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Few companies have churned out as many different smartwatches as Samsung, so it's little surprise the company is showing off a new one — the Gear S2 — at IFA. What is a surprise, though, is how much more elegant, more polished the S2 feels compared to just about all of Samsung's previous attempts. After years of seemingly blind iteration (and just a little bit of hands-on time), Samsung finally seems to have a style, if somewhat controversial smartwatch on its hands.

LG's never been scared of trying new things when it comes to smartphones, even pioneering the strange-yet-convenient back button placement other manufacturers have copied since. By comparison, the company has played it safe with its G Pad tablet range, none of which have had any particularly stand-out features. And after briefly playing the LG's new G Pad II 10.1 here at IFA, it seems like the company is quite happy sticking to its rather unexciting formula. Last year, LG opted to release three sizes of tablet, but for now at least, the G Pad II only comes in the one form factor, with a 10.1-inch 1,920 x 1,200 display.

Skype users have ridden a rollercoaster of different designs over the years, and the latest version promises yet more change. Version 6.0 has been completely redesigned for both iOS and Android apps, which are now in lockstep with each other. For Google's ecosystem, the new layout took a page from the Android 5 "Material" playbook with circular icons and other touches. Other features include a floating action button to start new calls or chats (à la Facebook's Messenger), enhanced search and improved messaging. There are also custom ringtones, photo sharing and web link reviews to bring the app in line with rival messaging products like Google's Hangouts.

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Withings' smart alarm clock with Spotify functionality

Like the idea of Withings' Aura improving your sleep cycles, but don't need a $300 gadget tracking every last nuance of your slumber? You're in luck. Withings is rolling out a lower-cost device, the $190 Connected Alarm Clock, that keeps the sleep-regulating light and sound patterns while ditching the biometric sensor. And speaking of audio, both the clock and the Sleep System are getting a Spotify tie-in -- you can now use the streaming service's music catalog to fall asleep or wake up, complete with suggested playlists based on both their effectiveness and your genre tastes.

Today we got our first glimpse of the BBC's upcoming Grand Theft Auto docudrama, which examines the game's development and public scrutiny in 2002. The Gamechangers, starring Daniel Radcliffe as Rockstar president Sam Houser, covers the franchise's growth in the PlayStation 2 era and the criticism that followed regarding its portrayal of violence. Bill Paxton is playing Jack Thompson, a former attorney that famously campaigned against the series, and based on this new trailer it's clear their thorny relationship is the centerpiece of the show. In May, Rockstar said it would be filing a lawsuit against the BBC over trademark infringement -- the developer said it's had "no involvement" with the project and seemingly disapproves of it altogether. The broadcaster appears unfazed by the legal action though, as it's scheduled to air on September 15th, at 9pm on BBC Two in the UK. If you live elsewhere, however, there's no word just yet on an international release.

The recipe-based automation software IFTTT delivered its one-button control app to phones back in February, and now it's putting it on your wrist. Android Wear gadgets can now employ the DO Button to complete any number of tasks that you assign to it. Rather than waiting for certain criteria to be met in order to trigger an action or swiping over to the requisite app, a single button push handles the chore. We're talking about things like setting your Nest thermostat to 68 degrees or turning off those Phillips Hue lights. Looking to take the DO Button for a spin? Grab the app from Google Pay and you'll be able to do just that.

Star Wars merchandise is big business. So big, in fact, that the films' stewards are streaming an unboxing marathon for all of the Force Awakens toys coming out on "Force Friday" tomorrow. We weren't going to pay much interest, but two items in particular have grabbed our attention: a remote-controlled Millennium Falcon and X-Wing starfighter. With minimal assembly, you'll be able to launch and fly both of these legendary spacecraft in your living room, pestering family members or reliving the final battle from Return of the Jedi. The Millennium Falcon is basically a quadcopter drone -- it has four tiny propellors built into the body, and is built from a "high density foam" to ensure it can take the odd knock and TIE fighter attack. Both the X-Wing fighter and Millennium Falcon are being manufactured by Air Hogs, a company with plenty of experience in remote controlled vehicles -- when we hear anything concrete around pricing and stockists, we'll be sure to let you know.

