Keeping up with the latest tech news can be a fun but energy-sapping challenge. Luckily, our new Fast Charge liveblog is here to give you blast of all the latest headlines in minutes, so you can stay on top of today’s stories – including the arrival of Meta’s potential Twitter assassin Threads.

The Threads app has now officially landed in the US and UK, a little earlier than planned after the Meta’s countdown timer jumped forward a few hours. Earlier today the web version of Threads prematurely went live with some posts from Mark Zuckerberg and others.

Meta also sent out little personalized invites in Instagram to get you excited about its “text-based conversation app”. Search for ‘Threads’ in the Instagram search bar and you were presented with a little red ticket that took you to a personal invite, but now you can just find the app in the App Store or Google Play Store. Not everyone has been invited to the Threads launch party, though, with rumors claiming that the app won’t initially be available in the EU (more on that below).

Not that Threads has all of the tech news tied up today – we’re also seeing yet more leaked images of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, and rumors suggesting that the iPhone 15 lineup are likely to get some serious battery life upgrades. For all of the latest news on those and more, plug into our feed below for a quick hit of all the breaking tech news today…

The big five: today’s biggest tech stories
1. Meta’s Threads has officially landed: everything you need to know
2. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold’s gapless design has been shown off in photos
3. The Fairphone 4 comes to the US – but it’s not running the Android you know
4. ChatGPT pulls plug on Bing integration after people use it to bypass paywalls
5. This new smartphone has more RAM and storage than a MacBook Air

A mobile phone on an orange background showing the Threads app

(Image credit: Future)

Meta’s Threads has gone live (kind of)

The Threads app isn’t due to go live until tomorrow (July 6), but we were given a sneak peek of the interface earlier today. That’s because the web version went live early, seemingly accidentally as it’s no longer available. A small band of influencers and brands were merrily posting away – no problem, Meta, our early invite must have got lost in the post…

I had a quick tinker and it’s, well, a text-based Instagram. You can go into dark mode by clicking the Threads logo at the top. And your options are mainly writing posts, liking posts and replying. But it’s clear this will give Twitter a massive shove when it’s already very off balance – this week we’ve already seen Twitter spring ‘rate limits’ on users with no warning, and put a new version of the popular Tweetdeck behind a paywall. 

This week’s rumblings are the real billionaire cage fight, it seems…

A mobile phone on a pink background showing the Threads app

(Image credit: Future)

Has Meta’s Threads got snagged on EU laws?

In less good news for Threads (or anyone living in the EU), it looks like the app won’t be launching outside of the US and UK to start with. According to the Irish Independent, a Meta spokesperson has said that the Twitter rival won’t be rolled out in the EU “at this point”. We’re just confirming this with Meta and will update here when we hear back.

This explains why the app hasn’t been appearing in the App Stores of EU countries. The reason is apparently Europe’s tougher privacy laws – while the EU regulator hasn’t blocked the app, Meta seemingly needs more time to prepare it for a full launch in Europe. 

Still, a Meta spokesperson told Bloomberg that it’s preparing to roll out Threads in 100 countries with “more coming soon”, so hopefully it won’t be too long before the EU can join the chat.

iPhone 14 Pro on pink background

(Image credit: Future / Apple)

Juicy iPhone 15 rumors suggest a battery life boost

If one of your main reasons for an iPhone upgrade is battery life (which is the case for most people, according to a new TechRadar survey launching tomorrow) then you’ll be happy to hear that the latest iPhone rumors are predicting a big boost in stamina  – for the whole series.

As the owner of an increasingly tired iPhone 11 Pro, that sounds good to me. One of the main temptations of a Plus or Max has been their battery life, but according to a Foxconn employee (reported by iTHome) even the iPhone 15 will get an 18% larger battery, with the iPhone 15 Pro getting a 14% boost in capacity.

The question now is whether or not to wait for the iPhone 16, which will likely cram the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s periscope zoom into a smaller phone – a decision that’s likely to give photographers a serious dilemma

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 logo handheld partially open

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Leaked: the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5’s lovely gapless design

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is expected to make its official debut at the Galaxy Unpacked on July 26, but as is tradition we’ve been given a good glimpse of its design thanks to some leaks. And the latest one has revealed a gapless design that means there’s no unsightly space between the two screen halves. Lovely.  

Since we wrote the story, WinFuture has also unleashed a torrent of press images of the Z Flip 5, alongside the Z Fold 5. As we’d seen before, the latter has a much larger cover screen that could help you do much more with your favorite apps (I’m particularly liking the idea of using Google Maps without opening the phone, while a Google Keep to-do list would be handy, too). 

Whatever kind of phone you’re after, it looks like July 26 will definitely be worth circling in your calendar.

A sloth in a chair reading a book next to a fireplace

(Image credit: Future)

Time-sink of the day: Picsart’s new AI GIF generator

It was only a matter of time until AI came for our GIFs – and that’s good news, if Picsart’s new animated GIF generator (spotted by Engadget) is anything to go by. Rather than leafing through libraries of existing gifs, it lets you create your own by typing a description into the text box.

