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After Math: Are you not entertained?

It’s been an exciting week for the entertainment industry. Netflix is leading Emmy season with 18 nominations, Oculus permanently dropped the price of its VR headset and Whiz Khalifa has been crowned the new king of YouTube. Numbers, because how else are you going to count the domestic box office gross?


Ashley Madison will pay $11.2 million to data breach victims

Ashley Madison is still picking up the pieces two years after the massive data breach that exposed millions of users’ information. The parent company of the cheat-on-your-spouse website continues to deny any wrongdoing, but it has agreed to settle the preliminary class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of 37 million users whose personal details were dumped onto the dark web. Ruby Corp is ready to pay $11.2 million for the settlement, though the amount still has to be approved by a federal judge in St. Louis.

According to Reuters, the data breach cost Ruby Corp over a quarter of its revenue. It had to spend a lot of money to boost security and privacy in an effort to win over new users, and now to settle lawsuits the breach caused. In addition to the $11.2 million it has to pay people who were affected by the breach, the company also settled charges from the FTC and 13 states for $1.6 million last year.

Those who were affected by the security breach can claim up to $3,500, depending on how well they’ve documented their losses due to the event. Since it’s a website that encourages cheating on one’s spouse, though, $3,500 might only cover a small fraction of what some people lost.

Source: Reuters


Facebook celebrates World Emoji Day by showing how many are shared each day

Why it matters to you

Any excuse to eat some cake, right?

July 17 is World Emoji Day — and to celebrate, Facebook decided to find out exactly which emojis are used most around the world. After all, Facebook is responsible for 60 million emojis every day — and that’s excluding the five billion used on Messenger every day.

Around the world, emojis seem to best convey laughing — the LOL emoji with tears of laughter is the most widely used in the world, Facebook says. That’s followed by the love or heart-eyed emoji and the kissing emoji.

Emojis use on Facebook also vary widely by region. While the U.K. keeps with the world’s most popular LOL, the U.S., along with Indonesia, favors the “rolling on the floor version” or that slightly tilted laughing emoji. France favors a wink while Germany and Thailand prefer what’s perhaps the progenitor of all emojis — a smiley face. Spain and Italy favor that kissing emoji while Mexico and Brazil are big on the heart eyes.

That emoji map looks quite different on Messenger, however. For private and group messages, users in the U.K., Canada and Thailand prefer the heart. Users in both the U.S. and India prefer to send kissing face emojis. Indonesia favors the full-toothed grin, Australia a blushing smile, and France a heart that’s been shot by Cupid.

To celebrate World Emoji Day, Messenger added stickers of several emojis to the platform over the weekend, including characters from The Emoji Movie, which opens July 17. Since the new content is in that sticker format, not the emoji format, the new stickers are accessible by tapping the smiley icon in the text field inside Messenger. To find the newest stickers, users can search for “Emoji Movie.”

Emojis are increasingly influencing how users interact online — big brands are now using them in advertising, there’s an emoji dictionary, and, apparently, “emoji translator” is now an actual job title. Facebook has embraced the graphic emotional representation, recently expanding emoji reactions into not just post likes but comments, too.

Whether the prevalence of emojis makes you turn into a real-life LOL or melt into a puddle of tears, maybe an emoji-shaped cake is on order for World Emoji Day, Monday, July 17


Useful iOS 11 tips and tricks that you need to know about

Apple’s iOS 11 is currently the most anticipated update to its mobile phones and devices. With tons of new features and changes, the operating system has far more custom options to tailor the user experience to your needs. While iOS 11 isn’t set to be released until the Fall, we’ve been testing it out to make sure you’re prepared ahead of time. We’re here to make the adjustment far easier with some useful iOS 11 tips and tricks. If you want to check it out for yourself, here’s how to download the iOS 11 public beta.

How to type to Siri

With iOS 11, you can now type out your questions or commands to Siri. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Siri and toggle on Type to Siri. After tapping Done, Siri will pull up the results for you automatically. You can also adjust voice settings to “Control with Ring Switch” which will signal for Siri to show text but not speak responses when your ringer is off — however, it will still beep when called on.

