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21
Jul

DARPA’s latest endeavor is a tiny robotics challenge called the SHRIMP Olympics


DARPA

With an invention history that can claim a pioneering role in the development of the internet, Siri, GPS and other world-changing inventions, the U.S. government agency known as DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has always thought big. Until now, at least. With its new SHRIMP program, DARPA is suddenly thinking very small indeed — and that’s really exciting.

The SHRIMP program — short for SHort-Range Independent Microrobotic Platforms — is an effort to develop new insect-scale robots for operating in environments where much larger robots may be less effective. In the tradition of its DARPA Grand Challenges, the organization is seeking proposals for suitable robots, in this case ones that weigh less than a gram and are smaller than one cubic centimeter. The selected micro-bots will then compete against one another in a “series of Olympic-themed competitions,” including categories like rock piling, steeplechase, vertical ascent, shot put, weightlifting and more.

“Overall, this program is seeking innovations in actuator materials, actuator mechanisms, and compact power systems to enable untethered mm-to-cm scale robotics,” Dr. Ronald Polcawich, the DARPA program manager who is leading SHRIMP, told Digital Trends. “The competition at the end of Phase 3 of the program, which is slated for the 2021 time frame, serves as a way of evaluating the technologies to be developed within the program.”

The hope is to develop tools which can be used in fields like emergency search and rescue, disaster relief, and hazardous environment inspection. The foundational research could also be used for things like steerable optics and prosthetics. With these kinds of serious goals in mind, DARPA is investing some serious cash in this initiative. In total, it’s spending $32 million in funding, which will be spread across the various projects falling under the SHRIMP banner.

“The DoD (Department of Defense) has interests in robotics of all scales,” Polcawich continued. “The development of small-scale robots requires addressing several unique challenges, especially in the area of extreme size and weight constraints that can be less of a priority for robots of other scales. In particular, SHRIMP is focused on innovations in both actuator materials and compact power systems, which have been highlighted as limiting the current performance in existing research activities in mm-to-cm scale robots.”



21
Jul

Facebook suspends data firm claiming access to 1 trillion conversations


Facebook may have another Cambridge Analytica on its hands, and the company is taking an unusually proactive step to contain what could potentially be another large privacy scandal. On Friday, July 20, the social network said it is suspending Boston-based Crimson Hexagon, a data analytics firm that claims to have more than 1 trillion consumer conversations aggregated from social media, forums, blogs, reviews, and other online sources. Crimson Hexagon counts government agencies from the United States, Turkey, and Russia among its clients with the purpose of helping organizations monitor public sentiment.

While Facebook found no wrongdoing by Crimson Hexagon, the company’s access to data from Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram was temporarily shut down pending further investigation. “Facebook Inc. said Friday it was suspending an analytics firm while it investigates whether that firm’s government contracts violate the social-media giant’s policies on how its public data is collected and shared,” The Wall Street Journal reported. Unlike the now-defunct political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which collected private profile data from more than 87 million Facebook users, Crimson Hexagon claims it merely pulls readily available information from public profiles. Even though Facebook has found no evidence of improper data collection, the company is investigating Crimson Hexagon’s policies on how data is collected, stored, and shared.

“We don’t allow developers to build surveillance tools using information from Facebook or Instagram,” Facebook said in a statement. “We take these allegations seriously, and we have suspended these apps while we investigate.”

For its part, Crimson Hexagon chief technology officer Chris Bingham said that it is fully cooperating with the investigation. In a blog post, Bingham said that Crimson Hexagon “routinely vets all potential government customers that inquire about the platform and will decline potential customers with use cases that would violate policies of our data partners, like Twitter. Each government customer must contractually commit, in writing, to the detailed use cases that they will be pursuing on the platform.” Moreover, Bingham claims that no private data is collected as part of the company’s practice and that the collected data could only be used for specifically approved purposes. The company denies that it is helping with any government surveillance program.

This is not the first time that Facebook has been embroiled in controversy surrounding surveillance. In 2016, Facebook, along with Instagram and Twitter, shared public data with a startup that helped law enforcement monitor and track protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, The Washington Post reported. After those incidents, Facebook revised its policy to prohibit partners from using data on its network for surveillance purposes. And following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has been under investigation in the U.S., U.K., and European Union, forcing the company to take a more consumer-friendly approach to privacy.

