Reuters: Technology News
last updated: Tue, 22 Aug 2017 17:12:12 -0400

Wal-Mart to enter voice-shopping market via Google platform
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc is teaming up with Alphabet Inc's Google to enter the nascent voice-shopping market, currently dominated by Inc , adding another front to Wal-Mart's battle with the online megastore.

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BBC News - Technology
last updated: Tue, 22 Aug 2017 12:24:33 GMT

China relaunches world's fastest train
The high-speed trains will be able to run at speeds of 350km/h following safety checks on rail lines.

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last updated: Tue, 22 Aug 2017 19:30:26 +0000

Rumor: ITV’s Bradley Walsh Is Doctor’s New Companion

Let me preface this by saying: Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. Quiz show host, comedian, and actor Bradley Walsh is rumored to be the next Doctor Who companion. According to […]

The post Rumor: ITV’s Bradley Walsh Is Doctor’s New Companion appeared first on

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PC World - News RSS feed
last updated: Thu, 04 May 2017 03:28:00 +1000

Sneaky Gmail phishing attack fools with fake Google Docs app
Google Docs was pulled into a sneaky email phishing attack on Tuesday that was designed to trick users into giving up access to their Gmail accounts.

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Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
last updated: Sun, 13 Aug 2017 10:00:00 -0400

The Essential Phone is a beautiful alternative to Apple's iPhone

The Essential Phone is a beautiful alternative to Apple's iPhoneThe Essential Phone is the first handset from the father of Google's Android, and it's a solid alternative to Apple's iPhone.

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Galaxies collide in stunning picture
A NEW image captured by NASA Hubble space telescope shows ‘doomed duo’ galaxies colliding and then trying to destroy one another.

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last updated: Tue, 22 Aug 2017 21:06:07 +0000

Tasman Glacier lit up to remind us how beautiful nature is - CNET
Backed by Canon, a photographer and projectionist team up to raise environmental awareness.

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BuzzFeed - Geeky
last updated: Sat, 15 Apr 2017 16:16:05 -0400

Which Member Of "Off The Hook" Are You?

Don’t get cooked, stay off the hook!

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Tech – TIME
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Super NES Classic Preorders Are Live and This Is Where You Can Find One
Everything to you need to know about the red hot micro-console

Super NES Classic preorders are finally happening, and frenzied fans are already ravaging retailer stockpiles. The system, a 1990s era Super Nintendo that’s been hit with a shrink ray and bundled with 21 games—including a never-before-released followup to 3D shoot-em-up Star Fox—arrives on September 29 for $79.99.

Nintendo’s official Super NES Classic page confirms that preorders are happening now via official retail partners Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop, Target, Toys ‘R’ Us and Walmart.

Here’s where you can find the Super NES Classic, followed by a rundown of everything we know about Nintendo’s micro-console so far.

Amazon – Sold Out

Amazon’s preorders went live in the middle of the night, August 22, and almost immediately sold out. The online retailer’s Super NES Classic preorder page is here. It’s not clear if or when the company will offer further preorders.

Best Buy – Sold Out

The electronics retailer opened preorders Tuesday morning, August 22, and promptly sold out. Keep an eye on Best Buy’s official Super NES Classic preorder page for further info, which the company says is “coming soon.”

GameStop – Sold Out

GameStop’s Super NES Classic preorders were supposed to go live at 1:00 p.m. ET on August 22, purchasable either as individual units or as part of five bundles, which the company says you can buy online, or via their web-in-store program. The company requires a $25 deposit to get the console on September 29.

The retailer also says it’s taking preorders in-store.

Target – Sold Out

Target’s Super NES Classic page is here. The company’s initial preorders went live shortly after 1:00 p.m. ET on August 22, but clicking the preorder or “add to cart” buttons produces an “out of stock” inventory error message.

ThinkGeek – Sold Out

The GameStop subsidiary is selling several fairly high-priced Super NES Classic bundle editions.

Walmart – Sold Out

You can preorder the Super NES Classic from Walmart right here. The company’s preorder page appears to have gone live around 1:00 p.m. ET on August 22, but buyers quickly burned through Walmart’s initial allotment.

Toys ‘R’ Us – Not Available

Toys ‘R’ Us’s Super NES Classic page isn’t available yet, and according to this Twitter reply, the toy retailer won’t offer preorders.

eBay – Available

If you don’t mind paying exorbitant scalper prices, eBay has listings for the Super NES Classic for between $200 and $300. This is utter last resort territory for super-fans, and under-no-circumstances-whatsoever turf for everyone else.

Read more: Nintendo Just Announced a Super Nintendo Classic Edition


What is the Super NES Classic?