How to customize your Control Center

The control center in iOS 11 has been completely redesigned and also offers customization options. To customize the control center, go to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls. Tap the plus signs in the “MORE CONTROLS” section to add the items you’d like to include in the control center. You can also reorganize the order they appear in by holding down the symbol on the right and dragging the controls to your preferred spot. You can use 3D touch to adjust controls like sound, brightness, and the flashlight.

How to easily turn on Low Power Mode

Low power mode is nothing new to iOS 11 — neither is having low battery — but in the past, turning it on it required you to go to your settings and tap on the low power mode tab. Now, you can add it to the customized control center and simply turn it on and off by swiping up for the control center and tapping on the low battery icon. If you’re always running out of power, check out our iPhone battery saving tips.

How to access your notifications

All notifications on your iPhone now live on the lock screen, for good. Instead of having to swipe down to another notification screen after unlocking your phone, simply swipe down to reveal your lock screen and swipe up where it says “Earlier today.” All your notifications will appear separated by day and you can clear them by tapping on the “x” and then “clear” in the right-hand corner. You can also access each one by tapping on the notification individually or via 3D touch.

How to screen record

In the past, recording screen activity on your iPhone required a third party app. Now, you can screen record straight through the built-in feature. You’ll have to add it to your control center by going to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls. Once it’s added, pull up the control center and tap on the screen record icon which will turn red to indicate it’s on — you’ll also see a blue banner when you exit the control center and start using your phone to signal that it’s recording. To record audio as well, the record icon will give you the option via 3D touch to turn the microphone on. Once you’re finished, you can either tap on the banner or the icon in the control center to stop recording. The videos will automatically save to your camera roll. The third beta includes a new broadcasting feature that currently doesn’t work but hints at live-streaming options in the future.

How to scan documents

Notes in iOS 11 now has a feature to scan your documents. To scan a document, click the plus sign on the bottom of the screen and tap “Scan Documents.” The camera will snap a photo of the document and add it to your notes. You can also edit the color scheme with options like black and white, color, and grayscale.

How to turn on “Do Not Disturb While Driving”

In an effort to reduce car accidents caused by distracted driving and improve safety on the road, “Do Not Disturb While Driving” kicks in once your iPhone senses the acceleration of a vehicle. It will mute all text messages, phone calls, and notifications, and there’s an option to respond to text messages with an automatic reply notifying friends and family that you’re currently behind the wheel. You can switch between turning it on manually — which can also be added to the custom control center for easy access — or automatically when connected to the Bluetooth in your car. If you want to unlock your device while driving, you have to tap on the option that says “I’m Not Driving” to gain access to your phone.

How to auto-answer calls

Under Accessibility > Call Audio Routing, you can choose “Auto-Answer Calls” to answer phone calls automatically after a specific amount of time. After turning on the feature, you’ll be asked to enter the amount of time you’d like to pass before the call is answered.

How to turn on persistent banners

Unlike temporary banner notifications that disappear automatically, you now have the option of setting persistent banners instead. The notification will stay at the top of the screen until you’re ready to get to it, or you can swipe up to dismiss it. However, it will disappear if you exit an app, press the home button, or enable Siri. To change your banner settings, go to Settings > Notifications > Messages, toggle on Show as Banners and tap Persistent.

How to edit and save screenshots 

After taking a screenshot, you’ll see it appear as a thumbnail in the bottom left-hand corner of your screen. Holding down on the photo brings you to a menu of options to share it, via text message, email, or social media. You can also markup the screenshots with a variety of different coloring tools. They’ll no longer save automatically to your camera roll, but clicking on the thumbnail gives you the option to save the screenshot or delete it. If you don’t tap on the thumbnail, the photo will automatically save to your photo album.

How to delete or turn on offload apps

The Offload feature removes apps you barely use when storage is low, but still keeps all the data and documents on your device. You’ll see the deleted apps as gray icons on the home screen, and you can reinstall them by simply tapping on the icon. You can activate the feature so that it works automatically in the background by going to Settings > General > iTunes & App Store and turning on Offload Unused Apps, or choose to use it on individual apps.

