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FBI Looking Into ‘Legal and Technical Options’ for Entering Another Terrorist’s iPhone

A new case might lead the FBI and Apple into another fight over security and privacy on smartphones, following a confirmation yesterday by FBI special agent Rich Thorton that the FBI has the iPhone of Dahir Adan in its possession (via Wired).

Adan was the culprit behind the stabbing of 10 people in a Minnesota mall in mid-September, and was eventually shot and killed by police. After the event, terrorist organization ISIS claimed credit for the attack on social media, but “no evidence has emerged to suggest ISIS had a hand in planning or executing the attack.”

During a press conference in St. Cloud, Minnesota yesterday, Thorton confirmed that the FBI has Adan’s iPhone and that it is locked with a passcode. According to the special agent, the organization is “still trying to figure out how to gain access to the phone’s contents.” The issue currently is that the model and version of iOS running on the iPhone is known only to the FBI. Following the launch of iOS 8 in 2014, any iOS device running the software is encrypted to an extent that no malicious outsider — or even Apple itself — can get into the iPhone or iPad.

“Dahir Adan’s iPhone is locked,” Thornton told reporters, “We are in the process of assessing our legal and technical options to gain access to this device and the data it may contain.”

Because of this, the deciding factor on whether or not the new issue could lead to another San Bernardino-related debate between Apple and the FBI hinges on the software and model of his iPhone (iOS 8 can run on iPhone 4s and newer devices). For now, Thorton said that the FBI is simply “assessing” its “legal and technical options” for ways to enter the iPhone and extract any potentially helpful data it might contain.

The San Bernardino case began much the same way, with the FBI ordering Apple to provide assistance in opening up Syed Farook’s iPhone 5c because the company had the “technical means” to do so. A long battle between the two organizations eventually led to the Justice Department dropping the case against Apple, reportedly due to an anonymous source providing the iPhone’s password to authorities.

During the controversy, everyone from former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates to President Obama chimed in on the issue. Throughout multiple interviews and quotes, Apple CEO Tim Cook remained adamant on the company’s continuing stance for user privacy, calling the FBI’s request for entering an iPhone “the software equivalent of cancer.” Its implementation could lead to a slippery slope in terms of invasive technology in everyday smartphones, as pointed out by Apple executive Eddy Cue, and even a potential surveillance state.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

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DJI Mavic Pro preview: Insanely powerful, portable drone

DJI recently launched its latest drone, and what is easily the most impressive step towards making these high-tech hobby gadgets accessible to the average consumer.

It features many of the same specs and technological advances of the Phantom series drones, but packs them all in to a much smaller, foldable drone capable of fitting in anyone’s backpack or purse. 

DJI Mavic Pro: Design

Perhaps the most impressive feature of the Mavic Pro is its size. We’ve seen a lot of the technology before, on drones like the Phantom 4, but we’ve never seen it packed in to such a compact and portable product.

It’s also a much meaner-looking product, with more of the contours and angular sharp edges of a stealth bomber, than the bulbous, round finish of the Phantom.

Also, unlike the Phantom series, the Mavic Pro doesn’t rest on a built-in set of helicopter-like stands. It almost lies flat on its belly, resting on the short legs which protrude downwards from the quadcopter arms.


These arms themselves are completely redesigned too, in the fact that they can be easily folded in to the body. The front arms fold inward towards the top of the chassis, while the rear arms pivot downwards to tuck in to the underside, leaving you with a product which easily fits in your hand and can be thrown in to a backpack.

To make it so compact, the designers also had to recreate the camera and three axis gimbal system which holds it in place, and offers smooth stabilisation. It’s not only much smaller than the Phantom’s, it sits on the front of the drone, rather than dangling from underneath.

As for the quadcopter blades, they’ve been designed in a manner which means you don’t have to set them up in the right position before taking flight. Just starting up the motors is enough to force them in to their correct orientation, optimised for flight.


DJI Mavic Pro: Features

As feature lists go there aren’t many that match the plethora of useful and market-leading technological capabilities of the Mavic, at least not at this price point or in a device this small.

First up, the 2970mAh battery – despite being compact – has been designed to handle between 21 and 27 minutes of flight time, depending on what kind of flying you’re doing, in what conditions and how fast. That’s a maximum distance of eight miles, providing there’s no wind. Obviously the battery is a little less long-lasting if the drone is being forced to contend with a stiff breeze.

Then there’s the proprietary OcuSync transmission built in to the new controller, which has a range up to 4.3 miles (7km). In other words, if you fly it as far away as you can before losing signal, it would more than likely run out of battery before making its way back to you. This same transmission technology is used in the new Goggles VR-type headset for first-person-view through the drone’s camera.


