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Facebook Riff on the iPhone

No, Facebook isn't done experimenting with mobile apps yet -- meet Riff, a just-launched app for Android and iOS that has you building collaborative videos. You start by recording a short clip (under 20 seconds) and giving it a topic. After that, your friends can tack on their own videos based around that theme. For example, you can start a "what I do for a living" compilation to find out what all your friends are working on. There's definitely the potential for pranksters to ruin the whole thing, but Facebook lets you either delete individual clips (if you're the creator) or report a whole video if it's going horribly off-track.

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Add another one to the slate of Sling TV options: subscribers to the streaming TV service will be able to get HBO soon. There's no word on an exact launch date, but Sling says it will be in time for the new season of Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley, which launch on April 12th. It's not the (still Apple-exclusive for online providers) HBO Now service, it's just regular HBO, with one live channel and video on-demand access. It's a $15 add-on to Sling's $20 per month base package with AMC, TNT, ESPN and a few others. That puts the add-on at the same price as Apple charges, except it's ready for a number of other devices like Roku, Xbox One, Android and Fire TV. On the downside, it's now bundled, but picking up and dropping the contract-free Sling TV is a lot easier than most cable TV services. So if you're a cord-cutter tell us -- is this the way you'll be watching HBO?

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AT&T store

AT&T's attempt to turn the tables on the Federal Trade Commission's mobile data throttling lawsuit hasn't exactly worked out as planned. A federal judge has rejected the carrier's claims that it can't be sued because its status as a common carrier for voice, which exempts it from FTC oversight, also applies to data. This exception only applies to the services that they're meant to cover, according to the court -- while the Federal Communications Commission's upcoming net neutrality rules will factor in mobile data, they aren't in effect right now. The judge also says AT&T misrepresented the whole point of the rule. It's intended to prevent overlap between common carrier regulations, not (as the network suggested) regulations as a whole. In short, AT&T will have to deal with the consequences of limiting its unlimited data customers, whether that's a slap on the wrist or a serious change in policy.

[Image credit: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan]

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For a large group of people, Netflix has become the primary way to watch TV shows and movies in the living room. Digging into a menu and launching the app every day can be a pain though. The solution? TV remotes that offer a dedicated Netflix button, of course. They've been available in the US for years, but finally they're coming to Europe too. For starters, Netflix is partnering with Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba, Philips and Vestel to offer the new remotes with several of their smart TVs, Blu-ray players and set-top boxes. The company says the move is part of its larger mission to work more closely with hardware manufacturers and optimize its service for subscribers. If that leads to a reduction in the amount of time spent between switching on the TV and watching Bloodline, count us in.

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For its crazy 2020 asteroid capture mission and other projects, NASA is developing next-gen "Hall effect thrusters" to corral an asteroid and put it into the moon's orbit. At the same time, the European Space Agency (ESA) is trying to improve its own Hall thrusters to power future missions. If you're wondering what the heck they are, Hall effect motors are a type of ion thruster that produce a tiny 0.7 pounds of force, or the weight of 54 US quarters, according to NASA. However, they're much more efficient than standard rockets, and if run long enough, can power a spaceship to speeds as high as 112,000 mph. So how do they actually work?

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Dual is more than a retro-styled space shooter. It's even more than a mobile game, and if developer Sebastian Gosztyla has his way, it's more than a video game, period. He wants Dual to be a catalyst for physical interaction. Dual is a two-player, cross-platform competition designed to get players moving in the real world, even as they sling reams of geometrical bullets from their mobile screens and onto friends' in real time.

"It requires people to be aware of both screens in order to get a full picture of everything," Gosztyla says. "This makes the players' bodies become part of the experience. They become aware of their proximity and movements to each other, and create rules about how to play. I have seen people hide screens, get a little physical, use their height as an advantage or just turn around and ignore the other screen altogether."

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Japan Sony Olympus

Kaz Hirai's plans to save Sony have run from integrating its many disparate business units through to just selling off everything, even the stuff that's nailed down. Now, the company is getting rid of half of its stake in Olympus in the hope of raising some extra cash for "growth investments." Sony took a $645 million stake in the one-time rival back in 2012 as an attempt to get in on Olympus' lucrative medical imaging business -- which was spun off into a joint venture. Sony may no longer be Olympus' biggest shareholder, but the pair will still collaborate on healthcare and imaging devices. Someone should tell Hirai that he'd better spend this money wisely -- he's running out of things to sell.

[Image Credit: Koji Sasahara/Associated Press]

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White House seen through the gate

US authorities can't officially punish hackers in many countries, but they now have a way to hit those digital criminals where it hurts the most: their bank accounts. President Obama has signed an executive order that lets the Secretary of the Treasury impose sanctions on both foreign cyberattackers and those that knowingly support their activities, whether they're individuals or groups. If the Attorney General and Secretary of State deem these intruders to be major economic or security threats, the Treasury can freeze their assets and make it tougher to carry out (or profit from) their operations.

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If at all possible, we like to keep our router and hub count down to a nice round number of "one." That's the idea behind a pair of new models from Almond which eliminate the need to have both a smarthome hub and router by combing them into one device. The Almond+ and Almond 2015 both support ZigBee home automation, letting you program security camera, lights or lawn sprinkler automation on the built-in touchscreens. They both also function as full-featured routers, with high-powered amplifiers and extender/bridge/access point functionality in case the main router can't reach a corner of your sprawling mansion.

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Powers is the first series to come from Sony PlayStation's original programming push, a partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment, and it's not rated "E" for everyone. With comic books as its source material, the racy superhero cop drama from creator Brian Michael Bendis is a custom fit for the PlayStation user base, especially users that pony up $50/year for Sony's PlayStation Plus subscription service. And it's that particular demographic the PlayStation group is keen to pursue with any future projects. "We are a gaming company, so we want to do what's best for gaming and for our gamers," says PlayStation VP of Platform Marketing John Koller. "We're going to make a decision here after we see how Powers does. But whatever we do, it'll be very centered on the gamer and the gaming audience and what caters best to them."

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