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07-28-2021 Science&Technology
Facebook recalling 4 million Oculus Quest 2 headset components

New York (CNN Business)Facebook on Tuesday announced it is temporarily pausing sales of its Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headsets and recalling a component in around 4 million of the devices, in cooperation with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. The company is voluntarily recalling the "removable foam facial interfaces" for the devices — a piece that sits around a user's eyes and nose and acts as a cushion between the headset and their face — after more than 5,000 users reported that it caused skin irritation and 45 users needed medical attention, according to the CPSC. The reactions included rashes, swelling, burning, itching and hives, the agency said. It's a rare recall for Facebook (FB) — CPSC lists no other recalls for the company. While Facebook is still thought of as primarily a software firm, Oculus headsets are an important part of its effort to popularize virtual reality technology. In addition to headsets, Facebook has spent years refining controllers for VR and pushing content makers to create games and other experiences for it. "As more people got into VR with Quest 2, we started receiving reports that a very small percentage of Quest 2 customers experienced some skin irritation after using the removable foam facial interface," Andrew Bosworth, head of Facebook reality labs, said in an open letter to Oculus users Tuesday. Facebook introduced the Quest 2 headsets, a smaller and cheaper version of its predecessor, in September. The company first said in December in a blog post that a small percentage of users were experiencing skin issues after using the device, and said it would investigate. In April, the company posted an update saying that its investigation did not show "any contamination or unexpected substances in our manufacturing process," but that it "identified a few trace substances that are normally present in the manufacturing process which could contribute to skin discomfort, and while these were already at levels below the industry standard, out of an abundance of caution we changed our process to reduce them even further." The facial foam inserts are included when customers buy an Oculus Quest 2 headset, which cost between $300 and $400, depending on storage options. The inserts can also be bought individually or as part of a "fit pack." Rather than sending anything back to the company, customers can request a free silicone cover that fits over the foam facial interface from Facebook. The company is also temporarily pausing sales of the Quest 2 headsets for several weeks so that it can start including the silicone cover in the box when it ships to customers. "The team and I are committed to ensuring the quality of our products and the ongoing support and success of our developer community, with your safety and comfort as our top priority," Bosworth said Tuesday. "The free silicone cover is part of that commitment."

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07-28-2021 Science&Technology
Blue Origin Is Launching 'Project Jarvis' To Counter SpaceX

Blue Origin is determined not to let SpaceX get away with all the glory. And they're launching a new program to serve as a counter. CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA - AUGUST 31: Storm clouds and a rainbow appear over Jeff Bezos Blue Origin Aerospace Manufacturer building as Hurricane Dorian approaches Florida, on August 31, 2019 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Dorian could be a Category 4 storm as it approaches the state and possibly making landfall as early as Monday somewhere along the east coast. According to a report by ArsTechnica, Jeff Bezos' space exploration company will be launching "Project Jarvis," which aims to design fully reusable rockets as a direct answer to SpaceX's reusable Starship project was launched in 2016. There is, however, not much else known about "Project Jarvis." This rumor comes after another alleged that Blue Origin will replace the metal in their New Glenn rocket with stainless steel. For those who are unaware, stainless steel is also the same material being used for SpaceX's Starship and Super Heavy rockets. But this was disproved in light of new information. Newer rumors now say that a new version of Blue Origin's New Glenn will now be designed to feature a fully reusable upper stage. Insiders say that the upper stage will have stainless steel propellant tanks. Apparently, the reason for the material shift is because Jeff Bezos wants to lower the launch cost of New Glenn. Neither Blue Origin or Bezos himself has commented on these rumors as of this writing. Read also: Blue Origin vs. Virgin Galactic: Differences of New Shepard and Unity-22 Spacecrafts from Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson What's the Status of 'Project Jarvis?' Apparently, Bezos is trying to ensure that the project will be designed without any bureaucratic hurdles. Due to this, insiders claim that progress on "Project Jarvis" has been quite fast, with Blue Origin planning to relaunch New Glenn with a fully reusable upper stage by the mid-2020s. Once the reusable rocket is operational, it will be in serious contention against SpaceX when it comes to delivering heavy payloads into space. However, as for Project Jarvis' budget, no member of the Blue Origin top brass has been open for comment. Blue Origin Going Reusable: Nothing Really New Some people are alleging that Bezos is only copying Musk in the drive to create reusable spacecraft, just like what a report on Futurism alleges. SpaceX is not as innocent of "copying" as well if you'd like to call it that. NASA's Space Shuttle program was the first in history to create a fully reusable spacecraft. Designed to look like a typical airplane, the shuttle was launched into space on a rocket, then came back down to Earth like a glider, landing on a runway. ...

