Monday, 23 February 2015

Google is being investigated by Russia's antitrust agency

Google may soon be facing another antitrust action, this time from Russia. Russia's antitrust agency is currently investigating a complaint against Google's Android operating system, according to a report from The Guardian. The complaint was filed by Yandex, a Russian-owned competitor to Google, which controls more than half the search traffic in the country. By comparison, Google controls only a quarter of the country's search market, but the popularity of Android has given the company a strong foothold in its fight with Yandex.
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A supercut of everyone's 'yup, that's me' face at the Oscars

Watch Hollywood's biggest and most talented stars process the still-uncanny experience of watching themselves act on screen. As is tradition, last night's acting nominees had their most emotional, trophy-worthy acting moments played back for all the world to see before the winner was announced, and their reactions run the gamut, from the shy (Eddie Redmayne) to the stoic (Patricia Arquette) to the "is that really the clip they ended up going with?" (Michael Keaton.)
Lesson: nobody, not even our finest leading actors, really enjoy watching themselves on screen. Except Emma Stone.
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Pebble smartwatch with color display leaks ahead of announcement

Pebble is a day away from making a big announcement, and it looks like that may be a brand new smartwatch. 9to5Mac reported on Friday that a slimmer Pebble with a color, "e-paper-like" display is on the way, and this morning, the publication points to an image hosted on Pebble's own website that seems to back that up. The image depicts what appears to be a somewhat larger watch with a color display. It doesn't appear to be of a particularly higher resolution (but then, this is only a mockup), and it's not clear how colorful it can get, as we can only see yellow, black, and white. Still, Pebble has basically just had black up until now, so even that appears to be a big step forward.

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Respoke Launches Its WebRTC-Based Platform For Voice, Video And Text Chat Apps


Digium, the company behind the popular open source Asterisk PBX software, today announced the official launch of Respoke, its WebRTC service backend for developers. Respoke joins a number of similar services like Bistri and Telefonica’s TokBox that also offer WebRTC-centric communications platforms. Using Respoke, developers can use a single API to add features like video… Read More

Suitcase Scooters Now Come With Electric Motors For Extra Lazy Commuters

By now we've probably all seen the occasional passenger zipping through an airport on one of those convertible carry-on suitcases that transforms into a scooter . But propelling a scooter while you've got a boarding pass in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other is a tricky balancing act, so finally someone has upgraded the suitcase scooter with an electric motor so it's now self-propelled.

Apple to Hire Samsung Employees


Apple is hiring away Samsung employees working on next-generation technology, including signal- and visual-processing management, according to The Korea Times.

The report, citing unnamed officials at the South Korean tech giant, also claims that Apple has expanded its recruitment efforts to focus on Samsung personnel with expertise in battery technology amid rumors that it is working on an electric vehicle project.
"Some of our personnel have been hired by Apple. They now work at Apple's headquarters in San Jose, Calif.," said one official, adding that Apple offers highly-competitive benefits and large annual paychecks.

"Those former Samsung workers are given greater independence to proceed with their tasks. Apple prefers to use Samsung's chip experts because they are very diligent, mission-oriented and are prepared to acquire new knowledge," said another official.
Apple has reportedly assembled an automotive team with hundreds of employees working at a "top-secret research lab" near its Cupertino, California headquarters. Apple appears to be recruiting battery experts from multiple companies to join the team, as the company also faces a lawsuit for poaching key battery engineers from A123 Systems. That lawsuit also listed Samsung as one of the companies that Apple has been poaching battery engineers from. 
Apple's appetite for hiring former Samsung personnel has expanded to the battery arena as the Cupertino-based company is reportedly developing electric vehicles, which means Apple needs battery experts. […]

"As the electric vehicle business is a new one, Apple needs patents and experts in battery technology. Top human resources firms have been approaching Samsung's battery experts, individually, and I think such human exchange moves are a win-win for both," said the official.
Earlier this month, multiple reports from credible sources claimed that Apple is working on an electric and possibly autonomous vehicle that could enter production in 2020. Some other reports, however, downplay the rumors by claiming that Apple is working on expanding its dashboard presence through CarPlay. Any electric car project at Apple is likely in the early stages of research and development at this time.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Dilemma Twitter Has


Twitter is two things. It is a concept — everyone in the world connected in real time — that’s so obvious in retrospect that it is impossible to imagine it not existing. It is also a product that has had a rough time living up to that concept. Much of its battles have had to do with convincing the market that it’s a sustainable business, as well as a usable product… Read More

The Troubled Future of the World's First Commercial Spaceport

Completed in October 2011, Spaceport America is an 18,000 acre commercial spaceport—the first of its kind in the world—that was going to be a major hub for SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, as each company toils away on developing the future of private spaceflight. It's been more than three years since opening, and New Mexico is still waiting for the payoff.

