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Google teases Hands Free mobile payment system, will arrive later this year

Just yesterday Google announced its new Android Pay platform, which allows users to pay for products with their mobile devices without the need to open an app. The new mobile payment system isn’t slated to make its way to the public until sometime in Q3, but that’s not stopping Google from releasing yet another mobile payment system. The new system is called Hands Free, and it will begin testing in the San Francisco Bay Area sometime later this year.

So what is Hands Free? Well, we’re not exactly sure yet. The not-so-informative video (attached above) shows a bunch of people having a really difficult time paying for things the old, boring way. The end of the teaser shows a woman saying, “I’d like to pay with Google”, and the teller just hands over the customer’s items. We’re assuming this has something to do with your phone’s Bluetooth connection, though like I said, details are still pretty scarce at the moment.

Google explains:

When you make a purchase, your full card details will not be shared with stores. Once you complete a purchase, you’ll receive an instant notification right on your phone. We’ll also alert you to any unusual activity so you can go hands-free and be worry-free.

Since Google seems to be putting all of its eggs in the Android Pay basket, it seems unlikely that the company would roll out another mobile payment system. It wouldn’t surprise us if this mysterious Hands Free technology made its way to Android Pay, so users can have the option to pay via NFC or by vocalizing their payment method, like in the video.

Google is bringing Hands Free to McDonalds and Papa John’s at the start, with more partners to likely to jump on board later.


Google Now on Tap Demo at Google I/O 2015

Never autoplay videos


At I/O 2015, Google took the wraps off of the latest iteration of its OS, Android M. While the upcoming M release does not feature, or require, the aesthetic overhaul that was Lollipop, what it does bring to the table are a slew of enhancements and upgrades to Google apps and features currently available, with a large focus on ease of use. One great example of this is the further improved Google Search integration in Android, in the form of Google Now on Tap.

The basic idea behind Google Now On Tap is to get access to information when you need it, without having to leave what you’re doing to go into Search. Contextual awareness is the name of the game here, giving you the ability to take advantage of any assistance from Google, regardless of which app you have open on the phone, and what you are doing. This might seem a little confusing, but the examples mentioned below should allow for a better understanding of what purpose Google Now on Tap serves.


For example, say you’ve received an email from a friend who is asking about going out to a movie, like Pitch Perfect 2. While within the email application you’re using, Inbox by Gmail in this case, a simple long press of the home button will bring up a Google Now card with all the relevant information about the movie, such as its rating, cast info, and more. Also available are a list of apps to get even more information, in this case being IMDB and Flixster, as well as Youtube to directly watch a trailer of the movie.

Google Now on Tap is able to provide information on everything from people, places, movies, music, and more, or basically anything that Google can search for.

Functionality isn’t limited either, with Google Now on Tap able to provide information on everything from people, places, movies, music, and more, or basically anything that Google can search for. The list of apps that show up on these cards also vary, with Google attempting to predict what you’re next step will be, to help get to it much faster and easier. For example, when asked about a place while using the Viber app,  Google Now on Tap will once again pull up some relevant information about the location in question, with the list of additional apps including Google Maps for navigation, and Yelp and Trip Advisor to find out more about the place.

As far as which apps Google Now on Tap will work with, there isn’t really anything the developer has to do from their side, with the functionality built into Android M. As long as the application is indexed by Google, Google Now on Tap can be used. The same holds true for the additional list of apps that show up, and as long as the app is installed on your device, it will be listed if relevant to that scenario.


Of course, this works with voice search as well, with users being able to use the “Ok Google” voice command from any screen and any app on your phone. Google Now will then bring contextual awareness here as well. For example, if you’re listening to a band on Spotify, you can just say “Ok Google, who is the lead singer” and it’ll recognize the context of your search without you needing to mention the name of the band, and give you the answer you were looking for.

Google Now on Tap will be available with the upcoming Android M release in Q3 later this year. You can find out more about everything that Google announced during the keynote here.


Android M could introduce Multi Window to Android later this year

Usually associated with TouchWiz, Multi-Window is an incredibly useful feature whereby apps can be arranged on your Android device side-by-side. Android M is already set to introduce a ton of new features, and Multi-Window could be another one.

android m multi-window

It requires some tweaking and ADB commands to activate, but it is included in the Android M Developer Preview and appears to just be disabled, which means it could debut as an ‘offical’ feature closer to a final release.

It’s buggy, but you’ll be able to arrange two windows side-by-side on a vanilla build of Android M, so is definitely worth a try, and certainly increases the productivity appeal of something like the Nexus 9.