More than merely a Super NES knockoff, the Super NES Classic is a pint-sized replica of Nintendo’s beloved 16-bit gray-and-purple console that first arrived stateside in November 1991. Instead of top-loading cartridges, it comes with 21 games baked in, a pair of replica controllers and high-definition graphic support.

It also includes a special “rewind” feature that lets players retry sections of a game, from a few minutes to a few dozen seconds, depending on the game.

What’s the Super NES Classic’s release date and price?

You can have it on September 29 for $79.99.

When can I preorder?

See above! Preorders began August 22, 2017. That comports with what Nintendo said on its Facebook page in early August, noting that preorders would begin in late August.

What games does the Super NES Classic include?

You get 21 acclaimed gems, including original U.S. SNES pack-in Super Mario World as well as a Star Fox sequel that Nintendo and British studio Argonaut Games fully developed but never released. (To access Star Fox 2, you have to first beat Star Fox‘s starter level, says Nintendo, quipping “We didn’t want to make it too hard!”)

Here’s the full list:

  • Contra III: The Alien Wars
  • Donkey Kong Country
  • EarthBound
  • Final Fantasy III (hence renamed Final Fantasy VI)
  • F-ZERO
  • Kirby Super Star
  • Kirby’s Dream Course
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • Mega Man X
  • Secret of Mana
  • Star Fox
  • Star Fox 2
  • Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
  • Super Castlevania IV
  • Super Ghouls ’n Ghosts
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
  • Super Mario World
  • Super Metroid
  • Super Punch-Out!!
  • Yoshi’s Island

What comes with the Super NES Classic?

In addition to the system, the box includes an HDMI cable, a USB charging cable with AC adapter and two Super NES Classic Controllers—essential if you’re up for some local two-player per games like Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting, Super Mario Kart, Contra III: The Alien Wars and Secret of Mana. The controller cable length has wisely been extended to 5 feet as well. (The NES Classic’s controller was just 3 feet.)

Where else can I find one?

Game blogs (as well as roundups like this one) will lag the signal flares whooshing from social hubs like Twitter and Facebook, or forums like Reddit and NeoGAF as sales news breaks. Monitoring the Twitter and Facebook feeds of retail giants like Target and Walmart for unexpected dispatches is a good idea.

Watch Nintendo of America’s Twitter and Facebook feeds, of course. You can also keep an eye on the unofficial Nintendo Reddit (be sure to scan the “New” view), or monitor NeoGAF’s SNES preorder thread, with the usual caveats about information gleaned from anonymous public hangouts. It’s also worth bookmarking in-stock checkers like NowInStock or the Twitter feeds of deal-watchers like Wario64.

How many Super NES Classics will Nintendo make?

Nintendo has promised to produce “significantly more” of the SNES Classic than it did the NES Classic, a system that was perpetually sold out and eventually canceled well short of meeting consumer demand. It’s anyone’s guess what the total will be, but we know Nintendo sold 2.3 million NES Classics during its five-month run, so clearly more than that.

In an August 1 Facebook dispatch, the company reiterated its commitment to producing the system in high volume, writing “A significant amount of additional systems will be shipped to stores for launch day, and throughout the balance of the calendar year.”

What’s this about a companion Super NES Classic book?

Publisher Prima is putting out a companion book to fete the Super NES Classic titled Playing With Super Power: Nintendo SNES Classics, a compendium that’s due simultaneous with Nintendo’s micro-console on September 29. The beefy 320-page book combines historical info, speedrun tips and factoids, and is analogous to the book Prima published to celebrate the NES Classic last year.

Buy now: Playing With Super Power: Nintendo SNES Classics, Amazon, $26.99

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Help! My Son Confuses Me With Amazon’s Alexa
When smart homes aren't

Last week, when asking for a cup of yogurt, my three-year-old son called me Alexa.

It’s a funny, modern problem to have your child mistake you for a disembodied A.I. voice—in this case, the one powering Amazon’s Echo family of devices. But it’s also a good example of what it’s like living in a home powered by a smart speaker. Too busy to lift a remote, we bark commands into the void expecting something to respond. Maybe it does. But on occasion there’s no reply: The lights don’t turn on. Your favorite song doesn’t play. You get no yogurt.

Using a voice assistant to run your home feels beamed-in-from-Star Trek cool, making mundane actions magical. You can voice-toggle your lighting, conjure your favorite Beatles’ tunes or have your sprinkler system douse the lawn on command. When I get home from a run, Siri unlocks the door for me. While I’m cooking dinner, Alexa pulls together peppy playlists. In my office, I ask “Okay Google, what’s my day like?” and a little Moneypenny on my bookshelf fills me in.

But life with this technology can also be a comedy of ghostly errors. As I write this, an Ed Sheeran song begins randomly playing in my house. I’m home alone. My wife intended to play it in her car, but her Spotify account is linked to our Amazon Echo smart speaker. So instead of playing on her car’s audio system, “Castle on the Hill” is blaring in our suburban Portland home.

