Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Apple now allows bigger apps and games on the Apple TV

Apple has just alerted developers to a change in the rules for Apple for the Apple TV. Previously, apps were capped at 200MB for their initial size — but now they can be as large as 4GB, a 20x increase. Apple says it’s “now accepting” submissions from developers and that it’s making the change so that developers “can include more media in your submission and provide a complete, rich user experience upon installation.”

The change might encourage more developers to make their games available on the Apple TV. Although it’s not strictly fair to say that developers were unable to get big games on tvOS before, in order to do it they’d needed to store most of the data in Apple’s Cloud. It’s a feature called “On-Demand Resources,” which allows assets up to 20GB of data to be stored and available when needed — and it’s a feature that’s still available. But coding in support for those cloud resources is definitely an extra step — and it also means that a good game experience would require a good internet connection. With the newly raised app size limit, it could make it more palatable for developers to take their games from the iPhone and iPad to the Apple TV.

If that theory doesn’t make sense to you, here’s another: 4K content takes up a lot of space. Of course, the Apple TV doesn’t support 4K right now, but perhaps the change can provide some reason to hope that a future Apple TV will support 4K.

Or it could, as Federico Viticci writes at MacStories, simply be a thing Apple is doing simply because there’s little reason not to. Perhaps Apple has simply seen that people haven’t come anywhere near filling up the storage on their Apple TVs (they come in 32 and 64GB variants), so the overly conservative restriction on app sizes wasn’t necessary.

Whichever explanation you choose, we won’t see the effects of the change until developers take advantage of the new rules, which just went into effect today.

The article was published on : theverge

Microsoft's new Windows 10 Game Mode will maximize gaming performance

Microsoft has started officially testing a new Game Mode feature in Windows 10. Traces of the new option were found back in December, but the most recent test build of Windows 10 (15007) includes Game Mode in the Xbox app. MSPoweruser has supplied some screenshots of how you can enable the option, but Microsoft only just today unveiled Game Mode to the public in a post published to its Xbox Wire blog. 

Microsoft’s description lists the feature as a mode to let a PC make gaming the “top priority to improve your game’s quality.” It’s still not clear exactly how Game Mode will improve gaming performance, but it’s likely that Windows 10 will simply suppress system processes and other apps from taking too many CPU, GPU, and RAM resources away from the primary game being played.
Microsoft is also testing a game broadcasting feature in the Xbox app, thanks to its acquisition of Beam last year. While the feature is currently disabled, Windows 10 users will be able to easily stream game play to the Beam service with just the Xbox app once the Windows 10 Creators Update is released in April.

The article was published on : theverge

Nvidia’s leaked Shield Portable is the Switch competitor we may never see

A few months ago, rumors were flying that a new Nvidia Shield Portable might be on the way. Newly uncovered Federal Communications Commission filings have given us our first look at what a new version of the flip-up portable Android-based console could look like. 

The original Shield was released back in 2013, and while Nvidia has since released a variety of tablets and set-top boxes under the Shield branding, the rebranded Shield Portable hasn’t had a major update since it launched. 

The news is especially interesting on the heels of this week’s Nintendo Switch announcement, given that the Switch uses a custom Tegra processor, just like the Shield. A new Shield Portable would throw some interesting competition into the mix for the upcoming Nintendo device. 

Unfortunately, the odds of the second-generation Shield coming to market seem somewhat slim, given that the documents were submitted to the FCC on July 15th, 2016. Barring some extraordinary reason for Nvidia to delay the device, it seems probable that the company decided to cancel the product sometime after filing for approval. 

The article was published on : theverge

Facebook rolls out fake news filter in Germany

Facebook will begin rolling out its fake news filter in Germany, The Financial Times reports, where lawmakers have expressed growing concern over the spread of fabricated news stories and Russian interference ahead of national elections later this year. The social network will begin fact-checking and flagging fake news for users in Germany over the coming weeks, according to the FT. The tools were first launched in the US last month, as part of a partnership with independent fact-checking organizations. 

German politicians have warned of the effect that fake news could have on federal elections slated for this fall, following a spate of fabricated articles and hoaxes during the US presidential election. Lawmakers have considered imposing fines on Facebook and other social media companies that allow fake news to spread, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned of Russian interference through propaganda or cyberattacks. It was reported last week that the German government has opened an investigation into the spread of fake news, after Breitbart published a false story claiming that a mob set fire to a church on New Year’s Eve.

Under Facebook’s fact-checking system, stories reported as fake by users will be sent to Correctiv, a nonprofit news organization based in Berlin. If an item is deemed false, it will be marked as “disputed,” along with a justification for the label, and the site will warn users before they share it. Disputed items will also show up lower in Facebook’s algorithmically-determined News Feeds.

