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Amazon’s delivered meals may not require refrigeration

Amazon’s been elbowing its way into the food and grocery business for awhile now. Its recent acquisition of Whole Foods made it clear just how serious Amazon is about the whole thing. Now, Reuters reports that Amazon is considering using military tech to create meals that don’t require refrigeration.

The key is MATS, or microwave assisted thermal sterilization, which involves placing food packets into pressurized water and heating them up using microwaves. Traditionally, MREs (Meal, Ready to Eat) are sterilized using a pressure cooker, which deprives them of nutrients, not to mention flavor and texture. This new method delivers a much tastier final product, and has a shelf life for up to a year. No refrigeration is required.

Officials at 915 Labs, which is trying to bring MATS technology to the retail sector, confirmed that Amazon had expressed interest in selling dishes such as a vegetable frittata and beef stew. They could bring the meals to market as early as 2018.

The question is really whether Amazon’s target market would be interested in this type of prepared food. Amazon’s foray into prepared meal kits, such as their upcoming Blue Apron competitor, is understandable. But do customers really want the equivalent of (tasty) MREs? Clearly Amazon is trying to tackle the frozen dinner market here, which they struggle to be competitive in because of delivery challenges. It will likely all depend on just how good the meals are.

Source: Reuters


Here’s the first look at the ‘Papers, Please’ short film

In 2013, independent game developer Lucas Pope released an indie game called Papers, Please. Set in the 1980s, the game features an immigration inspector based in a communist country who’s tasked with sorting through entry documents of those looking to immigrate to the country. As you try to decide who is sincere and who might be a spy or a criminal, the job forces you to work ever faster in order to earn enough money to support your family. If you mess up and let someone bad in, you get punished.

The game was well-received and won Independent Games Festival, Game Developers Choice and BAFTA awards in 2014. And now Papers, Please is being made into a short film. Written by Russian filmmakers Liliya and Nikita Ordynskiy — Nikita also directed the film — it features the game’s overworked inspector, played by Igor Savochkin. A very short teaser was just released and some production shots were posted on Twitter in May. The teaser just says that the film is coming in 2017 with no definite date attached, but for those who were fans of the game, this looks like it will be a nice addition to the story. And from the trailer it seems like the film has effectively captured the game’s heavier tone. You can check out the trailer below.

Production shots from an upcoming Papers Please short film by Nikita and Liliya Ordynskiy. Really looking forward to this.

— Lucas Pope (@dukope) May 30, 2017

Source: Eurogamer


Blizzard preps aging ‘Warcraft 3’ multiplayer for future changes

So this is a bit strange: Over 15 years later, Blizzard has added a public test realm to its premier real-time strategy game, Warcraft 3. Overwatch (also made by Blizzard) fans know that the PTR is where experimental features and modes are tested before going wide to the full player population. In Warcraft’s case, this is to test out new map pools for 1v1, 2v2, 3v3 and 4v4 multiplayer. Updates that address slow matchmaking, lag and that add automated tournaments and a “ladder board” are planned as well.

This isn’t entirely unprecedented. Back in February Valve patched a 10 year old bug in Team Fortress 2. Blizzard has a history of keeping its old games fresh, so maybe don’t get your hopes up that this new love from mom and dad means Warcraft 4 is coming any time soon.

Via: Eurogamer

Source: Blizzard


The best telepresence robot

By Patrick Austin

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. When readers choose to buy The Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

After spending 20 hours researching telepresence robots and testing two of the most promising models in office and home settings, we don’t think these devices are ready for prime time. But if you want a telepresence robot to give remote employees a physical presence in your office, the Suitable Technologies Beam Enhanced is the only bot that’s reliable and user-friendly enough to consider.

Who should get this

A telepresence robot is a videoconferencing screen mounted on a moving base. You can log in to a telepresence robot and control it, projecting your own face on the screen while you move around and interact with people. Using one allows you to navigate the environment at a limited speed, but you can’t do much else—no hands on a telepresence robot means no button-pushing or door-opening, for example.

At this time, given these limitations and factoring in the devices’ multi-thousand-dollar price tags, it’s difficult to justify a telepresence robot as anything but a novelty. But even novelties can be useful in certain contexts and environments. For example, remote workers who want to establish a physical presence in an office or students with chronic illnesses who are unable to attend school in person might find telepresence robots useful.

