Enlarge/ Plex on Amazon Drive. (credit: Plex)

Plex, a service for streaming video and other media from a home PC or NAS device, has teamed up with Amazon to help customers stream their content from the cloud.

Plex is a great tool for making movies, music, and photos available to just about any device, whether you're at home or traveling. But the home computer that holds your Plex content must be powered on and connected to the Internet in order for it to work. A power failure or Internet outage at home could thus leave a Plex user without any streaming content when they're traveling.

Plex Cloud, announced today, could solve that problem. "Plex Cloud eliminates the need to run your own local Plex Media Server and manage an always-on computer or NAS," the announcement said. "Let Amazon worry about nasty stuff like power failure, corruption, and data loss. It turns out they’re pretty good at that stuff!"


(credit: NRDC)

TV manufacturers Samsung, LG, and Vizio build their TVs to pass US federal energy-use tests while allowing the TVs to consume much more energy when they operate outside of the narrow test parameters, a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) claims.

This week, the environmental group published the results of a study it did with third-party efficiency consulting firm Ecos Research (PDF). The study found that many of the TVs they tested used more than double the amount of energy listed on the yellow EnergyGuide label every time the TV was used under conditions not tested by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) energy-use test.

EnergyGuide labels also help determine whether a TV qualifies for an EnergyStar label, which indicates whether the TV is among the more energy-efficient in its group.


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Enlarge/ Snapchat's new "Spectacles" glasses, which have been copy-and-pasted from Friday's WSJ report onto the company's official logo. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

The Snapchat empire will soon see an expansion into physical products. On Friday, company founder Evan Spiegel unveiled the company's first for-sale product on Friday: Spectacles, a $129 pair of sunglasses with a video camera built into their front. (UK price TBC, but probably around £110.)

Spectacles were not announced via Spiegel's wildly popular social-media app, however, but instead through an exclusive report published by the Wall Street Journal. The report confirms some of the glasses' technical details, including a 115-degree camera lens, a fisheye rendering effect on any videos taken, and three color options at launch (black, teal, and coral). Tap a button near the hinge, the WSJ reports, and Spectacles will record exactly 10 seconds of video. (A leaked promotional reel for Spectacles turned up at Business Insider before the WSJ's report went live showing what the glasses' video footage will probably look like.)

The glasses, as shown on Spiegel's face, contain pronounced bulges on both halves of the glasses' frame and an apparently dime-sized circle on each lens' upper, outer corner. We only have two official photos and a brief, leaked promo video to go on—and no further technical details from the report—so we'll have to wait to learn how much on-board memory is filling either of those bulges, what resolution the video will be captured in, and whether the glasses' processing unit communicates with a nearby smartphone to upload those video captures to Snapchat.


The Google OnHub, Google's now old router? (credit: Ron Amadeo)

As part of Google's multi-device release extravaganza on October 4, Android Police claims Google is going to launch a Wi-Fi router. Another Wi-Fi router.

Google's current Wi-Fi router is the Google OnHub, a $200, single-port router that was released over a year ago. Google promised that the OnHub would receive regular updates, and while minor bugfixes and security updates were provided, much of the hardware is still left unactivated: the USB port still doesn't work, and the included smart home antennas are still dormant. Popular user-requested features like IPv6 support and NAT loopback never arrived, either.

Now Google is apparently poised to release a new Wi-Fi router, simply called "Google Wi-Fi." Android Police says the new router looks like a "white Amazon Echo Dot"—so a hockey puck with a light on top—and it costs $129. The site also says the router will have mesh Wi-Fi capabilities, meaning you can buy more than one and link them together for better coverage.


Friday, 23 September 2016 12:00

Fix your headphone dongles with iOS 10.0.2

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Apple released iOS 10.0.2 to the general public today, the first update for iOS 10 since it was released last week (10.0.1, not 10.0, was the version number of the first public build).

The update's main fix is for the Lightning-to-3.5mm dongle that ships with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Headsets plugged into the dongle could become unresponsive if plugged into an idle phone for more than five or so minutes. Getting the headset and any volume or playback controls to work again required unplugging the dongle and plugging it back in. With today's update, that should no longer be a problem.

The update also solves a problem that caused the Photos app to crash when enabling iCloud Photo Library and a problem that prevented app extensions from being enabled.


Enlarge (credit: Jawbone)

It has been nearly a year since Jawbone's most advanced tracker, the Up4, hit shelves, and the company doesn't seem to be doing well. According to a Business Insider report, Jawbone didn't pay its customer service partner NexRep, and Jawbone cut ties with the company shortly after.

The report cites an e-mail from a NexRep executive that says Jawbone is "struggling financially" and couldn't pay for the company's services. The abrupt termination affected 93 NexRep jobs, leading to some layoffs and others being reassigned to other clients. Jawbone cites "restructuring" of its customer service for the partnership change.

In addition to its financial issues, Jawbone's website is curiously out of most of its inventory. All of its fitness trackers, including the Up4, are listed as "sold out" and are unavailable for purchase. Another source familiar with the NexRep-Jawbone relationship claims in the report that Jawbone shipments have slowed in the past few weeks and have nearly come to a halt. Because of this, NexRep employees assigned to Jawbone couldn't fill replacement orders that came in from complaining customers.


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According to a report from CNBC, Twitter wants to sell. CNBC's sources say that Twitter's board of directors is "largely desirous of a deal," and the company has "received expressions of interest" from tech and media companies. The most notable buyers on the shortlist? Salesforce.com and Google.

Twitter has had trouble growing its user base, and in turn, its advertising revenue. Twitter's monthly active user count of 320 million puts it in the same neighborhood as Google+ (300 million) and far from Facebook's offerings of Instagram (400 million) and Facebook (1.59 billion).

