LG’s recently announced flagship phone, the G6, has a glass front and back — not a design you would associate with durability. However, the company claims the phone is extremely sturdy, and is now backing up that claim with a new ad. 

In the video, several LG G6 devices are being pushed around by a Rube Goldberg machine — you know, the unnecessarily complex contraption that produces a domino effect. And (obviously, since this is an ad) it passes the test with flying colors. 

The two-and-a-half minute video shows the G6 plunged underwater, thrown from a height of 3.3 feet and pushed through an oven. It’s all pretty tame — don’t expect to see anything really nasty happening to the phone — but it’s a nice way to kill a few minutes. 

The G6 is LG’s first globally available water-resistant flagship phone, with a water and dust resistance rating of a respectable IP68. The screen’s curved corners, LG claims, make it less prone to cracking in case of a fall, and the phone has generally (again, LG claims) undergone some serious durability testing that exceeds industry standards. 

LG said April 6 that the G6 will become available globally in the “next several weeks,” but there’s no precise date yet. 

Samsung only just showed off its sleek new Galaxy S8 last week —and the phone won’t even get to the public until it starts shipping on April 21—but that hasn’t stopped Samsung’s fanatics from focusing on the company’s next move.

That’s in no small part due to exactly what it is we’re expecting from Samsung: the followup to the most infamous smartphone of all time: the explosive Galaxy Note 7 (which was persona phone grataduring the S8 announcement).

Now, we might actually be getting an early look at its successor. A new image was posted to Slashleaks, claiming to be some version of the Galaxy Note 8.

The photo was shared without any other product specs or context, casting some doubt on its legitimacy. 

Let’s just come right out and say it: This doesn’t look much different than the S8. 

The S Pen lined up next to the phone gives it some Note vibes, sure, but without getting a good look at the bottom of the device to check if there’s a slot for the Pen, there’s no way to know if it’s actually a Note prototype, or just an S8+ posing with the Note’s key peripheral.  

The phone pictured does appear to conform to what’s described in earlier leaked specs, though—but again, we can’t see much from just this front-facing pic. And about those predictions? They call for a Note 8 with a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display, making it just a bit bigger than the 6.2-inch S8+, along with a Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 9000-series processor, 6GB of RAM, and up to 256GB of built-in storage.

Oh, and Samsung’s already calling the Note 8 “great” internally, if only to harness the power of positive thinking. 

We have no way of knowing how legit this image is until the Note 8 is revealed, which we’re expecting should be before the end of 2017. This pic might not be the real deal—but it’s only the first. There’s sure to be more where this one came from as Samsung rises up from the ashes of the Note 7.  

There are a zillion apps to help you find friends with benefits, but what if what you really want is just regular, old-fashioned new friends?

Me3 is a new app that’s launching today that’s designed to help you meet new people who share your interests, goals, and personality traits — also known as potential pals. It was created by Julian Ilson, along with cofounder Emanuel Petre, after he noticed that making friends after college was both difficult and time-consuming.

Indeed, finding new people to hang out with can be one of the hardest things about adult life. Once you’re out of the immediate social circle that school offers, it can be a challenge to forge new connections — especially when you’re always busy working. And often your posse starts to shrink as your friends move to different cities or start settling down with families.

This leads to a real sense of loneliness, and that can actually impacts your health over the long term. It’s a challenge that others have tried to address with apps. Most notably, dating app Bumble, which launched Bumble BFF for friend finding, and Tinder, which has Tinder Social. There are others too, like Hey! VINA, which is just for women, and old standbys like Meetup too. 

But Me3 is taking a unique approach, which is also designed to combat the inevitable slide into dating app territory that many social apps eventually undergo. It works by matching you with people of the same gender in groups of three, called Tribes. You can then chat with your tribe and can see each other’s shared interests, traits, and goals.

Why three? Well, as Ilson told us, “Two is a date. Three is a party.” A one-on-one meetup can be awkward, but with three, he says, “the expectation to contribute to the conversation is less, so you’re more relaxed and you can be yourself.”

