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PlayStation Neo confirmed and 4K-ready, but PS4.5 won’t be at E3 2016

Sony has confirmed that it is working on an upgraded PlayStation 4 console, but that rumours of it appearing at this year’s E3 are wide of the mark.

The PlayStation Neo, as it is codenamed, will be launched by the company in the future, and will have 4K Ultra HD graphics capabilities, but not at the show in Los Angeles next week.

President of Sony Interactive Entertainment, Andrew House, told the Financial Times that the new console will “sit alongside and complement the standard PS4,” as expected. It will sell “both [versions] through the life cycle,” he said.

READ: E3 2016: All the launches, games and consoles to expect

The console has also been dubbed the PS4.5 and PS4K in recent months, since some plans were leaked, but it is likely it will adopt an all-new, previously unheard name on release.

There are no indications as yet when that might be.

The PlayStation Neo is being held back until there is “a full range of the best experiences on the new system that we can showcase in the entirety,” as House explained.

READ: PlayStation E3 2016 Press Conference: How to watch it and what to expect for the PS4

He also revealed that all PS4 games will be compatible with the existing PS4 going-forward, but a “large majority” will also have extra features – thought to be higher graphical fidelity – for the Neo.

PC games developers have been doing something similar for years.


Moto Mods: Everything you need to know about the Moto Z’s snap-on accessories

It’s clear from looking at the smartphone industry recently that there’s a growing interest in making our mobile devices more modular. LG launched the G5 with its ‘Friends’ that clip on to the bottom of the phone to add extra features, and Google’s upcoming Project Ara phone lets you swap out and replace up to 6 different modules with various purposes.

Lenovo, even more recently, launched the Moto Z and a big part of that launch was its new Moto Mods. These are a collection of accessories and covers that attach to the back of the phone to add more function, or make the phone look and feel nicer.


Moto Mods: What are they and how do they work?

The short answer is: with magnets and “magic”. Each Mod attaches to the back using the a collection of really strong built-in magnets. That means there’s no fiddling around with clumsy hinges or clips on the sides of the phone, and you don’t have to remove the battery. It just sticks on using the magnetic sections of the phone and Mod.

For the purely fashion-based Mods, or backplates, that’s all that’s needed. For the wood, leather and plastic backs, it’s basically just like putting on a rear shell but with them attaching magnetically rather than clipping to the phone, or around the edge, like a regular case or cover.

For the more feature-rich Mods, the key is in the 16 golden contact points on the back. These essentially connect the phone to each of the Mods and transmit data and power between the Mod and the phone. That means your USB port remains free and unused, regardless of which Mod you have applied to the back of the phone.

For some mods you may have to go through a couple of setup pages, but Lenovo promises it only takes a couple of quick taps to get each Mod set up.

Moto Mods: What is there?


Style Shells

The first Mods you’ll likely see and buy are the simple covers, called Style Shells. When you order a Moto Z through Moto Maker you’ll be able to choose which finish you’d like (if you want one at all). You’ll be able to choose between a number of different wood types, as well as different color leather and nylon finishes, and some more colorful plastic ones. Motorola hasn’t listed all the available options, but those will become clear in time. We expect many will match previous Moto X finishes and colors, with a few new ones thrown in for fun.


JBL SoundBoost

Lenovo partnered with JBL to create the SoundBoost Mod, which is essentially a stereo loudspeaker with two three-watt drivers. It amplifies the phone’s sound, and looks to replace portable speakers on your days out. It has a built in 1,000mAh battery to to extend the phone’s battery life, and a kick-stand so that the audio isn’t just firing upwards into the air, or downwards in to whatever surface it’s lying on.


Moto Insta-Share projector

The Moto Insta-Share projector is certainly interesting, but hardly likely to be the most widely adopted of the Mods. It’s essentially a pico projector you attach to the phone which can beam an image or video measuring up to 70-inches diagonally from any angle, onto any surface. The sad part is that it only has 480p resolution, so the bigger you make your projection, the terrible-er it’s going to look. It also has a built in loudspeaker.


