Tesla hires Microsoft HoloLens Senior Designer Andrew Kim

Tesla has appointed a new Lead Designer, Andrew Kim. Kim used to be a Senior Designer for Microsoft, who has worked on the HoloLens. The hiring comes close on the heels of Tesla acquiring SolarCity, and Kim could be a part of the team designing SolarCity products, according to a report in Slash Gear. The LinkedIn profile of Kim confirms his new position at Tesla.

Kim was born in Seoul, Korea and raised in Vancouver, Canada. Apart from HoloLens, Kim had worked on the Xbox One S, confidential new products, and the Microsoft design language at Microsoft. Kim has also worked on Chrome UI and Chromebook concepts while interning at Google. Kim has also worked at Cisco and Frog. Kim graduated from the Art Center College of Design in California.In 2014, Kim was included in the Forbes list of 30 under 30, an annual tally of promising young talent. When he was a student, Kim proposed a concept design for re-branding Microsoft, which took the internet by storm. The design was posted on his blog, called Minimally Minimal, and called “The Next Microsoft“. Microsoft got in touch with Kim after he posted the designs, and hired him.

Samsung moves on from Note 7 fiasco but battery affiliate SDI is struggling

In the shadows of Samsung Electronics’ Note 7 smartphone crisis, affiliate Samsung SDI is quietly reassuring anxious clients including Apple Inc that its batteries are safe. But potential new customers may prove harder to convince as Samsung’s biggest in-house parts supplier grapples with the reputational fallout from the Note 7 debacle. Created as a joint venture with Japan’s NEC to make vacuum tubes in 1970, Samsung SDI’s TV and smartphone screens and batteries were key to Samsung Electronics’ rapid growth.

But it now faces a tougher challenge than its biggest customer and shareholder as it looks to add new customers and extend into electric vehicle batteries and renewable energy storage systems. Samsung Electronics, the world’s biggest maker of smartphones, was quick to blame the battery for causing some Note 7 devices to catch fire. It has since widened its investigation into the exact cause of the fires in its near-900,000 won ($780) phones after replacement phones using batteries from China’s Amperex Technology also caught fire. But for Samsung SDI the damage was already done, analysts said.

SDI, the main supplier of Note 7 batteries, has lost around a fifth of its market value since the problem first emerged, and its third-quarter operating loss was more than double that of a year earlier. Shares of Samsung Electronics, however, are little changed over the same period, and a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll on Sunday showed the Note 7 recall has had little impact on the willingness of users in the United States to buy the company’s phones.

“Since the first recall, we’ve had many inquiries from our clients, including Apple, asking whether batteries used in their products are safe,” said a person at SDI who was involved in developing the Note 7 battery. “We are also asking ourselves whether we should have done it (the Note 7 battery) this way, or whether there could have been other ways,” the person said, declining to be named as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Lasting Impact 

SDI has said the battery issue was limited to the Note 7, and it has carried out reliability checks on products with major customers and found no problems. It has set up teams to improve product safety, and allowed customers to check batteries, which, it says, meant temporary shipment delays for a couple of customers. “We put the utmost priority on battery reliability, and will use this opportunity to further enhance customer trust,” Kim Hong-gyeong, SDI’s chief financial officer, said on a conference call with analysts.

Some analysts say the impact could be lasting for SDI. “This will have more of an impact on new customers than on existing customers,” said S.R. Kwon, at Dongbu Securities. “SDI can assure existing customers … but this could be a minus factor for SDI when it tries to attract new customers.”

“The affected (Note 7) battery is totally different to the product we use so the issue doesn’t really impact us,” said an official at one of SDI’s automotive customers. “But we’re not happy,” the person added, declining to say whether that may change its relationship with SDI. SDI, which has around a 25 percent market share in small device batteries according to market research firm B3, is already battling a slowing smartphone market, and its diversification push hasn’t been helped by a failure to win Chinese certification for subsidies on its electric vehicle batteries in the world’s biggest autos market.

Close Ties

Close ties to Samsung Electronics have helped SDI build scale and reputation, and secure orders from the likes of Apple. Close to a third of its revenue in the first half year came from other Samsung companies. For Samsung Electronics, having in-house suppliers helped it beat rivals to cutting-edge technologies – from curved screens to faster chips and higher-density batteries.

But the Note 7 crisis has raised doubts about whether that in-house supply chain can handle the growing strains on capacity as Samsung Electronics transitions from fast-follower to trend-setter. Calling the Note 7 problem “very embarrassing,” a second person at SDI said: “It’s a matter of our capability … We thought we had control (over all aspects of manufacturing), but it turned out there were some aspects we weren’t able to govern.”

SDI had to incorporate new materials and technology to meet Samsung’s request for bigger battery capacity for the Note 7, which increased by a sixth from the previous model, the SDI insiders told Reuters. “We focused on boosting battery capacity, but this could have been disadvantageous to reliability,” said the engineer who worked on the Note 7 battery.

Samsung Electronics said its focus is on looking at all possibilities to find the root cause of the Note 7 problem.

Reliance Jio launch doubles demand of 4G VoLTE devices

Demand for Voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) enabled devices has doubled since the launch of Reliance Jio, according to a report in Economic Times. Jio is a VoLTE only network, that only supports handsets with this capability. After the launch, Reliance has partnered with smartphone companies to make available VoLTE enabled devices to consumers.

The demand is more in price sensitive rural areas, as this market associated VoLTE technology with free voice calls. Reliance uses the same band for data and voice, with voice being another service offered over the LTE network. There is more demand in Tier 3 and Tier 4 cities as compared to Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities. Searchers for VoLTE devices have also grown in the budget category oif smartphones.

Analysts expect most devices to support VoLTE going forward. Over a third of the devices available in the market right now are VoLTE devices. Reliance Jio is one of the first Indian operators to adopt and deploy this new technology. Analyst reports confirm that the number of VoLTE devices sold this quarter is twice the number of VoLTE devices sold over the same period last year.

To cater to the section of the market that still prefers to use a feature phone over a smartphone, Reliance Jio may be launching a VoLTE enabled feature phone next year, according to a report in 91mobiles.

