PS4’s next update finally lets you squelch notifications during movies

Most of the tweaks are solidly quality-of-life improvements, though some are better late than never: You’ll finally be able to switch off notifications when watching a movie or TV show, for example. And there’s good news for everyone who hates navigating through the menu to see notifications (which is, well, everyone): They’re now visible in the Quick Menu.

PS4’s next update finally lets you squelch notifications during movies

Sony’s post confirms what Eurogamer originally leaked: A more robust family management system allowing for multiple adult users and different permissions for child accounts (letting teens play more mature games than younger kids, for example). The friend list is getting updated, too, ditching the Favorite Groups tab to let users create completely custom sets of friends.

Yes, PS4 Pro owners will get too livestream in 1080p60 on Twitch, but Sony has added other streaming functionality. You can bind broadcasts to communities you own, giving spectators a button that links right to your group. Users now get messages while they’re broadcasting in VR mode, too.

Speaking of VR, those watching Blu-Rays or DVDs in cinematic mode get 5.1ch and 7.1ch virtual surround sound when listening on headphones. If you like listening to music on your PS4, you can now share straight to your friends; If they’re also on Sony’s console, they can pop open the song you sent them in the Quick Menu and listen from there. If they open the message on the PlayStation mobile app, clicking on your message opens the track in Spotify.

Finally, the update brings new languages, and the consoles now support Czech, Greek, Hungarian, Indonesian, Romanian, Thai and Vietnamese.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/08/17/ps4-s-next-update-squelch-notifications-family-mode/

Fitbit’s overdue smartwatch probably won’t win any design awards

Fitbit’s overdue smartwatch probably won’t win any design awards

It’s got three color combinations: silver case/navy strap, rose gold case/blue strap and a dark case (the specific color isn’t clear), also with a blue strap. It’s got three buttons, like the Blaze, and a heart rate sensor. While Fitbit has declined to comment on watch specifics to Wareable, the site reports that it will include GPS and be waterproof to 50 meters. The name of the watch still isn’t clear.

Fitbit’s overdue smartwatch probably won’t win any design awards

This project has been much discussed (and much delayed). Sure, it’s worth taking the time to get the product right, rather than launching a watch that’s buggy and doesn’t have everything it should (reports indicated that Fitbit was having trouble with the device’s waterproofing, a feature that is critical to ensuring it can compete with the Apple Watch). But this design doesn’t exactly inspire awe, considering how much chatter there’s been around it. Still, let’s hope that it’s packed with features that make this a win for the wearables company.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/08/10/fitbit-smartwatch-leaked-photos/

Snapchat video of alleged sexual assault leads to quick arrest

A man in Ohio is being held on a $1 million bond today after being charged with an alleged rape that was recorded and uploaded onto Snapchat by his victim. There aren’t a lot of details about the situation as of now, but reports say that police were called to a residence for a welfare check early Tuesday morning. Everything seemed to be alright at the time. However, later in the morning, people as far away as Texas who had viewed the victim’s Snapchat video began notifying the police that a sexual assault may have occurred at the residence, and the video was forwarded to the authorities. Based on the video content, which a detective involved with the arrest said were very “clear,” the man, 77-year-old James D. Allen, was arrested.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/08/09/snapchat-alleged-sexual-assault-arrest/

Video reviews are already proving their worth in MLS

FC Dallas became part of history as the first MLS team to have a goal ruled out by VAR. Dallas striker Maxi Urruti thought he had pulled a goal back when his side was 3-0 down to Philadelphia Union, but had it chalked off when a video review showed a foul on the Union goalkeeper.


.@FCDallas goal ruled out after Video Review. #PHIvDAL https://t.co/ZYQ2ziu3yV

— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 6, 2017

That wasn’t the only VAR decision this weekend. When the Portland Timbers met LA Galaxy on Sunday, goals came early. After just ten minutes, tied at 1-1, LA’s Gyasi Zardes scored what appeared to be a messy but legitimate goal. A handful of Portland players, however, believed LA Galaxy had benefited from an unfair advantage. Footage of the goal was beamed to a pitch-side display, which revealed that Zardes had controlled the ball with his hand before bundling it into the net.


After the Video Review, the #LAGalaxy goal has been disallowed. It’s 1-1 in Portland. #PORvLA https://t.co/6wQRBLjZU9

— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 6, 2017

The event was described as a “key moment” in the match, but both coaches agreed it was a fair decision: “It was the correct reasoning, but it’s a goal that we should have just headed in,” said LA head coach Sigi Schmid. “In that moment, going down 2-1 vs. staying at 1-1, that was a key moment in the match,” added Timbers manager Caleb Porter.

