Britons are Googling “What is the EU?” after voting to leave it
Samsung likely developing controller for Gear VR
Known right now only as part number ET-Y0324, it may well be something that a lot of mobile VR users will be holding in their hands in the (possibly near) future. First spotted by Sammobile, ET-Y0324 appears to be a wireless handheld controller for Samsung's Gear VR headset, according to a filing with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.
Samsung told Fast Company it doesn't comment on unreleased products, and the FCC filing, although pretty clear that the controller is from the Korean company and for the Gear VR, doesn't include detailed imagery or description. So it's hard to know exactly what it is or how it'll work. But assuming the filing is about a soon-to-be-released product, it's likely to allow users to point and select items in VR, as well as other one-handed gestures and selections, much as users can do with the controller for Google's Daydream View headset. Variety posits that the new Samsung controller could enable tracking of users' hands, something that's not really possible with mobile VR to date. DT
The world’s largest personalized baby gift brand just landed stateside
Remember that time Prince George met President Obama wearing a little dressing gown with his name on it? That $33 robe came from a U.K. retailer called My1stYears.com that launched in 2010 specializing in personalized baby gifts. Founders Daniel Price and Jonny Sitton noticed the popularity of NikeID, Nike's customization program, and believed the model would work well for baby products.
This meant setting up a supply chain where a wide range of products–clothes, shoes, toys, books–could be customized on demand, then shipped within days. By selling direct-to-consumer through the website, the brand has been able to keep costs low, with most products priced under $50, including personalization. My1stYears.com has grown quickly and is on track to generate $15 million in sales this year.
Tesla misses on Q4 earnings but still has our attention
Tesla may not be profitable, but its outlook is appealing to investors. In its Q4 earnings report today, the company took a loss of $0.69 per share on revenue of $2.28 billion. Analysts had been more optimistic, predicting a loss of $0.43 per share on revenue of $2.18 billion. The company produced over 50,000 cars in the second half of the year, but did not meet its full-year goal to produce 80,000 cars in 2016—info it shared back in January. However, Tesla stock was up about 2% in after-hours trading.
That may be because the outlook for Tesla is always bright. The company notes that it is set up to launch both the Model 3 and solar roof in the second half of 2017. In the first half of 2017, Tesla expects to deliver 40,000-50,000 S and X models. While the company will spend between $2 billion and $2.5 billion on Model 3 ramp up, there is some good news for investors: Tesla will focus on profitability for its storage and solar business. That said, 2017 is a big year for Tesla. The company will have to prove it can hang as a car producer, not a niche product producer. RR
Read Amazon’s lengthy argument for why it shouldn’t have to share Echo data with law enforcement
The Seattle e-commerce giant filed a lengthy court memorandum last week arguing that an Arkansas court should quash a search warrant requesting that it produce audio recordings and transcripts from one of its Echo devices. The Echo was owned by James Bates, a suspect in a local murder case. Citing extensive court precedent in cases regarding privacy and the First Amendment, Amazon argues that authorities should first make "a heightened showing of relevance"—in other words, essentially prove that the Echo data will aid the investigation in some way.
Given the relative newness and growing prevalence of smart speakers like Echo, there's a lot hinging on the case. Amazon notes in the memo how important privacy and trust are to its customers, and indeed it acknowledges that data from smart devices can be far more revelatory than traditional records. Or in case you forgot, Amazon knows a lot about us.
"Once the Echo device detects the wake word, the Alexa Voice Service endeavors to respond to any ensuing voice communications detected in the user's home. Accordingly, searching Alexa's recordings is not the same as searching a drawer, a pocket, or a glove compartment."
Read the emails that new EPA chief Scott Pruitt tried to withhold from the public prior to his nomination
Under court order, the Oklahoma Attorney General's office today released 7,564 pages of emails and other records that it had withheld from the public, prompting a lawsuit by the Center for Media and Democracy. The emails reveal Pruitt, the former Oklahoma AG, coordinating his responses to EPA policies with oil industry lobbyists and executives. That included Devon Energy drafting a letter that Pruitt later sent to the agency opposing the EPA's limits on the release of methane in oil and gas fracking.