As you can see from my sloth creation above, the results aren’t always perfect. And Nvidia’s impressive text-to-video tech looks like it’ll take AI-powered GIFs to another level. But Picsart’s new tool is a free on its web, iOS and Android apps, and it’s surprising how much time you can spend in it when you’re supposed to be doing other things…

Four different colors of the Amazon Echo Pop speaker sat together

(Image credit: Amazon)

We review the Amazon Echo Pop (spoiler: wait for the discounts)

The reviews are in for Amazon’s new entry-level smart speaker – and our Amazon Echo Pop review says that despite its “fun new form factor, great selection of colorways, and decently rounded sound for its size” the Pop just feels “a little too pricey for its specs”.

While it’s now certainly one of the best Alexa speakers around, it doesn’t find its way into our list of the best smart speakers overall. That’s largely because, at $40.99 / £44.99 / AU$79.99, it’s only marginally cheaper than the Amazon Echo Dot (Generation 5), which sounds better and has more features. 

In other words, wait for those possible Amazon Prime Day discounts before splurging…

See more

Threads A-listers revealed

Back to that imminent launch of Meta’s Threads, which will make its ring entrance tomorrow (July 6) for a social media cage match with Twitter. Thanks to mobile developer Alessandro Paluzzi (above) we now have a list of some of the peeps who were given early access to the app.

Naturally, Mark Zuckerberg (@zuck) and Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) were the first two names on the list, with the rest being a mix of singers, actors, comedians and influencers with big Instagram followings. 

One of the big appeals of Threads is that Instagram users will be able to transfer their username over to the new app – so if you haven’t got your handle in good order, now is the time. 

A phone screen showing a Twitter cartoon made by Twitterific

(Image credit: Twitterific)

Meanwhile, at Twitter…

Elon Musk has been notably quiet about Meta’s antics today, other than posting a cryptic ‘God Bless America’ tweet. But he seemingly has other things on his mind, like stamping out the many fires that are threatening to engulf Twitter from within.

A few days on from sabotaging our feeds without notice with ‘rate limits’, which Twitter has now officially blamed on spam bots, it seems the under-fire social media site is now trying to roll back a change that forced us to be logged to view Tweets.

Conspiracy theories abound, like the possibility that Google limited Twitter’s access to its cloud hosting services, but one thing’s for sure – Twitter will definitely be looking forward to the weekend.

The Fairphone 4 on an orange background

(Image credit: Fairphone)

The Fairphone 4 lands in the US (in non-Google form)

The Fairphone 4 is one of the most easily repairable, sustainable smartphones out there – and it’s finally landed in the US, albeit in slightly different form.

Unlike the standard Fairphone 4 (above), the new US version will run an operating system called /e/OS, rather than Google Play-enabled Android you’ll find on the best Android phones. 

For some, this will make it way too niche, but for others it may give the phone an additional halo ring that makes it an ideal alternative to everyone else’s identikit phones. You’ll be able to buy the Murena Fairphone 4 for $599 with 6GB of RAM / 128GB storage, or $679 for for one with 8GB RAM and 256GB of storage.

A countdown timer on a starry background for the launch of Threads

(Image credit: Instagram)

Threads: is it launching early?

Okay, so here’s a slight surprise – the countdown timer to the launch of Meta’s Threads has just jumped forward, with the app apparently now due to land in just over three hours.

That means those in the US and UK should be able to download the Instagram-flavored Twitter rival from 7pm ET / 4pm PT, or 12am BST on July 6 for those in the UK. 

If you haven’t already, you can use the QR code in the bottom right-hand corner of the Threads countdown site to go to the app store (for iOS or Android) and pre-download the app. When it lands (seemingly now in three hours), it’ll hit your phone immediately. Not long to wait now, then…

An iPhone on an orange background showing the App Store download page for the Threads app

(Image credit: Future)

Threads: some early sightings?

A number of people on Twitter are reporting that Threads is now available to download on their iPhone, but that they’re unable to login.

The error message says “not permitted” and that the account doesn’t meet the requirements to use Threads. This is surely just a case of a download jumping the gun before the app is ready – it’s still just showing the “coming soon” message for me.

Not that we’ll have to wait long until the app is officially available to download – the countdown timer is now showing just over two-and-a-half hours to go…

A phone on an orange background showing the Threads app

(Image credit: Future)

Threads has officially landed

Meta’s Twitter rival is now here – after a slightly underwhelming conclusion to the countdown page (which simply delivered the app’s name), it’s started downloading for those who set up the pre-order option.

I’ve downloaded Threads and so far it’s understandably looking a little sparse right now. You get the chance to auto-follow the same accounts as the ones you do on Instagram, but as very few people are around it’s serving me an equivalent of Twitter’s ‘For you’ feed (full of recommended people and conversations).

Even though it’s a close Instagram relative, Threads does currently feel a bit like the innocent first days of Twitter when everyone was simply happy to be chatting somewhere new. 

Some may see Threads’ level of data harvesting as slightly less than innocent, but it’s certainly not alone there – the question now is how many Twitter refugees it can attract with the promise of a more stable platform that doesn’t feel like it’s falling apart at the seams or trying get you to buy a blue tick. Interesting times ahead in social media-ville.

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