While both decisions were ultimately correct, VAR will likely stir up controversy. The video and official match referee are still the ultimate decision makers and must identify potential issues using the same tools that players, coaches and fans have access to.

Right now, the system can only be used to decide goal/no-goal decisions, penalty/no penalty decisions, direct red cards (not second yellow cards) and cases of mistaken identity. Despite its limitations, leagues and teams all over the world will be watching with a keen interest.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/08/08/video-reviews-mls/

Michelin’s 3D-printed tire is as stunning as it is futuristic

The Vision made its US debut last week, but it’s not a prototype of a wheel that will hit production lines anytime soon. Instead, this is a demonstration of the features that will eventually trickle down into mass-market tires of the future.

Importantly, the Vision is both a wheel and airless tire in one. That means there is no need for inflation or rims; the entire mechanical structure is sturdy enough to support the vehicle but still flexible enough to absorb impact and pressure. Vision attaches to the vehicle via a hub connection.

Without air, the tire is no longer susceptible to nuisances (or even safety hazards) like low pressure, deflation or blowouts. Some of Michelin’s existing tires, such as those designed for low-speed offroad vehicles like golf carts and construction equipment, already use similar airless structures, Gettys said.

Michelin’s 3D-printed tire is as stunning as it is futuristic

The tire itself is made of rubber compounds derived from organic, recyclable materials. The resin, for instance, is made from orange zest instead of petroleum. Michelin’s executive vice president of global R&D Terry Gettys also cited molasses as another natural material that can be used to create synthetic elastomers. Other examples of alternative ingredients include hay, paper and metal. These concepts are possibly a decade away from becoming mainstream and in the meantime, they can’t completely replace traditional materials in tire manufacturing. Instead, the components will be progressively introduced, Gettys said.

In addition to being made from biodegradable materials, the Vision is easily retreadable and can collect diagnostic information for the driver via onboard sensors. It’s also stunning in a futuristic sort of way.

“The look of our concept Vision is intended to be attractive,” Gettys said. “We consider it as beautiful as the nature from which it’s been inspired.”

Michelin’s 3D-printed tire is as stunning as it is futuristic

I didn’t see the tire in action, but according to Gettys, the Vision also has a reloadable tread band that can also be 3D printed. In Michelin’s concept for the future, you can go to a gas or weigh station to pick a new tread pattern and material and get it printed directly onto your tires. If you need a different style because you’re going to a new driving environment (snow or sand, for instance), you could even get recommendations for patterns and components based on your destination.

Future tires can also carry sensors like they do today to collect data like air pressure and distance traveled and send it to drivers or fleet managers for easier diagnostics.

Michelin’s 3D-printed tire is as stunning as it is futuristic

Although we won’t actually see the Vision tire hit the roads in the near future, it’s a promising demonstration of Michelin’s plans. Gettys said these features should start trickling out over the next five to ten years, and some may take even longer, but from what we’ve seen so far, the benefits could be worth the wait.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/08/07/michelin-vision-biodegradable-3d-print-airless-tire/

Scientists figure out how to create affordable smart windows

They prepared some small pieces of material for their experiments, adding color to them by mixing in micron-sized dye particles.

MIT describes the group’s process as follows:

In initial experiments, the researchers shone a light through the polymer structure infused with dye particles and characterized the amount of light transmitted through the material, without any deformation. They then stretched the polymer perpendicular to the direction of light and measured both the thickness of the polymer and the light coming through.

They compared their measurements with predictions from their equation, which they devised using the Beer-Lambert Law, a classical optics theory that describes the way light travels through a material with given properties. The team combined this theory with their experimental analysis, and derived a simple equation to predict the amount of light transmitted through a mechanically deformed PDMS structure.

López Jiménez says in the future, manufacturers can create smart windows much more affordable than see-through screens being developed by some companies today. That’s possible by putting layers of the polymer on top of each other. Any manufacturer can find out how much pressure to apply on windows to turn them transparent by using the group’s equation. He expects the smart windows to ultimately lower heating and air conditioning bills since a house’s or building’s residents can control how much sunlight to let in.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2016/01/23/mit-scientists-polymer-smart-windows/

Newton email app keeps things tidy with a Priority Inbox-like tool

Newton email app keeps things tidy with a Priority Inbox-like tool

The aim of Tidy Inbox is similar to Priority Inbox: It weeds out less important items such as newsletters and social media updates; the idea is to make sure you focus on your most important emails first. And it works with any email account, from Gmail to your custom domain. But what sets this feature apart from Gmail, according to product manager Umesh Gopinath, is that it’s specifically not smart. It doesn’t try to automatically determine what emails you want to and don’t want to see, leaving you at risk of missing important emails. You tell Tidy Inbox what categories (social media emails, for example) should skip the inbox and show up in the Low Priority folder.

