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2015 U.S. Open - Day 4

In a Grand Slam like the US Open, top tennis players have to be able to block out unwanted distractions. A crowd that's starting to side with your opponent is one problem, but a drone? That's something most competitors aren't prepared for. As the Guardian reports, a 26-year-old teacher has now been arrested after a quadcopter crash-landed into an empty section of the stands. Flavia Pennetta and Monica Niculesu were facing off on Thursday night when the 3DR Solo swooped in unannounced. Videos have emerged documenting the crash -- although no-one was hurt, it clearly broke the flow of the match and worried the players, their families and fans. Curiously, the intruding drone didn't appear to have a camera on board -- it's possible that it snapped off during the landing, but otherwise it's unclear exactly why the pilot was flying there in the first place. As we've seen in the past, usually drones sneak into sporting events to capture all of the action.

If you can't get enough gridiron minutiae and analysis, Comcast has just unveiled Football Extras for its X1 sports app. It'll work in a similar way to Comcast's Baseball Extras, which was delivered to baseball stat fans earlier this summer. Armchair quarterbacks (and hardcore gamblers) will get info like injury reports, pre-game comparisons, fantasy league stats, win/loss probabilities and post-game analysis. Relevant stats will pop up during a telecast, or can be selected from a menu. You can even keep the app running while you watch other programs, in case you need to appease other family members. If you've got a Comcast X1 set-top box, you should see the app shortly.

OSVR headset

The Open Source Virtual Reality (OSVR) headset will get a significant upgrade soon. Gaming peripheral company Razer announced the OSVR program back in January, but the first prototype headset was an underwhelming affair with uncomfortable ergonomics and a so-so display. That wasn't really the point, though. Rather than a single company aiming to dominate the VR market, OSVR is a loose band of hardware and software companies hoping to do for virtual reality "what Android did for mobile." Since then, OSVR has continued to work on improving the system, adding features like positional tracking and, aptly, Android support. The idea is to perfect the basics, open-source the hardware and software, and let anyone build on and improve it.

Must Reads

Today on In Case You Missed It: We are seriously in awe of the scientific discovery that came from studying squid. Researchers developed a plastic that can reform, no weaker, after getting cut in half-- just so long as water is applied to it. And if you have a couple hundred dollars to blow, you can use it to buy an alarm clock that syncs with Spotify to gently ease you in and out of sleep with a matching glowing light. Also check out the new smart stethoscope product for medical professionals, allowing them to record the heartbeats they hear, then analyze the sounds in an app.

Batman: Arkham Knight was supposed to be the perfect swansong for Rocksteady's Dark Knight trilogy. While the game was received positively on PS4 and Xbox One, the PC version was a mess -- so bad, in fact, that Warner Bros. eventually pulled it completely. That was in June and only now, six weeks later, are PC players getting a patch that should fix the most glaring issues. The new update claims to solve the game's fluctuating frame rate, while also improving its overall performance on all GPUs. Warner Bros. says it'll also remedy any low resolution textures and add a deeper set of in-game settings for you to play with. If you were hoping to buy the game now that's in a better state, bad news -- Arkham Knight is still unavailable to purchase on Steam. Perhaps that's an indication of where the game now stands -- better than before, but still a little way from what PC players deserve.

Unlike Sony, Samsung, Huawei and others, Microsoft isn't putting on a flashy press conference at this year's IFA. That said, Nick Parker, Corporate VP of the company's OEM division, will be taking to the stage to deliver a keynote speech entitled "Windows 10 lights up new devices" roughly 30 minutes from now. Given Parker's position and the brief keynote summary, we imagine he'll be touching on the broad range of devices powered by Microsoft's latest OS -- including some of those announced over the last few days from the likes of Acer, ASUS, Lenovo and others. While we don't expect any surprise announcements from Microsoft itself, never say never. We'll be there, of course, and if you'd like to join us, jump on the livestream and settle in.

IFA 2015 is turning out to be a trade show where the only company announcing anything of interest is Samsung. That's why our wrap-up of day two covers the company's new SmartThings Home Hub, its SleepSense monitor and the Ultra HD Blu-ray player that's coming in 2016. We'd tell you more down here, but if we're honest — that'd spoil the clip. So, waste no more time in hitting that play button and watching all the fun unfold.

Check out all the news from Berlin at our IFA 2015 hub!

Runtastic may have started as a training log app, but it soon progressed to putting its badge on running watches and accessories. The Orbit was possibly the company's most confident step into the world of wearables, and today it's making another with the "proper watch" Moment activity tracker. The Moment logs all the basics you'd expect from a fitness tracker: steps, distance, time active, calories burned and sleep patterns, along with a dial on the watch face showing progress towards your goal. Like Withings' Activité and Pop devices, the Moment's analog styling extends to running on a regular watch battery, so it won't need daily/weekly charging. This means no annoying ports, too, which helps keep things nice and sealed -- waterproof to 300 feet by Runtastic's reckoning.

Two different groups of MIT researchers found a way to print out objects with glass instead of plastic and to make a printer spew out 10 different materials at once earlier this year. This particular team along with researchers from the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in Israel, however, have chosen to focus on creating a system that makes it possible for even novices to customize the objects they want to print. Designers typically have to adjust a CAD file to tweak the object's looks by typing in numerical values, and then wait for minutes to hours for a simulation software to make sure the final product is viable. The system this group developed dramatically speeds up the process.

Spotify privacy policy

Spotify has released a new privacy policy after the internet whipped itself into a furor over the last one. The streaming company got itself into trouble last month with an update that some onlookers labeled "eerie" and "atrocious." Of course, it wasn't really anything worth worrying about, as those that took the time to look through it properly quickly deduced. Nonetheless, Spotify pledged to update the policy to better clarify what it is and isn't collecting from users, and now it's done just that. The new version is virtually identical to the last, but includes a section at the beginning in plain language explaining things.

