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Walmart Pay arrives in 14 more states

When Walmart talked about a wide national release of its mobile payment service before the start of July, it wasn’t kidding around. Walmart Pay has launched in 14 more states on top of a slew of rollouts earlier in the month — it’s not quite ubiquitous (we count 33 states plus Washington, DC), but it’s close. This latest deployment includes heavily populated states like California, New York and Washington, so you’re far more likely to use your Android phone or iPhone to shop at the big-box retail chain.

As a reminder, Walmart Pay isn’t strictly a competitor for tap-to-pay options like Android Pay or Apple Pay. It’s more intended to streamline the checkout process using QR codes. With that said, it’s far too soon to tell how well it works in practice. Walmart’s service has only been available for about a month and a half in any state, and there just isn’t enough data to know whether or not customers will embrace it in earnest.

Source: Enhanced Online Newa


Google adds built-in Cast option to Chrome for desktop

Google has begun rolling out a built-in Cast option for Chrome 51. You simply have to right click a tab or click the hamburger button on the right-hand part of the desktop browser to find a line in the menu that says “Cast…” Doesn’t mean the old extension is completely useless now, though — you don’t need it to beam anything to your Chromecast anymore, but you could still use it as a shortcut. Besides, it looks like the feature isn’t available for everyone just yet, even for those with up-to-date Chrome browsers. If you still don’t have access to it, you may want to hold off on uninstalling the extension and checking your menus every now and then.

Google will also give you the power to mirror tabs into Google Hangouts when the stable version of Chrome 52 comes out. To be precise, it will enable you to Cast to cloud services including Hangouts, though it’s unclear what other services will work with it in the future.

Via: 9to5Google, Android Police

Source: Google (1), (2)


Watch Stephen Colbert challenge a ‘Super Mario’ speedrunner

You’ve probably seen video game speed runs before, but on a major TV channel? Not likely… until now. In what appears to be a first for nationwide US TV, The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert ran a segment that pitted a speedrunner (Super Mario Bros. 3 expert Mitch Fowler) against Colbert and the Columbia University men’s relay team to see who could complete their respective goals the fastest. We won’t spoil the results here, but it’s surreal to see talk of warp whistles on a show that normally revolves around celebrity chats and musical guests. And while the challenge was ultimately a promo for Summer Games Done Quick’s 2016 launch on July 3rd, we won’t knock it — it’s pretty rare for TV to introduce a longstanding game subculture to such a wide audience.

Source: The Late Show (YouTube)


How to set default keyboard on your Android phone


Setting up a default keyboard on your Android phone is a lot easier than you think!

One amazing thing about Android phones is the plethora of customization options you have, including the option to change keyboards. There are a bunch of great keyboard apps for Android to choose from, so find the one that feels right for you.

We’ll be working with the SwiftKey keyboard today to show you how to set a default keyboard on your Android phone, but the process is the same no matter which keyboard app you choose .

Download and install new keyboard.
Go to Settings.

Find and tap Languages and input. It should be under the Personal submenu.


Tap on current keyboard under Keyboard & input methods.
Tap on choose keyboards.

Tap on the SwiftKey keyboard you would like to set as default.


Read the Attention prompt that comes up on screen and tap OK if you wish to continue.
Make sure the switch beside the keyboard has changed from gray to green.

Go back to the main language & input screen.


Tap on current keyboard again.
Select the SwiftKey keyboard. This will save automatically.

Make sure the keyboard is working by writing a quick message to someone.


Enjoy using your new third-party keyboard on your Andriod phone! If for any reason you want to go back to the stock keyboard or want to try out a different keyboard, it’s the exact same process


China successfully refuels a satellite in orbit

China is now one of the precious few countries that knows how to refuel satellites in space. The nation’s Tianyuan-1 system (launched aboard the Long March 7) has successfully topped up at least one satellite in orbit. Officials aren’t describing the process beyond likening it to that for airplanes, but the result is clear: the refueling should help satellites stay in orbit for longer, or make adjustments that would otherwise be impractical.

Refuelling systems could become a non-event in a few years thanks to robotic spacecraft. However, there’s a strong incentive to get this technology into space as quickly as possible. If you can keep a satellite in orbit for even a year or two longer, you can save massive amounts of money by reducing the number of vehicles you need to deploy. The move could also help with the fight against space junk by slowing the proliferation of dead or useless satellites. The ultimate goal is to completely avoid fuel in the first place, but efforts like China’s represent an important first step.

Source: People’s Daily, QQ (translated)


Bjork’s VR album is a work in progress, just like the medium itself

Bjork Digital is almost Bjork: The Theme Park. The installation, which opened in Tokyo earlier this week, includes a movie theater showing a two-hour-long showcase of the artist’s videography. Around the corner from there, you’ll find several album tracks from the album Vulnicura have been transformed into VR experiences. Further down the hall, you can spend time playing around with the album-turned-music app from Bjork’s Biophilia album. The 18-day installation opened to the Japanese public this week, with Tokyo being the second stop on a world tour that also includes Europe and the US. I went for a visit and came away thinking that no other musical artist is pushing (or perhaps dragging) virtual reality forward more than Bjork. She’s still working on more VR tracks too — this is really just the start.

