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Dec

Apple is reportedly using drones to improve Maps


Apple is putting a team together that will capture mapping data using drones to supplement its camera-equipped minivans, Bloomberg says. While its Maps app is no longer the butt of jokes, Apple reportedly wants to better the quality of Google Maps, an app that’s still more widely used on all platforms. The team may use UAVs from companies like DJI and Aibotix to keep maps up-to-date with construction, new roads and other info.

Apple is also trying to improve car and indoor navigation, according to unnamed company sources. The latter isn’t too much of a surprise, as Apple recently bought an indoor tracking company called Indoor.io last year, and purchased WiFiSlam back in 2013. The company even released an app called Indoor Survey last year that lets you figure out your location in an indoor venue, even if it hasn’t been mapped.

As for the drone team, it’s reportedly being assembled in Seattle and run by someone hired away from Amazon’s Prime Air division. Apple applied for FAA permits last year to fly commercial drones to “conduct data collection, photography and videography,” according to a document dug up by Bloomberg. If it follows the new FAA rules, operations in cities will be limited to licensed pilots flying in daytime hours with line-of-site views of the drones. Images and other data collected will then be rapidly incorporated into Maps.

Apple doesn’t use its mapping service to sell ads like Google does, but it certainly wants to keep users and developers on its own ecosystem. The company has made large strides lately improving Maps with public transit data, and recently incorporated third-party extensions from Lyft, OpenTable and Uber into iOS 10. As a result of its work, Maps is now reportedly used at least three times more often by users than Google Maps on iOS. We’ve contacted Apple to confirm the story, but don’t hold your breath.

Source: Bloomberg

1
Dec

Korg’s fun-to-use Electribe sequencers pack big features into a tiny frame


Creating music has become incredibly easy thanks to computers and low-cost (sometimes free) software. For example: Using just a MacBook and GarageBand, aspiring rock gods can pump out the jams without hunting down musicians and booking studio time. But when you want to play live, pushing a button on computer just isn’t very exciting to watch. MPC and MPS (Music Production Controller and Music Production Station) systems, on the other hand, offer access to your finely crafted songs with the option to build a beat from scratch on the fly without dragging a laptop onstage. That’s where Korg’s two updated Electribes come in.

At their core, the $400 Electribe stations are sequencers that feature real-time song building and editing. Yes, you can use Ableton Live music production software to put together a tune and export it to either of the devices. But, it’s more fun to use the 16 pads situated on top of the hardware that correspond to different sounds to build a composition. The Electribes bring back the visceral joy of tapping and twisting tangible items to build something. And, thanks to robust cases, they can handle all that poking and prodding.

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Don’t be fooled by the devices’ nearly identical appearance. While they’re both sequencers, these are two different instruments. What you can easily create on one won’t always be possible to create on the other. The Sampler does exactly what the name suggests. You can sequence and tweak samples to create complex compositions. Samples are added via the SD card slot or audio-in port. Musicians can throw in pre-built sounds, voices and even dog barks to the Electribe. Those audio segments can then be adjusted in real time via a library of filters, a modulation control and an Amp envelope generator.

Plus, you can map those sounds to the pads and play the Sampler like a keyboard. The X/Y touchpad adds a more organic way to manipulate the audio by sliding your finger along its surface to change the tone of the selected patch.

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While the Sampler is made to work with pre-made sounds, its fraternal twin, the regular Electribe, is synthesizer based. Instead of random audio parts it contains a library of oscillators that can be manipulated via the filter, modulation and AMP envelope-generator knobs.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s nearly the same setup as the Sampler. In fact, Korg demos the Electribe devices connected to each other on its site. If you can figure out how to use one, you’re basically ready to use the other.

In fact, after using the Sampler for a few weeks there was hardly any learning curve when I fired up the Electribe. It took no time lay down a beat with the preinstalled percussion sounds while layering oscillators using the pads.

For those who do build sequences using the hardware instead of a computer, the recent 2.0 software update brought a very welcome undo feature. Make a mistake and you can quickly delete it and move on. The update also ushered in the mega-song-creating pattern-chaining feature. Now musicians can link their individual compositions together to create more complex songs.

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Getting all the features — such as pattern chaining — to work is mostly simple thanks to the physical buttons and knobs. But there were times when I found myself delving into sub-menus to adjust things like BPM (beats per minute). There’s also a tap tempo button, but sometimes you need to plug in the exact number of beats.

