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30
Jun

Oneadaptr Twist+ World Charging Station: One-stop global charger for MacBook, iPad, iPhone and more


When we visited E3 in Los Angeles recently we probably had the most amount of gadgets in our bag than we’d ever taken to a trip before.

These included a new MacBook, an iPhone, iPad, USB camera battery charger for our Canon 5D Mk III, Nintendo 3DS and a spare phone charging battery, as we would be out and about for many hours each day.

If we wanted to take the individual power chargers for each and every one of them, we’d have to make do without such luxury items as clothes or a passport.

Thankfully, the Oneadaptr Twist+ World Charging Station (PA-OAC-T4) came to our rescue.

For just £27.99 we finally had a one-stop charger that could charge five devices simultaneously. And thanks to an innovative method, we didn’t need travel adapters either.

Pocket-lint

The World Charging Station comes with four smart USB charging ports, with two capable of charging iPads and the other two lower powered for iPhones and the like. There is also a connector for an Apple MagSafe or MagSafe 2 power adapter, which slides on neatly and can then be used to power up and charge a MacBook.

This even works on the new MacBook, as the Apple charger for that has a USB-C connection.

Even more clever is how the charger can be adapted for whatever country you are in. There’s a yellow button on the side, press that in and turn the ring and one of three different plug combinations emerges from the end.

These fit around 150 different country configurations, says Oneadaptr, and we found it to work just as well for the UK, US and mainland Europe. It is, for the modern, travelling gadgeteer a godsend.

First Impressions

Oneadaptr makes several different devices based on its clever twisting plug mechanism, including versions that don’t have the additional MacBook connection.

You can find them all at oneadaptr.co.uk.

However, considering the number of gadgets necessary to bring you up-to-the-minute news and coverage around the world, we’re blown away by the World Charging Station. It has reduced the amount of nonsense we have to carry around in our bags all the time when we fly.

Yes, we know it’s just an adapter, but anything that helps improve your life, even just a little bit, deserves praise.

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30
Jun

Android N’s official name is Nougat


After months of teasers and hints, Google has finally announced the official name for Android N. The next major update to the company’s mobile operating system will be called Android Nougat. 

For the longest time, the common consensus has been that Google would name it Android Nutella, and the company regularly teased us with that suggestion. At Google I/O however, the company launched a website allowing consumers across the globe to submit their name suggestions, jokingly telling us that Namey McNameface would not be used, before including that moniker in the latest developer preview as the hidden easter egg. 

The time has arrived! #AndroidNReveal pic.twitter.com/vtbSOjQvWh

— Android (@Android) June 30, 2016

Google kicked off the developer preview program a little earlier than usual this year, releasing the first version in May, before officially announcing it the next month at its I/O conference.

Key features of the new software include a redesigned notification user interface, and better actionable notifications and quick-reply options from the lock screen and more control of notification priority. More importantly, Android Nougat is the first version of Android to have baked-in support for split-screen multitasking, meaning you’ll be able to launch two apps side-by-side on one screen. Split screen has been available from the likes of Samsung and LG before now, but it was never an official Android feature, it was built in the the manufacturers’ custom software. 

There’s also a completely revamped settings menu, which makes it much easier to get back to the main settings screen. This includes smart suggestions on top of the main settings screen to let you know when things like Do Not Disturb are activated. There’s Data Saver – which restricts how much of your cellular data apps can use in the background – as well as a system-wide Night Mode. Of course, it also has built-in support for Google’s brand new Daydream VR service too. 

It’s expected that Android Nougat will be available officially whenever the next Nexus smartphones arrive. Usually that’s towards the end of the year in October/November time. When it does arrive, it should be immediately available for current Nexus phones as well. Other devices will follow as manufacturers and network operators test and approve the software. 

Read everything you need to know about Android Nougat in our extensive in-depth feature. 

30
Jun

Best intelligent thermostats available to buy now


Intelligent heating systems are no longer something you find in the homes of the rich and famous, or those a step ahead of the curve.

Over the last couple of years smart thermostats have really come into their own and there are now numerous options available, many of which offer more than just the convenience of controlling your heating remotely.

