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17
Mar

Want VR on a budget? Homido Mini clip-ons onto your phone and costs £15


There’s been an explosion of virtual reality – better known as VR – in recent months. But if the idea of PlayStation VR, Vive or Oculus sounds like an over-expensive pipe-dream then here’s a budget option: the Homido Mini.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen a budget entry point into VR. There’s Google Cardboard, the literally cardboard-made viewers that offer a way to utilise your phone with various 3D-VR apps.

READ: Google Cardboard review

Which is, in many respects, why the Homido Mini does such a good job: because VR apps are available in abundance on the Appstore and Google Play, so no need to pay a bunch of cash for fun gaming experiences.

The plastic contraption, which costs £15 and clips onto the side of a phone (we tried it with the iPhone 6S), doesn’t add the faff of additional layers – so, unlike Cardboard viewers, you’re not locked away from the phone’s touchscreen and controls to jump in and out of apps; you literally hold the phone and peer through the lenses and that’s it, job done.

Not that it’s a perfect product: it’s entirely exposed, so ambient light is all around you, but we actually found that rather freeing. Homido also makes a strapped-on overhead viewer, for £50, but after testing a rollercoaster title on that we felt sick as a dog – not so with the “open air” Mini experience.

So there we have it, in the year that promises to be the year virtual reality hits the big time, you might want to test the water first with the Homido Mini. It’s available from the company’s website only at present, until final packaged products hit store shelves later down the line.

17
Mar

Tag Heuer Connected doing well, new models reported for 2017


You might have up to eight different Tag Heuer Connected watches to choose from by this time next year.

Shortly after teasing Hublot would be the next Swiss watchmaker to get into connected watches, the CEO of France’s LVMH has announced that another subsidiary, Tag Heuer, is doing so well with its first Android Wear smartwatch that an entire collection of new models is due for 2017.

Speaking to Reuters at the Baselworld watch and jewelry fair, Jean-Claude Biver said Tag Heuer “totally underestimated demand” and was “too cautious” with the watch at first. The brand has invested about 10 million Swiss francs into Tag Heuer Connected, and that resulted in 15,000 units selling out quickly. It expects to sell up to another 50,000 pieces this year – and those will be assembled by an Intel line in Switzerland.

Tag Heuer made headlines in the tech world last year when it partnered with Google and Intel to unveil the Tag Heuer Connected. The $1,500 smartwatch costs around five times what the Moto 360 goes for and double what the the gold Huawei Watch costs. When we reviewed it, we described the wearable as a connected watch “packed with confidence and it works”, making it the best Android Wear device we had seen thus far.

Ben Wood, an analyst and chief of research at CCS Insight, tweeted from Baselworld that over 20,000 Tag Heuer Connected units have been sold, with a further 60,000 expected in 2016. Also, he said a new model will debut in 2017, and that Tag has a 200,000-unit target.

Indeed. Due to the success of the Android Wear watch, Biver confirmed to Reuters that more versions are definitely on the way: “Next year, we’ll have a real collection, a new version with six to eight models,” he explained.

There’s no word on pricing, but we’re assuming the watches won’t be cheap.

17
Mar

Audeze Sine headphones: Lightning port listening never looked so good


There’s long been talk of Apple ditching the headphones jack on the iPhone in favour of delivering audio via the Lightning port. All bets are on for that to be the case with the iPhone 7, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Still, there’s nothing stopping you using the Lightning port for audio right now (at 24-bit high-resolution) – and an increasing number of headphone manufacturers are getting in on the act early. Of those, Audeze makes one of the most compelling products: the Audeze Sine planar magnetic over-ears.

You don’t have to use them with a Lightning cable, though, as a standard 3.5mm cable version is available too – so whatever phone or device you’re using, you’re covered – and can easily be swapped out.

Now the idea of planar magnetic headphones is that they have larger driver surface area than dynamic headphones (comparing class for class), resulting in more air movement and, therefore, better bass response.

Pocket-lint

All you really need to know is that the Audeze Sine cans sound really great. We’ve been sat in a photography studio at a CU Exclusive showcase event typing away with them wrapped to our ears for a good 20-minutes listening to Keeno’s latest album and we’re impressed.

There’s bass aplenty and lots of volume – even from a fairly standard MacBook Air source – for an all-encompassing listen that sits lightly and comfortably on the head.

