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20
May

Robert Kirkman’s Outcast streams live on Facebook tonight, the new Walking Dead


After the huge success of The Walking Dead, another TV series based on a Robert Kirkman comic book, Outcast was commissioned – this time by Fox International.

The 10-episode first season will start in the UK on Fox on 7 June but you can watch the pilot first episode tonight, Friday 20 May, as the station is broadcasting it live on Facebook in 61 countries around the world.

Outcast will show at 9pm in the UK (10pm CET). It will be aired on FoxTVUK’s Facebook page here, but before it does you watch the foreboding trailer below.

The rest of the season will be shown on the Fox channel as per normal – which will also be available through Now TV and Sky Go live and as catch-up if you don’t have Sky TV or Virgin Media – and each episode will be broadcast every Tuesday at 9pm, four days after its US screening on Cinemax.

READ: New TV shows on BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Amazon and Now TV you must not miss

Outcast is a horror tale of demonic possession and the TV show promises to stick closely to the disturbing story going on in the comic books at the moment. Expect plenty of shocks and gore.

It stars Patrick Fugit as lead Kyle Barnes and Britain’s own Philip Glenister (Ashes to Ashes) as Reverend Anderson, a clergyman who was also previously possessed.

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20
May

Harvard’s RoboBee uses static to stick to surfaces


Harvard’s tiny robotic bee has learned how to stick to surfaces like Spiderman. Unlike spiders that use thousands of tiny hairs to climb walls, though, the upgraded RoboBee uses the power of static electricity. A team of engineers from both Harvard and MIT wanted to find a way for minuscule drones’ batteries to last longer. Adding hairs or miscropines to their feet like what Stanford researchers did with their SCAMP robot wouldn’t work for such tiny machines, though. So, the team decided to work with static electricity instead.

You know how balloons can stick to walls after rubbing them on your clothes or carpet? That’s exactly how the upgraded RoboBee sticks to surfaces. The engineers attached a shock-absorbing foam and an electrode patch on top of the machine. This patch’s negative charge pushes some of the surface’s electrons away, and when that happens, the robot can stick to it. To keep the charge from disappearing and the robot from falling off, the patch emits a continuous supply of energy.

Harvard says the robot uses 1,000 times less power when it’s attached to something than when it’s hovering, fulfilling the engineers’ goal of extending its battery life. The system is far from being perfect, though. It can only attach RoboBee to ceilings or the underside of structures like tables, leaves or open windows, and it doesn’t stick as well to rough or uneven surfaces. The team plans to tweak it further so that RoboBee can vertically perch on walls of any texture. For now, they published their experiment and findings on Science and demoed their work in the video below.

Via: CNET

Source: Harvard, Science

20
May

Google and Qualcomm put Android Auto in charge of this Maserati


It’s not often you get to sit in a Maserati. And I never thought I’d get the chance at a developer conference, of all places. But here at I/O, Google and Qualcomm have outfitted a Maserati with an entirely unique Android Auto setup. Just like a Tesla, this vehicle has a massive 4K touchscreen in place of a typical console, and there’s another 720p display where the speedometer typically sits.

But instead of Android Auto running only when you hook up your phone to the car, everything in this vehicle is controlled by Google’s OS. For once, in other words, Android Auto doesn’t have to compete with your automaker’s terrible stock interface. While I’m not yet convinced that a touchscreen is the best option for controlling things like the car’s climate, it’s still interesting to see just how much of the vehicle can be taken over by Android.

Functionally, what makes this car notable is that it’s running Android N and is able to display information across three functional areas. The large, vertically-oriented touchscreen can be split into different panes. The lower half always shows your “current” activity, while the top half is a rotating set of cards that show your recent activity. So if you’re playing music and then go to start a phone call, the music widget will move to the top so you can easily access it again later.

Inside the Maserati Android Auto Concept

The minimalist “dashboard” displays a faux-speedometer and fuel gauge on the left, while the right side is reserved for notifications and data from Android. Again, it typically shows your most recent or relevant activity; if you’re using navigation, it’ll show your next turn, for example. But if something changes in another app, you’ll get a subtle notification that slides in from the right to alert you. (It’s similar to a new notification in Android Wear 2.0, if you’re keeping track.)

If you skip to the next song in a playlist, Google Play Music will slide in with the new track info before receding into the background. If someone calls you, their contact picture and name will show up until you answer. It’s weird to imagine your car having a notification center, but it seems like a smart way of organizing all of Android Auto’s various features.

Speaking of the sort, Android Auto’s core features remain the same. You can use your voice to make phone calls, request navigation directions, play music and ask Google various questions. It integrates with a semi-limited set of third-party apps and is generally meant to let you access specific tools or info from your phone without having to take your hands off the steering wheel.

