Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) happens every year and is traditionally the platform the company uses to introduce new software and hardware.
The MacBook Air, which comes in an 11- and 13-inch configuration, has not received a Retina display or new design since 2012. In that time, Apple has introduced a Retina MacBook Pro and a new 12-inch MacBook.
The report, which comes from supply chain sources, claims that Apple is looking at making several changes:
An updated MacBook Air design, in-line with the MacBook Pro, which would include a 15-inch display. Killing off the 11-inch MacBook Air, which sits between the iPad Pro and 12-inch MacBook. More powerful internal components, such as Intel’s Skylake processor, that could power a Retina display.
Apple currently sells a 11-, 12-, 13- and 15-inch laptop (not including the 12.9-inch iPad Pro). The changes would mean that would double up on the high-end MacBook range, introducing another 15-inch model and purging the 11-inch.
Apple CEO Tim Cook recently questioned why anyone would buy a PC unless they need it for work, meaning that these changes — which take the focus away from casual use — would make sense. The introduction of the iPad Pro, which is intended for more casual work use, would also support the decision to retire the 11-inch MacBook Air.
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Google has been granted a patent (via The Washington Post) that shows how its self-driving cars would communicate with pedestrians by using screens or a speaker system, potentially helping to avoid collisions.
The screens, which could be mounted on the doors or bonnet, would show signs such as “Stop,” “Safe to cross,” or a traffic sign, that would alert pedestrians to what the car is doing. This system is in place of a driver making eye contact or signalling to them.
The patent also outlines a speaker system that could communicate with pedestrians using alerts such as “coming through” or “safe to cross” if it is unclear who should go. There is also the suggestion of a robotic hand or eye that could make a pedestrian aware the car has “seen” them, according to The Post.
There are no sketches of how the system would work within the application, but it appears to be similar to a system Nissan showed off last month. Google applied for the patent in 2012.
Google recently announced that its self-driving cars had logged 100,000 miles on the open road with no accidents caused by it.
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Amazon has released an update about its ‘Prime Air’ project, showcasing a new package delivery drone.
Today Amazon is discounting Samsung’s acclaimed Galaxy S6 down to just $400! Hurry up before the stock runs out.
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Tech retailers and manufacturers are back for round two of deals and promos. Among them, HTC is discounting its One M9 flagship down to $390, an excellent 40% off the list price.
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Rest your tinfoil hats, folks (at least for a bit). Today opens a new era in North American history. One in which the NSA can no longer freely collect data on your telephone calls.
This past Black Friday, the so-called “party game for horrible people” Cards Against Humanity had a hilariously bizarre deal: Give them $5 and get absolutely nothing in return.
In a blog post today, Cards Against Humanity’s founders revealed that this stunt made the company $71,145, with 11,248 giving $5, and 1,119 people giving more than that. One guy even gave $100.
All for literally nothing. But wait, there’s a punchline here:
“There’s been a lot of speculation about how we would spend the money from Black Friday, and we’re happy to announce that this time, we kept it all. Here’s what we bought,” Cards Against Humanity writes.
While Cards Against Humanity actually has a history of making big donations to charitable causes, this time, they used the cash more selfishly, splitting it evenly among its 17 employees for ao ut $4,185 each.
It then goes on to break down what employees actually bought with their windfalls: Lots of Cards Against Humanity employees bought Sony PlayStation 4 or Nintendo Wii U video game consoles. Others put money into savings, bought gifts for others, including a $1000 car, or paid some of their student loans.
But the real highlights include a “custom suit of men’s armor” ($1500), two front row tickets to the Chicago Cubs home opener ($1,058), and a 24-karat-gold YVA vibrating massager with “eight pleasure settings” ($3,120).
Finally, and the absolute best part: Despite the gag of Cards Against Humanity keeping the money for themselves, several Cards Against Humanity employees actually gave in the hundreds or thousands to charities and nonprofits including Planned Parenthood, DonorsChoose.org, and the American Refugee Committee.
Amazon today shared an update on its “Prime Air” drone delivery service, first introduced in 2013 with a teaser that many thought was a joke.
On a newly-updated Amazon Prime Air landing page, Amazon shares an updated Prime Air drone design:
Alongside that update goes a pair of new videos, one starring controversial former “Top Gear” star and recent Amazon Studios employee Jeremy Clarkson, detailing what Amazon Prime Air will be like in real life
That includes some sweet footage of the drone grabbing a package and taking flight:
The eventual goal is to deliver packages weighing five pounds or less within half an hour. Amazon VP of Prime Air Gur Kimchi was quoted earlier this year as saying, “Prime Air is trying to get as close as possible to real teleportation — without breaking the laws of physics.”
And in an FAQ on the Amazon Prime Air website, Amazon reassures customers that far from science fiction, this is very real.