As with the Phantom, there are a number of important sensors and processors built in to the Mavic, which make it both incredibly easy to use and very high-end.

Starting with the basics, there’s GPS and GLONASS to keep it connected to over 20 positioning satellites to ensure it knows where it is all the time. Then, on the underside, there are sensors to detect how far away from the ground it is as well as cameras to recognise specific parts of the ground.

These cameras are vital for its insane landing accuracy. We witnessed the Mavic Pro landing precisely (within a cm or two) where it took off from using its homing feature.


To do that, it records some video as it’s taking off, you go fly the drone, and hit the return home button icon on the smartphone screen. It uses GPS/GLONASS to return to the location, then records some more video with the bottom-firing cameras, overlays it on to the video captured at take-off, then matches them up so that it lands in exactly the same place it started from.

DJI claims it can land within an inch of its starting position, and our time with the Mavic so far hasn’t done anything to make us question those claims. It’s really impressive.

Lastly on the sensor side, there are the obstacle avoidance sensors on the front. The drone will automatically detect when something’s coming up ahead, and can see objects up to 15 metres ahead. It’s worth noting, these only work when flying forwards.


DJI Mavic Pro: Controlling and flight modes

If you’re a first-time drone flyer, there’s no better drone to start with than the Mavic. It’s almost too easy to control.

The aforementioned control pad has two joysticks, these control your height, the direction the drone faces and make it move in any way you see fit. There are also two scroll-wheels on the back, one of which adjusts the angle of the camera gimbal, and the other is programmable.

It’s compact and easy to hold, and can be used on its own, or in conjunction with your smartphone. The smartphone – in essence – becomes a monitor to view the live camera feed at up to 1080p resolution, but also has its own onscreen buttons for landing, returning home and looking at information like drone battery life, signal strength and such.


Once the drone is in the air, you can signal it with a handful of preset gestures. First wave to get its attention, then tell it to take a selfie, or to track you as you move around. You can even tell it to circle around you at a set height.

Once new flight mode is terrain mode, which uses the sensors on the bottom to ensure it never gets too close to the ground as you walk up a hill, regardless of how high or steep the ground gets.

Of course, for the racers, there’s Sport Mode that gets the drone up to 40mph, which – incidentally – turns off the obstacle avoidance system. On the opposite end of the spectrum is tripod mode which slows things right down, and boosts the sensitivity of the controller to get nice, smooth and slow movements. Perfect for cinematic film-making.


DJI Mavic Pro: Camera

DJI’s new, smaller camera is capable of shooting video up to 4K resolution at 30 frames per second. Still images are just under 13-megapixels, but more importantly, the stabilisation of the three-axis gimbal ensures everything is smooth and sharp. It’s also controllable, so you can tell it which way to point.

Unlike the Phantom’s, and traditional action cameras, the camera lens isn’t crazy wide. At a little under 79-degrees view, you still get a relatively wide shot, but without so much distortion to blurring towards the edges.

First Impressions

Our first impressions of the drone have been very positive overall. It’s great to see something so small, and so feature rich, hit the market for under £1000. Sure, it would be great if the drone had obstacle avoidance sensors that work at the back, or around the sides, but as it stands, it seems the Mavic Pro is the most exciting drone on the market right now, at least for the average consumer. 

You can find all of our other drone coverage in our dedicated hub. 


‘Robo Recall’ for Oculus Touch is fun, frantic and completely free

At Oculus Connect 2 last year, Epic Games’ Bullet Train demo stole the show — leaning heavily on the “bullet time” effect popularized by the Matrix films to create a smooth, action-packed shooter that let players take down multiple enemies in slow motion. It had a neat gimmick: it used virtual reality to bend reality in a way we’ve only seen in the movies. The team brought the concept back to Oculus developer conference again this year as the heavily refined Robo Recall: a frantic, physics-based shooter with a sense of humor. Hands-down, it’s one of the best Oculus Touch experiences I saw at the show. Even better? When it launches early next year, it will be absolutely free.

There’s no shortage of VR shooting gallery demos out there, but Robo Recall won me over by making firearms just part of the players arsenal. The rest of it? Well, that’s everything around you. The game tasks the player with “recalling” rogue robot servants — tracking down the rebellious automatons and deactivating them by force. Shooting them works, but it’s a lot more fun to pick up one attacking robot and simply throw it at another. Run out of bullets? Throw your gun at the offending machine, it’s just as effective. Half of the fun of the game is to find less obvious ways to defeat your enemies.