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge ‘Piano Black’ version leaks in images

Apple brought a glossy black finish this year on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus calling it ‘Jet Black’. The company had explained that they had to create a new nine-step process to achieve the high-gloss finish. It looks shiny and classy too. While a lot of Apple fans were astonished by it, the excitement was short lived as this particular version was prone to scratches and there were availability issues as well. Even Apple agreed and advised consumers to put a case to protect it. Bummer.
We heard that Samsung would bring a similar finish on the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. Now we have a confirmation that the company is indeed working on a highly glossy black finish that will arrive on its flagship range. According to some leaked images, we can see that smartphones get a fresh coat of paint which could be called ‘Piano Black’. While the S7 and the S7 Edge already come in a Black Onyx version, the new colour variant will be a darker, have more gloss and have black trims all around.A special Blue Coral version of the S7 and S7 Edge was also announced recently, which made debut on the dead-on-arrival Galaxy Note 7. The new blue version is shipping in certain regions, however the it is nowhere to be seen in India. The company had also announced a special Olympics Edition of the S7 Edge as well as a special edition Batman inspired verison of the smartphone.

Google Glass to develop ‘virtual testing’ model for detecting Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s early

Russian scientists are using Google Glass to develop a new “virtual testing” model that may help doctors to identify Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and other brain disorders at an early stage.

The model will help identify an individual’s predisposition to certain brain diseases at an early stage and may even be used for testing children who are five years of age and older, researchers said.

Scientists at Tomsk Polytechnic University and the Siberian State Medical University used Google Glass to study how healthy people and patients with various diseases react to virtual reality.

During the experiment, the doctors analysed the participants’ movements in virtual reality provided by a Google Glass headset, an optical display in the form of eyeglasses, ‘RBTH Daily’ reported.

“They evaluated the condition of the muscles (EMG), the brain (EEG) and the vestibular system. There is a difference between the vestibular system’s reaction in healthy people and that in sick people,” said Ivan Tolmachev, one of the model’s developers.

The test was conducted on 70 people: 30 healthy individuals, 20 Parkinson’s patients and 20 people suffering
from sclerosis.

In the next stage, the researchers plan to develop an industrial sample of the virtual model, which would mean
creating a certain type of software.

Tolmachev estimates the cost of development to be 1.8 million rubles (USD 27,500).

The muscles of our robot overlords will be made of nylon

Artificial muscles are used in a bunch of industries - from robotics to aviation. But the exotic materials used in their construction are both expensive and difficult to source.

Now, engineers at MIT have come up with an alternative that's cheap, ubiquitous and effective - nylon fibre. And with it, they've designed one of the simplest and low-cost artificial muscle systems yet.

The work was underpinned by a peculiar property that nylon exhibits - that when the fibre is heated, it shrinks in length but expands in diameter. As a result, if you just heat one side then it'll bend. Using this knowledge, the team carefully compressed fibres so that their cross section was square rather than circular, to accentuate the bending effect. 

They were then able to generate complex motions by changing the direction of the heating - getting the fibres to move in circles and figure-eight patterns. Much more complex movement patterns could also be generated, the team said.


It lasts, too. Existing systems made of shape-memory alloys only manage about 1,000 cycles before losing their ability to contract, but a nylon system can maintain its performance up to at least 100,000 cycles. It can also bend and retract up to 17 times per second.

Beyond powering robot muscles, the system could be used to make clothes that adjust to your body, make self-lacing shoes, or biomedical devices. Down the line, it could even lead to vehicles that change shape to adjust to changes in wind speed or solar panels that automatically keep themselves aimed at the sun. 

Andrew Taberner, a bioengineer at the University of Auckland who was not involved in the research, said that the findings were "exciting and game-changing". “One can imagine many applications for this type of actuator in the medical and instrumentation fields," he added. "I expect that this work will become highly cited."

Crucial’s MX300 750GB SSD has been slashed to half price

Are you mulling over a potential move to an SSD? If it's a 2.5-inch solid-state drive you're after, then Amazon has quite a bargain with a 750GB offering from Crucial which has been slashed to just £106.

The MX300 750GB SATA 2.5-inch SSD (with 9.5 mm adapter) is Amazon's best-selling internal SSD.

Normally, this 3D NAND-toting drive would run to £212, so with this offer on Black Friday you're getting the SSD for half price; a tempter indeed.

Buy the Crucial MX300 750GB from Amazon here
Particularly seeing as this represents a good-sized chunk of solid-state storage for the money - the big problem with the move away from a traditional spinning disk being securing a replacement drive with a decent capacity, without burning too big a hole in the wallet.

Crucial speeds

Want some stats on the MX300? It's manufacturer-rated with sequential read and write speeds of up to 530 MB/s and 510 MB/s respectively, with random read and write speeds of up to 92k and 83k.

This drive is also friendly to your laptop's battery, as it sips 0.075W of power, and also boasts adaptive thermal protection tech to help your system stay cool.

The MX300 also comes with some bundled software including Crucial Storage Executive, which uses caching to speed up the drive, and the company claims it can boost performance by up to 10 times.

This Windows app makes the best case yet for the Surface Dial

Microsoft's new Surface Dial debuted alongside the Surface Studio last month. While it's available as a separate accessory for $99, less than 20 apps support it out of the box. Some of those apps just offer basic zoom and volume controls, but there are a couple that stand out. Sketchable includes various radial menus for drawing controls, and now Drawboard looks like the best case yet for the Dial.

Drawboard, a PDF markup app, is adding support for Microsoft's Surface Dial in an upcoming app update. It's designed as an app to manage drawings and documents, with support for touch and ink to leave annotations for colleagues or friends. A number of architects and engineers use Drawboard, and the company is making use of the Dial to bring a virtual protractor and ruler to the app. As the Dial reports its angle, architects will be able to set angles for drawing annotations or even set the grid overlays with the Dial.

Drawboard details the new features in a promotional video for Microsoft's Surface channel on YouTube, and they certainly look impressive. Microsoft is allowing developers to extend the use of the Dial in their applications, and it's apps like Drawboard and Sketchable that show the potential of the Surface Dial. Just like StaffPad with the Surface Pen, Microsoft will need many more apps to lead the way in showing why this new hardware could be useful for creatives, engineers, architects, and other professionals.

Nokia's canceled smartwatch appears in leaked video

Nokia had been working on a smartwatch, codenamed Moonraker, which came close to launching alongside its Lumia 930 handset back in 2014. After Microsoft acquired Nokia's phone business, the company canceled any plans for the smartwatch and proceeded with its own Microsoft Band hardware. Images of the Moonraker watch appeared two years ago, and now a new video appears to show the canceled smartwatch in action.

Nokibar on YouTube shows some basic functions of the smartwatch, with a swipe-based user interface to navigate between apps and features. There's a button for switching between the app interface and the default watch face, and the watch appears to support long presses on the display just like an Apple Watch or Android Wear devices. Nokia was also planning to support email, calendar, messaging, notifications, and other basic apps on the device.

