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Full Moto E3 specs finally confirmed

Motorola has finally lifted the lid on the full specs of the 2016 Moto E. And, as expected, the feature list pretty much lines up with the budget price point, but could still make for one of the best affordable smartphones around this year. With a few pence change from £100, the spec-list still makes for good reading from Motorola’s latest cheap offering. 

Starting things off on the front is one feature we knew already: a five-inch 1280 x 720 resolution display with a pixel density of 294ppi. Powering that is a 1.0GHz quad-core processor from MediaTek which is paired with 1GB RAM and 8GB internal storage. Thankfully, you can expand the storage using a microSD card, up to an extra 32GB. 

As for cameras; the rear eight-megapixel snapper is equipped with HDR, panorama and 720p video recording, and is partnered by an LED flash. The front selfie camera is a basic 5MP sensor. 

Joining the camera and earpiece on the front is a single front-firing speaker, as well as a couple of mics (one for noise cancelling). It also has LTE connectivity, 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 LE, ensuring you have a good range of connectivity options.

  • Motorola Moto E3 (2016) vs Moto E (2015): What’s the difference?
  • Motorola launches third-gen Moto E, confirms Moto G4 Play for UK

Rounding off the internal components is a relatively generous 2800mAh battery which should easily be enough to get you through a full day, especially given the low-powered processor, 720p screen and Android 6.0 Marshmallow’s battery-saving optimisations. 

All these components are packed in to a device which measures 8.55mm thin and 71.6mm wide, and weighs just 140.6 grams, which also happens to be coated in a water repellant nano-coating. While it’s not waterproof, it is protected against accidental spills, splashes and drizzle. 

On the whole, it certainly seems good value for money, but we’ll reserve our judgement until we get one in to review. 

The Moto E3 was launched alongside the revamped Moto G4 Play earlier this month, and is expected to hit the market in September and will be available from Tesco, O2, Argos and Amazon. 


Apple’s 2016 iPhone could be called iPhone 6SE, not iPhone 7

If the latest rumours are anything to go by, the next iPhone will be called iPhone 6SE, suggesting that the bigger model(s) will be iPhone 6SE Plus and iPhone 6SE Pro. The latter model is still up for debate, but yet another leak suggests the dual-camera and smart connector-equipped “Pro” model is still in Apple’s plans. 

The information comes through’s Chinese manufacturer sources who claim to have received accessory packaging already marked up with the new moniker. With that said, accessory makers can often predict incorrectly and have – on more than one occasion – printed either vague, or incorrect names on their case packaging. In short: Take it with a pinch of salt, as with any rumour. 

  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus vs iPhone 6S Plus vs iPhone 6 Plus: What’s the rumoured difference?
  • Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus: Release date, rumours and everything you need to know
  • Apple iPhone 7 in pictures: Renders and leaked photos gallery

It’s long been rumoured that Apple is saving its next major iPhone redesign for next year in order to celebrate the phone’s 10th anniversary in style. All digital and physical leaks published online so far have gone along with that rumour so far. All case and design leaks look virtually identical to the current generation of iPhones, except for the minor changes around the antenna bands and the camera protrusion. 

Naming it the 6SE fits in with those rumours. It looks like an iPhone 6, and so keeping the 6-series branding works, and adding the “SE” distinguishes it from the 6 and 6S ranges. Critically, it also ties the lineup in nicely with the iPhone SE which Apple launched earlier this year. 

As for the aforementioned leak, yet again it shows three different models. There’s the regular and “Plus”-sized models as well as a third model which has a dual camera system as well as the three connector dots. The connection points would presumably be used for accessories like the smart keyboard currently available for the iPad Pro. 

Apple is expected to show off the new iPhones at an event at some point in September. It’s more than likely that the Cupertino-based company will go with a retail launch during the week of the 12 September, specifically, “it should happen on Friday, Sept. 16th” according to a tweet from Evan Blass. 


NFL Network and RedZone are coming to PlayStation Vue

PlayStation Vue just became much more enticing if you’re a fan of American football. Sony has announced that both NFL Network and NFL RedZone will be available by the time the regular NFL season kicks off this fall. It’s not clear what packages will include the channels, but you will get typical Vue features (such as a cloud DVR and simultaneous streams) and access through the NFL’s dedicated apps and websites. Combined with ESPN and other sports coverage on Vue, you may not have much reason to hold on to a conventional TV subscription if you’re all about the gridiron.

