Exciting New Upgrades to Apple TV Promise to Revolutionize Television
Sep18

Exciting New Upgrades to Apple TV Promise to Revolutionize Television

Apple is continuing to set the bar for technological innovation, and Steve Jobs would be more than proud of their latest feat. According to Tech Times, Apple CEO Tim Cook made the much-anticipated announcement on Sept. 9, which confirmed the belief that company was taking a major leap into the television industry. The upgraded Apple TV will be “centered around apps,” implementing the user-friendly interface that the tech giant has become known for. In basic terms, the new Apple TV turns your television into a giant iOS device. The company revealed that they would be introducing a new operating system for the Apple TV called “tvOS,” which runs on the same fundamental code as iOS, making it easy for developers to create apps specifically for the device. Consumers are excited for two particular add-ons involved in the upgrade: Siri integration and a touchscreen remote. By integrating the Apple TV with Siri, the encyclopedic voice command system introduced in 2010, users are able to have full control over their viewing experience. If you missed an important scene of a movie, simply tell Siri to “rewind one minute,” and the job is done for you. If people are excited about the Siri integration, they are ecstatic over the promise of a touchscreen remote. Studies show that one of the most heavily desired changes in remote controls is a touchscreen. About 47 to 59% of consumers agree that programmable remote controls with a touchscreen would improve their entertainment experience. The touchscreen will be located at the top of the Apple remote, and will enable you to navigate your Apple TV as if it is in the palm of your hand. The sensors will determine what you’re trying to point to based on the location of your finger on the touch-pad. According to Engadget, the remote will be connected via Bluetooth 4.0, and will include standard buttons for volume and channel control in addition to the touch-pad. It also features an accelerometer and gyroscope for motion control features. The upgraded versions of the Apple TV launch sometime in October, with the introductory price for a 64GB device at $199. Developers already have access to the tvOS beta, so there should be all kinds of incredible apps by the time it’s...

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Shift Technologies Raises $50 Million to Make Buying Used Cars Online Less Sketchy
Sep08

Shift Technologies Raises $50 Million to Make Buying Used Cars Online Less Sketchy

Unlike renting an apartment or booking a taxi, buying a car online isn’t always easy to do. While almost 94% of individuals globally research their car online, only 33% of these individuals are willing to buy their car on the internet. And it’s no wonder — there are quite a few things that can go wrong. From acts of fraud and buying a stolen or bunk vehicle to vehicle transportation, the hassle of buying a car online just doesn’t seem worth it to many consumers. But now, Shift Technologies, the online used car marketplace, is trying to change that. The San Francisco-based company recently raised $50 million hopes of making buying and selling used cars as easy and accessible as ordering takeout. According to Forbes, Shift Technologies’ premise is simple: using data and algorithms, Shift provides potential buyers with the lowest price possible. The site keeps the cars available online for 60 days maximum (most cars take 30 days to sell). If the car isn’t sold in that period of time, Shift Technologies will cut their losses and seek alternatives such as auctions in order to properly service the customer. Like other competitors such as Vroom and Beepi, Shift repossess the car before sale, and stores them in a warehouse to be shipped after sale. However, Shift sets itself apart from the competition by offering test drives, and it allows potential customers to do these test drives “on-demand.” With the money raised, Shift also plans to open more locations across the country, making the transactions more widespread and convenient, as well as getting a leg up on their competitors. “We’re trying to disrupt the Craigslist experience,” said George Arison, cofounder and CEO in an interview with Forbes. “These purchases already happen, but we want to bring in trust and give you confidence when you’re buying.” Will Shift Technologies shift the current consumer perception of online used car buying and selling? Only time will...

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Electric Sky Fences Attempt To Mark No-Drone Zones
Sep04

Electric Sky Fences Attempt To Mark No-Drone Zones

While some people opt for a privacy fence to keep their animals inside the perimeter of their property, others utilize an electric fence to mark the acceptable zones for dog activity. Now, according to a recent Bloomberg report, a similar technology will be used to mark acceptable drone fly zones. Using a global-positioning system, these geo-fencing systems are an attempt to keep drones away from planes, forbidden locations, and crime traffic areas. Geo-fencing is already facing some obstacles, since the technology can be overridden; it also doesn’t work properly on older, cheaper models of drones. The campaigns to spread education about the technology don’t seem to matter when laws of the sky are getting more and more difficult to define. Jim Williams, former chief of the Federal Aviation Administration’s unmanned aircraft division, doesn’t see an easy solution. “As long as there’s YouTube and everybody’s competing for the coolest video, there’s going to be drones out there,” he said. “My confidence isn’t high that this will go away.” While geo-fencing is the best bet to establish protected and forbidden drone zones, it still has yet to be regulated, which could take years. With increasing numbers of drone-related incidents, and more than 1,000 expected just this year alone, it’s important to establish spaces that are absolutely forbidden for all drones and unmanned aircraft. Otherwise, there could be resulting passenger aircraft collisions. More than 20 investigations of drone misuse have been opened, with five of them receiving major penalties. John Robbins, assistant professor and coordinator of the Unmanned Aerial Systems program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, said “It’s hard. You can kind of look at it as the wild west of aviation right now.”   No new updates on when geo-fencing will begin the process of official regulation and...