Over the past year of communing with these mysterious new voice-summoned butlers, I’ve realized that I’m essentially living inside a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath beta test. The reasons why aren’t mysterious: Modern homes aren’t wired for voice assistant technologies, and voice assistants aren’t smart enough to govern modern homes.

Some of that’s just raised expectations crashing into reality. On a recent sweltering day, I was closing my bedroom windows so I could turn on the air conditioning. I asked Alexa to turn on the ceiling fan and then stopped, laughing—not because my Echo couldn’t hear me, but because my fan is dumb. It’s not Alexa compatible, and never will be.

It’s a schizophrenic kind of reality, living with one foot in the future and the other in the past. I’d gotten used to bossing Alexa around in my kitchen, and I transferred that knowledge to the bedroom, a serene space where we try to keep gadgets out of sight. I was effectively a guy in the early 1900s flipping a light switch to snuff out a gas lantern.

Ironically, part of what’s missing from these half-baked voice-controlled scenarios may involve another kind of switch—specifically the newfangled Eufy Smart Switch by Anker. With an embedded microphone, speaker and wireless connectivity, the Smart Switch will place Amazon’s voice assistant technology in any room, without the need for wall plugs or smart speakers. When it launches in October, the $29 Eufy switch will let users summon news briefs, buy vitamins online, or even hail an Uber with Alexa voice commands. And yes, the Smart Switch can turn lights on and off in a pinch.

That last point may sound like a joke, but controlling smart bulbs with voice assistant platforms—the smart home’s neatest trick—can be a temperamental headache. It’s wizardly when it works, but maddening when it doesn’t. And that it sometimes doesn’t work as reliably as physical light switches illustrates how far the technology has to go before it becomes mainstream.

At this point, controlling a smart home with your voice can feel like you’re waging a battle for basic consistency. When I ask Alexa to turn on the kitchen lights, for instance, Amazon’s voice assistant sometimes replies “A few things share that name, which one did you want?” If I say “kitchen” again, voila, the lights go on. My wife, meanwhile, doesn’t get asked for clarification at all, though we both speak equally loud and clear.

Siri, by contrast, doesn’t require that extra clarifying step, but has its own vexing eccentricities. If I disable Wi-Fi on my phone, the smart home setup seems to lose its mind, dropping connection to much of my smart gear. Troubleshooting it has been a gamble, sometimes fixing the problem, sometimes not. I’m hopeful that Apple’s forthcoming $349 HomePod smart speaker will solve the problem, but shelling out that kind of money just to improve Siri doesn’t sound like a good deal to me.

But these assistants aren’t just in smart speakers. For instance, there’s currently a speaker and mic-packing Ecobee4 thermostat on my wall. As yet another device in my home’s voice interactive Alexa-verse, it can give me the weather, tell me the score of a Red Sox game, or reorder fish oil supplements from Amazon. But its Alexa integration oddly can’t turn on my home’s air conditioner. And when I ask Alexa (or Siri, because it’s also compatible with Apple’s HomeKit) for the temperature in the kids’ room, it won’t tell me, though it will instantly let me know how warm it is in the master bedroom or attic. Try as I have to fix this glitch (because my kids’ room runs warm), the disconnect remains a mystery.

Why not ask my voice assistants for help troubleshooting? Because at this point the technology isn’t great at fielding followup questions. Most requests come across as new ones, and both Alexa and Siri often “forget” the context of a prior question when you ask the next one. If I ask either assistant to “turn on the lights,” they’ll generally pull the trigger. But if I follow up with “Turn it down,” Siri says it isn’t “able to find any devices in [my] home at this time,” and Alexa simply turns its own speaker volume down. So much for semantics.

We’re in the early days of smart home assistants, so some of this is just consumerism at the bleeding edge, like using personal computers in the early 1980s. Back then, software tribalism drove a wedge between PC and Mac users. Meanwhile in 2017, Siri can unlock my door, but Alexa can’t, and Amazon’s voice assistant will water my lawn, while Apple‘s won’t. The more things change, and all that.

But to make our homes truly smart, voice assistants have to keep changing. They need to understand both what people want, and what they mean. They need to become more human and forgiving of our errors and faults. If I ignored my son because he called me Alexa, what kind of parent would I be?

We’ll never know, because I did what any truly intelligent assistant should have, and answered, simply, “Strawberry or vanilla?”

John Patrick Pullen has written about smart devices and home automation for TIME and Fortune since 2009. His column, “Tech in Real Life,” appears weekly on and explores the ways that technology impacts people in their daily lives. He lives (in a home that’s much smarter than he is) in Portland, Oregon.