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Swedish payments startup Klarna once considered a novel approach to dealing with fraud: Asking “high-risk” customers to enter their horoscopes.
The company, which was valued at $2.25 billion (£1.5 billion) in a 2015 funding round, offers a payment solution to merchants that tries to simplify paying online.
Where it differs from PayPal, or a website’s proprietary payment method is that customers don’t need to even enter their card details when they pay. They stick in their email address and postcode — and that’s it. Klarna goes ahead and pays the the merchant, and the customer then pays Klarna at a later date.
The goal is to increase “conversions” — the number of people going through with payment — by removing hurdles and streamlining the process. But by fronting up its own money, Klarna puts itself at obvious risk of fraud.
To avoid this, Klarna profiles customers to see if they’re “low-risk” or “high-risk” and adjusting their check-out on the fly accordingly, CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski told Business Insider at the Wired Retail conference in London.
If a customer is “buying a physics textbook on a mobile phone, the address you’re shipping to is close to where you are currently, it kind of all makes sense — one click and you’re done,” he explains.
“But if you’re buying four iPhones at 3 o’clock in the night and you’re shipping to some odd address, we might want to ask a couple more questions for verification before we allow you to finalise your purchase right.”
These questions can be anything from asking you to verify your address, to entering all your card details in a particularly high-risk situation. Siemiatkowski says it’s the same principle as what Facebook uses to try and detect account theft: “I don’t know if you’ve ever logged into Facebook from abroad — what they actually do sometimes is ‘hey, can you recognise your friends and connect the pictures?’ That’s exactly the same thinking.”
But where do star signs and horoscopes figure into this? “We never actually put it into production, but we even played around with the concept of ‘what’s your horoscope?’
“Funny enough, you know exactly what yours is, but any fraudster trying to impersonate you — even though they might know your date of birth or whatever — they’re never going to be able to in less than a second guess your horoscope.”
Siemiatkowski is coy about the proportion of transactions considered “high-risk” — but stresses that it is about reducing friction for the majority of users, and reaping the benefits. “Let’s hypothetically imagine that I can give a really simplistic experience to 50% of your customers, and I can give the normal check-out experience to the other 50% —already, then, I’ve had a massive impact on your conversion rate because I’ve simplified it for half your customers.”
Having taken $80 million (£53 million) in funding at a $2.25 billion (£1.5 billion) valuation in August, Klarna recently launched in the US for the first time. The Swedish company, which has been profitable for 10 years, isn’t ruling out an IPO, but has no plans to do so, Siemiatkowski says.
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I just got back from Thanksgiving vacation in Arizona. While driving I-10 between Tucson and Arizona, I saw this sign several times:
It’s a reference to the bizarre New York Times guacamole recipe from last summer, where the writer inexplicably included peas. Since guacamole is Mexican, and Arizona borders Mexico and New York does not, I’m inclined to agree with Arizona on this one. Tomatoes, maybe. Peas, no.
The signs actually went up a few days before Thanksgiving, and the Arizona Department of Transportation tweeted about it as well:
— Arizona DOT (@ArizonaDOT)
The Volvo XC90, one of the Swedish carmaker’s best-selling models of all time, has been redesigned.
This is Volvo’s top-line SUV, and this new example shows that Volvo is trying to prove itself as a modern contender in an evolving luxury-car market. Volvo tossed Business Insider the keys to the 2016 XC90 so we could give this all-wheel-drive, supercharged — and turbocharged! — Swede a proper workout.
Naturally, we started our weeklong stint with a road trip.
The only thing that could make this more interesting: spinning the XC90’s four corners from LA to San Francisco on one tank of gas. Done!
Here we are filling up in Burbank, California, the suburban cousin of Los Angeles.
The XC90 we’re driving here has a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine. There’s also a supercharger and a turbocharger attached, producing a reasonable 316 horsepower.
Filling the not-quite-empty gas tank with premium unleaded cost a respectable $40 and change. That sounds pretty good, but bear in mind that a few years back, a fill-up would have cost twice that in LA. The SUV market is back big time, thanks to low gas prices.
With the tank filled, we’re ready to put some road behind us.
The car’s computer tells us we’ve got about 500 miles of range on this tank of gas, but the estimate changes quickly depending on traffic, how fast you’re driving, and whether you’re climbing any steep hills.
Time to start her up.
This is indeed a luxury SUV. Notice all the attention to detail on the contact points (the parts of the car that your hands will touch on a daily basis).
There’s subtle knurling on the engine dial and on the Drive Mode selector. The effect is repeated on the volume knob beneath the giant center touch screen.
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In February, NASA announced that it was investing in a $2 billion mission to Europa — a tiny moon of Jupiter that is one of the most likely places for life beyond Earth.
