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Sony Xperia Nougat updates detailed: Xperia Z5 and a whole lot more

Google made the surprise move of releasing Android 7.0 Nougat to the Nexus masses on Monday, making this one of the earliest public updates in the Android programme.

For those with Sony phones the question will always be when your update will arrive. While Sony hasn’t yet confirmed a timeline, the company has come forward and confirmed which Sony Mobile devices will be getting the sweet Android Nougat update:

  • Xperia Z3+
  • Xperia Z4 Tablet
  • Xperia Z5
  • Xperia Z5 Compact
  • Xperia Z5 Premium
  • Xperia X
  • Xperia XA
  • Xperia XA Ultra
  • Xperia X Performance

There’s quite a range of devices in that mix, although it mostly covers high-end devices from 2015 and 2016.

There’s no mention of some of Sony’s lower tier devices, like the C, M or E devices, we’re guessing because it’s not worth Sony’s time to prepare the updates for those handsets – although Sony’s mid-range X handsets announced earlier this year do make the cut.

Sony has said that this is a phased update process, and this the timings can’t yet be confirmed. As we’ve seen in the past, it could be another 6 months before updates start arriving on devices.

That’s all the news for now, but at least you get to know if you can expect the latest Android update, or not.

  • When is Android 7.0 Nougat coming to my phone?
  • Android 7.0 Nougat: 7 new features to get excited about
  • Android 7.0 Nougat release: Everything you need to know

Tesla will make some sort of product announcement soon

You got to love how candid Elon Musk is when it comes to his companies.

The CEO of Tesla Motors has revealed via Twitter, which must be his favourite means of communication at this point, that Tesla will make a product announcement on 23 August. Musk said the announcement would come at 12 pm PT –  so, today, in like a couple hours.

We don’t know what the electric carmaker has in store, but due to recent controversies surrounding its Autopilot system, which was recently involved in a fatal car accident, many publications have assumed Tesla will roll out an Autopilot 2.0 upgrade with improved self-driving features.

Every Tesla car made since 2014 comes with Autopilot. With it, drivers get access to automated features such as braking and lane switching. An update in January even added the ability to perpendicularly self-park. But Tesla could also just be announcing a new 100kWh battery.

RDW, the Dutch authority that oversees vehicle registrations, recently approved a 100kWh battery for the Model S and Model X, according to Dutch blog Kenteken.TV. This battery would extend the range of the Model S from 270 miles (for the P90D) to as much as 380 miles.

  • Tesla: Everything you need to know about the different models

Now that Deezer is widely available in the US, should you switch?

People outside of the U.S. are already familiar with Deezer. The streaming service has been available in other parts of the world for a long time now, but until recently the company only made its subscription available to a select few in the States. Until a few weeks ago, you needed to own either Bose or Sonos speakers (or have a Cricket phone plan) to have the option of using Deezer. After dipping its toe in the U.S. market, the streaming catalog is now available to everyone. Does it offer enough to woo subscribers away from other big-name services? Probably not.

First, a few details about my streaming habit. I’m a Spotify user familiar with Apple Music, thanks both to that three-month trial and the fact that my wife uses the service. I’ve been using Spotify since 2010, mostly for a la carte streaming, storing playlists and the radio feature. Despite the addition of video and podcasts, I use PocketCasts for my episodic content because the app has all of the shows I listen to regularly. Spotify does not, and as I came to find out, neither does Deezer.

I’m getting a bit of ahead of myself with podcasts, though, so let’s step back to the main reason you use a streaming service: music. My first order of business was to see if I could find gaps in Deezer’s library. Out of over two dozen albums that I currently have saved for easy access in Spotify, only two were missing here: Emarosa’s latest album, 131, and Thrice’s debut, Identity Crisis. I tried a number of other artists as well, including some that I felt were more obscure. During my searches, I was able find nearly everything I was after. Save for those two albums, I didn’t notice any huge holes in the catalog during my three weeks with Deezer. Not too shabby.

Music that’s exclusive to Tidal and other services isn’t in Deezer’s library, but that goes without saying. If you’re looking for an exact number, Deezer touts a library of 35 million songs. That’s 5 million more than both Spotify and Apple Music and 10 million more than Tidal’s collection. Speaking of Tidal, Deezer offers a similar high-resolution streaming option for $20 a month. There’s one catch: You have to own Sonos speakers in order to stream Deezer Elite’s lossless FLAC songs. That really limits the number of people for whom that option will make sense.