If you haven’t heard of Newton, we took the app on a test drive last year. Our Deputy Managing Editor was impressed by just about everything — the interface, the efficiency and the email management experience were all stellar. The price point, though, is what gave him pause: a $50 per year fee. It’s got a lot of features, from Undo Send to Send Later to snoozing emails, but it’s hard to justify that hefty price tag. Still, if you’re a current Newton user, or interested in trying it out, the addition of this feature is likely welcome news.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/08/03/newton-email-app-priority-inbox/

What we’re using: The Razer Blade and switching back to Windows

Aside from a few months with the “lamp” iMac and a brief affair with Linux, I grew up exclusively using Windows. That changed in 2011, when I traded my aging Sony Z1 laptop for a MacBook Pro. After just a year with macOS, I became the type of person who uses a MacBook, iPad and iPhone, and never really considered anything else. And so I watched last fall’s MacBook Pro announcement with great interest.

I was hoping to upgrade from my mid-2015 15-inch Pro, which, even when I bought it, was a little long in the tooth. But what Apple offered up was far from what I wanted. The Touch Bar seemed, and still seems, less convenient than function keys for someone used to keyboard shortcuts; the dearth of ports bothered me a little too, but it was the marginal CPU and GPU improvements that really stung, and the sharp like-for-like price increases only compounded my decision: It was time to look beyond Apple, and back to Microsoft, for my next laptop.

This might sound strange if you’ve never been immersed in Apple’s hardware ecosystem, but buying a new Windows machine can be a little scary. There is so much choice, so many different factors to consider. Even among Microsoft’s hardware options, you find vastly different takes on what a PC even is. I began asking myself what I actually wanted from a laptop; I’d spent so long letting Apple dictate a narrow set of options, I wasn’t really sure.

So I made a little checklist for what I needed. I travel a fair amount, so portability is quite important: I didn’t want anything heavier than my 4.5-pound MacBook. Battery life isn’t a huge concern for me — I only need enough juice to get me from outlet to outlet, and perhaps see me through the occasional live blog. In terms of ports, USB, USB-C, HDMI and an SD slot would be ideal. Performance is by far the most important factor for me: I have Photoshop running near-permanently, I like training neural networks to do stupid things and I also use InDesign, Premiere and Illustrator very regularly.

Then there’s gaming. The switch to Windows would grant me access to a giant library of games — should gaming performance be a consideration too?

I looked at tons of machines, but none of them were really a good fit. The front-runners were the Surface Book, which is immaculate but too small, and Dell’s XPS 15, which is super-portable but not quite powerful enough for my needs. It soon became clear that, at least in terms of performance, a gaming laptop was perfect for someone switching from a “Pro” Apple system to Windows.

I’ve got a strange affection for ASUS’ ROG lineup, but the models I like tend to weigh the same as me, and so I found myself looking at Razer’s laptops. I guess it makes sense: The Blade Stealth, Blade and Blade Pro essentially seem like ultra-powerful, matte black versions of the MacBook Air, the 15-inch Macbook Pro and the old 17-inch MacBook Pro. Sure, they’re a little gaudier — especially with the illuminated green snake logo and Chroma keyboard — but I was reassured that you can turn off all of the lights, should you wish.

After reading through countless reviews, I settled on a Razer. More specifically, a Razer Blade. It had almost everything I was looking for. The model I picked had an i7-6700HQ processor, a 6GB Nvidia GTX 1060, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. The screen — a 14-inch 3,200 x 1,800 panel — was a little smaller than I wanted, and it doesn’t have an SD reader, but the next option up in Razer’s range is the Blade Pro, which, despite being impressively thin, wasn’t quite portable enough, thanks to its 17-inch display.

It’s now been six months since I picked up the Blade, and I’m happy. But it took me nearly all of that time to get there.

