Researchers from the Florida Atlantic University have developed a new type of soft bionic finger that can move like the ones on your hand. In order to come up with the most authentic-looking design, they downloaded a CAD model of the human digit and used a 3D printer to create squishy inner and outer molds. Inside, they placed two actuators made of shape memory alloys (SMA), which can “remember” and return to their original shapes even after they get bent or deformed, so long as they’re heated. The extensor actuator straightens up when heat is applied, while the flexor actuator curves — you can see an illustration of how they work in the image below the fold.
During the testing process, the team applied heat by passing electric currents through a conductor. However, that doesn’t mean that they have this all figured out already. According to team leader Erik Engeberg, assistant professor at FAU’s Department of Ocean and Mechanical Engineering, there are still “challenges with this technology such as the lengthy amount of time it takes for them to cool and return to their natural shape.” That’s why the team has decided that the technology will be used for underwater robots first, as the environment enables rapid cooling. It might not be coming to bionic limbs anytime soon, but you can read the team’s journal published on IOPScience.
The News app in iOS 9 is officially available only in the US, but you can still access stories when you’re traveling abroad… unless you’re visiting China, that is. A New York Times source understands that Apple has completely disabled News access in China, preventing you from reading anything new even if you’re using one of the country’s few uncensored connections on a US device. Apple hasn’t commented on why it’s switching things off, but the theory is that it would rather turn off News access altogether than deal with the many hassles of censoring individual sources and articles.
This kind of nation-specific deactivation isn’t new. Apple automatically disables Maps’ regular data when you’re in China, replacing it with government approved maps that blot out details of most other parts of the world. As software testing service head Larry Salibra notes, though, there are worries that Apple is a little too willing to automatically change features the moment you set foot in China, even if you’ve turned location services off. While the company’s current approach is arguably necessary if it wants to keep selling iOS devices in China (and it definitely wants to), the concern is that officials may ask Apple to selectively disable other apps that challenge the nation’s political status quo.
Source: New York Times
There’s no question that the Jolla Tablet is an odd duck. It’s a crowdfunded, first-generation slate running an unfamiliar platform (Sailfish OS), and some of its features are based on your input — if enough of the Sailfish community votes for an interface tweak, you’re likely to see it become reality. But does that mean this tablet is a refreshing break from the status quo, or a quirky device that will make you wish you’d bought something commonplace? I’ve been living with the tablet for a few weeks to find out, and the truth is somewhere in between. As you’ll soon see, whether or not you’ll like it depends largely on how willing you are to live on the bleeding edge. Slideshow-327635
Before I dive in, it’s important to get a feel for what Jolla is trying to do. Effectively, the team (founded by ex-Nokia staffers) is carrying the torch for fans of the late, iconic N9 smartphone and the MeeGo platform at its heart. Much like Jolla’s inaugural smartphone, the Tablet aims to preserve both Nokia’s reputation for slick hardware design as well as MeeGo’s reliance on swipes for navigation instead of the usual buttons. This isn’t a me-too manufacturer — Jolla is more interested in following its unique philosophy than reaching the widest possible audience.
The hardware, at least, lives up to that lofty goal. It’s not the thinnest or lightest tablet I’ve held at 8.3mm thick and 13.5 ounces, but it manages a level of quality that you don’t usually find in tablets around Jolla’s standard post-crowdfunding price (€267, or roughly $300), let alone something that cost Indiegogo backers a mere $239. The 7.85-inch, 4:3 aspect ratio LCD gives it just the right proportions for a small tablet, and the display’s output is bright, color-rich and sharp, with a pixel count of 2,048 x 1,536. It’s not something you’d want to use one-handed very often, but it’s comfortable and well-balanced. In other words, it won’t fly out of your hands if you grab it gingerly.
This attention to hardware quality translates to the performance, for the most part. While the quad-core, 1.3GHz Atom chip and 2GB of RAM aren’t anything special at first glance, I found both Sailfish OS and its native apps to be glass-smooth. The battery drains faster than I’m used to with some tablets (including my iPad Air), but it’s more than up to the job of handling an evening’s worth of web browsing, messaging and gaming. About the only letdowns are the 5-megapixel rear and 2-megapixel front cameras. Neither is especially sharp, and I was disappointed by their muted colors and dodgy low-light performance — they’re good enough for photographing receipts and selfies, and that’s about it. Although I wouldn’t treat the camera as a major deciding factor in a tablet, it’d be nice if I could take at least a few brag-worthy shots, you know?
