Oh boy, get ready for a rant. I've had it up to here (/gestures approximately three inches over my head) with bad listening habits. From middle-aged business men in the United lounge to teenagers at the mall, I'm about done with listening to your music / FaceTime calls / what have you. GET OFF MY SILENT AND PEACEFUL LAWN.
Once I'm done table-flipping, we welcome Engadget editor Andrew Tarantola on to discuss the best Android apps for road tripping, and I throw in a few for you iOS fans. We also go over the best way to break bad news to someone, before social media gets to them first!
Keep sending into those questions to #DearVeronica on Twitter, and I'll see you next week.
I look around at the sea of glowing faces surrounding me in the dark of Randall's Island in New York. There's no fist pumping. Their feet aren't shuffling. Instead, they're looking straight ahead at a large hand-drawn figure on a black screen. The frame, shaped like a human body, is filled with an entangled web of white lines. It appears to stand behind a barricade of light beams that shoot up from the stage. When the rapper Q-Tip's voice booms -- "World, the time has come to galvanize"-- the figure shakes furiously as if trying to break free from its enclosure. With every beat of the iconic Chemical Brothers track, the abstract form pushes back with swift choreographed moves. It struggles for a while before it breaks down the light-built cage and spins freely with the elegance of a trained contemporary dancer.
Competition is good, especially when it comes to internet service providers. Unfortunately, it's also rare. According to the White House's community-based broadband report released earlier this year (PDF), 75 percent of customers looking for internet speeds of 25Mbps or higher had a choice between...
This afternoon Aleksandr Milewski posted a picture that suggested the ticket-less streak might come to an end, but now Google says its car was flagged down because it was going so slowly. These new prototype models are classified as "Neighborhood Electric Vehicles" and have their speeds capped at 25mph,...
You won't have too much longer to wait to see how HBO handles Sesame Street. The network says it's launching the 46th season of the kids' show on January 16th, 2016 at 9AM (Eastern and Pacific). You'll have streaming access to five years' worth of episodes on both HBO Go and HBO Now, too. Just be prepared for a different experience than you remember from your childhood. Sesame Street pisodes will run 30 minutes instead of a full hour (ostensibly to help kids "focus"), and there are "updates" to both the show's iconic opening as well as the homes of its best-known characters.
When Samsung and Oculus debuted their Gear VR headset almost a year ago, the companies made it clear the device wasn't yet ready for the masses. Billed as "Innovator Edition" models, the original Gear VRs were intended mainly for early adopters. They only fitted a limited number of phones -- the original was designed just for the Note 4; the second for the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge -- and were also quite pricey at $200 per headset. Just last week, however, the two companies released the first-ever consumer-ready version of the Gear VR. It's smaller, lighter, cheaper (only $99) and is compatible with more phones (the Note 5, S6, S6 Edge and S6 Edge+). But, more importantly, its content library has exploded, with more VR apps and games than ever before. Virtual reality has finally gone mainstream, and there's no better way to get started than with the new Gear VR.
Remember Wu-Tang Clan's Once Upon a Time In Shaolin album? The group spent nine years recording 31 tracks for a special LP, then decided to sell just one copy of it -- for a very high price, of course. It was finally purchased by a private American collector for "millions," according to Forbes. The deal was completed in May, but the contract was finalized only recently. The buyer will get to listen to the album now, but won't have the right to release it publicly for another 88 years. "The Wu-Tang Clan has always been driven by innovation, and this marks another moment in musical history," said co-founder RZA. He added that "we hoped that this concept would inspire debate and new ways of seeing creativity."
Today on In Case You Missed It: BeOn Home has made smart lightbulbs that recognize noises like a doorbell or fire alarm and turn on accordingly. A robot designed to check fertilizer levels and smash weeds should help the average family farmer one day. And the US Army is checking its soldier's brain waves to understand what part of an image captures their attention.
Retro City Rampage is getting a sequel named Shakedown Hawaii. Like RCR, Shakedown is a top-down action game in the same vein as the original Grand Theft Auto. The new game is set 30 years after RCR and promises a large open world to explore. It also swaps in "16-bit" graphics in place of the original's "8-bit" look, and adds destructible environments to the mix. It's been confirmed for launch on PC, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. Developer Vblank says this isn't a Sony console exclusive per se, but it's not going for an Xbox One launch as RCR hasn't been ported to Microsoft's machine, making development more complex. It'll also come to "at least one Nintendo platform" at some point. Vblank tells Polygon that a 3DS release is being targeted, and it's waiting to hear more about Nintendo's next-gen "NX" console before it makes a decision on a port.