How we picked and tested

Predictable steering and responsive controls are important to avoid embarrassing yourself in front of coworkers. This collision with the Double was not staged. Video: Caroline Enos

You might think that between Segway scooters, high-tech tablets, and compact Bluetooth speakers, companies have the technology to make a decent telepresence robot at an affordable price. But if you do have such expectations, you should lower them. After poring through the spec sheets of every model currently available, we came up with some common criteria that make for an acceptable bot.

  • Video quality is of primary importance. Having a field of view wider than 90 degrees is preferable, as it lets you see more of your environment and more easily navigate around objects.
  • Cameras should be high-resolution, too, even though many of these bots don’t even crack 720p. Bots that produce higher-contrast images are also more useful.
  • You should also be able to hear your colleagues clearly, and be heard. Look for models that have multiple speakers as well as as multiple microphones.
  • The screens should ideally be at least 720p resolution to clearly display the operator’s face. Screen size does matter, but only up to a point.
  • If a telepresence robot is supposed to represent a remote worker, its battery should be able to last an entire eight-hour day if need be, and you should be able to recharge it yourself via a charging dock.
  • A solid network connection is important to control a telepresence robot, so dual-band Wi-Fi support (for both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands) is critical in maintaining a connection through any potential network soft spots.
  • A regular operating speed of at least 1 mph is necessary to keep up with anybody walking with the bot. That’s a pretty leisurely pace, so a 2 mph boost mode is also good to look out for.
  • No wireless connection is perfect, so in a worst-case scenario, a good telepresence robot needs to be easy to carry, or at least push.
  • Finally, we wanted something that you could actually buy, meaning, as affordable as possible. Unfortunately, many of these robots are designed and marketed solely for corporate or academic environments, which makes them prohibitively expensive, difficult to purchase, or both.

In the end, finding a telepresence robot matching all these criteria—especially at a reasonable price—was impossible for us. However, the Double Robotics Double 2 and the Suitable Technologies Beam Enhanced both met a majority of our criteria, so we called them in to put them through their paces. We conducted our first test at the offices of The New York Times (parent company of The Wirecutter and The Sweethome), but security issues with the building’s Wi-Fi network kept us from connecting to the Beam, so we also tested in our test-kitchen apartment.

Our pick: Suitable Technologies Beam Enhanced

Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

If you are set on buying a telepresence robot, the Suitable Technologies Beam Enhanced is the only one that’s currently worth considering. It displays and captures clear video feeds, maneuvers more responsively than the competition, and has the easiest setup process of the telepresence robots we tested. And the professional administration software makes it easy to manage in a corporate environment or a home setting.

The Beam’s built-in 104-degree wide-angle camera produced a clear image of our office that looked much brighter and more detailed than the images from both the iPad Air 2’s front-facing camera and the Double 2’s own camera add-on, despite providing only VGA resolution (640×480 pixels). Your co-workers will look pretty grainy on a Retina display, but the Beam offers great contrast in a variety of settings thanks to superior low-light performance and HDR support that helps you make out even heavily backlit faces and obstacles. On the other side of the conversation, your call recipient will see your face clearly on a brightly backlit 10-inch, 4:3-aspect-ratio screen that’s much more easily visible under bright light than a typical iPad screen.

The robot’s downward-facing camera, aided by a pair of LEDs, also gives you a clear view of what’s in its path and includes a handy arrow overlay that shows where you’re headed. It overlays a virtual projection that’s as wide as the bot, so you know exactly if it will fit or not. The display offers live updates based on your control inputs and is a great visual aid if you’re new to operating a telepresence robot.

Flaws that might really be dealbreakers

Usually we call this section of a guide “Flaws but not dealbreakers,” but in this case the flaws inherent to current telepresence technology might actually discourage many people who would consider buying into it. In the case of the Beam, you get fewer drawbacks than you would with other options, but it’s still far from ideal.

Telepresence robots, including the Beam, are prohibitively expensive for what they do. For the cost of one, you could buy a videoconferencing system for the office instead. The Beam model we tested costs nearly $4,000, and to use it you have to pay an annual subscription fee of nearly $400.

Furthermore, telepresence robots can’t exactly navigate an entire office building without help, and neither the Beam nor the Double is suited for multistory operation. Neither telepresence robot features object avoidance, and someone will need to carry it up the stairs or hit an elevator button for the remote co-worker.