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The Internet Can’t Decide Whether It Loves or Hates Google’s New Logo
Sep03

The Internet Can’t Decide Whether It Loves or Hates Google’s New Logo

Google rolled out its new logo on September 1, marking an end to the long reign of the serif font. The rest of the internet, of course, can’t decide how it feels about the sudden change. Many news outlets have praised the change, which appeared in a Google Doodle on the main page. The animation showed a small hand erasing the logo and drawing it again in a piece of chalk yet still keeping the same colorful letters the company is known for. Slate, for instance, said that the new logo was “perfect” for the company, which owns about 65 to 70% of the search engine market share worldwide. Slate writer Derreck Johnson called the logo “a little more fun, bold, and, most importantly, ‘now.'” Gizmodo blogger Alyssa Walker quipped that the “serifs had it coming,” and she explained just how lousy the serifs were as Google’s logo evolved. Although Google has been able get rid of the puffy text and beveled edges of the old days, Walker said that designers were stuck once they gave the company logo a more flat appearance. The old designs also didn’t scale well, Walker said, naming the “half-g” in the Google Plus logo as a prime example of Google’s logo problems. Therefore, she said, going sans serif made sense, especially as more websites optimize their text for smaller screens. Vox writer Phil Edwards agreed that this was a good move for the company, which is also known for apps such as Google Maps and Gmail, among seemingly countless others. Edwards pointed out some of the very bad logo prototypes designed by Google founder Sergey Brin, who used open source photo-editing program GIMP to design them. Early logos also included a clip-art turkey as an early Thanksgiving Google Doodle and a stick figure in the logo’s background meant to represent the Burning Man festival. But not everyone is pleased with the Google logo’s transformation. The San Diego Union-Tribune rounded up some tweets about the change. While some were nice, others weren’t so welcoming of the new logo. “Congrats to whoever created the new Google logo in Word on their lunch break,” read one critic. “Their old logo was goofy. This new one is simply garbage. Just right for a company with no taste,” said another one. Margaret Rhodes of Wired, however, expressed different concerns about the logo: namely, that the company is trying hard to look “friendly.” In fact, that’s how Google self-described the logo: “simple, friendly, and approachable.” But Rhodes explained that the world’s largest search engine actually knows more about us than we may know about ourselves, and that’s exactly what a corporation like Google wants us to forget....

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Are Smartphones Shrinking People’s Memories?
Aug24

Are Smartphones Shrinking People’s Memories?

In the United States, about 90% of adults own a mobile phone, 64% of which are smartphones, according to the Pew Research Center. Across the world, there are about five billion mobile phone users. In other words, mobile technology has taken over the world — but that may not be as great as you might think. An “overwhelming” majority of consumers — 90% — “use the Internet as an extension of their brain,” says a new study from Kaspersky Lab. Researchers surveyed 1,000 Americans between the ages of 16 and 55, and found that nearly half (44%) of the participants admitted that their smartphone “serves as their memory.” According to the study, 70% of participants could recall their significant other’s phone numbers, 56% could remember their siblings’ numbers, 48.6% remembered a friend’s phone number, 45.4% could remember the phone number of where they work, 34% could recall one of their kids’ numbers, and just 30% knew their neighbors’ numbers. “Digital amnesia,” as researchers dubbed it, was prevalent across all age groups, and amongst men and women equally. However, 16- to 24-year-olds were the most likely to say their devices were the “only place” they keep essential information. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the Internet is making people dumber. First of all, the study does not examine the long-term effects of using the Internet to remember things. Second of all, using the Internet as an external memory might actually help clear the brain of clutter, allowing people to concentrate easier and remember more important things. Then again, almost one-third (28.9%) of those surveyed “would forget an online fact as soon as they had used it.” In other words, they’d look something up, and immediately forget the answer. That’s not necessarily bad, considering that Albert Einstein, a guy most would consider to be kind of smart, did once advise people to “Never memorize something that you can look...

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Emailing Outside of Work Is Bad For You, New Study Says
Aug24

Emailing Outside of Work Is Bad For You, New Study Says

Email is an integral part of the business world nowadays. It’s a key way to engage consumers,and build real relationships with them, which can have a huge payoff. Research shows that building loyalty with 5% more customers could lead to an increased average profit per customer of 25-100%. Plus, it lets employees to quickly and effectively communicate with each other, allowing them to get more things done in less time. However, a new study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that email comes with a cost. Researchers from Germany asked more than 100 people to complete a daily survey over the course of eight days; half of the subjects were expected to be available for work, while the other half weren’t. While researchers surveyed all participants, they asked half to provide saliva samples so that they could measure their cortisol levels, the hormone released in response to stressful situations. The study found that those who were supposed to be available had elevated cortisol levels, and reported being more stressed. What’s interesting is that even if it was only through email, those who were expected to be available were still more stressed. Additionally, those who worked evenings and weekends were more likely to complain of headaches, insomnia, and anxiety. Is email really that big of a deal? After all, isn’t it easy to just respond to whatever was sent, and get on with the day? A study from last June says otherwise. “We looked at the tone of the email and the time it took you to respond to the email,” said Marcus Butts, a professor at the University of Texas, Arlington, who co-wrote a study focusing on email’s emotional effect when received during non-work hours. “When it comes to emails that are negative in tone, it makes you angry. Being angry takes a lot of focus and our resources and it keeps us from being engaged with other things.” In other words, one email can wreck a person’s mood for the whole night, even if it’s not that bad. If you can, you’d be wise to leave work at work. It’ll make your personal life...

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