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EE is offering six-month Apple Music trials with ‘free’ data

It’s only been eight days since Three announced it was zero-rating data for popular streaming services like Netflix, but already the operator is finding itself in good company. Earlier this week, Virgin Mobile added Twitter to the list of messaging services it had made “free” to access, and now EE is getting in on the act with an extension of its Apple Music streaming trial. From July 19th, new and existing customers on all EE pay monthly handset and SIM only plans will be able to claim six months of free streaming, which won’t count towards their monthly data allowance.

As it’s an extension of the existing deal EE has with Apple, subscribers who previously took advantage of the offer will still be able to redeem six months of free streaming data. It’s a blessing for those who became fully paid customers when the trial expired, but for others it’s a gesture they won’t be able to take advantage of.

Since Three’s announcement, rival companies have rushed to direct the attention from the #GoBinge provider. Zero-rating services isn’t a new phenomenon, but now that mobile providers are required to offer free roaming across the EU, companies are seeking new avenues in order to better their counterparts.

In another piece of related news, EE confirmed that it’s extending its partnership with Sainsbury’s to open 100 new stores inside supermarket branches. As part of a retail revamp, the company says it will create “new store formats” that include Showcase stores that offer dedicated Help Hubs, pop-up shops, cabins and a roving vans that can provide assistance to customers in the more remote areas of the UK.


This gadget tells you if you smell so others don’t have to

Ever had to rush somewhere and begun to worry that you stink like a teenage locker room? Well, thankfully, there’s now an app that can measure exactly how badly you smell. Connecting to your smartphone via Bluetooth, Kukun Body is a pocket-sized device that lets you test your stench in four different locations. Developed by Japanese camera manufacturer Konica Minolta, the tape recorder shaped device can be used to scan four areas: feet, behind the ear, near the head and of course – the all important armpits.

Testing for three different smells, the device checks your body for readings of sweat, middle-fat odors and a third category called karesihu — which roughly translates to old age smell. After conducting the analysis, the Kukun Body gives you the brutal truth, discreetly sending you the verdict via the Kukun app. Given the public odor shaming of Japan’s other hygiene testing solution, this sweat testing device will probably win a few more fans than its breath-testing equivalent.

Unfortunately for us, the company has stated that it currently has no plans to release the device outside of Japan. For those in the East, the full product is due to launch in Japan later this year at 30,000 yen – which is around $265 dollars. Those who are in desperate need, however, can pick up the Kunkun Body as part of a set of hygiene products on the company’s crowdfunding page.

For now then, us westerners will still have to stick to deodorant and more traditional sniff tests. Mercifully though, the future isn’t totally bleak for the odorly-challenged here, as other companies are currently working hard to make us stink a little less.

Via: The Guardian

Source: Konica Minolta


NASA doesn’t have the money to land humans on Mars

NASA has been developing plans to get humans to Mars for some time; the public has become invested in the idea of colonizing our solar system. But now, Associate Administrator of Human Exploration and Operations William Gerstenmaier has confirmed what many have long suspected (and predicted) to be true: At its current budget levels, NASA simply doesn’t have the money to land humans on Mars, reports Ars Technica.

“I can’t put a date on humans on Mars, and the reason really is . . . at the budget levels we described, this roughly 2 percent increase, we don’t have the surface systems available for Mars,” said Gerstenmaier at a meeting of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics today. In other words, we might be able to get to Mars orbit, but developing entry, descent and landing technology is beyond NASA’s current budget constraints.

What happens next is dependent on NASA’s funding; Gerstenmaier expressed interest in a possible moon exploration mission. The current official NASA plan is to build a Deep Space Gateway in orbit of the moon and use it as a launching pad for further exploration of the solar system. It’s possible, though, for the gateway “to support an extensive moon surface program,” Gerstenmaier continued.

While this waffling might seem counterproductive, the reality is that it’s smart for NASA to keep their options open and be as flexible as possible. The frustrating fact about being a government organization is that NASA’s mission can change drastically between, or even within, administrations. This doesn’t mean that Mars is off the table; NASA is trying to do as much as it can with the budget it has. But it’s increasingly clear that if NASA is going to get to Mars, it needs to rely more on commercial space companies, rather than its own (very expensive and very delayed) rocket, for space exploration.

