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Mar 31, 2016 - 11:22 AM - by dgstorm
Even though Apple was the big tech firm in the spotlight recently for holding their ground against the FBI's overreach on encryption, Google has also been in the crosshairs of the Department of Justice (DOJ) over the same issue. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released an interactive map online which shows a multitude of cases brought against Apple and Google with similar investigative requests. Here's the link to the map: ACLU.org.
Apple has the bulk of these 63 cases shown in the map (with 52 total), but Google has nine pending cases in which the FBI is using the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify their demands. For some time, these requests (dating back as far as 2008) have been fairly routine, and Apple and Google complied when it appeared that the requests were valid and didn't overstep their bounds.
It wasn't until the FBI took things too far by trying to back Apple in to a corner with the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone hack, that the company refused to assist. Again, to reiterate the points made previously in earlier stories, Apple (and Google) didn't have a problem helping the FBI with these investigations. The problem was that the DOJ's request with the San Bernardino case was a legal overreach of authority, so Apple had to draw the line somewhere.
In theThe Wall Street Journal, Google denied ever receiving similar demands; however, they made it clear they would also “strongly object to such an order.” They added, “We carefully scrutinize subpoenas and court orders to make sure they meet both the letter and spirit of the law.” It's possible they may have to make such an objection in the future. The ACLU is currently investigation around a dozen similar cases from the FBI, and plan to update the interactive map in the future to keep citizens informed.
Mar 31, 2016 - 10:21 AM - by dgstorm
For folks curious about the process of how Google created the new and more human sounding voice for Google Now, the above video is worth a gander. It's actually quite fascinating to see the complexities of human voice communication, and the video does a good job of breaking some of it down.
The gist of it is that, the basic units of sound which make up every word are culled into a huge library of phonemes, phones, and diphones. Scientists have studied thousands of spoken dialogue from voice actors to help nail down the way these different sounds are created naturally from word to word. This helps them create a voice synthesis engine which doesn't need to be a series of recordings, but can be simulated in real-time.
This is basically just the way real people do it with the organic tools given to us by nature. Of course, there's still a ways to go before it can be perfected. Although Google has truly improved upon the voice characteristics found in their synthesis engine, they are still working on perfecting the prosody and intonation.
The video makes some of these terms more clear, so it's definitely worth a watch when you have the time.
Mar 28, 2016 - 4:10 PM - by dgstorm
Check out this smokin' deal alert! The HTC-made Google Nexus 9 32GB Android tablet is on sale for a paltry $299.99! That's roughly $180 off of its normal retail price.
Here's a recap of specs for this beastly Android tab:
Android 5.0 Lollipop; 8.9-Inch IPS LCD TFT Display; QXGA (2048x1536)
NVIDIA Tegra K1 2.3 GHz Processor
32 GB Flash Memory, 2 GB RAM Memory
1.6MP Front Camera; 8MP Rear Camera
Here's that link to grab yours today: http://www.amazon.com/Google-Nexus-T...ck%2C+Wi-Fi%29
Mar 25, 2016 - 1:59 PM - by wicked
If you're in the market for an unlocked phone then I have some good news for you. Right now you can grab a 64GB Moto x Pure Edition for just $399. That's $100 off from the regular price of $499.
- Carrier freedom: Moto x Pure Edition is Unlocked and works on all Major Networks.
- 5.7" Quad HD display + stereo sound: immerse yourself in entertainment with a vivid, edge-to-edge display that's enhanced by rich stereo sound.
- 21 MP Camera: take crystal-clear pictures and get great results in any light.
- Turbo power charging: get the world's fastest charging with Turbo power technology for up to 10 hours of use in just 15 minutes of charging.
- All-day battery: power through the day without stopping to recharge.
Head over to Best Buy eBay listinh to grab one: Motorola Moto x Pure 4G with 64GB Memory Cell Phone Unlocked Black | eBay
Mar 25, 2016 - 1:48 PM - by wicked
The Oculus Rift, the much awaited VR headset has started to ship according to their CEO Brendan Iribe's tweet. While this is certainly good news for early adopters who were able to pre-order the headset earlier this year. For those who missed out on the pre-orders, you'll have to wait until July when it’s expected to go on sale. As a quick recap, the Oculus Rift had gone on pre-order at $599 each back in early January, after facing multiple delays and postponements along the way.
The Oculus Rift is the 2nd most expensive VR headset after the HTC Vive, which went on pre-order last month priced at $799. The PlayStation VR from Sony, which recently went on pre-order, is by far the least expensive of the lot with a price of just $399 for the core bundle and $499 for the enhanced launch bundle that includes 2 motion controllers and other assorted accessories.
So any of you pre-order an Oculus Rift? Or any of you planning on getting one once it goes on sale in July?
Mar 25, 2016 - 1:38 PM - by wicked
The latest rumor has the OnePlus 3 being officially introduced on April 7 during a OnePlus event in Beijing, China. According to AnTuTu benchmark site, we have an idea of what to expect from the phone in the way of specs.
The OnePlus 3 - model number A3000 will feature 5.5" screen with a 1080 x 1920 FHD resolution. Under the hood will be a Snapdragon 820 chipset and the Adreno 530 GPU. 4GB of RAM along with 32GB of native storage. A 16MP back camera and an 8MP in the front. OxygenOS, based on Android 6.0.1, is pre-installed.