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07-28-2021 Science&Technology
iPhone sales fuel Apple’s Wall Street-beating Q3

Another excellent quarter for Apple, as the company posted $81.4 billion in revenue. That’s a 36% year-over-year jump for the company, besting Wall Street estimates of $73.3 billion by a considerable margin. “Our record June quarter operating performance included new revenue records in each of our geographic segments, double-digit growth in each of our product categories, and a new all-time high for our installed base of active devices,” CFO Luca Maestri said in a release. “We generated $21 billion of operating cash flow, returned nearly $29 billion to our shareholders during the quarter, and continued to make significant investments across our business to support our long-term growth plans.” Some strong figures for the company all around here, but it was iPhone sales and subscription services that continued to lead the way — a familiar story for anyone who’s followed the company the last several quarters. iPhone sales increased from $26 billion to $39.5 billion, on the continued strength of the company’s long-waited push into linewide 5G, while services rose from $13.1 billion to $17.5 billion for the quarter. Apple has continued to grow its services offerings, which now includes Music, TV+, iCloud, Arcade, News+ and Fitness+. The company clearly sees the subscription portfolio as the future of its revenue model. Greater China proved a strong market for the company in the third fiscal quarter. The company posted $14.76 billion in sales for the region, a more than 50% increase over the same time last year. The Americas region, meanwhile, rose from $ 27 billion to $35.89. In the earnings report, CEO Tim Cook made reference to pandemic-related issues, which highlighting broader societal focuses for the company. “This quarter, our teams built on a period of unmatched innovation by sharing powerful new products with our users, at a time when using technology to connect people everywhere has never been more important,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We’re continuing to press forward in our work to infuse everything we make with the values that define us — by inspiring a new generation of developers to learn to code, moving closer to our 2030 environment goal, and engaging in the urgent work of building a more equitable future. The company once again declined to offer guidance, owing to uncertainties during the pandemic. On a followup call with investors, however, Maestri noted, “We expect revenue growth to be lower than our June Quarter.” The CFO cited various issues including foreign exchange rates with the U.S. dollar, a slow down in the growth rate of services and continued supply chain issues for its hardware offerings.

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07-28-2021 Science&Technology
iPad Mini 6 to Feature 8.3-Inch Display With No Home Button and Narrower Bezels

The sixth-generation iPad mini that's in the works will have an 8.3-inch display, according to display analyst Ross Young. That will be larger than the current 7.9-inch display, with the larger size due to the removal of the Home button and a narrower bezel design. Rumors about the ¿iPad mini¿ 6 have been picking up in recent weeks ahead of its prospective launch this fall. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo previously said that the new ¿iPad mini¿ could measure in at 8.5 to 9 inches, and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has said that the new ¿iPad mini¿ will have a larger display with slimmed down bezels. There was mixed information on whether the new ¿iPad mini¿ would have a Home button, but rumors now appear to be coalescing around an iPad Air 4-like design with no Home button and either Face ID or a Touch ID power button. The new ¿iPad mini¿ could include either an A14 chip or an A15 chip, plus it is expected to have a USB-C port instead of a Lightning port, which would bring Apple closer to dropping Lightning on the iPad lineup. DigiTimes recently suggested the new ¿iPad mini¿ would have a mini-LED display, but a report from Young last week disputed that information and said the ¿iPad mini¿ 6 will have a standard display rather than a mini-LED display. Related Roundup: iPad mini 5 Buyer's Guide: iPad Mini (Don't Buy) Related Forum: iPad