While shark attacks are rare in Australia, every year a handful of people lose their lives while swimming off the country's coastlines. New South Wales (NSW) government officials know there is no easy way to reduce risks, but have committed to spending AU$16 million ($11.6 million) on a new "shark strategy," which includes drone patrols and deploying GPS technology to make its beaches safer. As part of the drone trial starting today, operators will send out drones off the coast of Coffs Harbour (located midway between Sydney and Brisbane), which will feed back live footage of any marine life swimming in shallow water and let them alert swimmers and surfers of any risks in the area.
Chaotic Moon, a start-up known for conjuring fun projects like a shark-punching virtual game, has a wide range of applications in mind for the temporary tattoo technology it's developing. Called "Tech Tats," they're quite literally stick-on tattoos that look a bit embossed against the skin, since they contain electronic components, including a microcontroller and LED lights. Company CEO Ben Lamm called them "the new wearable" during his TechCrunch interview, pointing out that they can be a slightly more permanent version of Fitbit and other fitness trackers. They can, for instance, detect if you're stressed, monitor your body temp, blood pressure and heart rate, and then transmit all those data through their electroconductive paint.
Google revealed the "AMP" endeavor last month to accelerate mobile page-loading times, the slowness of which is a huge user bone of contention. It now says the fast-loading mobile pages will hit search results by early next year, and also gave more details about the project's raison d'etre: ads. The list of partners supporting the effort include its own AdSense, Outbrain and AOL, Engadget's parent company. The AMP project will cut mobile data use and wait times, but Google's not just being altruistic -- it's trying to curb ad-blockers, which heavily impact the company's ad revenue. Apple recently gave ad-blockers a big boost when it revealed it would support them for Safari on iOS 9.
The day that practically every retail worker loathes with a passion is almost upon us: Black Friday. To get an idea of just how much of a nightmare shopping is on the day after Thanksgiving, Google turned to foot traffic data based on aggregated, anonymized mobile location history info gathered last year. Perhaps most surprising is that stores apparently aren't at their busiest during doorbuster deals in the wee hours, but between 2PM and 4PM -- the early-bird deals are actually when store traffic is at its lowest across the board. What's more, only certain types of stores see their traffic at their highest on that first shopping day of the holiday season: consumer electronics and cellphone stores. Malls, department stores and "superstores/discount stores" (likely places akin to Costco and Sam's Club)? They're typically busiest the last Saturday before Christmas.
In just over two years Sony's sold over 30 million PlayStation 4s. That tally was 20.2 million in March, and now ahead of the busy holiday shopping season we have word from the Japanese tech giant that it's sold through more than 30.2 million consoles to some 124 countries and regions globally. That's roughly 1.25 million consoles per month since then, as of November 22nd. Impressive! Of course, Microsoft announced that the Xbox One was the number one-selling console for October, and that Halo 5 was the best selling game last month, but as per usual didn't give out any hard numbers.
The FBI is linking a hacker only known by the moniker "mr. grey" to a whopping 1.2 billion stolen internet credentials after finding his Russian email address in the evidence it gathered. It's unclear if he obtained all those by himself, though, or if he's even just a single person or a group of people operating under one name. Either way, if there were a contest for hackers, mr. grey would've won it by now, as this is apparently the biggest collection of stolen log-in details the FBI has investigated thus far. Reuters says that info came from the court documents the feds submitted to support its search warrant request in 2014. The authorities got their tip from cybersecurity firm Hold Security, which found out that a Russian hacking group called CyberVor has stolen 1.2 billion log-in details and over 500 million email addresses.
Hackers have been breaking through a lot of government agency's defenses these past years, and DARPA thinks it's high time to do something about it. Pentagon's mad science division has launched a new program called Rapid Attack Detection, Isolation and Characterization (RADICS), which aims to develop innovative technologies that can quickly detect and respond to cyber attacks. Not just any cyber attacks, though: RADICS was specifically created to deflect security threats on critical infrastructures in the US, especially those that are vital to the Department of Defense's missions. The agency likely wants to make sure the government can quickly detect and fight off terrorists and/or hackers trying to switch off the country's electricity or transportation systems.
If you want proof that the Federal Communications Commission is getting serious about privacy, you only need to look at its latest recruit. The agency has hired Jonathan Mayer, one of the masterminds behind Do Not Track browsing, as the chief technologist for its Enforcement Bureau. He'll help lead investigations into any shady behavior from telecoms and TV providers, particularly if they run afoul of your privacy or security.
Following a successful 3-month pilot program at its Wolfsburg plant, Volkswagen announced on Tuesday that it will begin issuing 3D smart glasses to its plant logistics personnel. These glasses, which display information like bin locations and part numbers directly in the user's line of sight, should help speed up order picking. That is, they'll tell plant employees if the parts they're holding are the parts they actually need. And to keep the process as hands-free as possible, a camera embedded in the specs will double as a barcode scanner.