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Sony teases “something golden” for next week


Next week, Sony’s Xperia line will be joined by a new device. The company released a teaser this morning on its social media accounts, hinting that a new Xperia model is coming on August 3.

Either Sony is releasing an entirely new device in gold or a gold-colored model of an existing Xperia phone is on the way. Chances are this is not the upcoming Xperia Z5. That phone will likely be announced in September.

Source: Sony Xperia (Twitter)

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Google Hangouts is getting new invitation settings


Google Hangouts is getting new invitation settings to make sure it’s as easy as possible for users to communicate. Once the features are enabled friends with your verified phone number or email can get in contact with you directly.

The update should be out by the end of today as long as you have the newest version.

google hangouts invite settingsSource Jordanna Chord (Google+)


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Watch Lollapalooza sets from Alt-J, Metallica and more this weekend

2015 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival - Day 2

The time has come once again for some of the biggest acts in music to visit Chicago for the three-day live-music extravaganza known as Lollapalooza. If you’re not making the trip, or just prefer to enjoy music festivals from your comfy sofa, is once again livestreaming select performances from the event. Starting this afternoon at 3:15 PM ET (2:15 PM CT/local time), catch artists on stage as the festival rolls through Sunday evening. During the course of the event, expect to hear tunes from the likes of Alabama Shakes, Gary Clark Jr., Metallica, Paul McCartney, Of Monsters and Men, A$AP Rocky and more via the stream. You can stream the festivities on the web or tune in with your Amazon Fire TV/TV Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku and a range of mobile devices.

[Image credit: Erika Goldring/WireImage]

Filed under: Misc, HD




App maker Nextbit wants to build smartphones that ‘stand out’

Earlier this week, mobile software startup Nextbit revealed that it’s about to launch its first smartphone. The move comes as no surprise — it’d be silly for a company to hire Scott Croyle, HTC’s former head of design, just to work on some cool continuity software on Android, right? We caught up with Nextbit CEO Tom Moss at Hong Kong’s RISE conference and learned that not only will Foxconn be manufacturing the phone, but the design will “easily stand out” from the crowd.

Moss, who was in charge of Google’s Android business development from 2007 to 2010, said the first device will be very focused on solving pain points and improving the entire experience through cloud technology — some of which may be monetized from power users. As to what features we can expect, we imagine they will be something along the lines of Nextbit’s app continuity technology and virtual limitless storage, though Moss wouldn’t confirm. Likewise, the exec was mum on whether it’ll run CyanogenMod or a different Android ROM, despite the fact that he is a founding board member of Cyanogen Inc.

“There is a shift happening where the new high-end for Android is $300 to $400.”

But one thing’s for sure: Much like the flagship phones from Xiaomi and OnePlus, Nextbit is aiming for the same “affordable premium” space to offer great specs for a reasonable volume with its Foxconn-made device. “There is a shift happening where the new high-end for Android is $300 to $400 (off-contract). That’s where there are Android consumers who are willing to spend more money for a higher-spec phone, but they’re not willing to give in the extra $300 on fashion brands that iPhone consumers do.”

The exec went on to explain that Apple has pretty much dominated the higher price tier, even though spec-wise the iPhones may be inferior to their Android counterparts, which proves his point on how it’s more about the experience. While Samsung manages to maintain some volume in that same space, it also spends billions of dollars in marketing each year to get there. Other mobile giants such as HTC and LG have also struggled recently, and given their scale, they simply can’t afford to cut prices.

“At that price point, Android devices just can’t sell, period. That price band should be off-limits for Android users.”

Moss wasn’t afraid to admit that Nextbit’s new business model has taken a page out of Xiaomi’s book: cut out the middle man, actively engage with users and deeply integrate services. On the stage at RISE, the CEO added that Nextbit’s first phone won’t be headed to a US carrier, as it would otherwise cost about $4 to $5 million more for the testing and certifications, not to mention that it would take an extra six to nine months to get to market as well.

“It’s a great fucking phone, I promise. It’s my personal guarantee.”

Ironically, it was the same stage where Kirt McMaster, CEO of Cyanogen Inc., openly criticized Xiaomi of copying Apple. “If you look at what Xiaomi does, they just rip off Apple and make a semi-modified version of Android, there’s really not a lot of innovation happening there.” Hugo Barra, VP of International at Xiaomi, has repeatedly responded to such accusations by suggesting that Apple copied HTC’s design, aka the work of Scott Croyle, who is now working with Cyanogen’s founding board member at Nextbit. The circle is complete.

Just before we parted ways, Moss reminisced about seeing the first public reaction on the T-Mobile G1, the first commercially available Android phone, after working tirelessly on it. The jolly exec hopes to evoke a similar emotional feel when the Nextbit phone is released, and yes, he may even be shedding tears of joy that day.

“Once you see it… I swear to god, you’re gonna fucking love it. It’s a great fucking phone, I promise. It’s my personal guarantee.”