How to zoom out using one hand on Maps

Instead of having to use two fingers, you can now zoom out by double-tapping and holding down on the Maps app. If you’re holding your device with one hand, you can use your thumb to slide up or down across the screen which will zoom out your view on the map. The app also includes indoor maps for places such as shopping centers or airports, and for the outdoors you’ll now have lane guidance to show you which lane you should be in while driving — which helps you to avoid missing your exit.

How to clear out storage

If you want to clean out your storage to make room for more data, iPhone Storage — reached via Settings > General > iPhone Storage — gives you recommendations to get rid of things like your recently deleted photos or old text message conversations. For texts, you can also enable auto delete to remove messages and attachments sent and received over one year ago.

How to activate Emergency SOS

Even though Emergency SOS is already activated on your iPhone, you can also enable the “Auto Call” feature. This will call emergency services when you press the power button rapidly five times. If you’re worried you might press it by accident, there is also a “Countdown Sound” feature that will play a warning sound while counting down to call emergency services. You can find it under your settings when tapping on the Emergency SOS tab.

How to turn off your device without using the power button

Instead of holding down the power button to turn off your device, go to Settings > General > Shut Down. You’ll be prompted to “slide to power off;” do so and your device will shut down. If your power button is broken, you can turn the device back on by connecting it to your computer or a charger using a Lightning cable.

How to create PDFs in Safari

While using the Safari web browser, tap on the share icon at the bottom of your screen and select the “Markup as PDF” option. You can add annotations to the PDF and send it out via email and text, or save it to your iCloud Drive.

How to change tracks using AirPods

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

With iOS 11, you can skip to the next track by double tapping on the AirPod earpiece and double tap on the other one to go back to the previous track. You can even customize which earpiece applies to the next or previous tracks. Go to Settings > Bluetooth, tap on your AirPods from the list of devices, and toggle on “Automatic Ear Detection.”

How to activate the one-handed keyboard

This is one of the most important iOS 11 tips and tricks if you struggle to type one-handed. If you want to type using one hand, iOS 11 lets you switch between keyboard modes. Switch to the one-handed keyboard by holding down the globe or emoji icon and select the right-handed or left-handed keyboards from the menu. It will scrunch the keyboard to one side of the screen, making it easier to reach all the keys while typing.

How to tap and drag apps on the home screen

With the newly re-designed App Store in iOS 11, you might find yourself downloading way more apps than your home screen can keep track of. You can move multiple apps at once by holding down one app and tapping the additional apps you’d like to move to create a stack. You can move them freely around the home screen or add them to a folder.

How to use new Live Photo features

The new features for Live Photo include Loop — to repeatedly play the Live Photo — and Bounce, which will look at the Live Photo and pick the best start and end points to play forward and in reverse. You can choose long exposure as an option as well. All three of these features can be accessed by swiping up on the Live Photo and tapping on the desired edit tool. You can also change the default photo of the Live Photo when in edit mode by scrolling through the frames. After selecting the exact frame you want to use as the preview photo, click Make Key Photo.

How to switch between camera filters

Instead of a grid layout covering the entire screen, the camera filters are in a slider view format now, allowing you to switch between them while still in regular camera mode.

How to scan QR codes

This feature will already be turned on after downloading iOS 11, but you can toggle it on or off by going to Settings > Camera. You can connect to Wi-Fi by scanning QR codes on routers, use them to add contacts, expand adverts, and more.

How to hide photos

If you’re wondering how to hide photos on your iPhone or iPad, you’ll be glad to know that the option is still there in iOS 11. If there’s a photo you don’t want anyone to see on your device, you can select the “Hide” option to move it from the camera roll to a new album titled “Hidden.” Once it’s in this album, you’ll no longer see it in your regular camera roll.

How to turn on Smart Invert

There’s no actual “Dark Mode” feature, but iOS 11 does have a “Smart Invert” option. You can access it by going to Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Invert Colors and toggling on “Smart Invert.” This will reverse the colors except on images, media, and some apps that already use dark colors.


Ben Heck’s ultimate sub-$400 media center


In what may be a strange change of pace for The Ben Heck Show, instead of voiding warranties, Felix is following them as he puts together the components necessary to build an Arch Linux-based media center. There are a number of considerations to keep in mind when assembling a computer, including cooling, wiring, airflow and ensuring that the software is setup properly. What operating system do you run on your media center? And what difficulties have you encountered building computers? Let the team know over on the element14 Community.