We have rounded up some of the best intelligent thermostats available that not only look the part, but will help you save some dollar too.

Ecobee3

Ecobee

Most thermostats, whether smart or not, measure the temperature of your home from one location – normally the hallway. That means that location will normally be comfortable, while other rooms may not.

Ecobee3 uses wireless remote sensors to measure the temperature and occupancy in various rooms around your home. It then uses this information to adjust your heating accordingly depending on where you are in your home, or if you are home at all. The system supports up to 32 sensors, each of which know the difference between when you are in a room and when it’s just the cat or dog on the bed.

The sensors need to be placed within 45 ft of the Ecobee3 thermostat and 5 ft off the ground in order to get the most accurate reading in the room. The Ecobee3 Wi-Fi Thermostat is compatible with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Echo, Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT and Wink platforms.

PRICE: $199 for thermostat and one sensor, $313 for thermostat and three sensors

Honeywell Lyric

Honeywell

The Honeywell Lyric Round Wi-Fi Thermostat adapts to your life and schedule automatically, without a learning curve. It uses your smartphone’s location to work out where you are, heating up your home to your perfect temperature if you’re round the corner, or keeping the heating off if you’re several hundred miles away to ensure no energy is wasted.

Like other intelligent heating thermostats, Lyric can be controlled remotely through a smartphone app and you’ll receive notifications when the humidity changes or the temperature in your home becomes too high or low.

There are a couple of other devices in the Lyric ecosystem, including the Lyric Water Leak and Freeze Detector that will alert you of any leaks to help you avoid potential flooding in your home. Lyric is also compatible with Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT and Lutron platforms, among others.

PRICE: $229

Nest

Google Nest

The Nest Learning Thermostat has been kicking around since 2011 and is now in its third generation, learning your temperature preferences and building a schedule around yours.

Nest can be controlled from your smartphone wherever you are, whether that’s at work, in the kitchen or a completely different country, just like all intelligent heating thermostats. Following a week of use, Nest will adapt itself automatically to your schedule, which includes things such as the time you go to work and come home, to the temperature you like to eat breakfast at.

It will light up when you enter the room to show you the temperature, while a Nest Leaf will display the times you’re saving energy. There are a couple of other Nest products that work with the thermostat too including the Nest Cam and there are also several devices within the Works with Nest program, including Philips Hue, WeMo, LIFX and Yale. Nest is compatible with Amazon Echo, Logitech and IFTTT.  

PRICE: $249

Honeywell Wi-Fi 9000

Honeywell

Honeywell offers several intelligent thermostats including Lyric, as we mentioned above, Evohome, which allows you to control multiple rooms in your home, and the Wi-Fi 9000 with Voice Control.

This latter option allows the user to say “Hello, thermostat”, followed by a temperature instruction and the Wi-Fi 9000 will respond to your voice accordingly. It’s also possible to control this thermostat remotely from your smartphone using the Total Connect Comfort app, as well as change the colour of the touchscreen screen to match your decor or mood.

The Honeywell Wi-Fi 9000 features seven-day programming and it is compatible with platforms including Samsung SmartThings, Panasonic, Wink, Logitech and IFTTT, among others.

PRICE: $270

Carrier Côr

Carrier

The Carrier Côr Wi-Fi Thermostat is a little different from others in its field in that it monitors your energy usage patterns, turns them into simple reports and gives you energy-saving tips customised to your home.

It doesn’t offer multi-room control like Ecobee3, nor can it detect motion like Honeywell’s Lyric or Google’s Nest, but it will provide detailed reports on your desktop or tablet to help you make smarter decisions about controlling your home’s comfort.

You’ll be able to see month-by-month comparisons, as well as an explanation of the key factors that had the largest impact on your system’s performance. The Côr Thermostat can be controlled remotely from your smartphone, but it misses out on compatibility with other platforms such as IFTTT or Apple HomeKit.

PRICE: $250 (requires professional installation)

The Honeywell Lyric Water Leak and Freeze Detector is an early warning system that notifies you on your smartphone when a leak is detected or the temperature drops below a temperature of your choice. By catching it early, you may be able to avoid expensive repairs and loss of treasured items. To find out more visit Honeywell.com

This article was created in association with Honeywell.

