Since Virgin Media and Sky extended their partnership by another five years, cable subscribers have been able to enjoy additional perks, like being able to use Sky’s sport and movie apps. From today, some Virgin customers will gain an additional benefit from a Sky-owned company: free access to 22,000 WiFi hotspots across the UK. It comes from The Cloud, by way of a separate agreement, which lets mobile customers use Virgin’s WiFi Buddy app to connect to its access points, on top of the 3,000 public Arqiva hotspots located in some of Britain’s biggest airports and hotels.
The app comes pre-installed on Virgin Mobile-branded handsets, but you’ll need an Android device to take advantage of the service as it’s currently not available on iOS or Windows Phone. There’s no word on whether cable customers will be extended the same privileges in the future, but Virgin Media does now provide free WiFi access in more than 150 Tube stations — useful, but only when you’re in London.
Source: WiFi Buddy (Google Play)
When you’re making a movie based on one of the biggest stories in recent years, and centered around one pretty normal-looking data administrator, really got to get the casting right. Maybe Oliver Stone’s pulled it off. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who you might remember from well, all these movies, will be playing Edward Snowden in the director’s forthcoming movie. In case you forgot why, Snowden leaked a whole lot of classified documents in 2013, which lead to widespread criticism over the NSA’s data-gathering methods – from world leaders and Joe Internet alike. The screenplay is based on two books: The Snowden Files by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena, which points to a substantial amount of screen time for whoever plays the whistleblower. The movie goes into production in January next year.
[Image credit: John Sciulli/Getty Images, AFP/Getty Images]
Filed under: Internet
Sure, CGI has come a long way. But there’s still something magical about practical special effects in films. At Engadget Expand, we got a close look at some of the most intriguing work from animatronics expert Mark Setrakian. You’ve probably seen his stuff: He created the tiny, head-mounted alien that delivered some crucial plot information to Will Smith in Men in Black. He specializes in creating complex animatronics that appear surreally lifelike. (He particularly enjoys building terrifying robotic hands.)
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For that iconic Men in Black scene (02:07 in the clip above), Setrakian said he created an eight-foot-tall cockpit to house the two-foot alien, which was controlled by five puppeteers. Note the attention paid to the alien’s heavy breathing and it’s life-like eyes. Setrakian also ended up voicing the alien.
“They just don’t make puppets like this anymore,” he said in a conversation with Engadget editor Mat Smith. “We were on the cusp of when CGI was starting to make it into films.”
His work also includes creatures for the Hellboy films, Lady in the Water, and Pacific Rim, although more recently, he’s focusing on creating humanoid robots. For example, he built the freaky dancing robot installation Female Figure together with the artist Jordan Wolfson. That’s a particularly haunting piece, because it’s at once human and alien. Even more impressive, he programmed all of the robot’s dance movements by hand — no motion capture involved.
When Amazon announced that it was extending Prime subscription perks to include unlimited photo storage, the online retailer continued its tradition of making features available to US customers only. While we’ve been made to wait longer for other products and services, the company today saw it fit to open the service to us Brits, allowing you to upload your entire photo library (in full resolution) to its cloud. Amazon lets you upload your images one of three ways; via the web, using its iOS or Android apps, or by downloading its dedicated PC app (a Mac app is on its way). You’ll then be able to view them using Amazon’s Fire TV, console apps and selected smart TVs — perfect for when the in-laws arrive at your door unannounced and you need to provide some quick entertainment.
Source: Amazon Prime Photos
Maybe third time‘s the charm. Sony’s first Android Wear device is smartwatch number three, and it’s gone on sale today, priced at $250. There’s no circular screen, but there is a healthy does of IP68 waterproofing and a built-in GPS. Features like this could make the SmartWatch 3 arguably the most outdoors-friendly of the Wear crowd, even if its relatively meek design doesn’t turn that many heads.
Source: Google Play
Don’t count on AT&T to make faster in-flight internet, as the carrier has just announced that it’s no longer working on a Gogo competitor. Ma Bell first revealed its plans to develop an air-to-ground network that has comparable speeds to LTE in April this year. Unfortunately, the company’s execs have changed their minds after reviewing their investment portfolio and cutting next year’s budget by 14 percent. Travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt also said that one possible reason why the company decided to drop its in-flight WiFi plans is because most airlines are locked into long contracts with Gogo and other providers.
Spokesperson Fletcher Cook told the press in an email that AT&T’s focusing its capital “on transformative investments, such as international and video” instead. Wondering what those “international and video” projects are exactly? While the company didn’t specify anything, it recently got the ball rolling on a $2.5 billion deal to purchase Mexican telecom Iusacell, and it’s been seeking approval from officials to buy DirecTV for $48.5 billion for a long time now. In addition, AT&T teamed up with the Chernin Group earlier this year to launch an online video platform and a service that offers on-demand TV channels, though we’ve yet to see either at this point in time.
