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30
May

Samsung’s latest smartphone-camera hybrid launches in the UK tomorrow


Samsung appears intent on single-handedly bringing back the word “cameraphone,” if the Galaxy S4 Zoom and recently announced Galaxy K Zoom are anything to go by. The newer of the two does a much better job of hiding its hybrid bloodline, and tomorrow (May 31st) it arrives in the UK at various online and bricks-and-mortar outlets, including at Carphone Warehouse and Samsung’s own Experience stores. If the official K Zoom product page is any indication, you’ll be looking at around £400 all-in, and we doubt they’ll be a wealth of carrier-subsidised deals on offer for the niche device. The K Zoom doesn’t quite rival the Galaxy S5 in terms of raw power, but it’s the 20.7-megapixel camera with 10x optical zoom you’ll be buying it for; and, how can you resist something with a Selfie Alarm mode?

Filed under: Cellphones, Cameras, Samsung

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Source: Samsung

30
May

Motorola to close its Moto X plant in Texas by the end of the year


Motorola became part of a growing trend when it opened a plant in Texas to build its flagship Moto X, but just a year on, its now decided to shut down its US manufacturing operations. According to The Wall Street Journal, employee numbers have plummeted from nearly 4,000 when it was in full swing to only 700, and the plan is to close the factory by the end of the year. Motorola’s intention was to offset the inherently higher cost of manufacturing in the US, compared with places like China, by being able to get handsets to customers quicker, and manage the Moto Maker customization process on home turf. But, despite churning out 100,000 Moto Xs a week at one point and progressively making the handset cheaper, the ‘born in the USA’ vision hasn’t paid dividends.

Motorola’s in ownership limbo at the moment, as Google has essentially sold the smartphone-maker to Chinese company Lenovo, but the deal is yet to be fully executed. Motorola President Rick Osterloh told the WSJ “the decision to close the plant was independent of the planned sale,” which isn’t hard to believe given Lenovo is one of the champions of stateside manufacturing. It has a PC plant in North Carolina, and like Motorola, believes there’s a competitive edge in being close to your customers and able to customize and ship computers quicker. Perhaps, then, there’s scope for Motorola to return to the US under Lenovo’s leadership. The Moto X will continue to be made elsewhere, and with Moto Maker being one of the main attractions of the handset, we imagine this’ll still be available on the next edition of the X due this summer, even if it takes much longer to ship.

Beyond what it means for Motorola as a company, the fact it’s had to pull the plug on its US plant after such a short time raises much bigger questions about the viability of manufacturing electronics in the US. Last year, the company convinced us it was going to make it work, so how long before others begin changing their tune as well?

Filed under: Cellphones, Mobile, Google, Lenovo

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Source: The Wall Street Journal

30
May

What’s on tap for Apple at WWDC 2014


It’s that time again, folks — geeks from around the globe (us included) are getting ready to descend on San Francisco’s Moscone Center for WWDC 2014. Once those doors open and the keynote starts, we’ll get to peek at the future of computing the folks in Cupertino have cooked up… though what exactly we’ll see remains veiled in secrecy. You can bet the show will be heavy on the software (like new versions of iOS and OS X), but if we’re lucky, a few hardware announcements should keep us all on our toes. Here’s a quick look at what we think Apple will (and might!) show off during its June 2nd address.

iOS 8

Those of you expecting a dramatic redesign like last year’s leap to iOS 7 will be disappointed. From what we’ve seen and heard, expect iOS 8 to be a refinement of the software already running on your phone, a sanding down of rough edges paired with a smattering of new features. Right now, the biggest of those additions might be meant to get you in better shape. 9to5Mac published images of Healthbook in March, and they depict a Passbook-esque interface dedicated to tracking and displaying your vital stats, from heart rate to blood pressure to activity. It’s not exactly clear where Apple is going to pull all this data from — an iPhone could give you a decent guess at your activity levels, but it’s not going to track your oxygen saturation or blood sugar without some additional hardware. Is Apple hinting at what its new iPhones will be capable of tracking? Maybe, but it may also signal a platform play where Apple draws on information collected by gadgets like the Fitbit or the Withings Pulse.