Microsoft will soon help you find friends with Windows phones

It's fairly easy to locate friends and family if you have an Android or iOS device, but finding your pals with a Windows phone? Not so much, unless you come across the right third-party apps. That may not be a big challenge for much longer. Spanish s... read more

GrabberApp8: Jailbreak tweak adds two customizable app grabbers to the Lock screen

Normally, the iOS 8 Lock screen features a camera grabber located in the bottom right corner of the screen which provides quick access to the Camera app to capture photos and videos. GrabberApp8 is a new jailbreak tweak that allows you change the app assigned to the camera grabber or add a new one to the screen.  Continue reading →

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

'Blackshades' leader pleads guilty to peddling webcam spying hacks

The Blackshades spying hack group may have come crashing down with a bang last year, but its alleged leader is going considerably more quietly. Alex Yucel has pleaded guilty to charges that he distributed Blackshades' remote control tool, which let c... read more

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Microsoft’s Office Apps Open Up To Third Parties, Starting With iCloud And Box


Following an earlier integration with Dropbox, Microsoft announced today it’s further opening up its Office software suite to work with other third-party cloud services, starting with an update to its Office iOS applications that will allow access to iCloud and Box. The support is being added by way of “file picker” integration, which takes advantage of the iOS… Read More

Twitter Finally Lets You Share Team Accounts Without Sharing Passwords


If you’ve ever tried to share a Twitter account with your team, you probably already know: it sucks. In the 10 years since Twitter’s launch, it’s never gotten around to building its own fix — until now. Read More

Facebook’s New Ads Automatically Show A Business’ Products That You’ll Want Most

Facebook Shutterfly 

You’ve probably seen plenty of products advertised on Facebook, but today the company is announcing a new unit called product ads, with features aimed specifically at helping businesses sell their products. The big difference is that the ads are dynamically optimized, meaning that the products you see will be tailored based on your activity and interests. Basically, they adapt to show… Read More

Asteroid Mining Could Fund Our First Space Colony

Many of us dream of living on other planets, but are two things we'll need before it can actually happen: money and raw materials. Now some companies say they have a solution to this problem. They'll mine asteroids for valuable metal ores, and for basic resources like water that we'll need once we're far from Earth.

EA Sims 4 Arrives on the Mac

As promised in January, the newest game in the EA-owned Sims franchise, The Sims 4, is now available for purchase on the Mac. The Sims 4 initially launched for PC back in September of 2014, but it's taken several months for the company to ready a Mac version of the game. 

Like other games in the franchise, The Sims 4 tasks players with the creation and control of the lives of virtual characters. The goal of the game is to guide sims through life, establishing relationships, building homes, advancing through careers, and conquering goals.

The Sims 4 begins with creating a sim with deep customization options. It's possible to randomly create a sim to start the game off in just a few minutes, but for those who would like select each aspect of their sim, the options are available. You can customize facial features, hair, accessories, makeup, and select outfits for every occasion from day to day wear to party wear.

Beyond the physical, creating a sim also involves choosing a name, personality traits that affect how sims interact with other sims, and a lifetime aspiration like reaching the top of a career ladder, having a big family, or hosting amazing parties. 


Once a sim is created and ready to move into the world, the idea is to choose a house and direct your sim through life. With The Sims, the possibilities are endless. Sims can lounge around all day watching TV and being slobs, or pick up a job and pursue a career in several different fields, including crime, business, food, and more.

Sims have a never-ending list of minor achievements that are based on their relationships, personality, and lifetime goal, so gameplay largely involves fulfilling these minor achievements (a goal might be talking to a friend, cooking a meal, or buying a household item), earning money, building families, and progressing through the sim's life. Amidst all of this, it's also necessary to meet a sims' basic needs like hygiene, food, and sleep. 