The best news is that there’s no swiping around through endless options, dismissing people for random reasons. Your profile is private (you fill it in by answering a series of game-like questions), and you’re matched into tribes using an algorithm that relies on more than 150 factors that encompass things like personality, lifestyle, and beliefs. 

You can leave a tribe at any time for any reason, and for now you can basically join as many as you’d like. Over time, the algorithm will use machine learning to optimize itself into making better and better matches.The app is free, and available for iOS and Android. They’re launching initially in New York City, but will expand as soon as they reach sign-up thresholds of 500 users in other areas.

Solving the age-old problem of loneliness is a big ask from any app, but at the very least Me3 can give you the option of saying “table for three” instead of “table for one” — or worse, another night alone on the couch with takeout.

Some of us still find comfort in having a map stowed in the car before we head off to a new destination — but few would question the significant impact that smartphone technology has had on our lives.

Apps have become a common go-to for fast, reliable information as well as for maintaining contact with people and entertainment.

Over the course of the past few years, they’ve been making their way into our cars at full throttle with many manufacturers now offering two options within their infotainment systems — Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.

Most infotainment systems will include only one option, which is why it’s important to discuss your mobile device requirements before you buy a car. However, some vehicles do offer both, which makes them compatible with most phones, allowing you to enhance your driving experience.

How it works
Rather than running its own interface, the infotainment system enters a different mode, providing a display based on the apps installed on your phone.

Not all apps will be available, but those supporting Android Auto or Apple CarPlay will be displayed.

This kind of connection needs to be made using a USB data cable that’s connected to your smartphone. Some Android phones may also require a simultaneous Bluetooth connection.

The brains behind the navigation
The prevalence of smartphones and the popularity of using them for navigation purposes has led to some manufacturers retreating from decking their latest models with built-in GPS.

Instead they rely on the smartphone’s data connection to use Apple or Google Maps, which are automatically updated on a regular basis to ensure information is kept up-to-date.

Either way, by using your phone’s mapping application instead of your vehicle’s navigation software, you can avoid waiting for potentially costly updates.

Another benefit of using your phone’s navigation is its voice-recognition functionality. As well as searching by street address or location, you can use less specific search terms. For example, “find the nearest gas station” or “where’s the nearest Italian restaurant?”

Your phone may even read out the restaurant’s review, before setting it as a destination.

For safety reasons, the touchscreen interfaces of many navigation devices are restricted while a vehicle is moving. Having a voice activated system allows addresses to be entered safely while both hands can remain on the steering wheel.

Music to your ears
The great thing about being able to connect your phone with your car is the array of music applications you have access to such as iheartradio, Spotify and Pandora.

Say goodbye to the stash of CDs clogging up the glove box, as you can now find that perfect road trip playlist instantly and stream it through your device.

If you have signed up to the premium versions of these music apps, you can usually download your favourite albums and playlists before you head off on a journey, so you can listen to them without a 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi connection and you can still listen to music you’ve downloaded to your phone via iTunes or the Google store without using up your data allowance.

Things to come
Last month, Jaguar and Shell announced they were introducing an app in the UK that works in conjunction with the navigation system of their vehicles.

Not only does the app guide motorists to their nearest fuel station, it also allows the driver to pay from the cabin using PayPal or Apple Pay.

If you’re a lone parent with children in the back seat, it removes any need to leave them unattended, even for a moment. You won’t even need to have your wallet on you.

This technology is a taste of things to come for Kiwi Jaguar owners, as it’ll be available in New Zealand — albeit at selected service stations — from next year.

All these additional benefits do usually come at an extra cost and, if you don’t have a big data plan, be careful as running navigation apps will churn through your mobile data.

We’ve seen plenty of renders and concept images of what the next-gen iPhone might look like, and we’ll see plenty more before it’s actually launched this fall.

But this new render comes from the workshop of Martin Hajek, who has been guessing future iPhone designs for quite some time now and with a fair degree of accuracy. Also, instead of being overly (and unrealistically) futuristic, Hajek’s imagined “iPhone X” is actually a throwback to the original iPhone, with a similar black-and-silver back design, and it looks great.

