Category Archives: Gadget News, Reviews, And Features

Verizon creates a car that skips traffic jams

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that’s taken over our lives.

hum.jpgEnlarge Image

Wouldn’t you love one of these?

Hum Rider/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Why didn’t Elon Musk think of this instead of digging holes under the ground to avoid traffic?

Here’s a car that simply lifts itself up, widens itself out and straddles its way over all the cars in front.

It was created by, of all highly imaginative companies, Verizon.

Or rather, it was created on its behalf as part of an ad for something called Hum.

This is an app that collects a car’s diagnostics and sends the details to your phone.

Which is riveting, of course. But not remotely as riveting as being able to soar above everyone in your way and get on with your journey.

The car is the brainchild of serial viral video-creating Slovak Michael Krivicka.

You might remember his last work of art. It was the one for the “Rings” horror movie that frightened the living daylights out of shoppers at a New York electronics store.

This ad was shot, Krivicka told me, in Lancaster, California. The company that actually built the car is A2ZFX, which is well-known for its Red Bull Mini car, as well as many other bizarre creations.

Of course, the one marginal drawback with this so-called Hum Rider is that it seems to take quite some time to put itself in position to roll over everything before it.

A marginal drawback with the ad is that the car is a fine and dramatic concept, while the app gets a mere two-and-a-half star rating in the App Store.

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Amazon Music’s iOS app infiltrates CarPlay

Why would you want to cruise to the sounds of Amazon Music if you’re an Apple fanboy, though? Both companies’ streaming services run $9.99 per month (or $14.99 for a family of six), and offer tens of millions of tracks. But, if you’re a Prime subscriber you get a $2 a month discount on Amazon Music. Plus it’s available on Android, PlayStation 4, Amazon’s popular Echo devices — way more places than Apple Music.

Basically, Amazon just wants you to use its service, and doesn’t care what kind of hardware you own. Getting into your dashboard is part of that formula for success. (Especially since we’re pretty sure Fire Auto won’t be hitting dealerships anytime soon.)

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Apple iPad Mini 2 gets the axe amid quiet tablet refresh

James Martin/CNET

Apple giveth and she taketh away.

Starting at $250, the iPad Mini 2 is the simplest, most affordable iPad according to CNET reviews. Now it’s getting replaced by something a lot more expensive.

The Mini 2 is gone from Apple’s web site, signaling its demise. The only Mini you’ll be able to buy new and direct from Apple is the Mini 4, starting at $400.

The culling of the Mini 2 comes amid Apple’s quiet refresh of its tablet lineup, highlighted by the introduction of an improved full-sized iPad starting at $330.

You read that right: now the new 9.7-inch iPad is cheaper than the old 7.9-inch version.

The iPad Mini 2 is still on sale at numerous third-party web sites like Amazon starting at $250. If you want one, better act fast.

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The Morning After: Tuesday, March 21st 2017

Grown-ups are talking.

Welcome to Engadget’s Adult Week

It’s time to become an independent and constructive member of society, and Engadget can give you some tips on how to do it. All week we’ll be bringing you stories about how to use technology to become a better grownup and navigate our tech-saturated world in a manner befitting a real deal adult. First up, is advice on how to do some good online.

A “biomarker” protein hangs out on cells where the virus hides from treatment.
HIV breakthrough may help scientists kill sleeping virus cells

AIDS patients must endure a lifetime of drugs because the virus conceals itself in the immune system and reactivates with a vengeance once the treatment stops. However, French scientists have discovered a marker that makes it possible to identify dormant, HIV-infected T-cells from healthy ones. That could lead to drugs that target those “reservoir cells,” eradicating the virus completely and curing the patient.

Samsung unveils its Siri competitor ahead of the Galaxy S8

It was only a matter of time until Samsung launched a full-fledged virtual assistant of its very own — “S Voice” just never quite cut it. Today the company unveiled Bixby, a new assistant that’ll debut with the Galaxy S8 on March 29th. Naturally, it’s meant to help Samsung differentiate itself from Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant. Bixby seems different on a conceptual level: It’s meant to serve as a new voice-based interface for controlling your apps, rather than just something that you can ask a few questions.

Rate our editors.
What the world needs now: an app that lets people rate your selfies.