The video is a fascinating look at what could have been, and it follows the cancelation of Microsoft's Band hardware. Microsoft had been working on a Band 3 device, and that wearable leaked in new images last month. Microsoft appears to have given up on its plans for wearables running Windows 10, as the company shifts its focus towards its strengths in PC and universal apps for VR and AR headsets.

Microsoft cuts top Xbox One games by 40 percent in Black Friday deals

Microsoft is unveiling its Black Friday deals for the Xbox One today. New Xbox One games like Battlefield 1, FIFA 17, Titanfall 2, and even Overwatch are all being discounted by up to 40 percent. Battlefield is available for $40.19 until November 28th, and FIFA 17 and Titanfall 2 are just $35.99 if you have Xbox Live Gold. Microsoft is even making it easy to get the deals by offering a month of Xbox Live Gold membership for just $1.

There are also some impressive deals on older titles like GTA V, or Xbox 360 games like Red Dead Redemption and Call of Duty: Black Ops. All of Microsoft’s Black Friday deals are available for Xbox Live Gold members today digitally (or November 22nd without Gold), and will run until November 28th. You can find all of Microsoft’s Xbox Black Friday deals over at Xbox.com, or a full list at Major Nelson’s site.

4K Netflix arrives on Windows 10, but probably not for your PC

Netflix 4K streaming is finally heading to Windows PCs this week. While a number of TVs and set-top-boxes already support 4K Netflix streams, the PC has largely been left out of the high-quality streams due to piracy fears. Netflix is now supporting 4K streaming through Microsoft's Edge browser, but you'll need a new PC to actually make use of it. Netflix is only supporting 7th generation (Kaby Lake) Intel Core processors, and there aren't many laptops that actually support both the 4K display required and the new Intel processors.

As a result, Microsoft is using the 4K Netflix support as a marketing effort for its Edge browser and to encourage people to upgrade their hardware to watch new episodes of the Gilmore Girls. It all might seem like a bit of a con, but it's largely the fault of DRM requirements from Hollywood studios and TV networks. Content providers have strict controls for 4K playback, so that streams can't be captured and redistributed illegally.

The latest hardware decryption features simply aren't available on older Intel processors, and the new Kaby Lake chips now support 10-bit HEVC, a popular 4K video codec. So if you don't have a new PC, you'll have to wait until you need a hardware upgrade before you'll be watching Netflix in 4K. Or, just buy a streaming stick like the Chromecast Ultra or the latest Roku to take advantage of Netflix in 4K.

Microsoft offers EU an Outlook deal to secure LinkedIn acquisition

Microsoft has reportedly offered concessions to the European Union to try and secure approval of its $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn. The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft has offered to allow rivals to access Outlook add-ins to display profiles from social networking sites other than LinkedIn. Microsoft is also reportedly allowing PC makers like Dell and HP to disable a LinkedIn shortcut that’s packaged on the desktop of some machines.

Microsoft originally released its social connector for Outlook as a separate add-on around seven years ago, allowing Facebook, LinkedIn, and Windows Live contact integration into Outlook. The connector is now built into recent copies of Outlook, and it largely serves as a way to integrate LinkedIn data. It’s this data that is at the center of the European Union’s antitrust approval, and it's a key part of Microsoft's acquisition.

Salesforce also tried to acquire LinkedIn, but ultimately failed. Salesforce has been publicly pushing regulators to block Microsoft’s LinkedIn deal as a result, fearing the ability for a rival to have access to a vast dataset of users. Salesforce claims that if it had acquired LinkedIn it would “have used the data within our own services appropriately and also licensed it to others,” but that “the chances of Microsoft doing the same without government intervention are slim.” Microsoft’s concessions don’t appear to address the data and metadata concerns, so it will be up to regulators to now decide whether Microsoft is offering enough to rivals.

The best Black Friday 2016 laptop deals: Surface Books, MacBooks, HP Spectre x360, Dell XPS 13, and more

Here’s the bad news about Black Friday laptop deals this year: the new MacBook Pro isn’t on sale (surprise!). Sorry. However, I do have some good news. There are pretty decent markdowns on the Surface Book, as well as on the reliable Dell XPS 13. Yay! And Apple is offering gift cards up to $150 with the purchase of select laptops. We compiled some of the biggest Black Friday deals here for you to check out. Maybe this is the year to treat yourself to a new laptop.

The best laptop to buy on Black Friday

Costco’s deal on the Dell XPS 13 is our pick for the best laptop deal. The Verge’s own Tom Warren called it the “best Windows laptop,” and while it’s still expensive at $1,299, that $300 discount helps. We can’t complain about saving money.

Our runner-up is the Surface Pro 4 because it’s $500 off, which is just an insanely good deal. That said, it’s an older device so not top of the line.


Online or in Apple stores on November 25th

$150 gift cards when buying a MacBook (from $1,299), MacBook Pro 13-inch or 15-inch (from $1,299; no late-2016 models are included so that means no TouchBar), MacBook Air (from $999), iMac (from $1,099), or Mac Pro ($2,999)
Gift cards up to $100 when buying an iPad Pro (from $599), iPad Air 2 (from $399), or iPad mini 4 (from $399)
Best Buy

Online from November 24th through November 26th, with physical store doors opening on Thanksgiving day at 5PM

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (128GB, Intel Core m3) with Type Cover for $599.99 (usually $999.99)
Lenovo Yoga 900 (Intel Core i7, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD) for $699.99 (usually $1,199.99)
HP Envy x360 (Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB HDD) for $699.99 (usually $899.99)
Microsoft Surface Books for up to $400 off
ASUS Q534UX (4K display, Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, GTX 950M, 2.5TB HDD) for $1,099 (usually $1,599.99)
HP Spectre x360 (Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD) for $999.99 (usually $1,499.99)

Thursday online and Friday in-store or pickup

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD) for $799.99 (usually $999)
HP Pavilion 15 (Intel Core i7 processor, 12GB RAM, 1TB HDD) for $499 (usually $779.99)
HP Pavilion 14 (Intel Core i5 Processor, 12 GB RAM, 1 TB for $389.99 (usually $639.99)
Lenovo Flex 4 (Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD) for $499.99 (usually $749.99)

Starting Friday at 9AM through Monday, November 28th

Dell XPS 13 (Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD with one year of Office 365) for $300 off (usually $1,599)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 bundle with Surface Pen and Type Cover for $250 off

Black Friday only

Samsung Chromebook 3 for $119 (usually $149.99)

Available online in Microsoft’s online store at 12:01AM ET on Black Friday

Surface Pro 4 (Intel Core i5, 256GB SSD, included Type Cover) for $999 (usually $1,428)
Surface Pro 4 (Intel Core i5, 128GB SSD) for $799 (usually $999)
Surface Book (Intel Core i5, 256GB SSD) for $1,499 (usually $1,899)
Dell Inspiron 15 (Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD) for $399 (usually $749)
Alienware 15 Touch (Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, GeForce GTX 970M) for $1,497 (usually $2,499)

