Battery Efficiency Improved 400 Times by Accident!

Everything these days uses batteries of some kind or another, from the smartphone you use to text your friends to the tablets and electronic tools you use at work or school every day. In a surprising twist, researchers at UC Irvine may have discovered a way to increase the time a battery holds the charge by complete accident.

The discovery comes as the researchers were looking at creating a solid-state battery using an electrolyte gel, similar to the ones developed by Cockrell School of Engineering in Texas. The idea was to use the gel to replace the lithium inside a battery, a component that corrodes and creates the nasty smelling ooze you get on batteries you find at the back of your kitchen draws when you go looking for just one more battery.

Using gold nanowires to store the electricity within the battery, the new design lasted through 200,000 recharges without any significant decline in battery life or corrosion, something which they can’t explain. Reginald Penner, the lead author of the paper, stated that they “don’t understand the mechanism of that yet”.

Lasting more than 400 times longer than a traditional battery, Penner explained their experiment was like pouring water between two cups, the end results was the new batteries losing only 5% of their charge over 200,000 times.

While a great start to making effective batteries, introducing gold to any electrical component increases its cost and raises the question, could this new style of battery, combining a gel with thin wires of metal, use something other than gold to achieve similar results?

New Bill Being Proposed in California to Combat Burner Phones

Technology and the law are constantly racing, with each one taking steps to catch up with the other. From the arguments Apple and the FBI are having regarding privacy and encryption to something as simple as Segways being illegal in public, technology is creating new gadgets and systems and the law is creating laws to either change or catch up with the issue. An issue that has long plagued law and the courts is burner phones, but a new bill in California could change that.

Burner phones follow a simple concept, you pay for them and the credit you need to use them. Once they are finished with, you can either dispose or top up the phone. Due to the throwaway nature, they are used by people with stuff to hide, with it recently being revealed that the terrorists who attacked Paris used burner phones not encryption to avoid detection.

The new bill, dubbed the “Closing the Pre-Paid Mobile Device Security Gap Act Of 2016″ would require anyone who sells prepaid devices to register and record the identity of those who purchased the phone. The specifics are the customer would be required to provide a credit card, social security number or driving license number, the same requirements people are required to provide for mobile contracts.

Rep. Jackie Speier of California is the one proposing the bill and states that the ” bill would close one of the most significant gaps in our ability to track and prevent acts of terror, drug trafficking, and modern-day slavery”.

Microsoft Will Now Support Windows 7 and 8.1 For New Processors

Technology changes, that is an inevitable fact. As we produce more and more powerful designs and techniques we create new pieces of hardware and sometimes this causes trouble for those who aren’t quite ready to move on. Microsoft announced previously that those wanting to use the latest in Intel’s processors, the Skylake series, they would need to use Windows 10. It would appear they’ve changed their tone and are now looking to offer support for Windows 7 and 8.1 for the new processors.

The technical reasons provided was that offering support for the older operating systems would be too much given that the new system would be optimised for windows 10. Some people considered this as a push though for businesses to stop using the older operating systems and instead use Windows 10 if they wanted to get new equipment.

Microsoft has now recanted on that and will offer support for the older operating systems, offering companies the chance to upgrade to windows 10 at their own pace if they use Skylake devices. To help this the security updates for the older operating systems will also be addressed to PC’s running Skylake systems till January 14th, 2020 for Windows 7 users and January 10th 2023 for Windows 8.1 users.

Are you happy to hear about this? Are you looking at Skylake processors but would prefer to keep an older OS for the time being? You can see Microsofts tech blog outlining all the changes here.

France to Punish Companies for Refusing to Decrypt Devices

France has been keen on getting ahead of technology when it comes to their laws. From their environmental stances of requiring solar panels on their roofs to making sure that large companies like Facebook protect people’s data sufficiently. In light of recent security concerns though they have moved to punish companies for refusing to decrypt devices.

France recently looked into banning the anonymous network Tor and blocking Wifi during special situations. The latest step in security was to accept an amendment to a bill that would make companies like Apple, who are activly fighting the FBI on modifying their software to break into an iPhone, either pay a fine or face five years in jail if they refused  to hand over encrypted data.

While this is only the bills first reading, if the amendment went ahead companies may feel uneasy doing business in France for fear of either giving out personal information or face a fine. It should be noted though that while Amendment 90 is being considered, it could be worse with amendment 221 going so far as to increase the fine by over 5 times and requesting “all relevant” information, that means more than just the message they are looking for.

Amendment 51 went so far as to state that companies who refused to help authorities would be considered “accomplices to terrorism”, a far stretch from the truth by any imagination. With public support seeming to increase for Apple’s case in the US and companies and figures alike coming out in support of them, accepting such a controversial bill couldn’t help the French government when trying to enlist technology companies help.