Filed under: Cellphones, Mobile



Russia considers blocking Facebook over gay emojis

Vladimir Putin’s Russia doesn’t like Facebook and it doesn’t care for gay people, and the government is now attempting to censor both of these things in one fell swoop. Mikhail Marchenko, a Russian senator in the upper house of parliament, has called for his government to investigate whether Facebook emojis depicting two boys and two girls kissing violates the country’s 2013 ban on exposing “homosexual propaganda” to minors, Time reports. Russia’s Roskomnadzor (The Federal Service For Supervision of Communication, Information Technology and Mass Media) is investigating Marchenko’s concerns and is prepared to “take reactive measures,” the site says.

Roskomnadzor has asked the Young Guard, Putin’s main youth group, to form an “expert opinion” on the matter. In turn, Young Guard leader Denis Davydov says he will consult with professional psychologists to determine whether these emojis carry propaganda, according to Time.

There’s no word if Russia takes issue with similar emojis on Twitter or other prominent social networks. The Russian government is particularly miffed at Facebook right now, after one of Putin’s aides was censored on the website when he used an ethnic slur for Ukranians on his personal page. Meanwhile, Roskomnadzor is believed to have shut down more than 10,000 websites, threatened meme creators and censored social media pages. In 2014, it passed a restrictive blogger registration law that ultimately pushed Google and Intel out of the country. Where’s the love, Russia?

Filed under: Internet, Facebook


Source: Time


Here come the K-Cup drunks


My desire for a mechanized mixologist is as strong as an overproof rum. Much to my chagrin, and despite a long history of inventors toiling to perfect the drink-mixing machine, the practice is still largely the domain of human beings. That said, two Kickstarter projects are offering a new, more consumer-focused take on the “robot bartender.” Ladies and gentlemen, 2015 is the year of the “Keurig for cocktails.”

Like it or not, a pair of comparably practical, single-use kitchen appliances could crush my dreams of a humanoid mixologist. That is, if they can get it right. Just a few months after publishing a story about Somabar, a “robotic” bartender casually referred to as the “Keurig for craft cocktails,” I came across Bartesian, a cocktail maker that bites off the K-Cup concept, albeit with a more democratic approach.

Functionality is the main differentiator here and potentially the key to one automated barman’s success over another.

The prototype that Bartesian co-founder Bryan Fedorak showed me has the same general design concept as the Somabar. Both are flanked by refillable glass bottles (Somabar has six and Bartesian has four) containing key ingredients and both have a recessed front-and-center spout for dispensing liquids into the appropriate glassware. While they each have the unmistakable air of a kitchen gadget, Bartesian looks something like a KitchenAid mixer minus the paddle and bowl while Somabar has a more refined, cabinet-like appearance.

Functionality is the main differentiator here and potentially the key to one automated barman’s success over another. Somabar is targeting craft cocktail enthusiasts and amateur bartenders — people who, as I’ve pointed out, will likely be underwhelmed by its limited skillset. Meanwhile, Bartesian has its eye on a more casual consumer. As such, the process of procuring a drink is so easy you could teach a toddler to do it (you can thank me later for the awesome new party trick).
Where Somabar has an endless cocktail repertoire, a built-in social network for sharing recipes and a customizable smartphone app for remote control, Bartesian has a simple, three-button, step-by-step interface and is only capable of making six different drinks. Users choose from one of six capsules and insert them into the machine, which uses a barcode reader to add the corresponding liquor and water to dilute concentrated mixers. The machine then prompts you to select the appropriate glass and strength and boom! You’ve got a Cosmo.

Somabar relies on a well-stocked bar, requiring users to provide all of the ingredients for their drinks of choice. Bartesian only requires four basic liquors (gin, vodka, rum and tequila) and K-Cup-style capsules packed with concentrated mixers. Fedorak says they’re experimenting with new recipes, but will launch with three classics (Cosmopolitan, Margarita and Sex on the Beach) and three originals (Uptown Rocks, Bartesian Breeze, Zest Martini). Somabar may have a more robust menu, but if you’re looking to make the perfect martini, neither is going to deliver.

A drinksman needs a machine-made cocktail like a foodie needs a TV dinner.

Part of being a discerning drunk comes from the practice of painstakingly creating cocktails by hand. Somabar takes the shaker out of the hands of amateur bartenders, effectively eliminating the ritual and the sense of accomplishment of making the perfect drink. Bartesian, on the other hand, targets the type of weekend warrior who’s more concerned with getting twisted and far less with how they get there. A drinksman needs a machine-made cocktail like a foodie needs a TV dinner.

That’s not to say that Bartesian will be an overnight success. In our taste-test, the device malfunctioned, spraying the contents of the pods across our office bar. (Yeah, we have an office bar. You jelly?) According to Fedorak, those pods have been the most difficult part of the equation to nail down. It turns out, finding beverage-grade plastics that are flimsy enough to be punctured by the machine is no easy feat. And, while the company boasts all-natural ingredients in its repertoire of six different mixers (available for $20 for a pack of 12 capsules), existing brands like Stirrings already produce mixers that will get the job done without sending you into a diabetic coma.