A Facebook spokesperson tells the FT that the company is looking for other media partners in Germany, and that it plans to launch its fact-checking tools in other countries, as well. “Our focus is on Germany right now but we’re certainly thinking through what countries will unveil next,” the spokesperson told the newspaper.

German authorities have urged Facebook and other tech companies to aggressively police both fake news and hate speech. Justice Minister Heiko Maas said last year that Facebook should be regulated as a media company in Germany, which would make it legally responsible for any content it publishes. The government has reportedly considered setting up a bureau that would track and combat fake news, as the Czech Republic has done, though there are concerns over authorities being seen as interfering with the media ahead of elections. 

In an interview with the German newspaper Welt Am Sonntag this week, Maas said that fake news represents a “danger to our culture of debate,” and that social media companies “have a duty” to rein it in.
“It can’t be in Facebook’s interest that its platform is misused in order to spread lies and hate campaigns,” Maas told the newspaper. “Criminal content should be deleted immediately once it has been reported. And it must be easier for users to report fake news.”

The article was published on : theverge

Tesla’s latest Autopilot update rolls back its speed cap on undivided roads

In December, Tesla rolled out a new update that limited vehicles driving with its Autopilot engaged to drive at the speed limit on an undivided road. The move was met with protests from drivers, and now, a new update will once again allow vehicles to cruise along slightly above the posted limit.
Prior to December’s update, drivers had been able to set their vehicle to drive at up to 5 miles above the posted speed limit on roads and undivided highways. This new update ( allows drivers to set their speed at slightly above the posted speed. 

The change was noticed by a Tesla driver who posted their finding to Reddit. Elon Musk also confirmed the news on Twitter, who responded to a query about it. 

The rollback should appease drivers who were irritated with the December update, which not only restricted speeds, but included safety features which recommended lower speeds to drivers based on the vehicle’s surroundings. Techcrunch notes that the new update helps reflect some realities on the road: traffic doesn’t always follow the posted speed limit.

The article was published on : theverge

Microsoft is finally rebuilding the Xbox One dashboard for speed

The Xbox One dashboard was built with Kinect in mind, from the overall user interface to the basic fundamentals that assign system resources accordingly. Microsoft has slowly been walking back some of those decisions with improvements focused on quick access to features with the controller, but there are still some inherent problems with dashboard performance. It appears that Microsoft is finally about to address the Xbox One dashboard issues.

In a blog post detailing a new Game Mode for Windows 10, Microsoft reveals that it’s not only Windows 10 that’s getting some performance enhancements. “Every Xbox One will see an update coming to the Guide that will make it faster to complete common tasks,” explains Mike Ybarra, head of platform engineering for Xbox. “Through one press of the Xbox button on your controller, you’ll be able to pull up the newly enhanced Guide as an overlay on the left side of your screen no matter what you’re doing.”

Microsoft is also planning to rebuild popular “multitasking experiences” with speed in mind. Ybarra cites the ability to record clips, adjust their length, and access them all directly within the new guide. Microsoft will also add a new achievement tracking overlay, Gamerscore leaderboard, music controls, and a new Cortana design. 

Xbox One users are well aware of some of the dashboard sluggishness, so any changes to speed things up will be welcome ones. Microsoft doesn’t say when these new guide changes will be implemented, but it’s reasonable some will arrive around the same time as the Creators Update ships to Windows 10 PCs in April.

The article was published on : theverge

Microsoft patent reveals foldable phone that turns into a tablet

Microsoft is attempting to patent a device with a flexible hinge and display that would transform a phone into a tablet. Patent filings discovered by MSPoweruser reveal that Microsoft is, at least, experimenting with this type of concept for a future mobile device. Accompanying notes and diagrams detail what looks like a large smartphone that can fold over and transform into a tablet form factor or even the tent mode found on Lenovo’s range of Yoga tablets. There appears to be modes for two or three screens to extend flat out to make the device bigger and more of a tablet like Microsoft's original Courier concept. Microsoft first filed this phone patent in October 2014.

While Microsoft patents thousands of inventions that never make it into final products, the context of this particular application is key. The inventor is listed as Kabir Siddiqui, who has also successfully patented Microsoft’s Surface kickstand and Surface camera angle previously. Persistent rumors have suggested that Microsoft is looking to bring a Surface Phone to the market this year, but the software maker has consistently avoided traditional form factors for its Surface devices. This latest patent could show how Microsoft is looking at a potential return to phones, allowing the owner to transform a device into something greater than just a smartphone.

Microsoft’s Surface Studio device leaked out months in advance thanks to patent filings that revealed the exact design of the company’s 2-in-1 PC. It’s unlikely that this is the final design of a rumored Surface Phone, but this type of concept device could provide some clues to how Microsoft is looking at smartphones and mobile devices after its retreat from the mobile market last year.