Power Packs

Lastly, there are Power Packs, which add a 2,200mAh battery to the phone. With the standard Moto Z, that’s almost doubling the built-in battery’s capacity. There are three different options to confirmed so far, including the offGRID version from Incipio, as well as a Kate Spade model and another by TUMI.

Evan Blass (Twitter)

Future Mods

Right up until launch there were images floating around showing off a Hasselblad-branded camera Mod. This hasn’t been confirmed by Lenovo yet, but we still expect it will eventually make an appearance in the future. It looked as though it covered the built-in camera on the Moto Z, replacing it with a much better one, with manual controls.

Lenovo also mentioned that it’s working with Mophie on a Power Pack, and mentioned they’re also bringing wireless charging to some of them.

Apart from those, it’s really up to developers what they develop. There’s a Moto Mods developer program to encourage hardware and software makers to come up with their own Mods. The sky really is the limit with these. We could see all kinds of stuff, from secondary displays and alternative speaker systems to computer docking solutions. It’s very likely we’ll also see a bunch of third party Style Shells, offering more variations in style and color to the ones being offered by the Moto team.

Tom’s Hardware

One concept on show at the Moto launch was called OneCompute which brings Windows Phone Continuum-like features to Android, turning it in to a desktop computer of sorts. It reminds us a lot of the old Motorola Atrix LapDock system. The Moto Z attaches to the Mod, which is then placed into a cradle and linked to a hub containing various USB, HDMI and power ports which connects to a monitor. The onscreen user interface is similar to regular Android, but not exactly the same. It looks a lot like three home screens on one display, and can be controlled by keyboard and mouse.

Is it worth it?

The modular approach to smartphones isn’t something that’s at all necessary, and in its current state, there’s a lot to work on. The advantage of Lenovo’s Moto Mod system is that the phone works perfectly fine without any mods and it’s still a solid metal unibody phone. The LG G5’s removable portion, on the other hand, feels a little flimsy and has forced the company to compromise on solid design. Likewise, Ara has all these modules on the back that, when removed, leave a grid of empty spaces behind.

Moto’s approach is far less intrusive and, the method of attaching a single Mod is easy and quick. The one downside is that, unlike Ara, you can only have one module attached at a time. You can’t have multiple Mods connected simultaneously.


How to watch the OnePlus 3 launch

OnePlus is going to launch its next smartphone on 14 June, one day after Apple’s huge WWDC conference opens. Rather than host people in a real life actual location though, OnePlus is going to take us on a journey to its virtual headquarters in space. It’s called the Loop, and you can get there by downloading an app. The launch event starts at 17:30 BST, or 12:30PM EST.

For those of you lucky enough to snag a “free” Loop VR headset, you’ll be able to watch it in a 360-degree virtual reality experience. Thankfully, it’s not proprietary VR content, so you’ll also be able to watch if you have another headset. OnePlus hasn’t specified which ones are supported, but you should be just fine with a bog-standard Cardboard compatible set. You can download the OnePlus 3 Launch app for Android from the Play Store.

If you don’t have a VR set, don’t worry, you can still watch the launch through the app. You just won’t get the full immersive VR experience. If you don’t have an Android phone, head over to OnePlus’ launch holding page, and you’ll be able to watch it on the good ol’ fashioned world wide web. From here, you’ll also be able to watch if from your desktop. Presuming you’re using Chrome as a browser, you should be able to navigate around the 360-degree video by clicking and dragging.

READ: OnePlus 3: What’s the story so far?

Once the event has finished, viewers will be able to buy the new OnePlus 3 handset in VR. No invites required. On the day following the event, the manufacturer is hosting pop-up events in London, Berlin, Paris and New York. The latter of which is being attended by the company’s co-founder, Carl Pei.

Rumoured specifications for the OnePlus 3 include a 5.5-inch full HD (1080p) display based on AMOLED technology, a Snapdragon 820 processor and either 4GB or 6GB RAM. We’re also expecting a 3,000mAh battery and a 16MP rear camera, the latter of which was seemingly confirmed in a bunch of photos posted by OnePlus’ co-founder, Pete Lau.


