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05.16.16 | 1:30 pm

How many apps does it take to drown out Google+? 

Sure, Google may have just released a new keyboard appand rolled out in-app messaging on YouTube. Plus there's Hangouts, of course, and even the meetup app Who's Down. But can you really have too many apps, if you're hoping to bury your ill-fated foray into social networking? 

Spaces packs Google Search, YouTube, and Chrome into a group messaging app. You can invite anyone to use Spaces and can share articles and videos without leaving the app.

If you're heading to Google's I/O conference this week, the company suggests you download the app to join the conversation. 

09.26.16 | 15 minutes ago

Laugh all you want—here’s why Snap’s new Spectacles glasses might just succeed

Ever since Snap (formerly known as Snapchat) unveiled its first hardware product—Spectacles video-sharing glasses—on Saturday morning, plenty of people have cracked jokes that include the inevitable Google Glass punchline. Well, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel just might succeed with his new toy, explains Co.Design's Mark Wilson, with his focus on fun. 

"Fun is certainly not the only reason Snap is getting into wearables. But fun is why they'll be a hit, at least compared to other techie glasses like Glass. Rather than attempting to disguise the wearable as a normal pair of glasses, or position it as a serious product, the company is embracing the sensational side of the concept. It's an approach that sounds a lot like its app: if there's one company that's capable of making you look like an idiot in public for fun—making faces at your own camera and totally not caring that you do—it's Snap."

[Image: via Spectacles]

09.26.16 | 35 minutes ago

The NAACP wants Clinton and Trump to be asked about affordable broadband at tonight’s debate

A number of leading civil rights groups and technology organizations, include the NAACP and the Center for Democracy and Technology, want NBC News' Lester Holt to ask Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump a question about affordable broadband at tonight's debate. In a letter today, they write:

"In the same ways that trains, highways, and telephones have long powered the way we do business and share ideas, internet infrastructure is our country's economic driver for the 21st century. With this in mind, voters must understand the presidential candidates' plans for broadband access." 

While Clinton has prioritized the issue, calling for every household to have it by 2020, Trump hasn't said anything about it, notes Politico's Morning Tech newsletter.

09.26.16 | 42 minutes ago

Square is doing its best to speed up chip-card transactions

The new credit cards with embedded chips may be a whole lot more high-tech secure than their mag-stripe predecessors, but paying with one can be so excruciatingly slow that it sure doesn't feel like progress. 

"The big guys aren't faring all that well," says Jesse Dorogusker, hardware lead at payments company Square, of large merchants who process chip-card sales using conventional payment terminals. "You do a lot of waiting, a lot of standing. There's an odd UI and weird noises. That's posed a nice opportunity for us."

Square, which designed its own mag-stripe/chip/contactless reader and developed all the associated software, is announcing that a new version of its firmware, which is rolling out as an automatic update, cuts the time of a chip transaction from 5.7 seconds to 4.2 seconds—a 25% improvement over what was already swifter-than-usual performance by chip-card standards. Its ultimate goal: three seconds.

Dorogusker told me that Square expects technologies such as Apple Pay and Android Pay to win in the long term, but for now, it's obsessed with speeding up chip-card transactions. "A second and a half is a second and a half," he says. "Some people might not sweat it. But standing at the counter awkwardly in a new way when it used to be faster and better is not cool."

09.26.16 | an hour ago

Dov Charney: I’m not buying American Apparel back

In an interview with Business of Fashion, Dov Charney tells the publication that he's moving on from American Apparel and has no intention to buy back the company he founded in 1989.

After he was ousted in 2014 in the midst of scandal, he was replaced by CEO Paula Schneider. But last week, Schneider handed in a letter of resignation, hinting that American Apparel might soon be sold and that a new owner might interfere with her plans to get the company back in fighting shape. 

The Business of Fashion story suggests that Charney will not be the buyer. 

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]

09.26.16 | an hour ago

Morning intel: Live-streaming the debate, Didi gets into bikes, Roku launches 5 new models

• Tonight's Clinton/Trump face-off has already been dubbed the "debate of the century." Here's how to live-stream it and stay tuned for our live coverage tonight on FastCoNews

• Chinese taxi-hailing giant Didi just invested in a new startup called Ofo, which lets people borrow bikes.

• The New York Times is among a group of investors putting $500,000 into TheSkimm, the fast-growing newsletter aimed at young women, reports Recode.

Roku had its biggest product launch ever this morning, unveiling five new models include TVs ranging from tube sets to high dynamic range, 4K/UHD screens, reports Fast Company's Sean Captain. 

