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Verizon has a new way for parents to track their kids - CNET
Verizon's new Smart Family app lets you see where your kids are and limit their smartphone or tablet screen time.

Source: CNET News | 19 Apr 2018 | 11:05 am

Final Deadpool 2 trailer assembles the 'super-duper f----- group' - CNET
We get a better look at some of the supporting mutants backing Deadpool up.

Source: CNET News | 19 Apr 2018 | 10:59 am

Has Apple's iPhone, iPad hit a wall? - CNET
Negative comments offered by its chip supplier, TSMC, suggests a slowdown in demand for Apple's key mobile products.

Source: CNET News | 19 Apr 2018 | 10:56 am

Qualcomm's bid to expand beyond mobile chips hits a roadblock - CNET
Is the company getting caught up in the escalating tensions between China and the US?

Source: CNET News | 19 Apr 2018 | 10:54 am

UE Blast and Megablast speakers will add voice control for Spotify - CNET
The Alexa-enabled speakers will soon get some sorely needed updates.

Source: CNET News | 19 Apr 2018 | 10:45 am

New Alexa Blueprints let users make custom skills without knowing any code

Enlarge (credit: Amazon)

Amazon just released a new way for Alexa users to customize their experience with the virtual assistant. New Alexa Skill Blueprints allow you to create your own personalized Alexa skills, even if you don't know how to code. These "blueprints" act as templates for making questions, responses, trivia games, narrative stories, and other skills with customizable answers unique to each user. Amazon already has a number of resources for developers to make the new skills they want, but until now, users have had to work within the confines of pre-made Alexa skills.

Currently, more than 20 templates are available on the new Alexa Skill Blueprints website, all ready for Alexa users to personalize with their own content. Let's say you want to make a personalized trivia game for your family and friends: choosing the Trivia blueprint brings up more information about how this particular blueprint works, including audio examples and instructions on how to fill out the template. Click "Make Your Own" to then write your own trivia questions, possible answers, and choose which answer is correct for each question. You can even add sound effects like applause to make the game feel more real. After naming your trivia game, it will be accessible within minutes on all of the Alexa devices associated with your Amazon account.

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Source: Ars Technica | 19 Apr 2018 | 10:40 am

Nest offers 1M low-cost thermostats as part of Earth Day project - CNET
This is part of Google and Nest's Power Project program, which will formally launch on Earth Day.

Source: CNET News | 19 Apr 2018 | 10:35 am

Velodyne invented modern lidar—it’s about to face real competition

Enlarge / Velodyne's lidars aren't the only game in town any more. (credit: Velodyne)

David Hall invented modern three-dimensional lidar more than a decade ago for use in the DARPA Grand Challenge competitions. His company, Velodyne, has dominated the market for self-driving car lidar ever since. Last year, Velodyne opened a factory that it said had the capacity to produce a million lidar units in 2018—far more than any other maker of high-end lidars.

Now Velodyne is starting to see some serious competition. Last week, lidar startup Luminar announced that it was beginning volume production of its own lidar units. The company expects to produce 5,000 units per quarter by the end of 2018.

Meanwhile, Israeli startup Innoviz is also getting ready to manufacture its InnovizPro lidar in significant volume. The company declined to give Ars exact production numbers, only telling us it has orders for thousands of units. Innoviz believes it can scale up manufacturing quickly to satisfy that demand.

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Source: Ars Technica | 19 Apr 2018 | 10:35 am

An Avengers-themed OnePlus 6 is coming - CNET
Unfortunately, it may not be coming to a market near you.

Source: CNET News | 19 Apr 2018 | 10:26 am

The Force is crushing it: Get 2 Star Wars drones for $99.99 - CNET
Propel's excellent replica quadcopters originally sold for $180 apiece. Now $100 buys you two of them.

Source: CNET News | 19 Apr 2018 | 10:18 am

LA councilman asks city attorney to “review possible legal action” against Waze

Enlarge (credit: Prayitno)

Yet another Los Angeles city councilman has taken Waze to task for creating "dangerous conditions" in his district, and the politician is now "asking the City to review possible legal action."