China’s Not Happy About US Sanctions On ZTE

ZTE is a well-known manufacturer of telecom equipment, and while they have seen success in the past they are more than worried about the future with the US looking to impose sanctions on the company. As you can imagine, China’s not happy about this turn of events and are looking to hopefully stop this action before it goes too far.

Hong Lei, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, stated that “China is opposed to the US citing domestic laws to place sanctions on Chinese enterprises”. The restrictions were only announced yesterday and were made on the back of allegations that the company planned have sold US-made equipment to Iran in 2012. This is in violation of the US export restrictions with Iran, but this move may have an impact on other companies just as much.

Intel, Qualcomm and Microsoft all supply parts and equipment to ZTE, something which will now require paperwork which will “generally be denied”. ZTE are obviously worried that, since they cooperated with the US since the trading with Iran first surfaced in 2012, they are going to be hit badly by the restrictions, ultimately causing “significant supply problems to ZTE”. The company has already taken a hit with the trading of company shares being halted.

Apple and FBI Go Before Congress In Privacy Talks

Apple vs the FBI has been and looks to be, one of the biggest legal debates of 2016 with large groups like Microsoft even speaking out in defence of the iPhone developer in their bid to stop what they call a “dangerous precedent” from being set. The discussion has gone to a higher power with both parties now presenting their discussions to Congress.

Apple’s general counsel, Bruce Sewell, started with an opening point that has been used in every discussion since. Forcing Apple to unlock, or create software that lets the government bypass security, would do nothing but set a troubling precedent for the entire tech industry. In his opening remarks, Sewell said, “building that software tool would not affect just one iPhone. It would weaken the security for all of them”.

The big surprise came when FBI director James Comey agreed in part with this statement. “Sure, potentially. Any decision of a course about a matter is potentially useful to other courts”, these comments come just days after it was revealed that a New York judge had ruled that same act could not force Apple to unlock an iPhone.

The big surprise is that this response from Corney is different to those given previously by the FBI, who have claimed it was never about a precedent and they just wanted this one phone unlocked.

The conversations are just starting and soon governments and companies alike could be looking at new ways of handling encryption, either together or in hopes of protecting people from the other party.

Surface Book Launches in the UK

Microsoft is probably most well-known for their software, with everything from the Windows operating system to the Office tool suite commonplace in homes around the world. One thing that Microsoft have been keen on expanding though is their hardware. With the success of the Microsoft Surface, a tablet that featured a magnetically docked keyboard and was well-known for its high power and low profile. Now the next phase in Microsoft hardware has been unleashed in the UK in the form of the Surface book.

The Surface Book was announced half way through last year, with Microsoft creating a system for people to swap out their Macbook’s for a Surface book, with claims that it would be twice as powerful as a Macbook Pro. Surprisingly this didn’t go down too well with Tom Cook over at Apple who then described the Surface Book as deluded.

The new Surface Book will set you back, at least, £1,299 if you are looking at an i5 model  but upgrading it to the top of the line will set you back £2,249 for an i7 and dedicated NVIDIA graphics (rumoured to be NVIDIA’s 940M).

Are you interested in the Surface Book? For the price tag is the 13.5 inch screen a little too small for your taste? If you are looking at buying one you can find out more at the Microsoft store.

OnePlus 2 to Receive Permanent Price Cut

The original OnePlus handset caused a media storm due to its ability to compete with the likes of Apple, Samsung and LG at a much lower price point. Dubbed the flagship killer, the OnePlus proved to be quite popular and received a positive response from consumers. As you might expect, this meant the successor’s release was eagerly anticipated and people hoped it would offer a legitimate alternative to premium models like the Samsung Galaxy S6. Sadly, the device didn’t live up to expectations and people became extremely frustrated with the invite system. Furthermore, since the initial launch period, OnePlus had to contend with more competition from the Hauwei Honor 7, and Moto X. As a result, it became quite challenging to attract the value-conscience consumers aiming for a high-end phone. On another note, the OnePlus 2 suffered from some fairly major bugs, and didn’t evoke a slick feel.

Thankfully, these issues have now been resolved and the handset has a fairly good reputation. The company also recently announced a price cut via the OnePlus forums. The statement reads:

“Friends,

There’s never a dull moment in our search for new ways to improve our range of ecommerce services. Recently, we introduced free standard shipping for orders over $100. Only a few days later, we made the OnePlus X invite-free faster than any OnePlus device before it. As the cost to produce a OnePlus 2 device has never been lower, we believe this is the right time to introduce a new change. We believe great things should be shared.