The render, created by Hajek for Computer Bild, shows a design that’s surprisingly tame on the front. Yes, it’s nearly all glass, but the edges are only slightly curved, and the top is reserved for the conventional bezel where the sensors and the selfie camera are placed.

On the back, it’s basically a bigger 2007 iPhone that — in the case of the iPhone 8 Plus — also has a dual camera.

Other subtle details separate the concept from current designs; for example, the buttons on the sides are touch surfaces instead of actual physical buttons, and there are no visible antenna lines. And while we wouldn’t bet Apple will go all retro with the next iPhone design (even though this year does mark the original iPhone’s 10th birthday), this render might actually be the most realistic we’ve seen so far.

It’s bad when a security researcher finds a critical security flaw in your software. But when he finds about 40—all of them critical? Well, then you might consider rewriting the entire thing from scratch. 

That’s exactly what’s happening to none other than Samsung and its Tizen operating system, which the company uses on a number of its devices, including phones, smartwatches, and smart TVs. 

Israeli security researcher Amihai Neiderman laid out the numerous, previously unknown security flaws in Tizen in a report detailed at Kaspersky’s Security Analyst Summit at St. Marteen Monday. Neiderman claims all of the holes he found are critical and would allow hackers to control a Samsung device remotely. 

Some, however, are worse than others. A particularly nasty flaw would let an attacker take over the TizenStore app — an app store for Tizen — and hijack it to inject malicious software into a Tizen device. Since this particular app can access and change any part of the system, a malicious hacker exploiting the flaw would have absolute and total control over your Tizen device. 

Neiderman, who started looking into Tizen’s security after purchasing a Samsung smart TV last year, calls the Tizen code the “worst” he has “ever seen.”

“Everything you can do wrong there, they do it. You can see that nobody with any understanding of security looked at this code or wrote it. It’s like taking an undergraduate and letting him program your software,” he told Motherboard.

Neiderman claims he contacted Samsung about the security flaws months ago, but received nothing besides an automated response. However, Samsung did tell Motherboard that it’s now working with Neiderman to “mitigate any potential vulnerabilities.”

According to Samsung, the open-source Tizen powered 50 million Samsung devices as of Nov. 2016. These include Samsung’s Gear S3 smartwatch; they also include the company’s lineup of smart TVs, which recently came into focus after a WikiLeaks leak of CIA’s hacking tools unearthed an exploit that enables the agency to eavesdrop on someone through a Samsung smart TV. 

Samsung has big plans for Tizen; the company likely won’t launch flagship phones based on the OS any time soon, but it does plan to use it on many future Internet-of-Things devices. If this report is accurate, however, it might put a big dent in those plans. 

YouTube’s new app for India’s flaky internet market is finally here. 

A beta version of YouTube Go app, first unveiled last year, has gone liveon Google Play, the company says.

Google plans to release a stable version of the app later and also intends to make it available in other developing markets. 

Unveiled at Google for India event last September, YouTube Go has been designed to work on slow and flaky internet connections

The app offers a range of features to give users more control over how they want to consume videos. Users can save videos for offline viewing, for instance, and also select the video resolution in accordance with their internet availability.

Additionally, users can also share videos between them using Wi-Fi Direct capability, a feature that the flagship YouTube app doesn’t offer. These features could come in handy for Indians.

Image: Manish Singh/Mashable India

Even as an increasingly growing number of Indian people are coming online, the quality of internet remains poor for most. According to a report by Akamai, only about 30 percent of Indians have a connection that is faster than 4Mbps. 

Google originally planned to make YouTube Go available in India late last year, but the company says it took additional time to perform extensive tests. 

“Some things we’ve learned in the run-up to this beta release include making the home screen fresher and more relevant for users, so they can find amazing videos easily,” Jay Akkad, Product Manager, YouTube wrote in a blog post.

“We’ve also worked hard behind the scenes to make sharing videos with nearby friends an even more seamless experience, and ensuring that the app works well across a wide range of phones and connectivity.”

The way humans explore Mars could be about to take a giant leap forward with the invention of special flying drones to explore harder to reach parts of the red planet. NASA says the devices could help identify sites for human habitation.