In addition to its government clients, other customers of Crimson Hexagon’s data analytics include Paramount Pictures, Adidas, General Motors, Twitter, and General Mills. The company was founded by Harvard University professor Gary King.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Despite promising to stop sharing your data, Facebook continues to do so
  • Another Facebook privacy scandal — 3 million users’ data exposed by quiz
  • Facebook bans 200 apps following audit as Cambridge Analytica scandal grows
  • You’ll never read Facebook’s new data policy, so we did it for you
  • Apple quietly bans developers from selling your contacts’ data



21
Jul

This solar panel rolls up like a scroll when it isn’t charging your gadgets



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Small, portable solar panels have been a popular option for those wanting to keep their gadgets charged while traveling or backpacking. The problem with most of the solar-charging solutions that are currently available is that they tend to be big, bulky, and difficult to carry in a backpack. They’re often not all that efficient, offering theoretical charging times that are rarely achieved in the real world. But a new solar charging solution promises better results by using a clever design that allows it to take up less room in your pack while still offering plenty of juice to keep your gadgets functioning on the trail.

The Soul Solar Scroll launched on Kickstarter earlier this week and has already garnered nearly half the funding required to get it into production — and one look at its technical specifications and design makes it easy to understand why. The Solar Scroll is built to function as a lightweight, easy-to-carry charging solution for keeping mobile devices powered while on the go. It comes armed with a 5,400 mAh battery and a quick-charging USB port. Those features alone are enough to recharge a smartphone one or two times or a set of wireless headphones as many as 10 times.

But there are a lot of mobile charging solutions on the market today, some of which even come with built-in solar panels. What separates the Solar Scroll from the competition is that its solar panel is made of a very thin, flexible, and lightweight photovoltaic material that can be spread out to collect energy from the sun. When not in use, the solar panel can be rolled up – like a scroll – into the device’s housing, making it easy to carry with you wherever you go. Soul claims that the Solar Scroll is capable of producing as much as 5 watts of energy, which is enough to recharge its internal battery pack in as little as 5 or 6 hours using the sun alone. It can also be charged in just 2 to 3 hours if plugged into a wall outlet.

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In its most compact state, the Solar Scroll is just 7.5 inches thick and 1.5 inches in diameter. It also weighs just 10.5 ounces, making it an ideal option for frequent travelers, hikers, or backpackers who need to keep their mobile devices charged while on the go. The battery is also reportedly good for more than a thousand cycles, which means you won’t have to replace it anytime soon.

The designers of the Solar Scroll are hoping to raise $30,000 to turn their innovative idea into an actual product. If successful, they hope to start shipping the charger in November of this year for $150. Early bird supporters can reserve one now for as little as $99 however, although it is important to realize the risks associated with backing any crowdfunding campaign.

Find out more on the Soul Solar Scroll website or Kickstarter page.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • The best solar chargers for your phone, tablet, and other battery-powered gear
  • The best portable power stations
  • Omnicharge makes compact battery packs to power all of your outdoor adventures
  • Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Laptop screen extenders and self-healing tents
  • The best portable chargers



21
Jul

Asus ZenBook S vs. Dell XPS 13


Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

After years of Windows manufacturers striving to create viable notebook challengers to the extremely thin and light Apple MacBook, they’ve finally succeeded. Today, you can find some excellent Windows 10 notebooks that are both small and superior, offering great performance, build quality, and battery life without compromise.

The Dell XPS 13 is one of the best examples, and it’s been our favorite 13-inch notebook for some time now. Asus just recently introduced its newest competitor, the ZenBook S, which hopes to leverage some innovative technology to take on the class leader. Can the ZenBook S dethrone the XPS 13?

Design

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Dell’s XPS 13 received a significant update in early 2018, shaving off some millimeters from both the bezels and the chassis. The result? It’s now pretty much the smallest 13.3-inch notebook around, and thanks to some new materials — like Gore insulation — it still manages to perform without melting down.

It’s also a great looking design, with a new white and rose gold color scheme that adds some style to an otherwise conservative look. The new version uses a woven texture material in the palmrests and keyboard deck that offers a luxuriant feel.