The article was published on : theverge

The original Nvidia Shield TV gets updated to add features from the new model

Nvidia announced a new, upgraded version of its Shield TV streaming box at CES 2017 that due to come out soon, but the company isn't leaving the original 2015 model out in the cold. As promised, the "Shield Experience Upgrade 5.0" update was released today for the older box, adding several of the new features that Nvidia announced for the upcoming 2017 version of the Shield TV. 

The update brings the 2015 Shield TV up to Android 7.0 Nougat, adds apps for Amazon Video, Twitter, NFL, and Comedy Central, and offers a new Nvidia Games hub as a centralized place to access games. Additionally, the GeForce Now cloud streaming has been upgraded to offer up to GeForce GTX 1080 graphics, while the local GameStream feature can now stream games from your gaming PC at up to 4K HDR.

The Shield TV update is out today for owners of the original 2015 device, but users who want the new features of the recently announced 2017 model — including improved performance and Google Assistant smart home control — will have to wait until the new hardware releases later this month.

The article was published on : theverge

The Bragi Headphone is finally shipping

Bragi announced today that the company’s latest Headphone earbuds are finally available for immediate shipping. The news comes after a series of delays in shipping the Headphones, including a mid-December announcement where Bragi was forced to send out a PDF Christmas card for prospective Headphone gift givers to use in lieu of the actual product.

The Headphone is a stripped-down version of the Bragi Dash, and eschews the fitness tracking, heart rate monitoring, gesture controls, and app to simply function as a pair of truly wireless Bluetooth headphones. The Headphone is available on Bragi’s website now for $149.99, with Bragi estimating that orders should arriving within two weeks.  

The article was published on : theverge 

The Nintendo Switch doesn’t come with a Joy-Con Charging Grip

We knew from the recent glut of information that the Nintendo Switch includes a set of Joy-Con controllers along with a Grip attachment in the box. But a report from Eurogamer today notes that unlike the $29.99 Joy-Con Charging Grip that Nintendo sells separately, the bundled Grip simply is a plastic shell that allows the Joy-Con controllers to be more easily held in a traditional form factor. 

As can be seen when visually comparing the two, the Joy-Con Charging Grip has a translucent shell — similar to the Switch Pro Controller — and features a USB-C port on the top of the device to charge the Grip’s battery. Nintendo is claiming that the Joy-Con controllers (without the Charging Grip) should get around 20 hours of use on a charge, and take about 3.5 hours to recharge, whether that’s connected to a plugged in or docked Switch unit or in the Charging Grip. 

While fans may be disappointed at the exclusion of the charging feature in the bundled Grip controller, it does make some sense given that the Joy-Con units will charge whenever they’re attached to the main Switch device, while any extra Joy-Cons would need some sort of external method to recharge — like a Charging Grip, for example — given that they contain no charging ports of their own.

The Joy-Con Charging Grip will cost $29.99 and is scheduled to release alongside the Switch on March 3rd. Nintendo hasn’t announced at this time whether or not it will be possible to buy additional non-charging Joy-Con grips in the future.

The article was published on : theverge

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Nokia teases new Android phone for February 26th

Nokia revealed last month that it would be returning to the smartphone market this year. HMD Global, a Finnish company that was founded to create phones under the Nokia brand name, revealed the first new Nokia-branded Android phone at the weekend. Dubbed Nokia 6, the new handset will only be available in China in the coming months. However, HMD Global is also planning to unveil additional Nokia-branded smartphones, and the company is teasing February 26th for potential announcements.

In a Facebook post, Nokia Mobile simply says “more announcements to follow on February 26th,” a date that lines up perfectly with the start of the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona. It’s not clear exactly what we’ll see on the 26th, but the Nokia 6 smartphone is a fairly mid-range device that’s unlikely to appeal to those who are waiting to see if HMD Global can recreate Nokia’s classic hardware design and pair it well with Android. We’ll find out a lot more next month, and The Verge will be live from Mobile World Congress to bring you the latest news from Nokia, Samsung, and many more.

The article was published on : theverge

ESPN adds support for Apple’s iOS single sign-on

ESPN updated its iOS apps yesterday to add some new options for sports fans looking to get video content on other devices: support for Apple's iOS single sign-on, and Chromecast support in the flagship ESPN app. 

Apple launched single sign-on for the Apple TV and iOS platforms over a month ago, but the service is still missing some fairly major partners on both the app and cable company sides. Shortly after the feature was launched, ESPN parent company Disney added support for its Watch ABC and Watch Disney apps, so ESPN joining the platform isn't a total surprise.

Additionally, the ESPN iOS app also works with Chromecast, should you prefer to use Google’s hardware instead of Apple’s for watching TV. It’s a feature that’s been in the company’s streaming-focused WatchESPN app for years on both Android and iOS, but it’s nice to see it in the regular ESPN app as well. 

