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Reuters: Big tech companies are auto-purging extremist content

YouTube, Facebook and other big internet companies are using automated systems to find and remove terrorist content, according to Reuters. Prior to this, they mostly relied on users to report extremist videos, which human employees review and delete. The publication’s sources wouldn’t specify how the systems work and if humans play a role in the process. But these huge entities reportedly took the technologies they use to scour their domains for copyright-protected posts and tweaked them for this purpose.

The altered automated systems can identify beheading videos, as well as ones that incite violence and spread extremist propaganda. They do so by comparing the unique digital identifiers or “hashes” that internet companies assign to videos people upload against a database of previously banned content. A good example of a tech that works like that is Microsoft’s child porn-detecting program PhotoDNA.

It’s unclear how the companies assembled that database, and we doubt we’d hear from any of them. Reuters’ sources said they’re not talking about this project, because they’re worried that terrorists might figure out how their content-blocking systems work. They’re also wary of governments pressuring them to use their technologies to censor critics and opponents.

Google, Facebook, Twitter and other huge players in the industry apparently discussed various ways to combat the growing number of pro-terrorist posts on their websites during a call back in April. It has recently become such a huge problem for them that Twitter had to ban 125,000 users in February. One teenager was even sentenced to 11 years in prison for running a popular pro-ISIS Twitter account.

While none of the companies wanted to talk about the initiative, Facebook’s head of global policy management, Monika Bickert, has at least revealed that they’re working together. She told Reuters that they’re “exploring with others in industry ways [they] can collaboratively work to remove content that violates [their] policies against terrorism.”

Source: Reuters


Bose’s best headphones are even better wireless

When it comes to headphones, it can sometimes be easy to forget about Bose. The company doesn’t debut new models as frequently as the competition, choosing instead to focus on quality, comfort and its highly touted noise-canceling tech. Bose’s previous noise-canceling model, the QC25, has been around awhile, and despite its popularity, there was one thing missing: a wireless edition. Announced just over a week ago, the QuietComfort 35s mix that trademark sound and feel in a $350 package. I spent a few days using the headphones to see if they met my high expectations.

Let’s start with the aesthetics. Unlike rivals such as Beats and SMS Audio, Bose never attempted to win us over with fashion. And it doesn’t really need to, given its knack for a comfortable fit and external noise blocking. These new QuietComfort 35s have a design similar to that of their predecessor, the QC25, except they come in all black (pictured) or silver. Personally, I prefer the more sophisticated solid color scheme over the previous two-tone look. It’s a subtle change, but an improvement nonetheless.

All of the controls are on the right ear cup, with a power slider on the outside shell that doubles as a Bluetooth pairing button. Along the rim, there are volume controls and a play/pause key beside LED indicators that let you know when the headphones are paired and when the battery is running low. A double click on the play/pause button will skip ahead to the next track, while a triple click will go back to the previous song. Typically these controls are scattered across individual buttons, which are sometimes on the outside panel of the ear cup. Bose has assigned them to a single control, and honestly, it’s a much better solution.

The QC35s are made of glass-filled nylon with a leather outer headband and ear pads. The frame may look like plastic, but Bose says otherwise, and the nylon is advertised to be more durable than regular plastic, too. There’s also a matte finish, which helps the headphones to not look cheap. Bose’s choice to go with nylon also keeps things lightweight — something I’ll address more in a moment.

The inside of the headband is actually made from Alcantara, a softer material used in luxury car interiors. The ear pads are soft and cushy but provide enough insulation between your head and the rim of the ear cup to keep things nice and comfy, even during long listening sessions. In addition to folding in for easy stowage in the included case, the ear cups themselves also rotate to sit flat — a common feature for headphones these days.

In terms of the overall weight, Bose nailed it. These are the first headphones I can remember using that didn’t cause at least some type of discomfort after an hour or so of continuous listening. The combination of the weight, along with the tension of the headband, keeps things super comfortable, and the QC35s never felt like they were pinching my head. It’s easy to understand why Bose’s gear is a top choice among frequent fliers.

