The "smart display" wars are taking off, which means it's time for consumers to ask themselves that modern existential question: Do I need another screen? That's what I was wondering while sitting in the bedroom of a Google employee, whose chic San Francisco home was being used as the backdrop for demos of the company's new Home Hub device. Major tech companies, one after the other, have launched voice-controlled touchscreen gadgets that are meant to live on your kitchen counter, nightstand or living room table. And Google Homes product manager Ashton Udall was showcasing what this particular one does when you wake up and say, "Okay, Google. At this prompt, Google's virtual assistant voiced a greeting, announced the time and weather, then provided an assessment of how bad the commute would be that day. Meanwhile, the bedroom shade -- one of the 10,000 or so smart devices that can sync with the Home Hub -- automatically rolled up. When the assistant is done going through reminders or previewing events on the Google Calendar, it might launch a news reel. This one had been programmed to segue into classical music instead. "In the morning, you're stumbling out of bed, you're getting the cobwebs out of your head," Udall said. "I don't have to go into my phone … You can start just listening." Smart displays, though their capabilities vary, are not replacements for handheld devices. They're meant to be shared. The Home Hub is in many ways a smart speaker with a 7-in. Yet supplanting those handheld devices is a value proposition that Google employees emphasized when I asked why people need this, as if the smart display would function as a Plexiglass partition between me and my smartphone -- servicing many of my basic needs and desires without exposing me to distracting, endless notifications. "The way we designed this is it's there.
A dancing robot gave a whole new meaning to "doing the robot" when it executed a flawless performance of the running man to the dulcet tones of "Uptown Funk". On Tuesday, Boston Dynamics debuted a YouTube video of their SpotMini, a four-legged robot that they'll be selling next year as their first commercial product, dancing the Running Man to a peppy cover of "Uptown Funk." While there's no one specific job that the robot is made for, according to The Verge, Boston Dynamics founder Marc Raibert has said that its skills are versatile and it can be relied on for tasks like inspection duties, research, and security. And while the bot seems like it'll be able to work hard, as this clip shows that the SpotMini will have no problem being able to play hard too.
Donald Daters, a new dating app for Trump supporters, has leaked users' personal information on the day of its launch. The app, which markets itself as an "American-based singles community connecting lovers, friends, and Trump supporters alike," had more than 1,600 users when it launched on Monday, according to security researcher Elliot Alderson, who was reportedly able to download the entire user database. Alderson shared his findings in a tweet, stating that the data he managed to gain access to included users' names, profile pictures, device types, private messages and access tokens that can be used to log into their accounts. You should not use this app. The Donald Daters app was founded by Emily Moreno--a former aide to Sen. Marco Rubio--who confirmed the leak on Tuesday.
Personal computers, conservation, pro football, rock n' roll and rocket ships: Paul G. Allen couldn't have asked for a better way to spend, invest and donate the billions he reaped from co-founding Microsoft with childhood friend Bill Gates. Allen used the fortune he made from Microsoft -- whose Windows operating system is found on most of the world's desktop computers -- to invest in other ambitions, from tackling climate change and advancing brain research to finding innovative solutions to solve some of the world's biggest challenges. "If it has the potential to do good, then we should do it," Gates quoted his friend as saying. Allen died Monday in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, according to his company Vulcan Inc. Just two weeks ago, Allen, who owned the NFL's Seattle Seahawks and the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers, had announced that the same cancer he had in 2009 had returned.
At Tuesday's Google event, the company unveiled the extensively leaked Pixel 3 and 3 XL smartphones, in addition to both a new ChromeOS tablet, the Pixel Slate, and a new smart home assistant in the form of Google Home Hub. While Google's made smartphones and tablets in the past, the Home Hub is the first Google Assistant-powered device from the company that incorporates its "smart display" functionality, providing users with a touchscreen that lets users interact with their home in addition to using voice control. It's also one of the few smart home hubs with a display that's missing an integrated camera. Depending on who you ask, it's either a flaw or a feature. At first glance, the $149 Home Hub looks oddly traditional.
Like his ancestors, 65-year-old Clayton Long spent his childhood immersed in Navajo culture, greeting fellow clan members with old, breathful Navajo words like "Yá'át'ééh." Then he was sent to an English-only boarding school where his native language, also known as Diné, was banned. "I went into a silent resistance," Long says from his home in Blanding, Utah. He vowed that he would help to preserve it after he left, work he has done for about three decades as a teacher. Long is one of the educators working with language-learning startup Duolingo on the company's latest endeavor: using its popular app to revive threatened languages.
Ireland's data regulator has launched an investigation of Facebook over a recent data breach that allowed hackers access to 50 million accounts. The probe could potentially cost Facebook more than $1.6 billion in fines. The Irish Data Protection Commission said Wednesday that it will look into whether the U.S. social media company complied with European regulations that went into effect earlier this year covering data protection. It's the latest headache for Facebook in Europe, where authorities are turning up the heat on dominant tech firms over data protection. Last month, European Union consumer protection chief Vera Jourova said that she was growing impatient with Facebook for being too slow in clarifying the fine print in its terms of service covering what happens to user data and warned that the company could face sanctions.
Amazon unveiled its vision for smart homes powered by the Alexa voice assistant, with a dizzying array of new gadgets and features for almost every room in the house -- from a microwave oven to a security camera and wall clock. The Seattle internet giant is pushing Alexa more deeply into customers' lives, hoping to popularize technology that has yet to go mainstream and connecting people more to Amazon's universe of things to buy. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos sees voice as the next interface linking people and machines, like a mouse on personal computers and touchscreens on smartphones. The $50 hockey puck-shaped Dot is one of Amazon's best-selling devices, and with 70 percent better sound it's going after audiophiles on Sonos Inc.'s turf. Amazon also introduced a subwoofer to go along with existing Echo products as well as a pair of amplifiers that work like audio control centers for the home.
This year that game is undeniably Fortnite Battle Royale, an online free-for-all that every teen in America suddenly seems to be playing. It's not just kids, though–everyone from rapper Drake to Los Angeles Laker Josh Hart is a fan. That groundswell of support has propelled Fortnite from a simple video game into a cultural sensation, with hundreds of millions of fans worldwide who play the game, wear the gear and even learn the characters' victory dances. "Fortnite is another in a long line of games like World of Warcraft or Guitar Hero or Minecraft that is changing everything underfoot," says Mat Piscatella, a video-game industry analyst with research firm NPD Group. Fortnite's big draw is a madcap multiplayer mode that drops up to 100 players on an island in a last-person-standing showdown.
More than a dozen human rights groups have sent a letter to Google urging the company not to offer censored internet search in China, amid reports it is planning to again begin offering the service in the giant Asian market. The joint letter dated Tuesday calls on CEO Sundar Pichai to explain what Google is doing to safeguard users from the Chinese government's censorship and surveillance. It describes the censored search engine app, codenamed "Dragonfly", as representing "an alarming capitulation by Google on human rights. "The Chinese government extensively violates the rights to freedom of expression and privacy; by accommodating the Chinese authorities' repression of dissent, Google would be actively participating in those violations for millions of internet users in China," said the letter That follows a letter earlier this month signed by more than a thousand Google employees protesting the company's secretive plan to build a search engine that would comply with Chinese censorship. The letter called on executives to review ethics and transparency at the company.