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Apple To Target Combining iPhone, iPad and Mac Apps by 2021: Report

SlashDot - Wed, 2019-02-20 06:06
Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg: Apple wants to make it easier for software coders to create tools, games and other applications for its main devices in one fell swoop -- an overhaul designed to encourage app development and, ultimately, boost revenue. The ultimate goal of the multistep initiative, code-named "Marzipan," is by 2021 to help developers build an app once and have it work on the iPhone, iPad and Mac computers, said people familiar with the effort. That should spur the creation of new software, increasing the utility of the company's gadgets. Later this year, Apple plans to let developers port their iPad apps to Mac computers via a new software development kit that the company will release as early as June at its annual developer conference. Developers will still need to submit separate versions of the app to Apple's iOS and Mac App Stores, but the new kit will mean they don't have to write the underlying software code twice, said the people familiar with the plan. In 2020, Apple plans to expand the kit so iPhone applications can be converted into Mac apps in the same way. Further reading: Tim Cook, in April 2018: Users Don't Want iOS To Merge With MacOS.

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Vivo’s notch-free V15 Pro has a 32-megapixel pop-up camera

Engadget - Wed, 2019-02-20 05:25
Vivo has unveiled its second smartphone with a pop-up selfie camera, but this time, it's far from being a gimmick. The V15 Pro, first revealed earlier this month, packs a front facing camera with no less than 32-megapixels, surely one of the highest-...

Proposed Bill Would Force Arizonians To Pay $250 To Have Their DNA Added To a Database

SlashDot - Wed, 2019-02-20 05:00
technology_dude writes: One by one, thresholds are being crossed where the collection and storage of personal data is accepted as routine. Being recorded by cameras at business locations, in public transportation, in schools, churches, and every other place imaginable. Recent headlines include "Singapore Airlines having cameras built into the seat back of personal entertainment systems," and "Arizona considering a bill to force some public workers to give up DNA samples (and even pay for it)." It seems to be a daily occurrence where we have crossed another line in how far we will go to accept massive surveillance as normal. Do we even have a line the sand that we would defend? Do we even see anything wrong with it? Absolute power corrupts absolutely and we continue to give knowledge of our personal lives (power) to others. If we continue down the same path, I suppose we deserve what we get? I want to shout "Stop the train, I want off!" but I fear my plea would be ignored. So who out there is more optimistic than I and can recommend some reading that will give me hope? Bill 1475 was introduced by Republican State Senator David Livingston and would require teachers, police officers, child day care workers, and many others to submit their DNA samples along with fingerprints to be stored in a database maintained by the Department of Public Safety. "While the database would be prohibited from storing criminal or medical records alongside the DNA samples, it would require the samples be accompanied by the person's name, Social Security number, date of birth and last known address," reports Gizmodo. "The living will be required to pay [a $250 processing fee] for this invasion of their privacy, but any dead body that comes through a county medical examiner's office would also be fair game to be entered into the database."

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Xiaomi Mi 9 hands-on: Speedy, stylish and a great camera, too

Engadget - Wed, 2019-02-20 04:00
Xiaomi officially pulled back the curtain on its new Mi 9 in China a few hours ago, but a flashy presentation only ever tells you so much. Sure, the top-level stuff seems solid enough: there's a Snapdragon 855 with either 6GB or 12GB of RAM inside, p...

Xiaomi's triple-camera Mi 9 has a fast 20W wireless charger

Engadget - Wed, 2019-02-20 03:15
Xiaomi has officially launched the Mi 9 at an event in China after months of teasers and sneak peeks. The triple-camera flagship is powered by Qualcomm's new mobile SoC, the Snapdragon 855, and is supported by 6 to 8GB of RAM. During the event, compa...

Tesla rumor claims Model 3 leasing is right around the corner

Engadget - Wed, 2019-02-20 02:45
If purchasing a brand new Model 3 -- even at its latest starting price of $42,900 -- is too much of a commitment for you, the option to lease could be coming soon. Electrek cites internal emails in a report saying that the company is preparing employ...