Available from Black Friday through Monday November 28th

HP Spectre x360 13t OLED touch for $999.99 (usually $1,499.99)
HP Spectre x360 13t touch for $949.99 (usually $1,049.99)
HP Spectre 13t for $969.99 (usually $1,169.99)
HP Pavilion Laptop 15z touch optional for $319.99 (usually $579.99)
HP ENVY 15t Touch for $649.99 (usually $949.99)

Available now

Inspiron 11 3000 for $329.99 (usually $369.99)
Inspiron 13 5000 for $479.99 (usually $549.99)
Inspiron 17 5000 for $549.99 (usually $649.99)
Inspiron 15 5000 for $849.99 (usually $899.99)
Inspiron 15 7000 for $899.99 (usually $999.99)

Available now through Saturday November 26th

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 12 (Intel Core i5, 4GB RAM, 16GB SSD) for $499.99 (usually $599.99)
Asus K501UW-NB72 (Intel Core i7, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, GeForce GTX 960M) for $719 (usually $999)
Gigabyte P55Wv6-NE2 (Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 128BG SSD, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060) for $1,149 (usually $1,499)
MSI GL62 6QF-627 (Intel Core i7, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M) for $799 (usually $999)
MSI GL62 6QF-1445 (Intel Core i7, 12GB RAM, 128GB SSD, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M) for $849 (usually $999)
HP 250 G5 (Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD) for $419.99 (usually $599.99)
Acer Aspire E 15 (Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD) for $419.99 (usually $599.99)
Acer Aspire E5-575G-728Q (Intel Core i7, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD) for $669.99 (usually $699.99)
(Affiliate links are automatically generated by our partner, Skimlinks. For more information, see our ethics policy.)

Google perpetuates cycle of confusion, renames Google Cast back to Chromecast

Google appears to be removing the Google Cast name and switching it back to the original Chromecast moniker. As noted by Android Police, Google has already renamed the @GoogleCast Twitter account back to @Chromecast, and the Google Cast website now describes Google Cast as “Chromecast built-in.”

The Google Cast name was originally introduced when Google began expanding Chromecasting to other devices; earlier this year, Google renamed the Chromecast app to a matching “Google Cast” name. The name change was a nod to the fact that there were now lots of non-Chromecast products out there that had Casting built in, a decision that seemed to make sense at the time.

This cheap fitness watch has GPS tracking and an always-on display

Huami is now selling its Amazfit Pace smartwatch in the US, a product that was previously only available in China, where Huami is based. The GPS-equipped Amazfit Pace tracks daily activity and calories burned, along with running distances, speed, and cadence. It tracks elevation, which some fitness-focused smartwatches don’t do, and has optical heart rate sensors. Huami claims it gets up to 11 days of battery life on a single charge, despite its always-on, transflective display, and 36 hours of battery life with continuous GPS-tracking.

And, like every other smartwatch, it wirelessly pairs with your phone over Bluetooth to show you incoming phone calls, texts, and app notifications. It’s running on customer software built on top of Android, and syncs with both iOS and Android phones.It’s hard to judge the Pace’s looks without seeing and feeling the watch in person, but the round-faced, ceramic-bezeled smartwatch looks like it has at least some style to it; TheNextWeb even went as far as calling it “gorgeous.”

The Huami Pace costs $129 now through Cyber Monday (November 28th), and then jumps up to $159. That’s cheaper than a lot of smart fitness watches, but not less expensive than basic activity trackers. It’s currently sold through the company’s own website, and will be sold on Amazon starting mid-December.

These stickers have a unique fingerprint, so you can unlock your phone with your gloves on

The cold and bitter winds of winter are here, which means one important thing: it’s glove season! Gloves are a marvelous creation, except for the part where they make it impossible to use a touchscreen device that requires a fingerprint. This nifty sticker, TAPS, provides a unique fingerprint that may be able to ease your woes.

TAPS, funded on Kickstarter, is Touch ID compatible and waterproof; each sticker promises a one-of-a-kind fingerprint, even if they come from the same pack. They’re made with an “extremely adhesive conductive material” that stick to your gloves. This means that rather than buying a pair of gloves specifically made for touchscreens, you can add compatibility to those you already own.

Telegram launches Telegraph, an anonymous blogging platform

Telegram now has a blogging platform to go along with its popular messaging app. It’s called Telegraph and, according to VentureBeat, offers fast publishing and anonymous posting — without requiring you to register an account or sign in through social media.


The app’s user interface looks very similar to Medium and allows for easy embeds. You can also embed images from your computer by clicking on the camera button. In comparison to Medium, the loading time for embeds is relatively fast. Publication is instantaneous upon hitting “publish.” Posts are shareable on social media platforms but are designed to work best on Telegram’s new Instant View layout, which works similarly to Facebook’s Instant Articles feature.
The simplicity and speed of Telegraph are not without its downsides. As TechCrunch points out, the lack of user history means that if you accidentally delete the link to your published post, it would be very difficult to track down unless you have cookies enabled on your browser. The anonymous nature also opens up opportunities for abuse, potentially paving the way for internet trolls and spreaders of fake news — a problem that has put tech giants like Facebook and Google under scrutiny.

Telegram’s user base has grown significantly since its inception, though it continues to lag behind WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. In February this year, founder Pavel Durov announced that the company hit 100 million active users.

The introduction of Telegraph continues Telegram’s expansion beyond just messaging. The company recently added games, and in a blog post, it teased “Something big is brewing in our secret dungeons. Stay tuned.”

This Majora’s Mask fan film is better than most Hollywood video game adaptations

As far as adaptations go, The Legend of Zelda peaked with a questionable cartoon. We’re still holding out hope for a live-action show on Netflix at some point. But absolutely nothing has made us fall harder in love with a reimagining of the iconic video game series than this animated fan film based on The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.

The short was created by Ember Lab, a company focused on animation, VFX, and games for commercial projects. The company that draws inspiration from the likes of Pixar and Hayao Miyazaki, and it shows. “Majora’s Mask — Terrible Fate” is animated with all the care and detail you’d expect from a beloved kid’s movie like Toy Story or Finding Nemo, and one wonders if this is an unsolicited audition for a professional project. It’s not unheard of; Dan Trachtenberg would eventually go on to direct 10 Cloverfield Lane, but it was the short Portal: No Escape that initially shot him to fame.

Ember Lab’s YouTube channel calls the clip a labor of love, one that imagines how the Zelda universe might be imagined in film. I think the succinct answer is “very well.”