Bartesian successfully funded its Kickstarter campaign with a final total of $115,846 earlier this month, but it still has a long way to go before it’s consumer friendly. And even then it could be a hard sell. Ultimately, you’re spending $299 to save yourself a shake or a stir. You have to ask yourself, how valuable is a flick of the wrist to you?

Filed under: Robots



Tesla’s autopilot mode will get two awesome new features

Tesla Sets Authorized Service Centers In China

Last fall, Tesla introduced an optional, semiautonomous “autopilot” mode on its Model S. Equipped with ultrasonic radar, the system can sense and avoid obstacles, other vehicles and even pedestrians. Hell, the thing even changes lanes for you with the flip of a turn signal. On Friday, Elon Musk revealed two new features that will do even more of the driving for you: highway autosteer and parallel autopark.

Highway autosteer will reportedly allow drivers to go long distances without ever touching the wheel or pedals. It’s literally autopilot for your Model S. Parallel autopark is, well, exactly what it sounds like. The software update should be rolling out in the very near future (Tesla has not yet confirmed a release date), just as soon as they figure out one last niggling issue:

Filed under: Transportation


Via: Business Insider

Source: Elon Musk (Twitter)


Take on your ‘favorite’ celebrities in Shooting Stars, a unique shoot em’ up

Noodlecake Games is known for some pretty quirky titles, including the Happy Jump series and Small Fry, but their latest title certainly takes the cake. Shooting Stars is a new shoot em’ up that puts you on a mission to rid the world of alien invaders. Alien invaders that just happen to be disguised as various celebrities including Justin Bieber, Kanye West, and countless others — though their names have been changed slightly such as calling Bieber by the name Bieleber and Kanye is referenced as Kanye East.

Here’s a full list of features, straight from the developer:

  • Over 20 “celebrity” bosses
  • Challenge your friends in a global and daily highscore battle
  • Collect up to 50 amazing ultimate attacks and superfoods
  • Stack superfoods for ultimate destruction
  • Two different game modes: Card Hunt and Daily Challenge
  • 16 beautiful collectible cards
  • Thrilling soundtrack with stunning sound effects
  • Weird and funny satire on pop culture
  • Every game will be totally different
  • Ride a freakin’ hoverboard
  • Achievements & Leaderboards
  • Rainbow Unicorn Approved

If you are looking for a super quirky shooter that basically pokes fun of celebrities and our Internet culture, you’ll definitely want to check this one out. Not only are there two different modes of play, there’s also highscore battles, and so much more.


While the majority of the developer’s other games are free to play, Shooting Stars is a premium app priced at $.99 and without a single in-app purchase in sight. Keep in mind that this current pricing is promotional, with the game set to go up to $2.99 after the launch sale ends in two weeks. For more details on what to expect, you’ll want to head on over to Google Play.

Buy now on Google Play!


Amazon Acoustics channels ‘MTV Unplugged’ for Prime Music

JJ Grey & Mofro Perform In Berlin

Exclusive content is all the rage these days when it comes to music streaming services, and Amazon has some new goods of its own. The retailer announced Amazon Acoustics today, a collection of unplugged performances from a variety of artists. As you might expect, the songs are only available for purchase from Amazon or streaming from Prime Music. And yes, Prime members get them at no additional charge. In terms of the artist lineup, there are originals and covers from JJ Grey, Train, Five For Fighting, Michelle Branch, Marc Roberge of O.A.R., Surfer Blood, Deer Tick and more for 32 total tracks.

Amazon Acoustics will offer folks who prefer the company’s music service an added benefit that subscribers are getting elsewhere. Spotify offers Spotify Sessions, for example, some of which are unplugged — like Miguel’s set. Of course, the likes of Tidal, Apple Music and others all have their own exclusives, looking to add a bit of extra value to the regular streaming libraries. Unplugged shows seemed to work out okay for MTV (most of which were released as full albums), so we’re curious to see what Amazon’s future releases offer.

[Image credit: Sebastian Reuter/Redferns via Getty Images]

Filed under: Portable Audio/Video, Internet


Source: Amazon


The Paralo PLAY aims to be an Android virtual reality headset for everyone


Paralo has started a Kickstarter project for its PLAY VR headset, aiming to be the virtual reality device for everyone. The device is $1500 out of $38,000 needed for funding, and has 28 days left to go.

PLAY aims to offer an easy user experience with a unique silicone unibody design. The VR headset works with most Android smartphones, allowing you to simply slide your device into the holder, and begin your virtual reality experience.

Paralo says that virtual reality headsets are either too expensive or are too cheap, flimsy, and easily breakable, referencing Google’s Cardboard VR headsets. The company aims to make the PLAY a happy medium: durable and affordable.


Unfortunately, Paralo doesn’t mention how PLAY is unique aside from the durability and affordability aspects. A big problem with virtual reality headsets is the low-quality software behind them, as we’ve seen with the Zeiss VR One and others. The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive might be expensive, but they certainly don’t skimp on offering high-end software.

While affordability is necessary to get VR into consumers’ hands, it’s not always the best course of action. As the old maxim goes, “you get what you pay for.”

source: Kickstarter

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