Gadgets



India lifts ban on TikTok

An Indian state court moved to lift a nationwide ban on the popular short-form video app TikTok. A nearly week-long ban in India on the app is now reversed, lawyers involved in the case told Reuters on Wednesday. Google and Apple removed the app from its stores in India last week after a high court in Tamil Nadu called for its removal, saying it was exposing children to sexual predators and pornography. The ban in India was a major setback for TikTok, due to India being its largest user base w

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Mark Zuckerberg debuts his own 'Tech and Society' podcast

Yes, you read that correctly. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg has launched his own podcast, Tech & Society with Mark Zuckerberg, that has the company founder siting down with luminaries to chat about (what else?) the social impact of technology. There aren't more details about the length of the series or just where you'll find it (we've only found it on Spotify so far). However, it won't surprise you to hear what the focus is -- it's issues relevant to Facebook. The first two episodes

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Microsoft knows password-expiration policies are useless

Microsoft admitted today that password-expiration policies are a pointless security measure. Such requirements are "an ancient and obsolete mitigation of very low value," the company wrote in a blog post on draft security baseline settings for Windows 10 v1903 and Windows Server v1903. Microsoft isn't doing away with its password-expiration policies across the board, but the blog post makes the company's stance clear: expiring passwords does little good. As the blog post explains, if a p

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Amazon tries hiring lawyers for sellers claiming patent infringement

Amazon has been battling counterfeits for years. It's tried charging merchants large fees, creating a registry of approved vendors and launching a self-service tool for removing knockoffs. Now, according to The Information, the company is testing a program to help fight utility patent infringements. It's meant to be a cheaper, faster alternative to traditional patent lawsuits, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and take years to settle. For $4,000, the program will match a s

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Facebook's AI missed Christchurch shooting videos filmed in first-person

In the 24 hours after the Christchurch shooting, Facebook removed 1.5 million videos worldwide, but more than a month later, footage was still circulating on the platform. Now, the company says its AI had a hard time detecting the footage because of the way in which it was filmed. "This was a first-person shooter video, one where we have someone using a GoPro helmet with a camera focused from their perspective of shooting," Neil Potts, Facebook's public policy director, told British lawm

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'Overwatch' Workshop adds more custom options for heroes and modes

Overwatch fans have long been able to set up custom games (Ana Paintball, anyone?) and now they're getting a lot more options to flex their creative muscles. A new feature called Workshop, a scripting mode for custom games, is live on the PTR. You'll be able to set up games with new rules and win conditions, or adjust characters' abilities and movements. Perhaps most excitingly, game director Jeff Kaplan said in a developer update video that "You could even prototype your own Overwatch h

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Microsoft's cloud business can't be stopped

At this point, Microsoft's quarterly earnings reports sound like a broken record: Its cloud business is practically unstoppable, while its PC and productivity make steady gains. That's been the case for years, and this past third quarter was no different: Its intelligent cloud jumped 22 percent reaching $9.2 billion, mostly due to Azure's whopping 73 percent revenue growth. The Personal Computing side of things rose 8 percent to reach $10.7 billion, which includes a 21 percent increase in Surfa

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Nintendo's lower-cost Switch might arrive in late June

That rumored lower-cost Switch might show up sooner than you think. Bloomberg sources maintain that Nintendo's more affordable console will "likely" arrive by the end of June, or not long after the big E3 expo in the middle of the month. Don't expect a supercharged version for enthusiasts, though. The current model would get a "modest upgrade" in 2019, according to the purported insiders, but a brawnier model apparently isn't in the cards. The company hasn't said anything about the ru

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Amazon Alexa auditors could reportedly access user locations

It emerged earlier this month that thousands of Amazon employees are reviewing some Alexa recordings (which are captured after you've said the wake word). The auditors transcribe, annotate and analyze a selection of commands to help improve Alexa. But it seems these workers could view users' personal information too, according to Bloomberg. At least some employees are said to have had access to location data, addresses and phone numbers. There's no indication any workers have tried to lo

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Implant turns brain signals into synthesized speech

People with neurological conditions who lose the ability to speak can still send the brain signals used for speech (such as the lips, jaw and larynx), and UCSF researchers might just use that knowledge to bring voices back. They've crafted a brain machine interface that can turn those brain signals into mostly recognizable speech. Instead of trying to read thoughts, the machine learning technology picks up on individual nerve commands and translates those to a virtual vocal tract that approxima

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Google makes it easier to find work-from-home jobs

While truck drivers can't operate their rigs from a home office just yet, telecommuting is an increasingly attractive option to many people for a host of reasons (wearing pajamas all day, for one thing). But having to slog through job postings to find ones that embrace remote work can be an exasperating experience. So, Google is aiming to make the working-from-home employment hunt more palatable by refining its job search options. When you're looking for a specific type of work, say "cus

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Bumble will use AI to detect unwanted nudes

Artificial intelligence will soon weed out any NSFW photos a match sends to you on Bumble. The dating app that requires women to make the first contact said it is launching a "private detector" to warn users about lewd images. Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd and Andrey Andreev, CEO of the dating app parent company that includes Bumble, Badoo, Chappy and Lumen, made the announcement Wednesday in a press release. Beginning in June, all images sent on Bumble and the other apps will be screene

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Slack is adding email conversations and calendar integrations

In case you don't already count on Slack for just about every part of your work day, the business communications service is adding a whole bunch of new features that will keep you chatting with your co-workers without having to open new tabs and applications. The company is introducing shared channels, email and calendar integrations and an improved search feature that makes it easier to find just about anything. The expanded search function is perhaps the most exciting addition. If you'