As for Beam-specific issues, setup is easy—but only if it’s even possible in the first place. Connecting your telepresence robot to a network is easier said than done if you don’t have admin access to your office’s network—or at the very least, a cooperative IT department.

This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from The Wirecutter: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.


Samsung’s next wearable is the Gear Sport

There has been chatter about a Samsung watch for awhile now, and it looks like the rumors have legs. Android Headlines reports that the company has filed documents with the FCC about a device called the Samsung Gear Sport. Based on the included designs, it appears to be some sort of smartwatch or fitness device.

Details on the device are sketchy — the only hint we get as to the device’s design is a schematic of the bottom of the device. We also know that it will have onboard support for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Unsurprisingly, Samsung requested that the rest of the documents (including the operational description, parts list and other specifications) remain confidential.

With IFA coming up in the next few weeks, it’s understandable that Samsung is focusing on a new watch/fitness device (or even introducing a new line of watches/fitness devices). We still don’t have a lot of information, but now we’re even more curious as to what the company has planned for the consumer electronics conference.

Via: The Verge, Android Headlines

Source: FCC


SoundCloud isn’t shutting down just yet

SoundCloud’s financial woes have just been granted a bit of relief. An investment proposal was circulated among SoundCloud investors earlier this week which outlined a deal that would bring in around $170 million from global merchant bank The Raine Group and investment company Temasek Capital Management. The plan also included a reorganization of the company that would put current CEO Alex Ljung on SoundCloud’s board and bring in former Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor as the new chief executive. In order for it to go through, shareholders were asked to decide on the deal by the end of today and in a statement provided to Engadget, SoundCloud has confirmed that the deal has gone through.

The company has secured the investment and Trainor has taken on the position of CEO while Michael Weissman has been named COO. Ljung is now chairman of the board. In a blog post, Ljung said about the deal, “You’ve told me how, without SoundCloud, there would be a giant gaping void in today’s world of music. We can’t have that, and I’m happy to once again say that won’t be happening.”

Last month, SoundCloud announced that it would lay off 40 percent of its staff in order to cut costs after being forced to borrow $70 million in March in order to stay afloat. Among reports of severe mismanagement and irresponsible spending, the company said it wasn’t going anywhere and with this new influx of cash, it seems that, for now, that will be the case.

Said Ljung, “This financing means SoundCloud remains strong, independent and here to stay. As I said, we’re not going anywhere.”

Source: SoundCloud, Axios, Recode


Netflix in talks with Disney to keep ‘Star Wars’ and Marvel movies

A little over a year ago, Disney made Netflix the exclusive home of its movies, including Star Wars, Pixar and Marvel flicks, which led to rumors of a Netflix acquisition by Disney. A few days ago, however, Disney used its earnings report to announce that it would no longer stream its content on Netflix. The entertainment company plans to launch its own streaming service in 2019. The devil is in the details, however; the companies are reportedly in “active discussions” about keeping Marvel and Star Wars films in the Netflix queue.

According to Reuters, Disney CEO Bob Iger told analysts during the call that his company had not yet decides where it would house Marvel superhero films or Star Wars titles from Lucasfilm. Netflix’s Ted Sarandos expects that Disney’s service would be complementary to Netflix’s, which still carries a ton of other family-centric entertainment. Sarandos is reportedly talking with Disney about keeping Marvel and Lucasfilm releases for 2019 and beyond.

Disney’s not the only company that’s looking to manage its own streaming system, of course. HBO, CBS, Starz and Hulu have their own original content in place to pull in regular subscribers. Sarandos also said that this move by Disney was expected. “That’s why we got into the originals business five years ago,” Sarandos told Reuters, “anticipating (that licensing content) may be not as easy a conversation with studios and networks.”

Source: Reuters


US citizen allegedly used fake eBay sales to hide ISIS funding

According to FBI records, US citizen Mohamed Elshinawy used fake eBay sales to bring in ISIS funding for terror attacks, reports the Wall Street Journal. As part of a financial network with operatives in Britain and Bangladesh, Elshinawy pretended to sell printers on the site in order to get PayPal payments from Islamic State groups abroad.

