Recommended Reading highlights the best long-form writing on technology and more in print and on the web. Some weeks, you'll also find short reviews of books that we think are worth your time. We hope you enjoy the read.

Evolving the Google Identity
by Alex Cook, Jonathan Jarvis and Jonathan Lee
Google Design

Google grabbed the internet's attention earlier this week with a brand-new logo. With a design that's quite a departure from the previous mark, the company has its eye on the future in more ways than one. Here's a look behind the scenes at the finer details of the new logotype.

Today on In Case You Missed It: The nation's largest vision insurance company, VSP, is beta-testing wearable health-tracking glasses and somehow they don't even look ridiculous. An autonomous robot submarine is patrolling coral reefs and killing the starfish that normally eat coral, to preserve the reef. (So many conflicting feelings, amirite?) And MIT researchers are back with another 3D printer to blow your mind. This one is machine-vision enabled, meaning it can scan as it prints and correct itself.

At long last, today is the day that the general public is allowed into the hallowed halls of Berlin's Messe to bask in the glory that is IFA. Unfortunately, much of that glory is old and we've seen a big chunk of it before. Still, you should take a peek in the clip above to see what was on the show floor.

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

Must Reads

  • How ion thruster technology will power future NASA missions

    For its crazy 2020 asteroid capture mission and other projects, NASA is developing next-gen "Hall effect thrusters" to corral an asteroid and put it into the moon's orbit. At the same time, the European Space Agency (ESA) is trying to improve its own Hall thrusters to power future missions. If you're...

  • Verizon finally offers a way to avoid its 'supercookie' tracker

    Hey there Verizon subscribers, remember that whole "supercookie" ordeal from not too long ago? Well, it looks like it's time to put that mess behind us because the ability to wholly opt out of said tracking system is finally available, according to The New York Times. That's right, the undeletable,...

Uber has pulled down the searchable database people found at "," which contained details of trips people unknowingly made public by using the "Share your ETA" feature. That's one of the app's functions that sends a link with all pertinent details to chosen contacts. Since it could very useful, especially for those who need to travel alone through shady locations or at night, the company isn't yanking it from the app. Instead, Uber has decided to tweak the system so that all links get expired after 48 hours.

HaloFest for Xbox One

Developer Bungie's former in-house composer Marty O'Donnell had his day in court and it's time for Bungie to pay the piper. In addition to the initial payout of $142,500 he's owed as a profit-sharing program, O'Donnell also gets to hold onto what VentureBeat describes as a "considerable" amount of stock in the company responsible first for Halo and now Destiny. As part of the terms, apparently unless O'Donnell gets permission he can't publish any music from Destiny as his own without Bungie's blessing. In June, O'Donnell revealed that he was starting a new studio with other game-industry vets, Highwire Games.

[Image credit: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP]

If your social feeds are anything like mine, they're full of folks squeeing with delight over their new BB-8 droid today. The folks at uBreakiFix got one too, but instead of playing with Star Wars: The Force Awakens' charmer, they cut it apart to see what makes the toy tick. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the little rascal operates on a gyroscope, pair of wheels and sizable counterweight to keep everything balanced inside its plastic case. Meanwhile, a magnet keeps the adorable android's head attached to the spherical body. The video below is brief, but that won't make it easier to watch for anyone who's lusting after the $150 tie-in (and either can't afford or find one) from a galaxy far, far away. I'm truly sorry.

Wondering what to do with your three day weekend? Turtle Rock Studios is hoping you'll (re)visit its co-op shooter Evolve, courtesy of a few days of free access on Xbox One and PC. Even if you already own it, it may be time to knock the dust off because besides the flood of players, it's unlocking all the DLC for you to try, and just permanently unlocked a new monster, the Meteor Goliath. Thanks to its 4-on-1, primarily multiplayer setup, having a strong base of online players is key, and this is one way to try and refresh the ranks. The free preview is already under way, wrapping up on the 7th, at 11:59PM PT on Xbox One, and at 10AM PT on PC.

