Is the age of the flying car upon us? This week a new report revealed that Google co-founder Larry Page has secretly invested over $100 million in two aerial vehicle startups. Meanwhile, four major political parties in Norway have proposed a ban on all gas-powered cars by the year 2025. A team of Swedish students unveiled one of the world’s most energy-efficient rail-bound vehicles. A young filmmaker transformed a boring Chevy van into an incredible solar-powered mobile home. And the Coboat is a sun and wind-powered catamaran for co-working freelance nomads.
Wave power has lagged behind solar and wind energy, but that could be changing. Australia just set a world record by generating 14,000 hours of wave power, while a new oceanic energy plant could provide 15 percent of Gibraltar’s energy. Switzerland is harnessing energy from water with a massive subterranean hydropower plant that can power one million homes. Harvard just developed a new artificial leaf that uses sunlight to split water into hydrogen fuel. Apple formed a new company to sell surplus solar energy. And an Icelandic power plant found a way to turn carbon emissions into stone.
Sometimes the most brilliant designs are the simplest. Take the Eco Cooler, a clever air conditioner made from plastic bottles that cools down buildings without using any energy. IKEA is going green by launching a new hydroponic garden specifically designed for restaurants. BioLite launched a brand new line of camping gear that keeps your gadgets charged when you head off the grid, and a disturbing new study warns that the Earth’s magnetic field is weakening 10 times faster than expected. And in wearable tech news, Adidas launched a new line of shoes made entirely from recycled ocean plastic, and a Parson student developed a functional fashion line specifically to help Syrian refugees.
There’s something in the air this week. Seems everybody’s in L-O-V-E, love. Well, except maybe this guy. Researchers successfully tested a new gene therapy using the DNA from three donors. Lenovo debuted the world’s first Tango-enabled smartphone. Tinder kicked all the kids out and Google’s gave its devs something to crow about. Numbers, because how else would we know that one is the loneliest?
If you’re a Star Trek fan, the odds are that your dream game (outside of a Holodeck) involves helming a starship as if you were really on the bridge. Well, you’re about to get your wish: Ubisoft has teased Star Trek: Bridge Crew, the sci-fi series’ first-ever virtual reality game. The title is set in JJ Abrams’ Star Trek universe, and has you taking on the captain, engineer, helm or tactical stations of the remarkably Enterprise-like starship Aegis as it resettles what’s left of the Vulcan population. Think of it as a very sophisticated VR version of Spaceteam — you have to coordinate with the rest of your crew to explore the galaxy and fight off enemies.
Bridge Crew arrives this fall and will support both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift on PCs as well as PlayStation VR. More details will have to wait until Ubisoft’s E3 press event on Monday, but it’s already clear that the publisher is making good on its promise of a big VR gaming push this year. We wouldn’t be surprised if Ubi has more extra-immersive games to show when it takes to the stage.
Whether you’re setting up a new home network or upgrading an existing one, the crux of the entire setup is the wireless router. It can be the difference between a nearly flawless network and one that constantly gives you trouble.
So here is what you need to know before buying a new router.
Should you use the router provided by your ISP?
When you sign up with a new internet service provider (ISP), they will often offer an equipment rental for around $5 (£3.45 or AU$6.72) to $7 (£4.84 or AU$9.40) per month.
In most cases, the device they send you is a modem/router combination that is, more or less, serviceable. However, if you plan on keeping the same network equipment for over a year, it’s typically more cost-effective to buy your own equipment. Your ISP likely provides a list of compatible equipment that you can find online for around $50 (£34.54 or AU$67.17) and up. Keep in mind, you will need both a router and a modem, separately, or a combination device.
Buying your own equipment doesn’t always guarantee better performance, but it can save you some cash in the long run and give you better control and options that their run-of-the-mill router doesn’t include. For instance, network storage.
Changing wireless standards
The standards for wireless technology have changed quite a bit over the last decade. For instance, most newer laptops, smartphones and tablets utilize the newer standard, 802.11ac. This means they’re capable of faster speeds over Wi-Fi. If your internet package promises speeds in excess of 100Mbps and you’re still using a Wireless N router, the limitations of the router’s wireless capabilities may become a bottleneck for your network.