Neuroscientists Say They've Found An Entirely New Form of Neural Communication

SlashDot - Wed, 2019-02-20 02:00
Scientists think they've identified a previously unknown form of neural communication that self-propagates across brain tissue, and can leap wirelessly from neurons in one section of brain tissue to another -- even if they've been surgically severed. The discovery offers some radical new insights about the way neurons might be talking to one another, via a mysterious process unrelated to conventionally understood mechanisms, such as synaptic transmission, axonal transport, and gap junction connections. ScienceAlert reports: "We don't know yet the 'So what?' part of this discovery entirely," says neural and biomedical engineer Dominique Durand from Case Western Reserve University. "But we do know that this seems to be an entirely new form of communication in the brain, so we are very excited about this." To that end, Durand and his team investigated slow periodic activity in vitro, studying the brain waves in This neural activity can actually be modulated - strengthened or blocked - by applying weak electrical fields and could be an analogue form of another cell communication method, called ephaptic coupling. The team's most radical finding was that these electrical fields can activate neurons through a complete gap in severed brain tissue, when the two pieces remain in close physical proximity. slices extracted from decapitated mice. What they found was that slow periodic activity can generate electric fields which in turn activate neighboring cells, constituting a form of neural communication without chemical synaptic transmission or gap junctions. "To ensure that the slice was completely cut, the two pieces of tissue were separated and then rejoined while a clear gap was observed under the surgical microscope," the authors explain in their paper. "The slow hippocampal periodic activity could indeed generate an event on the other side of a complete cut through the whole slice." The findings are reported in The Journal of Physiology.

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GM's Arīv electric bikes are launching in Europe first

Engadget - Wed, 2019-02-20 00:39
GM has officially launched the compact and folding electric bikes it unveiled last year under the brand name "Arīv." The automaker hosted a $10,000 naming contest for the e-bikes when it announced the new project, so someone somewhere out there is fe...

Citroen's tiny EV concept is an alternative to bikes and scooters

Engadget - Tue, 2019-02-19 22:36
Many automakers are designing vehicles for an era beyond car ownership, but Citroen is taking things one step further: it's envisioning a car that you'd use in place of bikes and scooters. Its newly introduced Ami One Concept is a compact (8.2ft lon...

FDA Warns Against Using Young Blood As Medical Treatment

SlashDot - Tue, 2019-02-19 22:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Tuesday against using plasma infusions from young blood donors to ward off the effects of normal aging as well as other more serious conditions. Plasma, the liquid portion of the blood, contains proteins that help clot blood. The infusions are promoted to treat a variety of conditions, including normal aging and memory loss as well as serious conditions such as dementia, multiple sclerosis, heart disease and post-traumatic stress disorder. "There is no proven clinical benefit of infusion of plasma from young donors to cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent these conditions, and there are risks associated with the use of any plasma product," FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb wrote in a statement Tuesday. "The reported uses of these products should not be assumed to be safe or effective," he added, noting that the FDA "strongly" discourages consumers from using this therapy "outside of clinical trials under appropriate institutional review board and regulatory oversight." Gottlieb said that "a growing number of clinics" are offering plasma from young donors and similar therapies, though he did not name any in particular.

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Qualcomm's Snapdragon X55 Modem Is the 4G/5G Solution We've Been Waiting For