It’s a tougher call when it comes to software. Sailfish OS and its swipe-based navigation are, as a whole, enjoyable to use. Flick your finger around the home screen, which doubles as a BlackBerry 10-style multitasking view, and you’ll get an app drawer, a notification screen with quick task shortcuts and “ambiences” (read: themes) that can change both the look and sound of your tablet. You frequently swipe through menus, too, including pull-downs that stand in for buttons. The overall package isn’t as immediately intuitive as Android or iOS, but there’s a refreshing, uncluttered feel to it and a surprisingly gentle learning curve. I quickly found myself zipping around Sailfish, and those swipes were helpful when I wanted to quickly switch apps or couldn’t use both hands. My only major beef is that Jolla tends to lean a little too much on those pull-down menus. I shouldn’t have to guess which important commands are hiding just off-screen.
However, there’s no question that Sailfish is still a young platform, with some buggy behavior to match. The web browser is very quick, but it will make the occasional rendering mistake you rarely see elsewhere, such as refusing to show story images on Engadget’s main page. It wouldn’t show me one Android app portal (more on this in a bit) until I reset the device, and I’ve never successfully updated the OS. I’m not expecting Jolla to produce flawless software so early into its life cycle, but these are the kinds of hiccups you’d expect a tablet maker to catch before it sends out review units. At least the company is good about releasing frequent patches, so there’s a chance these issues will be resolved by the time you read this.
Apps are another story altogether. Don’t get me wrong; the core apps are elegant and (outside of the quirks I’ve mentioned) by and large useful… it’s the third-party selection that falls short. The catalog of Sailfish-native apps is pretty threadbare, and there are some very conspicuous gaps. Good luck finding native Twitter or YouTube clients, folks. You’re more likely to find niche titles, like city-specific travel planners and ports of years-old MeeGo games. It’s understandable that Sailfish wouldn’t have as rich a catalog as its heavyweight rivals, but Jolla really needs to do a better job of getting the apps that people tend to use every day, like social networking clients.
Android app support isn’t quite the cure-all it’s made to be, either. Jolla offers easy access to three third-party Android stores (Aptoide, China’s AnZhi and Russia’s Yandex) that stock many of the apps you’d otherwise be missing, but the titles you get don’t always behave the way they would on a true Android tablet. Twitter’s app wouldn’t bring up the keyboard to let me write a new post, for instance (I had to download Plume), and games like Pac-Man 256 and Threes didn’t run as well as they should on the Jolla Tablet’s very capable hardware. Frankly, it was a chore to get enough functional apps that I could use my tablet for longer than it takes to visit a few web pages or check email.
And that last part is why the Jolla Tablet is more of a promising device than something I would recommend when someone asks for buying advice. The design is ahead of the pack in this category, and the software is at once intriguing and accessible. It’s easy to imagine Sailfish becoming mainstream at some point down the line. I can already see the appeal for tablet newcomers who have light demands, yet are willing to spend a little time wrapping their heads around the gesture-based interface concept.
However, Jolla will have to tackle the app deficit before it gets a breakthrough hit. There was more than one occasion where I asked, “Well, now what?” after using the tablet for only a short while — I’d already run out of things to do. That’s no good for a market where many simply assume that an app exists for whatever they need. While Android compatibility is a decent crutch in the short term, Jolla needs to attract enough native apps that this device appeals to more than just early adopters and first-timers. If that happens, the Jolla Tablet could easily live up to its potential.
The Nexus 10 was a great tablet and is still perfectly useable for the average consumer. Unfortunately, Google has decided not to update it to Android 6.0 Marshmallow. However, just because Google won’t update it, doesn’t mean you can’t.
Since this is a Nexus device, the updating process is a lot easier than it would be for other tablets. Dmitry Grinberg, the same person who posted instructions on how to install the Marshmallow update on the Nexus 4, has also posted instructions on how to install the Android 6.0 update on the Nexus 10.
If you don’t want or know how to do it yourself, he has also included a pre-built AOSP Marshmallow image that you can download. To see the full instructions, head over to his site.
Source: Dmitry Grinberg
Come comment on this article: Here’s how to install Android 6.0 on your Nexus 10
It’s Sunday, the time of the week when Talk Android brings you a report on some of the very best applications we’ve been using for the past seven days. Today we’re focusing our attention on a great budgeting tool, a fantastic podcast playback application, a world-class instant messaging service and, last but not least, an awesome travel companion.
Do you have trouble keeping track of your finances? If so, you should definitely take a look at the first app up this week. Monefy enables you to track your income and log your expenses giving you a clear picture of just how much you’re earning and spending each month.
Expenditure can be logged in categories, such as Bills, Car, Clothes, Communications, Eating Out, Entertainment and Food. If you find yourself spending a tad more than you’re earning, you can easily see where and reign it in if necessary.