09.26.16 | 2 hours ago

African elephants will likely be extinct when our kids are adults

Did you know that thee United States is the world's second-largest ivory market, after Asia? The thriving trade in elephant tusks has resulted in a spike in poaching in Africa. There are only 400,000 on the continent, but 30,000 to 40,000 are killed every year, the latest African Elephant Status Report says. This is the steepest decline in 25 years.

According to ThinkProgress, climate change is accelerating the extinction of the African elephant population. Temperature change and changes in water supply and vegetation all impact elephants. 

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]

09.26.16 | 7:36 am

Up, up and away! Uber researches vertical-takeoff planes for short-haul city rides

Speaking at the Nantucket Conference over the weekend, Uber products head Jeff Holden told the audience that Uber is seriously looking into creating flying vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicles to usher people around cities in as few as 10 years, reports Recode. Holden says VTOL aircraft would allow people to travel short distances around a city "in a three-dimensional way" and that taking to the skies was "an obvious thing to look at." He imagines landing pads on top of buildings, which would reduce commuting times and congestion dramatically. Holden envisages a flying VTOL Uber as just another way the company could work toward its goal of eliminating personal car ownership. "[VTOL technology] could change cities and how we work and live," he said.

[Photo: USAF via Wikipedia]

09.26.16 | 7:15 am

Ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing seeks new transportation market: bicycles

The Chinese taxi-hailing giant, which is in the final stages of acquiring Uber's business in China, has made an investment in a new startup called Ofo, which lets people borrow bikes, reports TechCrunch. In China 30 million students ride bicycles every day. Ofo is tapping into that large market pool by allowing those students to hire a cheap bicycle for the day. Though exact specifics aren't known, Didi's investment in Ofo is said to be "tens of millions" in size and will provide the foundation for "a multi-layered partnership."

09.26.16 | 6:57 am

Here’s how to live-stream tonight’s presidential debate

Who knows what could come out of their mouths? The good news is you have plenty of options for viewing all the one-liners, quips, and slips as they happen, reports Recode. Here are all the ways you can watch the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, which begins at 9 p.m. ET tonight.

Mobile apps

• The CBS News app will have full coverage across platforms including iOS, Android, games consoles, and more.

NBC will have coverage of the event through its multi-platform NBC News apps.

• Not to be left out, ABC will live-stream the event through its ABC News apps.

• Reuters will be live-streaming the debate through its mobile app.

Social media

Facebook will be offering free streams via Facebook Live from various news organizations including ABC News, BuzzFeed, CNBC, C-SPAN, Fox News, the New York Times, PBS, Telemundo, and Univision.

Twitter will be offering free streams of Bloomberg's coverage of the debates on its website here. You won't need a Twitter login to view the stream.

Websites

• Besides live streams on the major network news sites, a host of news organizations will be live-streaming the debate on their YouTube channels, including Bloomberg, Fox News, NBC News, PBS, Telemundo, and the Washington Post.

[Photos: Flickr users Max GoldbergABC/Ida Mae Astute]

09.26.16 | 5:50 am

Check out the BBC’s new “holographic” TV

The British broadcaster made the TV using a standard 46" flat screen television with an acrylic pyramid built above it, reports the BBC. The finished product projected "holograms" onto the acrylic pyramid, giving an appearance something similar to R2D2's Princess Leia hologram in Star Wars. The BBC has no plans to commercialize the product right now. Instead it was just an experiment to see what television technology might be like in the future.

09.26.16 | 5:36 am

SpaceX test-fires Raptor engine that could take humans to Mars

The company's founder Elon Musk tweeted a series of pictures of the Raptor "interplanetary transport engine" in action early this morning. Though Musk has been secretive about the engine in the past, he also revealed that the engines will use liquid methane instead of kerosene and will have a thrust of 500,000 pounds for lift-off. Musk has previously stated that he wants to send humans to Mars by 2024.

09.26.16 | 5:26 am

California passes law requiring movie database sites to remove an actor’s age if requested

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed law AB 1687, which requires subscription-based movie database sites, like IMDb, to remove an actor's age if removal is requested by the actor, Variety reports. Opponents of the bill said the removal of factual ages violates free speech, but many in Hollywood and the film industry say the bill is an important step to fight age discrimination. "Age discrimination is a major problem in our industry, and it must be addressed," SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris said earlier this month. "SAG-AFTRA has been working hard for years to stop the career damage caused by the publication of performers' dates of birth on online subscription websites used for casting like IMDb."

After the passage of the bill, the organization put out a statement saying "currently, many websites used for casting proactively present birthdates and ages to casting decision makers who often can't avoid seeing this information even if they try. This law will help improve the working lives of all SAG-AFTRA members and aspiring performers."

[Image: IMDb]