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Apple Highlights Autism Acceptance Month Through App Store, Retail Field Trips

April is Autism Acceptance Month, and Apple plans to mark the occasion in several ways, including a dedicated section in the App Store and retail field trips.

According to Steven Aquino, a journalist who covers accessibility topics, Apple will offer field trips to retail stores that will host music events designed to include children with disabilities.

Kids will be able to participate in the events using the Skoogmusic Skoog 2.0 Tactile Musical Interface, one of the many accessibility-oriented accessories Apple sells in its online store. Skoog is a tactile cube that lets children with disabilities control sound through touch.

Along with special Apple Store events, Apple has created an Autism Acceptance App Store section that includes dozens of important accessibility apps organized into sections like Apps for Every Day, Apps for Learning, Books, Podcasts, and iTunes U courses.

Some of the apps included are Proloquo2Go, :prose, Keeble Accessible Keyboard, Assistive Express, TouchChat HD, RocketKeys, and more.

Accessibility has always been hugely important to Apple, and the company has aimed to make its devices accessible for everyone, with in-depth accessibility settings to meet a range of needs. Back in October, Apple launched a new Accessibility website that highlights accessibility features across all of its products.

Tag: accessibility
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How to use Nintendo Switch Joy-Con and Pro controllers on your PC


There’s one serious benefit that’s emerged from Nintendo’s choice to use standard Bluetooth technology in the Nintendo Switch: You can easily use the console’s unique, high-quality controllers on PC, in MacOS, and even on Android devices. That includes both the Joy-Con motion controllers, which come with the console, and the Switch Pro Controller, a $70 extra purchase (worth it, though, for the controller’s stellar quality). And all you need to use these controllers on PC is a Bluetooth receiver.

Here’s what you need to know.

More: The most common issues plaguing the Nintendo Switch

How to connect the Joy-Con controllers

You can easily pair Joy-Con controllers with a Windows or Mac computer from directly within the Bluetooth menu. Follow the steps below to do so.

Step 1: Turn on Bluetooth on your PC.

Step 2: Disconnect the Joy-Con from the Switch as you would normally.

Step 3: Hold the “sync” button on the Joy-Con — which is located between the SR and SL buttons — until the LED lights start flashing. Use the image below, if you’re in need of further clarification.

Step 4: Look for the Joy-Con in your computer’s Bluetooth menu, and select the option to pair it with your device. There are some quirks, like the fact that the pairing lights on the Joy-Con won’t stop blinking. You can confirm that the controller is connected, however, by looking at your computer’s Bluetooth settings. If you see the error message below, move the controller around to ensure no other devices are interfering with the signal. Afterward, try again.

Unfortunately, the two Joy-Cons will be treated as separate controllers. That’s great for two-player games, but it makes the Joy-Cons useless for playing anything complex, like a first-person shooter (why are you using a controller to play a PC shooter anyway?).

No doubt the PC homebrew community will eventually come up with a way to pair both Joy-Cons as a single controller, and even to use the controllers’ unique features — like motion controls — on platforms other than the Switch. Until then, however, use the Joy-Cons for simple 2D games or retro games with an emulator, and be thankful Nintendo is letting this happen at all.


Asus BIOS update adds Intel Optane support to 35 motherboards

Why it matters to you

Intel Optane drives can now help Asus 200 series motherboard owners bridge the gap between standard storage options and new, high-speed options.

Asus has released a UEFI BIOS update for 35 of its motherboards which adds support for Intel’s Optane memory drives. All of the boards are based on the 200 series chipset, with everything from the high-end Z270s, through H270 and B250 boards all now able to add an Intel Optane drive to their M.2 port.

Intel’s Optane memory is based on high-speed memory technology but comes in a storage drive format. With only a few tens of gigabytes of space though, it isn’t designed to work like your average Solid State Drive (SSD) or hard drive, but as a caching drive for either of those storage form factors.

By putting often-accessed files on the high-speed standard, and leaving the more long-term storage to more traditional mediums, a system can get by with a slower hard drive or SSD, and still benefit from some of the performance improvements PCIExpress storage offers. This is similar to early combo-drives that put SSD and HDD technology together, but much faster.