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The Most Realistic VR Headset You Can Buy Is Now Much Cheaper
HTC has knocked $200 off the price of its Vive virtual reality headset, bringing the price down to $599 from $799. That makes it $200 more expensive than the Oculus Rift, which is currently on sale for $399 for a limited time, and the $399 standalone PlayStation VR. HTC is also bundling VR apps such…

HTC has knocked $200 off the price of its Vive virtual reality headset, bringing the price down to $599 from $799. That makes it $200 more expensive than the Oculus Rift, which is currently on sale for $399 for a limited time, and the $399 standalone PlayStation VR.

HTC is also bundling VR apps such as Google’s Tilt Brush, EverestVR, and Richie’s Plank Experience, as well as a free trial of Viveport Subscription, a service that lets players try out up to five titles per month. When the Vive first launched for $799 last April, its ability to provide room scale virtual experiences set it apart from the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR. With the Vive, it’s possible to walk around a designated space and interact with virtual objects by using (somewhat) natural hand motions. At the time, the Oculus Rift only supported experiences in which the user was seated and stationary, requiring a handheld controller rather than gestures.

Much has changed since then: The Oculus Rift now also supports room scale VR and motion controls, and it’s price has also come down significantly. But the Vive’s lighthouse scanners—i.e. the sensors that scan and measure your real world room to create a virtual play area—are generally more accurate than the Rift’s cameras, according to TIME’s video game critic Matt Peckham. Those interested in buying the Vive will still need a powerful and fairly expensive computer to do so.

Read more: Review: Oculus’ New Controllers Fix the Rift’s Biggest Shortcoming

The Vive’s price drop is one of several efforts being made to address virtual reality’s biggest shortcomings: it’s expensive, cumbersome to set up, and limiting since users must be tethered to a computer. HTC’s decision to cut the price follows Oculus’ decision to do so in March.

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Here’s Every Xbox One X Enhanced Game So Far
Over 100 games that run and look radically better

Microsoft kicked off Xbox One X preorders at the annual Gamescom convention in Cologne, Germany on Sunday. But it also took the lid off a sweeping list of current and upcoming games designed to take advantage of the souped-up Xbox One’s ability to render games more fluidly and at substantially higher resolutions.

The company says over 100 titles will be enhanced when the Xbox One X launches for $499 on November 7. At the moment, the tally is notably higher than 100 and includes a vast range of acclaimed already-released games, like The Witcher 3, Diablo III, Resident Evil 7, Fallout 4, Dishonored 2 and Final Fantasy XV. A few of those have yet to receive enhancements on Sony’s own 4K-angled PlayStation 4 Pro, which arrived last November with far fewer enhanced games, though developers have rushed to increase the number since. The Xbox One X is doubtless benefitting both from Sony getting the 4K train rolling and its own extra year in the oven.

The Xbox One X is notably more powerful than Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro, capable of 6 teraflops of graphics performance (versus the PS4 Pro’s 4.2 teraflops) and sporting 12 gigabytes of high speed memory (versus the PS4 Pro’s 8 gigabytes). It has a slightly faster custom 8-core processor, and includes a 4K UHD Blu-ray player, something Sony left out of the PlayStation 4 Pro on the assumption consumer preference has tilted toward streaming high-definition content. It will also play over 300 Xbox 360 games at launch, many of those tweaked to perform even better than on the standard Xbox One S.

Here’s the complete list of Xbox One X enhanced titles as of August 21, 2017.

A Plague Tale: Innocence
ARK: Survival Evolved (Game Preview)
Assassin’s Creed Origins
Astroneer (Game Preview)
Black Desert
Chess Ultra
Code Vein
Conan Exiles
Crackdown 3
Danger Zone
Dark and Light
Darksiders III
Dead Rising 4
Deep Rock Galactic
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition
Dishonored 2
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider
Disneyland Adventures
Dovetail Games Euro Fishing
Dragon Ball Fighter Z
Dynasty Warriors 9
EA Sports FIFA 18
Elite: Dangerous
F1 2017
Fable Fortune
Fallout 4
Farming Simulator 17
Final Fantasy XV
For Honor
Forza Horizon 3
Forza Motorsport 7
Gears of War 4
Halo 5: Guardians
Halo Wars 2
Hand of Fate 2
Hello Neighbor
Homefront: The Revolution
Injustice 2
Jurassic Park
Killer Instinct
Killing Floor 2
Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Life Is Strange: Before the Storm
Madden NFL 18
Mafia III
Mantis Burn Racing
Metal Gear Survive
Metro: Exodus
Middle-earth: Shadow of War
Minecraft: Xbox One Edition
Minion Masters
Monster Hunter: World
NBA 2K18
Need for Speed Payback
Ori and the Will of the Wisp
Outcast – Second Contact
Outlast 2
Path of Exile
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
Portal Knights
Pro Evolution Soccer 2018
Project Cars 2
Quantum Break
Raiders of the Broken Planet
Railway Empire
Real Farm Simulator 2017
Resident Evil 7 biohazard
Robocraft Infinity
Rocket League
Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure
Sea of Thieves
Slime Rancher
Sonic Forces
Star Wars Battlefront II
State of Decay 2
Strange Brigade
Super Lucky’s Tale
Surviving Mars
Tennis World Tour
The Artful Escape
The Crew 2
The Darwin Project
The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition
The Last Night
The Long Dark
The Surge
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Titanfall 2
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands
Tom Clancy’s The Division
Train Sim World
TT Isle of Man – Ride on the Edge
Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide
We Happy Few
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
World of Tanks
WRC 7 FIA World Rally Championship
Zoo Tycoon