The new update is available now for both the ESPN and WatchESPN apps on the iOS App Store. 

The article was published on : theverge

The Steadicam Volt is a camera stabilizer for your smartphone

Steadicam's camera stabilizer is legendary in Hollywood, and now the famed video technology is making its way to an even more portable form factor: smartphones.

The Steadicam Volt Smartphone Stabilizer is a new Steadicam device from parent company Tiffen that's currently looking for funding on Kickstarter. It's a handheld device similar to DJI's Osmo stabilizing system, but unlike the purely motorized Oslo, the Volt uses Steadicam's traditional mechanical gimbal in combination with an electronic motor system to steady tracking shots. The Volt was built in partnership with Yuneec, the drone company, though the extent of Yuneec's involvement here is unclear.

Steadicam claims that the dual system allows for superior tracking than systems like the Osmo, which feature a lag in catching up with camera movements that the Volt's mechanical components don't have, as seen in the GIF below. Steadicam also is touting the ability for the Volt to simulate the inertial movement of an actual full-sized camera through haptic feedback to make the Volt feel more like a traditional Steadicam rig. 

Tiffen has released a smartphone camera stabilizer before with the Steadicam Smoothee, but that simply relied on a manual counterweight system to smooth out shots, unlike the Volt. If the Volt's battery dies, though, it can still also function as a fully manual stabilizer like the Smoothee. 

The Steadicam Volt is available for backing on Kickstarter for an early-bird price of $139 — $60 off the planned $199 retail price. The first batch is expected to ship later this year in June, and while the crowdfunded nature means that there’s always some risk, Tiffen is a well established company, making this one of the less riskier Kickstarter projects we’ve seen when it comes to the likelihood of actually receiving the item you backed. 

The article was published on : theverge

You’ll be able to preorder a Nintendo Switch on Friday (in NYC, at least)

Nintendo is releasing more details on the upcoming Nintendo Switch later this week, but the first piece of official news has already dropped. The New York-based Nintendo store Twitter account announced that a “limited quantity” of preorders for the new console will be available this Friday, January 13th at 9AM ET at the Nintendo World NY location. 

Given the huge level of anticipation for the Switch, and recent supply problems with the NES Classic, it’s reasonable to assume that the Switch will probably be extremely difficult to buy for some time. So if you’re looking to be one of the first to get Nintendo’s newest console, you might want to start lining up now. In any event, it’s likely that the supply will not last long for preorders on Friday.

We’ve reached out to Nintendo to clarify if Switch preorders will be available online or in other regions, and will update this post if we have more information. 

The article was published on : theverge

Watch an AI supercomputer battle top pros in a $200,000 poker tournament

The Brains vs. AI poker tournament being put on by Carnegie Mellon University kicked off today. It pits four humans pros against an AI trained to play Heads Up (1 vs. 1) No-Limit Texas Hold’em poker. The system runs on supercomputers, the humans on caffeine. No matter what, the human pros get to take home $200,000, divided up among the quartet based on their performance. But if the AI, named Liberatus, outplays them, it will earn a place in the history books.

You can watch the entire event live on Twitch. The stream for each human pro is distinct, and you can find them all on the website of the Rivers Casino, which is hosting the games. Results of the daily sessions will be posted each evening, so check in then to see who’s ahead. This is the second tournament put on by CMU. Back in 2015 the humans triumphed over the course of 80,000 hands. But the bots have improved drastically since then. 

A separate academic team has been working on the same problem, and declared in a paper published last week that its system, DeepStack, can now consistently beat expert-level players. The goal of this tournament, however, is to see if a computer can beat four of the very best players in one of poker’s most popular variants.

The article was published on : theverge

Las Vegas to begin testing autonomous shuttles this week

The city of Las Vegas will be home to a two-week autonomous shuttle trial starting today, according to a report from The Las Vegas Sun. The shuttle is a small 12-person vehicle known as Arma, similar in appearance to Google’s original driverless car prototype, and it’s developed by a French company called Navya. The shuttle will offer free rides from 10AM to 6PM down Fremont Street between Las Vegas Boulevard and Eighth Street. While the car is capable of driving itself at up to 27 mph, the trial period will cap the vehicles’ top speed at 12 mph. 

While it is only a trail for now, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman hopes to have a fleet of Arma vehicles operating in the city as soon as this summer or by early fall. The expectation would be that Navya’s $10,000-per-month service could be offset with advertising, which could be plastered on the side of the shuttles and displayed on screens within the vehicle itself. Goodman says an ideal situation would be making rides on an Arma free for city residents. 