As you can see from our pictures (and the £400 price point; the Lightning cable version may be more expensive (TBC)) these headphones aren’t scrimping on materials. The stitched leather headband and padded earcups see to that; we rather like the almost “pointy” earcups too, which add a lick of style to the otherwise uniformly black cans.

If you’re all about the Lightning port then the Audeze Sine headphones will be available from April, with an expected price of £400. Not cheap, but the quality of audio and finish is every bit in contention with Bang & Olufsen or Bowers & Wilkins products – clearly Audeze knows what it’s doing.

17
Mar

TalkTalk’s customer helpline now uses voice authentication


The days of digging out that grubby Post-it note with your telephone account password scrawled on are over for TalkTalk customers. From today, you’ll only need your vocal cords to prove you are who you say you are. That’s because TalkTalk has introduced biometric voice authentication on its customer services helpline, in what’s said to be the first implementation in the UK outside of the financial industry.

TalkSafe, as it’s called, uses Nuance’s fancy voice authentication tech, which HSBC recently announced it would adopt as part of a larger biometric banking plan. It can recognise over 100 unique identifiers in a person’s voice, from speed, emphasis and pronunciation to the shape of your larynx, vocal tract and nasal passage. TalkTalk customers can create their “voiceprint” the next time they call up, the idea being it’ll speed up future calls by verifying your identity immediately.

TalkTalk is also implementing this technology to try and make interactions with customers as secure as possible. As you may remember, the quad-play provider suffered a huge data breach last year, with hackers getting away with the sensitive and personal details of over 150,000 customers. Freebies weren’t enough to stop over 100,000 customers jumping ship, but since the cyberattack, TalkTalk has begun tightening up security and tried to be transparent about other threats to customer data.

Source: TalkTalk

17
Mar

T-Mobile adds YouTube and more to its Binge On streaming


Following a round of additions to its Binge On initiative in January, T-Mobile is tacking on more content to the data-free video option. Beginning today, YouTube, Google Play Movies, Red Bull TV, Discovery Go, Fox Business, Baeble Music, ESNE TV, FilmOn.TV and KlowdTV won’t count against that data cap when you stream video on the Un-carrier. The company says today’s group pushes the total services available via Binge On to more than 50. Of course, the videos you watch are “mobile optimized,” so don’t expect Ultra HD quality.

Speaking of quality, T-Mobile also announced today that it would give content providers the option to bypass Binge On. If a company prefers for its video to stream at a native resolution, it can choose to do so. However, it will count against customers’ data allotment and won’t be included the data-free streaming push. The carrier is also giving content providers the ability to optimize content themselves for Binge On, rather than having T-Mobile do it for them. In fact, YouTube, which was added today, will be one of the first to leverage the new option. This makes a lot of sense considering the video hosting site was critical of the carrier “throttling” video quality without permission late last year.

Source: T-Mobile

17
Mar

‘BioShock: The Collection’ for Xbox One, PS4 and PC pops up again


The evidence that a BioShock compilation will soon arrive on current-gen consoles continues to pile up. BioShock: The Collection is a yet unannounced but often rumored set that includes BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite, based on the artwork accompanying a ratings listing for Taiwan. The collection popped up in another ratings listing in Brazil last month that also included Xbox 360 and PS3 versions. Details remain scarce, though, as all we have to go on is the cover art and these filings for now.

This release would be the first time these titles make the leap to Xbox One and PS4 in what could be a primer of sorts for the rumored fourth installment of the franchise that was first tipped late last year. Any new game will likely be under new direction as the team behind BioShock and BioShock Infinite, Irrational Games, split in 2014. There’s still no word on a date, but these listings would seem to confirm that the set is primed for release at some point.

BioShock: The Collection rated for PC/PS4/XB1 in Taiwan. https://t.co/UTJqx7RJDO pic.twitter.com/VA8aY2NPIi

— lifelower (@lifelower) March 17, 2016

Via: Eurogamer

Source: @lifelower (Twitter)

17
Mar

Uber is testing a way to pay drivers instantly


Uber is testing out a way to pay its drivers at the end of every ride, rather than once a week, which will hopefully help them avoid payday lending services charging high fees, the AP reports. Once signed up, drivers’ earnings will be sent to an account from the online banking company Gobank. They won’t be charged any fees as long as they access the account at least once every six months (though GoBank will charge $8.95 a month if the money sits any longer). The program will first launch in San Francisco and other cities, and it’s also a direct response to a similar instant payment offering from Lyft (which requires drivers to deposit at least $50, and charges 50 cents for every transaction).