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07-28-2021 Science&Technology
It looks like Google is building an iOS-to-Android migration app

You might not be familiar with the name Data Restore Tool, but odds are most of our readers have actually seen the app in action before — if not when setting up a new phone for the first time, then occasionally as an aside in our coverage when we cover the topic. It's preinstalled on many (I'd hazard to say most) recent Android phones and handles part of the process that migrates data between your old phone and new one. And almost immediately after teasing a whole new simplified backups system, now Google is bringing the app to the Play Store, and teardowns provide a partial explanation: Google's making a "Switch to Android" iOS app it will work with. So far as we can tell, the Play Store listing went live sometime between July 19th and 22nd. As it's preinstalled on so many phones, it's already reached over a billion downloads in the last week, and if reviews are anything to go by, folks are confused about its sudden new appearance on the Play Store. It's also important to point out that this app is different than the Data Transfer Tool that Google rolled out to the Play Store back in 2017, seemingly specific to Pixel devices at the time and partly replacing the even older Data Transfer Tool, last updated in 2017 according to the Play Store listing. The new app dates back at least as far as 2018 according to our records at APK Mirror, and also seems to inherit the app listing images of the Data Transfer Tool. Testing with a few phones we have on-hand, a version of the Data Restore Tool app is already preinstalled on many devices, including recent Samsung phones. As you'd likely expect, given there's already a separate Pixel-specific app, the most notable omission is that Google's own Pixels don't have it — that is, unless they're running Android 12 (as spotted by 9to5Google). It also won't install on Android 11 Pixels or many other devices that have an older version of the app already installed. On that note, Google's store is distributing a newer version of the app than we've previously seen. Even Android 12 Beta 3 shipped with a 1.0.375544850 beta release, but the version being pushed on the Play Store is an even more recent 1.0.382048734. We know that first version included some Material You changes to the device setup process, so we assume they're built into this more recent version as well, though quickly playing with the app on non-Material-You Android 11 devices, we didn't notice any easily spotted differences.

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07-28-2021 Science&Technology
Tesla rewrote its own software to survive the chip shortage

Tesla is weathering the global chip shortage by rewriting its vehicle software to support alternative chips, CEO Elon Musk said during an earnings call Monday. The shortage has upended the auto industry at a time of historic demand for new cars, leading to factory shutdowns, longer wait times, and higher prices. “We were able to substitute alternative chips, and then write the firmware in a matter of weeks,” Musk said. “It’s not just a matter of swapping out a chip; you also have to rewrite the software.” This approach has helped Tesla maintain high levels of production, delivering over 200,000 vehicles to customers over the course of the last three months, the company said. Tesla generated $11.9 billion in revenue in the quarter, including $1.1 billion in profit. Tesla isn’t alone in feeling the effects of the global shortage. With demand for cars at an all-time high, automakers around the world are feeling the constraints of production with chips in short supply. This week, Daimler and BMW said the lack of chips has forced it to shutdown some of their assembly lines, which will cut the companies’ output by tens of thousands of vehicles. Musk said that Tesla’s future growth will depend on a swift resolution to the global semiconductor shortage. “The global chip shortage situation remains quite serious,” he said. “For the rest of this year, our growth rate will be determined by the slowest part in our supply chain,” which includes the wide range of chips used in Tesla’s vehicles. Tesla relies on chips to power everything from its airbags to the modules that control the vehicles’ seatbelts — which now means Tesla is missing components that are essential for the vehicle’s safety features. “A big struggle this quarter was the module that controls the airbags and seatbelts,” Musk said. “And obviously you cannot ship a car without those.” Musk sounded an uncertain note about the future. “It does seem like it’s getting better,” he said, “but it’s hard to predict.”

