Google Assistant might soon have its own list- and note-taking functions instead of leaning on third-party apps. The 9to5Google team has sifted through the Google search app's code to discover an unannounced "Lists and Notes" web app for Assistant that lets you jot down important information to sync across devices. It's extremely basic (you can't do much more than add titles), but there's a degree of polish that suggests it's not just an experiment. It's not clear if or when Google might put this app into service. Any such move might leave people scratching their head -- if you already use Google Keep or Google Tasks, why switch to this?
It was 2014, around the time when Travis Kalanick referred to Uber as his chick-magnet "Boober" in a GQ article, that I'd realized congestion in San Francisco had gone insane. Before there was Uber, getting across town took about ten minutes by car and there was nowhere to park, ever. With Boober in play, there was parking in places there never were spaces, but the streets were so jammed with empty, one-person "gig economy" cars circling, sitting in bus zones, mowing down bicyclists whilst fussing with their phones, still endlessly going nowhere, alone, that walking across the city was faster. To be fair, you wouldn't know there were 5,700 more vehicles a day on our roads if you'd just moved here. Nor if you were pouring Uber-delivered champagne over yourself in a tub of stock options while complaining about San Francisco's homeless from the comfort of your company-rental Airbnb where artists or Mexican families once lived.
Ever since Tesla hinted at its autonomous future, there's been a "Full Self-Driving Capability" checkbox on the order page for its cars -- spend several grand and your car would one day steer itself. It has yet to materialize, though, and now Tesla has removed the option from its site. You can still order it "off menu" for a week as of Musk's tweet (approximately October 25th) or add it to your existing car for $5,000, but new customers will have to'settle' for Enhanced Autopilot. The option was "causing too much confusion," Elon Musk said. Of course, it doesn't help that Tesla has also been facing lawsuits over the phantom nature of the feature, not to mention advocacy groups claiming the Autopilot name was misleading.
Despite having lived in close proximity to it for hundreds of thousands of years, humanity has yet to explore even a fraction of the Earth's ocean. We have more thoroughly mapped the surfaces of moon and Mars than we have the seafloor. National Geographic and OpenROV hope to change that next year with the Science Exploration Education (SEE) initiative. The organizations are teaming up to give away 1,000 remotely operated underwater drones to any research organization or citizen scientist who wants one (and, obviously, asks while there are still some in stock). "One of the limiting factors for understanding the ocean is the risks, costs, and accessibility issues of experiencing these underwater ecosystems," David Lang, co-founder of OpenROV, said in a statement.
Driving the Audi A8 along the gorgeous Northern California coastline near Big Sur is a joy. But no matter how wonderful the car may be, it had the opportunity to be better. Instead, Audi originally announced that Traffic Jam Pilot, its level-three autonomous feature, was coming to the luxury sedan. Alas, the company had to scrap those plans. The world wasn't ready for a car that drives itself for a short period of time in select situations.
Amazon and SiriumXM have partnered up to bring together streaming radio and the Amazon Echo. Echo owners can enjoy a three-month trial of SiriusXM for free. And anyone who signs up for a new SiriusXM All Access or SiriusXM Premier subscription will get an Echo Dot for free. Current customers who upgrade from SiriusXM Select to Sirius XM All Access will also receive an Echo Dot for free. While SiriusXM satellite radio is popular in cars, this partnership with Amazon will help bring the service into more homes.
One of the new features introduced at last month's Amazon hardware event was the ability to whisper to your Amazon Echo device -- and have Alexa whisper back to you. Amazon confirmed to Engadget that this feature, called "whisper mode," is now rolling out to US users. Whisper mode will likely be most useful around children, whether it's to get the kids in the mindset that it's bedtime and they should be quiet, or to avoid waking a sleeping child. The idea behind this feature is training Alexa to recognize conversational cues. For example, if you were having a conversation with someone and lowered your voice to a whisper, the person would naturally respond in-kind.
The people at Sonos have made it clear that they want their hardware to be compatible with as many different platforms as possible, and they may be adding another one to their list. CNET reports that Sonos and Roku are in discussions to integrate Roku's new entertainment software with Sonos's speakers. This is just a rumor, but it would make sense. Roku introduced its voice-controlled home theater software, Roku Entertainment System, earlier this year. Along with Roku Connect, it's a way for users to operate their home theater systems wirelessly through voice control.
Waymo has officially published guidelines cops and first responders can follow in case an autonomous car is involved in an accident. Without a human driver controlling the wheel, after all, there's nobody to ask license or information from. More importantly, authorities need to know how to safely pry open or deactivate self-driving vehicles if their passengers are unconscious and need help. The Alphabet-owned company submitted the guidelines to the California DMV back in May, and now you can read (PDF) the whole thing online. Waymo opened its instructions with a toll-free, 24-hour hotline number.
More than two weeks after Facebook revealed a massive data breach, we still don't know who was using the flaw in its site to access information on tens of millions of users. Now the Wall Street Journal reports, based on anonymous sources, that the company believes spammers perpetrated the hack in an attempt to make money via deceptive advertising. Facebook eventually said that about 30 million people actually had their login tokens stolen (you can see if your account was among them by checking this page), and said that the attackers took account details and contact information. Still, the paper said "internal researchers" believe the people behind it are existing Facebook and Instagram spammers who claim to run a "digital marketing company." The lines between misinformation spread by nation-state sponsored trolls, shady analytics companies and spammers chasing trendy topics to make a buck have become increasingly blurred in recent years, so it's difficult to know if this adds up or if we'll ever know who exactly stole the information and where it ended up.