Someone spent over four years and $1,000 building the perfect keyboard click-testing machine

So you like clicky keyboards. If that’s the case, you probably have a favorite model (or switch type) — maybe, for example, the one my colleague Paul Miller recently dubbed “the clickiest keyboard of all time.” But Deskthority forum member and mechanical keyboard expert HaaTa reminds us that these pronouncements are a fool’s errand, for there is no way a mere human could really, objectively judge the nature of a click.

For that, you would need something like the Force Curve Gauge, a fairly remarkable side project that HaaTa lays out in detail. As the name suggests, it’s a jury-rigged device that measures force curve — the relationship between the distance of a keypress and the force it transfers, or to we users, how much tactile feedback we get while hitting keys. So instead of describing whether a keyboard feels good or bad, you can point to something like this:

The catch is that coming up with any kind of consistent, meaningful data requires serious precision and solid equipment. Just one of the pieces, the force gauge stand, apparently cost about $1,000, and setting the entire machine up took a substantial amount of tinkering — the picture above is from an early prototype. You’re probably not going to buy your next keyboard based on a force graph, but if your co-workers complain about the clicking, maybe you can point to one to explain just why you love it.

Dutch scientists use color-changing graphene bubbles to create ‘mechanical pixels

Researchers from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands have discovered what could one day be a new type of display technology: bubbles of graphene that change color as they expand and contract. Scientists say that these ‘mechanical pixels’ could eventually make screens that are more flexible, durable, and energy efficient than current LED technology. They caution, though, that the work is very much in its infancy; whether these graphene bubbles can make displays of equivalent quality, or be scaled up for mass production, remains to be seen.

The discovery was made by researchers working with panels of silicon oxide covered with graphene — sheets of pure carbon just a single atom thick. (Graphene is that wonder material you probably heard of years ago, but scientists are still working on commercial applications for it.) The silicon is pockmarked with holes about ten times the width of a human hair, leaving the graphene stretched across these tiny cavities like a drum. When working with these samples, scientists noticed that the bubbles of graphene changed color depending on the pressure inside the cavities. When the pressure shifts, the bubbles became concave or convex, changing how light refracted through them and creating different colors.

“Graphene in principle is transparent; it’s so thin that light doesn’t get reflected,” researcher Santiago Cartamil-Bueno told The Verge. “But we were using a double layer of graphene, and that reflects more.” As the bubbles of graphene inflate or deflate, light has to travel different amounts before it hits the back of the silicon cavity. This changes which part of the light spectrum is absorbed, and which part is reflected back, altering the colors of the bubbles. “Depending on the depth of the cavity you have different interference, and from this you get different colors of light,” says Cartamil-Bueno.

This is the same principle used in Qualcomm’s Mirasol technology, which uses reflective membranes controlled using electrostatic. As with E Ink screens, these sorts of display are very energy-efficient, as once an image has been ‘set’ it takes no additional power to maintain it. But, the way they’re made makes backlighting impossible. You can’t read these screens in a dark room, and they look their best in bright sunlight.

The challenges facing the graphene technology are manifold. For a start, the color changes have only been observed under a microscope so far, because it is difficult and expensive to manufacture these graphene samples at a greater size. The resulting ‘pixels’ are so small, that hundreds of thousands would be needed to create even a tiny image, and the bubbles can’t be made bigger for fear they would burst. Secondly, the Delft researchers have yet to work out how to create pure colors from the graphene bubbles. “I have seen the whole rainbow of colors, it’s quite a natural effect,” says Cartamil-Bueno. “But you cannot get clean colors like pure red or pure blue.”

The next step for researchers is figuring out how to accurately control the pressure changes in individual cavities. Although work on this topic has yet to be published, Cartamil-Bueno says his team has worked out, in principle, how to control this electrostatically — the same method used by Mirasol screens. Like Mirasol, the resulting displays would only work in sunlight (there’s no way to backlight them), but using graphene would make them extremely lightweight and flexible. Cartamil-Bueno says Delft is currently working on prototypes, and hopes to have a screen ready to show off at the Mobile World Congress tech conference in March 2017.

Ditto is now on Pokémon Go, but you’ll have to catch a ton of Pidgeys to find it

In a last-ditch effort to get you to open up Pokémon Go for the first time since July, Niantic is adding a new species to the lineup: Ditto.

As you may recall, Ditto is the pokémon that has the ability to mimic other creatures it sees. And that’s exactly what Ditto does in the game: hide under the guise of other pokémon. In order to catch Ditto, you may have to catch a bunch of other scrub pokémon to find the real deal — even the Pidgeys and Rattatas. How else was Niantic gonna make sure you kept walking around and playing?

Once you have Ditto, you can take it to battle at the gym, where it can transform itself to copy the first pokémon it sees and retain all the moves for the remainder of the fight. If it sees another Ditto, however, things stay the same and you’ll just have to aggressively tap your way to defeating the opponent.

If your family is anything like mine, they’ll be pretty convinced Pokémon Go is still very much a thing and won’t question much if you decide you’ve had enough Thanksgiving and need to go for a Ditto hunt. At least that’ll be my excuse to step out of the room.

Google discounts Chromecast, Pixel, and Google Home for Black Friday 2016

Google is well on its way from being a company synonymous with search and the web to a brand name well known for its hardware products. We’re now familiar with the Chromecast name; the streaming stick has been Google’s Trojan horse into the living room, selling millions of units and establishing the search giant’s software as a viable media nexus. Now, there’s the Google Home smart speaker to compete with Amazon’s Echo, as well the company’s new flagship Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones.

All of these products are on sale for Black Friday this week, and you can pick them up on discount from a number of different retailers. Verizon is only the authorized Pixel and Pixel XL seller in the US, besides the Play Store. So phone deals are contingent on joining Verizon’s network, or already being a part of it. For Home and Chromecast, you’ll be able to shop around at a few different places.
Here’s where to start when it comes to picking up Google gadgets starting tomorrow. And be sure to check out are other deal roundups at The Verge’s Black Friday hub.

Google’s AI can now lip read better than humans after watching thousands of hours of TV

Researchers from Google’s AI division DeepMind and the University of Oxford have used artificial intelligence to create the most accurate lip-reading software ever. Using thousands of hours of TV footage from the BBC, scientists trained a neural network to annotate video footage with 46.8 percent accuracy. That might not seem that impressive at first — especially compared to AI accuracy rates when transcribing audio — but tested on the same footage, a professional human lip-reader was only able to get the right word 12.4 percent of the time.