What is Demand Response, and how it can save you money?

Everybody likes to save money, especially when it comes to bills, and being smarter with your energy could save you hundreds of dollars a year.

In the US, a program called Demand Response will help ensure you’re being as energy efficient as possible.

Here’s everything you need to know about Demand Response and how it can save you money on energy bills.

What is Demand Response?

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order in 2011 to encourage the use and implementation of Demand Response in the US.

This can get complicated, but what you need to know is that Demand Response is sort of like a technology-enabled economic rationing system for electric power supply.

To maintain system stability, energy providers use Demand Response to change end user energy consumption to help alleviate the load on the grid – these are known as Demand Response events. There are financial incentives to the end user alongside the technology that is used in Demand Response.

Just imagine the electricity grid as a scale that needs to be regularly balanced. During the summertime, when the air conditioning load soars, generators often can’t keep up with the demand for power. Demand Response doesn’t generate more power to maintain the grid’s balance but instead leverages technologies to reduce consumption on things like as air-conditioners, water heaters, lights, etc.

How can Demand Response save you money?

Demand Response provides an opportunity for you to reduce or shift your electricity usage during peak periods. Demand Response programs are offered by electric system planners, utilities, and operators for balancing supply and demand. Such programs can lower the cost of electricity in wholesale markets and lead to lower retail rates for you.

With energy efficiency, the goal is to lower overall energy use, but with Demand Response, the goal is to lower energy consumption at specific times. Large buildings have been doing this for years but now it coming to individual users. ConEdison in New York City offers a voluntary program that allows it to remotely adjust your air-conditioner thermostats at peak hours, such as during hot days in the summer. In exchange for participating, you get a rebate.

However, you might not like the idea of a utility company controlling your air conditioning, for example. A utility company could alleviate those concerns by allowing you to adjust your thermostat manually.

What companies work with Demand Response?

If you choose not to join your utility’s Demand Response program, or if you choose not to reduce your electricity usage during peak periods, you may end up paying “surge” prices. To avoid all this, invest in smart products that work with Demand Response, or ones that can detect peaks, utilise automatic switching to reduce power, and prevent you from paying surge prices.

There are lots of companies involved in Demand Response throughout the system, from the energy suppliers to the hardware manufacturers, spanning both big businesses and individual consumers. These include companies like Honeywell, Nest, Ecobee, Zen, GridPoint and MelRok.

Manufacturers are investing in all areas. For example, Honeywell bought California-based Akuacom in 2010. Akuacom is a major player in the Demand Response and Smart Grid arena. Since that acquisition, Honeywell has shipped thousands of Demand Response thermostats and other energy efficient smarthome devices throughout the US.

How can I get Demand Response?

Firstly, you’ll need to go to your utility provider and opt into its Demand Response program. This will give you an idea about what hardware you will need in your home.

As mentioned, companies such as Honeywell, Nest and Ecobee all offer smart thermostats that support Demand Response but not all models do. For example, Honeywell’s Lyric Wi-Fi Thermostat currently doesn’t but some of its other Wi-Fi thermostats do so be sure to check.

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Philips camera monitors baby vitals from afar

Sure, junior looks fine sleeping on the baby-cam, but do you know her or his oxygen level, heartbeat and breathing rate, you monster? Of course not (don’t worry, you’re a good parent), because there’s no way of monitoring such things short of hooking the poor tyke up to a pulse oxymeter. At least, until now. Philips has revealed a camera that can detect all those things from afar, without touching the patient. The fruit of the companies contactless monitoring project, it can get a pulse rate, breathing rate and blood oxygen level by detecting changes in skin color that are invisible to the naked eye.

Monitoring breathing and heartbeat (even through walls) isn’t new, but Philips says it knows of no other studies focused on remote blood oxygen monitoring. The results are accurate to within two percent of traditional measuring methods, according to Philips, though it depends on several factors including the patient’s skin color. “For patient populations with specific conditions, managing their care in a less intrusive way is critical in order to avoid unnecessary distress,” says Philips Patient Care CEO Carla Kriwet. So far, the company hasn’t revealed any plans for a product, but calls the results “promising” for the future of contactless monitoring.