When it comes to pairing a Bluetooth speaker or headphones with a mobile device or laptop, it’s not uncommon to have to try a few times. There are exceptions, but for me, pairing a device rarely happens on the first try. That wasn’t the case here, though: I had no trouble linking the QC35s with my MacBook Air and Moto X. The ability to get everything up and running in a matter of seconds is always a good thing. If you prefer to make the connection via NFC, the QC35s support that as well. Once paired, the Quiet Comfort 35s will let you know how much battery is left, as well as announce which device you’re connected to. For example, you’ll hear “Now connected to ‘Billy’s MacBook Air’” or some such. You can turn off the voice prompts if you prefer, but I appreciated getting an update on the power level.

What about using these headphones for in-flight entertainment? The company isn’t leaving travelers without a way to tap into the music and TV an airline offers to pass the time. There’s a wireless dongle included with the QC35s that plugs into those headphone jacks at your seat. It’s a pretty nice touch, if you ask me.

With the QuietComfort 35s, Bose continues its tradition of solid audio quality. Everything is crisp and clear, with a respectable amount of bass for a well-rounded sound. The low-end tones are nowhere near what’s become the norm on headphones these days (read: overpowering), but there’s still enough bass to give you some thump when a song demands it. The QC35s sounded good across a wide variety of genres, including hip-hop, electronica, bluegrass and metal. At higher volumes, I noticed the headphones favored treble a bit more than at a medium or low level. Some songs showcased this more than others, but when I did notice it, I quickly reached for the volume controls to try and remedy the issue. I didn’t encounter any of the distortion that some others have, even with both my phone and the headphones cranked all the way up.

Speaking of volume, the QuietComfort 35 is a strong performer. Sometimes wireless headphones and earbuds just aren’t loud enough for most people to like to listen to at near-deafening levels. I’m happy to report that these headphones are an exception; they get pretty loud. Thankfully, they stop short of painful, so unless you’ve already suffered some hearing loss, I doubt you’ll take issue with the volume here.

Bose promises 20 hours of battery life in wireless mode, and that’s with noise canceling enabled. I actually got a bit more time out of them. I needed a charge after about a week of using the headphones for about three to four hours a day. In wired mode, you can expect battery life to double, even with noise canceling turned on. When you do run out of juice, though, the QC35s will function just fine as a passive set.

The only real gripe I had with battery life is that the headphones don’t turn off automatically, or at least I thought they didn’t. I left them on overnight by accident and they were still on the next morning when I woke up. I didn’t realize at the time that the Bose Connect app (iOS and Android) allows you to switch on an “Auto Power-Down” feature to save your battery when you forget to shut them off yourself. That time can be as little as five minutes or as long as three hours. By default, that feature is disabled, hence my overnight battery drain. The app also lets you manage connected devices, tweak settings and download any updates.

With the Bose QuietComfort 35, the company finally caters to those who’ve been clamoring for a wireless version of its popular noise-canceling headphones. Faithful fans of the brand won’t be disappointed either: The company’s trademark noise cancellation, crisp audio quality and comfortable fit make these some of the best wireless headphones I’ve tested. Sure, they don’t have a flashy design, but they do their job, and they do it well for at least 20 hours on a charge. Perhaps the only surprise here is that Bose set the price at $350, just $50 more than the wired QuietComfort model. That’s on par with other sets, which is really just the bow around a rather stellar package. My expectations for the QC35s were high, and Bose managed to exceed them with another great product.


Galaxy Note 7 name looking more likely, iris scanner reportedly coming too


Say hello to Samsung’s sixth Galaxy Note, the Galaxy Note 7.

Update: Evan Blass has followed up with word that the phone will also feature an iris scanner as a secondary layer of biometric security.

Original story: In recent months, rumors have been swirling over the name of the next Samsung Galaxy Note device, with a growing number of reports suggesting the Korean firm will leapfrog the Galaxy Note 6 name and instead launch a Galaxy Note 7 in the coming months. And that’s looking increasingly likely with the latest leak from a usually reliable source.