We learned a lot from our first flagship phone. The invite system helped get the OnePlus 2 off the ground, and now thanks to both timing and scale, our operations have sized up to the Goldilocks principle of just right. So, why not let our fans join us in celebrating the fruits of our labor? The OnePlus 2 now has a price modification of $349, forever. If you’ve ever needed to give a friend another reason to join Team OnePlus, here you go.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we have prepared a few more offers for your enjoyment. To kick things off, anyone purchasing one of our devices will receive a free StyleSwap Cover or OnePlus X Case. Additionally anyone who purchased the OnePlus 2 within the last fifteen (15) days, will be seeing a refund in price ($40, or the equivalent in your currency) difference coming their way. Keep an eye on your inbox for more details.

Never Settle.”

At the time of writing, you can purchase the OnePlus 2 without an invite for £249.99 in the UK. This might just be what’s required to help shift units, and encourage consumers to give the OnePlus 2 a try.

What do you think of the OnePlus 2?

Microsoft is Recalling Surface Pro Power Cables Due to Overheating Concerns

Microsoft’s Surface Pro range offers superb flexibility due to detachable keyboard, integrated stand and responsive touch screen display. These type of devices are becoming more popular and could theoretically replace traditional laptops. Microsoft’s early vision for the original Surface didn’t go as planned and had pretty severe restrictions due to Windows RT. Thankfully, Microsoft implemented in their pro line-up full Windows integration and support for Win32 applications. The only real downside to take into consideration is the price, which can exceed £1000 for certain configurations. Clearly, this is a costly endeavour but Microsoft appears to be targeting the Surface line at professionals requiring excellent build quality and a high specification.

However, in a statement issued to ZDNet, it appears the Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2, and Surface Pro 3 sold before July 2015 have been encountering overheating problems with the included AC adapter. Microsoft’s official findings reads:

“As a result of damage caused by AC power cords being wound too tightly, twisted or pinched over an extended period of time, a very small proportion of Surface Pro customers have reported issues with their AC power cord. We will be releasing details of how customers can obtain a free replacement cable shortly.”

This isn’t going to do Microsoft any favours and raises questions about their ability to produce durable hardware. On the other hand, at least they have openly admitted the technical problems and preparing replacements for all affected customers. It’s still unknown when the replacement service will begin but I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft started the RMA process in the next few days. The advent of ultra cheap chargers from online auction sites can be tempting, but a large amount of these haven’t been approved and can pose, in extreme circumstances, a fire risk. Always spend a little bit extra and buy an official charger.

What do you think of the Surface Pro range?

New Diet Scanner Gadget Could Be Fitted To Smartphones

The advancement of technology and gadgets have paved the way for some unique and interesting innovations; this is no different and could revolutionize the way we interact with the real world. The gadget in question is a tiny molecular scanner that could be fitted onto a regular smartphone with the potential capability to “pinpoint properties such as the sugar content in an individual piece of fruit, the percentage of fat in a particular cheese, or identify whether a drug is a counterfeit or an illegal substance”.

This new device has been developed by consumer Physics, an Israeli start-up company that aims to offer a route to easily accessible knowledge for every consumer. The SCIO scanner works by utilizing the “near-infrared spectrum to analyse light reflected from objects and decipher their unique molecular fingerprints”. That fingerprint is then used to deliver a range of information concerning the properties of a particular object to the user via the user’s smartphone.

Below is a video which provides a further expansion on the potential features of this device. This device has been helped along by a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2014 as well as many demonstrations at tech events around the world; this helped to garner huge interest among consumers and experts alike.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pEu-go5nlg

This device certainly has potential and hopefully it will live up to expectation if indeed the possibilities are “endless”.

OnePlus Announces Extended Warranty Programme

The original OnePlus handset was described as a “flagship killer” and offered a stunning specification for the price point. Sadly, its successor fell flat and didn’t live up to people’s expectations. This was due to people becoming infuriated with the invite process and large array of alternatives like the Hauwei Honor 7. There have also been some horror stories regarding OnePlus’ standard warranty service which doesn’t evoke consumer confidence.

To tackle this head-on, OnePlus have decided to launch an extended warranty programme which protects against accidental and liquid damage for up to two years. The warranty plan starts at €39.99 for 12 months and features a worldwide support team to produce quick turnarounds. OnePlus have set the 24-month price at €64.99. Despite this, it still falls short compared to cheaper and technically able handsets. For example, the Wileyfox Storm costs £199.99 and allows you to purchase a 3 year warranty for an additional £9.99. Furthermore, a screen replacement service also costs £9.99 per year.

Another issue to consider is EU law which offers a standard 2 year period. Clearly, this doesn’t cover accidental damage, but it seems OnePlus are oblivious to their legal obligations. In the USA, where consumer rights aren’t as protected, the policy makes more sense. I’m not convinced the new policy will entice people to buy OnePlus devices in large numbers because they are still restricted by the absurd invite system. If OnePlus wants to exist in the next 5-10 years, they have to drop this nonsense.

