Posts Tagged ‘tech’

THE AMAZON FIRE HAS ARRIVED

June 19th, 2014 1 Comment By Lucy Sweet

Amazon Fire THE AMAZON FIRE HAS ARRIVED If you’ve always fancied talking to Yoda on your holophone, then grab yourself the brand new Amazon Fire smartphone.

It’s got head-tracking photography. You can buy things with your EYES. Images on the screen appear three dimensional – and the Maps app lets you tilt the phone to ‘see around’ buildings.

The Amazon Fire was unveiled yesterday in Seattle by CEO Jeff Bezos, who waved the phone about and yelled ‘It’s time to whip the crown from Apple!’

So can they do it? Well on the face of it, the 4.7 inch Amazon Fire looks pretty snazzy. It has six individual in-built cameras to create the much-vaunted 3D effect – called ‘dynamic perspective.’ It’s also got 2GBs of RAM, a 720p HD resolution screen and a super whizzy quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon Processor. (Try saying that when you’ve had a few ales.) You get unlimited storage with Amazon Cloud, too.

Of course, you’ll have to put up with a lot of dreary Amazon apps as standard, like that bloody Mayday button with the silly Irish woman on the adverts. And you can bet the phone will make buying something from Amazon as easy as possible.

The most potentially infuriating feature is the Firefly app, which recognises what you’re looking at or listening to, and gives you the option to buy it from Amazon. ANNOYING, OR WHAT?

But it’s the 3D ‘hologram’ effect that might set the world on Fire. The only question is, will it cause a repeat of the great iOS 7 seasickness of 2013?

Broadband speeds vary wildly in UK cities

June 18th, 2014 2 Comments By Lucy Sweet

house broadband Broadband speeds vary wildly in UK cities You might associate slow broadband speeds with rural areas, but it turns out that people in cities are forced to tolerate snail-like broadband speeds, too, according to a damning survey by Ofcom.

Superfast broadband coverage is a bit of a lottery across the UK. So while the people of Londonderry might be whizzing along with 99% super fastness, it’s a different story in Inverness, Cardiff and Glasgow.

For example, only one in three people in Glasgow have access to superfast broadband, while almost everyone in Northern Ireland is able to download hooky episodes of Game of Thrones in record time.

Ofcom also found there was a class divide when it came to broadband speeds. People in lower income areas tend to have decreased access to broadband, with Glasgow scoring lowest with 57% access.

The bewitchingly named Claudio Pollack from Ofcom said: ‘Access to fast broadband is an important part of modern life, and a source of economic growth and investment across the UK.

Today’s findings suggest that the usage and availability of faster broadband also vary widely between cities. We will carry out further work in this area to help bring faster broadband to UK homes, whether in cities or rural areas.’

It’s not hip to be square, says Sharp

June 18th, 2014 No Comments By Lucy Sweet

sharp freeform 300x193 It’s not hip to be square, says Sharp We’ve all just accepted that screens are either square or rectangular. It’s just the way it is, right?

Well, Sharp don’t think so. They’ve developed ‘free form’ display technology that will literally change the shape of things to come.

Care to explain, Japanese tech boffins?

‘Conventional displays are rectangular because they require a minimal width for the bezel in order to accommodate the drive circuit, called the gate driver, around the perimeter of the screen’s display area.’

*nods uncomprehendingly*

‘With the Free-Form Display, the gate driver’s function is dispersed throughout the pixels on the display area. This allows the bezel to be shrunk considerably, and it gives the freedom to design the LCD to match whatever shape the display area of the screen needs to be.’

OH RIIIIIIGHT!

We’ve already seen some advance in curved screen technology, so are we going to get circular or star shaped TVs and monitors, then?

Maybe not right now. It seems that Sharp are focusing their attention on developing new forms for car dashboards and digital advertising, as well as wearable tech.

But who knows where it will lead. Soon, you could be watching Corrie on a screen shaped like a hot dog.