SlashDot - Tue, 2019-02-19 21:50
Qualcomm has unveiled its latest 5G modem, the Qualcomm Snapdragon X55. The chip is the company's second-generation 5G modem and successor to the Snapdragon X50 that was announced back in 2017. "Headline features of this new chip include multi-mode 4G and 5G in a single chip, blazing fast 7Gbps speeds, and futureproof support for the 5G Standalone specification," reports Android Authority. From the report: Starting with 5G, the chip supports both mmWave and sub-6GHz spectrum, just like its predecessor. Theoretical peak speeds are boosted from 5Gbps to 7Gbps download and up to 3Gbps upload. However, you'll need a perfect alignment of network conditions and capabilities to reach such lofty speeds. More important is the introduction of 5G FDD support. This will be crucial in Europe and other places looking to free up low-frequency spectrum (600 to 900MHz) for 5G. The Snapdragon X55 also introduces 4G/5G spectrum sharing, 100MHz envelope tracking for better power management, and antenna tuning in the sub-6GHz region. All very handy improvements over its first generation 5G modem. Perhaps the biggest point of all is that the X55 also supports the 5G Standalone (SA) specification. First-generation 5G networks and devices are all based on the earlier Non-Standalone (NSA) specification. Eventually, these will transition over to the SA standard. SA ditches the use of LTE networks for backend communication, transitioning over entirely to 5G. This opens up greater networking flexibility with Network Slicing and offers even lower latency for IoT and device-to-device communication. On the 4G side, the Snapdragon X55 supports the Category 22 LTE standard. This allows for peak throughput of 2.5Gbps, making it Qualcomm's most powerful 4G solution to date. The Snapdragon X55 also introduces Full Dimensional MIMO (FD-MIMO) for LTE. This includes 3D beamforming, allowing for improved elevation support to improve spectrum efficiency. Importantly, the Snapdragon X55 is built on a 7nm process rather than 10nm with the X50. The new modem isn't expected to appear in devices until late 2019 at the earliest. Android Authority suggests that the X55 will be featured inside 2019's next-gen Snapdragon 8XX processor, which should be officially announced at the end of the year, close to when Qualcomm expects the first X55 products. "In addition to the new modem, Qualcomm also announced its second-generation mmWave antenna and will be demoing its 5G technologies at MWC," reports Android Authority. "Dubbed the QTM525, the latest antenna module is slightly slimmer than the previous design and can be built into phones thinner than 8mm thick. It now covers 26, 28, and 39GHz mmWave spectrum and Qualcomm continues to suggest that three or four of these will be needed per 5G phone."

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MIT developed a new system to help robots track objects

Engadget - Tue, 2019-02-19 21:36
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a new system that will either improve the quality and accuracy of robotics or lead to humanity's inevitable demise at the hands of mechanical overlords. Using RFID tags, the rese...

China Has Abandoned a Cybersecurity Truce With the US, Report Says

SlashDot - Tue, 2019-02-19 21:10
Cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike says China has largely abandoned a hacking truce negotiated by Barack Obama as President Trump embarked on a trade war with Beijing last year. "A slowdown in Chinese hacking following the cybersecurity agreement Obama's administration secured in 2015 appears to have been reversed, the firm said in a report released Tuesday that reviewed cyber activity by U.S. adversaries in 2018," reports Bloomberg. From the report: The report comes as the Trump administration seeks to reach a trade deal with China, including provisions on intellectual property theft, ahead of a March 1 deadline. Trump has said he may extend that deadline and hold off on increasing tariffs on Chinese imports if there's progress in the talks. China's hacking targets in 2018 included telecommunications systems in the U.S. and Asia, according to Crowdstrike. Groups linked to Iran and Russia also appeared to target telecommunications, a sector that yields "the most bang for your buck" for hackers due to the large number of users that can be accessed after breaching a single network, Meyers said. The findings align with concern in the U.S. about telecommunications security as the country transitions to the next generation of mobile networks and the Trump administration seeks to secure so-called 5G technology from foreign intelligence gathering. The administration has expressed particular concern about the spread of products made by the Chinese firm Huawei Technologies Co. The report also mentions the increased cyber activity in other parts of the world. "Iran focused much of its cyber activity on Middle Eastern and North African countries while Russia engaged in intelligence collection and information operations worldwide," the report says. "North Korea deployed hackers for financial gain and intelligence collection, while China targeted sectors including technology, manufacturing and hospitality."

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AT&T's LTE is now an option on all Airstream camping trailers

Engadget - Tue, 2019-02-19 20:44
You no longer have to be overly picky about your choice of trailer if you want to stay online during a cross-country trip. Airstream has extended its team-up with AT&T to make LTE access available to any Airstream trailer, not just the 2019 Clas...