Life with Windows

What we're using: The Razer Blade and switching back to Windows

Switching over from macOS to Windows was simple enough. Almost all the apps that I use daily — Chrome, Creative Suite, Slack and Steam — offer the same or a better experience in Windows vs. macOS. But there are some I still miss on a daily basis. For the past few years, I’ve used Tweetbot for my personal Twitter and Notational Velocity to both write and take notes. If there’s a Windows app equal to Tweetbot, I’ve yet to find it, and I’ve tried using Simplenote (the note-taking service that Notational syncs with) for writing, but it lacks the streamlined interface and keyboard shortcuts of the app I’m used to.

Perhaps the hardest thing to come to grips with on the software side is Windows itself. It’s almost back to Windows 7 in terms of simplicity, but I still struggled for weeks with basic navigation. On macOS, I launch everything through Finder, and using the Start Menu for the same thing proved tricky. Running apps by pressing the Start key and typing works fine, but the rest of Finder’s functionality is sorely lacking in Microsoft’s implementation.

The main issues are that file searching through the Start Menu is very hit-and-miss, and that Windows 10 ignores your browser and search preferences, opening them in Edge and Bing, respectively. The former, as best I can tell, is because Windows’ file system isn’t journaled like macOS’s, while the latter seems like a desperate and user-hostile way of fighting Google’s dominance in those markets.

After a while struggling — and even installing third-party apps to divert Start Menu searches back to Google and Chrome — a friend recommended I try Wox, which is essentially a Finder/Alfred clone for Windows. It loads apps just as well as the Start Menu, opens web links and searches according to your preferences and also taps into the Everything disk-journaling app for near-instant file searches.

My remaining issue is one of troubleshooting. I can customize macOS with my eyes closed through System Preferences or Terminal, and diagnosing and fixing problems also comes naturally. In Windows, tweaking simple things often becomes a game of cat-and-mouse as I search through the inexplicably distinct Control Panel and Settings menus. This isn’t really a knock against Windows; it’s more that I’m still getting attuned to the way Microsoft has organized things.

Life with the Blade

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/07/31/gadgets-apps-irl-july-2017/

Jazz star Esperanza Spalding to record an album on Facebook Live

You buy a blank CD. Then over 3 days, I’ll fill it with beautiful, spontaneously created music. #EXPOSURE #FACEBOOKLIVE #SEP12 pic.twitter.com/zz7H24z0xR

— Esperanza Spalding (@EspeSpalding) July 26, 2017

Spalding knows a lot of people would see the stream as a gimmick, a stunt to promote the album aptly titled “Exposure.” But by being as transparent as she can and recording in front of a live audience, she’s not giving her brain a chance to second guess itself. She expects the resulting tracks to be more honest and closer to their sources of inspiration. In addition, she’s not giving her label a chance to ask her to change a track or bring in a guest to boost sales.

She wrote in a statement:

“I foresee that creating before a live audience will add excitement and extra inspiration energy. Knowing someone is watching and listening to what you’re making seems to conjure up a sort of “can’t fail” energy. The necessity to keep going because it’s live draws up another depth of creative facility that can’t be reached when you know you can try again tomorrow.

Having such limited time to write and record 10 songs will also force us to rely on improvisation and first instinct. Not allowing us time to judge, second guess, question, or alter the initial hits of inspiration that drive the creation of each song.

That means that the audience will get a record of the most potent, charged, fresh-from-the ethers-compositional, musical and lyrical content. Of course they will be formed into songs, but they’ll carry the charge of the immediate, of the innately inspired artists co-creating in the room throughout the 3 day process.”

The jazz artist’s 77-hour livestream will kick off on September 12th, 12PM Eastern. She still needs a few more weeks after the recording session to mix and master her album, though, and expects to release 7,777 physical copies (it won’t be sold digitally) by mid-fall.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/07/27/jazz-star-esperanza-spalding-record-album-facebook-live/

Google AI could keep baby food safe

Kewpie goes out of its way to stress that it’s supplementing human workers, not replacing them. The TensorFlow system handles the initial removal, but there are still people waiting to inspect the potatoes afterward. Think of this as a booster that helps Kewpie process food faster without compromising quality.

Google AI could keep baby food safe

The tech is currently limited to Kewpie’s baby food, but the company expects to spread it to other foodstuffs before long. Also, it’s not hogging the technology to itself. It wants to offer the AI-assisted inspections to other companies, so the industry at large might see a benefit. There’s no guarantee that other companies will keep all their human staff (we could see others using this as a chance to cut jobs), but it could set a higher quality baseline.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/07/25/google-ai-helps-make-safer-baby-food/