Pepsi Spokesperson Confirms Pepsi P1 Smartphone

Do you like Pepsi? Ever wanted a Pepsi phone? Your lifelong dream could soon come true. Ok maybe it’s not going to reach the top ten things on your bucket list, but it sounds pretty cool right? A Pepsi spokesperson confirmed the phone is real and continued to state the following:

    “Available in China only, this effort is similar to recent globally licensed Pepsi products which include apparel and accessories.”

The Pepsi P1 is only going to be available in China at launch, but these sort of products have a habit of being available worldwide on websites such as eBay. As for the specification, the device will feature a 5.5-inch Full HD screen, an Octa-Core 1.7GHz processor alongside an ARM Mali-540 MP4 graphics processor. The P1 will also have 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a nicely sized 3,000mAh battery and Android 5.1 as standard; although I will be surprised if they don’t change this to Android 6.0 at some point.

The main camera packs a smooth 13 megapixels whilst the selfie cam is 5-megapixel. Let’s not forget the best part, as it will also feature the iconic red white and blue Pepsi logo on the back. OK maybe the best part is not the logo but the price, the Pepsi phone will be available for around £135 that’s a lot of phone for very little money.

The release date is reported to be as early as the October 20th.

Would you buy the Pepsi P1? If not why not? Let us know in the comments below, we always want to hear the reader’s view on these subjects.

Thank you Trusted Reviews  for providing us with this information.

BlackBerry Could Exit The SmartPhone Market

BlackBerry’s position as a leading smartphone manufacturer has been in jeopardy for the last couple of years. The BlackBerry 10 operating system failed to entice app developers and still doesn’t officially support many popular pieces of software such as SnapChat. Sadly, the company is facing the same woes as Windows handsets and cannot compete with the resounding success of iOS and Android. Although, BlackBerry has finally admitted defeat and decided to launch an Android-powered smartphone to try to save their smartphone business.

However, BlackBerry’s CEO John Chen, told The Verge that the company had set a target of 5 million smartphone sales within a year. If this doesn’t come to fruition, BlackBerry’s smartphone business will not be a profitable endeavor. As a result, Chen hinted about folding the smartphone business if the sales targets are not met. Historically, the future doesn’t look promising for BlackBerry as a mere 800,000 handsets were sold during the most recent financial quarter. Clearly, the management is hoping their slide-based Android smartphone can reinvigorate sales with a hardware launch. However, with so many alternatives out there from Apple, Samsung, Sony, HTC, Hauwei, OnePlus and more, I can only see the inevitable happening.

When is the last time you purchased a BlackBerry device?

Thank You The Verge for providing us with this information.

Roccat Unveils New Kova Gaming Mouse

Roccat has announced the new Kova gaming mouse featuring an ambidextrous design and streamlined shape to create maximum comfort across a wide range of grip styles. Additionally, the Kova utilizes a 3500 native dpi Pro-Optic r5 sensor which extends up to 7000 dpi for extreme sensitivity gameplay. To help with demanding tasks, the mouse is powered by a 72MHz Turbo Core V2 32-bit ARM-based MCU and contains 512KB of on-board memory.

The Kova also opts for a 12-bit data channel, 1000Hz polling rate, 1ms response time, 1.8m braided cable and employs 20G of acceleration. In the peripheral market, RGB lighing is the latest trend and embedded into the Kova. You can adjust the colour of the scroll wheel and mouse rim to individual shades or use visual lighting effects. Roccat’s Swarm software is an essential addition to adjust button arrangements, and other visual tweaks.

The Kova houses a wide array of programmable side buttons which are easily accessible without having to move your hand. This should make the device an excellent choice for various genres. Also, the mouse comes in either a white or black finish and is visually stunning. As white components become more popular, it’s imperative for manufacturers to create products to match a certain theme.

Chinese Devices Mount Massive DDoS Web Attack

Cyber attacks are an increasing and dangerous threat which is perpetrated by groups and countries alike, these attacks are a substantial threat to free speech, livelihoods of website operators and also the whole infrastructure of the Internet. It’s no surprise to learn that a huge DDoS attack against a target website resulted in 650,000 devices being unwittingly enrolled into a giant cyber attack which overwhelmed its target.

And where did this attack originate from? That’s right, our friends over at the democracy-suppressing Truman Show style country that is China. The attack transmitted a staggering 4.5 billion separate requests for data in one day to the target destination. Below is an image which analyses the log timeframe of HTTP requests per hour, as you can see, requests for data ramped up dramatically within only a relatively small period of time before dissipating.