More router tips
- Why hiding your rotuer is a terrible idea
- Home networking: Explained
- Find dead spots in your Wi-Fi network
That said, if you don’t have any devices at home that support Wireless AC, then the router isn’t so much the problem as the individual client devices are. Chances are, however, that when you upgrade your computer or mobile devices next time, they will have support for 802.11ac.
If your ISP offers faster speeds, it may be worth upgrading to an AC router for future-proofing purposes. Otherwise, keep in mind that when you do upgrade to a faster internet package, you may also need a new router.
The life span of a router
Keep in mind that networking hardware doesn’t last forever. Not only do the standards change fairly often, but networking hardware is put through a lot of stress on a daily basis. Your Wi-Fi connection is stretched across your computer, gaming console, smartphone, tablet and streaming devices. And with more devices being added to the mix, such as smart lights or thermostats, that load is only getting larger, and over time, a router’s performance can degrade.
If you’ve had the same router for a few years and can find no other explanation for a dip the reliability of your network, it may be time to consider replacing the router. (That, or it might be time to clean your router.)
The price of routers ranges from as little as $15 (£10.36 or AU$20.18) to upwards of $400 (£276.32 or AU$538.14). What your needs are and your budget will ultimately dictate where you fall on that spectrum.
It’s difficult to recommend a super high-end router to an average consumer for at least two reasons. First, the pace of the advancement of the technology is very fast, meaning while a $400 (£276.32 or AU$538.14) router may very well future-proof you for the next few years, it’s nearly as susceptible to obsolescence as a $100 (£69.08 or AU$134.54) or $200 (£138.31 or AU$269.07) router. Second, networking hardware is moving faster than ISPs, which means mid-tier routers are usually more than enough for the average user and even some power users.
So unless you absolutely need a top-tier router with the best possible performance, a router in the range of $100 or $200 will suffice. And if you just need something to provide wireless access and your home internet speeds are as low as 20Mbps or 30Mbps, you can save yourself some serious cash by opting for a sub-$100 (£69.08 or AU$134.54) router.
Is gigabit necessary yet?
Fiber is becoming more common around the nation, but in no way is it commonplace yet. Even more scarce are gigabit (1,000Mbps) speeds. That doesn’t mean you don’t need a router capable of Gigabit, though. Most moderately priced models these days come with Gigabit Ethernet capabilities, but even a router like the TP-LINK Archer C7 is capable of theoretical speeds of 1300Mbps through its 5GHz wireless channel.
In other words, get a Gigabit router for future-proofing purposes. You may need it before your next router upgrade.
Single- or dual-band?
Wireless routers work on two different frequency bands — 2.4GHz and 5GHz. The 2.4GHz band is used by a large number of devices around your house and is more susceptible to interference and congestion. The newer 5GHz band is typically less cluttered and provides a faster connection. A dual-band router offers both 2.4GHz and 5GHz, often using both bands simultaneously.
Choosing between a single-band and dual-band router is quite simple. If you live in a crowded neighborhood or a densely populated area, you’re better off with a dual-band router. If you don’t need faster wireless speeds and you don’t have any nearby neighbors whose wireless network might interfere with yours, a single-band router will do the trick.
The positioning of your router is extremely important. It should be in a central location, away from other gadgets or obstructions and, ideally, high up on a shelf.
Still, even with great positioning, you’re likely to run into dead spots inside your home, places where the wireless signal just can’t reach. Using heat map software can help you maximize your wireless coverage, and buying a more expensive router might give you better range, but it still doesn’t mean the signal will reach the far corner or your basement.
In most cases, buying a more affordable router (or two) and a couple power-line adapters will do the trick better than just about anything. Power-line adapters utilize the existing electrical wiring in the walls to extend your network. They’re relatively affordable and work wonders when it comes to extending your network to hard to reach places in your house. Just take note of the speed limitations of the power-line adapters, as well, since they’re not all made the same.
Don’t throw out your old router
Speaking of extending your network, just because it may be time to upgrade your old router doesn’t mean it’s time for the old router to be retired. If it’s still in working condition, you can turn it into a wireless bridge (to extend your network with about half the original throughput) or an access point using the aforementioned power-line adapters.
Before printers with built-in wireless capabilities were common, a USB port on router was important for networking your printer. Routers with USB ports are now more commonly used for cheap networked storage. You can plug an HDD or flash storage drive into the back of your router and share that data with any device on the network. You can also use it to create a networked media hub for streaming movies, music or television shows you own locally.