The image above comes from Evan Blass (a.k.a. @evleaks) on Twitter, who says the new name is “confirmed.”

Blass is usually right about these things, so why the decision to skip a Note 6? Earlier reports point to Samsung wanting to avoid the impression that the next Note is an “outdated phone.” 2016 is the year of sevens — we’re due an iPhone 7 later this year, along with Android 7.0, to say nothing of Samsung’s own Galaxy S7 series. Calling it the Note 7 lets Samsung establish this new Note as belonging to the same generation as the latest and greatest in mobile tech.

Other Note 7 rumors point to a curved screen and possible early August announcement.

Looking forward to the Note 6 Note 7? Share your hopes (and fears) down in the comments!


Android Central 294: ChromeDroid FTW

What’s it like to run Android on a Chromebook? Phil and Jerry have all the answers to be had so far, as we take a look at the first developer build. 

Plus the Samsung Gear 360 has been put through its paces. It’s pretty darn good, but still has some room for improvement. 

Plus we catch up on the latest batch of emails. Send yours to podcast at androidcentral dot com!

Podcast MP3 URL:


The malicious ‘Godless’ exploit found in a few Google Play apps sounds scary, but that’s about it


Another week, another scary-sounding security story. Here’s why we wouldn’t worry too much about “Godless.”

Security firm TrendMicro this week detailed “a family of mobile malware called Godless” that it says contained exploits that potentially could root a phone without a user’s knowledge. That in and of itself would be bad, opening your phone up to all sorts of nonsense.

And it sounds scary as hell, if you read Trend Micro’s blog.

Here’s the lede:

We came across a family of mobile malware called Godless (detected as ANDROIDOS_GODLESS.HRX) that has a set of rooting exploits in its pockets. By having multiple exploits to use, Godless can target virtually any Android device running on Android 5.1 (Lollipop) or earlier. As of this writing, almost 90% of Android devices run on affected versions. Based on the data gathered from our Trend Micro Mobile App Reputation Service, malicious apps related to this threat can be found in prominent app stores, including Google Play, and has affected over 850,000 devices worldwide.

You can pretty much stop there if you want, and go about your day. But just for fun, let’s break down that first graf.

  • This “Godless” malware can target “virtually any device running on Android 5.1 or earlier. OK, that’s 89.9 percent of all devices on Google Play. That number will continue to drop as more devices get Marshmallow, however.
  • And just because you’re on a pre-Marshmallow device doesn’t mean there aren’t other checks in place to keep your phone safe from this sort of thing. Extrapolating the percentage of exploited devices from the percentage on Lollipop and below is one hell of a leap — and wrong.
  • Google’s “Verify Apps” feature works to pick up sideloaded potentially harmful apps (you can read more on that in this PDF), and we need to remember about monthly security updates that don’t trigger a new version.
  • “Malicious apps related to this threat can be found in prominent app stores, including Google Play.” OK, which other ones? And how many apps in each? Why only name-drop Google Play, in that case? Is it a high percentage? Low percentage? (More on that in a second.)
  • “… and has affected over 850,000 devices worldwide.” Well, that’s no good. But that’s also very conservatively one-one-thousandth of all Android devices out there. (The actual percentage is almost certainly lower than that — I’d say more like 0.0006 percent.)

Keep reading, though, and the Godless worry drops even further.

  • TrendMicro has a chart showing the global distribution of affected devices. India leads things at 46 percent. Indonesia is the next highest at 10 percent. The United States? 1.51 percent. So something like 400,000 devices affected in India. And 12,000 in the U.S. Context, ya know?
  • There’s only one app in Google Play actually listed in the TM blog — “Summer Flashlight,” from Crazy Wifi Team. That app — and indeed the developer itself — is no longer listed in Google Play. So since we’re all playing fast and loose with assumptions here, let’s just assume Google’s gotten all of the offending apps out of the way.