Not only is Monefy extremely functional, but it also sports an attractive design. Everything is neatly positioned on one page, so you don’t have to search all over the application to find exactly what you’re looking for. If you want to add money you’ve earned, you click the ‘+’ button and if you want to log an expense, you click the ‘-’ button. That’s all there is to it.
To really get to grips with Monefy, it’s best to see it in action — so be sure to check out the gallery below.
If you’re a frequent podcast listener, you’re going to love Pocket Casts. This application lets you download your favorite podcasts for offline playback when you’re on the go. Alternatively, you can stream straight to your Chromecast for a louder experience.
Have you ever come across a podcast and its audio isn’t quite up to scratch? Me too. Thankfully, Pocket Casts makes this an issue of a bygone age as it features a multitude of integrated audio effects that work a treat. For instance, if the podcasters are talking too softly, you can easily give them a volume boost. Or if there’s too much background noise, simply use the silence removal tool.
One of my favorite features this service offers is backup and sync. This effectively enables me to push subscriptions, playback and filters between Android and iOS devices, thereby giving me the facility to start a podcast sitting at home on my iPad and resume from the same place on my Nexus 6 when I leave the house.
To see Pocket Casts in action, take a look at the promotional video below.
Our third application certainly isn’t new, but it recently received a major update that made it worthy of a place in this week’s edition. It’s pretty unlikely that you’re unaware of Skype’s functionality, but just in case you’re not, it’s an instant messaging application that allows you to either video call, voice call or send text messages to your friends or colleagues over Wi-Fi.
Now, however, the application has support for Android Wear, too. This means that users will be able to respond quickly to messages by speaking to their wrist, selecting an emoji or choosing a pre-written text response. Users will also have the facility to accept or decline calls, mute ongoing conversations or end an open call without having to touch a smartphone.
Be sure to take a look through the gallery below to get a feel for the Android Wear compatibility.
If you travel a lot for either work or pleasure, our fourth and final application up this week is a must. Expedia helps to alleviate the stress of what can be a very tedious task by permitting you to book flights, accommodation, transportation and even activities from either your smartphone or tablet.
Once everything is booked, and you’re set to go, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you won’t miss anything as Expedia sends push notifications to all of your devices reminding you when your flight leaves, what time you have to pick up the rental car and when you have to check-in to your hotel.
To see the application from all-angles, check out the gallery below.
Previous Apps of the Week editions:
Come comment on this article: Talk Android Apps of the Week: October 11, 2015
We last told you about the Motorola Moto X (2nd gen) and how it wasn’t going to be updated to Android 6.0 Marshmallow. However, that may not be the case anymore.
The Moto X (2nd gen) has received a bunch of new WiFi certifications all under “Operating System: Android, version:6″. Model numbers XT1097 (AT&T), XT1096 (Verizon), and XT1095 (Pure Edition) all have been certified. Since it’s listed under Android 6.0, it makes me think it might be getting the Marshmallow update after all.
Motorola hasn’t said anything about it, but this should give some hope to all the Moto X (2nd gen) owners out there. Android 6.0 might be coming your way in the future.
Come comment on this article: Marshmallow update coming to the carrier Moto X (2nd gen) after all?
Microsoft and Dell added a slew of new products to their portfolios this week. But those aren’t the only additions to the industry over the past seven days. Netflix added a dollar to the price of its popular streaming service and Verizon added $20 to its grandfathered Unlimited Data plan’s monthly fees while NASA dropped more than 8,000 Apollo-era images into Flickr for your viewing pleasure. If you’ve got a nose for numbers, check out the rest of this week’s After Math lineup.
Amazon’s latest 7 inch Kindle Fire tablet is one of the cheapest tablets on the market, coming in at just $50. It’s a pretty decent tablet, if you’re heavily invested in Amazon’s ecosystem, but lots of us like to have access to Google’s services on top of what Amazon offers. That’s almost always been possible on Amazon’s Fire tablets, but only for users that were willing to root their devices. The 2015 Fire Tablet, however, can use Google’s Play Services with absolutely no rooting required.
The drawback to this is that it’s not as simple as side loading an app and running it. You’ll need a Windows PC and a little bit of know-how to get your tablet properly connected, but once you’re up and running, all you’ll have to do is run a pre-made script then wait for your tablet to sync up with Google’s services.
This method will give you access to most things you’d find on a fully licensed Google tablet, including the Play Store and Gmail, although there have been issues reported with Inbox. Still, that means you can access Google’s wider app offerings and actually keep your Fire tablet synced up with your other Android devices, which is worth a little bit of trouble.
If you’re interested, follow the link to XDA below and follow the instructions.