How much RAM does a smartphone actually need? We asked the experts

Buying a smartphone today can be confusing. Long specification sheets are crammed with numbers, and their relationship with real-world performance is not always clear. One of the most misunderstood of all those specs is RAM, or Random Access Memory.

If you’re wondering how much RAM your smartphone needs, then you’re not alone. This question has popped up again and again since the dawn of the smartphone. We decided to ask some experts about how much RAM the average person really needs, what it does, and how it works.

What does RAM do?

“Smartphones have come a long way in the last few years and do more for us now than ever,” Vishal Kara, vice president of products at Piriform (the makers of CCleaner for Android) told Digital Trends. “As we perform more and more tasks using our smartphones, more RAM is necessary for them to continue functioning efficiently.”

We install apps and games into internal storage, our CPU (Central Processing Unit) and GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) deal with processing, so what does RAM do?

“Smartphones require instant access memory for multitasking – which is what RAM delivers,” Kara said. “Essentially, RAM keeps all your operations running at once.”

“There is no right or wrong to how much RAM a smartphone requires”

When you run an app or game on your phone, it’s loaded into RAM. As long as an app is still in RAM, you can jump back into it where you left off without loading it afresh. This is why RAM is important for multitasking. The loaded apps stay there until your RAM fills up and needs to flush something to make room for something else.

In theory, more RAM means that you can have more processes and therefore more apps running at once.

“There is no right or wrong to how much RAM a smartphone requires, although RAM plays a big part in how fluid and seamless our smartphone experience is,” explains Kara. “Unlike PCs, where a few seconds delay in an app loading is acceptable, we expect apps to load instantly on our smartphones even when we’re on the go.”

RAM also enables processes to run in the background. Some of these background processes, such as your phone checking for email, are really useful. Others, like a piece of carrier bloatware or an app that you never use, are not.

The rise of RAM

The first Android smartphone, the T-Mobile G1 or HTC Dream, had just 192MB of RAM and the original iPhone got by with 128MB of RAM. Those numbers have climbed steadily over the last decade or so, with an occasional leap prompting a new round of discussion. OnePlus most recently reignited the debate with the OnePlus 5, which boasts 8GB of RAM.

“With 8GB of RAM, the OnePlus 5 can run more apps in the background allowing for faster multitasking, and, with the unrelenting development of innovative applications and technologies, the demand for more power and memory in smartphones is ever-increasing,” Laura Watts, European communications manager for OnePlus, told Digital Trends in an email. “With 8GB of RAM, the OnePlus 5 allows all users to easily run the most powerful applications and eliminates all doubt in its ability to do so in the future.”

OnePlus 5: 8GB of RAM

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Since most of the rest of the flagship smartphone pack is around the 4GB RAM mark right now, the jump to 8GB seems dramatic.

“Generally speaking, more RAM is better, and performance isn’t hampered by having more RAM,” John Poole of Primate Labs (makers of benchmarking software Geekbench 4 for iOS and Android) explained to Digital Trends. “But is it really necessary?”

The amount of RAM we need is certainly growing. The average smartphone user launches 9 apps per day and uses around 30 different apps in a month, according to App Annie. Digging into the memory tab in the settings of my HTC U11, which has 4GB of RAM, reveals that average memory use over the last day was 2.3GB and that 47 apps used memory during that period.

We also have more storage than ever. The OnePlus 5 with 8GB of RAM has 128GB of storage. That’s enough space for a lot of apps.

Poole also points to the fact that software is growing bigger and more complicated, cameras are shooting larger images in RAW format and performing more image processing, and screens are getting bigger, but he’s still skeptical about the need for 8GB.

“For smartphones, 4GB is plenty right now,” Poole said. “My feeling is that some vendors will engage in a specifications war where they’ll overprovision the amount of RAM simply because it’s a selling point — they can say ‘look at how much more RAM our phone has than our competitors’ phone, clearly our phone is better’.”

It’s a sentiment that was shared by Huawei executive, Lao Shi, earlier this year.

Why having more RAM isn’t always better

If RAM offers potential performance improvements and greater convenience, then you may be wondering: what’s wrong with having more of it?