Navya got the trial green lit by collaborating with the city of Las Vegas and Keolis, the largest private transport company in France. Navya has had its self-driving shuttles operating in Paris since October of 2015, and the company just raised $34 million in funding, including an investment from Keolis, to expand its services. Las Vegas would mark the first US city to test and potentially implement Navya’s shuttles. 

The article was published on : theverge

Android Wear 2.0 is launching next month

Android Wear 2.0, the next iteration of Google’s smartwatch operating system, will be released to the public in February. The calendar date is not yet set in stone, but Google is now notifying developers of an impending release just a few weeks away to help those with unsupported Android Wear code be prepared to update their apps or else find the software unavailable in the Play Store. 

Specifically, Google is trying to ensure that developers update their apps to allow them to run in standalone mode, meaning without a dependency on a connected smartphone for connecting to Wi-Fi networks and installing apps. This standalone aspect is a hallmark feature of Android Wear 2.0, which was first announced back at the company’s I/O developer conference in May 2016.

Back in September, Google delayed the release of its next version of Android Wear until 2017 to hammer out issues that arose during developer preview builds. The company is also working on two unannounced smartwatches of its own with an unnamed manufacturer it has collaborated with in the past. 

Contrary to earlier reports, Google confirmed to The Verge in December that the new watches will not have Google or Pixel branding, but will be considered flagship devices and the first hardware to launch after the release of Android Wear 2.0. With a software release sometime next month, we can expect Google to follow up with its watch announcements not too much later. 

The article was published on : theverge

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Why is PETA opposing Jallikattu? Check out the video !!!

Native cattle breeds in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu face a fight for survival if a ban on "bull-taming" contests is not revoked, say supporters of the sport.

Moto G5 Plus reportedly revealed in leaked photos

We weren’t expecting to see anything new from Motorola’s Moto range until a little later this year, but the internet might just have delivered an early sneak peek. Until recently, a Romanian listing on online marketplace OLX was selling what was claimed to be the as-yet-unannounced Moto G5 Plus — successor to last year’s G4 Plus. 

The listing seems to have been removed, but images ripped by a helpful Redditor show a legit-looking Moto device. Specs include a 5.5-inch 1080p display, Snapdragon 625 processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB internal memory, 3,080 mAh battery, and 13-megapixel rear-facing camera. There’s a micro-USB for charging, and the whole thing runs Android 7.0 Nougat. We can see a few minor cosmetic changes compared to older devices in the G-series (the fingerprint sensor is oval rather than square; the camera bump is circular rather than oval, similar to the Moto Z), but overall, it all fits with Motorola’s design language. 

An interesting side-note: this device is identical to leaked renders and photos that surfaced last year of what was then claimed to be a new Moto X. If the specs in this listing are correct, though, this device would obviously not stand among the high-end Moto X range. 

We’re not sure when we’ll find out more about this device, but the original listing for it included a “March 2017” date for availability. If that’s true, we’ll likely see more at Mobile World Congress at the end of February. 

The article was published on : theverge

Sony’s wonderful new OLED TV is mostly the work of LG Display

One of the highlights of CES for us this year was Sony’s move to finally embrace OLED technology for its flagship line of Bravia TVs. Not only that, the Japanese company doubled down on the innovation by also featuring an integrated audio system that turned the display into the speaker — the new Bravia OLED literally vibrates the screen back and forth to generate sound. As it turns out, however, all that hot new tech bearing the Sony name actually comes from Korea’s LG Display.

If you’ve ever wondered why LG Electronics and LG Display are two separate entities, it is precisely so that the latter can develop and sell its technology, on a white-label basis, to other device manufacturers without being in direct competition with them. The grand LG competes with Sony for big TV sales, while the more focused LG Display only sells the displays and components necessary to drive them. That’s how it’s possible for LG technology to be winning one of The Verge’s Best of CES awards under the Sony banner.

I attended LG Display’s CES 2017 exhibition during the same week that Sony launched the Bravia OLED screen, and I happened upon the former company’s Crystal Sound OLED TV. This was being demonstrated in two orientations: the vertical TV was used to play back music and show off the clarity and volume of the display functioning as a speaker, while the horizontal TV had two piles of beads on top of it, to show that it is indeed moving while playing back audio. I put a hand on both the edge and middle of the panel, and it was apparent that the vibration was substantially stronger in the middle — which is where the "exciters," motors used to drive the panel back and forth, were positioned. But, try as I might, I couldn’t notice any distortion in the picture as a result of the uneven vibration. On both panels, the OLED TV image retained its integrity perfectly.