Source: Ars Technica


Oculus has a $200 wireless VR headset in the works for 2018

We know that truly wireless VR is the future for Oculus. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out his vision for wireless virtual reality last year, and shortly afterwards we got a brief glimpse at the company’s “Santa Cruz” prototype headset. But it’s been unclear just how long it would take Oculus to deliver a truly cord-free VR experience. Turns out, we might not have to wait too long: Oculus is apparently developing a $200 wireless VR headset for release next year, Bloomberg reports. The device, codenamed “Pacific,” won’t just be an empty shell for your smartphone, like the Gear VR and DayDream View, it’ll pack in all of the hardware it needs for VR experiences.

Based on the price, it sounds like Oculus is basically developing a headset powered by mobile hardware, similar to what you’d find in a modern smartphone. Pacific is reportedly lighter than Samsung’s Gear VR (we assume when it actually has a phone plugged in), sources say. It’ll also have a wireless remote, similar to what Samsung’s headset now includes. To be clear, it’s not the evolution of the more capable Santa Cruz wireless prototype that we’ve already seen. That device packs in more powerful hardware, so it’ll likely go for well beyond $200 when it lands.

“We don’t have a product to unveil at this time, however we can confirm that we’re making several significant technology investments in the standalone VR category,” an Oculus spokesperson said in a statement. “This is in addition to our commitment to high-end VR products like Oculus Rift and mobile phone products like Gear VR.”

For the most part, having a low-end wireless VR headset on the market could change how consumers approach the new medium. Mobile headsets have gotten cheaper, but they require specific smartphones, a few seconds of setup and, of course, they devour your phone’s battery life. For most people, it might make more sense to snap up a $200 headset that just works without much fuss, and which doesn’t add to your smartphone battery life anxiety.

Source: Bloomberg


Uber’s answer to ride-sharing in Russia is a merger

Uber and Yandex, the ‘Google of Russia’, have agreed to combine their Russian ride-sharing businesses. The move further heralds the slowdown of Uber’s global expansion, while it bolsters Yandex’s position in its field: the company has invested $100 million into the venture compared to Uber’s $225 million, but will own 59.3 percent. Yandex.Taxi chief executive Tigran Khudaverdyan will become the CEO of the combined business.

Both companies will work together to provide ride-hailing and food delivery services in Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Kazakhstan. Customers can complete their transactions using either the Uber or Yandex app, while driver apps are set to be integrated once the merger is complete at the end of the year.

The deal seems to benefit both parties. Yandex is eliminating a potentially aggressive competitor, while Uber gets the support it needs to continue its operations in Russia following months of legal setbacks and driver protests. However, the San Francisco company struck a similar deal with rival Didi Chuxing in China last year, only to withdraw from the country completely a few months later. Plus the new company is up against fierce competition from the likes of Fasten/Rutaxi, Maxim and Gett, the Israeli startup backed by German automaker Volkswagen. But with Yandex and Uber together performing over 35 million rides a month while growing over 400% year-over-year, the proposed unison does seem strong enough to keep Uber on Russian roads for now.

Via: Reuters

Source: Uber


It’s the end of days for the New 3DS in Japan

Late last month, we reported that while the Nintendo 3DS wasn’t dead, it didn’t really make sense to buy one anymore. After all, the Switch serves the purpose of both console and handheld gaming. Now, it appears as if Nintendo might agree with us: Their Japanese site indicates that production has ended on the Nintendo New 3DS.

3DS owners and fans were worried about the fate of the handheld leading up to the Switch’s launch; however, Nintendo made it clear that it intended to stand by the platform. It announced a slew of impressive new games back in January, but there were only three New 3DS games revealed at E3.

This isn’t a huge shock; while the New 3DS is less than three years old, it’s competing with the cheaper 2DS XL. The middling 3D effects aren’t necessarily worth the price bump. It’s worth noting, though, that it appears that production is continuing on the 3DS XL model. Time will tell how the 3DS fares, but for now it looks like Nintendo is shifting its attention to other priorities.

Via: Kotaku

Source: Nintendo Japan


Netflix leads the streaming pack with 18 Emmy nominations

Today, the nominees for the 69th annual Emmy Awards were announced. Netflix was the clear winner of streaming services, with eighteen total nominations.

Aziz Ansari was nominated for his role in Master of None for lead actor in a comedy, while Robin Wright and Claire Foy were both nominated for lead actress in a drama series for their roles (House of Cards and The Crown, respectively). Kevin Spacey was also nominated for lead actor in a drama series for House of Cards. Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda (Grace and Frankie) both received nominations for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, along with Ellie Kemper (The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt).