Head on over to Reddit for full instructions on how to activate it.

The post Android M could introduce Multi Window to Android later this year appeared first on AndroidGuys.


Popular Calendar App ‘Fantastical 2’ Coming Soon to Apple Watch [iOS Blog]

Flexibits, the developers behind the popular Fantastical 2 calendar app for iOS and Mac, today released a teaser suggesting the app will be expanding to the Apple Watch in the near future. A new page on the Flexibits website reads “It’s almost time” before transitioning over to the Apple Watch depicting a screenshot from the new app.

Little can be determined about the upcoming Apple Watch app from the screenshot, but it appears to have a clean design with a useful timeline-based calendar for tracking daily appointments and events. A Fantastical app for the Apple Watch will be a welcome addition, as Apple’s own Calendar app is limited in functionality.

Fantastical 2 is one of the premiere Calendar replacements available on Mac and iOS, popular for its simple interface, Reminders integration, and its ability to parse event entries based on natural language input.

Flexibits has not given information on a specific date, but in a tweet, the company says the app is “almost here.” As with all Apple Watch apps, the Fantastical app will be introduced through an update to the existing iPhone app.

Fantastical 2 for iPhone can be downloaded from the App Store for $4.99. [Direct Link]


Buyer’s Guide: Deals on iPad Mini 3, Retina iMac, Apple Accessories, and More [Mac Blog]

As we head into June, deals aren’t as good as they’ve been in past weeks, but there are still some decent discounts to be had. Best Buy is selling several of its iPad mini 3 models at a discount of $100 this week, and it’s also offering $100 off the 2015 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro with 8GB RAM and 512GB storage.

The 2014 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro is being sold at low prices following last week’s refresh, and older MacBook Air models are priced to sell. As always, we’ve also got some solid deals on Apple accessories and we’ve rounded up a list of apps you can get on the cheap.

iPad Air 2

Deals on the iPad Air 2 aren’t as good as they have been in past weeks, but Apple started offering refurbished iPad Air 2 models last week, so the company’s refurbished store is worth checking out if you’re looking to get a discount on a tablet.

B&H Photo is offering a small discount on most of its iPad Air 2 models, dropping prices by $30 to $50. With the discount, the 16GB WiFi only iPad Air 2 is priced at $459 and the 64GB model is priced at $549.99. Prices vary somewhat by model, but there are slight discounts to be had.

MacMall is also offering some discounts on iPad Air 2 models, dropping the prices by $30 to $50. With the discount, the 16GB entry-level Wi-Fi only iPad Air 2 is priced at $459, while the Wi-Fi-only 64GB iPad Air 2 is available for $569.
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Google’s Project Vault secures your devices with a microSD card

Hackers are getting more brazen and passwords are becoming huge of a pain as we keep signing up for services. Password managers help ease the pain of dealing with security over multiple sites and services, but for the most part, our computing lives are open to anyone with even marginal hacking skills. Google thinks it can fix that with Project Vault, a secure device that plugs into any system both desktop or mobile that supports microSD. The device runs its own ultra-secure operating system that’s partitioned from the rest of the host device with 4GB of storage for your most sensitive data.

The system runs a custom-built Real Time Operating System (RTOS) with a suite of cryptographic solutions for keeping data secure and messaging with friends or super-secret spies that also have Vault. Google wants it to be as user friendly as possible so the host does all the work without the users having to deal with configuring the device.

The company also showed off a security protocol that determines who you are based on your habits. It takes your input and creates a “Trust Score” as to how certain it is that you’re the owner of a device.

The card and system are still “very much in the experimental stage” with 500 seeded internally at Google. But, the source code for the system is available so developers can start delving into it.

Filed under: Desktops, Misc, Handhelds, Storage, Google


Source: Project Vault


Cooking with Watson: Swiss-Thai asparagus quiche


Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson is a collaboration between IBM and the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. Once a week, as part of an ongoing series, we’ll be preparing one recipe from the book until we’ve made all of them. Wish us luck.

Another week, another quiche. I can’t say I went into this one with high hopes after last week’s funky salmon number. But, at least there is no fish here. Instead you’ve got a dash of south-east Asian flavors, some asparagus and a buttery, flaky crust. This is pretty much a variation on the formula that produced Watson’s biggest success, the turmeric paella — combine the flavors of one region, with the presentation of another, and voilà! The Swiss-Thai asparagus quiche puts the flavors Thailand (and a hint of Greece) in an open-top custard pastry often associated with French cuisine. And once again, IBM’s cognitive computing efforts succeed in pushing its human chef interpreters to make something unique.


