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You can trust your Roomba with your home’s dirty secrets

Earlier this week, iRobot and its CEO Colin Angle came under a bit of fire after Reuters reported that the company was looking to sell maps of customers’ homes to companies like Amazon, Apple or Alphabet. The idea behind such a move was that maps of consumers’ homes could help inform other smart devices, like lighting and thermostats, about the physical environment they’re in. “There’s an entire ecosystem of things and services that the smart home can deliver once you have a rich map of the home that the user has allowed to be shared,” Angle told Reuters.

But ZDNet reached out to iRobot and Angle about concerns surrounding security implications of selling maps of customers’ homes. The company responded that it would never sell customers’ data and if in the future, users wanted their vacuums to connect with smart home devices, iRobot would require customers’ permission first. In regards to the Reuters report, the company said. “This was a misinterpretation. Colin never said that iRobot would look to sell customer maps or data to other companies. iRobot has not had any conversations with other companies about data transactions, and iRobot will not sell customer data.”

While it’s possible that iRobot and Angle are backpedaling in light of people’s response to the Reuters article, it’s also plausible that the original conversation was actually misinterpreted. However it actually went down, it looks like your data is staying between you and your vacuum for now.

Source: ZDNet


The iPod was my last physical connection to music

Apple has discontinued the iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle. There wasn’t much fanfare; it was a pretty quiet ending, when you consider that these devices defined a generation and changed the way we listen to music.

It’s utterly unsurprising that Apple made this move — after all, they discontinued the iPod classic back in 2014. There’s just not a need for these devices anymore. With the dawn of the streaming music era, why would you need to carry a physical version of your music collection?

The Nano and the Shuffle were the smaller versions of their original big brother. The larger iPod (remember the days before it even had a click wheel?) was to carry your entire music library — the Nano and Shuffle were just for a taste, the amuse bouche of your tunes. Whether you were listening with those trademark white earbuds or through an unwieldy FM transmitter in your car, with your iPod snugly in its sock, for a bright moment the way we listened to music was at the center of our culture.

It’s almost funny, then, that Apple itself is responsible for making its own devices obsolete. When they first introduced the iPod, and later the iTunes Store, they triggered a sea change in the way my generation interacted with music. It wasn’t just something we listened to, it was something we experienced. But slowly, as our sights shifted from buying digitally to streaming, iPods became less important. Apple pivoted the music industry towards streaming. It’s the natural end to a shift that happened almost two decades ago, and it sowed the seeds for the obsolescence of the iPod.

And yet, for those of us who remember binders upon binders of CDs, this is a sad day. The end of the iPod as we know it is more than just the discontinuation a device. It’s an acceptance that the heady days of my youth, when I agonized over music selection, are over.

I used to painstakingly curate my library; it was something I shared with pride. There was a song for every occasion, whether to describe my current emotions or for a deeper peek into my very identity. Music spoke to me; it defined me. But as I came into adulthood, with all the responsibilities that went along with it, my interest in music slowly dwindled. I didn’t have time for all the passions of my youth, and frankly, it was much easier to listen to a pre-selected playlist on Spotify than to carefully curate my library and explore new artists. I always thought it was a temporary thing, though, that one day, music would return to its pedestal in my life. But now, I realize that day will never come.

The truth is, streaming music has made it so much easier to be a music fan. Virtually every song I could want to listen to is at my fingertips. But there’s something lacking about it. By granting me the ability to listen to everything I want, streaming music has taken something vital away: the hunt, the quest, the sense of triumph that comes with discovering that amazing new band that gets you.

C43363_1HDon’t misunderstand me: I’m not nostalgic about the days of screaming at my iPod as it laboriously synced with iTunes. I don’t miss hitting the bottom of the device against something every time it displayed the Apple screen of death (something to do with the hard drive connections being loose?) I don’t even miss the hours I used to spend looking through music websites to find new artists I might want to listen to. Technology and discovery are so much better these days.

What I miss is something much more personal, a reflection of myself rather than of a device. I miss wanting to do these things. I miss caring enough about music to spend time and energy on it. I miss it having a place at the center of my life, as the key to my identity. I miss valuing it because it made me work for it. The music is still there. It’s my relationship with it that I find wanting.

For many who still collect CDs and vinyl, there is still that physical connection to your music. But for the rest of us, the iPod was the last remnant of that era. It was the tangible embodiment of what our music meant to us, but it’s also the reason we no longer have that connection.

Yes, the iPod Touch is still around, and of course I can load up my iPhone if the mood strikes me. But it seems almost poetic that the device that was the first nail in the coffin for the standalone iPod, the iPhone, doesn’t even have a headphone jack anymore. Technology is changing and evolving, and that’s a good thing. Soon, I’ll forget about my iPod nostalgia and move onto other, better things. But just for this moment, I’m going to choose to remember a time when the iPod taught me that music was all I needed.


Samsung teams up with TUMI to recycle the Gear S3

If you insist on toting your gear around in TUMI-branded bags, then Samsung might have the watch that’s right for you. The two companies have teamed up to launch a version of the Gear S3 Frontier that bears the TUMI logo on its virtual face. As well as the new custom face, the biggest change is that the device comes with a strap made out of the luggage maker’s trademark grey Italian canvas.