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07-28-2021 Science&Technology
Astronaut watches Russian space station module fall from space in fiery demise (photos)

On Monday (July 26), astronauts said goodbye to a cornerstone of the International Space Station and captured stunning images of the compartment burning up in Earth's atmosphere. A Russian Progress cargo vehicle towed the module, called Pirs, away from the space station and down through Earth's atmosphere to ensure the module burned up completely and reduce the odds of any large chunks making it to Earth's surface. "Quite a strange feeling to see a part of your ship fly away in mid-air (so to speak — no atmosphere here duh)," European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet wrote in a statement shared with the photographs on Monday. "We clearly saw smaller pieces float away from the main fireworks, as the ship was being destructed by the heat of atmospheric friction," Pesquet added. "Quite the show!" Russia had launched its Pirs module in 2001; since then, the module, which served as a port to the space station, hosted more than 70 different capsules and supported Russian cosmonauts conducting extravehicular activities, or spacewalks. To make room for Russia's new science module, dubbed Nauka, which launched on July 21 and will arrive at the station on Thursday (July 29), Pirs had to go. Yesterday's fiery retirement ceremony marks the first time a major component of the International Space Station has been discarded. The attached Progress vehicle, which had arrived at the space station in February, controlled Pirs' re-entry to ensure that the module was destroyed as thoroughly as possible. Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or follow her on Twitter @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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07-28-2021 Politics
Biden will announce vaccination requirement across federal government on Thursday

(CNN)President Joe Biden will announce on Thursday a requirement that all federal employees and contractors be vaccinated against Covid-19, or be required to submit to regular testing and mitigation requirements, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter. The announcement will come in remarks where Biden is also expected to lay out a series of new steps, including incentives, in an attempt to spur new vaccinations as the Delta variant spreads rapidly throughout the country. It will also follow the decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs to require its frontline health care workers to be vaccinated over the course of the next two months. Biden alluded to the looming announcement on Tuesday. "That's under consideration right now," Biden said, when asked if he would impose a vaccination mandate on federal workers. While the specifics are still being finalized, the source said, federal workers would be required to attest to their vaccination status or submit to regular testing. The source said the proposal will be roughly similar to what is being implemented in New York City. Additional requirements for the unvaccinated could be added as agencies push to vaccinate their employees. Biden will not impose the requirement on the US military, despite his authority to do so, for the time being. He is, however, likely to outline how the Department of Defense may seek to approach the issue going forward, the source said. Asked if he thinks the new revised guidance on masks from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will lead to confusion for Americans, Biden cast blame on unvaccinated Americans, saying that if they had been vaccinated "we'd be in a very different world." "We have a pandemic because the unvaccinated and they're sowing enormous confusion. And the more we learn about this virus and the Delta variantion, the more we have to be worried and concerned. And there's only one thing we know for sure, if those other hundred million people got vaccinated, we'd be in a very different world," he said. The administration's decision to require vaccines for VA health workers provided a powerful signal that vaccine requirements could be necessary to convince the still-hesitant to get their shots. Furthering the case for vaccine mandates, the administration is taking steps to spell out the legal grounds upon which American entities can require employees to get shots. Justice Department lawyers have determined that federal law doesn't prohibit public agencies and private businesses from requiring Covid-19 vaccines, even if the vaccines have only been authorized for emergency use, according to an opinion posted online Monday. The opinion from the department's Office of Legal Counsel -- dated July 6, but released publicly Monday -- paves the way for more federal agencies and businesses to require vaccinations following the Veterans Affairs announcement about front-line health workers. ...