Building houses and community lots is the other major aspect of gameplay in The Sims, and in The Sims 4, a lot of the building tools are easier to use and more intuitive than in past games, making it easy to create detailed structures that range from the simple starter house to sprawling castles.

The Sims 4 has a thriving online community where it's possible to download sims, houses, and rooms created by other users or upload your own. This content is accessible from the "Gallery" option marked by a portrait icon at the top of the screen. The gallery is home to a huge collection of content that can be added to your game with just a few clicks -- one of the most impressive aspects of The Sims 4


The Sims 4 has received some criticism for notable gameplay changes and features that were stripped from the previous game, but EA has pledged updates that will return some of the missing functionality to the game over the course of time. EA has already re-added pools and ghosts, two major features that did not ship with the game, and two additional free content updates have added genealogy to track sim family lines, holiday items, and two new careers.

EA's also released a major content pack for The Sims 4Outdoor Retreat, which introduces a new vacations feature, new areas to explore, new traits, new skills, and more. Along with the full game, the new expansion is available on the Mac.

We tested The Sims 4 for Mac over the weekend ahead of its launch and we didn't encounter any significant bugs, performance issues, or lag when playing the game. Performance was equivalent to the PC version of the game. Of course, some users could still see issues, but on a 2013 iMac and a 2012 Retina MacBook Pro, the game ran well. System requirements can be found here.

The Sims 4 is missing some of the content from The Sims 3 and has some major differences in gameplay, namely that it's no longer possible to travel around the world without loading screens, but it should be noted that the game's performance has been much improved by some of these tweaks to the gameplay -- The Sims 4 runs quickly and has minimal lag.

If you've been playing The Sims 4 for PC and want to transfer your saved game to Mac, that's possible with a USB drive. Simply copy the "saves" folder from the PC and transfer it to The Sims 4folder on the Mac, and the save files will be available and ready to play once you log into The Sims 4 on a Mac. 

Sunday, 15 February 2015

The FAA just took a huge step towards legalizing commercial drone flights

The FAA's long awaited rules for flying small drones have arrived. Up until today it was illegal to fly drones for commercial purposes unless you had a specific exemption from the FAA for testing. The new rules explain a framework that would allow any company to fly so long as they abide by some FAA guidlines.
For the most part the agency chose to avoid adding any new restrictions, preferring to incorporate drones into the existing framework in an attempt to minimize complexity and costs. Most importantly, the agency said it believes that drones can save lives, boost the economy, and be integrated safely into the national airspace.
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Apple hires popular BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe

Radio 1 host Zane Lowe is leaving the BBC for Apple, the BBC reports. The 41-year-old DJ has been with the station since 2003 and has garnered a massive following in the UK and around the world.

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Don’t Be Google


Dear Google: what happened? Android sales are falling. Chrome has become a bloated hog. Analysts are calling you “the new Microsoft,” or worse, “the new Yahoo!” And worst, most damning of all: you have squandered our trust. You used to be special, Google. Or at least we used to believe you were special. But you seem more and more like just another megacorporation. Read More

Nerf's higher-powered foam guns are meant for older fans

Nerf guns can be fun if you're a grown-up -- just ask the legions of people who modded the Maverick revolver. They're not really intended for an older audience, however, which is why Hasbro just unveiled a range of Nerf blasters meant for high school... read more

Friday, 13 February 2015

Snapdragon 810 puts last year's flagship phones to shame

Snapdragon 810 puts last year's flagship phones to shame

The Snapdragon 810, Qualcomm's latest system on a chip that will power the next generation of smartphones, has displayed a huge boost in power compared to its predecessor.
We were invited to Qualcomm's headquarters in San Diego to test out the highly anticipated Snapdragon 810, and from the benchmarks we ran the performance improvements have made us very excited to get our hands on upcoming smartphones and tablets that will feature the improved CPU.
Running the Geekbench 3 benchmark on a specially made Mobile Development Platform Tablet that features Snapdragon 810, Qualcomm's latest scored an incredibly impressive 4733 in the multi-core tests.
The same Mobile Development Platform Tablet running the slightly older Snapdragon 805 scored just 2878, which means the 810 was 64.5% faster than its predecessor – a huge performance increase, especially when the 805 brought just a 9.7% increase over the 801 in the same tests.