Like the Scandinavian salmon quiche, this recipe starts with an epic list of ingredients. And thankfully, like that recipe, almost all of them are incredibly easy to find. The only thing that might prove somewhat difficult is lemongrass. Though, if you live anywhere near an Asian specialty food store or supermarket you should be fine. Plus, there’s this thing called the internet, you might have some luck there.

This quiche also uses a different dough for the tart shell, called pate croustade. This is flakier and more buttery crust than the pasta frolla. It’s also much more fragile. I tore quite a number of holes in the dough while trying to spread it out to line my tart rings. This difference is partially due to the difference in the way the two doughs are constructed. Where as the pasta frolla used the “biscuit method” of cutting cold, solid fat into your dry ingredients (flour, salt, etc…), the pate croustade uses the muffin method, which relies on liquid fat — in this case, melted butter. Since “muffin” type doughs are mixed less there are larger, irregular pockets of fat left and gluten has less of a chance to take hold and create a tough crust. Biscuit doughs on the other hand rely on coating the flour granules in fat to inhibit the development of gluten bonds, which results in a more uniform texture.


Honestly, getting the dough right is the toughest part; everything else is pretty straight forward. Steep the lemongrass and coriander in some milk and strain it. Blanch the asparagus for 30 seconds in water until just cooked and then shock in ice to prevent them from over-cooking. Then you’re pretty much combining all your dairy, spices and eggs in a bowl, dividing it between the shells, topping with the asparagus and baking for 15 to 20 minutes.

Like I said last month, quiches are pretty easy.

I ended up with a lot of unwanted left overs when I made the Scandinavian salmon quiche. Not so with the Swiss-Thai asparagus ones. There were not many left overs to speak of, and they were very much wanted. In fact, I had a second one for breakfast the next day. Where as the combo of gruyere and fish turned off my taste testers last week, the slightly funky swiss cheese here was balanced out by the spice of the curry powder, the brightness of the lemon grass and the briny deliciousness of the feta. The flavor was almost refreshing, in fact… well, as refreshing as eggs baked in a pastry crust can be. Everyone took a beat after putting the first bite in their mouths, somewhat confused by the dance of flavors that Watson put together. But that pause quickly melted into pleasant surprise as bite after bite disappeared until there was no quiche left.


Swiss-Thai Asparagus Quiche

Pate Croustade

Scant teaspoon fine sea salt
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons warm water
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 egg yolks
All purpose flour, as needed for rolling
Butter, as needed for greasing ring molds

1. Thoroughly combine the salt and flour in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.

2. Separately, stir together the water and butter. Whisk in the egg yolks.

3. Add the liquid mixture to the flour in 3 additions, mixing to produce homogenous dough (it is normal for the dough to appear slightly rough and greasy at this stage).

4. Form the dough into a flat rectangle and wrap it in plastic film. Chill for 1 hour.

5. Take half of the dough (reserve other half in the freezer for future use) and roll it out on a flat, flour-dusted work surface to create 1/8-inch thick rectangle measuring 8X12-inches. Transfer the sheet of dough to the refrigerator and let it rest for 20 minutes.

6. Cut 4 circles from the dough, each measuring 5 inches in diameter, and carefully line the prepared 4-inch tart rings. Arrange the rings on a parchment-lined sheet pan.

7. Blind-bake the tarts in a preheated 320 degrees Fahrenheit oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the tart shells turn a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely.


½ stalk lemongrass, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
½ cup whole milk
½ cup leeks, white part only, rinsed and finely chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Fine sea salt, as needed
8-12 thin spears asparagus, woody base of stems removed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
Water, as needed
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
¼ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons plain whole milk yogurt
¼ teaspoon mild curry powder
Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup Gruyere, grated, divided
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped, divided

1. Combine the lemongrass, coriander seeds, and milk in a small saucepan and gently heat to a simmer. Remove from the heat and infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain the milk and cool, discarding the lemongrass and coriander.

2. Meanwhile, heat a small sauté pan and slowly sweat the leeks in the butter, adding salt to taste. Continue to cook until the leeks are soft, but not browned. Remove from the heat and cool.

3. Bring a small saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus pieces and blanch for about 30 seconds. Shock asparagus with cold water and drain.

4. Place the whole eggs and egg yolk in a bowl, whisking to combine. Add the infused milk, cream, yogurt, curry powder, black pepper, and additional salt to taste. Fold in the cooled leeks, feta, half of the Gruyere, and half of the chopped parsley.

