Posts

Showing posts from January 2, 2018

Alexa and Cortana still don't work together

Image
Remember how Amazon and Microsoft unveiled a team-up that would let Alexa and Cortana talk to each other by the end of 2017? As you might have noticed, that didn't quite work out as planned. Thurrott has pointed out that the voice assistant crossover still isn't available as 2018 begins. It's not clear why, either. Both Amazon and Microsoft have said that they expect to say more "soon," but that's no guarantee of news at CES or another imminent event.The team-up promises to greatly simplify voice control in the home. You could issue commands to an Echo speaker that take advantage of Cortana's access to Office- and Windows-specific features, while you could use Cortana to access the many, many skills Alexa offers. In short: instead of having to remember which AI helper to use at any given moment, you could settle on one.It's also a defensive measure. Both Amazon and Microsoft have to worry about competing platforms. Google is the most direct threat, si…

Apple's latest acquisition will bolster its tools for app developers

Image
Apple is no stranger to acquisitions. Back in 2014, it bought the company behind TestFlight, a system that lets iOS developers get their app out to tens of thousands of beta testers ahead of launch. Now the company has purchased Buddybuild, a company that helps app developers test and manage their apps on the iOS platform.The startup says that it has joined Apple's Xcode engineering group and is accepting no new customers, though the service will remain available to existing ones. The free starter plans and Android customers will lose access as of March 1st of this year. Apple confirmed the acquisition to TechCrunch, as well.Buddybuild will remain in the same offices for now. "We've always been proud to be a Canadian company, so we're also pleased that we will be staying right here in Vancouver — a hotbed of developer and engineering talent," the team wrote on its announcement blog post.Via:TechCrunch via Engadget RSS Feed "http://ift.tt/2CfPKvH"

LG's 2018 TVs will have Google Assistant built in

LG's 2018 TVs get faster and smarter with Google Assistant, Alexa

Image
LG's TVs have taken home our Best of CES Award for three years running and in 2018 it's ready to take on all comers once again. As with all home electronics of the current era, the company's new TVs are AI-ready with its ThinQ technology, but you'll probably be more interested in their support for third-party smart home services like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. The top of the line OLED TVs will have its new "Alpha 9" processor inside that's not only powerful enough for AI, but also ready to push video at high frame-rates of up to 120FPS. The chip also claims better color performance and "four-step process of noise reduction" although we'll be interested to see if it can be disabled to avoid any artifacts or motion-smoothing type impact on picture quality.There's no word yet on the OLED display prices, but if you'd rather stick to LCD technology that will likely be cheaper, LG's Super UHD lineup will have a similar Alpha 7 …

Microsoft stops selling the Xbox One Kinect adapter

Image
You knew Kinect peripherals weren't long for this world when Microsoft stopped producing the Kinect in October, but it's still a sad day. The company has stopped making the Xbox Kinect Adapter that lets Xbox One S, Xbox One X and Windows PC users attach the depth-sensing camera without the presence of the original Xbox One's proprietary port. Microsoft wants to focus its efforts on "higher fan-requested gaming accessories," a spokesperson told Polygon. In short: there wasn't exactly rampant demand for an adapter to support a peripheral that had effectively been declared dead.As it stands, many of those who wanted the adapter already have it. Microsoft gave the adapter away for free for 8 months after the launch of the Xbox One S, and started selling it in April for $40. And if it wasn't already clear that you had to hurry to get one, major retailers like Amazon and Microsoft itself have listed the adapter as out of stock for months.This still creates issu…

Six volcanoes to watch in 2018

Image
Environment Scientists weigh in on where things will heat up.Some of the volcanoes that currently show signs of unrest may simply calm down without eruption, while others may enter a phase of eruption in the months to come. via Popular Science "http://ift.tt/2CvEwGA"