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07-28-2021 Sports
Olympic Games News: Japan's Three-Point-Shooting Robot CANNOT MISS [VIDEO]

Olympic games basketball kicked off recently to a shocker: heavy gold medal favorites Team USA losing to France in their first game. But of course, Tech Times isn't a sports site--it's a tech site. And it's a particular halftime show during that game that's gotten the tech-savvy internet talking. Olympic games basketball kicked off recently to a shocker: heavy gold medal favorites Team USA losing to France in their first game. But of course, Tech Times isn't a sports site--it's a tech site. And it's a particular halftime show during that game that's gotten the tech-savvy internet talking. CUE shot one free throw from 15 feet out, then a regulation 3-point shot at the center, and finally, a half-court shot from about 45 feet away from the basket. It nailed all three shots, and as NBC Sports puts it, Team USA probably could've used its mechanical shooting skills to defeat the French team. Technology-wise, however, the basketball robot seems pretty impressive. It's likely now one of the many machines that have been programmed to efficiently do human things, like the AI robot Eva which can respond to human expressions. Olympic Games Basketball Robot: Who Made It? The basketball robot is the product of Toyota and is basically as tall as a professional player at almost 7 feet. According to Business Insider, the machine uses an array of sensors on its body to map its shots out depending on its distance from the basket. It then adjusts its hands accordingly to try lining up the so-called "perfect shot." Its engineers were initially pretty proud to announce that their bot's shooting percentage can outmatch that of one of the world's best players: Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. Curry is considered among the best 3-point shooters ever to play the game. CUE's creators were so confident that before the Olympic Games came into town, they pitted the bot against two professional players from Alvark Tokyo, a team in the Japanese B. League. Here is a video of the contest, which the robot won (and it's not even close) (video) Severely Limited Abilities But while CUE can shoot better than some professional basketball players at the Olympic Games, it still has a lot of severe handicaps when it comes to playing. ...

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07-28-2021 Science&Technology
Everything You'll Lose From Windows 10 When You Upgrade to Windows 11

Windows 11 is on the way, and it’s going to bring with it a new look, new colors, and new features when it becomes available later in the year. But not everything that’s currently in Windows 10 is going to survive the upgrade. Expect a few additions and subtractions in terms of features between now and the public rollout of Windows 11, but here’s everything that will get lost along the way that we know about so far. Internet Explorer What’s that? You thought it had been killed off already? It’s actually still available in Windows 10, if you dig deep enough, but all traces of Internet Explorer are going to be removed in Windows 11, with Microsoft Edge replacing it. For those really, really old legacy apps and sites you still need access to for whatever reason, use the IE mode in Edge. Timeline You may have never used Timeline, which is perhaps one of the reasons it’s going away with the arrival of Windows 11. The feature lets you sync your activity across multiple Windows computers over the last 30 days (files you’ve opened, websites you’ve visited, etc.), making it easier to jump between devices logged in with the same Microsoft account. Live Tiles Developers didn’t really embrace the Live Tiles feature on the Windows 10 Start menu, which enables different snippets of information to be shown and updated in real time. If you think that sounds a lot like widgets, you’d be right. But Microsoft is going to try and bring back desktop widgets with Windows 11, so let’s hope they work better than Live Tiles. Start Menu Groups Another feature pulled from the Start menu is the ability for users to group tiles together and name them: productivity, writing, games, or whatever. The layout of the Start menu won’t be resizable either, so it sounds as though Microsoft wants to make the Start menu experience much the same for everyone (as well as move it into the center of the screen). Quick Status In Windows 10, applications can leave little blocks of information on the lock screen to remind you about incoming emails, upcoming calendar appointments, etc. This functionality, called Quick Status, won’t be available to programs when Windows 11 arrives—although it’s possible that widgets (see above) will take up some of the slack. Taskbar Location Speaking of cutting out customizations, the taskbar can only be in one place in Windows 11: at the bottom of the screen. You might have never realized it, but you can position the taskbar on the left, on the right, or even at the top of the screen in Windows 10. If you like making those sorts of tweaks in your operating system, you’re going to be out of luck. ...