Engineers from NASA’s Langley Research Center are developing a drone that can fly in the thin Martian atmosphere. The autonomous aircraft will team up with ground-based rovers to give researchers far greater flexibility in exploring currently inaccessible features, such as lava tubes and deep canyons.

As well as exploring hard to reach places, Langley engineers say the drones will scout the surface of Mars looking for suitable areas to build human habitats.

The “Mars Electric Flyer” project focuses on lightweight structures powered by electric motors. These machines will have vertical takeoff and landing flight control, as well as autonomous navigation.

The electric-powered drones will be equipped with cutting edge motor and battery technologies so they can carry out long-range missions without human intervention. The machines will also be equipped with advanced mapping and remote sensor systems.

The plan is to send the aircraft to Mars on board one of NASA’s rovers. A concept video released by Langley shows the rover using a robotic arm to release the drone on the surface of the planet. The drone then takes off to explore caves and canyons before returning to the rover for post-mission recharging.

The autonomous aircraft, still in the prototype stage, is designed for the thin atmospheric conditions on Mars and is currently undergoing low-pressure chamber flight tests at Langley.


Monday, 03 April 2017 00:00

DNA-testing chip for smartphones

Scientists in Sweden have created a simple, 3D-printed microscope, which when attached to a smartphone can be used to analyze DNA.

The 3D-printed microscope attachment uses 2 LED lights and a special lens that magnify the image so researchers can view individual cells.

This allows them to analyze DNA chains and detect variants, telling them what form of cancer, bacteria or virus is involved.

It runs on the smartphone’s internal battery, meaning it’s not reliant on any external power source. The attachment can be manufactured for less than 500 dollars.

This kind of mobile DNA sequencing is a departure from big, expensive and complicated machines commonly used in labs. This raises the prospect of carrying out the same kind of analysis in remote areas or places where the technology is too costly.

Qatar Airways has announced a unique solution to the recently imposed Electronics Ban by offering passengers a laptop loan service that takes their award-winning five-star reputation to new heights. Showing true commitment to travelers affected by the ban the Doha-based airline has taken the notable step to purchase laptops available for loan on all of their US flights; meaning uninterrupted productivity and service throughout their journey.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said; “As an award-winning and global airline we truly appreciate the importance of being able to work on board our aircraft and that is why I have insisted on offering only the best possible solution for our customers. By providing this laptop loan service we can ensure that our passengers on flights to the US can continue to work whilst on-board. This unique ability to offer ‘business as usual’, above and beyond the competition, is yet another example of Qatar Airways justification for being the ‘World’s Best Business Class’.”

Whilst other airlines have relied on their existing on board offering to comfort passengers we have not rested until we could offer a true solution to our passengers. Our constant innovation and ability to react to changes in the industry is something I am very proud of. The launch of Qsuite, our new business class product just this month, and other announcements soon to come, are testament to our ongoing passion for providing the absolute best for our customers.”

The complimentary laptops will be available to Business Class passengers traveling on all US-bound flights from next week and can be collected after boarding. Customers will be able to download their work on to a USB before stepping on board to pick up where they left-off. Qatar Airways is offering a special service at the gate for all passengers, whereby any electronic items prohibited by the new ban will be collected and securely packaged. These will be tagged, loaded as check-in baggage and returned safely to the customer on arrival to the US.

Once on board passengers have a choice of over 3,000 entertainment options on the award-winning in-flight entertainment system, dedicated kids activity packs in partnership with Hasbro, luxury amenity kits, a seasonal menu and snack bar, are able to browse the on board magazines and newspapers, enjoy the lie-flat beds in Business Class and utilize the complimentary Wi-Fi on all flights.

In another move to guarantee the comfort and productivity of all passengers on board US-bound flights Qatar Airways is providing one hour of free Wi-Fi for all passengers and a special Wi-Fi package of US$5 to stay connected for the duration of the whole flight. When most people’s smart phones will be the only device they can take on-board this generous offer will ensure passengers can stay connected and stay entertained.

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