The Asus ZenBook S is the company’s newest thin and light notebook, and it’s a chip off the same block in its aesthetics. It sports that usual ZenBook concentric swirls and dark blue color scheme — Burgundy Red is also an option — in an all-aluminum build that Asus subjected to MIL-STD-810G testing for durability. It shows, with a chassis that’s nearly impervious to bends and twists.

Asus also took a different tack than Dell to keep heat away from your skin. Where the XPS 13 uses the aforementioned Gore insulation, the ZenBook S simply props the keyboard up at a 5.5 degree angle with its ErgoLift hinge, and it works as intended.

Both notebooks offer relatively shallow keyboards that still manage to provide snappy, precise typing experiences, along with Microsoft Precision touchpads that work as well as any you’ll find on a Windows notebook. And both machines use accurate fingerprint readers for Windows 10 Hello support, although the XPS 13 can also log you in via facial recognition.

Overall, we found the ZenBook S to have a slightly favorable build, keyboard, and overall aesthetic.

Performance

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Both the XPS 13 and the ZenBook S can be equipped with fast and efficient 8th-generation Intel Core CPUs. Unsurprisingly, they both provided acceptable performance. We tested both with the Core i7-8550U, and the XPS 13 managed to keep its processor running at full speed for longer than the Asus in our video encoding test thanks to its better thermals. Because of their fast PCIe solid-state drives (SSDs), though, these two tiny notebooks were both storage speedsters that can feed the system with data at a fast clip.

We tested the ZenBook S with its 4K UHD display (3,840 x 2,160 or 331 PPI), and we found it offers average color gamut for premium notebooks today — which is to say, good but not great. Dell equipped with XPS 13 with a 4K UHD option that offers a wider color gamut than the ZenBook S but slightly less contrast. Both are excellent displays, perfect for Netflix-watching and for displaying sharp text and graphics.

You can configure either notebook with a Full HD display (1,920 x 1,080 or 167 PPI) as well, although Asus offers this display only with a lesser Core i5-8250U CPU. Meanwhile, Dell drops the touch display on the lower resolution panel.

Portability

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Dell XPS 13 is a thin notebook at 0.45 inches — and thanks to its ultra-thin bezels, it’s also diminutive in its other dimensions. In fact, it’s the smallest 13.3-inch notebook on the market if you consider its depth and width. It’s a dense little notebook, though, coming in at 2.68 pounds — that’s not exactly heavy, but it’s not as light as some other thin-and-light machines.

For example, the ZenBook S comes in at 2.2 pounds, which is considerably lighter. However, its bezels are a bit bigger in all dimensions — although it keeps the webcam above the display, unlike the XPS 13 with its up-the-nose videoconferencing — and it’s not as thin at 0.51 inches. It’s quibbling at this point, but all of that makes the Asus just slightly less tiny.

Where the XPS 13 wins out, though, is in battery life. In all of our tests, including an aggressive web benchmark, web browsing, and looping a local video, the Dell lasted considerably longer than the Asus. That’s thanks to a slightly larger battery but also some efficiency magic on Dell’s part.

You won’t mind slipping either of these thin and light notebooks in your backpack, but you’ll be less tempted to carry your power adapter along if you’re toting the XPS 13 around with you.

Dell’s XPS 13 retains its top spot

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Dell has priced the XPS 13 at an extra premium, coming in at $2,100 for a Core i7-855oU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a 4K display. You can go as low as $1,000 for a Core i5-8250U, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and a Full HD non-touch display, with several options that let you mix and match processors, RAM, storage, and displays.

Asus is more limited in its configurations. You can choose our review setup, a Core i7-8550U, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a 4K display for $1,500. Or you can select a Core i5-8250U, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a Full HD display for $1,200. We do wish that Asus would offer more options, such as its faster configuration with a more battery-friendly display.

In the end, we liked both of the notebooks quite a lot, and we consider them among the best little notebooks money can buy. The Dell XPS 13 wins out, though, for providing better performance and better battery life in such a tiny chassis.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Razer Blade Stealth vs. Dell XPS 13
  • Dell XPS 13 vs. MacBook Pro 13
  • Dell XPS 13 9370 review
  • The best Dell laptops
  • Razer Blade Stealth (2018) review



21
Jul

How to back up and restore your WhatsApp messages with Google Drive


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Wanna hold on to all of your WhatsApp messages? Save ’em! Switching phones? Take ’em with you!