"Waze has upended our City’s traffic plans, residential neighborhoods, and public safety for far too long," LA City Councilman David Ryu said in a statement released Wednesday. "Their responses have been inadequate and their solutions, non-existent. They say the crises of congestion they cause is the price for innovation—I say that’s a false choice."

In a new letter sent to the City Attorney’s Office, Ryu formally asked Los Angeles’ top attorney to examine Waze’s behavior.

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Source: Ars Technica | 19 Apr 2018 | 10:10 am

Amazon Prime is gobbling up Whole Foods' rewards program - CNET
Whole Foods Market rewards customers were informed that their digital coupons or account on the site won't be available after May 1.

Source: CNET News | 19 Apr 2018 | 10:09 am

This app could turn your phone into a lie detector - CNET
A new machine learning algorithm wants to tap into digital interactions that reveal when you're bluffing.

Source: CNET News | 19 Apr 2018 | 10:02 am

Motorola announces the 2018 Moto G6 and E5

Enlarge / The Moto G6, Moto G6 Play, Moto E5 Plus, and Moto E5 Play. (Not exactly to scale.)

NEW YORK CITY—Motorola is taking the wraps off its mid- to low-end lineup today. The company is launching four phones at once—the Moto G6, Moto G6 Play, Moto E5 Plus, and the Moto E5 Play. And no matter what Motorola does with these devices, there's almost no competition in the sub-$300 price range (especially here in the US), making all of these phones worthy of consideration just because of their price point.

Announcing four phones at once (some with multiple configurations!) can get really confusing, so let's start with a giant spec sheet comparing them all. Right off the bat, there are some notable similarities: all four phones have headphone jacks, MicroSD slots, fingerprint readers, a "water repellent" coating, Android 8.0 Oreo, and all the usual connectivity options except for NFC.

STARTING PRICE $249 $199 unknown unknown
SCREEN 5.7" 2160×1080 LCD 5.7" 1440×720 LCD 6" 1440×720 LCD 5.2" 1080×720 LCD
CPU Snapdragon 450

(Eight 1.8Ghz Cortex A53 Cores, 14nm)

Snapdragon 427

(Four 1.4GHz Cortex A53 Cores, 28nm)

Snapdragon 435

(Eight 1.4GHz Cortex A53 Cores, 28nm)

Snapdragon 425 or 427

(Four 1.4GHz Cortex A53 Cores, 28nm)

GPU Adreno 506 Adreno 308 Adreno 505 Adreno 308
RAM 3GB or 4GB 2GB or 3GB 3GB 2GB
STORAGE 32GB or 64GB 16GB or 32GB 32GB 16GB
PORTS USB-C, headphone jack Micro USB, headphone jack Micro USB, headphone jack Micro USB, headphone jack
BATTERY 3000Ah 4000Ah 5000Ah 2800Ah
BACK MATERIAL Gorilla Glass 3 Clear plastic Clear plastic Opaque plastic

The Moto G6


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Source: Ars Technica | 19 Apr 2018 | 10:00 am

Tesla slams Reveal News as “extremist” after exposé on alleged factory improprieties

Enlarge (credit: Scott Olson | Getty Images)

Reveal News, a non-profit organization based in Emeryville, California, published a story Monday concluding that Tesla "has failed to report some of its serious injuries on legally mandated reports, making the company's injury numbers look better than they actually are."

In turn, Tesla retorted Monday that Reveal is an "extremist organization working directly with union supporters," adding that the story "paints a completely false picture of Tesla and what it is actually like to work here."

Ars specifically asked Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Twitter whether he agreed with the use of the phrase "extremist organization" and under what criteria he makes such an assessment. He did not reply. We also put the same question to Tesla spokespeople, who similarly did not respond.

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Source: Ars Technica | 19 Apr 2018 | 7:30 am

Owl Car Cam review: A data-connected dash cam for car lovers

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Dash cams excel at watching over you while you're driving, but most take a break after you park the car. A new entry in the dash cam market, the $349 Owl Car Cam, promises to keep an eye on your vehicle even when the car is turned off and you're not in the driver's seat.