30
Jun

The Olympics will be shown in VR, but only on Samsung headsets


NBC began outlining its plans for broadcasting Rio 2016 yesterday, but a few more juicy tidbits have now filtered through. The AP (via ABC News) is reporting that around 85 hours of programming will be available to watch in VR, but only if you use Samsung’s Gear VR. The brief report claims that the opening and closing ceremonies will get the 360-degree treatment, as will the men’s basketball, gymnastics and track and field. Details beyond that brief outline are sketchy, although it’s interesting that the footage is provided by a unit of the International Olympic Committee rather than the usual suspects, like NextVR. All of the content will be available on the NBC Sports app, assuming that you’ve got a Gear VR-compatible smartphone, of course.

Source: ABC News

30
Jun

Google puts earthquake data directly in search results


For anyone who has had the pleasure of waking up to a rumbling apartment building, only to Google the USGS Earthquake map, the search giant is now saving you another click in your search results. Starting today, a Google search for “earthquake” or “earthquake near me” will put that same US Geological Survey data right in your search results.

An earthquake search will bring up fairly rich results, with a map of recent seismic activity and data for each incident. Since earthquakes also pose a very real danger, the results card will actually display tips for what to do in the aftermath as well. Anything under a 2.5 magnitude, which hardy Californians would scoff at anyway, won’t trigger the new feature.

As TechCrunch reports, the USGS usually posts the data within minutes of a quake in the US, and that data gets to Google seconds later. For other parts of the world, however, it can take the agency up to 30 minutes to verify and post the information. Regardless, the new “earthquake near me” search feature will work globally, but only in English for now. It’s also worth noting that if you have your location turned off, or just want to check another city, searching for “earthquake San Francisco” or “earthquake Los Angeles” will bring up the same information.

30
Jun

Toyota’s car of the future drives like a Camry


The Toyota Mirai looks like it’s ready to swallow you whole. From the front, the hydrogen fuel-cell car has the aggressive stance of a bulldog. But as you circle the vehicle, the styling quickly softens to clean lines that lead to a rear end that would blend in among a sea of cars trapped in traffic. It’s the future of driving (one version of it, anyway), but as I found after a recent test drive, it’s also ready to hit the freeway without much fanfare.

As with the exterior, the experience of driving the vehicle feels like an oxymoron. On one hand, you’re driving a production version of a hydrogen car. If you live near one of the filling stations and want to be on the bleeding edge of clean driving without tethering your vehicle to the grid for hours on end, you can buy one right now. While EVs are all the rage, fuel-cell vehicles (like traditional cars) only take five minutes to refuel with a familiar pump. On the other hand, once you get behind the wheel you don’t feel like you’re driving the future. It’s sort of like driving a Camry.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Not every car that moves away from the traditional internal combustion engine is going to be a Model S and not every driver needs Ludicrous mode. What many of us want is a vehicle that comfortably gets us to work every day. In that respect, the Mirai is mostly there.

The interior is comfortable with styling and tech cues taken from Toyota’s Lexus luxury line. It’s a commuter that feels smarter and a more solid frame construction than the average grocery getter. While driving around the west side of San Francisco I felt like I was nestled in a comfortable cocoon.

But that feeling also extends to the drivetrain. With a zero to 60 mph time of 9.4 seconds, you’re not going to blasting down the freeway with any real conviction. Instead of pulling out ahead of the pack, you’ll be right there with the rest of the mid-level sedans. A nice bonus is that the suspension is a bit tighter than expected so the body roll I was expecting didn’t materialize unless I pushed the vehicle a little above the speed limit.

All told, the Mirai sits between the utilitarian Toyota Camrys, Honda Accords and Chevy Malibus of the world and entry-level luxury vehicles from those and other automakers. But thanks to the fuel cell technology under the hood, it has a lofty price of $57,500. Thankfully, like hybrid and electric vehicles, it’s eligible for federal tax credits of up to $8,000. Owners can also receive credits of up to $5,000 in California, the only state where it’s currently for sale. To sweeten the pot, Toyota is offering what it’s calling “Trailblazer” purchase support of $7,500 plus three years of free refueling at Toyota certified stations. Suddenly, being an early adopter seems like a sweet deal.