Up until now, Uber drivers who needed to get paid quickly relied on services like Clearbanc, which charges $2 a day to deposit money into an account. That quickly adds up if you work several days a week.

GoBank and its parent company Green Dot, best known for pre-paid debit cards, say that they’ll be exploring similar partnerships with other companies if the Uber program is successful. And given the fast rise of the on-demand economy, there likely will be significant demand for workers to be paid more quickly.

Source: Seattle Times (AP)

17
Mar

Microsoft finally rolls out Windows 10 Mobile to older phones


For a while there, Windows 10 Mobile was only easy to come by if you needed a new phone or liked unfinished software. Now — finally, thankfully — Microsoft is starting to rollout its Windows 10 updates to existing devices running Window Phone 8.1. As you might expect, though, the list of compatible devices skews pretty heavily toward hardware crafted by Microsoft and Nokia, so those of you hanging onto your special HTC One M8s are out of luck for now. The other thing to bear in mind is that while Microsoft has officially kicked off the update process today, there’s a good chance you’re still going to have to wait for it.

Before we go any further, here’s the list of supported phones: Lumia 1520, 930, 640, 640XL, 730, 735, 830, 532, 535, 540, 635 1GB, 636 1GB, 638 1GB, 430, 435, BLU Win HD w510u, BLU Win HD LTE x150q, and the MCJ Madosma Q501.

As usual, the update can (and likely will) be handled differently based on where you live and what carrier your phone is attached to. What’s unclear is how many more devices will eventually get Microsoft’s Windows 10 blessing — the company was quick to admit on its Windows Experience blog that “many older devices are not able to successfully upgrade without an impact on the customer experience. That might be a bummer for some of you, but it’s the right move — after all, the Lumia 950 was mind with Windows 10 in mind and still suffered some curious hiccups out of the gate. Keeping the quality of the experience high is the only way to keep Windows 10 Mobile going; with any luck, it’ll hit still more devices without compromising on that quality.

Source: Windows Experience blog

17
Mar

Alphabet is looking to sell off Boston Dynamics


Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc, has decided to put its robotics division, Boston Dynamics, up for sale, according to a report from Bloomberg News. Per a pair of anonymous Google employees familiar with the matter, Alphabet executives are apparently no longer willing to invest in a division that does not have an immediate revenue stream.

The trouble began almost immediately after Google bought the robotics company in late 2013. While the marquee Replicant project was folded into Google X, company’s advanced research group, the rest of Boston Dynamics was not. What’s more, the Boston Dynamics team reportedly had continuing difficulties working with Google’s other robotics engineers in California and Tokyo.

The situation worsened after Google reformed itself into Alphabet and focused more heavily on making its various sub-companies more attractive to investors. But with a public fearful that robots are coming to take their jobs, freedoms and even their lives — combined with Boston Dynamic’s lack of viable products — Alphabet’s executives began to see the division as a liability. “There’s excitement from the tech press,” Google communications director, Courtney Hohne, wrote in an internal email that Bloomberg obtained. “But we’re also starting to see some negative threads about it being terrifying, ready to take humans’ jobs.”

As such, momentum for spinning off the robotics division has been growing for months. “We as a startup of our size cannot spend 30-plus percent of our resources on things that take ten years,” Larry Page’s advisor and former Google senior vice president, Jonathan Rosenberg, said during an internal meeting back in November. “There’s some time frame that we need to be generating an amount of revenue that covers expenses and (that) needs to be a few years.”

There’s no word on where Boston Dynamics will eventually land. Bloomberg speculates that the Toyota Research Institute and Amazon could be potential buyers, though neither company has confirmed their interest.

Source: Bloomberg

17
Mar

Audible wants to you share audiobook passages like Vine clips


The next time you discover a notable passage in an audiobook, Audible wants you to share it among your friends like you would a meme or Vine clip. The audiobook company announced a Clips feature today, a tool that allows you to select a short passage or excerpt to download for future listening. The feature also lets you share the snippet of audio via social channels, email and text message. In the Audible app, just tap the Clips icon when you hear something you want to save or share. The software will then let you select up to 45 seconds of audio. And yes, you can make edits should the need arise.

The folks that you send the clip to won’t need an account or the app in order to listen. They’ll also be able to share the snippet and, as you might expect, buy the full audiobook once their interest is piqued. The Clips feature is available on iOS and Windows now and will soon be available inside the Android version of the app soon.

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