HTC will announce its next flagship phone on April 12
HTC will unveil its next flagship phone on April 12.
The company teased the new device — rumored to be called the HTC 10 — ahead of Mobile World Congress. On Tuesday, HTC sent out invites for the April 12 unveiling.
The announcement comes a week after HTC hinted at new cameras for the phone.
As for the device itself, we have a pretty good idea of what it will look like — and of its specs, thanks to numerous online leaks.
The phone is reported to have a quad-HD display, Samsung 820 processor, Adreno 530 graphics chip, 5GB of RAM, a 12-megapixel rear camera and a USB Type-C connector.
We'll find out more on April 12.
This smart umbrella will tell you when it's going to rain before it starts
Tired of leaving your apartment only to find it starts raining minutes later? Or are you always buying umbrellas and leaving them under tables in bars? There's a new umbrella that could solve both of those problems.
Oombrella, a smart brolly from Paris-based Wezzoo, launched a campaign on Kickstarter Thursday to bring the clever gadget to life.
The team behind it claims the umbrella will notify you via an app on your smartphone if it's going to rain in the next 15 minutes as well as let you know on your phone if you've left it behind.
The product also collects weather data on the go — such as temperature, pressure and light — and has a screw thread on top if you want to attach a GoPro.
Designed to be robust in windy conditions, the Oombrella has ribs made from kevlar, which the company says can withstand rainstorms, snowstorms or even hailstorms. It also has a waterproof, ergonomic handle and a UV-resistant canopy.
For people who already have a favorite umbrella, Oombrella is also launching a sensor-packed capsule that attaches to any "dumb" umbrella, turning it into a smart brolly.
As umbrellas go, these are not cheap. A super-early-bird offer will set you back €59 ($66), while the capsule-only option is €29 ($32). There are three designs to pick from: white, black or shiny.
At the time of writing, the project, which is the first from Wezzoo on Kickstarter, had €15,478 ($17,458) of its €59,000 ($66,547) goal, with 32 days to go.
Last month, umbrella company Davek launched its Davek Alert Umbrella (after a successful Kickstarter campaign a year ago). Priced at $125, it has a Bluetooth chip, which notifies you before you leave your umbrella behind.
Samsung's new headphones for VR trick your brain into 'feeling' motion
AUSTIN, Texas — Samsung's latest virtual reality accessory makes VR way more realistic. The company is showing off new headphones at South by Southwest that tricks your brain into feeling like you're moving, even when you're standing completely still.
It's called the Entrim 4D headset, a newly unveiled project out of the company's C-lab innovation program, and it's dizzyingly realistic.
The Entrim, which works with Samsung's Gear VR headset, doesn't look that much different than any other pair of headphones, besides being a bit bulkier. But inside, the headset is sending motion signals to your brain via your inner ear so you feel like you're moving with the images you're experiencing in virtual reality.
It sounds gimmicky, but the technique is surprisingly effective. I felt the difference the minute I put the headphones on — even before I picked up the Gear VR. In fact, this was the most unsettling part of my entire demo. The headphones don't provide vibrations or any type of physical feedback so they don't physically feel different than any other type of headphones. Yet the motion effects were instantly unsettling — like having the spins after a night of drinking.
Luckily, the effect was much better once I started the demo, which was a first person view of driving around a race track. The demo switched between turning the motion effects on and off and the difference was dramatic. When the effects were on, I found that not only did it feel more realistic, I was far better at steering myself around the track.
I also tried a demo where I was on a rollercoaster but the effect, surprisingly, wasn't as dramatic since it was a first person view of watching others on a rollercoaster, rather than a first person view of actually riding it.
Of course, it's still somewhat of an experiment so it's not clear when, or even if, the Entrim 4D will be released as an official accessory. Samsung says that the technology could help alleviate the nausea and dizziness some people experience in VR and the company is also working on a way to add "rotational motion."
The FBI might be able to hack an iPhone without Apple's help after all
The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday moved to postpone Tuesday's showdown with Apple in a federal district court, saying the FBI might have discovered a new way to hack into an iPhone even as officials were trying to force Apple to do it for them.
