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It’s official: Nextbit launches limited-edition red Robin phone

A couple weeks after slyly teasing a red-coloured Robin, Nextbit has made the new version of its flagship official.

Nextbit, a new phone-maker made up of ex-Google and ex-HTC people, has announced that it is “introducing a limited ’ember’ colorway” for Robin this summer, and it described the new phone as having “a neutral, deep-black back with bright red end caps that really pop”.

Robin stands out from other Android handsets simply because it aims to resolve your storage woes with a clever software system that uses the cloud, and it will smartly archive and restore your content based on your usage and needs. When Pocket-lint reviewed the phone earlier this year, we said we liked the refreshing design, and that Nextbit’s cloud storage solution works well.


During its ember announcement, Nextbit also announced beta testers will receive a software update for Robin that adds video support; the company has long promised to offer support for videos in smart storage. Beta testing is open to all Robin users. They just have to join the beta program (click here to join). Nextbit plans to eventually roll out the new feature to all Robin users.

  • Did Nextbit just accidentally reveal its next Robin phone?
  • Nextbit Robin review

As for that ember-coloured Robin, Nextbit said it’ll only be produced in a limited quantity and sold exclusively at for $299 starting 27 July. However, if you’re in India, sales are via Flipkart and kick off the following week.

Robin was previously only available in the colour blue.



China finishes building the world’s largest amphibious plane

On November 2nd, 1947, the Hughes H-4 Hercules took off for the first time. The test run lasted less than a minute, and it traveled for around a mile. The H-4, erroneously nicknamed the Spruce Goose, was a behemoth; its wing 320-foot wingspan is still the largest of any plane to fly. But that flight was also to be its last; a proof of concept developed by Howard Hughes that was shelved shortly after the test. Now, China’s state-owned aircraft maker AVIC has built an amphibious plane that fulfils Hughes’ dream of a colossal sea-faring plane.

The AG-600 is about the size of a Boeing 737, and is designed for both marine rescue missions and firefighting. It can land and take off out at sea, supporting search and rescue operations for up to 50 passengers at a time. It can also scoop up 12 tonnes of water in 20 seconds, before depositing it where it’s needed. It has a maximum range of just under 2,800 miles, and a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tonnes.

Despite its shorter wingspan, the AG-600 will be the largest amphibious aircraft ever made, as the Spruce Goose never made it to production. AVIC hopes to sell it to nations other than China, with local press suggesting countries with “many islands,” including Malaysia and New Zealand, have expressed an interest in purchasing the craft.

The Big Picture is a recurring feature highlighting beautiful images that tell big stories. We explore topics as large as our planet, or as small as a single life, as affected by or seen through the lens of technology.


Three’s Essential plans scrap the perks to cut the cost

All the major UK carriers offer customer perks designed to tempt you onto their networks, such as EE’s brand new bonus of free BT Sport access for six months, or Vodafone including European roaming as part of your contract. Three plays this game too, but in a new shake-up to its pay-monthly plans, it’s begun offering an entirely new perk: No perks at all, in exchange for a lower-cost tariff.

To do this, Three effectively doubled the number of pay-monthly tariffs it sells overnight. Those that were available before have been renamed “Advanced” plans, while the new tier are known as “Essential” plans. These give you the same minute, text and data allowances at a lower cost, as you are sacrificing free customer service calls, tethering and Three’s Feel at Home perk, which lets you to roam in 18 popular destinations abroad at no extra cost.

Three is also talking up the flexibility of these Essential plans. Penny-pinchers that were perhaps too frugal with their tariff choice can upgrade, add a tethering allowance or simply purchase extra minutes or data at any time — for a fee, of course. The Essential tier is available on one-month and 12-month SIM-only plans, as well as a decent selection of 24-month handset plans, the latest iPhones and Samsung Galaxy devices included. Naturally, the pricing structure is pretty complex, but simply put, an Essential tariff will save you up to £5 per month, or up to £120 over the course of a contract.

Three actually launched the new tier in bricks-and-mortar stores on July 19th, but you won’t find them online until tomorrow, when the carrier’s website will be updated with the cheaper offerings. At which point, you’ll be able to choose between customer perks or cold, hard cash savings.

Source: Three


Google brings Family Library sharing to the Play Store

The Google Play Store’s rumored Family Library feature officially goes live today with expanded sharing options for all of your apps, movies, TV shows and books. With a little bit of setup, your Google Play Store purchases are now available across every device in your household.

When you sign up for Family Library, you’ll be asked to enter a credit card to cover any purchases made by your family, but the account administrator/keeper of the family finances will be able to approve purchases for the other users or allow them to use their own credit cards or gift cards. The primary account holder also has final say on which purchased items will be shared to the communal library and which they can keep only on their device.