Mobile Development Platform

The Mobile Development Platform Tablet we benchmarked included the sort of specifications we're expecting to see in upcoming flagship smartphones and tablets.
Along with a Snapdragon 810 with 64-bit octa-core processor clocked at 1.56GHz, the tablet comes with 4GB LPDDR4 RAM, a 7560 mAh battery and a demanding 4K screen.

Snapdragon 810

The Geekbench 3 score of 4733 represents a huge leap over some of the most powerful smartphones that are currently on the market, with the Nexus 6 scoring a once-impressive 3294 in the same benchmarks. The iPhone 6 Plus scored 2911, while the Samsung Galaxy S5 scored 2905.
Although the Mobile Development Platform we ran benchmarks on isn't a device that will be available to buy, we should see Snapdragon 810-toting devices getting similar scores in the future.
We also tested how power hungry the Snapdragon 810 is. We didn't have time to run our standard battery benchmark, but we did run the Antutu battery benchmark, which replicates medium to heavy use (playing games, reading websites and more) for 45 minutes. During that time the test device's 7560mAh battery dropped from 97% to 86%.
Considering the tablet was running a 4K screen, a battery drop of 11% over 45 minutes is pretty impressive.
After 45 minutes of medium to heavy use, the Snapdragon 810 reached temperatures of 39c, which is perfectly acceptable, if a little hot to touch, and helps put paid to rumours that the Snapdragon 810 suffers from overheating issues.

Qualcomm has solved the 4K smartphone problem

Qualcomm has solved the 4K smartphone problem

Qualcomm has had its eye on making 4K a reality on mobile devices for a while now, but at an event at the company's San Diego headquarters to show off the prowess of its upcoming flagship mobile system on a chip, the Snapdragon 810, Qualcomm is confident that it has finally succeeded in its goal.
Although previous SoCs such as the Snapdragon 805 have allowed smartphones like the Sony Xperia Z3 to display and record 4K video, the highly anticipated Snapdragon 810 is set to bring improvements and new features that will make the process of recording, playing and sharing 4K content even better.
Tim Leeland, Vice President of Product Management at Qualcomm, proudly stated that not only is the Snapdragon 810 the "most advanced cluster of the most advanced processors we've ever made", but that Qualcomm has worked hard to "[make] improvements for the 4K end-to-end experience".

Cool 4K

One of the areas Qualcomm concentrated on to improve the user experience of recording in 4K was to lower the skin temperature of any device that's running on a Snapdragon 810.
A device running on Snapdragon 800 would typically get a skin temperature (how hot the device is to touch) of around 45c after recording 4K footage for 350 seconds, whereas a device running on Snapdragon 810 only reached 35c.
Not only does the lower temperature make it more comfortable for the owner of the device, it also helps improve stability and reliability, so hopefully no more annoying crashes caused by devices overheating when recording at ultra-high definition.
It also means Snapdragon 810 and its 4K capabilities will be found in some of the slimmest upcoming smartphones. The Snapdragon 810 is also Qualcomm's first hardware implementation of the 4K H.265 video encode, which produces superior 4K video without increasing file sizes.
If your future 810-equipped smartphone doesn't come with an SD slot to add more storage space, you should still be able to film plenty of 4K material.
An improved display engine supports both internal 4K screens, as well as external 4K screens such as TVs. Improvements to the modem and support for 4G CAT 9 LTE and next gen 802.11ad wireless connections will help stream and share your creations as well.
Will the Snapdragon 810 usher in glorious 4K future for smartphones? Qualcomm certainly hopes so.

Dell is launching a new Chromebook 11 alongside a $299 Windows-based counterpart

Dell's education-focused Chromebook 11 was surprisingly one of the best Chromebooks we've ever used, even though it was notoriously difficult to actually purchase for much of last year. Now, Dell is taking what it learned from last year's launch and releasing a new, upgraded Chromebook 11 that feels just as solid as last year's model at first glance. The first Chromebook Dell produced was a well-built, well-rounded machine with no glaring defects — and it appears the new model offers the same solid combo.
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Facebook now lets you choose who controls your account after you die

Facebook is putting its users in control of what happens to their accounts after they die. Starting today, users in the US will be able to chose to have their accounts deleted after death or grant another person on Facebook permission to manage an account on their behalf. Facebook calls this person an account's "legacy contact," and users will be able to choose that person through the website's or app's security page.