War Child, a London-based charity that aims to improve the lives of children affected by war, is collaborating with influential developers to create a collection of games titled HELP: Real War is Not a Game. Participating developers include 343 Industries (Halo 5: Guardians), Bossa Studios (Surgeon Simulator), Creative Assembly (Alien: Isolation), Team 17 (Worms) and Hinterland (The Long Dark), all of which will participate in a six-day game jam organized by War Child. This means the studios will have just six days to create the games for HELP, and the full compilation will be sold digitally in late March 2016. Proceeds will go toward funding War Child's efforts in global conflict zones.


A few months ago Google made changes to its YouTube app and pulled it from old second-generation Apple TV boxes (as well as some other older smart TVs). Now, if you're longing for the heady days of 2007 and aren't ready to upgrade (probably a good idea, with new hardware right around the corner), there is a way to get it back. Firecore has added a YouTube plugin to its aTV Flash (black) software for jailbroken Apple TVs. If you own a third generation Apple TV (on sale since early 2012, supports 1080p), then this doesn't apply to you, since you still have YouTube. But if your ATV2 is still in use, this will get it back... for a fee of $30. With Apple's big event just a few days away and a new $150 Apple TV rumored to be on the way we can see why this isn't the time to buy an upgraded model. You could buy a Chromecast plus whatever is announced on the 9th and do just as well -- or use AirPlay, if you also have iOS or Mac hardware. If you prefer the DIY route and want native YouTube playback, though, you can follow the instructions here.

[Image credit: Associated Press]


Twitter really wants new users to stick around. Now that means helping them find interesting accounts by placing "Who to follow" in the timeline of its iOS and Android apps. So now when you load Twitter on your phone you can expect to see in your timeline: "While you were away" ( a collection of tweets from accounts you follow that were published while you were away), a sponsored tweet or two and now Who to follow. Fortunately when it does pop up in your timeline its anchored to where it appeared and doesn't clutter up your feed every time you load the app. Also you can tap on the tiny X in top right-hand corner to dismiss the feature so it doesn't disrupt the flow of your meticulously curated list of random thoughts from friends and brands.

Here's a tough choice: would you rather play a game about a gardening robot that experiments with new methods of character animation, or a ridiculous time-travel action game that throws paradoxical caution to the wind? Lucky you -- you don't have to decide at all. On today's Engadget Playdate, we're playing both: Ubisoft's procedurally animated Grow Home and absurdly silly Super Time Force Ultra. Both are new to PlayStation 4 owners this month and free for subscribers of PS Plus. Are they worth the monthly dues? Join me and Tim Seppala at 6PM ET (3PM PT) right here, on the Engadget gaming homepage or at to find out.

The last time humanity tried to explore a comet, things didn't go so well -- the ESA comet lander Philae bounced during touchdown and wound up under a cliff, unable to right itself. Eventually its batteries ran down we lost contact. A sad way to end the mission, but we can't say that we didn't learn anything: NASA engineers are now working on a low-gravity unmanned exploration vehicle designed to bounce, tumble and roll around asteroids and comets. It's called the Hedgehog.

The dark, freezing woods of Sweden are the perfect breeding ground for terrifying tales of naughty children who get what they deserve. This week, Simogo -- the developer of beautifully macabre game Year Walk, and mysterious narrative experiences Device 6 and The Sailor's Dream -- released a free, illustrated ebook collecting a handful of five re-tooled, scary Swedish folk tales. It's called Year Walk Bedtime Stories for Awful Children, and it's available in English, French, Spanish, German and Italian. "We think obnoxious children all over the world deserve dark nightmares," Simogo writes.

iPhone 5S

With Force Touch rumored to arrive on the new iPhones next week, let's take a look back at some of Apple's other notable input methods. Cupertino has always offered a unique spin on the norm, whether it's a mouse with no buttons, multi-touch gestures or a trackpad for your desktop. The pressure-sensitive Force Touch tech that debuted earlier this year on the Apple Watch and new MacBook is just the latest in a line of input innovations from Apple, a collection that's sure to grow in the months to come.

