Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Apple unveils a new iPhone. The iPhone 11 lineup is expected to be largely similar to last year’s iPhone X lineup, with incremental gains in processing speed and photo quality. Don’t expect to see major changes—like 5G compatibility or an in-screen fingerprint scanner—until at least next year. Apple is also rumored to unveil updates to its line of watches, tablets, laptops, and more.
Jack Ma steps down. The Alibaba chairman announced one year ago that he would retire as a 55th birthday present to himself. The charismatic executive has become the face of Chinese entrepreneurship since founding China’s largest e-commerce business in his apartment 20 years ago. He’ll be replaced by CEO Daniel Zhang, a low-key figure who came up with the idea for the company’s Single’s Day shopping festival.
Japan recovers from typhoon Faxai. The Tokyo region continues to recover from the storm that caused at least three deaths, left hundreds of thousands without power, stranded passengers, and snarled commutes. These photos reveal the aftermath of the deadly winds.
While you were sleeping
US states launched an antitrust probe into Google. Fifty state attorneys general pledged to investigate whether Google stifles competition in the digital advertising business. The search giant is already facing a federal antitrust investigation, but so far, no charges have been filed.
North Korea reopened the door to nuclear talks. In a statement on state TV, Kim Jong Un’s government signaled it was willing to restart negotiations for a nuclear deal, but only if the US shows more flexibility. Kim agreed to come back to the table at a June 30 meeting with Donald Trump, but so far that hasn’t happened despite repeated US appeals.
Parliament went out with a bang. On the British legislature’s last day of business before a controversial five-week break, house speaker John Bercow—known for sternly shouting his colleagues into “orrrr-duhhhr”—announced he would resign at the end of October. Meanwhile, MPs voted to force the government to reveal internal communications regarding a no-deal Brexit.
India found its lost lunar lander. The Indian Space Research Organization announced that the lander’s traveling companion, a satellite orbiting the moon, has tracked it down with a thermal camera. The space agency said it was trying to communicate with the wayward robot, but did not reveal what condition the lander was in.
Saudi Arabia is planning to sell Aramco stock. The state will put 1% of its $2 trillion oil giant on the Riyadh stock exchange this year, according to a Reuters report. Another 1% will go on the market next year, with offerings gradually ramping up until about 5% of the company is public—which would amount to the world’s biggest IPO.
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This week we take a deep dive into the vaping invasion, starting with Jenni Avins’ state of play analysis on the tobacco industry’s high-tech revival, a brief history of vaping and e-cigarettes, and a look at US high schoolers’ vaping habits. Plus, read our Q&A with Philip Morris COO Jacek Olczak, who explains the company’s strategy for converting smokers to vapers.
Digital easter eggs started as a workplace protest. The little messages and in-jokes coded into hidden places in video games started in the 1970s, before video-game programmers had the status they do today. Lacking recognition, they’d subtly embed it into their work. As companies grew to tolerate them, they’ve become a feature, not a bug. Go hunting at the Quartz Obsession.
Matters of debate
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Your expense report says a lot about you. What you demand reimbursement for reveals your true feelings about your job, yourself, and the fundamental rules of fairness.
Borrowing money beats dropping out. Taking out loans to stay in school makes you more likely to graduate, get a good job, and pay off your debts.
Tim Cook’s days at Apple are numbered. A famous angel investor says it’s time for the company to install a CEO like Elon Musk who truly cares about products.
Americans believe the truth is out there. 33% of Americans think some UFO sightings are real aliens, and 67% think the government isn’t telling us the full story.
Robots are revolutionizing religion. Machines that can deliver sermons, perform sacred rituals and dole out blessings are on the rise across the world’s major faiths.
Some technology really is magic. Magician Anastasia Synn explains why she has 26 microchips and magnets in her body.
Particle beam weapons are too sci-fi for the US military. The defense department dropped funding for the futuristic weapons but is still developing laser guns.
Georgia O’Keeffe’s name is a portal into another universe. So say online conspiracy theorists who could have sworn the artist’s name used to be “O’Keefe.”
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, robotic blessings, and evidence of parallel universes to email@example.com. Join the next chapter of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Max Lockie and Nicolás Rivero.