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These iPhone 8 Features Could Transform Your Smartphone
Apple's next iPhone could finally make these technologies mainstream

I’ve had the privilege of following Apple as a professional industry analyst since 1981. During those 36 years, I’ve learned a lot about Apple’s way of thinking and how its products impact the market, often becoming rapid mainstream phenomena that push the industry to adopt new standards, helping grow and diversify the PC and consumer electronics business.

A good example of this is when Apple put a 3.5-inch floppy disk drive in its very first Mac, at the now iconic desktop computer’s launch in January 1984. The PC industry had rallied around 5¼-inch floppy disks as the de facto medium for storing data. But Apple cofounder Steve Jobs and his team understood that the hardshell case surrounding 3.5-inch floppies was more durable—and more importantly, small enough to help them reduce the Mac’s physical size, making it seem almost svelte when measured against comparably bulky IBM-style PCs. In two years, the PC industry had moved to 3.5-inch floppy disks.

Then in 1989, when Apple was under the leadership of John Sculley, the company began to focus on making the Mac a multimedia computer. By adding a CD-ROM drive, Apple delivered a much larger portable storage medium for playback of content that could include text, images and full-motion video. The Mac became the first bona fide multimedia computer, and by 1992, all PCs included either CD-ROM drives, or ones capable of supporting rewritable discs. (Apple was ironically late to the rewritable CD party, failing to add such a drive to the Mac until 2001.)

Apple continued to drive the PC industry forward with its candy-colored iMacs in 1998. The highly personable computers folded the monitor and desktop portions into a single case, begetting today’s one-stop desktops that we’ve taken to calling all-in-ones.

Read more: Why Social Media Users Should Never Lower Their Guard

Of course Apple’s most revolutionary product remains the iPhone. Cupertino’s iconic smartphone has had a dramatic impact on computers, consumer electronics and the telecommunications industry, as well as the lives of billions of people around the world. Apple may not have invented the smartphone, but it added vital advances like its superlative touchscreens, generous system memory, and above all else, an ingenious dedicated operating system that lured developers who’ve gone on to create millions of apps for the company’s iPhones and iPads.

If the rumor mill is correct, Apple will introduce its newest version of the iPhone this fall. As in the past, I expect the company to include new features that will greatly impact the smartphone market and help drive these new technologies toward mass adoption. While the three features I’m about to highlight are still rumored, as we near the new phone’s launch, stories sourced from the supply chain tend to be more accurate.

The first impactful feature identified by top analysts who talk to the supply chain will be the inclusion of face and eye scanning, which could be used to replace passwords or numerical codes so that a person can access their iPhones faster and more securely.

Though Apple arch-rival Samsung already uses this technology in some of its smartphones, and Microsoft is popularizing face scanning to replace passwords through Windows 10’s Hello feature, if Apple adds this to a new iPhone, it will wind up being the company that takes the feature mainstream. Apple’s market power and reach would help make face and eye scanning a dominant feature, and force smartphone makers to embrace the tech in short order.

The second thing Apple may do is include “wireless charging” in its new iPhone—that is, charging without the need for physical wires or cables by simply placing the phone on or near a charging station. Again, Apple wouldn’t be the first to do so, since Samsung already offers this feature with its 8S model, and other companies have begun offering wireless smartphone chargers as well.

Read more: Why We Need the Liberal Arts in Technology’s Age of Distraction

But if Apple adds wireless charging and backs a specific wireless charging standard, it will drive much faster adoption of the technology across the board. And while it might be a feature unique to premium smartphones at first, its inclusion in the new iPhone will drive the technology to the midrange smartphone market more quickly.

The third thing Apple will almost surely do via the new iPhone is make augmented reality a mass market technology all but overnight. At its WWDC developer’s conference in June, Apple announced ARKit, an toolbox designed to unlock augmented reality’s potential. Apps created with this new developer tool will work on anything from an iPhone 5 series phone forward. If you want to get a sense of what AR apps can do, madewithARKit showcases early examples of AR apps made for iOS 11 and due to launch sometime this fall. (Given Apple’s history, I wouldn’t be surprised if the company also added some sort of souped-up camera, or a hardware boost that makes AR apps on the new iPhone even more functional and spectacular.)