Source: PlayStation Blog


Twitter finally figures out what Twitter is (maybe)

Since its inception, Twitter has seemed like a 24/7 global cocktail party; the sort of thing that would appeal to information-addicted media types. But the service has evolved into a platform where news unfolds in real time. It’s where the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag and subsequent movement began in 2013, following the shooting of Trayvon Martin. It’s where the world turned to follow the Ferguson protests in 2014 — and even before that, Michael Brown’s death was being discussed on Twitter. There’s no doubt that the service is a valuable tool for reporting, but how do you sell its benefits to the wider public? That’s something Twitter is hoping to solve with a new marketing campaign.

“Starting today, we’re taking steps to express what we’re for and what we’ve always been,” Twitter’s CMO, Leslie Berland, wrote in a blog post today. “Twitter is where you go to see what’s happening everywhere in the world right now.” That revamped branding starts with two new video ads, which also premiered this morning:

See what’s happening:

— Twitter (@twitter) July 25, 2016

See what’s happening — politics on Twitter.

— Twitter (@twitter) July 25, 2016

Berland claims the company is now recognized by 90 percent of people around the world (I sure would love to see the specifics of that study), but Twitter also found that many people were confused by what it actually offers. Some thought it was just another social network for connecting with friends, while others felt they were “supposed to Tweet every day,” but didn’t have that much to contribute.

These two ads are, of course, just a start. But they’re the product of a company that’s slightly more self-aware of what it actually is. Twitter is a great platform for broadcasting just about anything, but it needs to get better at communicating that fact. It’s also shown some signs at making itself a safer space from harassment. Last week, it finally banned one of its most controversial users, conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, after he kicked off a trolling campaign against Ghostbusters’ star Leslie Jones.

Source: Twitter


Apple picks a well-known executive to lead its electric car team

There’s been a lot of talk about Apple’s not-so-secret Project Titan electric car project, but… who runs it? We now have an idea. Wall Street Journal sources understand that Apple has picked Bob Mansfield, one of the company’s better-known executives, to helm its EV efforts. He’d effectively left the company in 2013 and only made a partial return after Apple scrambled to keep him (the Apple Watch is partly his baby), but he’s reportedly back in the swing of things now that Titan is ramping up — all senior managers in the car initiative have to report to him.

Neither Apple nor Mansfield are commenting on the apparent leak.

If accurate, the move might inspire some confidence. You may only remember Mansfield as the man who dove into technical details in Apple promo videos, but he led the hardware engineering behind some of the company’s biggest hits, such as early iPads, the iMac and the MacBook Air. He may not be an automotive expert, but he has a knack for making the company’s hardware visions become reality. That’s particularly important when Apple is entering an unfamiliar field and needs every bit of help it can get.

Source: Wall Street Journal


Hillary Clinton’s mobile game lets you run your own campaign

The Democratic National Convention opens today in Philadelphia and there has been some serious inner-DNC turmoil the past few days involving a ton of leaked emails. WikiLeaks published messages that show party officials rallying up against Bernie Sanders, and even making fake Craigslist ads to to target Donald Trump. But the Hillary Clinton campaign is moving full-steam ahead the only way it knows how: by releasing a mobile game.

It’s blatantly inspired by popular social-based games, like the crazy successful Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. Called Hillary 2016, the app is currently only available on iOS. Each user is provided with a new barebones campaign headquarters. You can build your HQ by completing “fun” challenges and earning credits (stars) that you can use to buy stuff in the virtual shop. There’s some real-life swag for grabs, like a Hillary Clinton autograph.

The more challenges you complete, which include Trump or False quizzes, the more a challenge meter fills up. Oh, and you also have to water a lovely plant because you never know when Hillary might stop by.

Source: iTunes


Donald Trump hosting Reddit AMA during DNC on Wednesday

If you’ve ever seen Donald Trump on Twitter, you probably have questions for him. Questions like, “how do you plan to force Apple to make iPhones in the US,” or “do you really think Edward Snowden deserves the death penalty?” Later this week, you’ll be able to ask him yourself: the Republican presidential nominee is slated to host a Reddit AMA at 7PM ET on Wednesday.

In case you were wondering, yes, that time slot does coincide with something big at the Democratic National Convention. Trump’s AMA is slated for the same block of time President Obama and VP Biden are scheduled to speak, leaving followers of politics with the same choice they’ve had all year: Clinton or Trump? Still, don’t expect too many divisive questions to get through the AMA — the event is being hosted and moderated by /r/The_Donald subreddit, a well-known forum for Trump supporters. The event starts at 6:30 PM ET on Wednesday, with answers coming half an hour later. Check out the official announce post for details.