The research follows similar work published by a separate group at the University of Oxford earlier this month. Using related techniques, these scientist were able to create a lip-reading program called LipNet that achieved 93.4 percent accuracy in tests, compared to 52.3 percent human accuracy. However, LipNet was only tested on specially-recorded footage that used volunteers speaking formulaic sentences. By comparison, DeepMind’s software — known as “Watch, Listen, Attend, and Spell” — was tested on far more challenging footage; transcribing natural, unscripted conversations from BBC politics shows.

Microsoft starts shipping Surface Studio orders early, offers dedicated support line

Microsoft has started shipping some Surface Studio orders a little early. The software giant originally planned to ship units to customers in mid-December, but Microsoft has been emailing the first people to preorder the $3,000 device, letting them know the Studio will arrive this week. Microsoft is still accepting “preorders” for the Surface Studio, but new devices won’t ship until “early 2017.”Alongside the shipments, Thurrott.com reports that Microsoft has even setup a dedicated support line for Surface Studio owners. A phone line has been created, alongside a personal note from Panos Panay, head of Surface devices, asking customers to call a special number for questions, comments, or concerns. Microsoft is also shipping a little booklet in the Surface Studio packaging, thanking customers for spending $3,000 or more on the all-in-one PC.

You can check out The Verge’s review of the Surface Studio right here.Alongside the shipments, Thurrott.com reports that Microsoft has even setup a dedicated support line for Surface Studio owners. A phone line has been created, alongside a personal note from Panos Panay, head of Surface devices, asking customers to call a special number for questions, comments, or concerns. Microsoft is also shipping a little booklet in the Surface Studio packaging, thanking customers for spending $3,000 or more on the all-in-one PC.

Sphero’s Force Band wearable can control nearly anything now thanks to IFTTT

Sphero has been selling the Force Band wearable for awhile now, designed to let you control the adorable little BB-8 droid with "force gestures" — like a Jedi. But now the $80 (or slightly less) gadget is potentially a lot more useful. As Gizmodo notes, the company is setting it up to work with If This Then That, which means that you can use it to control much more than a cute robot toy. IFTTT, if you’re not familiar, lets you create little applets that use one thing to trigger another thing automatically. One good example I like: you can set your Instagram posts to auto-Tweet with the embedded image so they actually show up on Twitter. IFTTT can do stuff with smart gadgets, your Android phone, Facebook, and so much more.

And now, they can be triggered by the Force Band. Sphero is obviously leading with the most fun stuff: controlling your smart home gadgets. Making a real world gesture cause real world things to happen is obviously going to impress your family more than using it to fire off a tweet. The recipe page for the Force Band has some pre-made, Star Wars-themed suggestions, including "Play the Imperial March" and "post your Jedi wisdom to Twitter."

There are three gestures that work with the Force Band: push, pull, and stop — but an absolutely massive set of services you can connect those three simple gestures to. Will mapping broad arm gestures to turning on your smart lights actually be useful? Doubtful. Will it be cool? Yes.

Sadly, I don’t think there’s a way to remote start your car with IFTTT, otherwise you’d be able to turn the classic Volkswagen ad into a reality. Maybe next year.

Get a free ticket to Westworld with this sweet Chromecast deal

Google has sweetened the deal for a new Chromecast, offering 3 months of free HBO Now access for new subscribers. If you want HBO, the deal basically nets a more-than-free Chromecast: the streaming device is on sale for $25, and 3 months of HBO Now normally costs about $45. The free subscription also comes with Google’s higher-end, 4K Chromecast Ultra, which costs $69. It’s definitely the best deal Google is offering this year for Black Friday.

We’re not telling you what to do with that HBO subscription, but there are only two episodes of Westworld left, so now is a good time to take a trip to the park if you’ve been missing out.

Star Wars smartphones are coming to SoftBank in Japan

Japanese mobile carrier SoftBank is marking the incoming release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by launching a pair of phones that let you choose your Force allegiance. The Star Wars Mobile phones are made by Sharp and come in both Dark and Light side editions.

Here are the unexciting specs:

5.3-inch 1080p IGZO display
Snapdragon 820 processor
22.6-megapixel camera
3,000mAh battery
TV tuner
3GB of RAM
32GB of storage (plus microSD slot)
7.6mm thick, 155g

Apple offers gift cards up to $150 for its Black Friday deals

After skipping out on Black Friday last year, Apple is back with some seasonal deals. Or, well, gift cards. Rather than giving customers money off products, the iPhone-maker is instead bundling in gift cards worth up to $150 on select purchases.

Here’s what you can get:

$150 gift card when buying a MacBook (from $1,299), MacBook Pro 13-inch or 15-inch (from $1,299; no late-2016 models are included so that means no TouchBar), MacBook Air (from $999), iMac (from $1,099), or Mac Pro ($2,999)
Up to $100 gift card when buying an iPad Pro (from $599), iPad Air 2 (from $399), or iPad mini 4 (from $399)
Up to $50 gift card when buying an iPhone SE (from $399), iPhone 6s (from $549), or iPhone 6s Plus (from $649)
$25 gift card when buying an Apple TV (from $149) or select Apple Watch Series 1 models (from $269)
Similar deals are also available in markets including Canada (gift cards up to CA$200), Australia (gift cards up to AU$200), New Zealand (gift cards up to (NZ$215), and the United Kingdom (gift cards up to £120).

The deals are, frankly, a little disappointing, especially when Apple’s teaser for the sales suggests something quite substantial. (Or maybe that was just our imagination.) Getting $150 or $100 off a future Apple purchase isn’t to be sniffed at, but it’s a shame the company hasn’t bothered to include any of its latest products in the deals. For more savings, you should check out what other stores have to offer

GoPro is already recalling its long-awaited Karma drone

After selling 2,500 units so far, GoPro today announced plans to recall its Karma drone after just 16 days on the market.GoPro founder and CEO Nick Woodman said the recall is due to safety concerns caused by a malfunction causing power loss and unpredictable behavior by the drone. According to Woodman in statement:

Safety is our top priority.

A very small number of Karma owners have reported incidents of power failure during operation. We have moved quickly to recall all units of Karma and provide a full refund while we investigate the issue. We are working in close coordination with both the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Federal Aviation Administration. We are very sorry to have inconvenienced our customers and we are taking every step to make the return and refund process as easy as possible.

Unfortunately, this came at a terrible time for GoPro. Last week, the company announced it missed quarterly revenue expectations by 23 percent. A 2,500 unit recall for its first non-camera product doesn’t bode well.

