TIME


Microsoft Wants to Take on Google by Making its Search Engine Smarter

TIME

Google may be the household name when it comes to search, but Microsoft is hoping it can make its Bing search engine the smartest. The Redmond, Wash.-based company has announced a handful of new features that it says are powered by artificial intelligence. The updates will start rolling out on Wednesday and will continue over the coming week. The biggest changes enable Bing to be smarter about the information it chooses to display above search results in response to a query. The search engine will now be able to pull information from multiple sources, rather than just one.


Getting a Drone for the Holidays? You'll Have to Register It With the FAA

TIME

Be sure to also wrap up some extra rotors, a spare battery or two, and get drone registration through the Federal Aviation Association (FAA), because the drone registration requirements that were declared dead earlier this year were just revived by the Trump administration. A relative footnote in the National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law today, the new regulation requires that drone owners register their unmanned aerial vehicles before taking to the skies. You can register you new drone on the FAA's drone Unmanned Aircraft System website. But for longtime drone pilots, this requirement is nothing new. In December 2015, regulators began requiring drone registration, and the program took off, with 300,000 drone owners signing up within the first month.


I Finally Found the Droids I Was Looking For -- But Are They Right For My Kids?

TIME

Every Christmas in the '80s, I wanted the same thing as many other pint-sized Star Wars fans: a robot sidekick to call my own. And not just any old droid would do: It had to be an R2-D2, specifically one that could drop its third leg down and cruise around the world at my side. Growing up in the Death Star era, our entire generation thought it had "The Force." But eventually we realized that moving objects with our thoughts and duping people with Jedi mind tricks were all in our imaginations. But droids--they were real, or at least they could be, one day.


'Destiny 2' Is Adding An Interesting Perk for Amazon Echo Users

TIME

Voice assistants like Amazon's Alexa have always invited comparisons to robotic companions and artificially intelligent helpers from science fiction. Perhaps then it comes as no surprise that video game makers are seeing an opportunity in Alexa -- specifically when it comes to Destiny 2. Bungie and Activision are releasing a new Alexa skill Wednesday that makes it possible for players to speak with their Ghost companion verbally through an Echo device. In Destiny, the Ghost is an AI companion that assists a player's character in part by providing useful information and helping them find items. As such, the Ghost Skill is designed to help players with specific tasks, like figuring out what to do next in the game, managing inventory, learning more about the world, and connecting with friends. Players could, for example, say something like, "Alexa, ask Ghost to call for backup," or "Alexa, ask Ghost to equip my most powerful weapon."


Uber Faces Federal Probe for Corporate Espionage

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Federal prosecutors are investigating allegations that Uber deployed an espionage team to plunder trade secrets from its rivals. The revelation triggered a delay in a high-profile trial over whether the beleaguered ride-hailing service stole self-driving car technology from a Google spinoff. The probe under way at the U.S. Justice Department centers on a 37-page letter that described allegations made by Richard Jacobs, Uber's former manager of global intelligence. Jacobs had the letter sent in May to an Uber lawyer. The letter contended that Jacobs had been wrongfully demoted and then fired for trying to stop the company's alleged misconduct.


Facebook to Use Artificial Intelligence to Help Prevent Suicides

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Facebook is turning to artificial intelligence to detect if someone might be contemplating suicide. Facebook already has mechanisms for flagging posts from people thinking about harming themselves.The new feature is intended to detect such posts before anyone reports them. The service will scan posts and live video with a technique called "pattern recognition." For example, comments from friends such as "are you ok?" can indicate suicidal thoughts. Facebook has already been testing the feature in the U.S. and is making it available in most other countries.


12 iPhone X Tips and Tricks You Need to Know

TIME

Apple's decision to remove the home button means there can be an unexpected learning curve when using the iPhone X for the first time. Many tasks that used to be executed by tapping or holding the home button, like launching Siri or closing apps, have now been assigned new gestures. Here's a quick overview of the most important iPhone X tips and tricks, from taking a screenshot to force restarting the phone. To take a screenshot on the iPhone X, press and release the side button and the volume up button at the same time. When using an app, swipe up from the bottom of the display to return to the home screen.


The Top 10 Gadgets of 2017

TIME

Technology companies like Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and more are constantly finding new ways to improve their cutting-edge products, whether it's with stunning new hardware designs, useful software improvements, or by coming up with entirely new products we didn't even know we wanted. When it comes to new gadgets and gizmos, 2017 was the year of several big changes. First and foremost, it was the year of the voice-activated assistant, with devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home invading homes everywhere. It was also the year that smartphone designers figured out how to pack a massive screen in a device that's still easy to hold, as seen in the iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy S8. And it was the year that consoles like the Nintendo Switch meant gaming on the go no longer meant making big sacrifices in terms of game quality.


Why Self-Driving Cars Might Not Lead to a Huge Drop In Fuel Consumption

TIME

Automated cars–once a far-off dream–have in recent years left the realm of science fiction and leapt closer to the American garage. Leading U.S. automakers say that bona fide self-driving cars are coming within two decades and they're fighting to stay competitive, from Ford's $1 billion investment in an artificial-intelligence company earlier this year to Uber's 2016 purchase of self-driving truck company Otto. These advances promise relief to drivers sick of two-hour commutes and bumper-to-bumper traffic, but they leave open questions for a society shaped for the past century around the automobile. Perhaps no area is more quantifiably uncertain than the environmental impact of automated vehicles. One report from the Department of Energy found that automated vehicles could reduce fuel consumption for passenger cars by as much as 90%, or increase it by more than 200%.


The 25 Best Inventions of 2017

TIME

Personal robots, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, have come a long way in recent years. But fundamentally, they're still stationary speakers whose defining expression is a light that turns on when you speak. It's not just that he--and I use the term he here, because that's how Jibo refers to himself--looks like something straight out of a Pixar movie, with a big, round head and a face that uses animated icons to convey emotion. It's not just that his body swivels and swerves while he speaks, as if he's talking with his nonexistent hands. It's not just that he can giggle and dance and turn to face you, wherever you are, as soon as you say, "Hey, Jibo."