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07-28-2021 Science&Technology
Android 12 Beta 3.1 rolling out with Pixel bug fixes

Almost two weeks after the last major release in the preview program, Android 12 Beta 3.1 is rolling out with key bug fixes on Pixel phones. AD Beta 3.1 addresses several complaints that can impact day-to-day usage of Android 12 as more -and-more users sign-up for the preview. One of the biggest fixes is for restarts taking quite some time because your phone was actually stuck in a boot loop. Meanwhile, the System UI will crash less often, while apps should stay open longer in the background. The full release notes are as follows: Fixed an issue that caused some devices to get stuck in a boot loop after restarting the device. (Issue #193789343) Fixed an issue that sometimes caused the System UI to crash. Fixed an issue that sometimes caused the Android low memory killer daemon (lmkd) to excessively kill processes. Note: The known issues listed for the Beta 3 release still apply to Beta 3.1. Additional fixes are being rolled out through the Play Store to address stability issues observed on Android 12 Beta builds. Android 12 Beta 3.1 (SPB3.210618.016) is rolling out soon as an OTA (797 kB — yes Kilobyte — on a Pixel 4a, 2.93MB on a Pixel 5) that can be easily installed via the “Check for update” button in Settings. It’s also available via manual download and flashing. If you need help, here’s our full guide on installing Android 12. Pixell 5: Factory Image — OTA Pixel 4a (5G): Factory Image — OTA Pixel 4a: Factory Image — OTA Pixel 4 XL: Factory Image — OTA Pixel 4: Factory Image — OTA Pixel 3a XL: Factory Image — OTA Pixel 3a: Factory Image — OTA Pixel 3 XL: Factory Image — OTA Pixel 3: Factory Image — OTA

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07-28-2021 Science&Technology
Apple Face ID to Come to iPhones, iPads, and Macs within 'Couple of Years'

Apple Face ID is now expected to come to iPads, iPhones, and Macs within maybe a "couple of years." Although this isn't really a big assurance, it's the best thing Apple users have as of the moment. Apple Face ID for Mac, iPad, and iPhone In the recent Power On newsletter that recently launched, Bloomberg's very own Mark Gurman believes that Apple will be bringing the Face ID to Mac within the course of a "couple of years." Gurman even notes that the iPhone SE as well as non-Pro iPads could even get Face ID as well. According to 9to5Mac, the only reason that Apple still is not doing so as of the moment is in order to cut costs while still offering their users stable security. Mark Gurman reportedly believes that a certain "camera embedded in the screen would actually help users differentiate Apple's more pricey devices by eliminating the notch located at the top." Apple Analyst on iPhone Display According to Ming-Chi Kuo, a reliable Apple analyst, the 2022 iPhone is even expected to have its own redesign which would ditch the notch to get a punch-hole display design. Kuo notes that Apple plans to start replacing its current notch design that was introduced with the iPhone X with a different new-to-iPhone "punch-hole display design." This, however, isn't really the first time that the public has heard that Apple is working on bringing Face ID to the Mac in macOS Big Sur beta. 9to5Mac found references to the TrueDepth camera on the system. This reportedly suggests that Apple is working to bring facial recognition to its own computers. Apple 'PearlCamera' The article noted that they were able to find a certain new extension for the macOS Big Sur beta 3 with codes that were intended to support the "PearlCamera." Users might not really remember, but this is actually the internal codename which Apple uses for certain things like its TrueDepth camera as well as Face ID, which was initially revealed with the iPhone X leaks back in 2017. Rumors that Face ID will launch on the iPhone were already circulating as early as 2019. Codes like "BioCapture" and "FaceDetect" were reportedly found within this particular extension which also suggested that Apple could be preparing its macOS to work along with Face ID as the codes are quite similar to those that are being used in the iOS. The article reportedly investigated and found that the Face ID extension was clearly built for the Apple macOS, and it's not really some remnant code that came from Catalyst technology. Apple Redesign and Others Some time early 2021, Apple had launched a redesigned 24-inch iMac that packed the M1 chip. It is also said that the company had stopped the development of the Intel iMac 27-inch successor to get this particular one finished. ...