To be clear, malicious apps are not good. And apps that can help root your phone aren’t inherently malicious, even though they’re not allowed in Google Play. And it’s good that companies are working with Google to help identify apps that manage to slip through the cracks. But there are multiple parts at work here, with multiple layers of security. And context is very important.

Don’t sideload apps from sources you don’t explicitly trust. Stick to app stores like Google Play and Amazon if you want. Don’t click on links in text messages from people you don’t know. If something feels wrong, it probably is.

And don’t worry too much about Godless. You’re probably OK.


Recommended Reading: How the ‘Final Fantasy’ film helped Hollywood

The ‘Final Fantasy’ film bombed,
but its motion capture
revolutionized Hollywood

Jordan Zakarin,

The animated Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within film may not have been a success in terms of earnings, but the movie did provide some useful insight for motion capture. Inverse takes a look at the film’s influence on filmmakers and realistic computer-generated characters despite its less than stellar reputation.

The strange and lucky tale of the man who made Prince’s last guitar
Nick Mafi, Vanity Fair

Guitar maker Simon Farmer discusses the music icon’s last guitar (that he never got to play) and who he thinks should be the one to use it.

Hitting the virtual roads of ‘Euro’ and ‘American Truck Simulator’ with retired truckers
Richard Moss, Rock Paper Shotgun

Impressions of a truck-driving simulator from former truckers are perhaps the best way to judge the merits of the game.

So you think you love Earth? Wait until you see it in VR
Sarah Scoles, Wired

The Overview Institute wants to give folks on the ground the psychological effect of seeing Earth from space. And it’s hoping VR can help do just that.

This dark net brothel makes finding sex as easy as hailing an Uber
Patrick Howell O’Neill, The Daily Dot

A Russian website called Dosug displays a map of available prostitutes nearby. All you have to do is grab your wallet.


A $1,500 smart oven made me the perfect leg of lamb

If you’d like to cook more but tend to feel disappointed by the results, you might be interested in the June. Announced last year, the June is an intelligent oven outfitted with a camera, a scale, a bevy of sensors and the guts of a smartphone or tablet (It has an NVIDIA Tegra K1 chip plus a 2.3GHz quad-core processor) to deliver the perfect meal. Want a medium rare steak? Simply weigh it, plop it in the oven where the camera will instantly recognize it’s a steak, stick a temperature probe in, enter in your desired temperature on the touch screen and the oven will take care of the rest.

Since last year, the team over at June have been perfecting the oven to cook foods beyond steak. Indeed, it can now recognize a selection of foods that include bagels, cookie dough, salmon, leg of lamb, asparagus and more. Indeed, we had a demo where we inserted a couple of bagel slices and as the oven recognized it, it instantly popped up a menu choice on how we wanted it toasted. And even if it doesn’t know what it is, you can always enter in the temperature and cooking time yourself, just like a regular oven. It can roast, bake, broil, reheat meals and, of course, toast.

What sets the June apart is its smarts. For example, say you want to crisp up your chicken after it’s done. You can set the oven to cook it to 165 degrees and when it hits that temp, the oven will automatically switch over to a high heat for a few minutes to give you that crispy skin. And since there’s a camera, you can keep an eye on your food via an app on your smartphone. The app also works as a remote timer, letting you know just when the food is done.

That sounds pretty great, but the problem is that it’s quite expensive. You can pre-order it now for $1,495, but it’ll likely be close to $3,000 once it hits store shelves. If you do want to go all-in, though, you should get your very own intelligent oven by the holidays this year (hopefully just in time for pumpkin pie).

I had the opportunity to have a full course meal at June’s office recently, where at least one ingredient of each dish was prepared using the oven. And it was delicious. The leg of lamb was done to medium rare perfection and the strawberry rhubarb tart was to die for. Check out the “June Oven dinner” gallery for photos of each individual plate.