Source: Reddit


First-person-view drone flying is the closest thing to being a bird

Just moments ago, I was flying like a hawk. It wasn’t a dream, or even virtual reality. It was a real, immersive experience fully under my control. Moments later, I’m very much on the ground, poking at some dense, tangled shrubbery with a stick. I had been operating a tiny camera-equipped mini quadcopter, via video goggles that beam the drone’s eye-view right into your peepers. It’s known as “first person view” (FPV) flying, and it’s an incredibly fun out-of-body experience. Imagine being shrunk to the size of an ant and sitting in a virtual cockpit and you’ll have an idea of where I’m going here.

Why the stick, though? Today I went too high, got caught by a gust of wind and landed on a canopy of vegetation. I’m prodding at the knotted vines in the vain hope I might dislodge it. I’ve become so fond of my zen-time in the goggles that my stomach sinks at the thought of all that coming to an end. I’m not leaving until I find this thing.

FPV flying isn’t new, but historically it’s either been complicated or expensive, not to mention it requires both space and skill. At $150, the Blade Nano QX2 drone I was flying is relatively affordable, suitable for new or experienced pilots and can be flown indoors — though you’ll need to pay about the same for optional goggles. The benefit of flying inside is a practical one: You don’t have to waste time finding somewhere you can legally operate the device. You can practice as much as you want in the comfort of your own home. There’s usually no tangled shrubbery either.

I’ve experimented with FPV flying before, but with bigger drones like the DJI Phantom. These require you to keep an eye on them, so I only ever managed a quick second in the goggles to check my shot, or else I wore them while someone else controlled the device. This passive viewing is enjoyable, but nowhere near as fun as when you’re at the helm. The QX2 is lightweight, but robust enough to take a few knocks (of which there will be many). Importantly, it’s small enough that it can’t do much harm, though it will nip you if the motors catch you.

My first few FPV flights with the QX2 and optional goggles were mostly spent doing the “walk of shame” — i.e., retrieving it after a crash. It’s easy to bang into walls at first as the tiny drone is surprisingly responsive. Bigger, outdoor craft like DJI’s Phantom series, or Yuneec’s Typhoon are much more stable; with the QX2 you’re constantly making minor adjustments. It’s not difficult to pick it up, though, and before long I was taking corners at speed and zipping around my apartment, much to the annoyance of my cat.

What makes the QX2 interesting is that it transmits video right out of the box. There are myriad cheap, tiny quadcopters with cameras on them, but not so many at this price that have the wireless video link built in. The QX2 transmits at 5.8GHz, on what are often known as “Fat Shark frequencies” — a reference to their compatibility with the popular brand of video goggles. Typically there are eight channels (sometimes more), so you and seven friends can fly together without interfering with each other. Anyone in range with compatible goggles can “tune in” to your camera. This is what lets the audience to get a “front row seat” at drone racing events.

The YouTube videos from these “nano” quadcopters are mostly tours around their owner’s condos. Like a weird version of “Cribs” for middle-aged goggle-wearing hobby enthusiasts. The grainy clips are equal parts product review, and voyeuristic snooping around someone’s house. The QX2’s onboard camera isn’t high quality; it’s just for FPV, not recording video (though you can do that with some models of Fat Shark).

It took a few weeks before I was good enough at flying that I could sit in my front room darting around the house until the battery gave out (it lasts about six minutes). It was during one of these flights that my conscious control of the QX2 gave way to something else: I really felt like I was flying. While I was learning, I would stay low, or at waist height. With more confidence, I started going higher and faster. Flying high meddles with my internal sense of balance, and feels like floating. It was this feeling that I started crave.

The difference between being the pilot rather than passive viewer is the direct connection between visual input and your manual control of the quadcopter. If you’re about to bang into a wall, but micro-adjust to avoid it, it feels real and comes with a spike of adrenaline. Just watching a video of the same maneuver doesn’t engage the brain in the same way. While passively viewing I can remain still. When I’m darting around objects, my head moves left and right. I feel the proximity as I narrowly miss a tree.

An unexpected side effect of flying FPV is that I start to dream about flying. This is one the more common themes I have in my unconscious state, even if I can only remember a few flying dreams a year. Pro drone racer Chris Haskins tells me that it’s not just newcomers either. Flying with the goggles still feels like an out-of-body experience to him — and that it often permeates his dreams. And, just like regular dreams, they can contain a message. “I often dream about a troublesome part of the track and how to clean up my flying.”

The good thing about the QX2 is that while it’s ideal for beginners, it’s fast and acrobatic enough to teach you lots about flying techniques. The fact the FPV is ready to go without needing any modifications is a real bonus as well. You will, however, need to buy an RC transmitter (controller), but any standard one will do, in case you have one already.