In every other regard, however, it’s the same Galaxy S3 Frontier that was announced at the end of August last year. The Tizen-running wearable packs a 1.3-inch, 360 x 360 Super AMOLED display, a Gorilla Glass SR+ Crystal and a 380mAh battery. As before, there is 768MB RAM and 4GB storage, and will connect to your smartphone over Bluetooth 4.2.

Samsung’s strategy seems to mirror other smartwatches that we’ve seen in 2017, using luggage and travel as a way to up-sell customers. After all, Louis Vuitton’s $3,000 Android Wear device wants to appeal to the frequent flier set in a similar way. Despite being built upon existing technology that you can get elsewhere for less cash, the hope is that brand devotees will show their dedication by paying for the name.

If we were expecting the Gear S4 to be announced at the end of August, then this late-in-life announcement raises some questions. Could Samsung not have waited a couple of months and announced the TUMI-branded S4 at the end of August? Since there are no rumors — yet — about new wearables, perhaps the company is, as we mused a few days ago, taking a step back from the category.

The Samsung Gear S3 Frontier TUMI Special Edition, to give it its full name, will be available to buy online July 28th and in-store on August 6th. No matter where you buy it, however, the timepiece will set you back $450, while the vanilla S3 remains available for $300.

Source: Samsung

Jul hopes buying a smart home platform will get it started

Will.I.Am is at the point of his career where he has the disposable income to throw at basically whatever he wants. Be it a terrible smartwatch (or two) or an insipid iPhone case, he’s thrown cash at a variety of money pits. Now, he has another one to add to his list: A smart home platform. His company has acquired Wink, which makes hubs for connected household devices.

The news comes by way of an email sent to Wink users (spotted by Hacker News). “Our teams are in the process of coming together to shape our future roadmap and we can’t wait to share what we’re working on,” the email apparently said. It goes on that current Wink hardware and software won’t be affected. Kind of like’s career or bank account if this venture doesn’t pan out.

Source: Hacker News


The best PC-gaming gear for students

While many of you will likely make your school computer some sort of all-purpose laptop, a few of you need something that can also withstand extensive gameplay sessions. For that reason, we’ve included in our back-to-school guide a handful of gaming-specific notebooks along with three GPUs, should your existing rig be due for an upgrade. Already have a system you’re happy with? Treat yourself to a mouse, keyboard, or a game or three.

Source: Engadget’s 2017 Back to School Guide


Google Play discounts TV seasons if you already own episodes

If you own a few episodes of a TV show and would like to purchase an entire season, Google Play just made it a little easier on your wallet. You can now purchase a complete season of a television show at a discounted price if you already own individual episodes.

The lack of this feature up until now has been puzzling, as competitors iTunes and Amazon Video both have offered it for some time. To take advantage of it, you must be on the web or in the Google Play Movies & TV app on Android, Roku or Smart TVs. It’s not available on iOS devices. Once you locate the season of the TV show you’d like to buy, you should see the lower price.

Not every show is eligible, and you can’t combine this discount with a promotion. Additionally, while you can use this for both SD and HD, the price of HD episodes you bought will not apply towards purchasing a full season in SD. However, if you own SD episodes, you can complete your season and your standard episodes will automatically upgrade to HD quality.

Via: 9to5Google

Source: Google


Honor returns to Moto G territory with the £150 6A

Huawei sub-brand Honor has released a powerful flagship and interesting mid-ranger in the past few months, so it’s headed back to wallet-friendly, entry-level territory for its next European launch. The Honor 6A is more or less what you expect from a £150 handset these days: A 5-inch, 720p display, octa-core Snapdragon 430 chip, 2 gigs of RAM, 16GB of expandable storage and 13MP/5MP cameras.

It sports a metal unibody design and runs Android 7.0 Nougat tucked away behind Huawei’s EMUI 5.1. Again, nothing particularly special for a device at this price point. In fact, what’s most notable about the Honor 6A’s spec sheet is what’s missing — namely a fingerprint sensor and NFC chip for Android Pay support. These little value-adding features are par for the course this year, making the Honor 6A look a little ill-equipped next to equally affordable phones like the Moto G5, Vodafone Smart V8 and Wileyfox Swift 2.

According to Honor, the new 6A will be available to pre-order online from July 31st for £150, so don’t ask us why you appear to be able to reserve handsets right now for the strange price of £144.90. Given the phone’s competitive… issues, shall we say, the Honor 6A feels like it might make more sense paired with a contract. Carrier partner Three will begin offering the device on August 4th on contracts starting at £11 per month with no upfront payment, making it one of the cheapest deals on the network.

Source: Honor


Plans Matter offers Airbnb-like listings for architecture nerds

Google is working on adding vacation rentals to its hotel search results and Airbnb is going to help you find national park-adjacent rentals, mansions and penthouses. But if those options are quite special enough for you, a website called Plans Matter might be up your alley. Started by architects Lindor and Scott Mueller, Plans Matter only lists modern houses designed by respected architects. Writing on the website, the couple says, “When we plan our travel, we search for places to stay that are well designed and authentic. Places that will elevate our experience beyond keeping us warm and dry. Places that have architectural intention and a story to tell. Our goal is to make these places easily available for people to experience on their own.”