Since the attack had been levelled at a client of US Company CloudFlare, they were able to “write a dedicated script and were able to further analyze 17M log lines, about 0.4% of the total requests” They found that 99.8% of the flood was originating from China while 0.2% was labelled as “Other” They were also able to determine that 80% of the requests came from mobile devices .

So, how is it possible to booby trap an amazingly high number of devices? CloudFlare security analyst Marek Majkowski speculated that an ad network might have been the root cause which was compromised and used as a distribution vector for the attack. “It seems probable that users were served advertisements containing malicious JavaScript. These ads were likely shown in iframes within mobile apps, or mobile browsers to people while they were casually browsing the internet”

Think of this speculated but plausible scenario like this, while a user was browsing the Internet or through an app, he or she was served an iframe which contained an advertisement. This ad had been requested from an ad network who then forwarded the request to a third-party that won the ad auction. This meant that either the third-party was the “attack page” or it forwarded the user to an attack page, by doing this the user was served a page containing malicious Java Script which then launched a flood of XHR requests against CloudFlare servers.

CloudFlare have declined to name the company which had their server attacked but are warning against future cyber attacks with the same level of intensity. It’s a worrying trend which has many outlets including the Darth Vader weapon of choice “The Great Cannon.” This is also not serving the long-established technique of serving ads to consumers via the Internet, if advertisements are increasingly being injected with malicious code, consumers are going to use extensions to block them.

The Internet connects the world and is seen as a necessity and therefore a human right by powerful individuals, what countries want you to see on the net, well, that’s a whole different ball game.

Thank you blog.cloudflare for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of cloudpro

A Clearer Picture For Utilizing Transparent Glass Within a 3D Printer

I recently wrote an article concerning a new technique of using a 3D printer to build up layers upon layers with pre-existing materials to create “glass” based objects. The accompanied video looked stunning and the potential applications seemed endless, well now, a team of MIT researchers have opened up a new frontier within 3-D printing which has expanded on the premise with new details concerning the ability to print optically transparent glass objects.

The ability to print glass objects is extremely complex and has been attempted by other research groups, the problem lies with the extremely high temperature which is required in order to melt the material. Quite a few development teams have used tiny particles of glass which is melded together at a lower temperature in a technique called sintering. Unfortunately, this technique has rendered such objects to be structurally weak and optically cloudy, thus eliminating two of glass’s most desirable attributes: strength and transparency.

MIT have therefore developed its own process which retains those properties and produces printed glass objects which are both strong and fully transparent to light. The device which is used to print such objects utilizes a computer assisted program which is similar to the standard design operating mechanisms implemented by current 3D printers. The result is a machine which can print objects with little human interaction or indeed intervention; it’s stunning to imagine an autonomous production line in your living room.

In the present incarnation, molten glass is loaded into a hopper within the top of the device after being gathered from a conventional glass blowing kiln. When completed, the finished piece must be cut away from the moving platform on which it is assembled; the temperatures are the same of 1900 degrees Fahrenheit which is approx 1037 degrees Celsius.

The potential uses for such a technique is mind-blowing, Neri Oxman, an associate professor at the MIT Media Lab envisions a future whereby it would be possible to “consider the integration of structural and environmental building performance within a single integrated skin.” This notion could completely transform the manufacturing process.

A further expansion on this technique would be to add pressure to the system which is either through a mechanical plunger or compressed gas, by doing so it is hoped to produce a more uniform flow and thus a more uniform width to the extruded filament of glass.

There is a potential downside to such a revolutionary direction, if you could inhabit a world where houses are printed on an industrial scale and goods are quickly printed, this would ultimately reduce the number of workers needed within production. AI and new techniques are slowly making people redundant within an ever-expanding population, a quote below emphases this further

“Boston Consulting Group predicts that by 2025, up to a quarter of jobs will be replaced by either smart software or robots, while a study from Oxford University has suggested that 35% of existing UK jobs is at risk of automation in the next 20 years”.

What future will be printed for us humans?

Thank you mit and bbc for providing us with this information.

OnePlus Teases ‘a Welcome Bit of Luxury’

OnePlus has unveiled a rather cryptic Google+ post entitled, “a bit of welcome luxury”. Additionally, the caption says “something luxurious is coming to OnePlus” which could refer to a leather back cover.  According to the comments section, people are a little underwhelmed by the OnePlus 2 and feel it doesn’t live up to the “flagship killer” name. Perhaps, the lack of Near-Field-Communication and Cyanogen operating system has aggrieved OnePlus’ core customer base.