Samsung prepare the world for a SmartBike

June 18th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

samsung logo Samsung prepare the world for a SmartBikeTechnology companies are determined to get us all healthy and full of vigour by monitoring our hearts and allowing us to share just how far we’ve run, to rub it in everyone else’s faces.

Samsung have hit on a neat idea though – they’ve come up with a prototype for a smartbike.

The bike, which is unusual to look at, but not exactly ugly, comes with a battery, rear-facing camera, WiFi and Bluetooth routers of laser projectors. Sadly, the latter isn’t a laser gun for shooting fellow cyclists up the hole.

Instead, the lasers allow the rider to shine red lines on the road in a bid to create your own moveable cycling lane, so you can warn motorists of your presence. They’ll switch on when your phone – mounted into the bike itself – detects that light has sufficiently dimmed around you.

The phone mounts onto your bike with a magnetic clip on the stem and the WiFi/Bluetooth will send images to it, so you can also use your phone like a rear-view mirror.

The phone and (as yet undeveloped app) will act like Strava, tracking your route and gathering data about your rides and all that. It’ll use GPS, of course.

Here’s a video with a horrible detached voice, to tell you all about it.

Samsung aren’t alone in thinking there’s money to be made from making intelligent bicycles. Apple have a patent on such a thing (future court battles for Apple and Samsung, yet again) and Audi has been weighing up a similar smartbike themselves.

With cycling taking a huge upturn in Britain (thanks to a couple of Tour De France wins), this could be a popular development for tech companies.

Would you prefer to buy all these things separately and customise them yourself, rather than buying a Samsung branded bike though?

Twitter Logo1 Twitter say they’re still learning about keeping people safe While prominent women – like campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez and MP Stella Creasy – receive screeds of awful abuse, it’s good to know that Twitter is LEARNING how best to keep its users safe online.

Sounding like it’s just come from a support group for stressed social networks, Sinead McSweeney, Twitter’s director of public policy for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said it faced ‘new challenges’ from trolls, and added:

‘We continue to learn from incidents like that. If you stop learning, you stop providing a good service to your users.’

HMMM, OK. And?

Well, Twitter hires a grand total of 150 employees to work in the user support and safety teams based in Dublin, who work all hours to assess threats, monitor possible suicide attempts and block trolls.

But as it’s an open network with 500 million tweets a day, it can’t possibly moderate every tweet. And even when trolls are blocked, they tend to come back in different guises.

So what is it going to do? Well, as Twitter is a touchy feely San Fran-based company, it’s going to EDUCATE THE TROLLS.

‘There are people who have an approach of just banning or blocking content, then there are the approaches of educating people…’ says McSweeney, ‘which is to the greatest extent, the approach and philosophy that we take.’

Aw, isn’t that nice? We’ll remember their great work next time we get harassed and called a c*** by a random stranger.

Give people the middle finger, Emoji style

June 17th, 2014 4 Comments By Lucy Sweet

emoji middle finger 300x300 Give people the middle finger, Emoji style Emojis are usually insufferably cute – even the little poo emoji is adorable – so they can rarely be used to insult someone.

And if you use the internet regularly, you’ll know that sometimes, your online frustration and rage can rarely be articulated using just words alone.

So you’ll be pleased to know that Emoji will soon be unveiling a new middle finger emoticon. Yep, you can flip your friends and your enemies the bird without having to resort to tedious wordy explanations. Just one middle finger in a text, and you can dump that lousy boyfriend, stick it to the man, and take down those trolls.

You can imagine this might catch on all over the world, to the extent that people won’t even bother writing anything at all. Instead all Facebook status updates and tweets will just contain rows and rows of Emoji middle fingers. Easy!