But this version of Android is also good enough to handle features that are typically left to the auto manufacturer. For instance, you can adjust the climate controls, power windows and door looks with the Android interface — something you normally can’t do in other cars. If you’ve spent time dealing with the horrible interfaces that dominate most cars, this is a tempting concept — putting aside the question of how safe it is to have a touchscreen be the only interface element in your car besides a few steering wheel buttons.

Don’t get your hopes up to see a car with this system anytime soon, though: This was strictly an exercise for Google and Qualcomm to see what they could do using the Maserati as a blank canvas. Automakers are likely going to resist letting technology companies take over their dashboards for the near future, but it’s still fun to imagine what it would be like if your entire car ran Android.

For all the latest news and updates from Google I/O 2016, follow along here.

20
May

Xiaomi will launch its first drone on May 25th


Chinese consumer electronics maker Xiaomi looks set to add a drone to its range of products next week. The company has already begun teasing a May 25th launch event on its official forum, posting what appears to be a first look its new quadcopter and asking users to guess what the product will be called. Given the forum post has the title “Mi Drone,” Xiaomi may have already given the game away.

Rumors of a Xiaomi drone have swirled for some time, with early reports suggesting that the UAV may use the company’s Mi Band as a beacon for a possible “follow me” feature. Xiaomi has confirmed “something wonderful and cool is flying to us very soon,” but is keeping quiet on any possible features before next week.

May marks a big month for Xiaomi. It’s already unveiled its huge 6.44-inch Mi Max smartphone and earlier this week announced the US release of its 4K-ready Mi Box streamer. The company also confirmed at Google I/O that it will work with search giant to build a VR phone that will support the new Android Daydream virtual reality technology.

If you’re interested to see what the Mi Drone will look like, Xiaomi will livestream its May 25th event at 7am ET/12pm BST on Mi.com.

Via: 9to5Google

Source: Mi Forums

20
May

Amazon’s screenwriting tool lets you easily share scripts


We all have at least one great story to tell, and Amazon’s free screenplay writing software is intended to help you spin that tale. Like other screenwriting tools, Amazon Storywriter auto-formats your work to the required industry standard, with the added benefit of letting you submit your script directly to Amazon Studios if you think you’ve created the next Prime Video original. Before you get to that point, though, you might want a second opinion. Which is why Amazon’s added a new quick-sharing feature to Storywriter that lets you easily put your script in front of reliable critics (aka Mom and Dad).

This mean you no longer have to export a script and attach it to an email or upload it to a file-sharing service. Simply open the sharing menu within the browser-based version or Chrome app, plug in an email address, and the recipient will receive a link to a read-only version of your draft — though they’ll need an Amazon account to view it. You can also head back into that menu at any time and remove permissions, just in case you get tired of Dad’s opinions on how your zombie vampire romance screenplay is taking shape.

Source: Amazon Studios (Facebook)

20
May

OS X update could use iPhone’s Touch ID to unlock Macs


As we approach Apple’s annual WWDC event that starts June 13th, the rumors about upcoming iOS and OS X features are sure to ramp up. This week, MacRumors is reporting that the company is working on a way for you to unlock a Mac using your iPhone’s Touch ID feature. The security measure is said to bypass a typed log-in using Bluetooth when the phone is “in close proximity” to a computer running OS X. As MacRumors notes, there’s a similar feature on the Apple Watch that allows an unlocked iPhone to provide access to the wearable without the need to enter a second password.

If this Touch ID to unlock a Mac functionality sounds familiar, the third party Knock app for iOS and Apple Watch unlocks a nearby computer with those devices rather than having to key in a password. Back in March, Recode reported that Apple Pay was on its way to the browser for making purchases on the web. This new report suggests that the Touch ID interaction with Macs will be used to confirm those transactions as well. As is the case with any rumor, it pays to be a bit skeptical. However, we won’t have to wait long to see if this news is indeed true.

In terms of other rumors for OS X 10.12, reports indicate that Siri could finally make its debut on the desktop. This week, rumblings surfaced about the design of the dock icon, but we’ll have to wait a few more weeks to see if that virtual assistant or Touch ID unlocking will be a part of this fall’s software update.

Source: MacRumors

20
May

Google’s plans for VR are even more ambitious than we thought


In 2014, Google introduced Cardboard. It was literally just a cut-out piece of cardboard outfitted with Velcro strips, a pair of lenses and magnets. Insert your smartphone and voila, you got your very own VR View-Master. Though it seemed pretty silly at the time, Cardboard was Google’s very first foray into virtual reality. Fast forward two years, and there’s a whole cottage industry of Cardboard-compatible viewers — not to mention lots of content made just for it. More than 5 million viewers have shipped and over 50 million Cardboard apps have been installed, as Google said at its keynote yesterday. Now, however, the company is ready for the next stage in its grand plan. Yesterday, Google announced Daydream, a platform that represents its most serious push yet into VR.