Whatever the case, when Apple does introduce its new iPhone sometime in the coming months, I expect its new features to again drive the smartphone market forward, compelling rivals to adopt its approach or refine to its standards, making cutting edge technologies mainstream.

Tim Bajarin is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists, covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc and has been with the company since 1981 where he has served as a consultant providing analysis to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry.

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Fitbit May Have a New Way To Detect an Irregular Heartbeat
Fitbit wants to make it easier to identify irregular heart beats when there aren't noticeable symptoms

When a 42-year-old patient came to Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in New Jersey to be treated after a seizure last year, doctors were able to identify exactly when his heart rate began to spike by looking at his Fitbit fitness tracker. It let doctors know he’d only been in a-fib for a few hours—well within the window necessary to employ a procedure that brought his heart back into rhythm before sending him home.

As a side perk, it’s already paying dividends, but Fitbit hopes to make its activity monitors even more useful in situations like these. The company is researching ways in which its wristbands can be used to assist those who suffer from atrial fibrillation by identifying periods in which abnormal heart beats may be occurring, a Fitbit executive told TIME. “When we start to look at our PurePulse [heart rate monitor] data that we get from all of these users, we began to see irregularities in heart rhythms,” says Subramaniam Venkatraman, Fitbit’s director of research. “From our knowledge of physiology, [that] suggests an indicator of atrial fibrillation.”

Atrial fibrillation is a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, strokes and other heart-related complications. At least 2.7 million people in the U.S. live with the condition, according to the American Heart Association. An episode of atrial fibrillation isn’t usually harmful on its own, but it can increase a person’s risk for stroke even when they’re not experiencing symptoms, which can include dizziness, shortness of breath and chest pain.

But some people don’t experience symptoms at all, meaning their condition is only detectable upon physical examination, as the American Heart Association notes. These are the people Fitbit aims to help, and the company says it’s exploring various ways to do so. Fitbit’s research is still in its early stages, but Venkatraman shared a couple of scenarios the company is looking at.

One possibility is a symptom checker within Fitbit’s smartphone app, which would allow users to keep track of the physical indicators they’re experiencing. Fitbit could then analyze the logged symptoms along with data from its heart rate sensor to provide the user with more information. A feature that alerts wearers when they should see a doctor is another potential idea.

But measuring heart rate data from wrist trackers like Fitbit’s presents its own set of challenges. Optical heart rate sensors, which are commonly found in smartwatches and fitness trackers, measure the heart rate by shining a light through the wearer’s wrist to monitor his or her pulse. But using this type of technology can be tricky when attempting to detect arrhythmia, since the data gathered by the optical sensor is generally only clean enough to spot abnormalities when the wearer is stationary or asleep, says Venkatraman.

Read more: The 8 Best Fitness Trackers You Can Buy Right Now

Sensors that measure the heart’s electrical activity, known as EKGs, are more effective at detecting arrhythmia regardless of activity level. But these sensors don’t measure heart activity over long periods of time the way a wrist-worn optical sensor can. One of the most common solutions, a Holter monitor, only records the heart’s electrical activity for 24 or 48 hour periods, according to the National Blood, Lung, and Heart Institute. A Fitbit fitness tracker by contrast can log heart rate over extended periods of time, noticing aberrations Holter monitoring might miss. “Over a year, if you’ve ever had an episode of atrial fibrillation, there’s a chance you can catch it,” says Venkatraman. “So that’s a huge advantage.”

Using a Fitbit wristband isn’t reliable enough to accurately detect abnormal heartbeats today, says Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute. But he predicts that definitive data to support such use cases could come in the next year. “You can certainly through the sensors tell that you’ve got an irregular rhythm,” says Topol. “The only question is how often is it a true positive for atrial fibrillation versus a false positive.”

That’s part of what Fitbit’s research and development team is currently working on. The company is building a data set and learning more about the level of performance its PurePulse heart rate sensors can provide for detecting atrial fibrillation. Venkatraman couldn’t go into specific detail, but did say Fitbit is seeing “very promising early results.”

The larger question may be whether or not the public will trust Fitbit with more than monitoring their exercise and fitness levels. Fitbit faced a class action lawsuit last year in which some owners alleged that its PurePulse heart rate technology was inaccurate. Fitbit stood by its technology, adding that it would “work with the appropriate regulatory agencies to make sure we’re doing this the right way” when it comes to detecting atrial fibrillation.