Maybe you like to use WhatsApp for work because it’s free and easy to use. Maybe it’s just a convenient way to keep in touch with friends. Either way, you probably have some pretty important messages and media in there, and it’d be a shame if it all suddenly disappeared. That’s why it’s a great idea to back up your messages, photos, and videos.

  • Backing up between Android and iPhone
  • How to backup your WhatsApp chats to Google Drive
  • How to restore WhatsApp chats from a Google Drive backup
  • How to move your WhatsApp messages to a new phone using Google Drive

Backing up between Android and iPhone

If you’re planning on switching from Android to iPhone and want to take your WhatsApp messages with you, you’re out of luck. When you back up WhatsApp on your Android phone, you back up to Google Drive. The Android WhatsApp app uses Google Drive to back up and restore. The iOS app uses iCloud to do both of those.

Even if you have the iOS Google Drive app, you still won’t be able to restore your Android WhatsApp files. The iOS WhatsApp will only communicate with iCloud.

How to backup your WhatsApp chats to Google Drive

Luckily, WhatsApp automatically backs up and saves your messages to your phone’s memory on a daily basis. However, depending on your settings, you can also backup your chats to Google Drive. This way, just in case you have to delete WhatsApp from your phone, your messages will be safe. Just be sure to back things up before you uninstall the app.

Google Drive is a great way to backup all your WhatsApp messages. You can switch from Android phone to Android phone and you’ll be able to have your messages and media follow you wherever you go. It’s also a bit of extra insurance in case WhatsApp decides to one day crash beyond repair and you end up having to uninstall and reinstall it. Here’s how to backup with Google Drive:

Launch WhatsApp from your Home screen or from the app drawer.
Tap the menu icon on the top right of the screen. It’s the three vertical dots.
Tap Settings.

Tap Chats.

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Tap Chat backup.
Tap Google Drive settings to choose the frequency with which you’d like to backup your chats.
Tap Account.
Tap the account you would like associated with the backup.

  • Tap an account in the list
  • Tap Add account to add an account not found on the list or to create a new one.

Tap Allow.

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Tap Back up over.

  • Tap the circle next to “Wi-Fi” to backup over Wi-Fi only.
  • Tap the circle next to Wi-Fi or cellular to backup via Wi-Fi or wireless data, keeping in mind that you could accrue data charges.

Tap the box next to “Include videos” to backup video messages.
Tap Back Up to manually back your phone up now.

Now that everything’s backed up, you’ll be able to restore your chats every time you reinstall WhatsApp, no matter the device. Note that whenever you back up to Google Drive, WhatsApp also backs up to your phone’s internal memory as well, which means it’ll take up some space. If you have a preinstalled file managing app, or one like ES File Explorer, you’ll be able to go in and make room if you need to.

It may be prudent to plug your phone in when backing up, as the first backup could take a while, depending on the sizes of your chats. The nice thing is that every backup you perform after the first one will be incremental, which means it will add to the current backup, instead of erasing everything and starting again or adding an entire backup over the old one, taking

How to restore WhatsApp chats from a Google Drive backup

Everything’s backed up. Great! You’ve changed phones or have had to reinstall WhatsApp. Not so great. Now how do you get all your chats back? Here’s how!

Launch WhatsApp from your Home screen or from the app drawer.
Verify your phone number when prompted.
Tap Restore.

Tap Next when the restoration is complete.

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Set up your profile just like you did the first time.
Tap Next at the top right of the screen.

Tap Continue.

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Now you can access your WhatsApp chats on any Android phone that has WhatsApp installed. All you have to do is sign in.

How to move your WhatsApp messages to a new phone using Google Drive

You’re wading through the jungle in Borneo. Of course, you’re using WhatsApp to keep in touch with family and friends back home because hey, it’s free. Suddenly, an orangutan swoops in, grabs your phone, and crushes it into dust between its able hands.

No worries! You’ve already followed the steps above and are properly backing up your WhatsApp chats to Google Drive, so all you have to do is grab a new phone and move all your chats over. Confused? Don’t be! Here’s how:

Add the same Google account to your new phone that you used to perform the backup on your old phone.
Install WhatsApp on your new device as you did on the previous one.
Launch WhatsApp from your Home screen or from the app drawer.
Tap Agree and continue.

