in the first place.” As Gizmodo points out, that’s partly due to the fact that some rights holders have begun automating their takedown requests. YouTube, Facebook, and other sites currently use automated systems like ContentID to thwart copyright violations.

The RIAA and other content rights holders have long pushed for filtering systems online. In the letter sent last week, the groups dismissed concerns that such systems could lead to broader censorship and the removal of content that is protected under fair use.

“Several service providers and their associations also claim that automated content identification technologies would result in censorship of non-infringing works erroneously caught by the technology, such as fair use works,” the letter reads. “That concern is greatly exaggerated in an attempt to avoid any obligation to employ content identification technologies. As the Consumer Technology Association readily admits, modern automated systems can be calibrated to protect likely fair uses.”

WSJ: Apple will ditch Lightning for USB-C on new iPhones

Here’s a rumor we’ve not heard before. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the next iPhones will feature a “USB-C port for the power cord and other peripheral devices instead of the company’s original Lightning connector.”

The wording isn’t 100 percent clear, but the WSJ seems to be suggesting that Apple will drop the iPhone’s proprietary Lightning port in favor of the industry’s standard USB Type-C connector. It would be an unusual move for Apple, which has never been afraid of pushing its own connection standards, but not completely inexplicable. The company has already adopted USB-C on its MacBook line, and the two standards share some key features, including reversibility.

It’s also possible that the WSJ report means that USB-C will be incorporated not into the phone itself, but into its power adapters. That would mean replacing the USB-A plug on the end of the iPhone power cable with USB-C, like Apple has done with the adapters that ship with new MacBooks. This would make sense, allowing users who buy the new iPhone to charge it from their new MacBook using the cable that comes in the box. Apple’s new Ultra Accessory Connector (UAC) also makes it unlikely that the company will be dropping its Lightning port from the next iPhone.

The rest of the WSJ story is less ambiguous, and repeats a number of rumors we’ve heard before: that Apple will be unveiling three new iPhones this year, including updates to 2016’s phones and a new premium device; that one of these handsets will have a curved screen similar to those seen on Samsung’s Galaxy S7 devices; and that on one phone at least, Apple will be upgrading to OLED display technology.

The WSJ report also states that the new iPhone models “will do away with a physical home button.” We’ve previously heard this rumor from noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who suggests that one of 2017’s new iPhones will replace the physical home button with a “function area” underneath the display. He states that only one of the new iPhones will have this new feature though.