More: Intel’s Optane DC 4800X blurs the line between RAM and solid state storage

And now that performance can be had on Asus motherboards. Everything from the Asus Maximus IX Extreme, right down to the EX-B250-V7.

Intel Optane is only supported by Core processors of course, so you will need to make sure that you are running one of the seventh-generation processors that isn’t a Pentium or Celeron, to take advantage.

If you have a seven-gen. Core CPU and one of the compatible Asus motherboards though, you should be able to benefit. BIOS updates are nowhere near as risky as they once were, and Asus even has an Optane-ready microsite set up just to take you through the steps. You can use its BIOS Flashback button, or its built-in EZ Flash 3 function in the BIOS itself.

That page also has links to every compatible motherboard, making it easy to find the latest BIOS update files, as well as which methods of flashing you can use for that particular board.


Best app deals of the day! 6 paid iPhone apps for free for a limited time

Everyone likes apps, but sometimes the best ones are a bit expensive. Now and then, developers make paid apps free for a limited time, but you have to snatch them up while you have the chance. Here are the latest and greatest apps on sale in the iOS App Store.

These apps normally cost money, and this sale lasts for a limited time only. If you go to the App Store and it says the app costs money, that means the deal has expired and you will be charged. 

More: 200 Awesome iPhone Apps | The best Android apps for almost any occasion

YConvert Pro

YconvertPRO is the fastest way possible for converting units now with millions of users. The app was developed to be fast, easy to use, accurate, lightweight, designed for iOS 10 and yet easy to use.

Available on:


Six-Pack Abs

Six-Pack Abs by VGFIT helps you get in shape, lose belly fat, improve your core strength, and stay fit. Get your six-pack abs with the most intensive range of exercises you can perform at home, outside, and at the gym, with four levels of difficulty.

Available on:


Math Pro

Math Pro will take you through high-school Math and beyond. It is a powerful tool that is overflowing with the tutorials, examples, and solvers from Algebra Pro, Geometry Pro, Probability Pro, Statistics Pro, PreCalculus Pro, and Calculus Pro.

Available on:


21 — Birth Control

The best app to track your cycles and mood changes. Customizable, powerful, and intuitively designed, it will help you to control your cycles like a pro. Never miss your birth control pills again.

Available on:



Coyn is a simple, secure, and stylish way to manage your cash balance. Manage your money like it’s no one else’s business, and make sure you’re the only one who tracks your cash expenditures and earnings.

Available on:



More than 300,000 unique writing starting lines and creative writing prompts to inspire you and give you ideas for creative writing. Whether it’s poetry writing, journal writing, storytelling, or anything else.

Available on:



Smart sensors allowed a paralyzed man to move his arm again

Why it matters to you

In a scientific breakthrough, a paralyzed man was able to move his arm again by using his thoughts to send messages via an implant in his brain.

Modern technology is pretty darn amazing, but sometimes we need a particularly prominent example to remind us of just how awesome it can be.

That’s what happened this week when Bill Kochevar, a man who has been paralyzed below his shoulders for the past eight years following a bicycling accident, was able to feed himself by using his thoughts to send messages from an implant in his brain to implants in his arm.

In the study, Kochevar underwent surgery to install sensors in his brain’s motor cortex, the part of the brain responsible for hand movement. Over the following four months he then learned to use the sensors to control a 3D virtual arm, before undergoing a second operation to install 36 electrodes in his arm and hand. These electrodes prompted electrical stimulation of muscles in Kochevar’s shoulder, elbow and hand.

More: Innovative brain-reading cap allows ‘locked-in’ patients to communicate with doctors

Case Western Reserve University Cleveland FES Center

“This is the first in-man success of a fully implanted brain machine interface (BCI) and functional electrical stimulation to restore function in a fully paralyzed limb in an individual with quadriplegia,” researcher Benjamin Walter, associate professor of neurology at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, clinical PI of the Cleveland BrainGate2 trial and medical director of the Deep Brain Stimulation Program at UH Cleveland Medical Center, told Digital Trends. “What is amazing about this approach is the technology essentially bypasses the damaged spinal cord and allows the individual to just think about moving his arm and it moves. He has been able to perform functional tasks and move his arm in multiple directions with multiple degrees of freedom.”

Despite the headline-grabbing study, Walter said that the work is still in its relatively early stages, and that the algorithms are being tweaked and improved on a regular basis as a result of the team’s work with Bill Kochevar.