But the sound of these TVs is the truly shocking thing. It’s really, really good. Granted, it won’t replace a dedicated 5.1 surround sound system, but it’s pure, crystalline, and more than loud enough for most uses. I’ve seen many so-called transparent speakers that use a sheet of glass or translucent plastic to generate sound, and they’ve all been distinctly sub-par. Not so with this LG Display technology. The Korean company wouldn’t openly confirm that it’s responsible for the OLED-TV-as-a-speaker tech inside Sony’s new Bravias, but it does say that it already has customers for the Crystal Sound OLED solution and it can build it with two, four, eight, or even 16 exciters, depending on what its customers want.

There’s no shame in Sony rebranding what is evidently very good technology, and there’s still plenty of design and engineering that needs to happen behind the OLED scenes to make a great TV that will last for a long time. But the fact LG Display is responsible for the core of the new Sony Bravia should mean that we’ll soon be able to have our pick from a variety of OLED TVs that double up as a good speaker system.

The article was published on : theverge

Legal challenge against UK’s sweeping surveillance laws quickly crowdfunded

Human rights campaign Liberty is launching a legal challenge against the UK’s recently passed surveillance legislation, and have reached an initial crowdfunding goal to pay for the fight this morning. The group raised £10,000 ($12,200) overnight, and will use it to seek a High Court judicial review of the new laws.

The legislation in question, known as the Investigatory Powers Bill, became law last November. It includes measures such as recording the internet history of every UK citizen for up to a year (and making that information accessible not only to the police but also government bodies like the Food Standards Agency), and granting security services the right to perform “bulk equipment interference” — or hacking groups of individuals at a time. 

The law was condemned by both privacy groups and tech companies, and described as “worse than scary” by the privacy chief of the United Nations. Last December, the European Union even ruled that the legislation is illegal and “not justified within a democratic society,” but the UK’s pending exit from the EU means such censure will likely have no effect. The UK’s intelligence agencies also have a history of ignoring such challenges. 

Liberty’s new campaign was inspired by a petition signed by more than 200,000 UK citizens for the government to debate the legislation once more (the request was rejected under the grounds that this had already taken place). 

In a press statement, Liberty director Martha Spurrier said: “Last year, this Government exploited fear and distraction to quietly create the most extreme surveillance regime of any democracy in history. We hope anybody with an interest in defending our democracy, privacy, press freedom, fair trials, protest rights, free speech and the safety and cybersecurity of everyone in the UK will support this crowdfunded challenge, and make 2017 the year we reclaim our rights.”

The article was published on : theverge

LG’s G6 will have an extra tall 5.7-inch screen with negligible bezels

LG Display, the pseudo-independent display-making arm of LG, today announced a new 5.7-inch LCD with the unusual aspect ratio of 18:9 and a QHD+ resolution, which the company says will be used in LG’s next flagship smartphone. Additionally, sources familiar with the development of LG’s new phone tell The Verge that the emphasis of the new design will be on maximizing the screen-to-body ratio. LG previously did that very successfully with the LG G2, but moved away from it with larger models that prioritized other design features.

The 18:9 aspect ratio is interesting because it adds a couple of notches beyond the traditional 16:9, which is a perfect fit for most widescreen content available to watch on desktop or mobile devices today. Xiaomi’s Mi Mix has a 17:9 screen, which allows an extra sliver beyond 16:9 to accommodate the Android software buttons. LG’s choice to go even taller (or wider, if you’re looking at it in landscape) with its next flagship could be a hint that the company has something else to add into the additional space. That could be another second-screen implementation, as LG has already done with the V10 and V20 smartphones, but nothing has yet been confirmed on that front.

Importantly, with the focus placed on trimming away bezels, much as with Xiaomi’s almost bezel-less phone, the 5.7-inch device from LG will likely feel much smaller than its size would initially suggest. The 6.4-inch Mi Mix is only slightly larger than an iPhone 7 Plus, and an ultra-efficient LG G6 would probably rival smaller devices like the bezel-rich Sony Xperia XZ or LG’s own 5.3-inch G5 from last year. LG Display says the bezels required by its new panel are 10 percent smaller on the sides and 20 percent smaller at the top.

QHD+ simply tacks on an extra few rows of pixels to the familiar Quad HD, with the new LG Display panel stretching out to 2880 x 1440 resolution (yes, 2:1 would also be an accurate way of addressing the screen ratio, but the ":9" is a helpful reference point to more familiar aspect ratios). LG Display also claims to have improved power consumption by an impressive 30 percent, though it doesn’t specify what baseline that’s compared to. The company also notes a 10 percent improvement in transmittance, making for better outdoor visibility. Look out for the full LG G6 announcement at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress in late February.

The article was published on : theverge

Microsoft to address latest Windows 10 privacy concerns with Creators Update

Windows 10 has faced a growing number of privacy concerns in recent months. While Microsoft has responded to some previously, the latest criticism came from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, accusing the software maker of sending an “unprecedented amount of usage data” back to the company with Windows 10. Microsoft is now hoping to quell some of these fears with several changes to its privacy controls in the upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update.