But you’ll still need to weigh all those incentives against the fact that there are only 20 filling stations in the entire state of California. Meanwhile, if you’re rolling an EV and can’t find one of the over 150,000 charging stations in the state, you can just plug into your home. If you happen to live near one of these refueling stops in Los Angeles of San Francisco, the Mirai might be a worth checking out. The car’s estimated range of 312 miles should also curb some of the range anxiety of only having access to a few hydrogen facilities. But if you’re not in those markets you should wait a few more years. Toyota expects an additional 21 facilities to come on line by the end of 2016. If the company can drastically ramp up that number, it might be able to seriously compete with the electric and hybrid market.

To that end, Toyota has been working aggressively with partners and the state to get more filling stations on the map. But, it also has to actually have cars on the road that need them. It’s hoping the Mirai is just unique enough to get drivers in the seat. Once they’re there, it’s betting comfort, luxury and a drivetrain that feels familiar will keep them satisfied.

Source: Toyota

30
Jun

Android N? More like Android Nougat


The next version of Android is dubbed “Nougat,” Google revealed on Snapchat this morning (because of course it did). This was the first time that Google opened up the Android naming process to the public, and Nougat beat out other n-based treat suggestions including Nutter Butter, Nutella, Nerds and Necco Wafers. Of course, offering creative rights to the entire internet ensured there were a few sour apples in that system.

Google made it clear that it wasn’t beholden to the names suggested by the wider world, lest it end up with an operating system dubbed, “Nutty McNutface.”

Introducing #AndroidNougat. Thank you, world, for all your sweet name ideas! #AndroidNReveal pic.twitter.com/7lIfDBwyBE

— Android (@Android) June 30, 2016

30
Jun

Furby gets smarter, but it’s still pretty damn creepy


Hasbro revived one of the late ’90s most iconic toys a few years ago, and now there’s another new version. We’re talking about Furby of course, and the new Furby Connect has Bluetooth to handle regular updates. The idea is to use the wireless connectivity with a mobile app for Amazon Fire, Android and iOS devices to deliver new content to the interactive playmate on the regular. That new content will come from the likes of Kidz Bop and other age-appropriate publishers.

As you might expect from a Furby, the new version reacts to sound and touch with 1,000 phrases and animations for its LCD screen eyes. Hasbro says the gadget has more natural movement and built-in sensors to help it respond to touch. It also keeps track of the date and time so it can remind you when it needs a snack. There’s a sleep mask so the toy gets its proper amount of rest, or you know, in case you don’t want Furby watching your slumber. Furby Connect is up for pre-order at Amazon for $100 before it starts shipping July 12th. Expect to see the toy at other retailers this fall, just in time for holiday shopping season.

Source: Hasbro

30
Jun

I played God with The Odin’s DIY CRISPR Kit


Twenty-three years after its cinematic debut, I finally understand where Alec Baldwin was coming from in the 1993 psychological thriller Malice. The power to bring life where once there was none is a potent drug. I was recently afforded the opportunity to create a new kind of bacterial life thanks to the DIY Bacterial CRISPR Kit from Bio-Hacking collective The Odin. I honestly haven’t had this much fun doing science since AP Chem.

The Odin offers a number of experimental kits, including advanced sets that leverage CRISPR gene editing breed bioluminescent bacteria or search for new antibiotic compounds. The set I tried, however, was far more rudimentary: I was to modify the genes of a harmless E. coli strain so that it can survive in a hostile environment that it would otherwise perish in.

Specifically, these E. coli bacteria (like all eukaryotic cells) produce proteins, tiny biological machines that perform all sorts of critical functions within the cell, in order to stay alive. Proteins are made by a structure called the ribosome. Under normal conditions aboard an agar-filled petri dish, the bacteria have no problem generating these molecules and will thrive. But if you try to use them to colonize an agar plate that also contains the molecule streptomycin, they’ll quickly die. This is because streptomycin binds with the E. coli ribosome and prevents it from operating. However, using CRISPR technology, you can knock out the gene that streptomycin binds with, thereby enabling the bacteria to live in this otherwise deadly environment.