Source: Philips


Glass particles in liquid could lead to hologram displays

Shine a torch through a window and then a glass of water and you’ll notice how the light changes as it passes through these two substances. Researchers at MIT and Harvard have now discovered what happens when you mix regular liquid and glass (which, as all pedants know, is also sort of a liquid) together and stick it on a stove. The team suspended glass particles in a fluid and found that, when warmed up, its ability to scatter light increased a thousand times. That doesn’t mean much right now, but the development has opened a door for research into holographic displays and medical imaging.

As MIT News explains, a blend of solids and liquids in the same suspension could steer light in different directions at the same time. Let’s imagine that you can create a grid of solids and liquids and each one can be heated to a different temperature with an electrode. It’s possible to have one set of electrodes creating a “foreground” image that pushes light straight at you, while others create the illusion of depth with a “background.” There’s also the potential for the technology to be used in photography, replacing diffuser boxes that help create the illusion of natural light. Just, you know, give the folks at MIT a couple of decades to refine the idea before you start demanding a holographic TV for the family room.

Source: MIT News


What to expect from Apple’s WWDC keynote next week

Apple’s grand convocation of geeks — also known as the Worldwide Developers Conference — is set to kick off next Monday smack in the heart of San Francisco. We’ll be liveblogging the keynote starting at 1 PM Eastern/10 AM Pacific, but really, who wants to go into a situation like this blind? No one, that’s who. Curiously enough, the rumor mill has been churning more quietly than usual. It’s tough to say whether Apple is doing a better job keeping its juicy WWDC details under wraps or if this is just a low-key keynote compared to previous years. We do know some things, though, so take a few moments to get caught up — and be prepared for some possible last-minute surprises.

iOS 10

WWDC 2016: What should you expect?

Another year, another version of iOS, right? Well, maybe not. Apple Music is widely expected to get an overhaul that trims down the visual clutter. 9to5Mac also points to the inclusion of new 3D Touch gestures and a new “Browse” tab that replaces the lackluster New section that’s currently there. Too bad the social network-y Connect is apparently going to live another day — maybe people are more eager to “interact” with artists than we thought.

Apple Pay is also expected to work in-browser, tapping into your stored payment information to complete online transactions. Google said it was working on the same feature for the forthcoming Android N release at I/O — let’s see who can get there first. Speaking of payments, one of the more out-there rumors we’ve heard is that this iOS update will bring with it the ability to send money to people using Apple Pay. It’s not a new idea, but it’s not impossible, either. A move like this would almost certainly get people using Apple Pay as a sort of Venmo replacement, but making money off those transactions is a tricky proposition.

Otherwise, iOS 10 is shrouded in mystery. Apple is rumored (and it’s a pretty flimsy rumor, at that) to announce iMessage support for Android users on Monday. And noted Apple reporter Mark Gurman pointed to the possibility of a tweaked iOS interface, including “updated notifications.” What does that mean though? No idea. Stay tuned for more on Monday.

A new Mac OS

Details on Apple’s new OSX update are pretty scarce. To start, the company might reveal an improved version of its Photos app for Macs. It’s about time — although the app has gradually gotten more tolerable, it still lacks some of the niceties that old-school iPhoto had. More importantly, Apple’s digital assistant is finally expected to make the leap from iPhones and iPads to Macbooks as part of OS X 10.12 [insert California landmark here], an update that’s expected to drop later this fall. If that name feels a little unwieldy, well, you’re not alone. Recent reports also suggest Apple will also rebrand its desktop operating system macOS, dropping the “X” that’s been part of the platform’s name since 2001.