If you have maker chops, then you could instead build your own FPV drone for less money, but for the rest of us, the QX2 is a great place to start. As for goggles, there are many options, but Fat Shark’s Teleporter model (around $160 with 320 x 240 resolution) is a good entry point, though you’ll soon want to upgrade to those with a bigger resolution. I promise.

As with all vices, you’ll quickly feel a desire to increase the dosage. I upgraded to Fat Shark’s Dominator HD goggles, which have a bigger (800 x 600) display, and it’s a much more immersive experience. (And at over $500, it’s more expensive too.) I’ve also been keen to try out the Avegant Glyph, which offers a much clearer, 720p image. The Glyph doesn’t receive the wireless signal, though; instead it requires an HDMI input. That said, many consumer drones now come with HDMI ports on the controller/transmitter that will feed video right into the Glyph.

For now, though, the QX2 and Fat Shark combo is a solid, affordable introduction into FPV. Which is just as well, as it looks like I’m going to have to buy another one.


Apple Appoints Bob Mansfield to Oversee Electric Vehicle Team

Apple has appointed former longtime executive Bob Mansfield, who last served as Senior Vice President of Technologies at the company, to oversee development of its widely rumored electric vehicle, according to The Wall Street Journal. All senior managers on the project now report to him.

Apple announced that Mansfield was retiring in June 2012, but a few months later said he would remain with the company as an advisor. He last worked on Apple’s “Special Projects” team, reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook, and has made regular appearances on campus despite stepping down from day-to-day work four years ago.

Until recently, Mr. Mansfield—who, along with design chief Jony Ive, was one of the few executives to appear in Apple’s carefully-crafted product announcement videos—had all but retreated from the company aside from the occasional visit, these people said. Earlier this month, employees at Apple noticed in the company directory that all the senior managers on the car project were now reporting to Mr. Mansfield, they said.

Apple has reportedly recruited hundreds of engineers from the likes of Tesla, Ford, GM, and elsewhere to work on the so-called Apple Car, codenamed “Project Titan” internally. The electric vehicle could be street-ready between 2019 and 2021 according to various reports, with R&D based in Sunnyvale, California. Many question marks remain about the extent of the vehicle’s design, autonomous capabilities, and other features.

Mansfield joined Apple in 1999 and has been instrumental in the company’s recent success, overseeing the development of past MacBook Air, iPhone, and iPad designs. Under the Special Projects team, he also played a role behind the Apple Watch. His decision to remain at Apple in 2012 was influenced by both a generous compensation package and former iOS chief Scott Forstall’s departure.

Project Titan as a whole was previously under Dan Riccio, Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering, according to Rene Ritchie. Steve Zadesky, who held a senior role at Apple related to the electric vehicle project since 2014, left the company earlier this year for personal reasons. Zadesky reported to Riccio until his departure, as the leader of one of multiple teams working on the electric vehicle.

Related Roundup: Apple Car
Tag: Bob Mansfield
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iPhone Rumored to Include Iris Scanning Capabilities Starting in 2018

Apple is working on iPhones with iris scanning capabilities that could debut in 2018, reports DigiTimes in a wider piece about increasing interest in advanced biometric functionality in smartphones.

Iris scanning would potentially be used in place of Touch ID as a way to verify a user’s identity, performing functions like making payments and unlocking an iOS device. Each person’s iris, or the circular colored muscle of the eye, contains a complex and random pattern that is unique to each individual, much like a fingerprint.

An iris recognition machine at the Schiphzl Airport
Apple has been rumored to be looking into iris scanning in the past and it is a technology that is gaining interest in the smartphone arena. Samsung is said to be planning to debut its iris recognition technology as soon as next month with the introduction of the Galaxy Note 7.

Current iris scanning implementations have some notable benefits over Touch ID, including no need for direct contact to unlock a device and faster unlock speeds, but there are also drawbacks such as poor functionality in low lighting and issues with performance following alcohol consumption and eye surgery.

DigiTimes is not always a reliable source of information, so the rumor should be viewed with some skepticism until confirmed, but KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also believes Apple is planning on introducing new biometric features in a future iPhone, which could include either facial or iris scanning. Kuo’s rumor pertained to the 2017 iPhone, but it’s always possible such an advanced feature won’t be ready to debut until a later date.

There are no rumors about the 2018 iPhone as of yet, but it will follow the 2017 iPhone, which is rumored to feature radical design changes in the form of an edge-to-edge OLED display with no home button and a camera and Touch ID sensor that are integrated into the screen. Wireless charging, a faster A11 processor, and a fully glass body like the iPhone 4 are also possibilities for the device and will likely also be seen in the follow-up 2018 iPhone.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)
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