Verify your phone number, just like you did the first time you set up WhatsApp.

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Tap Restore to restore your WhatsApp chats from your Google Drive backup.

Tap Next.

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And away you go! Your WhatsApp on your new phone is just like it was on your old phone. Thanks, Google Drive!

Note: This process isn’t entirely foolproof and may not work every time. You may have to uninstall WhatsApp and reinstall it a couple times for the restore to take effect. If there are messages you really want to save, you may want to copy them to a computer or some other device to make sure you have them forever. Also beware that continually reinstalling WhatsApp may result in a temporary ban, since your phone number has been recognized. In short, WhatsApp can be just a little fickle.

If you’d rather not bother with Google Drive, you can always save your chats to an SD card and transfer them that way. This is a rather complicated process, since you can’t just simply move WhatsApp from your phone’s internal memory to an external SD card; you can only move its data. So, when we say it’s a complicated process, we mean it’s more like a migraine, and we don’t recommend it if you can avoid it. However, if you must, check out WhatsApp’s “Restoring or transferring a backup” instructions.

Updated July 2018: Added a section regarding backing up and restoring between iOS and Android and updated screenshots.

21
Jul

Micro-aggressions and Veiled Threats [#acpodcast]


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Daniel Bader, Jerry Hildenbrand, and Russell Holly are joined by Marton Barcza of TechAltar to talk about Google’s Fuchsia OS and its potential for replacing Android. They also have an in-depth discussion about the EU’s Antitrust case against Google and the $5 billion fine levied against them. The ruling may be just, but it could be argued that the outcomes will negatively affect consumers.

Listen now

  • Subscribe in iTunes: Audio
  • Subscribe in RSS: Audio
  • Download directly: Audio

Show Notes and Links:

  • @TechAltar on Twitter
  • TechAltar YouTube channel
  • Google’s Fuchsia OS may replace Android in 5 years
  • Or not
  • Google Assistant just got proactive — and a lot more useful
  • Google defends Android following $5 billion fine from European Commission
  • The EU Antitrust case against Android sucks for everyone, especially you

Sponsors:

  • Thrifter.com: All the best deals from Amazon, Best Buy, and more, fussily curated and constantly updated.

21
Jul

How to Use iOS 12’s New Do Not Disturb Options


In iOS 12, Apple has given users the tools to cut down on disturbances to get more time away from their devices if desired, and one of these new tools is an expanded set of Do Not Disturb options.

Thanks to these changes, there are more convenient options for using Do Not Disturb in iOS 12, and it’s also a lot smarter.

How to Get to the New Do Not Disturb Options

Your Do Not Disturb options in the Settings app are largely the same, with the new Do Not Disturb features housed in Control Center.

Open Control Center, through a right-side swipe downwards on the screen of an iPhone X or iPad or by swiping upwards from the Home button on other devices.
3D Touch or long press on the Control Center icon that looks like a moon, which is the icon for Do Not Disturb.
A 3D Touch or a long press brings up all of the Do Not Disturb options, which can be selected with a tap.
Do Not Disturb is a default widget within the Control Center and it’s always available, so it’s not an option that needs to be enabled through the Control Center customization options.

All of the Ways You Can Use Do Not Disturb in iOS 12

There are multiple new limited-time settings for Do Not Disturb in the Control Center, which automatically turn off after the specified time elapses.

  • For one hour
  • Until this evening (or afternoon/morning depending on the time – it’s generally a few hours)
  • Until I leave this location
  • Until this event ends (if you have a timed event set in your calendar)
  • A single tap on the icon without selecting an option turns on Do Not Disturb until you tap it again.

Not all of these options will be visible at all times. If you’re not in a set location or you don’t have any events scheduled, these two options won’t appear. The first two, allowing you to set Do Not Disturb for an hour or until the evening/afternoon/morning are always available.

Underneath these options, there’s a “Schedule” button (see screenshot at top) that will open up the Settings app so you can set a specific time period for when you want Do Not Disturb to turn on. This is also where you can turn on Do Not Disturb at Bedtime, a feature that prevents notifications from displaying on the iPhone’s display at night.