[Lead image credit: Janitors/Flickr]

Artificial Intelligence is big deal (even if Elon Musk thinks it will doom us all) and today Toyota announced that it is collaborating with MIT and Stanford to accelerate its own AI research. The goal of the collaboration is to advance artificial intelligence for vehicles with a strong focus on safety. The carmaker will invest $50 million over the next five years in joint research centers and has hired former DARPA Program Manager Dr. Gill Pratt to lead the initiative. Dr. Pratt noted that in addition to using the research to reduce vehicle-related fatalities, "we want people to live a more dignified and more safe life." That includes using autonomous systems to enable the elderly to continue to be mobile after they have traditionally lost their licenses. That doesn't necessarily mean that drivers will become pure passengers according to Pratt. One of the goals is to "eliminate highway collisions without eliminating the fun of driving."

We've heard quite a bit about the SpaceX Falcon Heavy spacecraft since it was first announced. What we haven't seen is a launch. However, it's now planned for next spring. Earlier this week, SpaceX vice president of mission and launch operations Lee Rosen said that the company is aiming for a "late April early May timeframe" for that first launch. Rosen also explained that the crew is finishing renovations to the Falcon Heavy's launch pad for the initial test flight. That's the Pad 39A that's designed to handle launches of both the Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9. The rocket was first announced back in 2011 with a launch planned for 2013 that didn't pan out. And this summer's Falcon 9 disaster push things back even further. After the first test launch, the Falcon Heavy is scheduled to carry a load of 37 satellites for the Air Force in September 2016. As a refresher, the spacecraft uses 4.5 million pounds of thrust to launch and is capable of carrying a payload of 53,000 kg (116,845 lbs.) into low Earth orbit.

Director Alex Gibney wraps up his latest documentary, Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, with an apt encapsulation of the Apple co-founder's conflicting persona: "He had the focus of a monk, without the empathy." Jobs, who passed away in 2011 of pancreatic cancer, was the genius who transformed Apple into a pioneer of the PC era; and was then kicked out of his own company before returning to revolutionize the way we listen to music and use phones. But he was also a man who, in the pursuit of fortune, infamously ran away from his responsibility as a father, and is generally known for being a tyrant. So how do you reconcile these two extremes?

Gibney's doc (available today on iTunes and other streaming services) doesn't settle on an answer, but throughout its two-hour runtime, he explores what made Jobs tick, and what made millions of consumers admire him. And while The Man in the Machine covers plenty of familiar territory -- how many times do we need to see the Apple origin story, really? -- Gibney still manages to give us fresh insight into Jobs through newly unearthed footage and interviews.

By Cat DiStasio

3D printing is revolutionizing the way we make things, from buildings and cars to medical devices. But that's not all: Many forward-thinking designers in the fashion industry are using 3D printers to cut down on material waste and explore new possibilities for unique and exciting designs. Read on to learn about some of the most advanced 3D-printed clothes and wearables that they've cooked up.

Amazon's odd but intriguing Echo personal assistant / speaker has received a number of useful updates throughout its short lifespan, and today Amazon announced a few more tweaks to the device. If you're a Google Calendar user, the Echo now supports shared calendars, whereas before it could only pull in details from calendars that were owned by your personal account. In the Amazon Alexa app, you enter your Google Calendar details; from there, you can pick specific shared calendars to add to the Echo. That way, when you ask the Echo what's on your schedule, it'll only tell you things that are on the calendars you selected.


Remarkable superzoom cameras are hard to come by. But every now and then, there's a standout. Take Sony's RX10 II. Introduced in June, this new shooter features a 20.2-megapixel Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor (1-inch) and a Bionz X image processor, two of the latest high-end components from Sony. Naturally, the RX10 II's main attraction is that massive 24-200mm (35mm-equivalent) Zeiss zoom lens, which lives inside a DSLR-like body (looks-wise, it hasn't changed much compared to its predecessor from 2013). As it happens, though, Sony isn't just positioning this as a superzoom; it's also going after people who want a powerful video camera. Indeed, that's one of the things the RX10 II does best: It can shoot 4K (3,840 X 2,160) at up to 30 fps and 1080p at 24, 30 and 60 fps. Pair that with a low-light sensitivity ISO of up to 25,600 and slow-motion modes that range from 240 to 960 fps (NTSC), and you have a worthy option for video buffs.