Barnes & Noble's partnership with Samsung continues with the Galaxy Tab S2 Nook. And, as you've probably guessed, it's simply Samsung's recently announced Galaxy Tab S2 jam-packed with Nook apps. The 8-inch tablet hits Barnes & Noble stores today for $400, though if you've got a B&N membership you can also knock another 10 percent off that price. It's still sad to see the book seller move away from its own tablet hardware, but you could do a lot worse than the Tab S2. It's an incredibly thin and light tablet with a bright quad HD screen (our full review is coming soon). The Tab S2 Nook fills a premium slot for Barnes & Noble, whereas last year's Tab 4 Nooks are more budget-friendly at $150 and $250. You won't really gain much with the Tab S2 Nook variant -- you get three free books from a selection of 20 titles, along with three free magazines and $5 worth of credit. But really, it's a tablet meant for people who are more used to strolling around B&N stores than comparing Android tablets online.

Do you still prefer the feel of pen on paper but need an easy way to catalog your handwritten notes digitally? Wacom's Bamboo Spark will do just what. The product is something the company calls a "smart folio" that uses its digital pen technology to capture the scribbles of a real ink pen on A5 paper (5.83 x 8.27 inches). How does it work exactly? With the help of the Bamboo Spark app on an Android or iOS device, the folio's Electro-Magnetic Resonance board and Bluetooth beam your pen strokes to that trusty mobile device at the push of a button. The Spark can hold up to 100 pages, even while it's in offline mode, and claims up to 8 hours of use before needing to recharge via USB.

Ricoh Theta S

Ricoh's Theta camera was a novel, but pricey experiment: a stick-shaped camera that took completely spherical stills (and later, video.) There was also the unfortunate problem of spreading a typical point-and-shoot camera resolution over an understandably bigger 360-degree digital canvas, meaning that images were often noisy and low on detail. Ricoh's Theta S camera, which launches globally next month, looks like it'll improve on its predecessor in those areas and more. The new camera roughly doubles the resolution of images it can take over the last Theta camera, and an upgraded f2.0 lens (like the optics found on high-end smartphones) ensures more light and meaning less noise and less blur. (The results of the last model were often lacking when there wasn't a strong light source.)

In the midst of IFA's volley of tech hardware news, Google Maps has announced a spin-off Street View app that allows you to upload your own spherical photos. Yes, you're now a human Street View car. The app lets you not only shoot photo spheres from your phone but also connect directly to spherical cameras, like Ricoh's Theta camera series. The announcement came alongside the latest Theta camera, which is of course compatible with the new feature. It sounds like Street View will turn into a combination of Google's own photography and crowdsourced spheres.​ Charles Armstrong, Google Maps product manager, said the new app will allow "people all over the world to explore user contributions, Google's own imagery, and their own published photo spheres through a seamless world map of landscapes, landmarks, business interiors and more."


The stethoscope, invented 200 years ago because a French doctor was too embarrassed to put his ear directly against a woman's chest, is finally getting a digital upgrade. A device called the Eko Core, which attaches to a regular stethoscope, has just been approved for medical use by the US FDA. It amplifies and records the sound signals transmitted by the ubiquitous medical devices, then sends the sound waves wirelessly to an iPhone app. From there, doctors can record the waveform and either listen to it later or compare it to a future visit to test the effects of a treatment. It will also be handy as a teaching too for medical students.