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Miami cops are falsely reporting their locations on Waze to trick drivers

Police officers in Miami are flooding Google's traffic app Waze with false information in an attempt to deceive drivers, Autoblog reports. The goal is to make Waze's cop-reporting function less useful to drivers.
Waze lets users tag the exact location of police vehicles on a map and label them as "visible" or "invisible" to other drivers. Recently this function came under scrutiny when local sheriffs argued it could be used by criminals to locate and stalk law enforcement.
This is a revenue issue too 
Hundreds of Miami cops have reportedly downloaded the app just to falsely report their own locations. By flooding Waze with misinformation, the officers hope to trick drivers who use the app to avoid law enforcement when driving...
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Cortana made me a better gambler, but I'm never listening to her again

I'm a bit of a gambler. I've probably placed at least one bet per week for the past year. I'm also pretty good at it -- since winning few hundred dollars on the World Cup last year, I've maintained a positive account balance at Ladbrokes (other betti... read more

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Watch the launch of the ESA's would-be successor to the Shuttle

The European Space Agency (ESA) is preparing to launch its next-generation spaceplane, known as the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle or IXV. The five-metre-long, two-tonne vehicle will be launched on a Vega rocket to a height of 450 kilometres before descending for reentry. The crewless mission will take no longer than 100 minutes but is intended to test, among other things, the craft's protective thermal shells and its multi-stage parachutes.

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Samsung teases 'amazing' camera in new flagship phone

A month ago, I wrote about the iPhone's camera and how instrumental it is to many of the things that make that bestselling device so appealing. Today, Apple's most direct competitor, Samsung, has reiterated its long history of developing cameraphones and promised to deliver nothing less than "the future of cameras." In a post by Samsung's camera R&D chief DongHoon Jang, the company promises its 2015 flagship phone "will be intelligent and do all the thinking for users, allowing them to take amazing pictures under any conditions, without having to worry about anything more than just pressing the shutter button."
Imaging technology has been a traditional strength for Samsung's flagship smartphones, and the latest Galaxy Note 4 has marked...
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Samsung's Galaxy S6 will have a wrap-around display, says Bloomberg

Samsung thinks the unusual curved screen adorning its Galaxy Note Edge is the way to combat its sliding smartphone fortunes, according to a report from Bloomberg. It said the Korean company will release a 5.1-inch Galaxy S6 that will curve down both ... read more

Alibaba’s AliExpress Sets Its Sights On Indonesia’s Promising E-Commerce Market

Indonesia currency

Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group is keen to expand beyond its home market, and now it has set its sights on Indonesia. The company announced today that AliExpress, one of its e-commerce sites, has signed a strategic agreement with DOKU, Indonesia’s largest online payment provider. It also launched a website and customer service line in Bahasa and English. Read More

‘Hands-free’ Cars Get Green Light For U.K. Road Tests

Driverless Nissan Leaf

A U.K. government review into automated vehicles has published its findings in a report out today, giving the green light for driverless car technologies to be tested on public roads. Read More

Friday, 6 February 2015

Boost Important Emails To the Top of your Gmail Inbox with Boomerang

Boost Important Emails To the Top of your Gmail Inbox with Boomerang

There's a danger that once you've replied to a thread in Gmail it can sink lower and lower down your priority list and eventually get forgotten about altogether. If you want to make sure that you're following up important messages when they don't get a response, then this popular browser extension is one way to go about it.

Corning says its upcoming glass 'approaches' sapphire in scratch resistance

A few months ago, Corning unveiled the latest revision of its signature Gorilla Glass. Yet again, the company claimed to have produced a stronger glass that's more resistant to common drops and accidents that your smartphone can experience in everyday use. Since it's still so new, only a tiny list of manufacturers (including Samsung) are using Gorilla Glass 4 at this point, but Corning is already looking ahead to what's next. Today, as reported by CNET, the company announced Project Phire, a new product that promises to combine Gorilla Glass 4's damage resistance with "scratch resistance that approaches sapphire."
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