Check out our Do Not Disturb at Bedtime how to for more details on this feature.

Managing Do Not Disturb Settings

Your general Do Not Disturb settings are available in the Settings app, which can be accessed by going to Settings > Do Not Disturb or through the above mentioned “Schedule” section of the No Not Disturb Control Center widget.

Most of these settings aren’t new, but we thought it would be useful to offer a quick primer on Do Not Disturb’s other settings alongside what’s new in iOS 12.


In the Settings app, you can enable or disable Do Not Disturb, set a specific time for Do Not Disturb to turn on and off, or enable Bedtime Mode.

You can also choose whether Do Not Disturb should mute calls and notifications only while the iPhone is locked or at all times, and there are options to select whether calls from certain people should bypass your Do Not Disturb settings. This section is also where you’ll find your Do Not Disturb While Driving options.

Related Roundup: iOS 12
Discuss this article in our forums

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21
Jul

CARROT Weather Review: your forecast with a wicked sense of humor



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There is no shortage of apps to get your weather from these days. To truly stand out your app has to do more than provide the forecast with a clean layout. CARROT Weather was able to accomplish this with a twisted sense of humor. Offering all of us meatbags a beautiful weather app with plenty of snark.

CARROT Weather has been a popular app on iOS for years now offering your forecast with a wicked sense of humor. It has recently been ported to Android and is a welcomed addition. While most weather apps simply focus on giving you as many stats as possible and differ mainly by their layout or user interface CARROT Weather took a different approach.

It sought to combine your weather with a computer personality that mocks current events, the weather, and often insults you. This refreshing take on checking your weather turns a mundane daily habit into a fun activity. Whereas in the past you would simply check the weather out of necessity. Now, you find yourself opening up CARROT Weather in anticipation of what insult or quip about the weather the AI has for you.

A malevolent weather AI that knows its limits

Not everyone has the same warped sense of humor and CARROT Weather is aware of this. Giving you the option to change how aggressive of a personality it has ranging from friendly, snarky, homicidal, and finally overkill which includes profanity.

Heads up, you might want to turn off the speech synthesizer before enabling overkill. The AI also has no filter when it comes to politics either. Offering you options here as well including liberal, conservative, centrist, libertarian, communist, and apolitical.

While CARROT Weather’s claim to fame is its snarky humor, it also doesn’t hurt that the app itself has a simple, clean, beautiful design. The top is reserved for the most important weather info with a charming scene that changes depending on the weather and from day to night.

A tap will dismiss the humorous message and reveal more weather stats and below is a 24-hour timeline. Clicking any of the hours in the timeline will reveal more information for that time period, and below that is an 8-day forecast. Tapping on the bottom weekly section provides you with another view with slightly more information.

Not simply content to insult you or provide you with your weather, CARROT Weather also includes a game. Tapping the arrow in the top right corner allows you to play the Secret Locations game. In this game you are given hints to secret locations and pressing down on the map shows you how close or far you are. It can be strangely addicting, fun to play, and is another way CARROT Weather sets itself apart.

CARROT Weather game

 

Not all sunshine and rainbows

As fun as CARROT Weather is, it still has flaws and one of these is the subscription pay model. It is not uncommon for weather apps to serve ads with some providing the option to remove them with a fee or subscription. It’s always nice to have the option to pay to remove ads but I much prefer a one-time payment over the subscription model. Especially when it’s a $3.99 per year subscription or $0.99 per month.

In defense of the subscription model, the CARROT Weather developer says access to weather data is expensive and a one time fee would cause him to lose money meatbags. The subscription fee doesn’t just remove ads though. It also adds extra features such as a weather widget and time machine option to view weather in any location for the past 70 years.

Then there is the missing option to show the temperature in the status bar or weather in the notification tray. If you enjoy checking the weather radar then you’re out of luck here as well. No matter how much you pay or how much CARROT Weather makes you laugh, people who depend on these features will be unhappy.

Conclusion

When it comes down to it CARROT Weather isn’t the most informative weather app out there but it is one of the most entertaining ways to get your weather. That is if you don’t mind being insulted and have a bit of a twisted sense of humor. However, if you don’t like ads, subscription plans, crave more stats and info, or the weather in your notification shade then CARROT Weather might be a pass for you.

