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29
Nov

Russian government turns to the ghost of Nokia’s mobile OS


Finnish software house Jolla has announced that its smartphone OS, Sailfish, has been accepted for use by Russia’s government. It means that the platform — which rose from the ashes of Nokia and Intel’s doomed MeeGo — can now be used for official government business. The company also let slip that it’s in discussions to do a similar deal with leaders in South Africa and China, as well as other BRICS countries. As for why, it’s probably not because Vladimir Putin was as outraged as the rest of us when Nokia axed the N9.

Instead, the move is another step along the geopolitical cold war that’s beginning to spread out across the technology world. Russia — as well as regimes like China — feel that the west has too much influence in the digital sphere. A few years back, both nations began pushing for homegrown alternatives to Windows, Android and iOS. That way, leaders could burnish local industry, reduce western cultural dominance and mitigate the risk that the CIA and NSA were watching them.

Microsoft, Apple and Google are also the target of much political ire outside of the US — although these days that’s changing, too. Not to mention that Russian spies breached American Windows systems several times over to steal various state secrets. After all, if your “enemy” is using compromised technology that you can exploit, you certainly don’t want to be tied in to the same platform. That’s why both Russia and China have essentially banned purchases of Windows computers as well as iOS and Android devices.

The groundwork for the deal was laid a while back, and Sailfish has already been licensed by a local company called Open Mobile Platform. OMP is pushing to create a developer community in Russia that can help make the software more secure. In an interview with TechCrunch, Jolla co-founder Sami Pienimäki believes that we’ll (well, Vladimir Putin) see Sailfish OS devices arrive for sale as early as 2017.

Source: Jolla (.PDF)

29
Nov

Engadget giveaway: Win an HD DVR package courtesy of Plex!


So you’ve cut the cord, but want to catch a few shows on major networks without adding a new paid TV subscription. If you splurge on a digital tuner (or cable card) and antenna, you’re free to enjoy uncompressed HD broadcasts from most of the majors like ABC, NBC, CBS and more — at no charge. Add to that Plex’s recent DVR feature, which lets you record shows when they air and save them to your Plex server. It’s the perfect pairing, allowing you access to both your own media and Plex DVR content anywhere you want using the app. To help celebrate the launch of this new feature, Plex has given us two complete setups for pulling in free HD TV, recording shows and streaming them. That includes an HDHomeRun Connect dual digital tuner, an HD antenna and a free lifetime Plex Pass, for unmitigated access to all of Plex’s best features. Just head on down to the Rafflecopter widget below for up to three chances at winning this economical HD TV package!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • Entries are handled through the Rafflecopter widget above. Comments are no longer accepted as valid methods of entry. You may enter without any obligation to social media accounts, though we may offer them as opportunities for extra entries. Your email address is required so we can get in touch with you if you win, but it will not be given to third parties.
  • Contest is open to all residents of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Canada (excluding Quebec), 18 or older! Sorry, we don’t make this rule (we hate excluding anyone), so direct your anger at our lawyers and contest laws if you have to be mad.
  • Winners will be chosen randomly. Two (2) winners will each receive one (1) HD HomeRun Connect tuner, one (1) Mohu Leaf 50 antenna and one (1) Lifetime Plex Pass.
  • If you are chosen, you will be notified by email. Winners must respond within three days of being contacted. If you do not respond within that period, another winner will be chosen. Make sure that the account you use to enter the contest includes your real name and a contact email. We do not track any of this information for marketing or third-party purposes.
  • This unit is purely for promotional giveaway. Engadget and AOL are not held liable to honor warranties, exchanges or customer service.
  • The full list of rules, in all its legalese glory, can be found here.
  • Entries can be submitted until Nov. 30th at 11:59PM ET. Good luck!
29
Nov

iPads and Beats Headphones Top Best-Selling and Sold-Out Cyber Monday Charts


Apple’s iPad was one of the five best-selling electronic devices on Cyber Monday yesterday, November 28, according to new data acquired by Adobe and published in a press release last night. Every iPad appears to be taken into account in Adobe’s data, but it’s likely that the newest iPad Pro models helped fuel sales thanks to a handful of discounts from various retailers, particularly on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.