The information comes from recently unsealed affidavits that were part of a 2016 indictment of Elshinawy. Other participants in the network allegedly used funds to purchase military supplies like surveillance and bug-sweeping equipment. Elshinawy reportedly received over $8,000 from ISIS associates, which he used for a laptop, cellphone and a VPN. The FBI says he used those supplies to communicate with ISIS. Elshinawy claims he doesn’t support ISIS and while he was aware of the money’s intended purpose, he didn’t plan on launching any attacks.

ISIS is well-known for taking advantage of technology. Initially using sites like Twitter and Telegram for recruitment and propaganda purposes, the terrorist organization has since created its own social network. ISIS has also reportedly run a 24-hour help desk to assist with encryption and communications queries and developed an educational app aimed at children.

Elshinawy is currently awaiting trial and a spokesperson for eBay told the Wall Street Journal that the company “has zero tolerance for criminal activities taking place on our marketplace” and is cooperating with the authorities.

Source: Wall Street Journal


Apple Store in Madison, Wisconsin Moving to Hilldale Shopping Center Tomorrow

Apple has announced that its West Towne Mall retail store in Madison, Wisconsin will be moving to the nearby Hilldale Shopping Center tomorrow.

Apple Store at West Towne Mall
Apple Hilldale’s grand opening will take place Saturday, August 12 at 10:00 a.m. local time. Apple West Towne will permanently close tonight.

West Towne Mall has been home to Madison’s only Apple retail store since July 2007. Apple’s two other retail stores in Wisconsin are located in the Milwaukee suburbs of Glendale and Wauwatosa.

The new Hilldale store will be much larger than the West Towne location, a welcomed change for both employees and customers. The store should also feature Apple’s newer retail design introduced in 2015.

Apple Store at Hilldale Shopping Center via Wisconsin State Journal
Apple’s financial chief Luca Maestri recently said Apple collectively welcomed over 300 million visitors to its retail stores last quarter.

“It was a very busy quarter for our online and retail stores, which collectively welcomed over 300 million visitors,” he said. “In addition to our spectacular new store at the Dubai Mall, we opened our first stores in Singapore and in Taiwan during the quarter, expanding our total store footprint to 497 stores.”

“In May, we kicked off Today at Apple, with new in-store programming from music to photography to art and coding, and our stores collectively hosted 87,000 sessions during the quarter,” he added. “We have entered a new chapter in retail, with unique and rewarding experiences for our customers.”

Apple WestQuay in Southampton, UK also moves to a larger location down the hall in the shopping center on Saturday.

Related Roundup: Apple Stores
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These 30 essential Apple Watch tips and tricks will help you master it

The Apple Watch is one of the most personal wearables on the planet. Aside from being the best selling smartwatch available, it features a host of unique communication methods, an attractive design, and a host of third-party apps. However, navigating and making use of its many features is easier said than done, and muting notifications and setting custom responses is only the beginning. How about using Apple Pay, setting your own pictures as your wallpaper, or transferring music? Below, we’ve compiled a list of Apple Watch tips for carrying out the aforementioned actions, as well as others.

Are you still using Apple’s first generation Apple Watch and want to upgrade? We reviewed the Apple Watch Series 2 to help you decide. 

How to switch and edit watch faces, use Control Center, Tapback, and more

How to switch between faces

Switching watch faces is as easy as switching between screens on your iPhone. Simply swipe left and right. Each watch face is different, so a good way to enhance the way you use the watch is to set up different faces to accomplish different tasks. When you swipe, make sure you start the swipe from the curved edge of the screen and not from the middle.

How to edit your watch face

To edit a watch face, press firmly on the screen, which Apple calls a Force Touch. Swipe through the host of options and tap Customize on the face you want to edit. Swipe again to select features, and then change them with the crown. If you don’t want to fiddle with complications on a small screen, however, you can use the Watch app on your iPhone to accomplish the same task. On the Watch app, you will find a Watch Face Gallery, where you can pick and create your own watch faces. There is a section called My Faces that shows all the faces you’ve picked, and this is where you can customize the faces, change the order of the faces, and remove them entirely. Once done, the changes will immediately sync with your Apple Watch.

How to get to Control Center

Yes, the Apple Watch has a control center, just like the iPhone. You can get to it by swiping up, just like on the iPhone. This is useful because it will grant you access to things such as airplane mode and Do Not Disturb mode, and allow you to switch the watch to vibrate. If you have an Apple Watch Series 2, you can also activate a feature that will eject water from the watch.