Trump is expected to roll back protections for transgender students
The Trump administration is expected to reverse an Obama initiative that gives transgender students the right to use bathrooms that match their gender identity, according to multiple reports. A draft document of a forthcoming order—which could still change—was leaked to media outlets, including Reuters. Read the full document here.
NASA is closer to locating a second Earth
Thanks to new insights from the Spitzer, an infrared space telescope, NASA has discovered seven Earth-sized exoplanets, that is, planets orbiting a star outside our own solar system. This particular collection of planets orbits a dwarf star called the Trappist-1, which is 40 light years away.
Here's a video on what we know about Trappist-1 by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory:
But while our telescope technology has advanced, allowing us to see far reaches of the universe, we don't yet have vehicles that would get us there in a reasonable time frame. To get to any of these planets with our current vehicles would take about 44 million years. NASA has already released a poster about this planetary system, imagining a future in which we might visit the planets for a vacation.
That said, the scientists at a NASA briefing today believe that it is very likely that there is life elsewhere in the solar system.
[Images via NASA] ES
Verizon 5G trials are coming to 11 cities but don’t get too excited yet
This summer, Verizon will kick off the largest U.S. trial yet for 5G wireless, offering it as a replacement for wired Internet in 11 cities. Data speeds could be 10 to 100 times faster than current cellular connections.
The telco industry has been hyping 5G's transformative potential for years, with promises of ubiquitous, blazing-fast connectivity. Verizon's trial is much more modest–it basically lets the company install internet in homes and businesses without running fiber to each building–and CNet notes that it will only cover several thousand customers. True 5G wireless isn't even an industry standard yet, and widespread adoption faces major obstacles. JN
Is Slack safe for journalists?
If you work in media (or most other tech-oriented jobs), chances are you've come across Slack once or twice. It's an easy way to chat and collaborate with fellow employees. But with the future of press freedom growing murkier every day, are chatroom apps like Slack really the best way for journalists to communicate? The short answer is: If you care about things like security and confidentiality, probably not. Read my latest feature to find out why. CGW
Now your Instagram posts can be mini-albums of photos and videos
Ever since Instagram added its Snapchat-inspired Instagram Stories last August, it's concentrated on building out that feature, which has become a runaway hit. Today, however, it's announcing a major upgrade to Instagram in its classic form: the ability to upload multiple images and videos—up to 10 of them—in one album-like post.
This being Instagram, the new feature has been implemented in a straightforward fashion: a new button lets you select multiple items. Once you've made your choices, you can apply a filter to all of them en masse or one at a time; only the classic Instagram square format is currently supported. People who view your feed can swipe to see them one by one, like a slideshow. Though there are some conceptual similarities to Stories, which also involve multiple pieces of media, there's nothing particularly Snapchatty about this new capability—especially since everything stays available forever rather than going poof after 24 hours.
Finally, Intel’s got some real competition when it comes to PC processors
AMD has spent months promising that its upcoming Ryzen CPUs for desktop PCs would beat rival Intel on both performance and price. With those chips due out next month, the perennial underdog has produced proof: The high-end AMD R7 1800X will cost $499–less than half the price of Intel's i7-6900K–while tying or beating its rival in certain performance benchmarks. AMD also has cheaper versions in the $399 R7 1700X and $329 R7 1700, which beat comparable Intel chips by $40 and $20, respectively.
Intel, in turn, has expressed an appropriate amount of skepticism for AMD's benchmarks, and there are some scenarios in which Intel's chips excel. Intel could also cut prices or push new models to retain its edge. But isn't lighting a fire under the titan of PC processors precisely the point? JN
Here are all the details on Apple Park, the company’s massive new spaceship campus
The much-anticipated 175-acre work and research campus will open to employees in April but the process of moving more than 12,000 people into the new facilities will take over six months, revealed Apple in a blog post today.
• The campus's ring-shaped, 2.8 million-square-foot main building "is clad entirely in the world's largest panels of curved glass."
• To honor the memory of the company's legendary cofounder and longtime CEO, a 1,000-seat auditorium sitting on top of a hill will be named the Steve Jobs Theater.
• A visitors center will feature an Apple Store and cafe open to the public.
• A 100,000-square-foot fitness center for Apple employees.
• Two miles of walking and running paths, an orchard, meadow, and a pond.