With any luck, Siri is going to get smarter too. It used to be that Siri could only peer into your apps and fire them up if Apple inked a deal with the companies that made them, but a report from The Information claims Apple is working on getting its virtual assistant to “understand” what those apps do so it can respond to your requests more substantially. A mobile payments system may be in the cards too if the Wall Street Journal is to be believed — Apple SVP Eddy Cue has apparently been taking meetings with tech industry bigwigs and talking about the company’s “interest in handling payments for physical goods and services on its devices.”

And then there are the slightly less consequential bits. Apple Maps may finally get a shot in the arm with improved support for walking and transit directions. Split-screen multitasking is reportedly in the cards for the iPad (though it may not be ready in time for the show), and iOS 8 will probably come with new TextEdit and Preview apps. Facebook just started bringing TV and music audio recognition to iOS and Android, but Apple’s reportedly teaming up with Shazam to bring similar audio smarts to iTunes.

OS X “Syrah”

After all that, you’d expect the changelog for the new OS X (codenamed “Syrah”) to be equally lengthy. It probably will be, but the only thing that seems like a lock right now is the facelift Apple has given it. Don’t give in to the hysteria: the next OS X update probably won’t look too much like iOS, though 9to5Mac reports that Apple has indeed worked to unify some of the design language across Apple’s devices. (Chill, the image above is just a mock-up by artist Danny Giebe.) That means we should be in for a flatter, more open-feeling OS X with plenty of white space replete with all the desktop niceties (the Finder, Mission Control) we’ve grown so used to. For a company whose products get outed by sources and supply chain trolls on the regular, it’s a welcome surprise to see that OS X’s new look will be a, well, surprise. For now, anyway.

Where’s all the hardware?

Despite what the name sort of implies, WWDC isn’t just about the software. Apple always trots out a few new gewgaws at the show each year — last time we saw the introduction of the dramatically redesigned Mac Pro, along with a batch of refreshed MacBook Airs… which were tweaked again just a few weeks back. Rumors abound of a much-anticipated Retina MacBook Air that’ll finally bring eye-searing screen resolution to all of Apple’s portables, but take that with a grain of salt.

A bit of poking around in the latest OS X Mavericks beta software revealed references to three new iMac models — a juicy tidbit that only seems juicier when you consider the slipping ship dates for iMacs on Apple’s online store. All signs seemed to point to new iMacs at the show, but über-connected Apple pundit Jim Dalrymple quickly shot down rumors of a low-cost model taking the stage. Sorry, folks.

There’s just a flicker of hope that some fresh Macs will appear, but how about some new iDevices to go with them? Don’t hold your breath. There’s just about no way Apple is going to pull back the curtain on a next-generation iPhone with the 5s (unveiled eight months ago) still so visible in the rearview mirror. That said, some analysts are foretelling the announcement of an even cheaper 8GB iPhone 5s meant for developing markets — we’ll soon see how good their crystal balls (err, supply chain analyses) are. Our hunch? Not good. At this point, there’s a half-decent chance that Apple won’t show off any hardware at all — TechCrunch is betting that’s the case exactly.

A home invasion?

Yeah, this one came out of the blue, didn’t it? A recent report from the Financial Times purports that Apple is preparing to trot out a connected-home system… or at least a set of guidelines that it wants some manufacturers to stick to. In short (and as Gigaom reported), Apple may just want home gadget makers to commit to Bluetooth-enabled voice control and connecting devices over a WiFi network. In exchange, those manufacturers would get an Apple certification, and everyone goes home happy.