Google still exploiting tax loopholes to shelter billions in overseas ad revenue

Image
Google saved itself as much as $3.7 billion in 2016 by moving 16 billion euros between Ireland, the Netherlands, and Bermuda using infamous legal loopholes that allow it to skirt high tax responsibilities overseas, according to a report from Bloomberg. Citing regulatory filings in the Netherlands, the report explains how Google continues to use the “Double Irish” and “Dutch Sandwich” loopholes to cut its foreign tax bill. In 2016, Google saved seven percent more than it did in the year prior, at a tax rate of 19.3 percent.“We pay all of the taxes due and comply with the tax laws in every country we operate in around the world,” Google said in a statement given to Bloomberg. ”We remain committed to helping grow the online ecosystem.”...Continue reading… via The Verge - Tech Posts "http://ift.tt/2CdQFwy"

Galaxies stop making stars earlier if they host supermassive black holes

Image
A supermassive black hole can mass more than a million times that of our Sun; these astronomical entities seem to lie at the center of all massive galaxies. They've been theorized as the gatekeepers to galaxy growth and star formation for a while now, as they pull in all the cold gases in a galaxy that can be used to make more stars. A new study from a team at the University of California Santa Cruz shows a relationship between the gas cooling rate (or quenching) of galaxies with the size of their black holes.The researchers measured the different wavelengths of light coming from nearby massive galaxies with data from the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Massive Galaxy Survey. This allowed the team, led by Ignacio Martín-Navarro, to create a historical snapshot of the gas cooling rate of the early Universe. Comparing galaxies and their rate of new star formation, the team found that the quenching in any given galaxy is more efficient, and thus takes place earlier, in galaxies that contain a…

Last week in tech: Happy 2018! Here's your new iPhone battery

Image
Technology The new year will almost certainly have some new tech.Sorry you had to go back to work. Here are some tech stories you missed while you were having a much better time over the holidays. via Popular Science "http://ift.tt/2lLsXR0"

Judge sides with Airbnb in lawsuit from US apartment landlord

Image
Airbnb may have just dodged a bullet. A Los Angeles federal judge has ruled against major American landlord Apartment Investment & Management Co (AIMCO) in its lawsuit accusing Airbnb of helping tenants violate their lease agreements through unapproved short-term rentals. The judge determined that Airbnb was protected by the Communications Decency Act, which protects internet services against liability for the content posted by their users. It's the tenants that are responsible for the rule-breaking listings, the court said, not Airbnb for hosting them.AIMCO sued Airbnb in 2017 after some of its tenants in upscale LA apartments complained about Airbnb tourists making noise, damaging property and putting residents at risk. It hoped to bar Airbnb from listing any of its properties. Airbnb already has terms of service that requires rental hosts to obey lease agreements and local laws, but that clearly hasn't stopped some customers.Airbnb is unsurprisingly happy with the outco…

Microsoft has discontinued the Kinect Adapter for newer Xbox One consoles

Image
Microsoft stopped manufacturing Kinects back in October, but the company’s once vaunted camera sensor has suffered one final death today, as Microsoft confirms to Polygon that it’s discontinued the Kinect Adapter, making it impossible for Xbox One S and One X owners to use the device with their consoles. (The adapter is also used for making use of the the Kinect with a Windows 10 PC.)Microsoft originally offered the dongle to Xbox One S owners for free as a way to allow them to continue using the Kinect with the newer version of the console, before later charging $39.99 for the adapter after that promotion ended. In a statement to Polygon, a Microsoft spokesperson commented that, “After careful consideration, we decided to stop...Continue reading… via The Verge - Tech Posts "http://ift.tt/2Ce8M5i"

Canada will track suicide risk through social media with AI

Image
The Canadian government is partnering with AI firm Advanced Symbolics to try to predict rises in regional suicide risk by monitoring social media posts. Advanced Symbolics will analyze posts from 160,000 social media accounts and will look for suicide trends. The company aims to be able to predict which areas of Canada might see an increase in suicidal behavior, which according to the contract document includes "ideation (i.e., thoughts), behaviors (i.e., suicide attempts, self-harm, suicide) and communications (i.e., suicidal threats, plans)." With that knowledge, the Canadian government could make sure more mental health resources are in the right places when needed.Canada isn't the only one turning to technology in order to provide better support for those considering suicide or to prevent suicides from happening. In November, Facebook began a global rollout of its AI suicide prevention tools that reach out to users who post content that could be a sign of suicidal th…