Accompanying the iPad in the best-selling category for Cyber Monday this year were Sony’s PlayStation 4, Microsoft’s Xbox One, Samsung’s line of 4K TVs, and Amazon’s Fire tablets. In addition, it was noted that Beats by Dre products — mainly the company’s headphones — were among the items that were most likely to run out of stock.

In total, 2016’s online shopping holiday is on track to hit $3.39 billion in estimated spending, which will mark a 10.2 percent increase in comparison to Cyber Monday in 2015. Once all of the numbers come in, this year’s Cyber Monday could be “the largest online sales day in history,” and it’s already surpassed Black Friday spending this year, which sat at $3.34 billion.

“Cyber Monday is on track to be the biggest online shopping day ever, surpassing our forecast by almost $27 million or 0.8 percent,” said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst, Adobe Digital Insights. “This indicates that consumers still had more appetite for online shopping despite the incredible volume of online sales on Black Friday. Prices are expected to start climbing after today as retailers shift attention to extend the season late into December with quick shipping deals and the option to click and collect in store.”

Apple didn’t participate directly in Cyber Monday deals, but the company did run a Black Friday offer this year that granted customers up to $150 worth of gift cards on specific product purchases. Last year, the company didn’t offer Black Friday deals, opting to allow third-party retailers like Best Buy and Target to do so instead.

Adobe’s full Cyber Monday report can be read here.

Tag: Cyber Monday
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29
Nov

Apple to Obsolete Select 2009 to 2011 Macs at End of Year


Apple plans to add select 2009 to 2011 model Macs to its vintage and obsolete products list on December 31, 2016, according to an internal memo seen by MacRumors.

The following Macs will be classified as either vintage or obsolete in the United States, Canada, Japan, Europe, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific region:

• MacBook Pro (15-inch, Early 2011)
• MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2011)
• Mac mini (Early 2009)
• MacBook (13-inch, Mid 2009)

The aforementioned Macs will no longer be eligible for hardware service or new parts from Apple or Apple Authorized Service Providers, except in Turkey and California, where Apple will continue to provide repairs and documentation for up to two years, or December 31, 2018 in this case, as required by local statutes.

Vintage products are those that have not been manufactured by Apple for between five and seven years. Obsolete products are those that were discontinued by Apple more than seven years ago. Apple and Authorized Service Providers make no distinction between obsolete and vintage products outside of Turkey and California.

Related Roundup: Mac mini
Tag: vintage and obsolete
Buyer’s Guide: Mac Mini (Don’t Buy)
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29
Nov

Samsung Pay won’t launch in the UK until 2017


Samsung Pay was anticipated to be released in the UK by the end of 2016 but now, following an altercation with UK banks, it won’t arrive until 2017. However Samsung hasn’t confirmed when in 2017 we can expect to see the payment service.

  • Samsung Pay: What is it, how does it work, when is it coming to the UK?

Samsung hasn’t said which banks it’s having problems negotiating with, but we already suspect Santander will be a launch partner, along with Visa, Mastercard and American Express.

The South Korean’s rival to Android Pay and Apple Pay may have an app intended for sole use on Samsung devices, but fobs and cases can be used with other Android phones and even the iPhone.

But the big feature of Samsung Pay that sets it apart from its rivals is that it can be used with magnetic strip readers, as well as the standard NFC readers, after it acquired LoopPay. It means it can be used in far more locations around the world than the other big players. Your Samsung phone will prioritise paying via NFC first, but if it doesn’t detect a signal it will automatically switch the MST (Magnetic Strip Technology).

  • Android Pay explained: How it works and where it’s supported
  • Apple Pay explained: How it works and where it’s supported

Samsung Pay has been up and running in the US and South Korea since 2015, while another nine countries have come on board this year. Of course, until Samsung Pay arrives in the UK, Samsung owners can always choose to use Android Pay.

