Thanks to the approval of the secret FISA Court, the NSA has restarted bulk data collection. The secret court invalidated the Second Circuit Court of Appeal decision from May, saying it was illegal. According to engadget.com, the FISA Court said the ‘Second Circuit Court rulings are not binding,’ The secret court ruled that the 180 day period Congress carved out in the USA Freedom Act, which was just signed by the president June 2nd allows for the continuation…at least for another 6 months.
The long awaited ‘buy’ buttons have rolled out on Pinterest. Cnet.com reports that buyable pins are now available on iPhone and iPad apps. Now, shoppers can buy items directly from Pinterest by clicking the blue ‘Buy It’ button, and using Apple Pay or a credit card. They expect to launch soon on Android.
Apple is apparently talking about returning to Samsung for memory in the next iteration of iPhones. 9to5mac.com says they aren’t looking to go over 128 gigs, but will drop the 16 gig model, making 32 gigabytes the entry level memory in the iPhone 6S models. It was already reported that Samsung is supplying the A9 processors. The killer feature that we know of as the phones have entered early production is Force Touch, ported from the Apple Watch.
Microsoft has sold some Bing maps assets to Uber, and along with them, around 100 data collection engineers that worked on Bing. Geekwire.com reports that Uber was already bulking up in the mapping department, having bought mapping software company deCarta in March. Uber has been relying on Google Maps in their app up to now.
Netflix is on a roll, and heading towards eclipsing ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox. Bgr.com reports that in the first 3 months of 2015, they added 4.9 million new subscribers, bringing the total to 62.3 million. According to a research report from FBR Capital Markets, the 10 billion hours of content streamed over Netflix right now would be like having a Nielsen 24 hour rating of 2.6…that puts Netflix on the level with ABC and NBC right now. If their growth rate continues, by next year, Netflix will pass up all the broadcast networks combined!
Apple has updated the terms of its AppleCare+ Protection Plan for iPhone, iPad, iPod and Apple Watch to cover batteries that retain less than 80% of their original capacity within the extended warranty period. Macrumors.com says before now it only covered batteries that held less than 50% of their original capacity. The change applies to AppleCare+ purchased for iPhone, iPad, iPod and all Apple Watch models on April 9th, 2015 or later.
Hydrogen has been touted for years as a replacement for fossil fuels. It’s been no secret that the most common element in the universe is all around, as it helps make up water. For years, it’s been extracted from water by electrolysis. Now, geek.com says scientists at Stanford have come up with a cheaper, more efficient electrolysis process that can run 24/7. Instead of an anode and cathode and a pH barrier, the new process uses two nickel-iron oxide catalysts that can be right next to each other. The system is 82% efficient, much higher than traditional water electrolysis. If that holds up when they scale it up to mass production size, it may revolutionize making hydrogen at volumes useable by vehicles and heating and cooling plants.
It’s often fun to see what words get added to the venerable Oxford English Dictionary. Arstechnica.com reports that…amongst the 500 new words and phrases added to the latest quarterly update, you can now check the meaning of sexting, photobombing, vaping, crowdfunding, and gems like meh and twerk. Fans of actual good singing will be annoyed to find autotune in the OED now, and netbook now has an entry as well.
After being dropped for Android tablets in January, theverge.com says Microsoft has released Office for Android smartphones. It’s just about identical to the iOS version…not as robust as the tablet app, but great for quick drafts and edits on your smartphone. It has full Dropbox and OneDrive support for file storage.
Last fall, we covered a Kickstarter for the Roost Smart Battery. Thenextweb.com reports they’ve gone live to the public for preorders. The Roost battery turns your existing smoke alarm into a smart connected one. A 9 volt battery pack is $34.99, and a twin pack is $64.99. You can order through Amazon or GetRoost. They ship in September. The Roost batteries connect over WiFi to your home network, and they have Android and iOS apps for monitoring when you’re away.
Phone repair service iCracked is looking to expand. Techcrunch.com says they have launched iCracked Advantage, a kind of warranty program for the 40 million people they claim will break phones this year. For 7 bucks a month, you get their same-day, on-demand repair service by a local iTech. Each time you break your phone, it’s a flat $25…including cracked screens, water damage, bad batteries, and home button replacement. A family plan covers 5 devices for $25 a month. According to iCracked’s CEO, 70% of phone owners have no insurance. They plan to have a trade in service up and running by early next year, too. iCracked is in 13 countries right now.
From the more than a little bit creepy department, Facebook has an experimental algorithm they’re working with in their artificial intelligence lab that can recognize people even when it can’t see their faces. According to New Scientist, it picks up other cues like hair cut and style, clothes, face shape, body shape, and more to identify people with 83% accuracy.