Also, there are valid alternatives in the current market including the Hauwei Honor 7. This is a beautifully crafted device featuring 3GB RAM, 3100mAh battery, 1920×1080 display and a 3-year warranty. The original OnePlus made a profound impact as other Chinese handsets under $300 couldn’t match the device’s specifications and build quality. This isn’t the case anymore, and OnePlus is under severe pressure to match the price to performance ratio of other devices. Also, the invite system has infuriated a lot of users and led to loss sales. Mobile phones are an essential everyday item, so expecting people to wait months to purchase the handset is extremely silly.

Hopefully, OnePlus has taken this feedback on board and trying to enhance the handset’s appeal. If they included a luxury leather back by default, it would make it feel similar to the LG G4.

What do you think of the OnePlus invite system?

Dell XPS 12 is a Microsoft Surface Competitor

Dell is allegedly developing its own Surface-style tablet called the XPS 12 which features a 4K Ultra-HD Display and kickstand to hold the device upright. Other notable technical specifications include a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, 8-megapixel rear camera, backlit-key illumination, Thunderbolt 3 connectivity and up to 10 hours of battery life. The clip design is extremely reminiscent of Microsoft’s Surface and follows a recent trend of manufacturers cloning the basic concept. Only recently, Apple decided to launch the iPad Pro which contains a clip-on, rubberized keyboard.

It’s interesting to see companies following Microsoft’s lead and Dell might perceive the form-factor as a re-imagining of the laptop. Of course, Dell is a huge brand in the PC industry and one of the top three manufacturers globally but sales have been dwindling for some time. The ultra-thin Surface-like devices are useful due to the touch screen panel and detachable keyboard. However, the pricing remains quite high and this doesn’t look like changing anytime soon.

The XPS 12 is feature-rich and utilizes an absolutely blissful display. However, I’m not entirely convinced consumers are prepared to pay such a premium. Whatever the case, Dell’s XPS 12 looks impressive from a technical standpoint, and should be a stunning addition to their product library.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information.

Amazon to Launch 6-Inch $50 Tablet

Amazon’s ambitious first foray into the smart-device market has been fairly disastrous and struggled to compete with huge brands such as Apple at higher price tiers. As a result, Amazon is reportedly shifting their focus to the budget sector and preparing a 6-inch $50 tablet. In theory, this is a pretty cogent idea as the low retail price should widen the device’s appeal and reduce the barrier to entry. Amazon’s financial strategy revolves around services and inexpensive tablets could bring a whole host of new subscribers to Prime and the Kindle store.

However, there are alternatives from unknown Chinese brands under $50 which could eke away at their market share. Despite this, Amazon could dominate sales in the budget tablet sector due to their reliable customer service and brand identity. Although, this move does seem a little strange considering Amazon recently fired “dozens” of engineers from “lab126” which created the company’s Fire handsets.

Perhaps, Amazon sees some success as a hardware company at the lower-end and expects this move to create a strong foothold. If the $50 tablet manages to impress, consumers might become more inclined to try out a premium Amazon tablet.

Do you own any Amazon-designed hardware?

Thank you The Wall Street Journal for providing us with this information.

Google Teases Android M Through The Medium Of Song

No, this is not Google adding “Music Videos” to their Alphabet, but rather an eye-catching advert which teases the possible names for Google’s Android M which is in the pipeline. On a sidenote, been a while since my last tangent escapade, I can just imagine in 10 years time a school teacher will be referring to these collections of letters as “Alphabet sponsored by Google” while teaching a class.

The codenamed Android M has been in the Developer Preview stage since late May but as yet is without an official name. This has not changed but has been teased with a music video which has been uploaded to YouTube as of Friday the 14th August 2015. The jingle is catcher than any X factor Simon Cowell creation and was created and performed by Google employees Nat and Lo. The video was filmed in the Android garden at Google’s headquarters, Mountain View, CA. It’s like George Orwell has pitched these names, an Android Garden in Mountain View.

The video then suggests possible names which begin with M, from Muffin to M&M, dododo. This certainly fits in with Google’s record of naming Android after tasty treats, from Android 2.2 which was Froyo to Android 4.0 which became known as Ice Cream Sandwich. The video ends with a scene of a man spray painting the bottom half of an Android statue white instead of the usual Android green colour. This has led many to speculate of a possible name of Marshmallow, for the new OS.

Android M is likely to be released nearer October or November of this year, although this has yet to be confirmed by Alphabet/Google or whatever they are now. The video is below; perhaps the one after M will be named D, for Diabetes owning to all these surgery snack names.

Thank you techworm for providing us with this information.

Fusion Qi Wireless Charger With Apple Add-on Review

Introduction


We see all kinds of weird and wonderful products here at eTeknix HQ and while I’m no stranger to mobile devices or even wireless charging devices, this one is marketed with a twist that really caught my attention. The Qi Wireless Charger from Fusion is technically like any other Qi wireless charging system, so if you have a Qi compatible device, you can pop it on the base it provides, charge it and you’re good to go, review done, see you later.