While all Google Play apps and media will sync across any of your family’s Android devices, only books, TV shows and movies will be available to iOS users. (In other words, you can’t sync that Android copy of “Monument Valley” to your sister’s iPhone.) The service is live as of Wednesday morning, but will be rolling out to users over the next 48 hours if it doesn’t immediately show up.

Finally, it’s also worth nothing that Family Library is still separate from the Google Play Music family plan the company launched last December. Those subscriptions won’t change, but that service is now available in 12 countries, including Ireland, Italy, New Zealand and Mexico.


Firefox for iOS just received a slew of new updates

Firefox has rolled out some brand new features for its iOS browser, including the ability to add website-specific search engines and tab recovery.

First off, the browser is now speedier than before, with a 40% reduction in CPU usage and 30% reduction in memory usage noted in the latest version of Firefox for iOS. You might appreciate that extra speed when it comes to the next feature, which sounds pretty darn useful: the ability to search any website within the address bar.

For instance, you could add in eBay or Wikipedia and search straight from the browser’s address bar without ever leaving the page you’re currently on. You can head to a website with its own search box, tap on the magnifying glass, and add it to your (growing) list of search engines.

There’s also a new menu with easier navigation, as well as the ability to recover tabs you closed on accident. If you’re someone who likes to stick with your favorites, you’ll also be able to set your favorite page as your homepage and return there by pressing the “home” button.

You can download Firefox for iOS and try out these features right now if you’re so inclined.


Trump wants Russia to hack the US government

Late last week, thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee were released by WikiLeaks, the contents of which have caused plenty of controversy at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week. The FBI is investigating and Russia is believed to be a prime suspect in the hack that led to these emails getting leaked. Naturally, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has had plenty to say about the hack and some of the messages themselves. But what he said today is yet another level of crazy from an already audacious candidate.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said today, reports The New York Times. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” By “find,” it’s pretty clear Trump was advocating for another hack to uncover more emails, specifically those from Hillary Clinton’s private email server when she was Secretary of State. Regardless of whether those emails were on a private server or not, hacking emails sent while she was Secretary of State would amount to hacking the US government. The emails in question were deemed personal and private and deleted by Clinton.

Later in the news conference, Trump was asked to clarify his comments by a female reporter. He deferred, saying that “that’s up to the president” before telling the reporter to “be quiet” and “let the president talk to them.”

If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the FBI!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2016

At the same time, Trump’s running mate Mike Pence said that there would be “serious consequences” for Russia if the FBI’s investigation can confirm the country’s involvement in the hack. Reuters reports that Pence said both parties and the US government would work together to “ensure” Russia suffered those consequences. It’s a far more clear-cut and reasonable statement than what Trump has said thus far, to be sure.

Trump had previously made comments that cast doubt on Russia’s role in the email hack, saying he thinks that it’s a deflection tactic by the Democrats. And it wouldn’t be surprising if he later says his comments weren’t meant to be taken seriously — he’s done it before. Regardless of what he meant, he basically asked another nation to try and hack us, something that isn’t exactly presidential.

His confusing remarks continued as he reportedly refused to call on Russian president Vladimir Putin to not meddle in the US election process. “I’m not going to tell Putin what to do,” Trump said. “Why should I tell Putin what to do?” He then went on to say that if Russia is indeed behind the hack, it just shows how little respect foreign countries have for the US right now.

So, in summation, Trump has said that Russia is likely not responsible for the hack, claimed Democrats are using Russia to divert attention from the email hack, asked for Russia to try and hack us again and then said that if Russia was behind it, it’s because they don’t respect the country’s leadership. It’s a typically head-spinning string of positions, but given Trump’s professed admiration for Putin, we don’t expect to see him call out the country for its alleged role in the DNC email hack.

Update, 12:35PM: Hillary Clinton’s campaign has issued a response to Trump’s statements (via CNBC):

“This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent. That’s not hyperbole, that’s just the facts. This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.”

The Democrats are all but certain to address this when the DNC continues tonight in Philadelphia, where President Obama is scheduled to speak.

Source: The New York Times


The VERTX is an e-cigarette with a touchscreen

The V2 company rolled out a new e-cigarette model this morning called the VERTX. I have no idea how that word is pronounced but the device does offer a number of unique features. For one, it’s the only micro e-cig on the market with a touchscreen. Users can easily adjust both the heating element’s voltage — from 3.5V to 4.5V — and the device’s LED indicators simply by swiping across the VERTX’s face.

What’s more, it offers a far more efficient heating element than what you’ll find in similarly-sized e-cigs. The company’s press release touts three times as many puffs per cartridge as previous V2 models or the PAX Juul, its primary competitor. The 420mAh lithium-ion battery promises “bigger clouds and better battery life” so you’ll be able to really show everyone in the coffee shop that you’re big into vaping. And keep it up for hours.

The VERTX currently relies on pre-filled cartridges that snap into place using the mystical powers of magnets. However, blank cartridges will be made available later this year allowing users to fill them with whatever e-liquid they choose (fingers crossed for hash oil).