The macOS moniker first made an appearance in the company’s Earth Day 2016 promotional materials, and WWDC would be an ideal place to announce the shift in branding. Still, it seems like a big change to announce alongside what seems like an incremental update.

watchOS and tvOS

The Apple Watch has received a steady stream of software updates over the past year, the most recent of which arrived around three months ago. The timing seems ripe for another major update — watchOS 2 was first announced a year and two months after the Apple Watch’s launch — but the rumor mill has been terribly quiet. The same could be said about Apple’s tvOS: We got the sweet revamped Apple TV last year, and the software powering it doesn’t seem like it’s going to receive a major upgrade. In fact, Apple pushed out a beta build of tvOS 9.1.1 just days ago (spoiler: It’s just security enhancements) so don’t expect much stage time devoted to this stuff.

About that hardware…

Price cuts and rumors have fueled dreams of new devices at WWDC, but it might be best to stay pessimistic. Mark Gurman recently suggested that there wouldn’t be any new hardware at WWDC at all, a revelation that should only come as a shock if you forgot what the show was called. In recent years Apple has gotten more comfortable revealing new machines at WWDC, but it’s certainly not a guarantee; the last time Apple used this event to unveil new Macs was back in in 2013.

There’s also no denying that the Macbook Air and Macbook Pro lines are due for refreshes — the latter is rumored to get an OLED touchbar later this year — but don’t expect any news on Monday. Gurman also said the standalone 5K monitor we’ve been hearing about isn’t going to be unveiled at the event either; for now, the only way to get an Apple screen of that caliber is to buy an iMac. That said, Apple? Please prove us wrong about this.


Uber is letting business travellers book rides in advance

Uber is reportedly allowing a small group of business travelers to schedule rides up to 30 days in advance of when they take ’em. Recode is reporting that the option is being rolled out in Seattle, with San Francisco likely next to get the feature. Rather than actually pre-booking a ride, it’s simply a way of scheduling the app to call for a pickup at a specific time and location. Naturally, that means you can’t avoid surge pricing, so the utility for such a feature is limited to frequent fliers who want one less thing to worry about when they leave the airport.

Source: Recode


Stream Bonnaroo sets from J. Cole, M83 and more this weekend

Didn’t feel like making the trip to Manchester, Tennessee to catch the annual Bonnaroo music festival in person? Don’t worry, Red Bull TV has you covered. Although the event started yesterday, the streaming app will offer three channels of coverage throughout this weekend, wrapping up with Dead & Company and Ween on Sunday night. As far as the livestreaming is concerned, performances from acts like J. Cole, CHVRCHES, M83, LCD Soundsystem, Grace Potter, Father John Misty and many more are also scheduled to be available through the app.

Red Bull TV is available on Apple TV, Xbox 360, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Roku and Samsung Smart TVs. There’s also Android and iOS apps or you can watch the old fashioned way: straight from the web. The music starts at 6:10 PM ET today, if you’re looking for a way to start off the weekend.

Source: Red Bull TV


Bloomberg: Intel will supply modem chips for the next iPhone

Bloomberg is reporting that Intel will replace Qualcomm as the supplier of modem hardware for some models in the next generation of iPhones. The news service believes that the move is down to Apple’s desire to “diversify its supplier” base for the best-selling devices. Intel will provide the wireless hardware for the GSM version of the device, compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile in the US as well as most worldwide carriers. Qualcomm, meanwhile, will still provide the gear that goes into the Verizon/Sprint model, as well as for other mobile networks that use the CDMA protocol.

It’s a small step for Apple, but a pretty giant leap for Intel, a company that famously turned down the chance to supply key components for the iPhone. Before the first generation device launched, then CEO Paul Otellini was offered the chance to fabricate the processors that would reside within each handset. But, as the chips were designed by a rival, ARM, he decided to take a pass. It wound up costing him big, and firms like Samsung became wealthy from his mistake knocking out the A-series of mobile CPUs.

Realizing its mistake too late, Intel attempted to beat ARM on its own turf, releasing a series of low-power mobile chips designed for Android smartphones. But the gear arrived too late and was considerably slower than the alternatives from Qualcomm, NVIDIA and Samsung. The demise of the PC market has compounded the issue, and the company is now lurching around in crisis mode. Earlier this year it revealed that it’ll have to fire 12,000 employees and re-shape its business in order to remain relevant in the new world.

Source: Bloomberg

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