What we’re seeing here is a very real attempt to democratize virtual reality in a way we have not seen before. It all started with Cardboard, of course, but Daydream is so much more. Google is essentially doing for VR what Android did for smartphones: It’s offering a basic set of specifications that other companies can use. There’s no need for them to come up with their own software or spend precious resources to come up with the right hardware design; all of that is already taken care of. Hell, Google’s even making its own Daydream headset just like it did with its Nexus devices.

In contrast to Cardboard, which is just a low-cost viewer, the Daydream platform encompasses designs for an actual headset, with the build quality of a Samsung Gear VR or Oculus Rift. It has headstraps and looks like it’s made to be worn hands-free. There are even designs for a Wiimote-like motion controller. While Samsung’s Gear VR works only with Samsung’s own phones, a Daydream headset would be compatible with many more handsets. The potential here is huge.

While Cardboard could be used with pretty much any phone that could run the Cardboard app, Daydream’s hardware requirements seem to be stricter, though Google hasn’t released many details there. The company says it’s working with a variety of manufacturers to make sure their handsets include “key components” such as “specific sensors and screens” required for Daydream. Samsung, Alcatel, HTC and LG are just a few hardware makers that have already committed to building Daydream-compatible phones, and they could also be designing Daydream-ready headsets too.

This is definitely a departure from Cardboard, which wasn’t really meant for high-fidelity content or graphics-intensive games. Clay Bavor, Google’s head of VR, once told me that Cardboard was purposefully designed without any headstraps. It was to encourage quick “snackable” moments of VR, like using it for a few minutes to check out a Mars field trip or to see what a neighborhood looks like on VR Streetview. Cardboard was made to be affordable and accessible — a way to introduce VR to everyday people.

But if Cardboard is for VR snacks, Daydream is for meals. You can play serious games on Daydream and watch full-length movies. Electronic Arts, Ubisoft and Epic Games have already pledged to have games on the Daydream platform and content providers like HBO and Netflix have jumped on board as well.

Daydream, then, is designed for a world in which escaping into virtual fantasies is the norm. Seeing as 2016 is the debut year for consumer editions of all the three major VR headsets — Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Playstation VR — it’s not too much of a leap to say that world is already upon us. Additionally, Oculus reported recently that there are now over one million monthly active users of Samsung’s Gear VR. This proves that mobile VR is a viable category in its own right. Sure, Oculus has had a few years’ head start, but Google’s vast reach could be enough to give the Gear VR some stiff competition.

Of course, we’ve yet to see if these Daydream headsets are any good. But if Cardboard’s success is any indication, I’d say Daydream has an even better shot at propagating VR to the masses.

20
May

The best USB battery packs


By Mark Smirniotis

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. Read the full article here.

We brought in almost 50 pounds of batteries and tested them in a specialist lab in Vancouver, British Columbia, to find the best USB battery pack for any situation.

If you need a pocketable pack to get through an evening out, we recommend the TravelCard Charger because our previous top pocketable pick, the AmazonBasics Portable Power Bank with Micro USB Cable 2,000 mAh, is inconsistently available. If you need a unit to leave in your bag to keep your device going for a busy day of meetings, pick up the EasyAcc 6000mAh Ultra Slim Power Bank. If you need to charge your phone repeatedly, grab the larger AmazonBasics Portable Power Bank 16,100 mAh, and if you require a pack that can power a bagful of devices for a full day, buy the RAVPower 26800 mAh Xtreme Portable Charger.

How we picked and tested

Cadex devoted a corner of its lab to testing almost 60 batteries.

When it comes to USB battery packs, someone who wants a pocketable model for occasionally topping off a phone has different needs than a business traveler who wants to keep a tablet and two phones charged for back-to-back international flights. For each scenario, we set out to find the best balance of capacity, charging speed, size, and features. A hulking, heavy, cheap pack, for instance, isn’t as good as a moderately priced one you’ll actually use. We also looked for models that can cut down the clutter in your bag or pockets through the inclusion of convenience features such as multiple ports and integrated cables.

Once we established our test lineup, we worked with Cadex Electronics to put the packs through an exhaustive series of technical tests. We hooked up three samples of each model to Cadex’s lab gear to get insight into voltage curves, amperage, and how close the batteries’ actual capacities came to matching what their makers claimed on the box. With the help of Cadex engineers, we sifted through and analyzed all of that data and came up with solid recommendations for whatever amount of juice your power-hungry devices may need.