If you don’t need to network a printer that doesn’t have wireless capabilities or you don’t need networked storage, USB support on a router isn’t something you should be worried about.
Not only are routers getting faster or more powerful, they’re also getting smarter. Google’s OnHub routers or the Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Routers make setting up and controlling your home network much easier. You can prioritize bandwidth for things like streaming movies and video games from a companion smartphone app, and updates happen automatically.
OnHub routers come with improved support for the smart home with IFTTT integration. This means, for example, you can create a recipe that will unlock an August Smart Lock as your phone connects to the OnHub router’s network. The possibilities are virtually endless.
You might not know this, but if you have a Freeview Play TV or set-top-box you can catch-up with the last seven days of TV shows just by scrolling back through the electronic programme guide.
Shows that aired of BBC, ITV or Channel 4 are available to scroll back to on Freeview Play. Click on one and it will open the respective streaming application and start. Easy as pie.
You can also catch-up with Channel 5 programming, just not through the EPG at present. It can be played through the Demand 5 app on supported devices. UKTV Play shows are also coming to the platform.
Everything is made so simple you really only have one tough decision to make, what to actually watch. That’s why we’ve put together some of our faves from the last week for you to give a whirl.
READ: What is Freeview Play, when is it coming to my TV and how can I get it?
BBC Two (BBC iPlayer) – broadcast on Sunday 5 June
It’s been criticised in some corners, but Chris Evans, Matt LeBlanc and the rest of the Top Gear team will find their feet soon. After all, it took Clarkson, Hammond and May many years to find a format worth sticking with.
If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s well worth a watch so you can make your own mind up at least. We’d also recommend the Extra Gear complementary show on BBC iPlayer too – it stars occasional Pocket-lint contributor Rory Reid.
BBC One (BBC iPlayer) – broadcast on Thursday 9 June
This new BBC crime drama is written by Anthony Horowitz, who not only penned the Alex Rider teen novels but plenty of murder mystery TV in the past.
New Blood feels fresh though, aimed at a slightly younger audience than most shows in the category. And that makes the first episode feel genuinely different and exciting.
Jack Dee’s HelpDesk
BBC Two (BBC iPlayer) – broadcast on Tuesday 7 June
Jack Dee and a celebrity panel look at the forthcoming EU Referendum with a cheeky, comedic glance and try to help a live studio audience (rather than a dead one) make sense of the whole thing.
Regulars Romesh Ranganathan and Katherine Ryan also help out.
Euro 2016: England v Russia
ITV (ITV Hub) – broadcast on Saturday 11 June
As we’re writing this before the match has played, will give it the benefit of the doubt and say it’s well worth watching.
England might have been battered, of course, which would change our stance somewhat. If so, never mind, there’s still another couple of group matches to go.
ITV 4 (ITV Hub) – broadcast on Thursday 9 June
The classic spy show, starring Roger Moore in his pre-007 days, is being rerun on ITV 4. And that makes us very happy.
It’s an absolute must-see for all those who don’t realise just how cool TV was in the 60s, and others whose abiding memories of Moore are that of an old, doddery Bond in A View to a Kill.
The Last Leg
Channel 4 (All 4) – broadcast on Friday 10 June
Adam Hills, Josh Widdecombe and Alex Brooker are back with their live comical look at the politics and events from the week.
It’s just in time for the Euro 2016 build-up and, more importantly, the EU Referendum, so expect plenty of larks and japes.
Kirstie and Phil’s Love It or List It
Channel 4 (All 4) – broadcast on Thursday 9 June
There’s something alluring about watching other people ponder a house move, not least because we’re thinking of something similar ourselves, so Kirstie and Phil’s Love It or List It appeals to our current circumstances.
It’s also addictive viewing, as hosts Kirstie Allsop and Phil Spencer badger couples into either selling their family home or renovating it.
Get catch-up and on demand TV for £0 per month with Freeview Play. Click here to find out more.
Solar Impulse 2 isn’t the only Sun-powered aircraft reaching a milestone this week. Luminati Aerospace has conducted a public test flight of its prototype solar aircraft, the VO-Substrata, that represents a stepping stone toward drones that supply internet access. While this early design has a pilot, Luminati eventually wants to make pilotless vehicles that fly as high as 60,000 feet and never need to land. If all goes well, manufacturing starts soon as the end of 2016.