Strange Facebook bug shows certain users as dead — including Mark Zuckerberg [Updated]

A strange Facebook bug spotted by Business Insider shows a memorial message sitting atop profiles that informs friends and families a user has died. The message reads:We hope people who love [User] will find comfort in the things other share to remember and celebrate his life.The message also includes a link to a Facebook form to set up an account for a deceased person as a memorial account.
It’s not affecting everyone, so it’s unclear at this time how widespread the bug is, or what’s causing it. Business Insider reports it has seen the message on CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s account, but we haven’t been able to spot it ourselves. In fact, we haven’t spotted it at all — so it seems to be a problem that’s not affecting the platform globally.

We’ve reached out to Facebook for clarification.

There’s a simple solution to Facebook’s fake news problem

It’s almost as if Mark Zuckerberg could hear the sound of furious journalists pounding away on keys. Or, more likely, he read one of the countless pieces last week that sought to expose Facebook’s role in last week’s election. Either way, he’s responded to the media outcry that Facebook was directly responsible for Trump’s win.I ranted about this very thing after the election last week, but it bears repeating: Facebook isn’t responsible for Trump’s ascension to power, at least not directly.

That’s not a fair burden to place on the shoulders of a platform meant to facilitate information sharing. If you’d like an easier argument to make, blame the algorithmic timeline that forces each of us into an echo chamber of similar world views. Blame the decision to cut human editors. Blame Facebook’s decision to allow pages that deliberately misrepresent a news story (or make one up entirely) to operate with impunity.

For every argument Zuckerberg makes about being a platform to promote free speech and open views, I can make another about conscious misrepresentation and the promotion of libelous material. And his argument that “truth” is complicated is falling on deaf ears.
He’s not wrong. Truth is a complicated matter and even major publications get it wrong from time to time. But we’re not seeking perfection. Something, anything, would be a step in the right direction. A simple law of averages approach would work wonders. Once a certain percentage of your content is deemed false, the Page is suspended. Keep it up and you’ll be deleted from the platform entirely.

If Zuckerberg can make the claim that “more than 99 percent of what people see [on Facebook] is authentic,” then it’s certainly not a stretch to assume he can apply the tools used to come up with that stat on a per-Page basis.Arguing that Facebook isn’t at fault for giving a platform to the masses is fair. Arguing that it shoulders no responsibility in how they use it, well, isn’t.

Running Doom on the MacBook Pro Touch Bar isn’t ideal — but it’s pretty damn cool

I contend that Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro is a gimmicky feature. I’m also a little giddy about the prospect of playing Doom on it. Come at me.

In the hacking community, the de facto initiation centers around the ability to run software on hardware it isn’t intended to run on. Doom on Apple’s Touch Bar certainly fits the standard, although playing the classic PC shooter with 2170 x 60 resolution isn’t exactly ideal.
No matter, iOS developer Adam Bell did it anyway.


As you can see from the video, it’s a bit short on screen real estate. Still, it’s playable — but only barely.In a second video, Bell made better use of the Touch Bar by turning it into the game’s heads-up display. Granted, it’s got to be a little awkward to look down for key information about health and ammunition, but it exists, and that’s all that matters.

Microsoft says sorry for almost saying the N-word in Xbox newsletter

Microsoft had a minor mishap when it inadvertently sent out an Xbox promotional email headed with the racially dubious subject line “NNNNGGGHHHAAAA.”While the email, advertising the upcoming fourth instalment of open-world zombie apocalypse game Dead Rising, was obviously intended to be read and pronounced as a stereotypical zombie growl, it looks dangerously close to the ‘N-word.’

This has prompted  Microsoft to issue an apology before the message has insulted someone.
In the contrite, the Windows-maker clarified the email wasn’t intended to be offensive, but also took a chance to acknowledge it could’ve phrased the subject line differently to avoid the issue altogether.

Israeli researchers prove headphones can be used as covert listening device by BRYAN CLARK — 2 days ago in SECURITY Israeli researchers prove headphones can be used as covert listening device Credit: Andrey Kucheruk/Shutterstock 15 596 SHARES https://tnw.to/2foaQ1y Millions of us don headphones each day. Few, if any, have ever given much thought to the possibility of someone listening on the other end. Researchers at Ben Gurion University in Israel have created a piece of code designed to prove it’s possible to hijack a user’s headphones and turn them into a covert listening device. Dubbed ‘Speake(a)r,’ the malicious code utilizes our existing earbuds (or headphones) to capture vibrations in the air and convert them to electromagnetic signals able to capture audio. Mordechai Guir, lead researcher at Ben Gurion’s Cyber Security Research Labs told Wired: People don’t think about this privacy vulnerability. Even if you remove your computer’s microphone, if you use headphones you can be recorded. This isn’t new. Many a YouTube hack has demonstrated the ability to use headphones as a microphone in a pinch. What’s clever is in how the malware manages to switch an output jack on your laptop — running either Windows or MacOS — to an input and capture the audio without a dedicated microphone channel. Using a little-known feature of RealTek’s audio codec chip, the malware secretly “retasks” outputs on a laptop and turns them into inputs capable of recording audio behind the scenes. In this case, it really is a feature, not a bug. Speake(a)r, at this point, is a proof of concept. It’s a scary thought that someone could be monitoring a room without your knowledge, but it’s probably not worth getting worried about just yet. We’ve yet to encounter any proof of this being used in the wild, and the simple truth is: most of us just aren’t interesting enough to warrant covert listening. Still, it’s worth noting what’s possible, and as this concept video proves: even your headphones aren’t entirely safe from hackers. Great. Now Even Your Headphones Can Spy on You on Wired Read next: New battery concept could charge in seconds, last for days TECH SHARE ON FACEBOOK (207) SHARE ON TWITTER (263) TNW's West Coast reporter covering all the comings and goings in the SoCal tech scene and elsewhere. Connect via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. CONTACT Mail Tweet LOCATION San Diego, CA POSTS 1081 POSTS / MO. 58.23 All posts by Bryan > More from The Next Web This baby stealing its parents' phone is absolutely terrifying Juan Buis1 day ago 5 ways to deal with expenses and reimbursements TNW with Expenditure Twitter suspended CEO Jack Dorsey's account by mistake Abhimanyu Ghoshal2 days ago These omnidirectional conveyor belts are a total trip Juan Buis2 days ago You can now learn the basics of coding with Disney's Moana Matthew Hughes2 days ago I can't stop mashing up Twitter accounts with this hilarious website Juan Buis2 days ago Comments SHOW 15 COMMENTS

Millions of us don headphones each day. Few, if any, have ever given much thought to the possibility of someone listening on the other end.