Investigators want to break into an iPhone that was used by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the San Bernardino, California, attacks that killed 14 people in December.
In a court document filed on Monday, the government says that "an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking Farook’s iPhone. Testing is required to determine whether it is a viable method that will not compromise data on Farook’s iPhone. If the method is viable, it should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple."
The government asked that Tuesday's hearing be vacated and promised to file a status report with the court by April 5.
Apple did not oppose the order and the judge in the case granted it.
There was no indication of who the "outside party" might be, but prosecutors said the FBI learned of the new technique only on Sunday. The government then contacted Apple on Monday afternoon — just hours after Apple had finished demonstrating the newest iPhone model at an event led by CEO Tim Cook.
At that very event, Cook addressed the company's fight with the FBI, saying that he believed it was Apple's responsibility to protect its customers' privacy. "We will not shrink from our responsibility," he said.
An embarrassment for the government
This request for a continuance can only be seen as an embarrassment for the government. For more than a month, the government has argued in its filings and in the declarations of FBI officials that "Apple has the exclusive technical means which would assist the government in completing its search."
In a congressional hearing before the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month, FBI Director James Comey reiterated the government's position that only Apple could give it access to the iPhone in this case.
When questioned about how much research and investigation the FBI had done on the iPhone, Comey stated, "we have engaged all parts of the U.S. government to see does anybody have a way, short of asking Apple to do it, with a 5C running iOS 9 — to do this, and we do not."
In its assorted filings, the government has claimed that "only Apple" could provide the access that it needs no less than 14 times. In its assorted filings, the government has claimed that "only Apple" could provide the access that it needs no less than 14 times.
And yet less than 48 hours before the hearing over the issue was to take place, the government says a third party has come forward. And although the nature of the third party and the method of getting into the phone hasn't been revealed, on a call with the press, a law enforcement official said that the government was "cautiously optimistic" that this method would allow it to access the contents of Farook's phone without harming any of its data.
So what has changed? Law enforcement officials say that the "worldwide publicity" of the case has brought other parties forward — and that may be true. Still, it undermines many of the declarations made by the government and FBI officials. It also presents challenges for future government requests to access an iPhone.
In a statement, ACLU attorney Alex Abdo, said, “this suggests that the FBI either doesn't understand the technology well enough or wasn't telling us the full truth earlier when it said that only Apple could break into the phone. Either possibility is disconcerting.”
The method of accessing the phone is unclear
The Department of Justice would not comment on the nature of the outside party or the method in which it claimed it could provide access for the phone. On a call with reporters, attorneys for Apple were also unaware of the method in which the phone software could be bypassed.
In the days after the FBI filed its first motion to compel Apple to assist in the unlocking of the phone, security experts openly questioned whether or not a 0-day vulnerability in iOS 9 may allow access without Apple's assistance. Although Apple could not comment on whether that was true, its lawyers admitted it was not out of the realm of possibility that there was a security vulnerability in the version of iOS 9 running on Farook's iPhone that could allow someone else to access it, without Apple's involvement.
An attorney for Apple said that in the event that the government wants to proceed with the case, Apple would want to talk to the outside party claiming to offer access to the phone, to see if it is something that would be feasible or not.
Of course, if the government drops the case — assuming it can gain access without Apple's assistance — Apple may not have the opportunity to get information about the method that is used.
And that, of course, raises different questions about the overall security of Apple's products. For its part, Apple maintains that it is in "an arms race with the most nefarious, smartest and most cunning criminals" who are always looking for vulnerabilities in its products.
Broad implications at work
Apple and the Justice Department have been arguing for weeks over whether the FBI can compel Apple to create a new version of iOS to circumvent the encryption on the iPhone.
The FBI wants Apple to create the software so it can guess the shooter's password without being locked out and says it would be a one-time deal. Apple is refusing to do so as it claims such software could jeopardize the protections of other people's iPhones.
The case has set up a classic battle between national security and digital privacy, but if the FBI is able to hack the iPhone without Apple's assistance, it may allow the two sides to sidestep the broader issues at play — at least for now.