Luminati is far from the only company diving into internet drones — just ask Facebook. However, its effort is bound to raise a few eyebrows. It has the help of multiple public and private organizations (including Georgia Tech and MIT), and there’s reportedly a mysterious tech company helping out behind the scenes. Provided Luminati fulfills its ambitions, it could play a significant role in getting people online in corners of the world where reliable internet access is rare.
Source: AP (Phys.org), Luminati Aerospace
Expectation that Apple is set to announce Siri for the Mac at WWDC 2016 has intensified over the weekend, thanks to an apparently unprompted reference to OS X leaked by none other than the personal assistant on iPhone.
Simply asking Siri the question “Open settings in the window” opens the iOS Settings app. But the same question with the word ‘Siri’ included at the beginning of the sentence evokes the spoken response: “It doesn’t look like you have an app named ‘Finder’.”
‘Finder’ appears to be a reference to the OS X file manager application, since no such app of that name exists for iOS. The discovery was revealed in a blog post by Brian Roemmele, and suggests that Apple’s servers are already being modified behind the scenes to extend Siri’s functionality to the Mac.
Screenshots passed to MacRumors indicate that Siri will soon become a defining aspect of the Mac desktop, ready to answer many of the same queries and perform many of the same tasks it can on iOS devices – opening apps, conducting web searches, controlling HomeKit, sending text messages, reading emails, setting calendar events, and more.
Additionally, Apple is also said to be preparing to release a Siri software development kit so that developers can make their apps and app content accessible through Siri voice commands, marking a much-awaited extension of the assistant’s capabilities.
Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off tomorrow with a keynote event at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time, where Apple is expected to show off the latest version of OS X alongside updated versions of its iOS, tvOS, and watchOS operating systems.
Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.
Apple will offer a live stream of the keynote event through its website and through a dedicated events app on the Apple TV. MacRumors will also provide live coverage, on MacRumors.com and on the MacRumorsLive Twitter account.
Meanwhile, you can learn more about what to expect at WWDC 2016 in our comprehensive features and rumors compilation.
Related Roundup: WWDC 2016
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WhatsApp now has the ability to quote messages you want to reply to, which sounds especially useful for group chats with friends or family. Only problem is, it’s unclear if everyone already has access to it. It first came out a day ago or so as an experimental feature for the Android app’s beta version (v.2.16.118). However, we were able to quote messages on our stable apps (v. 2.16.6) for Android and iOS without having to update either of them. Note that we also didn’t see a new update on iTunes or Google Play.
According to NDTV and some other sources, the Facebook-owned application already began rolling the feature out to the general public, so it’s possible that you can already use it. To find out if you have access to it, simply press on the message you want to respond to for a few seconds until the action bubble/bar pops up. Next to star, trash, copy and forward is a new option that looks like the arrow typically associated with reply. Click that, and the message you want to quote will show up right above your text box like in the screenshots below. If you can’t seem to make it work, try reinstalling your app or checking again in a day or two — you might have it then.
Source: 9to5google, Android Police
You’ll find an important update waiting on your OnePlus One, if you haven’t installed it yet: Cyanogen OS 13.1. The OS’ latest version is “MOD ready,” which means the manufacturer can tweak parts of the Android-based platform it couldn’t before. In fact, version 13.1 already comes with the “mods” Cyanogen introduced in February, which mostly insert Microsoft features into various parts of the software. For instance, you can now make Skype calls straight from the device’s Phone app and use OneNote to take notes within the Email and Phone applications.
If you’re in the US, Cortana for OnePlus One can take hands-free selfies if you tell it to. It can also set reminders and access your sched with voice commands without having to unlock your device. Microsoft took the chance to bring its Hyperlapse technology to the phone, as well, giving its camera app the capability to capture stable time-lapse videos.
The only non-Microsoft mod of the bunch shows trending tweets right on your lock screen. But you don’t have to worry about random people seeing them on your phone — you’d have to manually activate both Twitter and Cortana lock screen mods via Settings. If you’d rather not make them accessible, simply leave them off. You can watch a video of the new features below to get a better feel of how they work and how they’re integrated into the platform’s apps.