Researchers at Ben Gurion University in Israel have created a piece of code designed to prove it’s possible to hijack a user’s headphones and turn them into a covert listening device. Dubbed ‘Speake(a)r,’ the malicious code utilizes our existing earbuds (or headphones) to capture vibrations in the air and convert them to electromagnetic signals able to capture audio.This isn’t new. Many a YouTube hack has demonstrated the ability to use headphones as a microphone in a pinch. What’s clever is in how the malware manages to switch an output jack on your laptop — running either Windows or MacOS — to an input and capture the audio without a dedicated microphone channel.

Using a little-known feature of RealTek’s audio codec chip, the malware secretly “retasks” outputs on a laptop and turns them into inputs capable of recording audio behind the scenes. In this case, it really is a feature, not a bug.

Speake(a)r, at this point, is a proof of concept. It’s a scary thought that someone could be monitoring a room without your knowledge, but it’s probably not worth getting worried about just yet. We’ve yet to encounter any proof of this being used in the wild, and the simple truth is: most of us just aren’t interesting enough to warrant covert listening.

Still, it’s worth noting what’s possible, and as this concept video proves: even your headphones aren’t entirely safe from hackers.

New battery concept could charge in seconds, last for days

Scientists at University of Central Florida (UCF) have developed a supercapacitor battery prototype that lasts 20 times longer than a conventional lithium-ion cell. It charges in seconds.“If they were to replace the batteries with these supercapacitors, you could charge your mobile phone in a few seconds and you wouldn’t need to charge it again for over a week,” said Nitin Choudhary

Better still, the battery doesn’t degrade. After around 18 months, the typical lithium-ion battery cell starts a slow process of degradation where each charge cycle leads to fractionally smaller amounts of overall capacity. The prototype doesn’t experience the same levels of degradation and still works like new after being recharged 30,000 times.

Supercapacitors charge quickly due to the way they store energy: statically, on the surface of a material. Batteries, on the other hand, rely on chemical reactions to store and discharge energy. Using graphene, researchers created a large surface area to hold more electrons and increase a battery’s life span.It’s early, but the research is promising.If successful, supercapacitor research could lead to weeks-long battery life for mobile devices, an increase in range for electric vehicles, and better storage capacity for power derived from alternative energy sources.

Google isn't happy about how some Android phones do fast charging

In the race for the fastest-charging battery in the Android world, Google just declared its own role in the competition: It will be the one to set the rules and control the playing field.The latest version of Google's Android Compatibility Definition Document (CDD), which outlines the requirements hardware makers must follow to keep devices compatible with Android OS, included some interesting new language . David Ruddock of Android Police was the first to note the final bullet point of the section regarding USB peripheral mode, which is buried on page 70 of the 85 page report:  While the first all-capped suggestion that sticking to the default levels of voltage are "STRONGLY RECOMMENDED" really jumps off the page, the real news comes with the insinuation made by the second one and what exactly it means to "REQUIRE."

Essentially, this means that Google is declaring the definitive voltage level and manner of delivery for the charging of Android devices. If a manufacturer dares to go beyond that threshold in pursuit of speedier charge times, like those promised by proprietary tech like Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0, they'd better think twice — or they might be locked out of the OS entirely. If that's the case, the fast-acting chips and chargers would go from an added perk to the handset to a death sentence. 

The defaults and methods Google references are set by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) in order to better standardize "all of the functional benefits of USB that form the basis for this most popular of computing device interconnects." Importantly, this move is made for greater uniformity, not over any concerns of unstable batteries and over-powering. This is not what caused Samsung Galaxy Note7 battery woes. Instead, look at this as Google tightening its grip on Android and telling manufacturers that they're free to innovate with their hardware... just as long as they do it in the Google way.

Google Allo now predicts which emoji you want to use

Google is making it even easier to share emoji and stickers on its messaging app Allo.

The app is now applying its AI-powered text prediction skills to emoji and stickers to make chatting even smoother. Called "Smart Smiley," the feature works just like Allo's Smart Replies, which suggest words and phrases based on your conversations. As you type, the app will now suggest emoji and stickers based on what you're saying.

"So if you’re planning dinner with a friend, you may see 🍔, 🍕, or 🍤. Or if you type “see you later” we’ll offer to complete that thought with 🐊.," Google explains in a blog post.

While other apps — like iMessage — include keyword-based emoji suggestions, Google says its version of the feature is a little smarter than most. Google takes into account both keywords and the sentiment of what you're saying when predicting emoji. In other words, the app should be able to differentiate between when it should suggest happy or sad emoji based on the tone of your conversation, even if you aren't using words like "sad" or "upset."

The company also notes that their early testing of the feature helped people share a wider variety of stickers and emoji so if you feel like you've been in an emoji rut lately, Smart Smiley may be able to help out.

How to improve your Facebook feed, so we see the next Trump coming

What would've happened if America had seen this coming?

For a large mass of the world, the election of Donald Trump was unfathomable mere hours before it happened. Helping that along were a slew of polls along with nonstop commentary—from experts, entertainers and laymen—indicating Hillary Clinton as a superior candidate, on course for a cake-walk of a win.They were wrong, to an almost universal degree. And the fact that so few could anticipate Trump's victory calls into question how America gets our information—what were we missing, and why? 

It's a question that inevitably leads us to Facebook.
Facebook certainly isn't our only source of news, but no single platform reaches as many people: roughly 170 million daily active users in the U.S.—tens of millions more than who voted. It's been argued, convincingly, that Facebook isn't doing enough to combat blatantly untrue news articles that appear in the news feed, and that it hasn't lived up to (or even worse, has actively shirked) its responsibilities as a distributor of content to do so.

But do Facebook's users bear some of that responsibility, too? The site's algorithm is complex, and inherently adaptive; it serves up content based on your behavior—after all, its only mission is keeping you on Facebook. If you like and engage inflammatory articles from the alt-right, you'll probably end up seeing commentary from National Review. Likewise, if you share John Oliver's latest diatribe, you'll probably be more likely to see Samantha Bee's next monologue in your feed.

This is how "filter bubbles" are made. The term entered the lexicon after a 2011 TED Talk from Eli Pariser, who warned against immersing ourselves in content that's only—or at least predominantly—agreeable. Filter bubbles are fueled by confirmation bias (or: our inherent tendency to engage with ideas we already agree with, and dismiss the ones we don't).

We're now seeing the large-scale effect of a nationwide filter bubble, and it's not healthy. Whether or not Facebook actually had a role in the outcome of the election is debatable, but there's no question it was a primary mover in the conversation. Only now it looks like there were actually two conversations going one, with little discourse between them.

It doesn't have to be that way, though. Facebook's algorithm isn't inherently biased, and you can even make it work against your confirmation bias, if you try. Here are a few straightforward ways you can get a news feed with a more diverse point of view, and pop that filter bubble.