It’s unclear whether or not Apple even plans to craft any of its own home-friendly hardware, but it’s hardly a surprise to see the company trying to wrangle players in the space. After all, Apple Stores already stock their fair share of internet-of-things goodies and analysts only expect the demand for devices that enable that sort of connected life to grow. We’re hoping against hope that Apple is pulling a pump fake to draw attention away from a meatier announcement, but our inner pragmatists are expecting to be vindicated.

Which WWDC prediction are you most excited about?

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30
May

TrueCrypt development stopped amid a cloud of mystery


TrueCrypt development stopped amidst a cloud of mistery; it may resume

Last Wednesday the SourceForge page for popular open-source disk encryption software TrueCrypt started recommending the use of BitLocker on Windows instead. Visitors were told that the application was “not secure” anymore. Of course, social networks exploded with speculation, with people claiming the page was hacked or that the government, using a National Security Letter, might be requesting “changes” on the software. The truth is much more mundane: a developer of TrueCrypt confirmed to Reuters that it had been shut down out of boredom. Security researcher Steve Gibson said that after 10 years of work, the developers simply got tired of the project.

People who have used TrueCrypt over the years are baffled by the sudden stop in development and claims of insecurity. No known security holes exist, but the folks behind the initiative feel since the project won’t be updated anymore, it’s better find an alternative. At this point, if a bug is found, it’s safe to assume it will not be patched — no matter how serious it is.

All of this went down in the midst of an independent audit to ferret out potential vulnerabilities in TrueCrypt. The good news is that the audit will continue unabated. And, if legal issues with the license can be sorted, a new team will take over development instead of creating a “fork,” or a separate project based on the same core code. Unfortunately, the current license that TrueCrypt is distributed under forbids the creation of a commercially available fork. Matthew Green, a cryptography professor from Johns Hopkins University, is leading the effort to restart development on TrueCrypt. He doesn’t want to commit to the creation of a new version just yet, though work should continue once (and if) the licensing issues are resolved.

If you’re currently using TrueCrypt, you probably shouldn’t panic. We’re not exactly security experts, but its’ probably safe to continue using it until some security issues are found. Though, you should probably start looking for a backup plan.

Filed under: Software

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Source: Reuters

30
May

Walter Isaacson: Steve Jobs Would Have Supported Beats Acquisition [Mac Blog]


Walter Isaacson, known to the Apple community for his authorized Steve Jobs biography, believes the Apple co-founder would have approved of Apple’s acquisition of Beats. Isaacson shared his thoughts on the Beats deal during a CNBC interview earlier today (via Fortune).

iovine-jobs-u2
Isaacson points to the close relationship between Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, both of whom shared a similar appreciation for music.

Isaacson argues that Jobs and Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine and Jobs had bonded over their shared love of music, and that Jobs would have been interested in adding Iovine’s “cool” factor to the company. “I think Jimmy is the greatest talent spotter now in the music and content business, so it feels like part of the DNA of Apple.”

Before the acquisition was announced, Isaacson speculated that Iovine was Apple’s real target, bringing the veteran producer on board to head up the Cupertino company’s content business. Isaacson said Iovine could “help Apple launch the TV product that analysts have been gossiping about for years,” by using his influence in the media business to negotiate content deals. During an interview at the Code Conference earlier this week, however, Iovine noted that he has enough on his plate with music and has no plans to become involved in television negotiations.

Iovine has a long history with Apple, helping Steve Jobs sign deals with music labels in the early days of iTunes and working with Apple and U2 on a special edition iPod. Before the launch of Beats Music, he also pitched the idea of a streaming music service to Apple, but neither Steve Jobs nor Tim Cook was interested at the time.

Upon completion of the acquisition, Iovine and Dr. Dre will join Apple while the Beats team will work under the guidance of Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services.