Spotify faces $1.6 billion lawsuit over song licensing

Image
Spotify is no stranger to facing lawsuits accusing it of offering unlicensed songs, but the latest could prove to be very costly. Hollywood Reporter has learned that Wixen Music Publishing, which manages the song composition rights for artists ranging from Neil Young to Zach de la Rocha, has sued Spotify for copyright damages of at least $1.6 billion. Wixen claims that the streaming service is using tens of thousands of songs without proper licenses and the compensation to match. The plaintiff had already objected to proposed $43 million settlement in another case in May, so this wasn't coming entirely out of the blue.We've asked Spotify for comment. However, it hasn't been sitting idle. The company has questioned whether or not Wixen actually has permission from its artists. It may be allowed to negotiate on behalf of musicians, but that doesn't mean it's allowed to sue on their behalf. Spotify could also try an argument it has used in another lawsuit, where it cl…

Amazon shipped over 5 billion items with Prime in 2017

Image
As we close out one year and welcome another, Amazon has a few stats for us to better reflect on how we spent 2017 -- evidently by sending each other a colossal volume of stuff. The company announced today that Prime members shipped over 5 billion items using the service this year.The company announced the statistic today along with a few notes trumpeting Amazon products. Notably, among all manufacturers and categories, the Fire TV Stick and Echo Dot were the best-selling products purchased by Prime members in the US. Shocking nobody, the trendy Instant Pot was the most gifted item on Amazon's Wedding Registry, as well as the most Wish Listed item; Accordingly, the Instant Pot Cookbook was the book Prime members gifted all year.Amazon spent 2017 building out Prime's non-shipping features, too, like reserving early film screenings for members. It also added more content to its video service, which has at least won some critical notice, snagging three Golden Globe nominations at…

Some Android games are quietly accessing your microphone to track your TV habits

Image
Some smartphone games are listening to what your mic picks up — but not to hear what you say. Instead, they’re trying to hear what you’re watching.This is something smartphone apps have been doing for a little while now: using microphone access to tell what shows you watch, which ads you hear, and even what movies you see. But a report in The New York Times last week shows the practice may be more prevalent — and more secretive — than consumers might like.The Times says that it identified more than 250 games on the Google Play Store that include just one specific type of software for monitoring users’ TV habits. It’s from a company known as Alphonso, and the apps that include it — the ones that disclose it, at least — often don’t make...Continue reading… via The Verge - Tech Posts "http://ift.tt/2DTBxoi"

Logan Paul controversy highlights the carelessness of online celebrity in the YouTube era

Image
On the last day of 2017, YouTube star Logan Paulposted a video of a dead body in Aokigahara, more commonly known as Japan’s “suicide forest.” The vlog followed Paul and his friends as they encountered the body of a man who, like hundreds of others, had taken his own life in the popular tourist destination. In between Paul’s comments about the seriousness of suicide, the camera zooms in on various parts of the body, while Paul occasionally cracks jokes or laughs. “I think this definitely marks a moment in YouTube history,” Paul said in the original video — a statement that proved true, though likely not in the way he had imagined.The backlash to the video has been swift, with media outlets, celebrities, and other YouTubers fiercely...Continue reading… via The Verge - Tech Posts "http://ift.tt/2DTA55k"

