It's been a little over two years since Google introduced the first Chromecast, a cheap and easy way to turn any TV in your house into a smart TV. The tiny little dongle has taken the market by storm, racking up sales of over 20 million since launch. Now, the company has replaced it with not one but two streaming devices: a direct successor to the original video-focused Chromecast and a new, audio-only device appropriately called the Chromecast Audio.
Just as the original Chromecast made our dumb TVs smart, the Chromecast Audio promises to take your old pair of speakers and bless them with the convenience of streaming music. The value proposition is easy to understand: The Chromecast Audio is only $35, barely takes up any space and is easy to set up, and works with Spotify, the most popular streaming-music service on the planet. As Google tells it, it's a foolproof way to get streaming music onto your speakers. I've been testing the device since its introduction last week to find out if it delivers on that promise.
One of the frustrations of choosing an Internet of Things device is finding one that plays well with the other smart appliances in your home. Philips' Hue lighting platform is already pretty extensible, but today it's finally gained support for another big partner: Apple. With its new Homekit-enabled bridge, Philips will let you control your lighting via Siri (and supporting third-party apps), whether your bulbs are old or new.
Sure, Apple Maps has improved significantly in the past few years since it launched, but for many Apple users it still doesn't hold a candle to Google Maps. But if you're an Apple Watch user who wanted to use your watch for directions, Apple Maps has been your only option -- until today. A new update...
Now that Apple is blurring the lines between its mobile tablets and PCs with the iPad Pro, it's tempting to imagine iOS and OS X merging into a single operating system (Windows 10-style) that works on virtually every device the company makes. You'll want to put any such ideas on hold, though. In a...
Networking site LinkedIn has agreed to pay out $13 million for overzealous marketing of its services on behalf of users. You've likely received one of the emails, which appear to come from a contact (below), saying something like, "Hi, I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn." That line actually makes a fine universal cartoon caption, but LinkedIn then sent several similar follow-up emails without saying it would do so in its terms of service. Many users felt that made them look needy (the email mentions your contact's name no less than five times), which is why they launched a class-action suit against the company in Lucy Koh's California court.
Remember that tease Adobe gave us during the recent iPad Pro reveal? It was a brief demo of the so-called Project Rigel, and now the creative software company is ready to make the big reveal just before its annual Max design conference starts. The finished product goes by Photoshop Fix, and it'll reside in Adobe's mobile arsenal alongside Photoshop Mix, Photoshop Draw, Illustrator Sketch and the rest of the company's recent releases. You may have noticed there's more than one mobile app with Photoshop in its name. Well, there's a reason for that: productivity. Photoshop Fix will help you take care of retouching photos on that trusty iOS device, and it really works quite well, partially due to the fact that it doesn't try to do too much.
Jack Dorsey has announced that he is re-taking the reins of the social network that he helped build. Dorsey had been the interim CEO since it was announced that previous CEO Dick Costolo was stepping down in June of this year. Twitter created a search committee after Costolo's departure that included former Twitter CEO, Evan Williams, to find a new boss. Turns out that the figure was there, all the time. In addition, Dorsey will remain as CEO of Square, the mobile-payments firm he founded when he left Twitter. This will be Dorsey's second term as CEO, the first abruptly ending in 2008 when he was replaced as CEO by Ev Williams.
Facebook has made it clear that satellites will play a big role in delivering its free internet initiative to people across the globe, but talk of a rollout has been pretty limited. That changed today after the company announced it's teamed up with French communications specialist Eutelsat to beam connectivity to more than 14 countries in the most densely populated parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Harvard's Robobees are already pretty adroit for paper-clip sized drones; they fly around stably in calm air and hover like real bees (if real bees were tethered to power). Researchers have given them a new talent that even the insects don't have -- the ability to "fly" underwater. To do so, they make like ducks and transition from flight to swimming by crashing into the water, sinking a bit, then flapping their wings at a slower pace (9 Hz) than in the air (120 Hz) . That's already a feat that few drones can match, but the aim is to eventually build autonomous bots that could do search and rescue and other beneficial activities.
Xbox One users will be able to transplant one button's function to another -- without having to stump up money for a fancy new Elite controller. While that controller costs $150 (with other reasons that might warrant a purchase), Mike Ybarra, Microsoft's Director of Program Management, replied to a user to announce that new config options will come to all controllers soon -- something that is already possible on the PS4's standard peripheral. We'd wager that the settings will come alongside that tasty Xbox 360 backwards compatibility feature, coming this November.