Their spacecraft, called the Europa Multi-Flyby Mission, would orbit Jupiter, taking frequent passes by Europa for a close look at its surface.
But there is another important piece of the puzzle that NASA is exploring, and in a recent conversation with US Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas), Ars Technica‘s senior space editor, Eric Berger, reported the details — it’s a lander and it could be the key to discovering the first extraterrestrial life.
Why it’s critical that we land on Europa
Setting a lander down on Europa could offer an unprecedented look at the composition of the ice on the surface, but more important, it could study molecules in the global liquid ocean (shown below) where life could exist.
Scientists suspect that Europa harbors more water than all of Earth’s oceans combined, but all of that water is contained underneath an icy shell shielded from the surface.
Because of that shell, a lander couldn’t dive into the icy waters. But it could still sample them by parking beside one of the open crevasses that occasionally spew water from beneath, as illustrated below:
NASA isn’t releasing any details on how they plan to get a probe on the surface because the project is still in the initial planning stages. And if you visit the main page for NASA’s Europa mission, you won’t see any mention of a lander.
The first glimpse of a possible lander came last September, when Europa project scientist Robert Pappalardo announced that NASA was exploring the possibility of a lander.
Over the years, a number of hypothetical missions like the Europa squid robot or tiny cryobots (shown below) have been proposed, but none of these have received serious funding consideration:
Now, Berger has gotten his hands on the juicy details from Culberson, who you could say is the main man behind this critical lander mission.
A lander for Europa
Culberson is the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee, with oversight of NASA’s budget. And he wants to know if there’s life on Europa as badly as any NASA scientist working on the Europa Multi-Flyby Mission.
Adding a lander to the mission would improve NASA’s chances of discovering the presence, or absence, of life, which is why Culberson is pushing for the necessary funding to get a lander added to the mission.
“Honestly, if you’re going to go all that way to determine if there’s life on another world, why wouldn’t you double-check it?” Culberson told Berger.
Earlier this month, during one of Culberson’s regular check-ins with the mission scientists, he learned the latest details on the lander, which he relayed to Berger. Here’s the gist, according to Ars Technica:
The addition of a lander will prolong the mission launch an additional year, from 2022 to 2023. Similar to the 2014 comet landing, a landing site will be chosen until the spacecraft has extensively studied the moon’s surface. The lander will weigh about 500 pounds and be delivered to the surface by sky crane, similar to how the Curiosity Mars rover was set on the surface. Included in the 500-pound limit, there’s room for up to 66 pounds of instruments for scientific analysis, which will include a device for identifying complex biological molecules that could signify signs of life. The lander will also come with a scooper and sampling arm equipped with counter-rotating saw blades for shallow drilling into the icy surface to collect ice samples.
Ultimately, the scientists want to get the lander near a crevasse that is venting water vapor from the underground ocean, Berger reported. That way, the instruments can sniff for any signs of life that might be swimming or floating underneath.
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Android fans, this week Xiaomi launched a metal-made smartphone for just $140, Huawei introduced its newest phablet flagship, and we saw some great Black Friday deals. Here’s the top news of the week.
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Users on reddit are reporting that LG has begun distirbuting Android 6.0 for its G4 hardware to various markets in Europe via its PC software. Nice!
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Everyone deals with annoying technology (and those LinkedIn spam messages), but few ever have those emails of frustration released to the public.
Since May, the State Department has been releasing Hillary Clinton’s emails from when she served as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. During that time, the tech-savvy Clinton had created a private email server in her home and used a personal email for some of her official government business. A court ordered that those emails needed to be released as a matter of public record.
When you’re trying to help run the country, though, you’re bound to run into a few technical problems along the way.
While many of the now-public emails are dealing with the day-to-day work of being Secretary of State, there are several gems — like a fight over a fax machine — that show how Clinton deals with the struggles of technology like the rest of us.
Sometimes you can’t find the radio station.
Or figure out how to operate a fax machine.
Sometimes the White House operators just don’t believe who you say you are. (Although this one admittedly is likely more unique to Clinton than the rest of us.)
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Tech website Gadgets 360 has exclusively begun taking reservations for the extremely affordable, upper mid-range Obi Worldphone SF1 for customers in India.
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Do you have multiple Instagram accounts? Those of you who do can attest to the annoyance that it can be to switch between accounts. Now we know this is something Instagram is definitely working on!
Feeling melancholic? Do you wish Cyanogen was back in bed with OnePlus? That may not be happening anymore, but at least now we know CyanogenMod is coming to the OnePlus 2!
There’s plenty of Black Friday and Cyber Week deals out there, but those who like an unlocked handset will probably prefer the new discount eBay seller 232tech is currently holding on the Galaxy Note 5.