News of a possible sale has sent Twitter stock up over 20 percent.


Enlarge/ Same for Siri.

Apple may be planning to introduce Siri to a new home, one that doesn't live in your pocket or on your wrist. A Bloombergreport suggests that Apple may be developing a smart home device akin to Amazon's Echo that uses Siri to control other devices around the home, including smart lights and locks. Individuals "familiar with the matter" claim that the project has already gone through research and development, and it has now entered the prototype testing phase.

According to the report, Apple will try to set its product apart from Echo and Google's new Home device by incorporating "more advanced" microphones and speakers as well as facial recognition sensors that could help the device identify who is in the room. Apple has acquired the startups Faceshift and Emotient over the past couple years, both of which have experience in facial-recognition technology.

Since the device is assumed to be controlled by Siri, it could potentially be used for many existing Siri commands; for example, you might be able to ask the device to read your e-mail, stream Apple Music tracks, or send a text message. Apple reportedly first tried to integrate Siri into the Apple TV, which would have let users speak commands to the set-top box. However, project was never completed, and Apple instead decided to integrate voice-commands into the TV's controller.


(credit: Tony Webster)

The stream of racist, sexist, and economically illiterate memes appearing in support of Donald Trump during this years' interminable American presidential election are being bankrolled in part by the 24-year-old inventor of Oculus Rift.

Palmer Luckey, who came into a personal fortune worth $700 million (£535 million) when his VR headset firm was bought out by Facebook, has admitted to resourcing an unofficial pro-Trump political non-profit called Nimble America that's powering the tsunami of unsavoury Pepes and white supremacist image macros that have plagued Reddit.

In its launch post, Nimble America said it had proved that ?shitposting is powerful and meme magic is real,? continuing: "We believe that America has been lead by poor leaders who have abandoned American principles and sold out all Americans. With the right leadership America will reverse its course towards mediocrity and globalism, becoming great again."


Enlarge/ The Apple Watch Series 2 running watchOS 3. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

One of my favorite pieces of Apple writing from the last couple years is Ben Thompson’s discussion of the Apple Watch’s introduction and how it compared to past Apple product introductions. I’m not just referring to standard Apple product events, but the events at which Apple introduces an entirely new product line to the press and its customers for the first time.

The iPod, iPhone, and iPad introductions, Thompson writes, all went to great lengths to communicate Apple’s goals for the product. And often, that part of the presentation would go on for as long as 10 or 15 minutes before the product itself was even announced or shown. Even if you didn’t necessarily agree with Apple’s stated vision, you came away with clear knowledge of what that vision was.

Contrast that with the introduction for the Apple Watch, which began with a general statement about Apple’s product philosophy and moved on to a pre-recorded video (relatively rare during Jobs’ era, but a frustrating hallmark of Cook-era presentations). That was followed by a rundown of the watch’s UI and multiple app demos, some of which landed better than others. It was sort of a phone substitute sometimes, it sort of did some fitness things, it sort of ran limited versions of apps, it was sort of a wrist-bound communicator and personal assistant, and it was sort of a status symbol aimed at the luxury watch market. Plenty of possibilities, but no clearly communicated vision.


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  1. IT News

    Apple kills 16GB storage option for iPad Air 2 and Mini 4, drops Pro prices

    While today's Apple event was all about the iPhone 7 and second-generation Apple Watch, Apple quietly updated its iPad line in a subtle yet important way. Now a few of the older models, specifically the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 4, start at 32GB of storage rather than the 16GB they used to have in their base models. But despite the upgrade

    Samsung unveils crazy-fast 960 Pro and 960 Evo M.2 NVMe SSDs

    EnlargeSamsung has unveiled its next generation M.2 PCIe SSDs, the 960 PRO and 960 Evo. Like the 950 Pro, which was released last year, the 960 Pro and 960 Evo are PCIe 3.0 x4 drives that use the latest NVMe protocol for data transfer.As you'd expect, both are faster: the 960 Pro offers a blistering peak read speed of 3.5GB/s and a peak write speed
  2. SmartPhones

    Google begins posting Nexus images for the Android 7.0 Nougat update

    Enlarge/ If you're impatient and your Nexus phone or tablet isn't already downloading Nougat, these files can help you out. (credit: Ron Amadeo)Google released the final version of Android 7.0 Nougat yesterday after months of public beta testing, and people with supported Nexus phones and tablets should all be able to download it soon. But Goo

    Samsung will recall Galaxy Note 7 because of exploding batteries [Updated]

    Enlarge/ This Galaxy Note 7 is too hot, send it back. (credit: Ron Amadeo)Looks like Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 can give you some bang for your buck after all—Samsung will be issuing a global recall for all 2.5 million of the phones it has shipped so far, says Reuters. Some of the phones shipped with faulty batteries that could catch on fir
  3. Tablets

    Android 7.0 Nougat review—Do more on your gigantic smartphone

    The unveiling of the Nougat statue. After a lengthy Developer Preview program starting in March, the final version of Android 7.0 (codenamed "Nougat") is finally launching today. The OS update will slowly begin to rollout to devices over the next few weeks. This year, Google is adding even more form factors to the world's most popular operating sy

    Lenovo’s new Yoga Book is a 360 degree laptop without the keyboard

    EnlargeMicrosoft's Courier was supposed to be an electronic journal or diary, a piece of hardware purpose-built for applications like OneNote. Two screens with a hinge between them, it opened and closed like a book, supporting both touch and stylus input on both its screens. Lenovo's new Yoga Book looks like a riff on the Courier combined with the
  4. Laptops