Source: XDA Developers
Come comment on this article: Amazon’s cheap Fire tablet supports installing Google’s Play Store without root
Android fans, this week was all about Marshmallow. Google released Android 6.0 factory images for its Nexus lineup and kicked off a delightfully problem-free (so far) OTA rollout. All eyes are now on manufacturers – some, like Sony, have already come clean about the devices they plan to update to Marshmallow, while in the case of others, we have rumors and speculation. In other news, OnePlus began teasing the OnePlus X, amid increasing skepticism about its business model; Sony gave itself an ultimatum to fix its mobile business; the One A9 leaked again; and the Paranoid Android project was revealed to be all but dead.
Inside AA HQ
This week we began our little experiment with live broadcasting, and we’re happy to say we had some great reactions. Nirave unboxed his Xperia Z5 live on Periscope, and it’s just the beginning: expect more unboxings, Q&As, AMAs, and event impressions in the future. What’s all the fuss about? Sign up for Periscope and follow us to find out.
What’s coming up? HTC’s “hero smartphone” (which just leaked, again) is coming October 20. OnePlus wants a second chance with the OnePlus X, possibly coming as soon as next week. And, of course, the Nexus 5X and 6P are going to ship really soon. Stay tuned for our coverage.
Speaking of Nexus phones, this week we’re giving you the chance to win a Nexus 5X! Enter our giveaway to secure your sweepstakes ticket.
The stuff you shouldn’t miss
- Feature: Is the Nexus 5X worth its money? Simon lays down the arguments
- Impressions: Nirave bought a new iPhone (gasp!), and these are his impressions
- How to: Get the most of the Moto X Style (Pure) with these tips and tricks
- Review: Zuk Z1: it’s a brand new phone running Cyanogen OS, but how good is it?
- Comparison: The best of Android vs Apple: Galaxy S6 compared to the Phone 6S
- Tips: Android newbies, check out the top things you need to try on your Android device
Top news of the week
Marshmallow has landed…
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow factory images arrive for Nexus 5, 6, 7 (2013), 9 and Player
- How to manually install Android 6.0 Marshmallow on a Nexus device (Windows and Linux)
- The Android 6.0 Marshmallow Easter egg is another Flappy Bird-style game, with a twist
- (Update: OTA links for 8 devices) Marshmallow landing on Android One phones
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow – New features explained
…And now the wait begins
- Sony announces devices that will get Marshmallow, Xperia Z1 left out
- Which T-Mobile phones will get Android 6.0 Marshmallow?
- Check out Sony’s Marshmallow beta for Xperia Z3
- Marshmallow heading to the HTC One M8 GPE this month
- Samsung is working on Marshmallow for these devices
- First Nexus 4 Android 6.0 Marshmallow ROM already up
OnePlus: all eyes on the X
- A second coming: Is OnePlus going to launch a Mini too?
- Is OnePlus done? What next for the “Flagship Killer?”
- New OnePlus phone hits the FCC, may arrive as the OnePlus X
Sony: change is afoot
- Sony to hand over more control to its profitable image sensor business
- Sony weighing up options if smartphones are unprofitable next year
Look, it’s the One A9
Paranoid Android – RIP?
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Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week’s most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us — it’s the Week in Green.
What will the homes of the future look like? If this year’s Solar Decathlon is any indication, they will be self-sufficient, hyper-efficient and 100 percent powered by the sun. How about a home that grows all the food you need, so you never need to take a trip to the produce aisle? Or a super-durable disaster-proof house that’s strong enough to fight tornadoes and win? However, the coolest one might be this tiny home that can be emailed to a woodshop across the world, CNC cut and then assembled like a giant puzzle without a single nail.
We’ve seen buildings, bridges and furniture built from cardboard — so why not cars? This past week Lexus unveiled an electric car made from cardboard — and you can actually step inside and take it for a spin. Tesla just launched the Model X to rave reviews, but the automaker isn’t sitting on its laurels. Last week Elon Musk teased the company’s top-secret Model Y in a tweet — which he promptly deleted. And Toyota gave us a peek at the future of hydrogen vehicles with its brand-new FCV Plus concept.
Think 3D-printers are only good for making tiny figurines? Think again — this past week architects unveiled the world’s largest 3D-printed structure in Beijing, and it’s absolutely mesmerizing. Designers also came up with a 3D-printed bikini that cleans up ocean pollution, and a sweet shop in Berlin is now cooking up 3D-printed candy to order. In other news, green energy is on the rise — a new report shows that the world is on track to produce 26 percent of all energy from renewables by 2020. And Uncharted Play launched an awesome new energy-generating soccer ball that harvests electricity from the power of play.