5. Divide the quiche mixture among the baked tart shells (for best results, keep the shells in the tart rings during the baking process). Add several pieces of asparagus to each quiche and top with the reserved Gruyere.

6. Bake in a preheated 320 degrees Fahrenheit oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until set and very lightly browned.

7. Remove the quiches from the oven and cool slightly. Before serving, sprinkle the tops of each with the remaining chopped parsley.

This recipe and others can be found in Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson.

Filed under: Household



Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht sentenced to life in prison

Trial Of Online Drug Marketplace Silk Road Founder Ross Ulbricht Begins

Despite Ross Ulbricht’s emotional plea for leniency in court today, Judge Katherine Forrest has sentenced him to life in prison. He was facing a minimum of 20 years up to the maximum life sentence after he was found guilty of money laundering, narcotics trafficking and drug hacking. Under the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts,” Ulbricht was the czar of Silk Road, an online drug marketplace that netted him an $18 million fortune. It was anonymized by the Tor network and used Bitcoins to hide transactions.

Prior to passing sentence, the judge heard passionate pleas from both parties, with Ulbricht hoping Forrest would give him “a chance to redeem myself in the free world before I meet my maker.” Prosecutors, meanwhile, demanded a life sentence, calling him the “kingpin of a worldwide digital drug-trafficking enterprise” and pointing out that he tried to hire a hitman on multiple occasions.

[Image credit: Getty Images]

Filed under: Internet



Google’s Project Soli and Project Jacquard want to bring touch controls to everything

project soliGoogle has announced two new projects as part of ATAP. These two projects are called Soli and Jacquard, and they’re the first steps towards making everything in your life respond to touch touch gestures, like taps and swipes, just like your smartphone.

The thought behind these two initiatives is that our hands are incredibly versatile and easy to use. That part’s pretty obvious, considering they’re attached to our arms and we get plenty of practice twisting, turning, and manipulating objects every day. That’s part of the reason why smartphones and tablets have done so well, and why most new devices incorporate some kind of touch screen; they’re easy to manipulate, and it’s almost second-nature at this point.

With Project Soli, Google has developed small radar sensors that detect hand motions and gestures. These small sensors make your hand the interface, regardless of where you are. Simulating a twisting motion, like you’d do for a knob, could theoretically change your stereo’s volume, or simulating pushing a button could start your microwave without you actually having to touch the device. The possibilities for that kind of technology are enormous and could really revolutionize how we interact with objects in our day-to-day lives.

Project Jacquard is aimed at a more particular target, specifically clothing. Google already takes the wearable tech business seriously, but with Jacquard, they want to turn clothing into something that can be touched and interacted with like a smart device. Engineers have developed “smart yarn” that feels like any other kind of yarn your clothes would be made out of, but it can respond to touch and other gestures. The end goal is to shrink the components necessary for Jacquard down to the point where they’ll be small enough to seamlessly integrate (pun intended) into the manufacturing process for clothing.

While these are both very, very new technologies that won’t be hitting the mainstream anytime soon, there is a ton of potential from both projects. Google has been hard at work trying to incorporate their technology and software into every facet of our lives, and this is just the next step towards making that happen.

You can find the videos for both Project Soli and Project Jacquard below, and you’ll find the rest of our Google I/O 2015 coverage here.

Project Jacquard

Project Soli

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Project Vault is a security system on a microSD card


During day 2 of Google I/O 2015 the ATAP group showed off a number of new projects, including a unique new security device called Project Vault. At first glance, the Vault would appear to be nothing more than a typical SD card but there’s more here than meets the eye. Underneath the surface, the Vault contains its very own microprocessor running ARTOS, NFC for communication, and 4GB storage. As ATAP’s Regina Dugan puts it, “Project Vault is your digital mobile safe. Big security, small package”.

Thanks to its microSD form factor, the Vault works in just about any device with a microSD slot including computers, Android phones, Macs with SD slot adapters, and the list goes on. So what exactly does it do? In short, it allows secure storage no matter what, with no special drivers needed for the device it is plugged into. How the security works is obviously a bit more complicated, though in a demo ATAP showed off how Vault could be used to secure messages in a chat conversation by encrypting messages and providing extra layers of authentication. Bottom-line, Project Vault is a smart platform that uses various techniques to ensure the person accessing your important data and information is actually you.

As for when we’ll see Vault? No commercial plans have been revealed just yet, though ATAP says that it will be releasing the open source SDK from today and is aiming the project at the enterprise market at least for the time being. We’ll be sure to update you further as we learn more about this intriguing project.

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