I asked Paul Grey, Bjork Digital’s producer, why the musician decided to work with virtual reality. “[VR] is a challenge,” he said. She continues to challenge herself, using this very new tool. But it’s also about bringing a new experience: It’s not a music video, or a live concert. Virtual reality is an intimate experience. Bjork wanted to bring people closer to the artist.”

“Take Stonemilker for example,” he continued. “It’s 360-degree video, so there’s just the camera and Bjork. There’s no crew. Bjork is stood. Alone. [The intimacy] is something you wouldn’t get on a single screen.” Your mileage may vary, but most will have some kind of emotional reaction — even if it’s simply mild discomfort at the isolated nature of the piece.

Stonemilker, shown in the above video, is currently the only experience from the showcase that you can try for yourself (if you own a Gear VR or Google Cardboard headset, that is). It’s also the simplest. The first VR experience was recorded on a bundle of action-cams stuck together. The camera doesn’t move, but Bjork does, cavorting around you as you stay rooted to the same spot. While watching the performance is a personal experience, the tour is done in groups. We were all guided into a darkened room, given a Gear VR headset and some Bowers & Wilkins headphones. The song began when we strapped the headset on.

This is the same experience that the artist showed off at the Museum of Modern Art in New York last year, but it shows the roots of the Bjork’s experiments in the new medium. The musician already has a rich history of working with famed designers and filmmakers like Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze and many more. However, the Bjork Digital exhibition required a different set of technical expertise. The showcase, so far, has also involved established VR companies and working with the likes of Rewind, River Studios and Dentsu Labs.

I found the first experience certainly tender and intimate, and that’s probably what made the second experience seem all the more intense in comparison: Welcome to the inside of Bjork’s mouth.

Director Jesse Kanda and his team used a miniaturized version of the camera ball used in Stonemilker, but for Mouth Mantra, the team also ended up making a physical model of Bjork’s mouth, given the need for more filming — and the awkwardness associated with having a bunch of cameras down your throat. (Producer Paul Grey challenges anyone to differentiate between the two, however.) The song, like the experience, is pushier, scarier — and a little bit queasier. It’s still not as bad as playing Resident Evil 7 in VR, but perhaps intentionally, it’s more aggressive than Stonemilker.

The most recent creation, Not Get, moves the experience from Gear VR to HTC Vive. Honestly, the more advanced hardware made it far more like an experience, and less like a music video spread through 360 degrees.

Following its Sydney debut, this is only the second public appearance for Not Get VR. Bjork was captured and replicated through high-resolution 3D scans, on-location motion capture and “videogrammetry,” which was then paired with real-time spatial audio. As I craned my neck and moved around the sparkly outline of Bjork, the voice came from within the glowing projection. While technically more sophisticated, it doesn’t take complete advantage of the HTC Vive: There are no controllers, and there’s not much in the way of interaction; this is still a performance. That said, the outline of contorting light particles is mesmerizing.

Not being able to control what happens inside the Not Get VR installation was done for simple, pragmatic reasons: “The trick is [striking a balance between] cutting edge technology, yet keeping it completely robust. It has to work all day”, Grey said. “This is only the second time it’s been shown!” (The Not Get presentation is actually the largest ever simultaneous HTC Vive VR installation.) “In the future, I believe [interactivity] is the direction things will go in.”

Bjork is a very visual music artist; the exhibition also included roughly two hours of her music video history, played inside a huge theater alongside all the VR experiences. It acts as a primer for how Bjork has pushed the boundaries of technology in her videos, all while filing itself away as the part that’s past. The musician herself has explained that although she calls on technical expertise, she herself is no tech dilettante. She described working on Biophillia and Vulnicura in an interview with Fast Company:

“I only did that album [Biophillia] because I felt like I had content that made sense, that could relate to the technology. It can’t just be working with the gadget for the sake of the gadget. But also it’s about budgets. You can do apps cheaply. Apps was kind of punk, actually. It was like starting a punk band again. Filming for Oculus Rift is not.”

In fact, the night before the exhibition even opened, Bjork previewed the next track being transformed into something even grander than the original audio. In front of a small intimate audience, she performed Vulnicura’s “Quicksand,” wearing a suitably outlandish mask, all while surrounded by projection lighting and no fewer than cameras. The cameras captured what was happening in front of the audience, while computers added further layers of digital effects. This wasn’t virtual reality; more augmented reality — a seamless projection of a virtual world in the real one, without the need for a clammy VR headset. (It’s hopefully what all VR will be like in the future.)