​Parrot's high-tech headphone series just got another notable upgrade. The Zik 3 brings the same noise cancellation and touch panel controls of the last model, but adds wireless charging to the already-wireless headphones. There's also a completely different look, that Parrot's calling "a touch of couture" (the company is French so we're giving them a pass), which includes four options in croc texture, "overstitch" detailed cans in black and ivory, and a black leather grain option. The redesigned cans are more slender than the Zik 2, and while there's even more tech inside the sequel, the Zik 3s weigh exactly the same.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nextbit wanted to celebrate the launch of its debut smartphone today at a party in San Francisco, but it turned out to be a celebration of success as well. In just under 12 hours, the startup reached its $500,000 Kickstarter goal to fund the Robin, an Android phone that isn't only "cloud first," but also surprisingly design forward as well. We had a chance to get an early look at what the final product might actually look like (though bear in mind these are all still prototypes) and asked Scott Croyle, Nextbit's Chief Product and Design Officer -- who's also a former design lead for HTC -- a few questions about the phone as well.

LG is launching a phone called the V10 with a small auxiliary "ticker" display above the main screen, according to Evan Blass (@evleaks) and photos from Chinese regulator Tenaa. That might sound bizarre, but it was actually used before on Samsung's Continuum, a 2010 Galaxy S Verizon variant. Still, it's a unusual idea for a modern phone that otherwise looks rather decent. According to Blass, it'll have a 5.7-inch 2,560 x 1,440 screen, Snapdragon 808 CPU, 3GB memory, 16-megapixel rear/5-megapixel front cameras, expandable memory and a back fingerprint scanner.

Even if you spent $399 on the ultra-crazy edition of Borderlands: The Handsome Collection there was a pretty gaping hole in it. No, I'm not talking about what that purchase did to your bank account, I mean the anthology's distinct lack of the series' first game. Well, for Xbox One owners that's changing because the Vault Hunters' first trip to Pandora was recently added to the list of Xbox 360 games playable on Microsoft's newest console -- something that was teased back at E3 this year. Folks in the Dashboard Preview Program can start playing right now, of course, but everyone else who got stuck on Dr. Ned's zombie island (Microsoft says all save files, add-on content and achievements will transfer over) have to wait until the feature launches to the public this November. You still had a few lunar side-quests left to finish for Handsome Jack in the meantime anyhow, right?

Mark Zuckerberg on stage at Facebook's F8 Developers Conference 2015

WhatsApp has grown tremendously from the time Facebook acquired it in 2014 for $19 billion. The messaging app's founder, Jan Koum, has just announced on Facebook that the service has reached 900 million monthly active users (MAU). That means it has gained 100 million new ones in less than five months since Koum celebrated reaching 800 million subscribers in April. That number isn't too far off from its parent company's either, which announced 1.49 billion MAUs as of June this year. In comparison, Facebook's own Messenger app reached 700 million MAUs in June, mostly due to its split from the social network's main application. Considering the app has been installed at least a billion times on Android, the new user count isn't that surprising. We just hope its continued success doesn't lead to even more divorces in Italy.

Google's health conditions feature is about making it easier to find information about an illness. So, when there's a local outbreak, or you get early symptoms, you can be better prepared. Mountain View has doubled the number of diseases in its database, bringing the number up to over 900 -- including neglected tropical diseases and infections that typically affect people in developing nations. If you do a query for any of those illnesses on either mobile or desktop, you'll see a quick results panel, which contains info on its symptoms, treatments and prevalence.

Google Chrome

A big part of what's won Chrome a lot of converts is how much faster it is over the competition. That speed comes at a price, though: The web browser is notoriously a resource hog (especially if you have a dozen or so tabs open at once) and it dramatically cuts into battery life. As Google tells it, the latest version of the browser will help absolve those sins a bit. New tweaks include restoring only the most frequently used tabs should it detect that your machine is precariously low on resources, and a way of detecting when a page isn't busy with something else and using the free processor cycles to clean up idle memory.

By the looks of things, Google's self-driving cars have been learning a lot in Austin, Texas. In its first report since it began testing autonomous vehicles in the city, the company details the challenges its cars have had to face while driving on its roads. For instance, they've been spotting and avoiding a lot of deer, some of which might have ended up as road kill if they happened to come across ordinary vehicles instead. The system also had to learn to identify new infrastructure, such as horizontal traffic signals. Google has learned, however, that one of the major problems it has to tackle is pedestrians stepping off the curb onto the road while hidden by other vehicles.

iPhone and iPads owners looking for a browser alternative are one step closer to seeing Mozilla's option on their devices, but right now a "preview" of the app is only available in New Zealand. In a blog post it says this limitation is so it can gather feedback before taking it to a few more countries ahead of any public launch. Assuming you are a Kiwi, you can try out its Intelligent Search with suggested results across certain sites, and sync your info from the desktop with a Firefox account. Everyone else is invited to sign up for a notification of when the app will arrive in their country.

a woman using a smart phone

Over the last few years, we've learned that US law enforcement agencies not only regularly use "Stingray" devices to locate suspects by their cellphones, but go to great lengths to hide this activity. After extensive reporting on the subject, the Department of Justice has established an "Enhanced Policy for Cell-Site Simulators" (PDF) detailing when they can be used by federal agencies, and how. A big part of that is the requirement that agents obtain a warrant first, except in certain cases that can include ongoing hacking attempts and people in danger of death or bodily harm. Also, they can't be used to collect communications like emails or texts at all.