The audio ports are also hit or miss. The left and right audio out are quarter-inch, which is great. But the audio in and headphone are mini-jack. I can excuse the headphone jack, but if you’re using other instruments with mono out, you’ll need an adapter.

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Speaking of adapters, the backs of both devices require Korg’s mini-jack to MIDI cables. Two dongles for MIDI in and out come in the box, but I’d much rather have actual MIDI ports on the instruments instead of using dongles that I’m afraid I’ll lose or forget at home when I need them at a show.

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Fortunately, the Electribe and Electribe Sampler are robust enough to use on stage, and as it happens, I didn’t forget the MIDI adapters (I never ended up using them live but put them in a bright container in my backpack just in case). The metal cases and solid knob construction alleviated any concerns I had that they’d be damaged during live performances. Plus, their low profiles meant I could shove them into a backpack instead of lugging my giant Pelican case to shows.

One issue I did have both on stage and during practice was with the power supply: The cable is way too short. It didn’t matter if it was on a keyboard stand or a table; it was never long enough to reach the power strip. Unless you plan to set it up in a studio and never move it, you’ll need to invest in an extension cord.

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But even with the hassle of MIDI adapters, the need to invest in an extension cord and the mini-jack audio in, both Electribes are feature-rich considering their price of $400 each. Their metal cases and slim profiles make them easy to transport and durable enough to take a beating. More importantly they’re easy to use, with most of the most important features accessible via hardware buttons and knobs. When you’re creating live music, the last thing you need is to delve into on-screen menus. If you’re going to do that, you might as well bring a computer on stage — but it’s hard to get into to groove when you’re pointing and clicking.

Source: Korg

1
Dec

Amazon lets Prime members add HBO and Cinemax to their plans


Amazon already offered Prime subscribers the ability to add streaming services to their account and today it tacked on two more big names. If you’re willing to pay a few extra dollars a month, you can now add HBO and Cinemax to that annual membership. Through Amazon Channels, HBO will set you back $15 a month while Cinemax requires an extra $10 monthly fee. Of course, the advantage here is that you’re getting on-demand access to content from the two networks without the need for a cable plan.

Showtime was already available through Amazon’s Channels program alongside NBC’s SeeSo comedy streaming service, PBS Kids, History Channel Vault, Starz and more. As you might expect, any of these networks that you link to a Prime plan are available though the retailer’s video app on phones, tablets and connected TVs. Owners of Amazon’s Fire TV, Fire TV Stick and Fire tablets also get easy access to any of the aforementioned streaming add-ons.

The best part of the news? HBO and Cinemax are available today for Prime customers. Just head over to the Channels page to get started.

Source: Amazon (Business Wire)

1
Dec

‘OK Google’ is finally coming to Android Auto


The major selling point of Android Auto is that it brings smartphone-like apps and services to your vehicle. Google Maps, access to music and weather updates are now taken for granted, but it’s remained a mystery over why one of Android’s most useful hands-free commands — “OK Google” — has taken so long to come to the infotainment software. Luckily, the search giant has finally recognized the need for the feature and is in the process of rolling it out, albeit at a slow pace.

The feature was first spotted by Reddit user neo5468, who noticed that the latest versions of the Android Search and Auto apps enabled a new toggle for OK Google commands while driving. However, even if you have the new updates installed, Google appears to be limiting the expansion on an per account basis, so you may need to wait your turn.

It’s been more than six months since Google’s I/O conference, where it first shared that it would enable hotword support in Android Auto. The company also said at the time that it would integrate Waze, but that is also taking some time to surface.

Android Auto OK Google

Via: Android Police

Source: Reddit

1
Dec

Discogs’ vinyl app offers more info on artists, labels and releases


Discogs’ vinyl-tracking app has been available for everyone since February, but today the company revealed an update for the iOS version. The redesign is primarily focused on serving up more details on artists, record labels and releases. For example, the mobile software now pulls it Discogs’ database info on an individual musician or band. We’re talking things like image galleries, band members, name variations, aliases and more. Any related artists and releases are linked which makes it easy to go hunting for new material.

The new artist view will also quickly display how many releases by a particular band or musician you own. Thanks to a handy “In Your Collection” button, that tally is easily visible. Artist pages also have sharing tools so you can broadcast your findings via your social channels, text message or email. You can also simply save a note to your phone to remind yourself to come back later.

Like the retooled artist pages, the label view now displays more information as well. The Discogs app will show you details on the parent label or sublabels for each imprint. You can also easily see which releases from a label are already in your collection or any that you’ve added to the so-called Wantlist for future consideration.