Paper art doesn't have to be flat and lifeless... just ask Aristides Garcia. The artist recently created an interactive sculpture, Tesela, that uses a combination of 3D projection mapping and tesselation algorithms to cast real-time, viewer-influenced patterns over 103 paper pyramids. The effect is a bit hypnotic, as you'll see below -- it's as if the paper has suddenly become a living landscape. You sadly can't see this in person at the moment (Garcia debuted it at a Berlin exhibit in August), but it still shows that the right technology can liven up just about anything, even if it's made from dead trees.
Certain locations are obviously Instagram photo magnets, like the Golden Gate Bridge or Times Square. Have you wondered which locations are actually the most popular, though? Busbud has done some legwork to find out. The tourism site recently published an interactive map that shows the most popular locations on Instagram in each US state and Canadian province... and they're not necessarily the ones you're expecting. It makes sense that Disneyland would be a hotspot for Californians, for example, but you might not know that Dollywood gets the most attention in Tennessee -- sorry, Elvis.
Virtual reality isn't just helping scientists understand and treat fellow humans -- it's helping them make sense of their four-legged friends, too. Researchers have built a virtual maze that convinces mice they're running through hallways when they're really running on a ball. The invention makes it possible to keep the rodent's head still and study how its brain works while it's navigating. That's important when you can usually collect only limited data while a critter is on the move. Unlike earlier prototypes, this doesn't require training the mice before they can give the experience a try.
If you want to study the effects of drugs or transplants on the brain without operating on the real thing, you typically have to break out some microelectronics and build a model yourself. Not exactly convenient or cheap, is it? If Brown University scientists have their way, however, just about any lab could make some simulated brain matter of their own. They've developed a technique that creates a miniature brain (really, a bundle of electrically active neurons) by extracting cells with a centrifuge and seeding a cell culture. So long as you have two to three weeks and 25 cents' worth of material, you'll have a complex, three-dimensional neural network to tinker with.
Panoz's years-long vision of an arrow-shaped road car is finally coalescing into something tangible. The automaker has unveiled a real-world concept version of the car, the DeltaWing GT, that shows that the idea isn't far-fetched. Despite Panoz's ambitions, it doesn't have the lowest drag you can get in a car (even a Mercedes CLA250 sedan is slicker). However, the company previously promised highway efficiency of 74 miles per gallon or more -- this could be one of the few gas-powered sports cars that doesn't require frequent top-ups. There's still a huge gap between this and a production-quality DeltaWing that you could drive around town, but the prototype represents a crucial step forward.
Battlefield medics and paramedics rely on chemical-infused bandages to help stem blood loss and treat wounds. However, the blood itself is frequently their worst enemy -- it takes those chemicals away from where they're needed. Those first responders may soon have a much smarter solution, though. Researchers have developed bandages with a combination of powdered marble, acid and enzymes that fizzes on contact with blood, using the resulting bubbles to transport microparticles toward deeper vessels that need clotting. The particles currently travel in all directions, but scientists envision using an endoscope to send the fizz to where it's most useful.
There's a reason why the #freethenipple campaign blew up on Instagram: the photo-sharing website is typically quick to pull down posts showing women's nipples, even if there's nothing pornographic about the photos. Why? Well, according to Business Insider, the app's cofounder puts the blame on Apple. Instagram CEO Kevyn Systrom explained his Facebook-owned company's side during a talk in London, claiming that its guidelines can't be changed due to Apple's age rating. Since IG wants to retain its current 12+ rating in order to have a wider audience -- only rated 17+ apps are allowed to feature explicit content -- it has to continue taking down posts that showcase nudity.
Such an eventful week! Besides NASA finding water on Mars, Apple releasing El Capitan and Experian exposing data on 15 million T-Mobile users, we saw journeys of unprecedented distance. And don't forget these impressive iPhone battery life savings thanks to ad blockers, or this soul-crushing Super Mario Bros. editor.
Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.
After three years of anticipation Tesla just launched its latest electric car. The company says the Model X is the world's safest SUV; it can go from 0-60 in 3.2 seconds; and it comes with a "bioweapon defense mode" in case of... well, the apocalypse. Meanwhile the Volkswagen emissions scandal continues to develop, and this past week, we asked just how many people have died due to pollution emitted by affected vehicles. Perhaps the worst part is that Volkswagen may actually avoid criminal charges due to a loophole in the Clean Air Act.
Daimler's dreams of self-driving big rig trucks just took one step closer to reality. The automaker has conducted the first-ever test of its semi-autonomous Highway Pilot system in a production truck on a public road, driving an augmented Mercedes-Benz Actros down Germany's Autobahn 8. While the vehicle needed a crew to keep watch, it could steer itself down the highway using a combination of radar, a stereo camera array and off-the-shelf systems like adaptive cruise control. The dry run shows that the technology can work on just about any vehicle in the real world, not just one-off concepts.