Our pick for your pocket

The TravelCard Charger comes in both Micro-USB and Lightning flavors.

If you need the absolute smallest battery to keep your phone going when you can’t get to an outlet, the TravelCard Charger is the most convenient and reliable option. A little longer and wider than a credit card and roughly three times as thick, the TravelCard stands out from other small batteries because it has two integrated cables–one with a Micro-USB or Lightning-connector plug (depending on the version you buy) to charge your device, and one with a standard USB plug to recharge the battery itself.

That said, even the best batteries at this size have limitations. And although the TravelCard charges at only 1 amp, and has an average of 1,049 milliamp hours, we still think it’s a better choice because of the integrated recharging cable that other similar-size models lack. An extra 100 mAh probably won’t make a huge difference in how you use one of these batteries day to day, but never wanting for an extra cable is more than just a convenience—it’s a relief.

The best battery for everyday use

Our top pick from EasyAcc feels like a midsize smartphone in your hand.

If you can make just a little more room in your pocket or bag, you can upgrade to a lot more power and a better value. The EasyAcc 6000mAh Ultra Slim Power Bank is about the size and thickness of an average smartphone, and it’s the best-performing model in this class—standing out thanks to its integrated Micro-USB cable and high-speed charging port (at least 2 amps).

Measuring at 5,500 mAh in our tests, this EasyAcc model had the most available power, enough to fully charge a smartphone—depending on size—two or three times. You could even charge a tablet more than halfway from this unit’s high-speed port.

Our pick for your briefcase or bag

Our alternate pick from AmazonBasics is about the size of a large portable hard drive.

The AmazonBasics Portable Power Bank 16,100 mAh is our pick if you have to charge a phone repeatedly, want to keep a full-size tablet and phone topped up through a week of commuting, or need to keep your gadgets going on a long flight. It had 15,280 mAh available in our tests—not the highest in the group, but enough power to charge an average smartphone almost every day of the work week or fill a full-size tablet twice.

Now that Amazon has upgraded the USB ports on its offering, this pack puts out enough juice to charge two devices at or near their full speed. Our meters found that the loads balanced to no more than 4 amps combined, or 2.4 amps per port—high enough for this battery to slide into the top spot for this size category. This battery is the most flexible of all our picks, and it’s the one to get if you want something that can work for commuting and for travel.

Our pick for your luggage

The RAVPower is closer to the size of a paperback, but it packs a big punch.

If you require a lot of power, you should get the RAVPower 26800mAh Xtreme Portable Charger. Next to the other large contenders in our test group, it offers more power, more ports, and faster charging, all at a reasonable price.

After charging and draining our three RAVPower test units, we found they averaged an actual capacity of of 19,107 mAh—about 70 percent of what the company advertises, but still enough power to both fully charge a large tablet and a fill a smartphone a few times.

Its three ports are rated at 2.4 amps, 2.1 amps, and 1 amp, and the RAVPower model can output at full speed to all three ports simultaneously. You’ll have to remember which port is which, though, to make sure your device is plugged into the port that supplies its maximum charging potential.

A drawback of this pack is its heft: This model weighs 21 ounces, and it takes up the space of a large paperback. If you need the power, though, this is how you should get it.

This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

20
May

Nintendo’s 2DS is now cheaper than ever. Play these games.


Who needs stereoscopic 3D, or a hinge? Nintendo’s cheaper, flatter 2DS is now a mere $80. It even includes a free digital copy of Mario Kart 7. That’s a bargain for a current-generation handheld, but where should you start your games collection? How about here, with Engadget’s favorites. (And remember, the console plays DS games, so there’s over ten years of hits to pick from.) We’d still advise starting with some of the most recent titles, which include animal villages, a particularly weird Zelda title, Square Enix’s resurrection of the JRPG, and Mario, somewhere, along the way.

20
May

‘Minecraft’ is making its way to China


Players around the world log hundreds of hours in Minecraft each day, but not gamers in China. Today, Minecraft developer Mojang announced it’s creating a whole new version of the game created specifically for Chinese consumers.

Partnering with Chinese internet company NetEase is what’s made this development possible, the very same NetEase that operates games like World of Warcraft and Hearthstone in China already.

There’s no official release date yet and no further information on what kind of alterations to the main game are even warranted for the Chinese market. What we do know is the Chinese version will only launch for PC and mobile devices, not consoles, when it finally makes an appearance.

“We are excited to bring Minecraft to Chinese audiences, and expect our large online community to embrace this preeminent game,” William Ding, CEO and founder of NetEase, Inc. announced. “With our deep understanding of the Chinese market and our ability to successfully launch world-renowned online and mobile games, we offer a strong platform for the introduction of Minecraft to China’s vast user base.”

Source: Mojang

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