Monday's Apple event wasn't the most interesting because it had bigger things on its mind
interview earlier last month with ABC News, Tim Cook admitted that this battle has been one of the hardest he has faced as Apple's CEO.
After all, the case has put the company at odds with the government and presents very real PR challenges. The company is clearly uncomfortable in the position it is in now. "We did not expect to be in this position, at odds with our own government," Tim Cook said at the event.
But what can you do? The show must go on.
The show went on, but with less of a bang
And the show did go on. Apple showed off its latest products. It dazzled the crowd with LIAM, a 29-armed robot that helps with the company's environmental efforts.
But even that initiative, which has clearly been in the works before the FBI case, had an intersting tone.
Ahead of the hearing, Apple was taking the opportunity to show off a project that illustrates its commitment to the environment and sustainability.
Apple also spent a considerable amount of time focused on Research Kit and its new Care Kit framework for improving healthcare.
I'm certainly not questioning Apple's commitments to these issues — it's something the company has focused on very clearly for several years.
But it probably didn't hurt that the overall message from the event was less about the products and more about a broader message of the core values the company wants the public to associate with it.
It almost seemed as if the company was saying, "there are things more important than new gadgets" — highlight privacy, the environment and health research as some of them.
Of course, that stuff isn't necessarily sexy. Especially for tech geeks.
A post-event reprieve
On Tuesday, Apples was supposed to face off against the U.S. Department of Justice before a Judge in the Central District of California. But less than 24 hours before the hearing was scheduled — about 45 minutes after Apple's product event ended — the Department of Justice filed a motion to postpone the hearing.
Apple didn't object and the judge agreed. Whether or not the case continues will depend on whether an outside party that offered the FBI assistance can successfully get into the iPhone belonging to the gunman.
Now, the case is not over — not by a longshot. The Department of Justice has until April 5 to file a status update with the court. If the outside party cannot provide access to the shooter's iPhone, Apple could wind up back in court fighting the same battle it was supposed to fight Tuesday.
Moreover, the overriding issue at stake in the San Bernardino case is not going to go away. The government is also seeking Apple's assistance in a similar but unrelated case in New York. In that case, one judge has already ruled in Apple's favor but the prosecutor has appealed to a higher court judge.
And this issue over whether the government can compel private companies to offer backdoors to its products in the name of national security is going to be something we discuss long after the public forgets about the newest features in the 4-inch iPhone.
Still one for the books
It's for all of those reasons that I still think this will be one of Apple's most memorable keynotes. It's just we won't think about the products Apple announced — but the circumstances that surrounded that announcement.
For me, Monday's event was a look at how one of the world's most powerful companies presents new products to the public against a backdrop of a fierce debate of security, privacy and public policy.
So no. Maybe the products Apple launched weren't that interesting. But the circumstances in which they were launched sure were.
BMW's concept car is a shape shifting, danger-sensing chariot of the future
In celebration of its 100th anniversary, BMW has unveiled a stunning concept car called the Vision Vehicle that looks as futuristic as its name suggests.
Unlike some concept vehicles of the past, the Vision Vehicle doesn't look that unrealistic compared to cars on the road today. In this case, the concept car's wonders are a bit more subtle.
For example, the car features what BMW calls "materials of the future," which gives the car a kind of shape shifting look by allowing its wheels to seamlessly move as part of the main chassis. Inside, the steering wheel is refashioned as a thin rectangle with handles that retracts into the dashboard when the car takes over the driving.
BMW concept
The demonstration video also shows off the vehicle's "Boost" and "Ease" modes, which shift the car into self-driving and human driver assist modes, respectively.
Another feature called Alive Geometry alerts the driver of upcoming potential road hazards, both static and moving (like a cyclist crossing your path), by layering an augmented reality display on the windshield. Alerts are created through — and we're quoting BMW here, since this sounds like science fiction — "preconscious communication, where an intuitive signal predicts an imminent real-time event."
Although there are no plans (at the moment) to sell the car, BMW has created an incredibly detailed site devoted to the vehicle featuring a number of interactive displays and breakdowns of how it works.