30
May

Radio Shack offering Samsung Galaxy S5 for $79 with trade-in


Galaxy_s5-sale-radioshack

RadioShack on Friday announced its lowest price to date for the Samsung Galaxy S5. For a limited time the flagship smartphone will be sold for $79.99 to those who trade in an eligible working smartphone on the Trade & Save program.Normally priced at $199.99, this is a pretty tough deal to pass up. In addition to the handset discount, customers can also save on accessories; Otterbox and Mophie are $10 off and PointMobl screen protectors are $5 off.

RadioShack

The post Radio Shack offering Samsung Galaxy S5 for $79 with trade-in appeared first on AndroidGuys.

30
May

Scientists extract clean water from cow pies


Plummeting Price Of Milk Leaves Dairy Farms Struggling For Profit

The planet’s 1.5 billion cows are (innocently) an environmental scourge thanks to the copious amounts of horrible greenhouse gases they disgorge. Scientists from Michigan State U have flopped that around, however, and figured out how to turn the resulting manure into something good for the planet: fresh water. By running the poop through a so-called anaerobic digester and reverse osmosis system, they got pure H2O out the other side. The average bovine produces about 10,000 gallons of “raw materials” a year and scientists can transform at least half of that into water (the other half becomes energy and fertilizer). The final product is intended for livestock and not human consumption, but maybe all it needs is some good marketing.

Filed under: Science, Alt

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Via: Yahoo

Source: Michigan State University

30
May

The Engadget Podcast is live at 12pm ET!


Ben and Terrence are back in good ol’ NYC and they’ve got the one and only Edgar Alvarez in the studio with them! Obviously, the big news this week is that Apple snatched up Beats, which means we’re probably only a few days away from watching an awkward exchange between Tim Cook and Dr. Dre live on stage! So click on through for your weekly dose of gadget news (and a super caffeinated Terrence).

Filed under: Meta, Apple

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30
May

NASA uses smart sandals to stop astronauts cheating their exercise routines


Astronaut weightlifting on the ISS

A happy byproduct of zero gravity is an astronaut’s ability to totally fake a power-lifting session. (Oh gosh this barbell is so heavy, Houston, do you copy?) Then again, given the rate at which the human body loses bone and muscle strength in a weightless environment, such cheating would almost certainly backfire. NASA has therefore decided equip its space travelers with Xsens ForceShoes, aka smart sandals, to ensure that each crew member is getting their necessary 2.5-hour daily dose on the agency’s dedicated Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED). The sandals can wirelessly report back torque and load forces at various points on the wearer’s foot — enough data to monitor whether dead lifts, squats and even bicep curls are being performed wholeheartedly. Then again, we should probably point out that none of this is official. NASA is publicly saying that the deployment of ForceShoes is merely to “validate the technology,” and it is unrelated to the recent outbreak of laziness aboard the ISS.

Filed under: Transportation, Science

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Via: CNET

Source: NASA

30
May

AT&T Announces the Galaxy S5 Active, Even Comes in Camo



The Galaxy S5 Active, the even more ruggedized version of Samsung’s flagship device, has now been made official by AT&T. In typical Active fashion, the S5 Active offers up a bit more protection than its brother. The onscreen buttons are replaced with 3 physical buttons. The outer chassis is toughened up with bumpers across the top and bottom.

Samsung Galaxy S5 ActiveAs far as specs are concerned, it offers up the same internals as the standard S5, but does remove the finger print scanner from the equation. It is available in the Ruby Red color, pictured above, a Titanium Gray and Camo Green. It will set you back 200 on contract or a whopping $715 at full price. Using the AT&T Next 12 it would be $35.75 a month and with Next 18 you would be looking at $27.50 a month. As an additional little perk though AT&T is kicking $50 off the Galaxy Gear Fit if you buy andS5 Active. Looking at the main AT&T page, they also have a nifty banner on the device offering up a $50 Google Play Gift card too.

Galaxy S5 Active Gray Galaxy S5 Active CamoAnyone out there planning to pick one of these bad boys up?


Source: AT&T Via: AndroidPolice

 

 


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