Microsoft is planning to simplify the diagnostic data collection levels, so that it’s clear what telemetry data is being sent back to the company’s servers. Currently there are three levels, but in the Creators Update there will be an option to switch between basic and full data collection levels. “We’ve further reduced the data collected at the Basic level,” explains Windows chief Terry Myerson in a blog post today. “This includes data that is vital to the operation of Windows.” Microsoft will introduce a new privacy options set up process, with clearer options for disabling location, speech recognition, diagnostics, recommendations, and relevant ads. The new options certainly look a lot clearer, and it appears the basic data collection will only include necessary error reporting.

Microsoft is also introducing a new web-based privacy dashboard. It’s designed to show Microsoft Account users any activity data including location, search, browsing, and Cortana data in a single view. You can clear data like browsing history, location data, or search history all in the new privacy dashboard which is available now. Microsoft says it’s planning to “add more functionality and categories of data over time.”

Privacy advocates have argued since the introduction of Windows 10, that the operating system sends back location, text input, voice input, touch input, websites you visit, and other telemetry data to Microsoft. The company’s latest changes are clearly designed to address some of these concerns, but we’ll have to wait until the Creators Update is available in April to see whether Microsoft has truly addressed all of the EFF’s concerns.

The article was published on : theverge

AT&T is raising the price of grandfathered unlimited plans again

AT&T’s grandfathered unlimited plans are vestiges of an earlier era, when unfettered access to mobile data was a perk offered to those willing to buy into the smartphone before it became ubiquitous. Now, those plans are getting costlier — again. AT&T has just announced a $5 increase on its grandfathered unlimited plans, bringing the total cost per month to $40, according to a report from DSLReports yesterday and confirmed by ArsTechnica today. That follows a $5 increase back in February of 2016, meaning those plans have jumped more than 30 percent in a little under one year.

The price hike won’t occur until March 2017. However, it’s clear the company is encouraging users to abandon those service plans for other offerings that, in the eyes of AT&T, are less unruly. AT&T discontinued its unlimited plan quite some time ago. In its place, the company has shifted to shared data buckets with add-ons and perks — like tethering without any throttling — to incentivize customers to give up their old plans. 

If you do decide to keep your grandfathered unlimited plan, AT&T still says it will throttle your connection after you’ve used 22GB of data in a single service period and attempt to connect to a congested tower. Unsurprisingly, AT&T tried to make that data limit as low as 5GB, and the FCC complained.

Even still, the word “unlimited” is clearly being phased out over at AT&T. The company’s only unlimited option that exists today, beyond the grandfathered and increasingly expensive one, comes with a DirecTV subscription. That plan doesn’t allow tethering and costs about $100 for a single phone, which makes it costlier than the current grandfathered option even after the price hike. 

The article was published on : theverge

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

You can now hack an NES Classic to add more games

Since the NES Classic was first announced, fans have been wondering if it would be possible to somehow add more games to Nintendo's diminutive retro console, which comes with 30 curated titles and no official options to add more. But over the weekend, news broke of the first successful NES Classic hack that manages to add more NES games to Nintendo's console.

As expected, the hack relies on the fact that the NES Classic is, in essence, simply a Linux computer running an emulator, which in theory makes it easier to modify than Nintendo’s proprietary software on its other consoles. By connecting the console to a computer and booting it up in FEL mode (a recovery mode built into the version of Linux the NES Classic runs), you can add more games to the device. This works by dumping the entire software onto the computer, copying over the new games, and then overwriting the original software with the new, modified version. 

The hack has already grown considerably in the last few days since the original announcement, with the latest version offering a GUI-based tool called Hakchi that automates the process of adding the ROM files, complete with metadata and cover artwork to fit in with Nintendo's officially offered titles.

There are instructions including in the video above, and while they seem pretty simple at this point, keep in mind that if something goes wrong, you’re probably outside the limits of your warranty here. Additionally, along with the technical know-how to get the games installed, you'll also need ROM files for the new NES games (its legality is typically dubious at best). Interestingly, Nintendo's decision to make the NES Classic completely disconnected from the internet makes it almost impossible for the company to block the hack on existing devices through any firmware updates.
So, if you're willing to risk your console (which is still almost impossible to find in stores) and can make peace with the legality of ROMs, know that it's at least possible to add more games to the NES Classic.