If you aren’t using the RAM, then it may be a drain on your battery.

“The more RAM you put into a phone, the more power that will draw and the shorter your battery life will be,” Poole said. “RAM takes up the same amount of power regardless of what’s in it — if it’s an application or it’s just free, you’re still paying for it in terms of power.”

In other words, if you aren’t using the RAM, then it may be an unnecessary drain on your battery. Those background processes that we mentioned earlier also have an associated cost, as anyone who has used the Facebook app on Android will know.

“Even if they’re not doing much, they can cause the processor to spin up to service any work that they have to do and that can contribute to energy drain,” Poole said.

The iPhone in the room

Android phones have jumped from 2GB to 4GB RAM as standard, and we’re now seeing phones with 6GB and 8GB of RAM — Apple’s iPhone has always gotten by with less.

Apple executives have traditionally remained tight-lipped about how much RAM is in the iPhone — it’s not a spec they talk about. But we know from teardowns that the iPhone 7 has 2GB of RAM, and even the current top-of-the-range iPhone 7 Plus manages with 3GB of RAM.

iPhone 7: 2GB of RAM

Apple achieves comparable performance with less RAM because of fundamental differences in how the iOS and Android platforms handle memory management. Android relies upon something called garbage collection, while iOS takes a reference counting approach. A brief web search will reveal that the debate on which is better rages on, but it seems to be generally accepted that garbage collection requires more memory to avoid performance problems.

They may be different, but both platforms have a system of memory management that dictates what the RAM does. Because of this, you may not actually see any performance boost by simply adding more RAM – you would have to also tweak the memory management rules to take advantage of it. To what degree manufacturers are actually doing this is unclear.

Apple and Huawei did not respond to requests for comment. LG and HTC did not wish to participate in this article.

Free the RAM

“Users have been conditioned to believe that free RAM is an indicator of good performance from the days of PCs with limited memory, where this was a reasonable belief,” Kara said. “Nowadays, with more memory available, the perception that free RAM is an indicator of performance is a misconception. In fact, for a smartphone it’s the opposite.”

This misconception that having free RAM is a positive thing persists. Also, if you’re in the habit of clearing away your open apps, you should probably stop doing it because it isn’t helping. It won’t save battery life or make your phone run any faster, in fact, it can have the opposite effect.

“The operation of loading an app from storage into memory requires a lot of processing power, which results in higher power consumption,” Kara said.

Most manufacturers still provide utilities that allow you to review RAM and sometimes to free it up and close processes. Third-party task killer apps were also big for a while, but Poole describes them as “snake oil.”

“People want to see their RAM free, viewing it as headroom to work in,” says Poole. “But it’s better if your RAM is being used.”

Ultimately, how much RAM your smartphone needs depends on how you use your smartphone, but it’s no longer the problem it once was. Maybe a few power users will be able to feel the benefit of 6GB, and you might argue that 8GB is future-proofing. But anything over 4GB is probably overkill for the vast majority of people today.


Tesla will open ‘2 or 3’ more Gigafactories in the US

It’s no secret that Tesla wants to open Gigafactories around the world to keep up with demand for electric cars and storage batteries, but how many of those will open in the US? Now we know: Elon Musk has confirmed that “2 or 3” additional factories will open in the US over the “next few years.” He’s not offering a firm timetable, to no one’s surprise (the first factory isn’t even finished yet), but the news makes it clearer than ever that Tesla expects plenty of demand.

Musk was definitely strategic with the announcement. He was speaking in front of the National Governors Association, which is full of politicians looking for economic opportunities — he’s no doubt hoping that governors will jockey for a Gigafactory (and offer incentives) in their state. At the same time, though, it may be a realistic forecast. Musk expects most new cars in the US to be EVs within 10 years, and to virtually dominate the market in 20. If Tesla doesn’t have enough factories in place, it risks losing business as electric transportation hits the mainstream.

The talk also saw Musk weigh in on a few other topics. He’s not opposed to self-driving car regulations, but he believes they should expire as technology evolves. Also, he believes that car security is a high priority. He notes that Tesla cars already have “special encryption” that protects vital systems like the powertrain and brakes, and he’s entertaining the idea of a kill switch (of sorts) that no hacker could touch. Don’t count on governors heeding his regulatory advice, but it won’t be surprising if future Teslas are better-equipped to deal with online threats.