Once you find the music you’re looking for, Deezer makes it easy to save albums and tracks for later. Like Spotify and others, the service has a Favorites section for any song, album or podcast that you “heart” or “star” in the app. In other words, with one click, you can save an entire album to listen to later. Sure, it’s not technically a playlist, but you can still easily get to it from your profile. Deezer’s Favorites is the equivalent to Spotify’s Your Music section, which keeps any saved songs and albums separate from your playlists. This is just one example of how most of the core features in Spotify and other services are available as part of Deezer’s streaming plan, too. That includes apps for mobile, desktop and the web alongside AirPlay for iOS and Mac and Google Cast for the Android app.

Deezer for Mac is compact like the Twitter app.

I’m happy to report that Deezer offers an artist-based radio feature similar to the one I already love in Spotify. While it’s called “Radio” in most services, Deezer dubbed the tool “Artist Mix,” which I only figured out after I started clicking around. As with other streaming apps, you’re free to like or dislike songs to improve its selection in the future. You can also easily add any songs you enjoy to an existing playlist.

As of late, Spotify and Apple Music have both been touting music discovery features as a means of attracting new users. Since its launch, Apple Music has had a “For You” section that offers suggestions based on listening habits, but included in the soon-to-be-released iOS 10 update is a “Discover Mix” that’s more akin to Spotify’s “Discover Weekly” for finding new music. As a Spotify user, I get a lot of use out of “Discover Weekly” and the recently announced “Release Radar” to keep my rotation fresh. Both of those tools are super handy and consistently offer solid picks, so it’s nice to see Deezer serving up recommendations as well.

Deezer’s recently redesigned home page is the first screen you’ll see when you fire up the app or visit the web portal. That entire page is one big library of genre channels, curated playlists and easy access to a feature called “Flow.” Although Flow does a decent job creating a mix of songs based on your listening habits, I found the music selections to be somewhat dated. With “Discover Weekly,” Spotify serves up recently released songs as part of its suggestions, and I actually prefer that to a collection of older tunes. Deezer’s curated playlists are much better than “Flow” in my opinion, as some are dedicated to genre-specific new releases while others I liked focus on specific artists’ greatest hits.

Alright, so far Deezer is stacking up nicely against Spotify and Apple Music. Is there anything that the service doesn’t do particularly well? Yes: podcasts. Deezer added podcasts last year, several months after it bought Stitcher. The company then sold Stitcher and its 8.5 million users to Scripps back in June. I can’t speak to what podcasts were like on Deezer before, but as it stands, the integration makes the app frustrating to use.

No Terry Gross for me.

First, the selection is limited. I listen to five or six podcasts on a regular basis and none of them come up in a search on Deezer. I found that pretty odd since they’re available inside the Stitcher app and since Stitcher is still being used to pipe podcasts into Deezer. On top of not having a great catalog, the podcasts themselves are difficult to find. The only way the episodic content shows up in a menu is if you’re actually able to find one via search and favorite it. Otherwise, you’re left to those discovery channels to find podcasts, and even then there are but two options: News & Politics and Comedy. Perhaps the best illustration of my frustration is that a search for “sports” in Deezer turned up exactly zero podcast results.

I began test-driving Deezer ready to be persuaded that maybe Spotify wasn’t the best option for me. Instead, I found that I’m actually quite fond of my current streaming service’s discovery tools, and unlike a lot of folks, I actually prefer Spotify’s user interface. Sure, Spotify’s podcast library isn’t the best, but it’s at least easier to find and it offers a solid lineup of shows. More than anything else, I was hoping Deezer might allow me to stop using a second app just for podcasts. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. It also seems silly that you have to own a certain brand of speakers in order to pay more for high-res streaming. I wonder how many folks would opt for that pricier tier, even if they were able to do so.

Aside from my complaints about podcasts, Deezer is a serviceable option for streaming music. Since most of the alternatives offer a similar feature set, it really comes down to a matter of personal preference for the user interface or brand loyalty. If you’re a devoted user of Spotify, Apple Music or Tidal, Deezer doesn’t offer enough for people to jump ship. However, if you’ve yet to commit to a service, don’t take my work for it. All of these music streaming services offer a free trial before you have to pay up, so you might as well exhaust all of the options before deciding.