The vehicle will tour the world as a public display, visiting China in May, London in June and the U.S. in October.
That was fast: Ford is reportedly preparing an all-new Mustang for 2020
Can't wait for the next Mustang? Well, you might not have to sit on your hands for long. Its production has reportedly been pushed up by two years.
The current all-new Mustang went on sale just last year. But according to a report from a group of accountants and consultants called UHY Hacker Young, Ford has pushed the all-new Mustang up from 2022 to 2020.
Spotted Thursday morning by the eagle eyes at MustangG6, page 15 of the UHY Automotive Industry Forecast report states: "Program code for the next‐generation Mustang (S550(ng)) has been changed to S650 and the SOP has been shifted back from January 2022 to May 2020. Subsequently, the EOP for the S550 has been moved to April 2020."
If you're wondering, SOP stands for "start of production" and EOP stands for "end of production." That means the current Mustang will end — according to UYH — in April 2020 and the next-gen Mustang will begin in May 2020.
If you're wondering why Ford would want to put the pedal to the metal on the Mustang production schedule, it might be because the iconic pony car isn't enjoying the sales dominance it once had over the Chevy Camaro. Or perhaps Ford just has a bunch of great new ideas for the 'Stang.
Either way, it's nice to know that its not being put out to pasture anytime soon.
Amazon removed encryption from the latest version of Fire OS
Amazon has removed device encryption from Fire OS version 5. This means that devices such as the Fire Phone, Amazon Fire HD, and Kindle Fire tablets will no longer support device encryption, after being updated to Fire OS 5.
Amazon's decision to remove onboard encryption isn't new; Amazon actually dropped the feature from Fire OS 5 back in the fall. As The Verge points out, a member of Amazon's customer forum noticed the feature was disabled back in February.
Amazon Fire devices that shipped with Fire OS 5 did not ship with encryption support. Users with older devices that had encryption enabled can choose to stay on Fire OS 4 if they want the additional protection.
In a statement, Amazon told Mashable, "In the fall when we released Fire OS 5, we removed some enterprise features that we found customers weren't using." Amazon added that, "all Fire tablets' communication with Amazon's cloud meet our high standards for privacy and security including appropriate use of encryption."
Amazon is still encrypting the way it sends data from its devices to its servers, but the data on the devices themselves are no longer encrypted.
Still, it does seem strange that Amazon would remove device-side encryption, even if the feature was rarely used. The timing of this removal is not related to the ongoing encryption battle between Apple and the FBI — but the issues raised in that case do underscore why many tech watchers are upset about this change.
Nathan White from Access Now — an organization committed to defending digital rights — told Wired that, "Amazon's decision is backward — it not only moves away from default device encryption, where other manufacturers are headed, but removes all choice by the end user to decide to encrypt it after purchase."
And it is true that removing device encryption is ultimately not great for consumers. Now, from what Amazon was saying (and based on how long it took anyone to figure out support for the feature was dropped), it doesn't look like a lot of users were using it anyway. But that's not really the point.
Ultimately, as we see more manufacturers and operating systems moving toward encryption by default, seeing any company take the option away is a bad thing.
Smart Brita pitcher tracks your water intake and orders its own filter replacements
Now that almost everything in our lives has a smart variant, from our watches to our refrigerators, why not add water pitchers to that list?
Brita has teamed up with Amazon to create the very first smart pitcher, the Brita Infinity Pitcher. The pitcher tracks the amount of water that passes through its filter and automatically orders a new filter on Amazon for delivery when it gets close to its pour limit.
The pitcher connects to your home Wi-Fi and utilizes Amazon’s Dash Replenishment feature to order a new filter after filtering 40 gallons of water.
You’ll have to sign up for Amazon Dash Replenishment to utilize the smart capabilities of the Brita Infinity Pitcher. If you want to delay your purchase or change your order in any way, you can manage orders and deliveries online at any time.
The Brita Infinity Pitcher costs $44.99 and holds 8 cups of water, which means you can refill it 80 times before needing a filter replacement. The filters cost $5.99 each.