Mar 23, 2016 - 4:02 PM - by dgstorm
It looks like our friends across the pond will finally get to try out Android Pay. Google recently announced that Android Pay will come to the UK in "the next few months." Google shared a list of financial institutions which will support Visa and MasterCard on Android Pay: Bank of Scotland, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, M&S Bank, MBNA, and Nationwide Building Society.
Londoners will actually be able to use Android Pay at launch with the city's Tube network, and more financial institutions will come on board in the future term.
Source: Official Android Blog: Tap. Pay. UK.
Mar 23, 2016 - 10:18 AM - by dgstorm
Those crazy Google engineers are up to their shenanigans again. This time, they kicked off the April Fools fun 8 days early, by trolling developers. They launched a new “Space Reviews” section in their developer console.
The premise is that this Space Reviews section will share reviews from outer space of futuristic Nexus devices. The example in the joke is called the Nexus Space (aka Nexus 16), and is a smart-device with 12GB of RAM, a 7.21-inch display, and uses an odd 3000 x 2000 resolution with 500DPI.
What's even more bizarre is that this Nexus Space from the future is still using Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The review was posted 13 years into the future, so the author hasn't upgraded to Android Z for some reason. Maybe that's why the April Fools Joke is 8 days early... the Google engineers from the future were not able to sync up their space-time coordinate sensors properly.
Mar 22, 2016 - 11:43 AM - by dgstorm
The hot Samsung rumor for today is that the Galaxy Note 6 will be coming early this year. Supposedly Sammy will release the Note 6 as soon as July. The rumor includes another juicy tidbit. Not only will the phone be coming early, but it will be the first Samsung device to include Android N from the factory.
What do you folks think? Is this a legitimate possibility, or just wishful thinking?
Here's our dedicated Samsung Galaxy Note 6 section for further discussion: Samsung Galaxy Note 6
Mar 21, 2016 - 4:10 PM - by dgstorm
It looks like the age old war between Apple and Samsung will finally be going the distance. You folks remember that "ancient history" right? Way back in 2011, Apple sued Samsung for a large number of patent infringements. Some of the accusations were probably legit, but quite a few were really silly (like suing for having rounded edges). The case dragged out over many years and dominated headlines for 2012 and 2013.
After a while it became just as exhausting to cover the story, as it was for our members to constantly read about it. It basically became the must-ignore story of the century, even after Apple "won" a landmark $1 Billion settlement. Samsung appealed several times, and eventually got the settlement reduced down to $548 million.
Apparently, that reduction still wasn't enough to satisfy Samsung's sense of justice. Samsung is appealing to the highest court in the United States, the Federal Supreme Court. They felt that the award of total profits from the sale of their products would basically be unjust. Samsung is seeking to pair back $399 Million of that final award agreement, claiming that the iPhone's bezel and colorful grid of icons, as well as the rounded-corner front face, only contributed marginally to a complex device.
Here's a quote with more of the specifics,
"Last May, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington upheld the 2012 patent infringement verdict. The court, however, said the iPhone's appearance could not be protected through trademarks, forcing another trial later this month in federal court in San Jose, California, to recalculate some of the damages Apple is owed.
The Supreme Court has not reviewed a design patent case in more than 120 years, when the products involved included a spoon handle and a rug.
In court papers, Samsung said that for complex, modern products such as smartphones, design patents have led to "unjustified windfalls," far beyond the inventive value of the patents.
On Monday, the high court said it would answer whether courts should award in damages the total profits from a product that infringes on a design patent if the patent applies only to a component of the product." ~ Reuters
Technically, Samsung already paid the $548 Million settlement to Apple. Samsung's court filing specified that it expects to be reimbursed by Apple if it wins this final, final appeal. It looks like this farce might be finally coming to a close. At least some meaningful legal precedents might be set from the whole debacle. One way or another, sometime this year, we will finally get to breathe a sigh of relief as this ends. What do you folks think?
Mar 21, 2016 - 11:10 AM - by dgstorm
Mar 17, 2016 - 4:20 PM - by dgstorm
Here's an interesting industry shift to share today. Apparently, Apple wants to diversify their cloud data storage services, and move away from a reliance on Amazon. They have apparently cancelled their contract with Amazon for cloud data services, and signed a new one with the arch-rival Google.
This is a significant industry shift for Google (6% of the market) as their cloud services are consistently in third place behind Microsoft (with 17% of the market), and Amazon (with 57% of the market). Industry speculation suggests that Google probably gave Apple a deal that was too good to pass up in order to secure them as a customer. Despite the probable discount, analysts suspect that the deal will still be worth between $400 and $600 million for the year.
Despite Google being a third place player in the market, their Cloud-computing services will be a primary focus from now on. In fact, Google believes that by 2020, their cloud based services will actually generate more revenue than their advertising.
There's a bit more to the story though. It's probable that Google may quickly lose their new customer in the not-to-distant future. According to further industry intel, Apple could eventually move away from Google as a cloud-services partner as well. Apple has been actively working on developing their own cloud data network. Apple recently announced they are opening three data centers soon, in an effort to reduce their operating costs and to reduce their reliance on competitors' services. This will likely lead to a build-out of Apple's own cloud-computing and data platform.
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