[Image credit: GETTY/dell640]
Source: Runwaygirl Network
Authorities can’t keep the entire Pirate Bay crew under lock and key, it seems. Just days after the arrest of Fredrik Neij, Peter Sunde has been released from prison; he spent only five months behind bars rather than the originally intended eight, albeit in a high security wing. Sunde is focused primarily on “sleep, eat and travel” at this stage, so it’ll be a short while before we know exactly what he does next. However, media executives probably won’t have reason to panic any time soon. He was pouring most of his energy into legal services like encrypted chat (Heml.is) and micro donations (Flattr) before the police caught him, and it’s likely that he’ll pick up where he left off.
[Image credit: SHARE Conference, Flickr]
– Peter Sunde (@brokep) November 10, 2014
Filed under: Internet
Belkin is no stranger to home automation, introducing several products in that vein through its WeMo line. We already put the company’s Crock-Pot through its paces, and now there’s a WiFi-enabled coffee option, too. The Mr. Coffee smart coffee maker brews 10 cups of joe, controlled from the handy WeMo app on a phone or tablet. Using the mobile software, you can schedule brewing, monitor its status, turn the unit off/on and get alerts when it’s time for a proper cleaning. It also boasts Optimal Brew tech that’s said to brew faster while packing in more flavor (we’ll be the judge of that). If you’re itchin’ to get the coffee going before you roll out of bed in the morning, the $150 kitchen gadget is available now. Of course, if money’s no object, and you have serious caffeine habit, there’s a semi-automated pour-over option that we’re a bit fond of.
Filed under: Household
We were well aware it was coming, but today Microsoft finally says goodbye to Nokia branding for its Windows Phones. The first handset to omit the Nokia name is the new Microsoft Lumia 535, an entry-level device with two standout features: A 5-inch display and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. Microsoft says it’s been designed as an alternative to the smaller Lumia 530, and will be targeted primarily at markets like Russia, India, China and other parts of Asia. It will also see a launch in Europe (including the UK) sometime in the future, but currently, we’re told there are no plans to release the phone stateside.
Although Microsoft ranges a bunch of Lumia devices with sizable displays, most of these are aimed at the top end of the market. The Lumia 535 is intended to fill something of a hole in its current line-up, being a more affordable smartphone that still has a decent-sized screen to poke at. The 5-inch AMOLED display is hardly worth bragging about, though, as it offers a miserly resolution of 960 x 540. Microsoft claims to have paid special attention to outdoor readability, and while our initial impression of the panel’s color temperature is favorable, the low pixel count is pretty hard to ignore.
The front-facing 5-megapixel camera includes a wide-angle lens with a 24mm focal length, just like the Lumia 730/735. It sounds like could be the perfect phone for selfie addicts on a budget, but the couple of shots I took during my brief time with the device seemed pretty average. Images appeared to come out dull, even in a well-lit room, but I was viewing them on the handset’s low-resolution display, so perhaps that had something to do with it. Microsoft was showing off prototypes with pre-final software, too, so it’s possible image processing will be improved.
The Lumia 535 runs on a 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor, with 1GB of RAM and a 1,905mAh battery. There’s 8GB of onboard storage, coupled with a microSD card slot for up to 128GB of extra capacity. The device is also 3G-only, which is understandable given it’s aimed at people who are unlikely to have a 4G data plan. The main camera is also a 5-megapixel affair, but with an LED flash, and like all Lumias, there will be several color options: Green, cyan, orange, black and white. These back plates are interchangeable and Microsoft will be offering flip covers in matching shades for those that like to give their handset a little extra protection.
The handset’s design doesn’t stray far from the typical Lumia formula, boasting a matte or gloss plastic back, rounded sides and softened corners. It sits comfortably in the hand and the button placement on the right-hand side — volume rocker up top and power button underneath — should suit right-handers’ thumbs perfectly. As for the Microsoft branding? It’s… fine. The logos are small and unobtrusive, especially on the front. It feels strange to pick up a Lumia without Nokia’s logo, but it’s a sensation I suspect everyone will get used to pretty quickly.
Microsoft says the Lumia 535 will launch later this month in Asia-Pacific territories, with Russia, India and China at the top of the list, ahead of Africa and Europe. The handset will sell for roughly €110 excluding taxes (around $135), although the price will vary between countries.
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Come comment on this article: TalkAndroid Daily Dose for November 10, 2014