'Samsung's One UI Is the Best Software It's Ever Put On a Smartphone'

SlashDot - Tue, 2019-02-19 20:30
In preparation for the Galaxy S10 launch event tomorrow, The Verge's Dieter Bohn writes about the new "One UI" software that will run on these new phones. After testing the software on a Galaxy S9 for the past week, Bohn says he really likes it, adding that it's better in some ways than the software found on Google's Pixel 3. "If it weren't for the fact that I don't yet trust Samsung to deliver major software updates quickly, I would be shouting about One UI from the rooftops," writes Bohn. "As it is, I just want to point out that it's time for us to stop instinctively turning our noses up at Samsung's version of Android." From the report: I can't go quite so far as to say that everything has changed forever when it comes to Samsung's customizations. There are still multiple versions of some apps because both Google and Samsung insist on having their software present. Samsung phones also have a reputation for getting a little laggy (the technical term is cruft) over time, and I don't know yet whether One UI and Android 9 will suffer the same fate. But I do know that one week in, this OS actually feels intentional and designed instead of just having a bunch of features tacked on. Historically, we've thought of all those customizations as unnecessary add-ons. But that's not quite right anymore -- customizing AOSP is necessary these days. Instead, we should judge a Samsung phone on its own merits as a phone, not as stuff bolted on to some idealized "pure" version of the phone that can't really exist anymore. One UI consists of four key parts. One is the basic update to Android 9 Pie, which means you'll get a ton of small features for free. Second, there is a generalized update to the look and feel -- everything is just a little cleaner and more tasteful than before. Samsung has realized that neon is only cool in small doses. Third, because this is Samsung, there are just a million features hidden in every corner of the OS. Some of them -- like a dark mode -- are genuinely useful. Others will remind people of the bad old days of TouchWiz. But overall Samsung is doing a better job of surfacing them progressively as you use the phone, instead of asking you to wade though arcane and opaquely named settings screens in the first 15 minutes of using the phone. The last big feature to talk about in One UI is the first one most people will notice: big, giant header text inside apps. When you open up an app like Messages or Settings you'll see the name of the app in a field of white (or black, in dark mode) that takes up the entire top half of the screen. When you scroll, though, the giant header shrinks down and you have a full screen of content. The last big feature to talk about in One UI is the first one most people will notice: big, giant header text inside apps. When you open up an app like Messages or Settings you'll see the name of the app in a field of white (or black, in dark mode) that takes up the entire top half of the screen. When you scroll, though, the giant header shrinks down and you have a full screen of content.

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Valve 'retires' Steam's video business

Engadget - Tue, 2019-02-19 20:04
While Steam is mostly known as a gaming platform, over the years it has also become a hub for video. That's included its own documentaries and even major Hollywood releases, but today Valve announced it's going to "refocus." According to a blog post,...

How Streaming Music Could Be Harming the Planet

SlashDot - Tue, 2019-02-19 19:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: Current digital technology gives us flawless music quality without physical deterioration. Music is easy to copy and upload, and can be streamed online without downloading. Since our digital music is less tangible than vinyl or CDs, surely it must be more environmentally friendly? Even though new formats are material-free, that doesn't mean they don't have an environmental impact. The electronic files we download are stored on active, cooled servers. The information is then retrieved and transmitted across the network to a router, which is transferred by wi-fi to our electronic devices. This happens every time we stream a track, which costs energy. Once vinyl or a CD is purchased, it can be played over and over again, the only carbon cost coming from running the record player. However, if we listen to our streamed music using a hi-fi sound system it's estimated to use 107 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, costing about $20 to run. A CD player uses 34.7 kilowatt hours a year and costs about $7 to run. So, which is the greener option? It depends on many things, including how many times you listen to your music. If you only listen to a track a couple of times, then streaming is the best option. If you listen repeatedly, a physical copy is best -- streaming an album over the internet more than 27 times will likely use more energy than it takes to produce and manufacture a CD. If you want to reduce your impact on the environment, then vintage vinyl could be a great physical option. For online music, local storage on phones, computers or local network drives keeps the data closer to the user and will reduce the need for streaming over distance from remote severs across a power-hungry network.