Bjork VR

Unfortunately, the performance (broadcasted live on YouTube as a 360-degree video), was removed from the internet soon after the performance finished. The organizers say the video will resurface (with some layers of post-production) in the future. Bjork’s work transforming this intimate breakup album into a virtual experience still continues, and this performance was only the latest milestone on that front. By the time the Digital tour reaches the west, it’s likely there will be even more VR performances for fans to try.

Source: Miraikan


Google celebrates the Fourth of July with four free months of Google Play Music

Google is currently running a special offer for its subscription Google Play Music service. When you sign up for the service as a new subscriber, you’ll be able to get your first four months for free, paying $9.99 after the trial is over.

All you need to do is head over to Google Play and sign up for the service. Note that when you sign up for a Google Play Music subscription, you’ll also get access to YouTube Red, which offers all existing YouTube content, as well as exclusive videos, without ads.

The offer is only available this weekend to celebrate the Fourth of July, so you’ll want to act fast to get that extended trial period.


Adidas gets creative with shoes made from recycled ocean plastic

There’s a strong momentum behind the Adidas brand right now. That’s largely due to the increasing popularity of the company’s running and lifestyle products, with Kanye West’s Yeezy line being chief among them. Still, amid its flourishing business, Adidas is spending resources on experimental designs that probably won’t have mass-market appeal. Case in point: the sneaker collaboration with Parley, which was done in honor of World Oceans Day last month.

As a running shoe, the Adidas x Parley isn’t your average silhouette. That’s because it features an upper made from recycled ocean waste — specifically, Parley Ocean Plastic. It also incorporates illegal deep-sea gill nets retrieved by the nonprofit Sea Shepherd, whose mission is to protect sea life in the Southern Ocean. The midsole, meanwhile, makes use of Adidas’ flagship Ultra Boost technology, which gives it a familiar look and comfortable feel, despite its unusual materials.

While the Adidas x Parley is a limited-edition shoe, the company says the idea is to turn ocean plastic into technical yarn fiber for other future products. Until then, only 50 pairs of Adidas x Parley will be made; to get one, you have to enter a contest on social media, wherein you upload a video to Instagram and describe how you plan to support Parley’s Ocean Plastic program.

This isn’t the first time the two organizations have worked together. Last year, Adidas revealed another design in collaboration with Parley, although that sneaker’s main detail was a 3D-printed midsole, also created from ocean plastic waste.

Unsurprisingly, thanks to its unusual appearance, the Adidas x Parley turns some heads on the streets. During my photo shoot with the sneaker, almost a dozen bystanders came over and asked, “What kind of shoes are those?” After I replied, sharing details of the materials used to create them, most people wanted to know when they can buy them.

Unfortunately, I had to be the bearer of bad news: The shoes probably won’t be sold at Foot Locker anytime soon.


FBI talks to Hillary Clinton about her private email server

It’s no secret that Hillary Clinton broke rules with her private email server. However, the FBI still wants to know whether or not she played fast and loose with classified messages… and it just got a first-hand account of events. Clinton’s staff have confirmed that the presidential candidate voluntarily submitted to a 3.5-hour FBI interview over her email use on July 2nd. Her team isn’t detailing the exact questions due to “respect for the investigative process,” but it’s safe to say that law enforcement was wondering if Clinton took sufficient steps to protect top secret email.

Whether or not the interview changes things is another matter. Clinton’s staff have already testified, and there’s no certainty that the politician will have said anything new. A voluntary talk may be as much about shaping public perception (demonstrating that Clinton is cooperative) as clearing the air. Still, don’t be surprised if this discussion ultimately helps the FBI’s investigation — if just because it puts some statements on the record.

Source: CNBC


Amazon locks in the exclusive on streaming PBS Kids shows (sort-of)

Amazon this week announced that it and PBS “they have entered into a multi-year agreement that makes Amazon Prime Video the exclusive premium subscription streaming home for a broad collection of PBS KIDS series.” That’s a bummer for folks who had been watching via Netflix and Hulu, and a boon for Amazon, which is (of course) pushing for the entire world to sign up for Amazon Prime. So if you have Prime, you’ll still get all the Daniel Tiger you want, for free.

There are a couple catches here, though.


PBS Kids on Amazon Prime Video.

The first is that getting Amazon’s video app on Android is still a bit of a pain, since it’s not offered directly through Google Play. You’ll need to go to and then sideload the Amazon Underground app, and sign in manually. That app will then start to download Amazon’s video player, which you’ll then have to sideload. It’s a ridiculous multiple-step process.

The other catch is that this is pretty unnecessary. The PBS Kids Video app (you can download it here) still has its own shows, supports Google’s Chromecast, is a lot easier to use (your kids can handle it, but don’t even think about sticking them in front of the Amazon app) and really is the way to go for this sort of thing.

So it’s exclusive, sort of, and is kind of a pain to use. Choose wisely.

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