29
Nov

Fly over Paris with all your VR friends in ‘Eagle Flight’


While Microsoft and Sony sort out why one person playing Rocket League on a PlayStation 4 can’t compete against someone on an Xbox One, VR developers are bringing everyone together regardless of which headset they own. The folks behind Eve: Valkyrie started it and now Ubisoft is on board as well with Eagle Flight.

As of today, whether you’re playing on an HTC Vive, Oculus Rift or PlayStation VR, you’ll be able to join up with other eagles from around the world for multiplayer shenanigans. In the case of Eagle Flight that means more people to race against over the stylized, reclaimed-by-nature Parisian streets.

Ubisoft writes that Werewolves Within and the recently delayed Star Trek: Bridge Crew will support cross-platform play out of the box as well. There is one thing to note: Ubisoft is connecting the PS4 to PC players, something that’s already been done with Street Fighter V. So, this groundwork has been laid out previously and (presumably) differs from connecting two closed online infrastructures like PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. Maybe that future is closer than we expect, though.

Source: Ubiblog

29
Nov

Amazon’s next Echo might have a 7-inch touchscreen


Amazon is still riding high on the success of its Echo speakers, and there’s only one place to go now that it has a low-cost option like the Echo Dot: to the high end. Accordingly, Bloomberg sources hear that Amazon is working on a “premium” Echo-style speaker whose centerpiece would be a roughly 7-inch touchscreen. The visuals would give you a clearer look at your calendar, the weather and other data where Alexa’s voice can’t provide a perfect description. It would sound better, too with “high-grade” speakers that sound good regardless of volume levels.

If this sounds a bit like a tablet with speakers, you wouldn’t be far off the mark. The insiders claim that this speaker would run an “optimized” variant of Fire OS, the Android spinoff that you see on Fire tablets and the Fire TV. That would give you the ability to display info unrelated to your voice commands, such as an in-testing feature that would let you pin photos and other items to the home screen. It’s not certain that this has any relation to “Knight,” the Alexa-guided kitchen device rumored back in May, although there are at least some superficial connections.

There’s no mention of pricing (besides more than the $180 standard Echo). If the scoop is accurate, however, Amazon could ship the speaker as early as the first quarter of 2017. That sounds like odd timing, but the internet retailer does have an incentive to move quickly. Google Home undercuts the standard Echo’s price, so there’s a strong incentive to offer something beyond what Google can offer. And remember, there are rumors of an Apple smart speaker in the works — Amazon might not want to be caught without an answer to whatever is cooking in Cupertino.

Source: Bloomberg

29
Nov

LeEco’s phones and TVs are coming to Amazon and Best Buy


LeEco is perhaps best known away from China for its electric cars (and the cash crunch they caused), but it’s now making a big US push with its bread-and-butter electronics products. After launching its LeMall.com site earlier this month, it’ll let US consumers buy its phones and TVs at retailers like Amazon, Best Buy and Target, starting on December 1st. To entice buyers, it’s offering free trials for AT&T’s DirecTV Now streaming service, launching tomorrow.

If you buy the Le S3 or Le Pro3 smartphones or 43-inch X43 Pro 4K TV, you’ll get three months of DirecTV Now. The more upmarket Super4 X55 or Super4 X65 4K sets will land you a six-month trial, or 12-months with the purchase of a $5,000 85-inch uMax85 TV.

DirecTV just launched yesterday as a competitor to Sling TV and Playstation Vue at the promotional price of $35 a month, expected to rise to $60. The service won’t count against the company’s data caps, which is great for AT&T internet subscribers, but sucks for its competitors and net neutrality in general.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

LeEco is a successful e-commerce company in China, and its founder, Jia Yueting, is the country’s 30th richest individual. However, LeEco recently spent enormous sums launching its own LeSee electric car and backing two other companies (Faraday Future and Lucid Motors), and Jia recently admitted that the company is running out of cash.