WikiLeaks revealed private info for ‘hundreds’ of innocents

WikiLeaks will tell you that it’s providing valuable transparency while respecting the privacy of innocent people, but the Associated Press isn’t convinced that it’s walking that fine line. It just published a report showing that Julian Assange and crew published sensitive details for “hundreds” of innocent people, including financial records, identity details and medical files. Among the examples, it identified teen rape victims. Many of last year’s leaked Saudi Arabia cables exposed details that could potentially ruin lives in the conservative country, such as the name of a man arrested for being gay and people who’ve secretly gone into debt.

WikiLeaks, not surprisingly, has gone on the defensive in light of the report. It asserts that the AP story is “ridiculous,” a “re-run” of a 2015 story that’s pointless when the Saudi government already has the details. The group is also floating a conspiracy theory, suggesting that US journalists are trying to discredit its activities now that it has published emails tarnishing the Democratic National Committee and “presumptive winner” Hillary Clinton.

It’s true that WikiLeaks didn’t leak the Saudi cables itself (it just made them easier to search), and AKP party data that contained sensitive Turkish voting info was uploaded by someone else (who has since deleted it). Many of the details aren’t new, for that matter. Even so, the report still isn’t flattering — it contradicts Assange’s promises of a “harm minimization policy” that protects medical records and other private details that aren’t necessary for exposing government corruption and overreach. However much good WikiLeaks might be doing, it’s not being very discriminate in what it allows on its site.

US big media scramble to side with presumptive winner #Clinton. We expect many more recycled attacks like AP’s today as our leaks continue.

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 23, 2016

Via: The Verge

Source: Associated Press


Microsoft Office for Mac gets 64-bit support for better performance

Microsoft announced in April that it would make the transition from 32-bit to 64-bit for Office 2016 for Mac. Well, the time has come. The update is rolling out to those who are running Microsoft’s productivity suite on OS X. Apple’s desktop operating system has been 64-bit for a while now, but Windows still allows users to to choose between 32- and 64-bit versions. With this latest update, Office 2016 for Mac is making the permanent switch to 64-bit support which Microsoft says will boost performance and allow for new features.

This new update makes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote 64-bit for anyone running Retail, Office 365 Consumer, Office 365 Commercial, and Volume License installations of the software. What’s more, the August release (version 15.25) will arrive just like any other update to the apps. You’ll receive a notification on your desktop about the new version just like you do for other releases. If you don’t see that message, you download the 64-bit update manually from the source link below. As 9to5Mac notes, this new version has been available to Office Insider beta testers, but this is the first time 64-bit software has been available to all users.

Microsoft does warn Office for Mac users that the switch to 64-bit software could affect third-party add-ins for the apps. Those companies have had a few months to make the necessary changes, but if you rely on any of those extras, you may want to double check before installing. If you’ve yet to make the leap, Office 365 for Mac costs $70 per year or you can make a one-time purchase of Office 2016 for Mac that’s priced at $150.

Via: 9to5Mac

Source: Microsoft


The best microwave

By Tim Heffernan

This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a buyer’s guide to the best things for your home. Read the full article here.

There is no perfect microwave oven, but after two hands-on trials, 75 hours of research, and years of ownership by several Sweethome editors, we’ve concluded that GE microwaves come darn close to the ideal. Our top pick, the countertop model JES1656SRSS, offers all the GE features we’ve come to love.

How we tested

The GE, like all microwaves, concentrates heating in the center of the platter, but it also delivers even heating out to the perimeter. Photo: Michael Hession

First, we created a “heat map” for the microwaves we tested by completely covering each one’s platter with parchment paper and a layer of plain mini marshmallows, and nuked them on high until the marshmallows began to brown. Microwave ovens don’t actually deliver heat to a food item, the way a conventional oven does (via heated air); they work by using microwave energy to cause the water and other simple molecules in food to rapidly vibrate, which generates internal friction at the molecular level, heating the food from within. But the microwaves aren’t delivered evenly, the way heated air in a conventional oven is. Our test showed whether all parts of the microwave got equal treatment.

Next, we “baked” potatoes in the GE and a Panasonic. Baking a potato in a conventional oven takes upwards of an hour, whereas by virtue of that internal steaming, a microwave can cook a family’s worth of large russet potatoes in under 5 minutes; you lose the crispy skin but gain far more in convenience. We followed manufacturer instructions to the letter for this test, cooking a single potato in each oven on each unit’s automatic setting. By luck, both potatoes were precisely the same size: 7.94 ounces, weighed on our favorite kitchen scale; and the GE and Panasonic took nearly the same time to cook them—between 3½ and 4 minutes. When the cooking ended, we cut each potato open and tested for doneness.

