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A Daimler-built autonomous truck can now legally operate on the highways of Nevada. Gov. Brian Sandoval has officially granted the "Freightliner Inspiration Truck" a license for road use in the state, making it the first of its kind to navigate public roads in the US. The Inspiration's "Highway Pilot system" is loaded with cameras, radars, other sensors and computer hardware like most autonomous vehicles. However, it's not completely self-driving -- it still needs a human driver behind the wheel.

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Google Maps' Play listing doesn't quite elaborate on what's new with the latest version, but the update's definitely more than just a bunch of bug fixes. Android Police has discovered that the app can now mine your Gmail account for info whenever you search for these particular key phrases: my events, my flights, my reservations and my hotels. "My events" will list your Calendar entries, while the others are pretty self-explanatory. Unfortunately, these key phrases only work for the Android version of Maps at the moment -- the good news is that they're not exclusive to Mountain View's navigation service. You can actually type those key phrases or use them as voice commands on Google search or on Google Now. So long as you're logged into your account on a browser or a relevant app, they'll work perfectly whatever your device or platform is.

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Google removed the quirky puzzle game Threes from the Play store on Tuesday. Its removal was unceremonious and sudden, but that's not exactly why Threes creator Asher Vollmer found the situation frustrating. That came down to two reasons:

  1. A robot informed Vollmer that his game was removed from Google Play in a cold, automated message.
  2. Threes was removed from Google Play because it used "2048" as a keyword -- and 2048 is a blatant, known clone of Threes.

Google -- probably a human there, not a robot -- reinstated Threes after just a few hours offline and following a stream of articles and Twitter activity around its removal. Of course, 2048 remained live on Google Play the entire time, alongside a bunch of other Threes clones. This string of events highlights one of the biggest differences between Google and Apple, and how they approach their app stores. "Apple's policies are preventative and Google's policies are retroactive," Vollmer says. "You can probably figure out which one I prefer."

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Microsoft has lost another legal battle against British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB), after a European court found Skype's name to be too similar to the latter's. The judges also ruled that the service's cloud-like logo "would further increase the likelihood of the element 'Sky' being recognized within the word element 'Skype.'" Redmond lost a similar case to the same broadcaster in court years ago, prompting the company to completely change the name of its cloud service from SkyDrive to OneDrive. Fortunately for Microsoft, it doesn't have to change Skype's name this time around -- it merely can't file a trademark registration for the product's name and logo.

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Developer Valve legendarily has a hard time counting to "3" but that doesn't mean getting your hands on some new Portal action is too far out of reach. It just might not be in a place you'd expect. The long-running Zen Pinball series is taking a Newell-blessed trip to the test chambers with the "Aperture Science Heuristic Portal Pinball Device" table. As you might expect, there are plenty of nods to the series, with GLaDOS passive aggressively taunting while Chell jumps through the eponymous ingresses and co-op robots ATLAS and P-Body handling multi-ball duties. It's $2.99 for consoles, Mac and PC and $1.99 on mobile come May 25th.

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Web Work

Orb spider silk, already among the toughest and strongest materials found in nature, could soon get a super-strong nanoscale upgrade. A research team from the University of Trento, Italy recently sprayed 15 Orb-weaving spiders, members of the Pholcidae family, with carbon nanotube or graphene particle solutions. They found that doing so caused some of the spiders to spin even stronger silk than what they normally do. The team administered five spiders with a graphene-water solution and another 10 with a carbon-water mix. While some spiders subsequently spun sub-par silk (and four of them died outright), a few of the carbon-dosed arachnids actually produced strands 3.5 times stronger than the most resilient natural silk we know about.

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Apple TV

Remember OpenTV, the video on demand software developer that sued Netflix for allegedly violating its streaming patents? It's back. The company is suing Apple in the belief that virtually everything Apple makes (such as the Apple TV and iTunes) is infringing on five streaming-related patents, including ones for interactive TV and copy protection. Supposedly, you're borrowing OpenTV technology when you download or rent a movie through Apple's software. The folks at 1 Infinite Loop haven't issued a formal response to the suit, although there's definitely pressure to offer compensation. OpenTV's parent company, the Kudelski Group, brags that it already has licensing deals (Netflix settled earlier this year) with the likes of Disney and Google -- Apple didn't necessarily use OpenTV's ideas, but it'll go against the grain if it fights back.


Disney Infinity 3.0 is the latest edition of Disney's Skylanders-style video game series, and it's scheduled to hit stores in the fall, complete with figurines from the Star Wars universe. That's a relief, since we were worried there wouldn't be enough Star Wars stuff to go around this year. There will be three Star Wars Play Sets for Disney Infinity 3.0: Twilight of the Republic (featuring Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Darth Maul figurines), Rise Against the Empire (with Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca and Darth Vader) and a third based on December's film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That play set will launch in the winter, probably alongside the movie.

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Uber car

If you rely on Uber to get around Kansas, you'll have to find an alternative in short order. The ridesharing firm has ended service in the state after legislators overturned the Governor's veto on SB 117, a bill that tightens restrictions on Uber and similar app-based transportation networks. The stricter insurance requirements in the bill supposedly make it "impossible" for the company to do business. To no one's surprise, Uber is hopping mad -- it insist that the move hurts the availability of safe rides, denies job opportunities and makes Kansas regulation look "backward."

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