The remnants of Bullet Train are here too: if the player is moving slowly, the flow of time slows down to match — giving you plenty of time to snatch a bullet out of mid-air and fling it back an enemy. It’s a lighthearted, but action-packed experience, and a great showcase of the kind of physicality the Oculus Touch controllers can add to a game. It’s not due to launch until a few months after the motion controllers ship, but if you’re going to go all-in and buy Oculus Touch, you may as well check it out. After all, you can’t beat free.


A ‘Made by Google’ pop-up store is coming to New York

With a slew of new hardware, Google is finally aiming for scale. The new Pixel phones, the smart Home speaker — these aren’t Nexus-level side projects. These are polished, premium projects that Google wants to sell in large numbers. For that to happen, the company will need to spend some marketing dollars — and based on the official Made by Google website, it’s prepared to do just that. One page with “popup” in the URL shows the Google logo and the address “96 Spring Street” underneath. Further down, the page confirms the New York store will be opening on October 20th.

The “popup” reference seems to indicate that this will be a temporary store. That’s in contrast to Apple and Microsoft, who both have permanent footholds in New York. Still, it’s a notable move on Google’s part. Following its earlier “Made by Google” marketing materials — which included billboard posters and mysterious, rectangular statues — the company seems serious about advertising its new hardware. That’s important if Google is going to fight Apple’s iPhone and Amazon’s Echo effectively. As we’ve seen with companies like Sony and HTC, it’s not enough to simply build great products — they have to be marketed heavily too.

Google has experimented with stores before. While Google Glass was still a curiosity, the company experimented with some showroom-style installations. Since then, it’s also set up a store-within-a-store as part of a Currys PC World in London. A retail presence like Apple’s seems unlikely — but that could soon change if the Pixel struggles in carrier stores.

Via: The Next Web

Source: Made by Google


ICYMI: Wetsuits will be modeled on the cutest sea creatures

ICYMI: Wetsuits will be modeled on the cutest sea creatures

Today on In Case You Missed It: MIT researchers are creating a two-layer wetsuit modeled off of the pelts of sea otters and beavers, who are able to stay warm in chilly water despite not having the layer of blubber that whales and dolphins have. Meanwhile bumblebees are being trained to pull strings to get a sweet reward. The ease with which they’ve taught each other is surprising scientists, who hadn’t known the little guys could be trained.

If you’re interested in the origami bird that can be controlled with hand motions, that’s here. And the video of Blue Origin being tested is here. As always, please share any interesting tech or science videos you find by using the #ICYMI hashtag on Twitter for @mskerryd.


Xiaomi sells 500,000 phones in India in three days, claims third spot in the country


Xiaomi’s stock is on the rise in India.

This year’s Amazon Great Indian Festival and Flipkart Big Billion Days are behind us, and it looks like Xiaomi has emerged victorious from both sales. A statement issued by the company earlier this week reveals that it sold 500,000 smartphones from October 1 to October 3, setting a new record in the country.

Xiaomi’s phones are rarely discounted, and the modest savings introduced by the company paid dividends, with the entry-level Redmi 3S becoming the best-selling product on Flipkart and the budget Redmi Note 3 topping the charts on Amazon. The phone, along with the Mi Band 2 fitness band and the 10000mAh power bank were the most sought-after products on Amazon.

Xiaomi’s India head Manu Jain talked about the achievement, stating that the company surpassed its sales tally from last October during the three-day period:

We are extremely proud to be sharing this milestone with our fans, partners and employees. More than six months of rigorous planning and hard work has helped us set a new benchmark in the industry. Last year we sold more than half a million phones in 30 days during the month of October, and this year we were able to achieve a similar number within three days. Based on what we know, no other brand has ever achieved this in India.

We are extremely thankful to all our Mi Fans for their amazing support, and will continue to work hard to constantly outdo ourselves as we have done on many occasions this year. One thing I would like to share with our Mi Fans is that this is just the beginning of a beautiful Mi India journey and there will be many more reasons to celebrate.

The success of the Redmi Note 3 boosted Xiaomi to third spot in the country with a market share of 8.1%. Samsung is leading the fray with a 28.5% market share, but Micromax with its 11.9% share is within Xiaomi’s sights.

The Chinese company is finally targeting offline buyers by selling the Redmi 3S+ at 7,000 retail stores across the country, which will give its sales an added boost. Online-only is a strategy that worked for Xiaomi during its meteoric rise, but the brand is now recognizing the need to set up stores to target buyers in tier 2 and tier 3 cities that are unwilling to purchase goods online.