The restorative abilities of the brain machine interface are long-lasting, but work only when the system is hooked up to a computer.

That won’t be the case forever, though. “Eventually this technology will all be wireless or internalized which could allow for more continuous independent use,” Walter concluded.


Australian commission denies banks’ right to negotiate as group with Apple

Why it matters to you

Australian iPhone users won’t get to use Apple pay locally just yet, but the service is likely to show up at some point, whenever negotiations are finally concluded.

Australian banks will be forced to negotiate with Apple individually when it comes to rolling out Apple Pay, due to anti-cartel laws. This confirms a ruling handed down by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) back in November 2016.

Although Apple Pay is a service introduced by the Cupertino, California-company, the actual financial transactions themselves stay between the banks, retailers, and customers. That said, Apple has, elsewhere in the world, negotiated lower transaction fees in return for encouraging more credit-based transactions.

If it wants to do that in Australia though, it will need to do so with individual banks, rather than all of them as a collective.

“The ACCC is not satisfied, on balance, that the likely benefits from the proposed conduct outweigh the likely detriments,” ACCC chairman, Rod Sims said in a statement (via 9t05Mac). “We are concerned that the proposed conduct is likely to reduce or distort competition in a number of markets.”

“While the ACCC accepts that the opportunity for the banks to collectively negotiate and boycott would place them in a better bargaining position with Apple, the benefits would be outweighed by detriments.”

More: Users can now donate to their favorite charities in the U.K. with Apple Pay

Apple’s response to the news was slightly derogatory. It suggested that it had been able to successfully negotiate the use of Apple Pay in a variety of markets, but struggled with Australia, purely because of the ACCC.

Part of the reason a deal has yet to be struck with Australian banks is because they have previously requested access to the iPhone’s NFC chip, which would allow not only Apple Pay to work, but alternative mobile payment options as well. Apple’s denial of access is said to be related to security concerns.

It’s sticking to its guns, too, so it may mean that negotiations take far longer now that it will have to make deals with individual banks over the coming months. This could lead to some banks negotiating better rates than others, which could affect the rollout, though to what extent is anyone’s guess.


Samsung Galaxy S8 vs. iPhone 7: Duking it out with the cream of the crop


The highly anticipated Galaxy S8 has finally arrived, and it’s just as impressive as expected. Samsung’s newest flagship features a ultra-slim bezels, curved screen, cutting-edge processor, a brand-new digital assistant, and more.

But the Galaxy S8 isn’t the only heavyweight on the mobile playing field. Apple’s iPhone 7 is still a top performer. To put an end to the debate, we pitted the two phones against each other in a specs battle to the finish.

More: Behind the scenes: How Samsung designed and built the Galaxy S8 and S8+


Galaxy S8


Apple iPhone 7


148.9 x 68.1 x 8 millimeters (5.86 x 2.68 x 0.31 inches)
138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 millimeters (5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches)
5.47 ounces (155 grams)
4.87 ounces (138 grams)
5.8-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED
4.7-inch Retina HD LED-backlit widescreen
2,960 x 1,440 pixels
1,334 × 750 pixels
Android 7.0 Nougat
iOS 10
SD Card Slot
NFC support
Yes (Apple Pay Only)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (U.S.)
Samsung Exynos 8895 (International)
Apple A10 Fusion with 64-bit architecture, M10 motion coprocessor
4G LTE, GSM, CDMA, HSPA, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
4G LTE, GSM, CDMA, HSPA+, 802.11ac/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
12MP rear dual with OIS, 8MP front
12MP rear with OIS, 7MP front
4K at 30fps, 1080p at 60fps,
4K at 30fps, 1080p at 30 or 60fps, 720p at 240fps
Yes, version 5
Yes, version 4.2
Fingerprint sensor
Other sensors
Barometer, gyro, accelerometer, proximity sensor, iris scanner
Barometer, 3-axis gyro, accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor
Water Resistant
Yes, IP68
Yes, IP67
USB Type-C
Quick Charging
Wireless Charging
Yes, Qi and PMA
Google Play Store
Apple App Store
Color offerings
Black, silver, orchid gray, blue (international), gold (international)
Rose Gold, Gold, Silver, Black, Jet Black

AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, Unlocked

AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile

Starting at $720
DT Review
3.5 out of 5 stars

Comparing the specs of the Galaxy S8 and iPhone 7 gets a little tricky — Apple controls the operating system and the hardware, so it can offer a smooth and optimized user experience. Samsung uses Google’s operating system, and in the U.S. it uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835, so it doesn’t have the same level of control as Apple.