How to reply to messages with Scribble

A quick “OK” or “I’ll call you back” isn’t always enough. Thankfully, a new feature in WatchOS 3 lets you reply to a message by writing on the screen. When you reply to a message, choose Scribble and write each letter in the space provided. You will do this by writing with your finger, one letter at a time, one on top of each other. The software will read each letter and type the sentence on your behalf. The software will keep up with you, too, so you don’t need to wait for it to type the letter for you to move on to the next one. Just go ahead and keep writing what you want to write and the software will type it for you. It’s that simple.

How to Tapback in iMessage

One of the new features introduced with iOS 10 was the ability to tap on a message and quickly reply with a thumbs up or a heart. It works exactly the same way on the Apple Watch. Instead of replying with an “OK” or another word, you can acknowledge someone’s message by liking it or sending a heart. The Tapback emojis will pop up if you long press on a speech bubble, much in the same way they do in iOS.

How to access the application dock

In WatchOS 3, the side button below the crown activates the dock housing all of your favorite applications. It’s just like the dock in MacOS, or the taskbar on Windows, where you pin your most-used apps. The caveat here is that you can only pin 10 apps to your watch at any given time. If you tap the side button when using an app, it will show the last app you used, and it will ask you if you want to add it to your dock. If you already have 10, then you’ll need to replace one of your apps. You can also swipe up to remove an app from the dock, and you can do all of this with the Watch app on your iPhone if it’s easier for you.

How to set your pictures as wallpaper

Yes, the Apple Watch has some cool wallpapers, but sometimes you’ll want to use a picture of your own as the background. The question is, how? The process is surprisingly easy, but it requires you to take a few steps on your iPhone first. Go to Photos > Camera Roll, and after selecting a suitable picture, tap the heart icon to favorite it.

The iPhone syncs your favorite pictures with your Apple Watch. To set them as your wallpaper, press hard on the Apple Watch screen and slide through the option to find the Photo Album, or Photo option. Tap Customize, then use the Digital Crown to zoom in and out of the photos. If you’d rather sync another album, then go to the Apple Watch app on your phone, find Photos and Synced Album. Careful, though, there’s only so much storage space on the Watch.

How to use Time Travel

If you’re using a watch face with the calendar complication, such as Utility or Modular, then it’s possible to travel forward in time to check upcoming appointments, the weather, and certain notifications. Just a twist of the Digital Crown will activate the feature, which also works when you need to go back in time. To return to the present, just press the Digital Crown to exit Time Travel.

How to transfer music

Apple puts aside up to 2GB of the Apple Watch’s 8GB space for your pictures and music. Having room for some music comes in handy when you want to workout without your phone. First, you’ll need to sync some music with your Apple Watch, which is partially performed on your iPhone. It utilizes playlists from the Music app, so make sure you’ve got some ready, then launch the Apple Watch app.

Here, scroll down to the Music app menu, tap it, and then select Synced Playlist. Now, choose which playlist you’d like to sync with your Apple Watch. If you change your mind, select the None option at the bottom of the list. Once you’re back in the main Music menu, go ahead and check how much space you’ve allocated for playlists. The default is often 1GB, but you can adjust it if you want more. Keep in mind that if you want to play music directly from your watch, you need to pair it with some Bluetooth headphones.

How to pair a Bluetooth device

This tip applies to Bluetooth headphones, heart rate monitors, or any other compatible wireless device that works with Bluetooth. To connect the two, make sure the device is ready to pair, and go to Settings on the Apple Watch. Once there, tap Bluetooth and the Watch will begin to search for nearby devices. Select the accessory from the resulting list, and complete the setup using a passcode if one is required. To forget a device, tap the “i” in the list of Bluetooth devices under the Settings menu, and tap Forget.

How to use nightstand Mode

You may already know about this feature given it was heavily publicized after the release of WatchOS 2, but did you know it needs to be activated before it works? Nightstand mode showcases the Apple Watch’s display in landscape mode, so can see the time, date, and alarm settings when the watch is charging.

To activate the feature, launch Settings on your Watch, go to General, and toggle the switch beside Nightstand Mode. Keep in mind that, for Nightstand Mode to work, your Watch needs to be charging and placed on its side. The Digital Crown should be placed face up, as it’s used for activating snooze when the alarm sounds.

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