Via: Electrek

Source: NGA (YouTube)


Amazon is Reportedly Readying a New Messaging Platform Called ‘Anytime’

Amazon is reportedly working on bringing a new mobile messaging platform to the table, according to customer survey details obtained by AFTVnews.

The chat service for iOS, Android, and desktop is said to be called “Anytime” and will include typical messaging features like encryption, video and voice calling, but with some novel touches added to the mix that suggest social network-style aspirations for the app.

For example, it looks as if Anytime users will only need to use a name – as opposed to a phone number, à la WhatsApp – to link themselves and invite others to the service, although its not entirely clear how this will work. There’s also talk of Twitter-like @ mentions to involve users in conversation threads or to share photos.

Elsewhere in Amazon’s customer survey information are references to additional features such as the ability to color code conversations, play games, order food together, split a bill, location sharing, and group music listening. Users will also apparently be able to chat with businesses through the service, make reservations, check on orders, and even shop, with sensitive content like bank details protected by encryption.

It’s possible Anytime will be powered by Chime, Amazon’s chat service for enterprise users that it launched earlier in the year. There’s also potential scope for Alexa integration – given that the company recently launched messaging and calling features for Alexa devices, it could benefit from separating out these functions in a separate app.

There’s no word on when the Anytime service might launch, but Amazon will have to show it can offer something genuinely fresh and appealing if it expects to convince longtime users of rival platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to jump ship.

Whatever its plans, Amazon clearly isn’t resting on its laurels in the hardware and connected services spaces. Earlier this week it emerged that Amazon is actively developing a redesigned Echo speaker to compete with Apple’s forthcoming HomePod. Both smart devices are expected to launch later this year.

Tags: Amazon, Amazon Chime
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Hit indie FMV game ‘Her Story’ gets a spiritual sequel

Did you enjoy Her Story, the indie title that revived the use of full-motion video in games? You’re not alone: Sam Barlow’s game sold over 100,000 copies, a lot for a small-budget release, and won its share of acclaim, including multiple awards. And apparently, that’s enough to help fuel a sequel. Barlow and Annapurna Interactive (the publishers of What Remains of Edith Finch) are producing Telling Lies, a “spiritual follow-up” to Her Story. While they’re tight-lipped as to the narrative, the new game will rely on video to unfurl a plot “in the vein of a political thriller” with three or four key characters. Barlow likens it to a cross between Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation and Steve McQueen’s Shame — it’ll look at the “intersection of government, society and individuals.”

The added complexity of dealing with multiple characters promises to spice up the gameplay, but Annapurna’s added financial clout could also help. The publisher is handling all the video production, and it’s looking at recruiting Hollywood talent. While you probably won’t see A-list stars, it could draw in players who were put off by the awkward acting and low-budget sets of 1990s FMV games.

Telling Lies won’t be ready for a while. Barlow doesn’t expect shooting to start until late 2017 or early 2018, and there’s still the question of finishing the gameplay once all the footage is in. Patience might pay off, mind you. Although it’s unlikely that you’ll return to the heyday of FMV in games, this could at least show that video is a viable option for certain stories.

Source: Variety


GM is renting cars to Uber drivers in Australia

GM is expanding the presence of its Zipcar-style service Maven in Australia. The company has begun testing Maven Gig in Sydney through a pilot program with Uber a few months after it started trialing the main Maven service in Melbourne. Unlike the primary service itself that offers the general public vehicles for rent, Maven Gig was designed to rent out GM cars to people doing freelance gigs, such as driving for ride-hailing companies and package, food or grocery delivery. For now, the automaker is focusing on entering leasing agreements with those who’d like to make money on the side driving for Uber.

Before the pilot started, Maven Gig was only available in San Diego, though it’s slated to be launched in San Francisco and Los Angeles in late 2017. GM’s Australian division didn’t tell Reuters how much its vehicles would cost customers. But in the US, renting a Chevy Bolt from the Gig program would cost an Uber driver $229 for a week.

Source: Reuters

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