USATODAY - Tech Top Stories


Facial recognition scanners are already at some US airports. Here's what to know

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Many airports hope to start using biometric scanners in lieu of passports to identify travelers. Buzz60's Tony Spitz has the details. The next time you go to the airport you might notice something different as part of the security process: A machine scanning your face to verify your identity. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been working with airlines to implement biometric face scanners in domestic airports to better streamline security. But how does the process work?


Hey, Siri, how about some shortcuts to help save me some time. Siri says, 'Sure'

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Who wouldn't like to get more done in less time? That's the idea behind Siri Shortcuts, a popular Apple app for iPhone and iPad, and built into the upcoming iOS 13 operating system, out in beta release now with a full upgrade due this fall soon after new iPhones hit in September. As the name suggests, Siri Shortcuts link the voice-controlled personal assistant you already know with time-saving shortcuts for tasks you want to perform. By simply asking for it – or tapping the screen if you're not in a place to freely use your voice – your iPhone or iPad can quickly heed your request. In other words, Siri Shortcuts – previously known as Workflow – fuses small actions to yield big results.


what-is-alexa-and-what-does-she-do

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You've seen the TV ads for Amazon's Alexa-enabled devices, and you know you can ask her to do, well, just about anything. What really is Alexa, though, and how can she make your life easier? Alexa is Amazon's own smart assistant and can be found on any Alexa-enabled device. This can be a smart speaker, like the Echo Dot, the Echo Plus, or the Echo; or a smart display device, such as the Echo Show or the Echo Spot. There are a handful of other Amazon devices that use Alexa, such as the Amazon Fire Stick.


what-is-apple-homekit-and-how-does-it-work

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For iPhone users who don't want to venture far to control their smart homes, look no further than Apple HomeKit. Like Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant, you can use HomeKit to control and command your favorite HomeKit-compatible smart devices. Apple HomeKit isn't compatible with quite as many devices as the aforementioned digital assistants, but unlike smart home systems such as Samsung SmartThings, it doesn't require a specific hub to configure. All you need to get started is to scope out the compatible hardware--door locks, smart bulbs, and so on--and once these gadgets are synced up, you can walk through the door and ask Siri to turn on the lights! The Apple Home app lets you control connected devices.


Hundreds of Google employees call for company to avoid work with ICE and CBP

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After 9/11, the U.S. enforced stricter control on immigration. This enforcement led to the birth of Homeland Security and ICE, but what is ICE exactly? SAN FRANCISCO – Hundreds of Google employees are calling on the company to pledge it won't work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection or Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A group of employees called Googlers for Human Rights posted a public petition urging the company not to bid on a cloud computing contract for CBP, the federal agency that oversees law enforcement for the country's borders. Bids for the contract were due Aug. 1.


what-does-google-home-do-and-do-you-need-it

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You ever get the feeling no one is actually listening to you? Because if they were listening, you wouldn't have to constantly repeat everything you've said. Well, Google Home is your answer to that frustration. Because Google Home is always listening. No, Google home is more just… there.


'Hey Google' to help you set reminders for everyone in the family

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Not all voice assistants can handle the same requests. We put Siri, Alexa and Google to the test. Gone are the days when you'd write a note on a piece of paper to remind someone to do something. Instead, you now leave reminders on your smart speaker. Google Assistant devices in the U.S., U.K. and Australia will get an upgrade over the next few weeks to allow you to set reminders for other people.


Facebook paying to transcribe users' audio chats, report says

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Facebook Inc. has been paying hundreds of outside contractors to transcribe clips of audio from users of its services, according to people with knowledge of the work. Facebook has reportedly been paying contractors to transcribe the audio chats of users on its various platforms. According to Bloomberg, which cites people with knowledge of the work, contractors were given audio clips with no context of where they were obtained and told to transcribe them. Facebook told Bloomberg the users affected by this agreed to have voice chats transcribed through its Messenger app. "Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago," said Facebook in a statement to USA TODAY.


10-things-that-amazon-echo-can-do-to-help-students

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Alexa can read you the latest headlines, give you the weather forecast, and help you find a recipe to make for dinner, but did you know that your Echo device can also assist your student with homework? If you have an Amazon Echo smart speaker at home, like our favorite Echo device, the Echo (2nd Generation), your student has access to a wealth of brain-sharpening, knowledge-enhancing activities to help tackle homework assignments. While kids probably don't need more time interacting with electronics, Alexa offers a variety of skills that can help students with their homework when parents aren't available. To enable a skill on your Echo device say, "Alexa, enable [exact name of skill]." Or, open the Alexa app, tap the menu button, and select "Skills."


Farmers are using drones to help save an endangered US river

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In this Thursday, July 11, 2019, photograph, United States Department of Agriculture intern Alex Olsen prepares to place down a drone at a research farm northeast of Greeley, Colo. After a brief, snaking flight above the field, the drone landed and the researchers removed a handful of memory cards. Back at their computers, they analyzed the images for signs the corn was stressed from a lack of water. This U.S. Department of Agriculture station outside Greeley and other sites across the Southwest are experimenting with drones, specialized cameras and other technology to squeeze the most out of every drop of water in the Colorado River – a vital but beleaguered waterway that serves an estimated 40 million people. Should they still be able to use it?