It’s not the first time Fitbit has sought to tackle more ambitious health issues that reach beyond basic fitness tracking. Fitbit said in July that it’s also working on technology to help those affected by sleep apnea, CNBC reported, a serious disorder in which someone’s breathing is interrupted while they slumber.

Exactly how and when Fitbit’s atrial fibrillation research will appear in the company’s products is undecided. But Venkatraman did say the improvements would likely come in the form of new software that would work with existing Fitbit hardware. “That is certainly something we’re thinking about,” he says. “We’re still evaluating what the best path is to bring this technology to market.”

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Here’s How Much Faster Your Next Laptop Will Be
Intel's new laptop processors will be 40% faster

Just in time for the back-to-school shopping season, Intel is providing more detail about its new line of processors. The first batch of the company’s eighth generation chips, nicknamed “Kaby Lake R,” will power upcoming laptops launching this year and next.

Most notably, the company is adding two additional cores to its U series of processors, which are the ones found in thin notebooks and laptop-tablet hybrids. Those extra cores should give computers powered by the new silicon a speed boost when it comes to multitasking.

Overall, the refreshed processors will provide a 40% boost in performance over the company’s seventh generation chips, Intel says. That’s a seemingly huge jump compared to the difference in speed between Intel’s sixth and seventh generation processors: its seventh generation chips only increased productivity performance by 12% and web performance by 19% compared to its predecessor.

But of course, most laptop owners don’t upgrade their computers every year. That’s why Intel is targeting those with a laptop that’s at least five years old, of which the company estimates there are 450 million of in the market. Editing 4K video on a computer running Intel’s Kaby Lake R processors should take just three minutes, while doing so on a five-year-old computer could take up to 45 minutes, the company claims. Intel is estimating that its new chips will provide around 10 hours of 4K video playback, which is about on par with its previous generation processors.

Read more: The Best Laptops and Tablets for Back to School

You can expect to see the first notebooks running on Intel’s new processors launching this month, while desktops will be coming in the fall. And although Intel won’t confirm any details on its desktop chips yet, some have speculated that those will also get two extra cores. Some of the first laptops to be powered by Intel’s new processors are the Dell XPS 13, Acer Nitro 5 Spin, and Asus Zenbook Flip S UX370.

The launch comes just as rival chipmaker AMD has been garnering much attention for its line of Ryzen processors, which it launched this spring. Statistics from PassMark, the company behind the benchmarking utility PerformanceTest, suggests that AMD’s market share may be slowly climbing, perhaps giving Intel more motivation to maintain its stronghold.

Correction: The initial version of this story misstated the codename of the new processors as “Coffee Lake.” They’re in fact “Kaby Lake R,” a refreshed version of the company’s seventh generation “Kaby Lake” chips. “Coffee Lake” is the codename for the desktop version of Intel’s eighth generation processors, due this fall.

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You Can Finally Preorder the Xbox One X From These Places
When, where and how to buy one

As expected, Microsoft divulged Xbox One X preorder details during a livestream prelude to the annual Gamescom show in Cologne, Germany. The $499 super-powered Xbox One games console, capable of running games at up to 4K native resolution, launches worldwide on November 7.

The version you can preorder now is called the Xbox One X Project Scorpio Edition. It’s still $499 with a 1 terabyte hard drive, but Microsoft describe this as a limited edition console with a custom design: the words “Project Scorpio” (the system’s pre-unveiling codename) emblazoned on both the console and included gamepad, as well as a “sophisticated and dynamic graphic pattern” across the system exterior.

“Get Xbox One X Project Scorpio Edition before it’s gone forever,” reads the marketing teaser—there’ll be a standard $499 version at some point down the road, in other words. But Microsoft says the limited edition will only be available until supplies run out.


Preorders are officially open effective immediately from the following outlets.

Best Buy

The company also announced a pair of Xbox One S systems with game pack-ins: an Xbox One S Shadow of War Bundle with a 1 TB (for $349) or 500 GB (for $279) hard drive as well as the upcoming Middle-earth: Shadow of War action roleplaying game, and an Xbox One S Minecraft Limited Edition Bundle (the whole thing’s painted to look like a custom grass block from the game, includes a Creeper gamepad, Minecraft system sounds, a vertical stand and a transparent underside with Redstone accents).

And if you just want a closer look at the Xbox One X Project Scorpio Edition, here’s Microsoft unboxing one.

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Xbox One X Preorder Information Is Finally Coming This Weekend
Microsoft says it'll deliver the details around Gamescom on August 20

Preorder details about Microsoft’s vaunted Xbox One X, a souped-up version of its Xbox One games console due this November and designed to play games with breathtaking 4K fidelity, are coming this weekend, says Microsoft. The company says it’ll spill the beans about how to get your mitts on the device in the lead up to Europe’s annual Gamescom game show, this Sunday, at 3:00 p.m. ET.