Each listing has all of the expected rental info like price, size and how many guests it can house as well as all of the amenities offered. Plans Matter also includes activities suitable to the location, tips about the house and surrounding area, awards the house’s design has received and a handwritten host note that gives more information about why hosts built the house along with details about the rental’s features.

Plans Matter has listings exclusive to it along with rentals from sites like Airbnb. Check it out if you want to amp up your next vacation.

Via: Co.Design

Source: Plans Matter


Apple Music Shares Exclusive Live Performance of Arcade Fire’s New Album ‘Everything Now’

Last night, Canadian rock band Arcade Fire performed songs from their new album, Everything Now, during a live global broadcast on Apple Music, which was announced last week. Those who missed the Brooklyn-based performance can still check it out today, as Apple has uploaded the exclusive two-hour concert film in full on Apple Music.

.@arcadefire is hitting every album right now in Brooklyn. 🙌#EverythingNowLive

— Apple Music (@AppleMusic) July 28, 2017

Apple has spotlighted Everything Now Live on the Browse tab of Apple Music, and within the featured card there are highlights from the show, songs featured during the concert from new and old albums, playlists, and Beats 1 shows during which the band has performed and discussed Everything Now.

Thank you @arcadefire for an incredible night. 🌐 #EverythingNowLive
Watch the exclusive performance here:

— Apple Music (@AppleMusic) July 28, 2017

Apple’s description of the exclusive performance follows:

Known for larger-than-life anthems that blend folk intimacy with dance-floor electricity, the shape-shifting Montreal collective is one of the decade’s most exciting bands. To celebrate the release of their fifth album, Everything Now, they took the stage at Brooklyn’s Grand Prospect Hall. See the film exclusively on Apple Music.

While Everything Now Live is exclusive to Apple Music, the Everything Now album is available on Spotify as well. Previous music-related films exclusive to Apple Music have included performances by Taylor Swift and a behind-the-album look at Harry Styles’ first solo album.

Tag: Apple Music
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iRobot CEO Clarifies Indoor Mapping Comment, Says Company ‘Will Never Sell Your Data’

iRobot has responded to an article posted earlier this week by Reuters, in which it was said that company CEO Colin Angle “could reach a deal to sell its maps to one or more of the Big Three in the next couple of years,” representing Apple, Amazon, and Google. Angle said that such shared data could bolster the intelligence of other smart home devices like light bulbs, thermostats, and security cameras.

Many users became fearful of such personal home data flowing freely between multiple companies, and in response today Angle and an iRobot PR representative have confirmed that “iRobot will never sell your data.” In a letter sent to ZDNet, Angle said that information gathered by its Roomba vacuums “needs to be controlled by the customer and not as a data asset of a corporation to exploit.”

iRobot CEO Colin Angle, Image via Reuters
He went on to say that’s how the company operates currently, and how it will continue to operate in the future.

First things first, iRobot will never sell your data. Our mission is to help you keep a cleaner home and, in time, to help the smart home and the devices in it work better.

Information that is shared needs to be controlled by the customer and not as a data asset of a corporation to exploit. That is how data is handled by iRobot today. Customers have control over sharing it. I want to make very clear that this is how data will be handled in the future.

You may also want your robot to work with other connected devices in your home. For this to work, we will also require your permission, and we will always ensure secure means of communication between devices.

Additionally, ZDNet was able to further delve into Angle’s original comments on the subject, asking what might have happened to spark an outbreak of privacy fear from the first article. When questioned whether the Reuters report was a “misinterpretation” on the subject of user data being sold to other companies, or a misstatement on Angle’s part, iRobot responded by confirming that it was in fact a misinterpretation.

ZDNet: The Reuters report indicated how iRobot was in talks to sell the data. Can you respond with whether that was a misinterpretation by the reporter or a misstatement on the part of Colin? Was there, in fact, never any monetary negotiations or discussions over data?

iRobot: This was a misinterpretation. Colin never said that iRobot would look to sell customer maps or data to other companies. iRobot has not had any conversations with other companies about data transactions, and iRobot will not sell customer data.

The company went on to elaborate upon where exactly Roomba’s mapping and navigation information is stored, confirming that all data for the Roomba 900 Series “stays on the robot.” Usage data for Wi-Fi-enabled Roombas does get sent to the cloud to populate data logs on the connected smartphone app, but “images used for navigation are NOT sent to the cloud.”

The company also pointed out that its Roomba vacuums lack any sort of traditional camera systems, so images that they see don’t divulge much in the way of detailed personal information in the first place.

iRobot further iterated on the consent required for mapping data to be made available on the mobile app, saying that only if a user agrees can they see such a map of their homes created during the Roomba’s cleaning schedule. If it is allowed, the data is sent to the cloud, processed and simplified so users can parse the data easily, but never sent anywhere else.

Tags: Maps, Roomba
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