Qualcomm’s eight-core, 64-bit Snapdragon 835 processor is the newest and beefiest of the company’s chip arsenal. It’s built on a 10-nanometer FinFET process, which crams 30 percent more parts into the same space than the previous generation of Snapdragon processors. It features four levels of thermal shielding that protect against overheating.

It’s too early to tell how — or if — those synthetic gains translate to real-world performance, but Qualcomm gave Anandtech a preview at its San Diego headquarters. Apple’s iPhone 7, meanwhile, packs the company’s quad-core 64-bit A10 Fusion processor, which is 40 percent faster than the A9 in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. Graphics performance is significantly improved, too — Apple said the A10’s image chip is 50 percent faster than that in the A9. And it’s dramatically more efficient thanks to two dedicated co-processors that handle low-intensity tasks.

In all likelihood, the Snapdragon 835 and A10 will trade blows. Anandtech’s testing shows the Snapdragon 835 scoring 2,672 in the web benchmark Kraken compared to the A10’s 1,119 (lower is better). In GFXBench, the two are neck-and-neck — the Snapdragon 835 managed 60 frames per second, while the iPhone 7 averaged 59.90. Basemark put the A10 ahead with a score of 1,538 compared to the Snapdragon 835’s 889. But 3DMark had the Snapdragon 835 dominating the A10 with a score of 3,844 versus the latter’s 2,806.

It’s worth noting that the iPhone 7 has half the amount of RAM as the Galaxy S8 (2GB vs. 4GB), but iOS doesn’t require the kind of memory that Android does, so it may be a moot point. We’ll be testing the S8 soon, but Apple’s OS-level control may still put the iPhone 7 ahead of the competition in terms of performance.

Winner: Apple iPhone 7


Want to use Slack from your email client? Alto Mail is adding some ‘good hacks’

Why it matters to you

AOL’s Alto Mail email client will now incorporate a series of

AOL’s Alto Mail is about to get a whole lot smarter. The company has announced that the email client will now incorporate a series of “hacks” that can help enhance the email experience for users.

Alto already scans emails for things like flight reservations and package deliveries so it can help surface that information if and when you need it. Alto surfaces that new information in two ways — through the Alto Dashboard and through what Alto is calling “Alto Stacks.”  Alto is now looking into ways to incorporate that information into other apps — like Slack and AppleTV.

More: Gmail’s upcoming responsive features will resize emails to fit to any screen

Already, Alto’s information shows up in the Alto Dashboard, which basically gives a single view across all inboxes and surfaces important information in “cards.” With the Slack “hack,” however, users could add a Slack channel as a “stack” inside of Alto, so all your conversations will be in the same place. On the Apple TV, you could bring in things like images from Alto — which would authenticate through a QR code on your Apple TV.

Last but not least is Shop/Book Again, which helps you buy an item again through services like Amazon — straight from Alto. You could also check out your entire shopping history in Alto, and resurface past purchases when you need them. That’s pretty helpful for items that are bought regularly — like diapers, if you’re a parent.

The hacks themselves don’t feature in Alto just yet — but they’re the kind of thing that will start showing up in Alto in the future.

You can also ask Alexa in Amazon’s Echo or Echo Dot for information in your Alto Dashboard. Asking questions like “when is my next flight” will pull results from the Dashboard on the app. You can also ask a more general “what’s in my Dashboard,” to get an overview for the more important emails in Alto.

A few other third-party integrations Alto offers are quite neat. The app will automatically detect which ridesharing service you use, and for cards like flights, you’ll be able to request a car straight from the app. These interactions and integrations aren’t restricted to third parties — the idea is that eventually, you’ll be able to check in for a flight straight from the Dashboard itself.

The team says more third-party integrations from services like IFTTT are on the way.