Using LTE connectivity and your car's battery power, the Owl Car Cam constantly looks out for movement in and around your car and pings your smartphone if and when something or someone appears near your vehicle.

Some dash cams have external battery packs, and a scant few have LTE. But the Owl Car Cam boasts these features as ways to add levels of convenience and security that other devices can't provide. The company hopes users will be willing to fork over more money upfront or pay a monthly fee for the ability to check up on their car whenever they please—and for their car to communicate with them when necessary.

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Source: Ars Technica | 19 Apr 2018 | 7:15 am

2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid: Put simply, it’s complicated


Honda spent the better part of the 1970s, 1980s and into the 1990s honing the simple. In fact, in the US, it was literally the company's advertising slogan: "Honda. We make it simple." However, it also ventured into the exhaustingly complex, as well, but that was fairly hidden from the mainstream. Remember its Formula 1 engines that shattered records? And don't forget how the company's roots in motorcycle engine development blew up engineering precepts. Honda combined oval pistons, V5 engines, and crankshafts that clustered the power pulses in a brief duration over the 720 degrees in a four-stroke cycle; in so doing, it created a kind of intrinsic traction control. To the racing nerds of the world, it was all fascinating, complex, and reliable to boot. Engineering precepts be damned.

But their road cars of the time? Mostly still simple. At least on the surface.

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Source: Ars Technica | 19 Apr 2018 | 6:35 am

Bitcoin heist suspect reportedly walked out of low-security prison, onto flight

Enlarge / The view taking off from Keflavik International Airport. (credit: Eric Salard / Flickr)

One of the suspects arrested in Iceland’s "Big Bitcoin Heist" has reportedly fled the country for Sweden.

According to the Associated Press, Sindri Thor Stefansson likely left a "low-security prison" in the southern region of the country on Wednesday. He then apparently made his way to the Keflavik International Airport and boarded a flight bound for Stockholm. Coincidentally, Iceland’s prime minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, was also on the very same flight.

Stefansson, who was one of 11 suspects arrested over the recent theft of 600 bitcoin-mining computers, likely did not have to show a passport in order to board his flight as Iceland is part of the European passport-free Schengen zone.

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Source: Ars Technica | 18 Apr 2018 | 9:20 pm

OneNote desktop app end-of-lifed, replaced with Windows 10 UWP

Enlarge / OneNote UWP. (credit: Microsoft)

While the main Office apps remain traditional desktop Windows applications, Microsoft has been developing a modern version of OneNote using the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) APIs for some years; it's arguably one of the more complex and capable UWP applications available today.

In Office 2019 shipping later this year, that new version of OneNote is moving to the foreground and will become the primary version of OneNote. The existing desktop application, OneNote 2016, will continue to be supported in maintenance mode, receiving bug fixes through October 2020 and security fixes until October 2025. But new features are going to be reserved for UWP version.

Microsoft has already said that Office 2019 will require Windows 10—it's the only version of Windows still in mainstream support—so the switch to using a UWP app should be fairly transparent. Clean installations of Office 2019 won't include OneNote 2016 by default, but if it's already there, it won't be harmed by upgrading.

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Source: Ars Technica | 18 Apr 2018 | 7:00 pm

Watch live: SpaceX to launch a small planet hunter for NASA [Updated]

TESS launch

Wednesday update: SpaceX had to scrub Monday's launch attempt due to an unspecified issue with the Falcon 9 rocket's guidance, navigation, and control system. However, after engineers with the California-based company looked at the rocket, it has been declared ready for flight. The 30-second launch window opens at 6:51pm ET (22:51 UTC). Weather conditions in Florida at the launch site are nearly perfect.

The webcast (above) should begin about 15 minutes before the launch window opens. Read below for more background on today's mission, which will attempt to send a cool new planet hunter into space for NASA.

Original post: The wildly successful Kepler Space Telescope was designed to observe faint stars and monitor them for brief dips in brightness that would indicate the passage of an object—most commonly a planet. However, the Kepler telescope was only able to resolve stars only in one specific area of space, about 0.28 percent of the entire sky, so it spied few nearby exoplanets.

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Source: Ars Technica | 18 Apr 2018 | 5:20 pm