The article was published on : theverge

The iPhone turns 10: a visual history of Apple’s most important product

Ten years ago today Steve Jobs introduced the very first iPhone. He described it as three devices in one: “A widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough internet communications device.” But since its first unveiling, the iPhone has become much more than that. It’s a symbol of the tech industry, of the modern era as a whole, and has made Apple the largest company in the world in terms of market capitalization, with some even speculating it’s the most profitable product ever. A decade on, and it’s still making headlines. Let’s take a look at how the iPhone has changed over the years:

iPhone (2007)

10 years of the iPhone: a product history in pictures
This is the iPhone as it first appeared in 2007, laying the foundation for the modern smartphone. It introduced the classic grid-of-icons layout, the single home button, and dropped a physical keyboard in favor of a multi-touch display. It was ready for the internet and consuming media, but it still lacked a number of key features — including 3G connectivity and the App Store.

iPhone 3G (2008)

10 years of the iPhone: a product history in pictures
The next iPhone launched in 2008 with that missing piece of the puzzle: the App Store. This gave developers the chance to build their own applications, and increased the iPhone’s value as useful apps and games populated its digital shopfront. The iPhone 3G also had 3G data, as well as push email and GPS navigation.

iPhone 3GS (2009)

10 years of the iPhone: a product history in pictures
The first "S" model iPhone offered iterative improvements rather than big new features. Apple said it was twice as fast as its predecessor, with the "S" standing for speed. It retained the same basic shape as earlier models, including a 3.5-inch, 480 x 320 display. Oh, and users finally got the option to copy and paste text.

iPhone 4 (2010)

10 years of the iPhone: a product history in pictures
The first major redesign of the iPhone bought stainless steel and glass to the table, as well as a new, squarer look with rounded corners. It was unveiled as the thinnest smartphone in the world and was the first Apple device to use a "Retina display." It was also the first iPhone with a front-facing camera for making FaceTime video calls, and shipped with iOS 4, which was capable of multi-tasking apps.

iPhone 4S (2011)

10 years of the iPhone: a product history in pictures
In 2011, the fifth-generation iPhone looked identical to its predecessor but shipped with Siri — Apple's voice assistant, which was ahead of its time but a little too ambitious. The phone also came with a new, rear-facing 8-megapixel camera and redesigned antenna to fix connectivity problems that plagued the iPhone 4. It was unveiled on October 4th, but the news was overshadowed by the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs the following day.

iPhone 5 (2012)

10 years of the iPhone: a product history in pictures
In 2012, the second major redesign of the iPhone bought a larger 4-inch display to the device and an aluminum case that made it durable but light. The iPhone 5 also introduced the reversible Lightning connector, replacing the old 30-pin port.

iPhone 5C (2013)

10 years of the iPhone: a product history in pictures
In 2013, Apple introduced a pair of new iPhones for the first time ever. The cheaper of the two was the colorful iPhone 5C, which had similar specs to last year’s iPhone 5, but came with a polycarbonate shell that was famously described by designer Jony Ive as "unapologetically plastic."

iPhone 5S (2013)

10 years of the iPhone: a product history in pictures
The 5C's pricier cousin was the 5S, which retained a near-identical design to the iPhone 5, adding new color options instead. There were big changes inside though: the home button was upgraded to support Apple's fingerprint recognition system, Touch ID, and the device featured the first 64-bit processor in a smartphone (the A7). It also shipped with iOS 7, a major overhaul of Apple's mobile operating system that dropped various skeuomorphic design touches (like fake textures in apps) for a flatter, cleaner look.

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus (2014)

10 years of the iPhone: a product history in pictures
For 2014, Apple finally went big with the iPhone, introducing the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. Both phones featured a new, curved design, as well as NFC support for mobile payments, a faster processor, and improved cameras — which had become the iPhone’s standout feature. The larger, lighter phones weren't as sturdy as previous models though, and "Bendgate" was the Apple scandal of 2014.

iPhone 6S and 6S Plus (2015)

10 years of the iPhone: a product history in pictures
Another S year meant another Similar-looking iPhone. The glass was tougher and the aluminum case less prone to bending on the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, but not much else had changed. The big new features were a pressure-sensitive display (3D Touch) and short videos captured with every picture (Live Photos). A year and a half later, though, and these still feel more like gimmicks than must-haves.

iPhone SE (2016)

10 years of the iPhone: a product history in pictures
The beginning of 2016 brought a surprise: the mid-cycle iPhone SE. A $399 device that looked exactly like an iPhone 5S, but with speedy new hardware inside and a Touch ID-enabled home button. The 4-inch screen was perfect for people who didn’t quite feel ready to move on to a larger device — but it was clear Apple thought big iPhones were the future.

iPhone 7 and 7 Plus (2016)

10 years of the iPhone: a product history in pictures
And speaking of the future, that’s exactly what Apple promised they were delivering with last year’s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. The company avoided a major redesign, but still made significant changes — including a new dual-camera system for the Plus, making both models water resistant, dropping the mechanical home button in favor of a fully digital lookalike, and, yes, removing the headphone jack. Apple calls it “courage,” critics call it arrogance. Either way, there’s no going back. 

The article was published on : theverge

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