More: Report of leaked emails suggests sexist work environment at Apple

“We’re looking at anything that makes sense right now,” Rose said. “A great example is receipts — what we want to do is if you need to file expenses, it would be super simple just to be able to tap that overflow menu. We’re looking at Expensify, we’re looking at Concur, and just across the board, what are all the things we can do.”

You can get Alto for yourself on iOS and Android apps now, and it’s also accessible on the web.

Updated on 03-30-2017 by Christian de Looper: Added news of Alto “hacks.”


Intel partners with SHFT IQ to make you a better runner via a virtual coach

Why it matters to you

Looking for a way to run faster and longer? SHFT IQ, a new virtual reality coach, may be able to help.

Being a better runner starts from the ground up, literally, with your shoe choice being of paramount importance. But now, there’s another device that goes on your shoe that could also be an integral part of improving your form. Meet SHFT IQ, a little clip-on that calls itself “the world’s first virtual running coach with artificial intelligence.”

Thanks to this small piece of a hardware, a triangular piece that can be clipped onto your shoe or worn around your waist like a belt, you’ll be able to have an AI-based coach track and analyze your full-body running style and statistics. But this isn’t just some fitness tracker that gives you stats at the end of your run — rather, SHFT IQ promises to translate your running data into simple, actionable, and real-time coaching. That means that you’ll always have a voice in your ear telling you exactly how to improve your performance with every step and every run.

More: Garmin’s new Forerunner 935 will get you in shape — and help you stay that way

Hoping to help you achieve longer and faster runs, SHFT IQ claims to be based on extensive research on running, running technique, and metabolic costs of running movement. With years of combined experience and hundreds of hours of video analysis, the SHFT IQ team believes it has produced a reliable virtual coach.

When you place the pod on either your foot or your chest, SHFT IQ claims to measure your body movements using Intel’s Curie module. This data is then sent to the companion app via Bluetooth, and runners will receive verbal, real-time instructions on their form. Every new user begins with a screening run, which allows SHFT IQ to establish his or her baseline running technique. From this initial session, the virtual coach chooses the initial training focus based on which metric has the biggest opportunity for improvement.

With just under two weeks left in its campaign, SHFT IQ has about $20,000 left to raise to bring this virtual coach into reality. You can grab one of these wearables yourself for the early bird price of $69, with an estimated delivery date of September 2017.


World’s fastest bumper car tops 100 mph with a 600cc sports bike engine

Why it matters to you

What could be cooler than the world’s fastest anything? Watch this souped-up bumper car hit 100 mph.

It’s probably not a good idea to tell YouTube inventor Colin Furze he can’t figure out a way to make any normally stodgy or stationary object outrageously fast. BBC’s Top Gear took the exact opposite approach when it asked Furze to rig up an amusement park-style bumper car. The plan was for Top Gear’s The Stig to break a speed record driving the bumper car, as reported by Road and Track.

The intrepid inventor stuffed a 600cc sports bike engine into a bumper car. With The Stig at the wheel, the amusement park ride vehicle scored a place in the Guinness Book of World Records with an average speed topping 100 mph over two runs. On the faster run, The Stig blasted through the timer at 107.39 mph. With the second run of 93.28 mph, the average 100.34 mph for the two runs set the new record.

More: Mad scientist Colin Furze built a hoverbike and (somehow) didn’t lose his limbs

Furze started with a barn-find 1960s dodgem, aka bumper car. After stripping out the heavy pieces — the protective bumper — Furze added a go-cart rear axle with two wheels for the rear and a single wide wheel in front.

For way more than just adequate power, Furze crammed in a 100-horsepower, four-cylinder 600cc Honda sports bike engine that will take its usual vehicle to about 150 mph. Rigging the exhaust system, steering, shifter, radiator, and other vital components are shown in additional YouTube videos.

On the Guinness Book of World Records website, Guinness adjudicator Lucia Sinigagliesi, the official on site when the records was set said: “We’re all used to seeing The Stig driving at high speeds – but he’s usually in a sports car and usually on a race track. To see him hurtle past in a classic bumper car at 100mph was surreal, but hugely impressive. Equally as impressive are the engineering expertise of Colin Furze – the combination of their skills makes for record-breaking fun.”

Other Colin Furze projects have included stuffing a rickshaw (tuk tuk) with a sports bike engine plus guns and rocket launchers, building a jet-powered bicycle, and a jet-power go kart.

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