Although Discogs added release details in a previous update, it’s still worth a mention as part of this data-heavy revamp. When you’re looking at info on a particular release, you’ll now see things like sales history, Wantlist stats, collection totals, sales listings, tracklist credits, YouTube videos and more.

All of this added information is an addition to existing features like a barcode scanner to help verify and catalog any records you come across when digging through old crates. The Discogs app comes in handy when hunting for vinyl releases, so adding in loads more data will certainly help audio aficionados make informed decisions and keep track of what they already own.

1
Dec

Russian resupply ship destroyed en route to International Space Station


During what is normally a routine resupply run to the International Space Station on Thursday, Russian ground control lost contact with its delivery vehicle, the Progress MS-04, which has now been confirmed as destroyed.

BREAKING: Cargo ship destroyed during launch to space station – Russian space agency on Twitter

— Reuters Tech News (@ReutersTech) December 1, 2016

The spacecraft successfully lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan just after 9:50pm EST last night, carrying nearly three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the Expedition 50 crew. However, it ran into telemetry issues, which NASA is categorizing as “an anomaly”, during the third stage of the mission. Russia’s Roscosmos agency has been monitoring the situation and has confirmed that the mission has failed.

This mission was the third and final Russian resupply mission to the ISS of the year. The space station still has plenty of supplies, according to NASA, so there isn’t much danger of the crew starving in the immediate future. Furthermore, Japan’s JAXA is planning to launch an H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV)-6 flight to the ISS on December 9th.

Source: NASA

1
Dec

Just Eat starts delivering takeaways by autonomous robot


Just Eat has today laid claim to delivering the first takeaway meal by autonomous robot. The online ordering company has been working with Starship Technologies since July, testing the latter’s “last-mile” delivery robots in Greenwich, London. But these tamperproof, pavement-pounding boxes on wheels are now in active service in the area, after the first, apparently unknowing customer successfully received their falafel and lamb cutlets from a local Turkish eatery. While customers are not be able to actively choose robot as their preferred delivery option yet, Just Eat says Greenwich “will increasingly be serviced by the technology,” ahead of plans to expand the rollout (no pun intended) to more parts of London next year.

We’re not sure Just Eat can really claim a world first here, though. Domino’s in New Zealand began delivering pizzas by autonomous drone last month, and similar programs have been run elsewhere, even if they’ve only been trials, pilots, pure PR stunts and what have you. Domino’s is working on a ground-based autonomous delivery bot of its own, however, so Starship Technologies has at least beat it to the punch there.

The company, created by two Skype co-founders, is building robots to ferry goods from local sorting centres, shops and restaurants to their final destinations without human intervention. A “last-mile” autonomous solution, in other words. The six-wheelers, which abide by pavement etiquette using GPS and various sensors, are being tested by several companies in several cities. Able to carry up to around 9kg, the electric bots are said to be significantly more efficient and cost-effective than current last-mile options. They really are taking our jobs…

1
Dec

Apple Reduces iPhone 7 Supplier Orders Amid ‘Fading’ Demand and ‘iPhone 8’ Excitement


Apple has reduced its orders for the iPhone 7 with suppliers, following the initial sales influx within the first month of the device’s launch this past September. Supply chain sources speaking with Digitimes pointed towards strong demand for the Jet Black iPhone 7 and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 issues as catalysts for the initial shipping momentum, but both factors have now trailed off in producing more iPhone sales leading up to 2017.

Because of these factors and more, demand for the iPhone 7 in China and other markets around the world has “started fading.” The timing aligns with Apple’s typical iPhone manufacturing slow down towards the end of each year, and attention by suppliers and customers is now said to be on 2017’s much-anticipated tenth anniversary iPhone.

Demand for the iPhone 7 devices in China and other markets has scaled down significantly since their launch less than three months ago, the sources noted.

Instead of paying attention to sales performance of the iPhone 7 devices, component suppliers and consumers alike have been shifting their focus to the next generation iPhone to be released in 2017, commented the sources.

“High expectations” for the so-called iPhone 8 are also factored into the shipment outlook for the iPhone 7 as the new year approaches. In total, shipments for the iPhone 7 are believed to be five million less in the first six months of 2017 than in the four month period the smartphone will have been available by the end of 2016.