59.8. That is Dan Cooper’s average score, as calculated by the swaths of people using a selfie-judging app called Spontana. He spent the past few days sharing pictures of himself on the service and receiving the unvarnished truth in response. Thankfully, he also got to deal judgements out.

The 4-day ban also covers some African carriers.
US temporarily bans most electronics on Middle Eastern airlines

The US just made traveling to certain parts of the world considerably more complicated, at least if you’re a technology fan. Middle Eastern and African airlines (including Royal Jordanian and Saudia) say the US has asked them to institute a 96-hour ban on carrying most electronics on flights to or from the US, starting on March 21st. You can sit down with your phone or any necessary medical devices, but cameras, laptops and other gadgets will have to go into your checked baggage. A US official speaking anonymously to the BBC says the device ban would affect nine airlines in 10 airports. It’s believed to be in response to intelligence reports hinting at threats.

Work smart, not hard.ARM ‘DynamIQ’ chips are ready for an all-AI future

Processor heads are familiar with the ARM tech that powers everything from mobile devices to game consoles, and the company just announced what’s next for its multicore processor designs. Called DynamIQ, it improves on existing designs by allowing for multiple CPU cores that are designed for specific purposes. It’s all done to work better with AI and machine learning, perfect for not only tomorrow’s smart phones, but also self-driving cars and servers.

Trying to avert the #YouTubeIsOverParty
YouTube apologizes for ‘Restricted Mode’ blocking LGBTQ+ content

Over the last few days, YouTubers caught on to the fact that a screen to block mature content from school computers and the like was going too far. Restricted Mode made a habit of blocking anything with a hint of LGBTQ+ content, even if it was completely innocent. Now, the company has unblocked some content, and VP Johanna Wright says that “We’re sorry and we’re going to fix it.”

But wait, there’s more…

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Watch ‘SNL’ makeup crew transform Kate McKinnon in 4 minutes

Saturday Night Live” crew members have the exquisite timing of a bomb-disposal squad. As was shown in this December video where stagehands expertly break down a set in just two minutes, speed matters when you’re live from New York.

There wasn’t a new “Saturday Night Live” this weekend, but on Monday, the NBC sketch-comedy show shared another behind-the-scenes video showing off the crew’s crack timing. This occasion, it was the makeup artists’ time to shine.

On the March 11 episode, actress Kate McKinnon left the stage made up as Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Over the course of one four-minute commercial break, the makeup artists had to transform her from Sessions into a disturbing mermaid named Shud.

As with the set-breakdown video, the crew all know exactly what to do, and manage to stay out of each other’s way while completing their own tasks. McKinnon’s Sessions wig comes off, and a grotesque chin-and-nose prosthesis goes on her face, blended with makeup to match her own skin. By the time she sneaks off to the set of the mermaid sketch, sporting weirdly melty hands and a seaweed-covered costume, it’s hard to believe there was ever a time constraint on the look.

“To be fair, it doesn’t take much to transition from Jeff Sessions to a sea monster,” cracked YouTube commenter TRCizzle.

“Saturday Night Live” will return with live shows on April 15 with Jimmy Fallon hosting, and will debut its new simulcast, meaning the show will air live in all mainland US time zones. Chris Pine will host May 6, Melissa McCarthy May 13, and Dwayne Johnson will host the season finale May 20.

According to NBC, the show is averaging 11 million viewers weekly, making this its most-watched season in 24 years. Political sketches, including Alec Baldwin as President Donald Trump, McCarthy as Press Secretary Sean Spicer, and McKinnon as Sessions, have earned the show plenty of publicity.

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Disney shows how you catch a real ball in VR

Even in its early form, the system is both effective and flexible. Testers had little trouble catching the ball in a conventional way, where they only saw where the ball was at any given moment, but they could also catch it when they were shown either the trajectory or a predicted target area.

There are no immediate plans to put this into software you can use, but you can spot the practical applications from a mile away. You could build VR apps where catching and throwing are not only more realistic, but easier for those without keen instincts. A catching game could teach rookies how to anticipate the ball’s path, rather than expecting them to learn through trial and error. While there would be limits to this (you wouldn’t want to have VR players whipping fastballs), it would expand the range of possible VR activities.

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