As for the products themselves, we found that the company’s Le Pro3 smartphone had nice hardware but was hobbled by its heavily skinned UI. There aren’t a lot of reviews out there for the 4K TV models, though the company also owns Vizio, a Chinese TV manufacturer well-known in the US. You’ll be able to buy LeEco-branded TVs and smartphones at “over 100 retailers” starting December 1st or via LeMall.com, which just extended its sales times to 24/7.

Source: LeEco

29
Nov

The UK’s contentious surveillance bill has become law


The Investigatory Powers Bill, the UK’s sweeping new piece of surveillance legislation, becomes an Act of Parliament today after receiving its final stamp of approval from the Queen — a formality called royal assent. This comes just a few weeks after the House of Lords approved the bill, which consolidates various existing surveillance powers, and introduces several new and controversial ones.

The Home Office is calling it “a landmark Bill which sets out and governs the powers available to the police, security and intelligence agencies to gather and access electronic communications.” It will ensure agencies “have the powers they need in a digital age to disrupt terrorist attacks, subject to strict safeguards and world-leading oversight,” the Home Office says.

“This Government is clear that, at a time of heightened security threat, it is essential our law enforcement, security and intelligence services have the powers they need to keep people safe,” Home Secretary Amber Rudd added. “The Investigatory Powers Act is world-leading legislation that provides unprecedented transparency and substantial privacy protection.”

One of the most controversial provisions of the Act allows the government to force communication service providers like ISPs and mobile carriers to store the Internet Connection Records (ICRs) of users for 12 months. ICRs are top-level data about your internet usage — websites you’ve accessed, for example, but not the individual pages you visited under that domain (so, just engadget.com). They also cover the metadata of online communications, like who, when and where someone used WhatsApp or another messaging service, but not the content of conversations. Just as important, numerous government departments and agencies will be able to access that data without a warrant.

Several of the more serious powers will require two independent forms of authorisation before they are deemed both necessary and proportionate to an investigation. Indiscriminate, bulk data collection including the content of communications, for instance, and state-sponsored hacking, known as equipment interference.

Not every provision in the bill will come into force immediately, though, the Home Office has said, as they “will require extensive testing and will not be in place for some time.” The Home Office is still “developing plans for implementing the provisions in the Bill and will set out the timetable in due course.” The systems required for the collection and storage of ICRs, for example, could take years to build, according to communications service providers consulted during the bill’s debate stages.

The Investigatory Powers Bill has been debated at length since the first draft was published this time last year, and privacy advocates have taken a dim view of the powers since day one. Only recently has the bill interested much of the general public, though, with a petition to repeal the bill started just after it passed through the House of Lords. At the time of writing, the petition is approaching 135,000 signatures, but as the Investigatory Powers Bill has now received royal assent, it’s too little too late.

Via: The Independent

29
Nov

ICYMI: CERNs robotic inspectors ride a monorail


ICYMI: CERNs robotic inspectors ride a monorail

Today on In Case You Missed It: Pairing an Arduino with a skateboard produces the Sick Ollie Machine, capable of measuring angular and X-,Y- or Z-axis accelerations to measure who is hitting their tricks the hardest. Courtesy of Josh Sheldon, the ollie machine uses an Arduino beneath the trucks of the board paired with a relay to measure the stats of each trick. Those who are producing truly sick ollies are rewarded with a chime from the attached cowbell.

Meanwhile, over at CERN a set of robot twins have been enlisted to provide live video feeds and environmental measurements for the massive underground complex. The robots, called TIM twins for Train Inspection Monorail, move along a — you guessed it — overhead rail that runs throughout the facility in order to monitor stats like oxygen concentration and radiation emissions.

Also, don’t forget to check out what happens when a frog is run through Google’s Deep Dream project (which is easily the weirdest sentence I’ve written yet today). As always, please share any interesting tech or science videos you find by using the #ICYMI hashtag on Twitter for @mskerryd.

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