The iPhone 8 already has a plethora of rumors surrounding its design and potential new features, including a glass body, edge-to-edge display, and wireless charging abilities.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Discuss this article in our forums

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1
Dec

Apple Now Lets You Check Your iPhone 6s Serial Number to See if You’re Eligible for a New Battery


Two weeks after launching an iPhone 6s battery repair program, Apple has released a tool that allows iPhone 6s owners to check whether their device is affected by the problem.

An updated page for the iPhone 6s program includes an option to enter a serial number to determine whether an iPhone 6s is eligible for a free battery replacement.

A small number of iPhone 6s models manufactured between September and October of 2015 have a faulty battery, which can cause the iPhone 6s to unexpectedly shut down.

Devices that fall into the eligible manufacturing date will be able to receive a new battery from Apple at no charge should they exhibit the unexpected shutdown issue. Devices must be in good working condition to receive a battery replacement — Apple won’t swap it out if there’s an issue like a cracked screen that could impair the battery replacement.

iPhone 6s owners with an eligible device can visit an Apple retail store, an Apple Authorized Service Provider, or call Apple Support for assistance with the issue. Customers who have already paid to have their iPhone 6s batteries replaced can receive reimbursement from Apple for the repair costs.

Related Roundup: iPhone 6s
Buyer’s Guide: iPhone (Buy Now)
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1
Dec

LG DLEX 3570V Dryer review – CNET


The Good The LG DLEX 3570V dryer is powerful enough to dry clothes quickly. The appliance also features multiple steam modes and dryer cycles to handle a wide range of clothing and fabric types.

The Bad The LG DLEX 3570V dryer’s control panel is cluttered and its 7.4-cubic-foot capacity comparatively small. The machine uses a tiny water tank instead of a water line input to supply moisture for its steam cycles.

The Bottom Line If you often need to dry your clothes in a hurry, the LG DLEX 3570V dryer won’t disappoint, but look to other models for greater capacity and style.

LG sells some of the most attractive laundry appliances on the market, but the $1,100 LG DLEX 3570V dryer isn’t one of them. This machine has a drab color scheme and conventional appearance that could easily belong to any number of products from a wide range of manufacturers. What the DLEX 3570V lacks in distinctive looks, however, it makes up for in swift cycle speed and sheer clothes drying power.

Those who need to wash large loads at once won’t appreciate the dryer’s relatively cramped 7.4 cubic foot capacity drum. For them, either the luxurious $1,800 LG DLEX 9000V or roomy $1,400 Kenmore Elite 81072 are a better fit. Of course if it’s striking design you’re after then consider the $1,100 Kenmore 69133 and $1,000 LG DLEY 1701V. Both high-performance dryers are sleek and lovely, and they sprint through their cycles quickly.

Don’t be fooled by its ordinary looks, this…
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Design and features

Painted in what LG describes as “graphite steel” (also available in white), the DLEX 3570V dryer’s gray-and-silver chassis closely resembles myriad similarly bland machines made by GE, Kenmore and Whirlpool. Measuring 38.7 inches tall by 27 inches wide and reaching a depth of 29.75 inches, the dryer is very close in size to the Kenmore 81383 and GE GFDS260EFWW, two appliances that also share a close resemblance.

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The control panel’s busy layout is tricky to interpret at a glance.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Even so, the LG DLEX 3570V is by no means old-fashioned. The dryer’s control panel sits on the machine’s front face and has modern LED indicators. At the center of the panel is a large dial that swivels softly to highlight your chosen dryer cycle. It’s a far cry from the cantankerous mechanical knobs that still exist on some budget dryers such as the Kenmore 65132 and GE GTD45EASJWS.

This doesn’t mean the LG dryer is a pleasure to operate. With a cluttered layout and text that’s often too small to read quickly, I often found it tricky to tell just what the appliance was up to at any given moment.

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The cycle dial’s LED indicators ring the control knob closely.

Chris Monroe/CNET

There are plenty of dryer cycles to choose from. Numbering 12 in all, the cycles profess to handle everything from permanent press and synthetics to bulky items, cotton garments and towels. The dryer can also perform two different steam cycles, “Steam Fresh” and “Steam Sanitary.” The first option is designed to remove wrinkles and odors from clothing quickly. The second cycle hits the dryer drum with high heat and steam to destroy germs lurking within fabric.

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A tiny water tank supplies this dryer’s steam modes.

Chris Monroe/CNET

To supply moisture for its steam functions, the LG DLEX 3570V relies on a small water reservoir that you must fill manually. While it’s a minor inconvenience, especially if you have access to a sink in your laundry room, the arrangement is more hands-on than using a dedicated water line.

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