ICYMI: The dogbot and a heart strap that beats surgery

ICYMI: The dogbot and a heart strap that beats surgery

Today on In Case You Missed It: Boston Dynamics introduced a new robot to the lineup and this one is both the smallest yet, and most adorable. The SpotMini is just two feet tall but in the video Boston Dynamics released, shows it can do dishes, throw cans away and creep around for a good 90 minutes on an electric charge. Meanwhile the EPFL designed a new medical device that looks not-entirely unlike an old school slap bracelet, except it’s made of silicon and is designed to grip and squeeze the aorta, keeping the heart beating while a patient might be waiting for a heart transplant.

Theater fans will want to know about New York’s decision to ban robot buyers; while politically-minded folks (not already talking about Great Britain’s vote to leave the EU) will want to hear about C-SPAN’s decision to broadcast Periscope videos of the Democrat’s sit-in. As always, please share any interesting tech or science videos you find by using the #ICYMI hashtag on Twitter for @mskerryd.


Latest Alleged Leaked Image of iPhone 7 Depicts Larger Rear Camera

Two images have emerged online this morning allegedly showing the rear cases of an iPhone 7 and 7 Plus leaked from the Chinese supply chain.

The first image posted by French site claims to show the back of the upcoming 4.7-inch iPhone 7 with the expected antenna bands restricted to the edges of the casing, rather than running along the rear.

Alongside the usual microphone and LED flash, it also appears to show a larger protruding camera cut-out, which is consistent with rumors that the device will feature a larger back camera with likely improved CMOS sensor.

Interestingly, Engadget’s take on the same alleged leak cites a couple of claims from its source at Chinese repair shop Rock Fix that we’ve heard before. One is that the headphone jack is “here to stay” on the 4.7-inch handset, the other is that the iPhone 7 will come in two flavors: a base model to replace the iPhone 6, alongside the expected flagship model.

The first claim comes despite widespread and apparently confirmed rumors indicating that Apple will switch exclusively to Lightning and Bluetooth audio output for wired and wireless headphones.

The second claim appears to be associated with an earlier leaked image from Rock Fix depicting a trio of iPhone 7 and 7 Plus display components that could just as easily be from early prototype stages. Both claims seem unlikely at this late stage in the rumor cycle.

iphone 7 plus leak dual lens
Meanwhile, the alleged shot of an iPhone 7 Plus case depicts the now-familiar pill-shaped camera enclosure, corroborating widely circulated rumors that Apple plans for a superior dual-lens camera to be exclusive to the larger 5.5-inch handset.

In the close-up shown here, the top of the plastic shell enclosing the case also appears to have an unusual opening in the centre. suggests this could indicate the presence of a sensor or port of some kind, although such an inclusion would be unusual at this location.

Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 7 series in September. The smartphones are also expected to retain iPhone 6s-like designs with faster Apple A10 processors, dustproofing and waterproofing, and faster LTE and Wi-Fi.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
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iPhone 7 will get a larger camera, according to spy shot

Another week, another iPhone 7 leak. (Hey, it rhymes!) Following the set of components allegedly showing dual-SIM support, up to 256GB of storage and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the next iPhone, Chinese repair shop Rock Fix is back with a photo of what it claims to be the 4.7-inch iPhone 7’s rear casing. Most notably, there are fewer plastic antenna bands here, and the main camera is said to feature a larger CMOS sensor — here’s hoping this will offer larger pixel sites to boost light sensitivity. What’s interesting is that contrary to WSJ’s report earlier this week, Rock Fix reiterated that the headphone jack is here to stay on the 4.7-inch version, but there’s no word on whether the same applies to the 5.5-inch Plus model. We certainly hope that’s the case.

Rock Fix added that we should expect the 4.7-inch iPhone 7 to arrive in two flavors: One being a base model to replace the aging iPhone 6 (don’t worry, we were told it won’t be a plastic rehash), with the other being the one we’re looking at here. This leaves us with the iPhone 7 Plus which is expected to feature the dual-lens camera we saw last time. Both sizes will apparently have dual-SIM slots, which is a common feature in competitive markets like China and India. If true, this move will hopefully give Apple a much needed boost after its recent iPhone sales decline.

Source: Rock Fix (Sina Weibo)

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