Download: CARROT Weather for Android

21
Jul

Some Samsung phones aren’t alerting users of app background processes


Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Some Samsung phones are not listing Facebook apps in the App Permission Monitor, meaning users are not informed if those apps access certain permissions in the background.

Samsung’s App Permission Monitor is one of the headline features of Samsung’s implementation of Android 8.0 Oreo, and it works by notifying users when an app accesses resources, sensors, or permissions (like your phone’s camera or microphone) as a background process. In short, it keeps you informed as to what an app is doing when you might otherwise be unaware. Some users have noticed that certain apps are not appearing on the list of apps in App Permission Monitor — which means users won’t be alerted if those apps are accessing resources in the background.

According to one source, the issue seems to mainly affect apps from Facebook, with the main Facebook app, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram highlighted as being missing from certain users’ lists. We checked one of our Galaxy S8 units, and sure enough, Facebook wasn’t present on the App Permission Monitor list — but Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger all otherwise did appear on the list.

While this sounds suspect, there does seem to be a common link between those apps which are present and those which are not — whether or not the app was installed on the phone before sale. Facebook on our Galaxy S8 is not able to be uninstalled, only disabled, which usually means that this particular app was pre-installed on the Galaxy S8 when it arrived. Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp were all installed by a user, and so appear on the App Permission Monitor.

So does that mean that pre-installed Facebook apps have free rein to access anything on your phone? Not quite. Just because it’s not being monitored doesn’t mean it’s allowed access in the first place, and since Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Android has allowed users to pick and choose app permissions. If you’re worried about any app’s permissions, you can still head over to your Apps menu, select that app, and then tap Permissions to see what that app does and doesn’t have access to. Thankfully, this works regardless of whether an app was pre-installed or not.

If you want to check out your Samsung phone’s App Permission Monitor for yourself, you can find it by heading over to your Settings app, then hitting Lock screen and security > App permission monitor.

We have reached out to Samsung for comment, and will update if we hear back.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Apple is removing apps that overshare your location data with third parties
  • How to tell if someone is stealing your Wi-Fi
  • 8 tricky Samsung Galaxy S8 problems, and what to do about them
  • These are the best video chat apps to help you stay in touch
  • Report: Facebook gave other companies access to user data; FB disagrees



21
Jul

Prisons are fighting back against contraband-dropping drones. Here’s how


Remember those old prison movies where contraband got snuck into prison hidden in a birthday cake? It turns out that things have moved on a whole lot since then. Here in 2018, no self-respecting prisoner is worth their ill-advised neck tattoo if they don’t have a drone to smuggle weapons or narcotics into the prison yard. To defend against this misuse of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), prison technologies company Securus Technologies is employing a smart drone detection system, called AirWarden, which can help correctional officers better monitor drone traffic in the area of their prisons.

“The AeroDefense AirWarden system is an advanced drone and pilot detection system that identifies and classifies unauthorized drones operating in the vicinity of correctional facilities,” a representative for Securus Technologies told Digital Trends. “The system employs cutting-edge technology to detect all range of drones and pilot controllers using their radio frequency signals. By monitoring the radio frequency spectrum, the system is able to notify authorities of an unauthorized drone’s presence in real time via email, text or control room alerts.”

The delivery of contraband via drones is a major threat to both corrections staff and inmate safety. It’s so significant, in fact, that Bureau of Prisons’ acting director, Hugh Hurwitz, has labeled it the single biggest threat facing federal prison security today. AirWarden doesn’t blast drones out of the sky like Lockheed Martin’s UAV-obliterating laser or catch them with trained eagles like the ill-judged Netherlands initiative. Instead, the idea is that — once an unauthorized drone has been detected in a location — staff can then search that specific drop zone for any drugs, weapons, cell phones, cigarettes, or pornography which may have landed. They can also capture the drone pilot responsible for flying the vehicle.

“The technology is currently deployed by Securus Technologies at Georgia Department of Corrections facilities, with plans to expand to additional states in the coming year,” Securus’ representative continued. “The system is fully operational and was installed at facilities following the completion of extensive testing with government entities and many different drone types. AeroDefense also deploys the technology at non-prison facilities, including stadiums and other large public venues.”

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