Microsoft’s official Xbox Twitter account just tweeted the news alongside a teaser trailer for its Gamescom lineup, as well as a link to an Xbox Wire brief detailing some of its trade show plans.

Microsoft first confirmed the new Xbox One’s existence at E3 2016, codenamed “Project Scorpio,” then unveiled its official “Xbox One X” name and $499 price tag a few months ago at E3 2017. The super-games-console offers 6 teraflops of GPU compute power, 12 gigabytes of DDR5 memory and boasts games capable of running at native (as opposed to approximate) 4K resolutions. Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro, which arrived last November, offers notably slower (though still quite powerful) performance for $399, or $100 less.

“There is no power greater than X,” said Xbox boss Phil Spencer during Microsoft’s big E3 2017 press event. “It’s the most powerful console ever made.”

As I wrote then: “But if the battle in the 4K graphics space is currently about chasing enthusiast wallets, Microsoft is positioning Xbox One X as a box that justifies the extra outlay with raw specs capable of delivering much more than Sony’s product to videophiles and 4K connoisseurs. If the narrative around the Xbox One and PlayStation 4’s debut in 2013 centered on the PlayStation 4’s superior specs, today’s show was Microsoft taking the ball back … Xbox One X will also make existing Xbox One games look better and load faster, uses a liquid-cooled vapor chamber to tame its doubtless nutty thermals (a first for a console) and still somehow winds up being the smallest Xbox console the company’s made, including the Xbox One S.”

The Xbox One X will be available on November 7, worldwide.

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Here’s Everything in Sony’s Huge New PlayStation 4 Update
Including a Twitch streaming upgrade and refined parental controls

Sony just revealed that its next big PlayStation 4 update, dubbed version 5.00, will roll out immediately to select beta subscribers. It’s packed to brimming with changes, including a major Twitch video streaming fidelity upgrade and tweaks to the way players can engage with family and friends.

In a PlayStation blog post that details the changes, the company said the update—codenamed “Nobunaga” after Oda Nobunaga, an outsized late 16th century Japanese historical figure—will add what it calls “Family on PlayStation Network.” The idea is to make it simpler for families to use the console, from children to adults, in what seems an outreach maneuver designed both to highlight and codify the system’s cross-demographic, generalist media hub appeal.

The PlayStation 4 already offers basic parental controls as well as the option to create sub-accounts, but only lets those accounts opt in to or out of general group rules. With version 5.0, owners can now configure those rules on a per child basis. And the update makes it possible for multiple adults to be part of a single family unit: a “Family Manager” can promote adults to a “Parent/Guardian” role, where they can then tweak the access levels of children’s accounts.


If you’ve longed for a way to sort large friends lists by, say, just the ones in your Overwatch or Call of Duty clan, the update swaps “Favorite Groups” for a new “Custom Lists” view under “Friends.” You can still access groups here, but the new features allow you to create ad hoc lists drawing from your general friends list instead of by “message groups.”

On the video broadcast side, the good news is that the update adds support for Twitch video streaming at 1080p and 60 frames per second. (The current version only supports up to 720p at 60 frames per second.) The bad news? You’ll need a PlayStation 4 Pro, the boutique $399 version of the PlayStation 4 Sony rolled out last November, to make it work—regular PlayStation 4 users are stuck at the lower quality rate.

Other features include tweaks to messaging, notifications and what you can see on your “Quick Menu,” the overlay summonable by holding the PlayStation button in the center of a gamepad. If you’re rocking a PlayStation VR headset, the update also adds headphones support for both 5.1 and 7.1 channel virtual surround sound when watching Blu-ray or DVDs in “Cinematic Mode.”

Sony hasn’t said when the 5.00 update will release to general owners, but notes that anyone who signed up for the beta and was chosen will receive an email explaining how to download the update and dive in.

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liamalexander: My daily stats: 12 new followers, 9 new unfollowers via
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alanjonesUK: RT @PopSci: Scientists finally have some answers about the mysterious "dark matter" in the human genome:
alanjonesUK: RT @PopSci: Scientists finally have some answers about the mysterious "dark matter" in the human genome:

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Captain marketing phone number - We are a SEO, SEM, and online advertising firm based in Los Angeles. Our experts specialize in search engine optimization, Intern

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#The #hashtag #is #ten #years #old

Fun fact: if you’ve got a child under the age of ten, hashtags are officially older than them. Wild, right? Here’s the tweet that launched a thousand #ships, posted back in 2007 by open source advocate Chris Messina. how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]? — ⌗ChrisMessina (@chrismessina) August 23, 2007 It’s completely bonkers to think about it now, especially since hashtags have long entered mainstream adoption, but this is where the idea came from — one technologist trying to figure out a way for groups to talk easily on Twitter. I don’t…

This story continues at The Next Web

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