Google used a popular tax trick to shelter $19.2 billion

Image
Just how much money do tech companies shelter from taxes? Quite a lot, according to the Dutch. Newly published Netherlands regulatory filings show that Google shielded €15.9 billion (about $19.2 billion) in 2016 using the popular "Dutch Sandwich" tax trick, saving it about $3.7 billion in taxes. The maneuver involves shifting revenue from an Irish subsidiary to a Dutch firm with no staff, and promptly moving the funds to a Bermuda mailbox owned by another Ireland-listed company. And this practice isn't slowing down -- Google moved 7 percent more cash through this approach in 2016 than it did a year earlier.Google defended the practice in a statement to Bloomberg, reiterating its position that it "pay[s] all of the taxes due and [complies] with the tax laws in every country we operate in around the world."The statement is technically accurate, as it's honoring local laws. However, the statement sidesteps the main concern: that companies like Google, Apple, F…

Amazon and Microsoft have yet to roll out their smart assistant partnership

Image
Microsoft and Amazon were supposed to play nice this past year and make their respective digital assistants available on each other's platforms, allowing users to access Microsoft's Cortana assistant on an Amazon Echo, or Alexa on any Windows 10 PC. The company said the cross-platform features would roll out by the end of 2017, but they have yet to make good on that deadline. (Thanks, Thurrott, for first spotting the missed timeline.)The New York Times reported in August that someone using an Alexa device will have to say “Alexa, open Cortana” to access Microsoft’s digital assistant, and someone using Cortana will have to say “Cortana, open Alexa” to talk to Amazon’s. Both companies seem to have created skills on each other's platforms...Continue reading… via The Verge - Tech Posts "http://ift.tt/2lJwlvM"

Can eating mostly fat help you lose weight?

Image
Fat Month On paper, the ketogenic diet sounds great.Like your opinion on most fad diets, your thoughts on keto are probably based on vague notions sourced from the nightly news. Here's what the science says. via Popular Science "http://ift.tt/2lFQZxS"

Amazon is reportedly looking to feature more Alexa ads

Image
Last week, CNBC reported that Amazon had big plans for its online ad business in 2018 and was looking into moving its advertisements beyond its own sites and products. Now it appears that Amazon is also interested in placing more ads on Alexa, according to CNBC sources.The company has reportedly been talking to major retailers like Procter & Gamble and Clorox and has been sussing out whether potential clients would be willing to pay to have their products placed higher in user searches done via Echo devices. There are apparently a number of promotional options on the table right now and CNBC says a few are already being tested. For example, users who previously bought Clorox product Pine-Sol may get an Alexa suggestion to buy another Clorox product, such as disinfecting wipes. Another ad option might be to have Alexa suggest a certain brand's products when a user asks the virtual assistant for help cleaning a particular mess.Amazon's rules currently limit what kinds of ads…

Samsung is making a neck speaker that might not annoy everyone else

Image
A bunch ofoddstuff comes out of Samsung’s C-Lab incubator each year, and today Samsung is unveiling a handful of its latest projects. The highlight is a product line called S-Ray, short for Sound-Ray, that’s composed of three different speakers that are supposed to act almost like headphones — playing music so that only a single person can hear it.It’s hard to imagine how effectively this will work, but it’s a neat idea. Samsung wants people to be able to listen to music or watch videos while still being able to hear the world around them and without having to wear something on their head. That said, it’s unclear if they’re actually doing anything to cancel out sound for other people, or if they’re just using highly directional...Continue reading… via The Verge - Tech Posts "http://ift.tt/2A8sJZz"

The best mobile games

Image
Mobile gaming has come a long way. Over the past few years we've gone from simple distractions like Snake, Words With Friends and Doodle Jump to full-on narrative experiences crafted specifically for Android and iOS devices. What's more, at least a few traditional console game developers have shifted entirely to mobile at this point, and, in a bit of a reversal, they've ported their games to consoles. By 2012, game-design toolsets like Unity and Unreal made a charming indie designed for mobile devices indistinguishable from one you'd play on a PlayStation or Xbox. As such, for the purposes of this list, we're focusing on games that have been released within the past five years.Console portsWhile it's impressive that Rockstar Games fit Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas onto mobile phones, you'll need a gamepad to get the best experience. There are plenty of those available, sure, but chances are you won't have one on you while you're waiting in line at t…