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07-23-2021 Science&Technology
Amazon's Alexa Rolls Out Male Voice Assistant Called Ziggy



Amazon's Alexa finally gets a male voice option. Amazon has quietly rolled out its new Alexa virtual assistant named Ziggy. Last week, the new male voice option was added alongside the announcement for new celebrity voices like Hollywood actress Melissa McCarthy and NBA legend Shaquille O'Neil. Amazon Alexa New Voice Assistant The Ambient was the first publication that noticed the rollout of Ziggy. The name Ziggy joins the growing list of wake words that Amazon has released, including Alexa, Computer, and Echo. Amazon's Alexa is not specifically assigned with the feminine-sounding voice and Ziggy with the masculine-sounding voice. Users choose either of the voice options, and they can also select the wake words. Users can switch between the two voice options, which Amazon labeled as the "Original" and "New." Users can ask Alexa to change its voice, and they can select a new wake word by asking it to change the wake word. The change is device-specific, so users will have to set the new voice on each of their Alexa devices. Amazon had taken a while before it offered a masculine-sounding voice option for its digital assistant. Google and Apple already have multiple voice options for Google Assistant and Siri. Neither of the tech companies associates specific voices with gender anymore. Apple's Siri options are labeled as Voice 1 and Voice 2, while Google Assistant listed the options under colors. Amazon's feminine-sounding option was offered in 2013, the same year that Echo was launched. According to The New York Times, Alexa will respond to questions about gender by replying "I'm an AI" or "I'm not a woman or a man." The company itself still tends to refer to Alexa as "she" or "her" in its documentation. Even though the documentation emphasizes that Alexa is not a person with a body or a gender identity and that Amazon does not let organizations refer to Alexa as "she" or "her." Ziggy is reportedly only available in the United States for now, but it is possible that it will be rolled out to other regions soon. Amazon's Alexa to Branch Out Aside from releasing new voice commands, Amazon has announced that it partnered up with Matter, a cross-platform open-source standard. This will allow better communication between smart devices, according to CNET. Amazon will be upgrading its Echo smart speakers to support Matter, including its Echo Dot, Echo Studio, Echo Plus, Echo Show, and Echo Flex speakers. According to The Verge, the only Echo smart speaker that won't get upgraded to Matter are the first-gen Echo, first-gen Echo Dot, and Echo Tap. The announcement is a part of Amazon's Alexa Live developer event on July 21, where the company stated that they would soon be rolling out tools that make it easy for uses to build Matter certified devices. ...

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07-21-2021 Science&Technology
DuckDuckGo's New Security Feature Stops Ad Companies From Spying on Users' Inbox, Similar to Apple



DuckDuckGo, an internet search engine that protects users' privacy, is set to launch a new email service meant to stop ad companies from spying on your inbox. The company's new feature gives users a "@duck.com" email address for free, and it will forward emails to your regular inbox automatically after it analyzes the contents for trackers. If any trackers are detected, the Email Protection feature will remove them. DuckDuckGo New Email Protection Feature DuckDuckGo Search Engine is known for not tracking users' location. It is not surprising that the company created an email service that aims to protect the privacy of its users. Its email service will also generate disposable forwarding addresses via its mobile browser or desktop browser extensions, The Verge reported. The personal DuckDuckGo email is meant to be given to family, friends, co-workers, or other close contacts. Meanwhile, the disposable forwarding addresses can be used when signing up for newsletters, free trials, or anywhere that may sell your email address. If the email address is compromised and you've been receiving spam emails, you can easily deactivate it and create a new one. The email features are similar to Apple iOS 14 and iOS 15's anti-tracking feature, but DuckDuckGo's tools integrate into Android, iOS, and other web browsers. Pushing for Privacy-Friendly Methods Email privacy is one of the major goals for DuckDuckGo, as the search engine pushes for better and more private methods for different online tasks. The company started with its search engine that keeps the user's activities private and secure. It eventually branched out to mobile browser and desktop browser extensions to remove any tracker while you surf the web. More than 70% of mailing lists have email trackers, according to a 2017 study published by Senglehardt. Once the trackers are implemented, it lets the advertisers know when you open your email, where you are, and which device you are using. Removing the email trackers also removes data points from profiles that ad companies have of you. Consumer research showed that asking people to change to a new email address and provider would be challenging. Instead of having users sign up for a new email address, the Email Protection feature can prevent any trackers from getting in. Apple vs. DuckDuckGo The concept of the DuckDuckGo is not new for iPhone users as it is similar to Apple iOS 14 Anti-Tracking feature. When signing up for an app through an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, your Apple device can suggest a randomized email address. The emails will be sent to a random address, preventing the app from knowing your real email. As for iOS 15 users, Apple is introducing a feature that will remove email trackers and keep your online activities private and secure. ...