Anyway, the Emoji update will be happening in July, and will include a further 249 characters, including skulls, spider webs, and hopefully, some BLACK PEOPLE. Well, you never know…

New MAGIC TROUSERS will charge your phone

June 17th, 2014 1 Comment By Lucy Sweet

phone in pocket 300x224 New MAGIC TROUSERS will charge your phone You know what it’s like – you’ve spent so much time messing around with Twitter and Spotify and Facebook and Flappy Bird, that you’ve run out of battery to make an urgent call to the real people in your life.

But worry no more, because soon you will be able to charge your mobile phone – IN YOUR TROOSERS. Yes, this is an actual thing that is happening. Microsoft have been collaborating with fashion designer Adrien Sauvage to develop a pair of trousers that feature an in-built wireless charger for a Nokia DC-50 in the front pocket.

Mr Sauvage called the trousers ‘a wearable chino.’ (Well, you would hope that clothes would be wearable, eh?). However, he said the project involved a lot of ‘trial and error.’

‘Having something that you could wear without the technology feeling cumbersome was a challenge.’ He said. ‘It was also difficult to distribute the heat so that the wearer wouldn’t feel like they were in a sauna.’

But he managed it. Er, sort of. The only thing is, you can’t wash them in a machine. And they cost £200.

The magic charging trousers will be unveiled tonight at Mr Sauvage’s show in Bloomsbury, and will be available on Amazon soon. So if your battery is always dying, just pop your phone in your pocket and assume a look of intense concentration. Your friends will think you have special powers!

There are a few unanswered questions, though. What happens if you spill a pint on them? Do you go up like a rocket?

Google to pester you about your health as well

June 16th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

keep fit health Google to pester you about your health as wellTechnology, it seems, has not developed into a legion of killer robots like we were promised, but rather, something to enable everyone to show off about their awful keep-fit regimen.

People tweet about how far they’ve run, selfie themselves into oblivion with some putrid, lurid green smoothie they’ve made and then they chug you about a half-marathon they’re doing for the Cats Protection League.

The Wii got grandmas doing yoga, Nike+ spammed everyone with kilometres, Samsung threw their own fitness technology into the ring and Apple have turned their phones into the impossible – a device that enables owners to even more smug about their tedious lifestyle choices.

Not wanting to miss out, Google are apparently working on a competitor to Apple’s HealthKit, called Google Fit. The second someone invents Smell-O-Phones, the entire internet is going to smell like B.O. and farts from pulse-eating nicompoops.

Of course, Google are readying Android Wear, which will tie-in with this new health system which will monitor your heart and all that nonsense.

You may remember that Google tried this before, with Google Health, but no-one was at all interested. There’s been a growing reluctance for people to want to aggregate their entire lives with Google.

Would it be too much to ask to get some clever hackers to actively hack these crowing keep-fit fanatics hearts and make them all die in the street?

uber 300x200 Cab drivers cause traffic jams in Uber protest Uber, the app that lets you call a private hire cab using your smartphone, isn’t exactly popular with the licenced cab drivers in the world.

And this week, thousands of taxi drivers all over Europe have been honking their displeasure about it on the streets of London, Berlin, Paris and Madrid, causing traffic jams and generally getting in everyone’s way.

They say that black cabs are being undermined by the service, which in some cities only allows users to call private hire taxis. And lots of already-stretched cabbies are seeing red.

In Madrid, taxi drivers ditched their cabs and marched up and down yelling ‘UBER ILLEGAL!’ while blowing whistles. In Italy, they shouted ‘Illegality Rules Soverign! Shame!’ In London, 5000 taxis idled their engines around Trafalgar Square.

Jose Antonio Benitez, a cabbie in Madrid said: ‘It’s unfair competition. The government says they want a free market, but one that only hurts taxi drivers.’

Uber, which is based in San Francisco, responded by using the protests to offer discounted cabs. (CHEEKY.) They have also derailed the protests somewhat, by rolling out a feature in London that gives the option to hail black cabs, with a small commission fee added on. But more go-slow demonstrations may still be planned in London.

