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ICYMI: Google Goes Pollution Hunting, Amazon's Easy Button and More

Today on In Case You Missed It: Google Street View cars are rolling through U.S. cities to measure pollution, measuring harmful compounds like methane and carbon monoxide. Amazon's new Dash buttons are now available, which let consumers instant-order basic household items with a push of a literal button. And NASA is crashing planes to help improve the reliability of Emergency Location Transmitters, so that the signal actually turns on when something goes terribly wrong.

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BMW Vehicles On Display At The Company's Headquarters

Electric vehicles could be our salvation from traditional gas guzzlers, but mass adoption poses new challenges. If millions of homeowners start charging their cars every night, will the power grids be able to keep up? California utility company PG&E is partnering with BMW for a trial -- announced in January but starting this month -- that solves the problem by compensating i3 drivers for non-peak charging. Here's how it works: PG&E will contact BMW when they want to curb consumption. The car company will then select drivers based on their "desired departure time" submitted in the BMW i Remote app. So if you have a flat battery and need to make a trip in the next couple of hours, BMW shouldn't throttle your home and leave you without a ride. Those that are affected will receive a notification and have the option to "opt out" of the one-hour delay, should it prove to be a bad time.

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Nvidia has issued a recall for the Shield Android tablet after determining that its battery "can overheat, posing a fire hazard." Although the recall is voluntary, Nvidia is asking users to back up their data and fill in the relevant online form to receive a replacement. The issue pertains to tablets sold between July 2014 and July 2015. You can check to see if your tablet is affected by heading to the Settings menu, clicking "About tablet," then "Status," and looking at the "Battery" section. If you see "B01," you can carry on using the Shield as normal. If you see "Y01," though, your tablet is at risk of overheating and you should arrange a replacement ASAP.

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Moto G

For developers, allowing the public to evaluate apps before general release is paramount -- it helps weed out the bugs that could derail an otherwise successful launch. Both Apple and Google offer the capability, but TestFlight features have only been baked into iOS for the better part of a year and Android owners have typically had to jump through a number of hoops in order to sign up. With that in mind, Google has made some welcome changes that take the hassle out of the process.

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Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering has a history of creating tiny, insect-inspired robots, and its latest one can stand and jump on water just like a strider. The Wyss group has teamed up with scientists from Korea's Seoul National University and Harvard's John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences to design a machine that can mimic a water strider's "most complex maneuver." In order to accomplish that, they captured actual insects jumping on camera and studied their movements closely to determine their secret.

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When Microsoft bought Nokia, it inherited a pretty large feature phone business. But that business has shrunk a lot since the purchase, according to Strategy Analytics, and Microsoft hasn't set the smartphone world on fire either. As a result, Huawei just displaced it as the world's third largest mobile phone vendor by shipping 30.6 million phones, nearly 50 percent more than last year. It now holds a 7 percent market share behind Apple (10 percent) and Samsung (20.5 percent). Microsoft sits in fourth place after selling 27.8 million phones, nearly half the 50.3 million devices it sold last year over the same period.

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What's the next step after fully funding your game in 40 minutes on Kickstarter? If you're the team behind Yooka-Laylee, Playtonic, you get a publisher to help with stuff like localization (translating dialogue and text for different regions), QA testing and other unglamorous but still necessary elements of game development. To wit, the former Banjo Kazooie creatives have hooked up with indie label Team17, perhaps best known for the Worms and Alien Breed franchises. This partnership means that Playtonic can worry about working on the game itself while Team17 takes care of the more menial bits and bobs. Good thing, too considering Playtonic is still planning to hit a simultaneous October release across PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Wii U. If you'd like to check out more, hit the jump for our interview with the folks from the studio.

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Mozilla Firefox

If you're one of the millions of people who've already upgraded to Windows 10, you've probably noticed that the OS changed your default apps. Your main browser, for instance, suddenly became Microsoft Edge after the upgrade -- something Mozilla finds "disturbing," especially since the platform actually made it trickier to switch back to Chrome, Firefox or any other browser. In an open letter to Microsoft head honcho Satya Nadella, Mozilla's CEO Chris Beard revealed that the non-profit got in touch with the Windows 10 team when it got wind of the change, but that "didn't result in any meaningful progress."

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Twitter

Twitter's making its experimental homepage visible to all visitors who aren't logged in, the company has confirmed to BuzzFeed. This new landing page shows potential users what the website is all about at a glance. See, it might be your favorite social network, but a lot of people still don't "get" it -- for instance, we'll bet more people in your family use Facebook instead. In its latest earnings report, Twitter revealed that it only has 316 million monthly active users, whereas Facebook almost has 1.5 billion (yes, with a B) by now. The company's likely hoping that displaying celebrities' accounts and tweets based on popular topics can entice curious folks to just give in and sign up for an account.

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FireChat, that offline messenger that Hong Kong locals used during the height of their pro-democracy protests, now has off-the-grid private messaging capability. If you recall, you could only use its public "Nearby" tab if you want to talk to people in your area without depending on an internet connection. Now, you can contact someone in private -- provided that you're not the only two people using the app in your town. In order for the PMs to go through, messages hop on whatever's available: multiple local networks, WiFi, Bluetooth and even the internet. According to TechCrunch, FireChat uses the store-and-forward technique, wherein your message is sent to the nearest available network and kept there until the next one becomes available. Don't worry, though: PMs will be encrypted to prevent other users from reading them.

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