The device will come in two varieties: the $90 VERTX Plus, which has the touchscreen, and the $50 just VERTX, which does not. They’re currently only available through the V2 website though they’ll be rolling out to select retailers in the coming months.


Pandora and Ticketfly joining forces for personalized events

If you rely on Pandora to discover new music, you may soon be looking to the service to also offer tickets for the same artists you unearthed there. Pandora and Ticketfly are joining together to offer personalized events based on the artists you listen to.

You won’t have to do the legwork when it comes to finding out which artists are coming near you to perform live music. With Ticketfly’s help, Pandora will be able to offer personalized concert recommendations, send reminders for shows when they’re announced and grant easier access to tickets. If you receive a notification that your favorite band is playing somewhere near you, you’ll be able to just tap to purchase tickets to the show.

There will also be email digests sent out with this information to ensure you can keep track of what’s going on in the world of your favorite artists. If you’re a serial Pandora music discovery addict, you might consider trying out the new integration with Ticketfly to figure out what events you’re hitting up in the future.

Source: Pandora


Democrats ask for immediate action to combat climate change

The Democrats and Republicans differ on many fronts, but the contrast is particularly striking when it comes to climate change. The Republican party platform dismisses it and its presidential candidate calls it a “hoax.” But on Monday night as the 2016 Democratic National Convention began, multiple speakers including Senators Bernie Sanders (D, VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D, MA) touched on the need to directly address the issue. Similarly, the party’s 2016 platform document spends many pages touching upon climate change, calling it an “urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time.

But the party also sees this as an opportunity to spur job growth at the country moves towards clean energy on all levels. “Democrats reject the notion that we have to choose between protecting our planet and creating good-paying jobs,” the platform reads. “We can and we will do both.”

It’s not wildly different than what the party said in 2012. “We know that global climate change is one of the biggest threats of this generation – an economic, environmental, and national security catastrophe in the making,” the 2012 platform states. “We affirm the science of climate change, commit to significantly reducing the pollution that causes climate change, and know we have to meet this challenge by driving smart policies that lead to greater growth in clean energy generation and result in a range of economic and social benefits.” However, this year’s document goes into more detail about what’s at stake, what needs to be done, and how going green can help the country’s economy at the same time.

The platform is quite explicit in the measures the country needs to take to help curb climate change. The Democrats hope to reduce greenhouse gas emissions “more than 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050,” meet President Obama’s promise in the Paris Agreement to keep global temperature increases “well below two degree Celsius,” and get the country “running entirely on clean energy by mid-century.” While many of these are long-term goals, the platform also calls for getting 50 percent of our electricity from clean sources in the next decade.

The combo of climate change and the need to build out the middle-class economy has led the Democrats to believe the country needs to make ” the most ambitious investment in American infrastructure since President Eisenhower created the interstate highway system.” The platform calls for updating the country’s infrastructure, including roads, bridges, public transportation, airports, and rail lines; it also says we need “21st-century energy and water systems.” Modernizing these systems will help “create millions of good-paying middle class jobs,” the document reads.

Other measures to make our country greener include cutting back energy waste by making our homes, schools, offices, hospitals and other buildings more energy efficient. That includes “modernizing the electric grid” and making the manufacturing that does take place in America more efficient. The government also intends to partner with states, cities and smaller communities to help achieve these goals, as the party believes it’ll require partnerships at the local level to meet its goals.

The party also want to update our tax codes to disincentivize the use of less green forms of energy. “Democrats believe the tax code must reflect our commitment to a clean energy future by eliminating special tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuel companies as well as defending and extending tax incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy,” the platform reads. Changing the tax structure is rarely a popular move, but the Democrats aren’t worried about that in the face of the climate change issue.

And the platform has no room for those who say climate change is a hoax: “Democrats believe that climate change is too important to wait for climate deniers and defeatists in Congress to start listening to science,” it says, making the urgency of the issue clear. “[We] support using every tool available to reduce emissions now.”

Source: 2016 Democratic Party Platform (PDF)


Google searches omitted key US presidential candidates

Google has been a rich, impartial resource for US election info so far, but it’s apparently not perfect. NBC notes that certain searches for would-be Presidents (such as “presidential candidates” or “US president candidates”) weren’t turning up major candidates in the list of active campaigns, including Republican nominee Donald Trump and Libertarian pick Gary Johnson. Moreover, they still included Bernie Sanders — odd when his party has nominated Hillary Clinton.

We’ve asked Google for its take on what happened, and we’ll let you know if it has a comment. As it stands, the issue might be resolved by the time you read this, as the cards disappeared entirely during the writing of this article. However, it’s doubtful that there’s a sinister conspiracy here. Regular search results still mention the missing candidates, and Google has historically shown results for other hopefuls. Most likely, this is an error — albeit one that’s bound to raise eyebrows.


Source: Google

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