Bloody apps, coming over here and stealing our trade. String ‘em up – it’s the only language they understand.

Starbucks to offer wireless charging

June 13th, 2014 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

starbucks logo 300x300 Starbucks to offer wireless chargingSoon, going to Starbucks won’t only give you a burst of caffeine fueled energy, but also, your phone. The coffee botherer announced that they are going to make Powermat’s wireless charging stations available in its shops.

It seems, for the moment, this is only Stateside, but big companies like this tend to roll these things out worldwide if they are deemed a success. It looks like there’ll be 10 (or more) Powermat Spots, where you can charge up your phone by the power of witchcraft.

 

Starbucks were one of the first big companies to offer wifi as standard, which saw their profits rocketing as consumers chose their coffee by being able to work or look at dirty pictures on Tumblr. This could well be the latest thing that other companies will copy, which is good news for those tottering down the High Street.

However, there’s one small problem – what if your phone isn’t compatible with wireless charging? Well, a number of phones are, such as the LG G3, Nexus 5 and variety of Nokia handsets. If you want to use wireless charging stations, you might have to buy a compatible case for your phone.

That said, if you’re likely to be in Starbucks with any frequency, then you’ll be thrilled to learn that it won’t break the bank to buy one of the tiny receiver rings that plug into your phone. There’s also back covers for some Samsung phones that allow wireless charging.

In the stores themselves, there’ll be Powermat Spots, which are small circles that are implanted in tables and counters.  This could be a real winner for Starbucks, so expect to see their rivals jumping on the bandwagon very soon.

Titan Zeus 370 inch Ultra HD TV image 2 300x168 Let’s all watch the World’s Biggest Telly! Want to buy the BIGGEST TELLY IN THE UNIVERSE? A telly that will enable you to actually go INSIDE THE NASAL PORES OF CLAIRE BALDING? A telly so massive that you won’t be able to fit it into your house?

Well, welcome to the Titan Zeus, which measures 8 metres by 5 metres and costs ONE MILLION POUNDS. But hurry, there are only 4 of them!

It’s doubtful that we’re all going to be flocking to Currys to buy one for our living rooms, but the Zeus might come in handy for large events and screenings. Two have already been sold – one to the Cannes Film Festival, where it will be used to screen World Cup games. The other owner is anonymous, but I bet it’s Kimye.

Anyway, this telly is so FREAKIN’ BIG that on the Titan website, they’ve used an elephant to illustrate its scale. (And the elephant fits neatly into the right hand bottom corner).

You also don’t have to be restricted to one channel. Its immensity means that you can watch 20 channels at the same time.

Whoo, that’s one big telly. Can you imagine the guy from Homes Under The Hammer on a screen the size of four elephants? TERRIFYING.

gmail logo stylized 300x300 Flag as important: MASSIVE Gmail security flaw An Israeli security researcher discovered a huge gaping hole in Gmail’s security which could have revealed the email addresses of every single person using the service. And Google had no idea until he told them.

Oren Hafif says the flaw – which could have left users open to phishing scams and all kinds of internet nasties – uses a sharing feature of Gmail which allows a user to delegate access to their account.

If you tweak the web address, you can reveal the address of a random user. And if you automate that tweak, you can potentially go on forever. Hafif managed to collect 37,000 Gmail addresses in two hours using a piece of legal software called DirBuster.

Hafif, who works for security firm Trustwave said:

‘I could have done this potentially endlessly. I have every reason to believe that every Gmail addess could have been mined.’

But when he reported the flaw, Google took a month to respond, and didn’t even bother to pay him for the tip through their service which rewards hackers for helping to fix bugs.

Eventually Hafif got $500 for his troubles, and Google promptly fixed the flaw. But nobody will ever know whether it was used before that to grab our addresses and send us ‘Please Help Me, I’m On Holiday In Ukraine and I Need You To Send Money’ emails…

nearby1 300x225 Google Nearby can tell where you are at all times Finally, a tool for the forgetful, the dim and the plain lost – Google is all set to launch Google Nearby, a smart tracking system that will let you know if you’re near friends, your house and even the cooker.