Master of None and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt were also nominated for outstanding comedy series, while Stranger Things, The Crown and House of Cards were nominated in the drama category. For supporting actor in a drama series, David Harbour (Stranger Things), Michael Kelly (House of Cards) and John Lithgow (The Crown) were nominated, while Uzo Aduba (Orange Is the New Black) and Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) were nominated in the supporting actress category. Additionally, Tituss Burgess (The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) was nominated for supporting actor in a comedy series.

Amazon received three nominations, all for Transparent. Jeffrey Tambor was nominated for lead actor in a comedy. This is the third nomination for Tambor, who won the category in 2015 and 2016. The series also received nods for Kathryn Hahn and Judith Light in the supporting actress in a comedy category.

Hulu also scored three total nominations for The Handmaid’s Tale; it was nominated for outstanding drama series. This means that the majority of outstanding drama nominees (four out of seven) are on streaming services. The Handmaid’s Tale also received nominations for Samira Wiley and Ann Dowd for supporting actress in a drama series.

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards will be hosted by Stephen Colbert. They will air on Sunday, September 17, at 8 PM ET.

Source: Emmy Awards


China might not block personal VPNs after all

With China making “unapproved” virtual private networks illegal at the start of the year, we previously reported that the nation planned to completely block public access to VPNs by February 1st. Now, just a few days later, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has issued a statement that appears to debunk the claims. The minister states that VPNs with “permissions” such as domestic and international companies won’t be affected. The Ministry then goes onto say that “the majority of users” will also be safe, stating that it will only crack down on “unapproved” VPNs. Predictably, the statement doesn’t clarify exactly how users go about getting said approval.

This is quite different to the blanket crackdown that Bloomberg originally reported. Yet, given China’s history of proclaiming one thing while the reality is often entirely different –- it would be wise to take this statement with a truckload of salt.

If true, however, the Ministry’s vague position on person VPN use could be an encouraging sign for those in China who want more than just a heavily censored version of the internet. With China even opting to create its own version of Wikipedia, allowing its citizens to continue using VPNs seems entirely at odds with the country’s desire to control everything its people see online.

Source: The Paper


Nine Inch Nails’ latest video taps into gaming legend

Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor’s current interest in video games goes beyond remastering the Quake soundtrack for vinyl and using Kinect on tour. The video for NIN’s new single “Less Than” uses the retro PlayStation VR game Polybius as its main attraction. The on-screen action ramps up in time with the music, lyrics flying toward the viewer, building to a crescendo at the two-minute mark where all hell breaks loose.

Before the Tempest-like game was released on PlayStation 4 and PSVR it was part of an urban legend. The story goes that that the government was using the arcade shooter for data mining. Given the direction of the video, the song’s lyrics and the eerie concept-like nature of NIN’s latest work (a series of three EPs about… who knows what) that backstory could’ve served as inspiration here.

In related news, the new NIN album Add Violence will be released July 21st. You can sign up right now for an alert when the vinyl edition is ready for pre-order, and if you want to pre-purchase the digital version you’ll pick up a download for “Less Than” in the process.

For a deeper look inside Trent Reznor’s mind, check out this interview Joystiq did with the musician back in 2009 where he goes on at length about his love for arcades.

“The first time I saw Tempest, for example, I was like, ‘What the fuck is this?’” he recalled at the time. “It looked like some sort of 2001 thing, it had weird, abstract graphics and sounded cool. I realize times have changed, but I miss having those three minutes where it’s you versus that machine, sweating like crazy in this finite countdown to death scenario.”

Source: Nine Inch Nails (YouTube)


EE Extending Free Six-Month Apple Music Subscription Offer, Won’t Count Against Data Caps

British carrier EE today announced it is extending its free six-month Apple Music subscription offer to all new and existing iPhone and Android smartphone customers with a pay monthly plan. SIM-only customers are also eligible.

The offer begins Wednesday, July 19, and customers will be able to register for the deal with a short-code to be revealed next week.

EE said any data consumed by Apple Music will be zero-rated, meaning it will not count against a customer’s data allotment. After six months, customers will automatically be charged £9.99 per month for Apple Music until they cancel.

Tags: EE, Apple Music, United Kingdom
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