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Academy says streamed films are still in the Oscars race

Hollywood's biggest prize will still be open to streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted on Tuesday night to not change rules on Oscar eligibility. Any feature-length film on a streaming platform can be eligible for an Academy Award, as long as it also screens in a theater in Los Angeles for at least seven days. "We support the theatrical experience as integral to the art of motion pictures, and this weighed heavily in our discuss

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How Oppo fit a 10x zoom camera into its 5G phone

Oppo may have already teased its first 5G smartphone in Zurich earlier this month, but today, the company is bringing its entire Reno family -- including the mid-range Reno and the flagship Reno 10x Zoom -- to Europe. This means the Chinese brand will be going head to head with Huawei using its very own 10x hybrid zoom camera outside of its home territory. With the $1,000 Reno 5G leading the party ahead of its May launch, the Reno 10x Zoom follows with a €799 (about $890) base price due in

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Samsung's strange, gigantic Galaxy View is ready for round two

You probably weren't looking for a sequel to Samsung's lap-crushing Galaxy View tablet, but you're getting one anyway. AT&T has teased the release of the Galaxy View 2, another take on the Android tablet and mobile TV hybrid. It's not quite as colossal as its predecessor with a 17.3-inch 1080p display, and implements a clever built-in cover that doubles as a kickstand. Still, this could easily be awkward to use in tablet mode -- it's really more of a vehicle for DirecTV Now and other AT&am

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San Francisco could be the first US city to ban facial recognition tech

The Chinese government has drawn widespread condemnation in recent months over its extensive use of public surveillance and facial recognition technology to monitor the movements of some 12 million Muslim citizens. "It's a 'Muslim tracker' funded by Chinese authorities in the province of Xinjiang to keep track of Uyghur Muslims," Victor Gevers, co-founder of GDI Foundation, a non-profit open-internet advocacy group, wrote on Twitter in February. Facial recognition tracking has received its fair

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What’s coming to Netflix in May: 'Wine Country' and Zac Efron as Ted Bundy

April showers bring May flowers, and apparently it also brings a lot of new content to Netflix. The streaming service has packed the month of May with new shows and movies that will keep you entertained on the days you aren't enjoying the spring weather. Headlining the month are some high-profile comedies. There's Wine Country, a star-studded, R-rated comedic romp, stars a whole heap of Saturday Night Live alumni including Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch and Tina Fey (May 10th). Then there's the ani

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'Super Mario Maker 2' has a release date: June 28th

Four years after the first Super Mario Maker proved how hard it is to make videogames, its sequel is coming to the Switch. Nintendo dropped a preview trailer for Super Mario Maker 2 a couple of months ago and said it would arrive in June, but now it's specified the game will be released on June 28th. Just like its previous iterations on the Wii U and 3DS, players will put together their dream Super Mario courses, but so far in its press release and website, didn't reveal much more abou

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Penske debuts fast charging stations for electric delivery trucks

Today, Penske Truck Leasing opened 14 DC fast charging stations at four facilities in Southern California. According to the company, they're the first high-speed charging stations specifically designed for heavy duty, commercial electric vehicles in the US. And they'll be used to charge semi trucks, like the Daimler Freightliners that Penske has been testing. For the most part, electric vehicle discussions center around passenger vehicles, but companies like Tesla, Daimler and Cummins ar

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Facebooks FTC fine could cost it between $3 and $5 billion

Although Facebook's growth has slowed down over the past year, all the controversies it has faced in recent months haven't had an effect on its bottom line. But that may be changing. Today, during its Q1 2019 earnings report, Facebook reported a total revenue of $15.1 billion, a 26 percent year-over-year increase. The most interesting part, however, is that Facebook says it estimates spending between $3 and $5 billion as part of an ongoing investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) int

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Childish Gambino and Google team up for a multiplayer AR app

Google and Childish Gambino are teaming up again for another augmented reality experience. Following the arrival of the Coachella headliner as a Playmoji on Pixel cameras earlier this year, the pair have released a multiplayer app called Pharos AR. It allows you and your friends to explore a trippy, neon-tinged world with Gambino as the soundtrack. When you open the app, you'll see a portal you can step through. Once you do, you can explore a cave in which you can find glyphs to interact

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Tesla will begin selling its own in-house insurance 'in a month'

Tesla released its Q1 2019 earnings on Wednesday and despite having a significant slowdown from the previous quarter, the company remains confident that it will meet its ambitious production goals for the year. Despite "significant challenges with the battery module line at Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, and later with our general assembly line in Fremont" Tesla managed to deliver nearly 140,000 Model 3 vehicles in 2018. That trend continued through Q1 2019 with the electric sedan outselling

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Pew: Twitter users are younger and more Democratic than most Americans

A recent report from the Pew Research Center says Twitter users are younger, more highly educated, have higher incomes and are more likely to identify as Democrats compared to the general public. They're also more likely to support immigration and see evidence of racial- and gender-based inequality in society. This might be surprising given how loud opposing views can appear on the platform. The study looked at a sampling of 2,791 US adult Twitter users. The median age of those users was

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Apple may unveil two new AirPod models by the end of 2019

Apple's refreshed AirPods might be just the start of a tidal wave of new models. Historically accurate analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims that Apple has two new AirPod variants launching sometime between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020. One of them would be cosmetically similar to the current earbuds and would be priced accordingly, while the other would represent an "all-new design" and carry a higher price tag. The analyst was shy on just what would distinguish those

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