NASA has successfully completed a series of tests making sure that the X-56A Multi-Utility Technology Testbed (MUTT) aircraft can withstand flights up to 130 knots in speed. See, the X-56A isn't your typical aircraft: it's a remote-controlled test model the space agency's using for the development of flexible flight tech, which will be used for lightweight, eco-friendly planes. NASA needs to test the technology extensively, since planes with pliable wings are typically more susceptible to strong winds and vibrations. In fact, this recent round of testing only completed all of the agency's "stiff wing objectives." X-56A 2.0 -- yes, this is the second version, as developer Lockheed Martin already put the first one through the wringer in 2013 and 2014 -- doesn't have its flexible wings yet. Those special airfoils will be attached in the next few months before the aircraft takes off for its first flexi-wing flight in early 2016.

Today on In Case You Missed It: A new golf cart that can drive itself has been designed, complete with a tool to let people schedule pickups and drop-offs. Like *cough* Uber *cough*. A Canadian inventor is showcasing his water hoverboard that we all now want. And we get to toss in a reference to the person who says he just caught a fish with a drone, which is really the point here, friends. Also, motorized tricycles for adults are a thing and a pretty fun looking one at that.

The last year or so has seen Airbnb put a major focus behind design, from its company logo and identity to new apps for phones and tablets. Now, it's putting its attention towards a new platform: wearables. Starting today, the iOS Airbnb app is compatible with the Apple Watch. Fortunately, Airbnb put a lot of thought into what features would make the most sense living on your wrist rather than try and cram the entire experience onto the smallest screen in your life. To that end, the first iteration of Airbnb's Watch app will focus primarily on messaging, so hosts and guests can stay in touch quickly.


Back when Disney released the first trailer to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, one of the characters that caught most people's eye was BB-8. And for good reason: it's an adorable rolling droid. Now, Disney is bringing it to everyone through Sphero, the company known for its connected robotic toys. Meet BB-8 by Sphero, a toy version of the ball-shaped personality you'll see in the next Star Wars episode, which opens in theaters December 18th. Although this droid comes on a smaller scale than the prop introduced at the Star Wars Celebration a few months ago, it is as close to the real thing as you're going to get. Best of all, it is arguably one of the best (and cutest) Star Wars toys to date -- and that's saying a lot.


As sales of satellite navigation units slowly dry up, TomTom is making the gentle transition into a fitness and wearables company. That's why the firm decided to smash up its existing range of bulky running watches in favor of a ground-up rebuild. The result is that TomTom is launching the Spark, which looks pretty much like the previous generation of devices, albeit after a very good diet. The most notable addition to the range this year is Bluetooth music playback, although that's made matters a little more confusing than in previous years.

It won't change your life, but oh boy is this a good time waster. If you scoot across to the Google homepage and type in "fun facts," the search engine will present you with a new type of answer box filled with a curious tidbit or two. The source of that particular knowledge will be listed below, followed by a blue bar with the option to "ask another question." Click that and you'll be presented with yet another random piece of information, with the classic "I'm feeling curious" query in the search field. Is this a new frontier in online productivity? No, but it's an amusing little addition to Google's search engine, and might distract you from the new logo on the homepage (we're still not used to it just yet).

Getting anyone at all interested in a new portable Bluetooth keyboard is quite the feat, but LG has just about managed it with its new, quirky roll-up peripheral. The Rolly, as it's inventively named, is intended for those who want to be a bit more productive with their tablet time, and I've had a brief tinker with it here at IFA. The benefit of having a keyboard that rolls up around its battery, of course, is that it takes up the least amount of space in your backpack. And neat, the Rolly certainly is. The magnets that run down either side of the key grid are no weaklings, keeping the thing tightly wound and generating a satisfying snap as you roll it up.

Okay, what we're seeing here (probably) isn't a bizarre ant ritual passed down from generation to generation, hailing the iPhone as their new queen and overlord. The video's description on YouTube claims the insects acted that way, because they were affected by the "electromagnetic wave of an incoming call." University of New England associate professor Nigel Andrew agrees: "[They] have magnetic receptors in their antennae. If they're travelling long distances they use magnetic cues from the earth to know if they are going north, east, south or west."