‘But I know where I am. I am at home!’ you may cry. Still. Google Nearby could pave the way for all kinds of convenient technologies, like apps that open the garage door for you, know the exact location of that friend who is avoiding you, or can tell when you’re near the kettle.

AndroidPolice said: ‘Nearby will allow enabled devices, with extreme precision, to know when they are near each other, and interact according to the context. Users, according to our information, will also be able to choose who (and presumably what) they are visible to.’

It’s part of Google’s investment in Jetsons-style Home Automation, which saw them investing billions in fancy thermostat business Nest. And last week it launched its HomeKit app, which allows you to operate domestic appliances using your iPhone as a remote.

So soon you’ll be able to say ‘Google, open the garage door.’ And it will.

Unless you’ve forgotten your phone, in which case you’ll have to sleep in your car.

mark zuckerberg facepalm 274x300 Facebooks answer to Snapchat is accidentally launched In the latest of their increasingly desperate attempts to piggy back on the success of Snapchat, Facebook ‘accidentally’ launched their own version for iPhone last night – called Slingshot.

But even though it was quickly withdrawn from the App Store, screen shots and details about Slingshot were grabbed by intrigued tech sites.

Slingshot is exactly like Snapchat, but with a few tiny tweaks. For example, recipients of photos can ‘sling’ a ‘OMG IS THAT YOUR KNOB’ reaction shot back straight away. An embarrassed Facebook representative confirmed:

‘Earlier today, we accidentally released a version of Slingshot, a new app we’re working on,’ they said in a statement. ‘With Slingshot, you’ll be able to share everyday moments with lots of people at once. It’ll be ready soon and we’re excited for you to try it out.’

Zuckerberg rather poetically describes all the desperate money spinning, copycat apps Facebook produces as ‘unbundling the big blue app.’

But after they tried and failed to buy Snapchat last year, their desire to replicate the success of Snapchat is developing into the kind of fanboy obsession that Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons could relate to.

Nobody knows when Slingshot will be ready, but it’s doubtful that Snapchat are going to be quaking in their boots. Anyone remember their other short-lived picture messaging service, Poke?

amazoninstant Amazon to launch smartphone with 3D interface, this month!There’s been loads of speculation about Amazon lately. Just what are they up to? Of course, Amazon are enjoying it greatly and saying nothing, leaving publications to blither on endlessly about what they’ve got planned.

And we’re no different.

However, it looks like the increasingly loud mutterings about an Amazon smartphone are going to be true.

Amazon have promised that we’re all going to see their newest, shiniest thing on June 18th and all signs point to a new smartphone, and it will probably have a 3D interface, which is gimmicky as hell, but some of us really like sparkly gimmicks.

By process of elimination, you have to assume it will be a new phone because Amazon TV is already a thing and the Kindle Fire HDX is basically a tablet, so there’s only going to be a load of fanfare over something new (to the company). It seems that the interface is the real highlight too, as you can see in the Amazon teaser video below.

In it, you see ahem “Amazon customers” being overjoyed and bowled-over by the product they hold in their hands. It is “fantastic” and “pretty damn intuitive”.

There’s been 3D phones in the past and they didn’t do too well. LG’s Optimus 3D and the HTC Evo 3D didn’t exactly set the world on fire. The teaser video shows someone saying “it moved with me” which sounds like an interface that will allow you to navigate the menus and the like, by tilting the phone.

With eye-tracking and 3D display, you should be able to see sub-menus in layers, which are only visible as soon as you tilt the phone to a particular angle.

Or is it going to be a bona-fide hologram phone?

This could be really good for mobile games too and, like the Kindle, this new device will run on a tailored version of Android. Now, the big question is: Does anyone want a phone made by Amazon?