OK, so there’s a lot more to it than that, a few add-ons that offer extra functionality, as well as some swish marketing that make the Fusion suitable for the visually impaired. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a fair few fights trying to line up either end of a USB cable, I doubt I would fare much better if I had impaired vision; we’ll get to how it helps with this in a moment.

Features

  • Dynamic Power Limiting (DPL) for USB and Limited Source Operation
  • Foreign Object Detection (FOD) in WPC mode
  • Fusion OTR technology
  • Ultralight weight & slim design only 55*78*6.5 mm
  • Ti (Texas Instruments) smart dynamic & overcharge detection

The packaging is pretty straight forward, and with that bright pink cover it certainly stands out! You’ll also notice the packaging comes with braille print on the front, as well as a sticker which reads “official sponsor – Taiwan guide dog association.”

In the box, you’ll find a cut-out guide to aid with installation although anyone who’s half adept at sticking something to a flat surface likely won’t need it. There’s a large white sticker with high-vis pink letting and braille on the top, a 3M sticky pad, USB cable, two cable routing fittings with sticky backs and two screws; everything you need to install the system in a wide range of configurations.

The main power delivery unit is slim and nicely designed, so much so that it’ll look nice and tidy on your desktop as a direct “put your phone/tablet on this” style device. However, using the 3M pad you can mount it on the underside of a desk or table surface. Again, taking note that there is a little braille on the edge to show where there Micro-USB port it.

On the underside, there’s a nice flat surface, so it should be nice and easy to mount under a desk or table using that 3M pad. There’s also two screw holes, perfect for those that prefer a more permanent mounting solution.

The previously mentioned Micro-USB port on the end. This is for the main power input, you can connect the included USB cable to a USB plug, computer or any other compatible output.

A nice bonus is the Qi add-on, which can make any device wireless charging compatible. Of course, the grand irony here is that it comes with a cable, which seems silly, but there’s merit to be found here and I’ll get to that in a moment.

On the underside, you’ll find a gel-like surface which is tactile and will stick to glossy surfaces such as the back of a phone, SatNat, tablet, etc.

If the Micro-USB connector isn’t much good to you, a dual connector Apple adaptor is also included!

Researchers Prove That Drones Can Be Disabled Using the Right Sound Frequency

Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejon, South Korea, seem to have found an easy way to take out drones from the sky using ‘the right sound’. They explained that some components inside drones are vulnerable to certain frequencies, so with the right one, you can disable them.

One of the researchers stated that components such as gyroscopes have been made to resonate with sound above the audible spectrum, but some of them are still in the audible spectrum, which makes them vulnerable to interference. In an experiment, they used a speaker attached to a drone and connected to a laptop via Wi-Fi. When the right sound was played through the speaker, the drone dived down and crashed.

Of course, you won’t be able to physically attach a speaker to a drone in most cases if you want to make it crash, but this proves that sounds can be used to crash drones. Other experiments involved attaching a speaker to a police shield and making a sonic wall, but without the proper high-tech equipment to keep aim on the drone while it spirals out of control, it is useless.

The conclusion is that drone enthusiasts shouldn’t worry about it, unless your neighbour silently attached a speaker to your drone. Using high-tech sound disruptors, as far as I know, is illegal in most countries, so if you’re not piloting a high-tech military drone, you should be fine.

Thank you PCWorld for providing us with this information

Argos Rolls out Smartphone and Tablet Trade-in Scheme

Argos, one of the UK’s latest retail chains, has launched a trade-in incentive to recycle unwanted electronics. The retailer plans to offer vouchers in exchange for tablets and smartphones. Each device will either be refurbished and resold or recycled to help protect the environment. Unlike existing schemes, Argos’ retail presence allows for a convenient, in-store quote without having to ship the item off to a company and wait 5-7 working days. However, I highly doubt Argos will be able to match successful second hand resellers like CEX who offer competitive prices versus the competition. Additionally, consumers can sell their unwanted items through a number of means including eBay, Gumtree, Facebook groups and local advertisements. Usually, even after fees, the eBay prices are significantly higher than any trade-in offer.

Companies are hoping to get the custom from people who feel uncomfortable on eBay or find it too time consuming. Perhaps, they don’t know how to photograph items or cannot answer technical details about an electrical product. Amy Whidburn, head of corporate responsibility at Argos, said:

“As a leading technology retailer we know that our customers are looking for solutions to responsibly dispose of unwanted gadgets when they replace or trade-up devices. Our new scheme in conjunction with Wrap offers them a safe way to do this, in a really convenient location on their local high street or retail park, with the added benefit of receiving a gift card in return immediately.” 