The Odin’s kit is a tabletop laboratory and contains all the hardware and biological materials that you’ll need to run this experiment five times. It includes a pipette and tips, 14 petri dishes, powdered agar and agar-strep medium, plus all the chemicals and enzymes you’ll need to reprogram bacterial DNA. You’ll also have access to a continually-evolving online protocol guide that walks you through the various steps of the CRISPR process.

I should note that the protocol guide is fairly barebones at the moment, given that The Odin only just began shipping products after its successful Indiegogo campaign. The team is constantly updating the instructions for clarity and context. As it stands, you’re kind of left on your own to determine exactly how to perform the experiment. That is, the specific step-by-step instructions are clear enough but you’ll have to figure the most effective way to perform them for yourself. Honestly, I absolutely love that. Sitting there having to really ponder how each piece of this biological puzzle fits together rather than being spoonfed information, I found, was a welcome change of pace and immensely enjoyable mental challenge.

Actually proceeding through the experiment was easy enough — really not that far off from following baking instructions. You do the steps the right way, in the right order, and you should be successful. This experiment took me basically a weekend to finish, though most of that time was spent waiting for the bacteria to culture, incubate after being genetically modified and then recultured on the streptomycin-infused plates. There was maybe four to five hours of actual “work” required — I’d venture to guess even middle school-aged kids could run this experiment with a bit of guidance. Once you get past the mind-bending terminology and high-level theory, actually doing the steps is surprisingly straightforward. Heck, if you want to skip the theory altogether and just bang through the steps to try and get a result, that’s totally doable as well.

That said, I was unable to start my bacterial colonies into growing on the strep plates the first time around. Turns out that successful biohacking is hard. I’ll admit, spending a weekend running through the steps only to have the results turn out negative was a bit frustrating. But, I realized, that’s half the fun of being a scientist (even one without a biology degree doing genetic engineering on his kitchen table). I mean Einstein didn’t just pull the Theory of Relativity out of his ass to impress a dinner party, Watson and Crick didn’t discover DNA over a long weekend and John Hammond sure as heck spent more than five hours whipping up dinosaurs from petrified mosquito bellies. Now that something had gone awry, I had to go to back, figure out what went wrong, make adjustments and try again. It’s a whole new set of puzzles.

Best of all, I’m not stuck figuring this out entirely on my own. If I hit a figurative wall and just can’t get the experiment to work, all I have to do is email the guys from The Odin and they’ll help troubleshoot. That’s a level of customer service you don’t often see in crowdfunded campaigns. In fact, when I repeated the experiment after consulting with The Odin’s staff, I did eventually manage to successfully colonize the strep-infused plates.

Overall, this was blast. I learned technical skills, such as how to make agar plates and how to properly handle a pipette as well as the scientific theory behind what was happening in the tubes. The DIY bacteria kit will run you $140, the yeast edition is $20 more, plus almost all of the included hardware can be reused for future experiments. And if you want to go all mad-scientist, The Odin also sells a number of a la carte ingredients and precursors so you can experiment to your heart’s content.

30
Jun

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross made a song for NASA’s Juno mission


Nine Inch Nails frontman and Apple Music contributor Trent Reznor has another project with his film soundtrack partner Atticus Ross. This time around, the duo has created a nearly 9-minute track to celebrate NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter. The single song is available now on iTunes ahead of the probe’s scheduled July 4th arrival in the planet’s orbit. NASA’s solar-powered spacecraft was launched five years ago, but soon it’ll arrive at Jupiter to begin the task of measuring, studying and photographing the planet. For a behind-the-scenes look at the mission, check out our recent Juno feature.

If you’re familiar with the film scores from the pair of musicians, you know what to expect here. Airy atmospheric sounds with “chains of glassy melody” and “haunting textures.” Reznor and Ross won an Oscar for the soundtrack to 2010’s The Social Network before creating the music for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl. Nine Inch Nails is set to release new music this year and Reznor is also working on a rock opera version of Fight Club with David Fincher. In the meantime, preview the “Juno” track down below.

Via: Fact Magazine, Consequence of Sound

Source: iTunes

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