Next we attempted to defrost a pack of frozen ground beef—and again, by luck we had test items of absolutely identical size, 1.31 pounds. As with the potatoes, we used the automatic function (the defrost setting, inputting the approximate weight). Here, the GE and Panasonic differed considerably, the former settling on about 11 minutes and the latter about 6 minutes for the same task. Both units gave prompts every few minutes to flip the meat, which we did. When the time was up, we cut apart each block of meat with a fork to test for evenness and completeness of defrosting.

Finally, we made popcorn—basic Orville Redenbacher. Once again, we cooked them using each unit’s automatic setting. We opened each bag of popcorn and smelled, looked, and tasted for doneness versus burntness, then carefully sifted the popped kernels from the unpopped before weighing the latter down to the gram.

Our pick

The GE has just about everything you want in a microwave: performance, compactness, and easy-to-use controls. Photo: Michael Hession

The GE JES1656SRSS is our pick for a countertop microwave. It can do a lot of basic, diverse, often-repeated jobs—like reheating a single bowl of soup or “baking” potatoes for a family of four—with the touch of one of its task-specific preset buttons. It also lets you manually set cooking times and power levels with the push of a button or two—basically, it nukes food as easily as flipping a switch—and being honest, that’s how most of us use microwaves. Moreover, it does these tasks well, many of them outright superbly, thanks to a combination of solid hardware and well-engineered software that delivers its ample power efficiently and effectively. But where this microwave—like all GE microwaves—sets itself apart is in its easy, intuitive operation. How intuitive? Wirecutter executive editor Mike Berk has used it happily for over a month, as a replacement for a Sharp, and has never looked at the manual. Neither have I, and I’ve owned and used a fancy-pants GE Profile microwave for nearly three years.

An over-the-range pick

The over-the-range option saves counter space and can help with ventilation.

Over-the-range (OTR) microwaves save counter space, but are an upgrade in terms of complexity (and permanence) of installation, and usually cost more—in this case, currently about $150 higher than our main countertop pick. (Even if otherwise identical to a countertop model, an OTR will always feature a ventilation fan, and that alone adds to the manufacturing cost.) The GE JVM6175SFSS is very similar to our main pick on most specs, albeit slightly less powerful at 1,000 watts (versus 1,150). It has the same terrific, plainly labeled, intuitive interface. Its 300-cubic-feet-per-minute vent fan is not the most powerful (higher-end models generally offer 400 cfm or more), but it will quickly clear most kitchen disasters short of a full-on fire. And with a current suggested price of $330 (for the stainless model; painted models are $50 less) it’s a quality machine at an attractive price.

Minimal size, minimal cost

A smaller option—at 0.7 cubic feet—and a lower price than our main pick.

At 0.7 cubic feet (less than half the volume of our main pick) and with a countertop footprint of 10 inches tall by 13 inches deep by 18 inches wide, the GE JES1072SHSS is small in every respect except performance. It gets tremendous reviews from owners—4.8 stars (out of five) across 50 Home Depot reviews—and, just as important, has the same simple user interface as our main pick. It lacks some of the advanced features, and with a 12-by-12-inch cooking chamber, it can’t handle a big casserole pan if you’re feeding a crowd. But for small families or single users, and for basic reheating and cooking tasks, it’s a top value.

This guide may have been updated by The Sweethome. To see the current recommendation, please go here.


Solar dish sets steamy thermal energy efficiency record

In the hunt for ever more reliable and efficient green energy production, the Australian National University (ANU) has developed a solar dish with an incredibly high sunlight-to-steam conversion rate. That’s right, steam. Instead of photovolatic solar panels, which convert the sun’s rays directly into electricity, the so-called “Big Dish” reflects them back at a receiver, suspended in mid-air, which converts water into steam. The gas can then be used to power a motor, or stored for long periods as molten salts. The latest breakthrough? A new receiver that’s 97 percent efficient.

“We believe (it) to be the world’s most efficient solar receiver,” Dr John Pye, from ANU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science said. The solar concentrator dish at ANU is the largest of its kind, measuring 500 square meters. The reflectors are able to focus the power “of 2,100 suns” onto the receiver and heat the water to a scalding 500 degrees Celsius. The team’s new receiver module uses a “top hat” design with a small opening and a wide, catch-all brim. Tiny pipes are positioned on the outside, wrapping inwards, to catch the sunlight before the water travels up inside the “hat.”