It’s an interesting move and I’m fascinated to see how generous Argos’ trade-in prices will be.

Have you ever traded-in an old or unwanted item?

Thank you The Guardian for providing us with this information.

Take a Look at a Leaked Version of Cortana for Android

Microsoft announced in May that it will roll out its personal assistant, Cortana, to Android and iOS. As the official launch is getting closer, so are the leaks it seems. Word is that a pre-release version of Cortana has cropped up last weekend on various websites.

It is said that the standalone Cortana app is already running smoothly on devices and is compatible with Android 4.1.2 and later OS versions. There have been some problems with getting it to work on some handsets, but that is bound to happen as it is a leaked version and not the official app. However, you can at least try it out before you decide if you actually want to get it for your Android handset.

People who had a chance to test it out say that it performs “as expected” and if you got a chance to test Windows 10 Preview for PC or Phones, then you most likely are familiar with what Cortana can do on Android or iOS devices too. There are some minor differences, like Cortana not being able to get content from emails or listen for music, but there were bound to be some restrictions in place. Compared to the integrated version on Windows Phones, the standalone Cortana for other OS’ requires permission to get access to pretty much everything, so if you don’t have a way to provide it, the app will not be able to use the external information.

Microsoft plans to launch Cortana for iOS and Android next week. They say it will hit the US, UK, Chinese, French, Italian and Spanish markets at first, followed by Canada and India in the following months and then the rest of the targeted markets by the end of the year. The company chose this approach due to the fact that it also wants to personalize the user interaction with Cortana. For example, the Japanese market will feature Cortana bowing by default to show signs of politeness, while the UK market will house a Cortana that expresses the well-known British humour.

You can download the leaked version of Cortana for Android from APKMirror. I already have a Windows Phone device, so if you have an Android handset and choose to test it out, don’t forget to share your thoughts with a comment below!

Thank you Sci-Tech Today for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of PCkoloji

Court Orders Exam Retakes for Students Caught Cheating with High-Tech Vest

The Indian Supreme Court has demanded 630,000 students retake their All India Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental Entrance Test (AIPMT) amid concerns about widespread cheating. One of the most prevalent devices used was a vest which contains a concealed microphone and cellular radio. This can exchange data such as research papers to another person through a traditional SIM card. You can even covertly ask questions into the built-in microphone and hear the response through a minuscule in-ear Bluetooth headset. This makes it quite difficult to detect and relays much more information than writing notes onto your hands. Of course, this isn’t something I am advocating!

An investigation into the scale of cheating produced some shocking results and predict approximately 700 students used the hidden communication tool. In total, 44 candidates were identified and found cheating with the devices being present across Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. The AIPMT administers 15% of the seats in the country’s public medical and dental colleges which creates a lot of fierce competition. Additionally, 99.4% of all candidates fail the AIPMT every year and upholds a very high standard. Parents acted in desperation to propel their children into the school and provide a better quality of life. However, cheaters never prosper nor deserve any credit.

The BBC produced a video showing the how the vest works and remarks on the unbelievable quantity of devices out there to acquire the correct answers. India’s educational system is plagued by this notion and gangs can make a profitable business from selling data and devices in huge numbers. Cheating is illegal in India, but this hasn’t deterred students from trying to get away with it!

https://youtu.be/hLD-07tba1A

Thank you Geek for providing us with this information.

Apple May Ditch the Home Button in Next-Gen iPhones

Apple introduced a revolutionary smartphone design when it first came out. Back then, phones had an abundance of buttons, but the company wanted to make it more simplistic. Thus, they came up with the Home Button.

Apple’s Home Button is used on both iPhone and iPad devices to minimize applications, bring up the multitasking menu, activate Siri and other user specific actions. But now, Apple is rumoured to ditch the Home Button too.

According to a report from Digitimes, the Cupertino giant is integrating the Home Button functions in its display by developing a touch and display driver integration (TDDI) chip. This means that the Home Button will now be displayed on the screen, rather than having it as a physical button.

We’ve seen the company make the same move with the trackpad on its latest MacBook series, so it’s highly likely that we will see the same approach on its mobile devices too. However, we are fairly certain that the latest iPhone models being released this fall will not bear the TDDI technology.

In addition, the company is working to integrate the fingerprint sensor directly on the display too. This means that your smartphone’s display will be able to read and interpret your fingerprints as well.

As always, Apple is not going to officially confirm rumours outside of their annual conference, so we might see the company announce the new tech next year. Until then, we might even see other manufacturers taking the same ‘all-display’ approach. As far as I know, the old Nokia N9 is a good example of such a ‘buttonless’ smartphone (except for the volume physical buttons of course).

Thank you Digitimes for providing us with this information