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07-21-2021 Science&Technology
Google Pixel phones get a nice charging animation while powered off w/ Android 12



Android 12 is the biggest update visually to the platform that we’ve seen in years, and alongside bigger overhauls like Material You, there are also a bunch of new animations. One new animation that’s not immediately obvious, though, is an updated charging animation when your Pixel phone is powered off. AD If you plug in a Pixel phone that’s powered off, you’ll see a battery indicator pop up followed by the percentage as the phone starts charging. On that percentage, starting with Android 12, you’ll also see a ripple animation. It’s at a low frame rate, but is along the same lines of what’s seen when the phone is turned on. From Beta 1 onward, there have been “wave” animations that show charging status, though when the power is powered on, that wave matches the system’s Material You-powered accent colors. Those colors, unfortunately, don’t make their way to the power-off animation. It’s not entirely clear exactly when this animation first popped up, but the first time we’ve spotted it was in Android 12 Beta 3, and it didn’t appear to be live on a Pixel 5 running on Beta 2. You probably don’t think about things like this when your phone is powered off very often, but it’s a great tweak nonetheless. Instead of just showing a static number, it’s now clear that the phone isn’t charging up. This could be especially useful if you’re using a wireless charger. In any case, though, it’s just a nice touch that polishes off the look and feel of using your phone. You can see the animation in action below.

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07-20-2021 Cars
Tesla Cybertruck and new Roadster star in absolutely insane game trailer



Tesla does not advertise in the traditional sense, but the company’s vehicles sure have no problem inspiring some amazing projects. One of these was recently created for Tesla China and Tencent Games, and it is arguably the coolest game trailer that has ever been made featuring the Cybertruck and the next-generation Roadster. Tesla China attracted a lot of attention this weekend after a two-minute trailer for Game for Peace (the Chinese version of PUBG Mobile) made the rounds online. The clips were remarkable, and they were overflowing with references to Elon Musk’s numerous projects. Needless to say, even the Tesla CEO himself stamped the trailer with his seal of approval on Twitter. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 18, 2021 The trailer, which was made by @NutT4y with INFINI for Tesla China and Tencent Games, opens with a shot of the next-generation Tesla Roadster traveling in space and landing on Mars, where it was joined by the steel Cybertruck. The two all-electric vehicles then time-traveled 15 years into the past, where they were drop-shipped into an intense battleground riddled with deadly droids and other threats. The rest of the trailer was a feast for the eyes, featuring scenes that would not be out of place in a legitimate action flick. One of the most notable was the Cybertruck using its heavy steel body to crush multiple droids at once while it was drifting, as well as the all-electric pickup truck jumping into the air and straight into a wormhole as it made its escape with the next-generation Roadster. It’s all dumb fun, but there’s no denying that the whole two-minute sequence was absolutely cool. Being a company that does not advertise, the public’s perception of Tesla tends to be skewed at times. Thanks to an immense amount of negative media coverage as well as the usual criticism from traditional auto fans, a significant amount of the general public are largely unaware of the safety offered by Tesla’s electric cars or their sheer dominating performance. One of the best ways to address this information gap is to advertise, of course, though this is something that Elon Musk has been quite hesitant to do. Despite this, however, Tesla’s reach is impressive. Very few in social media are likely unaware of Tesla due to Elon Musk’s large following on Twitter. References to Tesla in popular games such as PUBG Mobile (or Game for Peace in China) also help greatly in ensuring that the company’s vehicles are as visible as possible. Watch Game for Peace‘s recent Tesla trailer in the video below.

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