Sharp’s new concept phone has curved corners and looks utterly gorgeous

Sharp wowed us a couple of years ago when it introduced the Aquos Crystal phone with a virtually bezel-less display. Unfortunately for us Brits it never made it to our shores and was only made available in the US.

  • Is the Sharp Aquos Crystal the first truly bezel-free smartphone?

The company is now back with another phone that pushes the boundaries of smartphone design, by producing a screen with actual curved corners. Appropriately called the Corner R, the new phone was unveiled at CEATECH 2016 in Japan and uses Sharp’s Free-Form Display technology which allows the screen to be cut and shaped into various shapes and ways.

The screen itself is a full HD 5.2in IGZO LCD panel that we think looks obscenely gorgeous, with the curved corners helping with the illusion of no bezel. The display is rated at 425ppi and has virtual buttons underneath. Unfortunately, Sharp didn’t divulge any other specs

Of course, it’s not the first time we’ve seen a curved display, as Samsung has the Galaxy S6 Edge and S7 Edge, but they have a large bezel at the top to house the earpiece. As for where the earpiece features in the Sharp Corner R remains a mystery.

The bad news is that the Corner R is just a concept for now, so it may never make it to retail stores, although we can’t think of many people who wouldn’t want to buy one. Come on Sharp, do the right thing.


Xbox One S now comes in multiple colours, thanks to Battlefield 1 and FIFA 17 bundles

Microsoft has announced two new colour choices for the Xbox One S to join the currently available Robot White. We thought it was just called White as well.

  • Xbox One S review: Best console and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player out there

The two colours are Storm Grey and Deep Blue and both will be available exclusively from Game and Argos respectively. Game will be selling the 500GB Storm Grey Xbox One S with either a downloadable copy of Fifa 17 and one month of EA Access from October 28 or a copy of Battlefield 1 from October 21. Both bundles will cost £249.99

Meanwhile, Argos will have the 500GB Deep Blue version of the console with the same games and for the same prices. If you’re a die hard Battlefield fan, you can also pick up a limited edition Military Green 1TB Xbox One S exclusively from Game.

Microsoft will carry on selling 500GB and 1TB Robot White consoles with Fifa 17, Battlefield 1, Minecraft and Gears of War 4. There’s also a limited edition 2TB Custom Red console to accompany Gears of War 4.

  • Xbox One S vs Xbox One: What’s the difference?
  • Xbox One S vs PS4 Pro: What’s the difference?

The Xbox One S is a more compact version of the Xbox One and comes with an Ultra HD Blu-ray player built-in and 4K video streaming. It’s these features combined with improved gaming performance that make the Xbox One S the best console available, especially given the PS4 Pro can only handle 4K streaming.


Google puts fitness playlists in Runtastic’s Android app

If Google Play Music and Runtastic are your favorite running companions, this collab was meant for you. The Big G’s Play Music division has teamed up with Runtastic to put free workout playlists within the Adidas-owned fitness app itself. All you need to do is fire up its music section to access, say, a collection of 130-beats-per-minute tracks that can match your steps, electronic dance music or high-energy rock tunes. You’ll be able to pause, play and skip within Runtastic, so you won’t need to switch apps anymore.

Now, if you’ve been using Play Music mostly as a free, ad-supported service, this partnership also gives you the chance to try out the features only available to paying subscribers. You can get two months Play Music subscription for free if you’re a Runtastic user, whether you have an iPhone or an Android device.

Source: Google, Runtastic (Google Play)


Apple and Spotify start streaming unofficial mixes

Earlier this year, both Spotify and Apple inked deals with Dubset for unofficial mixes, one of SoundCloud’s most popular services. As Techcrunch reports, the first of those is now streaming, a DJ Jazzy Jeff Jeff remix from Anderson .Paak. Dubset’s MixBANK system automatically scans samples to find original copyrighted materials, and pays artists, labels and publishers where appropriate. That tech allowed Spotify and Apple to clear the legal hurdle and start playing remixes.

With the top two streaming services carrying remixes, that will give DJs more publicity and sampled artists more royalties. For a sense of how popular this is, Dubset CEO Stephen White tells Techrunch that 700 million people listen to mixed content a month. At this point, multi-song DJ mixes that can carry your party through the night still aren’t available, but White says they’re “coming next” to Apple and Spotify.

Twitter recently invested $70 million in SoundCloud, and Spotify is reportedly in the process of buying the struggling streaming service. The Dubset deal means that SoundCloud no longer has an exclusive on remixes, but it still has a lot to offer Spotify — artist demos and rough track cuts often appear on the service ahead of commercial releases, for instance.

Source: Techcrunch

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