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These hyper-efficient solar panels could actually live on your roof soon

TechCrunch - Tue, 2019-02-19 19:43

The clean energy boffins in their labs are always upping the theoretical limit on how much power you can get out of sunshine, but us plebes actually installing solar cells are stuck with years-old tech that’s not half as good as what they’re seeing. This new design from Insolight could be the one that changes all that.

Insolight is a spin-off from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, where they’ve been working on this new approach for a few years — and it’s almost ready to hit your roof.

Usually solar cells collect sunlight on their entire surface, converting it to electricity at perhaps 15-19 percent efficiency — meaning about 85 percent of the energy is lost in the process. There are more efficient cells out there, but they’re generally expensive and special-purpose, or use some exotic material.

One place people tend to spare no expense, however, is in space. Solar cells on many satellites are more efficient but, predictably, not cheap. But that’s not a problem if you only use just a tiny amount of them and concentrate the sunlight on those; that’s the Insolight insight.

Small but very high-efficiency cells are laid down on a grid, and above that is placed a honeycomb-like lens array that takes light and bends it into a narrow beam concentrated only on the tiny cells. As the sun moves, the cell layer moves ever so slightly, keeping the beams on target. They’ve achieved as high as 37 percent efficiency in tests, and 30 percent in consumer-oriented designs. That means half again or twice the power from the same area as ordinary panels.

Certainly this adds a layer or two of complexity to the current mass-manufactured arrays that are “good enough” but far from state of the art. But the resulting panels aren’t much different in size or shape, and don’t require special placement or hardware, such as a concentrator or special platform. And a recently completed pilot test on an EPFL roof was passed with flying colors.

“Our panels were hooked up to the grid and monitored continually. They kept working without a hitch through heat waves, storms and winter weather,” said Mathieu Ackermann, the company’s CTO, in an EPFL news release. “This hybrid approach is particularly effective when it’s cloudy and the sunlight is less concentrated, since it can keep generating power even under diffuse light rays.”

The company is now in talks with solar panel manufacturers, whom they are no doubt trying to convince that it’s not that hard to integrate this tech with their existing manufacturing lines — “a few additional steps during the assembly stage,” said Ackermann. Expect Insolight panels to hit the market in 2022 — yeah, it’s still a ways off, but maybe by then we’ll all have electric cars too and this will seem like an even better deal.

Someone tried to end the 'Fortnite' dance lawsuits with a fake email

Engadget - Tue, 2019-02-19 19:11
Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht, the law firm leading legal challenges against Epic Games for allegedly illegally copying dance moves used in Fortnite, claims that someone has been impersonating attorney David Hecht in an attempt to undermin...

Grand Canyon Visitors May Have Been Exposed To Radiation For Years

SlashDot - Tue, 2019-02-19 19:10
joeflies writes: Park safety manager Elston Stephenson provides details about buckets of uranium that exposed visitors to radiation, and the subsequent cover up. The radiation was detected by a teenager that brought a Geiger counter to the building, and was subsequently "cleaned" up by employees equipped with dish washing gloves and a broken mop handle. "If you were in the Museum Collections Building (2C) between the year 2000 and June 18, 2018, you were 'exposed' to uranium by OSHA's definition," Stephenson wrote. "The radiation readings, at first blush, exceeds (sic) the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's safe limits. [...] Identifying who was exposed, and your exposure level, gets tricky and is our next important task." Stephenson said he had repeatedly asked National Park executives to inform the public, but never got a response. "According to Stephenson, the uranium specimens had been in a basement at park headquarters for decades and were moved to the museum building when it opened, around 2000," reports AZCentral. "One of the buckets was so full that its lid would not close. Stephenson said the containers were stored next to a taxidermy exhibit, where children on tours sometimes stopped for presentations, sitting next to uranium for 30 minutes or more. By his calculation, those children could have received radiation dosages in excess of federal safety standards within three seconds, and adults could have suffered dangerous exposure in less than a half-minute."

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