“Ultimately the work in this project is all about reducing the cost of concentrating solar thermal energy,” Dr Pye said. Our aim is to get costs down to 12 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity, so that this technology is competitive.” If they achieve such a feat, the technology could be used to fuel power stations, lowering humanity’s carbon footprint in the process.

Via: New Atlas

Source: Australian National University


Opera’s free unlimited VPN service is coming to Android

Opera previously launched an unlimited VPN service for iOS earlier this year as a result of its 2015 acquisition of SurfEasy, and now it’s doing the same for Android users.

Opera VPN will let you appear as if you’re in a different country such as the US, Canada, Singapore, Germany and the Netherlands in addition to allowing you to block ad trackers. You can effectively bypass content restricted by location with the VPN, and without a data limit you can use it as much as you want.

If you’re not well-versed in VPNs, the app automatically handles setting Android VPN settings for you and will also check the security and integrity of your current Wi-Fi connection. This feature may slow down your internet speed while you’re using it, as TechCrunch attests, but not so much that it’s too problematic to use while surfing.

If you’re interested in trying out the app, you can pick it up via the Google Play Store now.

Via: TechCrunch


Pinterest buys Instapaper to rule the ‘save for later’ market

Pinterest is more than just about collecting Thanksgiving recipes or selecting your dream wardrobe. You can also use the service to save articles for later reading, a feature that’s been around since its inception. Well, the company just made an acquisition that’ll make saving longreads on Pinterest that much better. Pinterest announced today that it is buying Instapaper, which is one of the most popular read-it-later apps out there. According to Pinterest, the company acquired both the team and the technology behind Instapaper to “accelerate discovering and saving articles on Pinterest.” Don’t worry, Instapaper fans; the app isn’t going away. The Instapaper team will continue to keep it alive as a standalone entity.

The acquisition isn’t just about saving articles either. A spokesperson said that the company will also integrate some of Instapaper’s search technology into Pinterest too. Steve Davis, lead product manager in Pinterest, said in a statement: “As the world’s catalog of ideas, we’re focused on making it easy to save and discover content on any device. The Instapaper team are experts in saving, curating and analyzing articles, and they’re a welcome addition ​to Pinterest. Instapaper will work with us to continue building indexing and recommendations technologies, and we look forward to building great products together.”

In a lot of ways, the acquisition makes sense. It’s a way for Pinterest to leverage a feature that not many people know about, plus it’s now able to use Instapaper’s tech to help the discoverability of its other pins too. Pinterest could now very well be positioned to be the one-stop shop for bookmarking anything and everything on the web. In fact, the company changed its “Pin It” button to “Save” a few months ago to signify just that. Other bookmarking sites like these exist too of course — Delicious, Pocket and Newsvine spring to mind — but few of them have Pinterest’s clout.

“The missions of Instapaper and Pinterest are aligned in helping people easily save content,” said Brian Donohue, Instapaper’s CEO, in a statement. Similarly, he said Pinterest’s tech will be useful to Instapaper too. “The Pinterest team is working on unique technical challenges, and their collective skill will add tremendous value to Instapaper.”


You can buy Parrot’s fixed-wing Disco drone in September

Parrot’s beginner-friendly drone is finally ready to take to the skies, after we first saw a prototype at CES this year. The Disco eschews the more common quadcopter format for a fixed-wing system that makes taking off as easy as throwing the device in the air. It will be available next month for $1,299.

For that price, you’ll get the Disco, Parrot’s Skycontroller 2 and its Cockpitglasses. The latter is a Gear VR-esque headset that offers a first-person view of what the drone’s camera sees. It also displays a radar and telemetric data so it’s as if you’re piloting from the Disco’s cockpit. Or as if you were a bird.

It may have a user-friendly takeoff mechanism, but the Disco is as (or even more) advanced as Parrot’s other drones. It can fly at up to 50 MPH, with flight time of about 45 minutes. After launching into the air, the drone ascends automatically to an altitude of 164 feet before circling in the air as it awaits your commands.

Parrot has plenty of competition to face, but its fixed-wing system is certainly unique in the commercial space, if not a little goofy. We’ll have to wait and see if the Disco’s cool take-off method will rise above the rest.

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