Must Read Bits & Bytes

Vodafone admits “direct access” wiretaps by some governments

Vodafone admits “direct access” wiretaps by some governments

Cellular behemoth Vodafone has revealed that a number of governments have "direct access" to its network, collecting mass surveillance on users and allowing them to listen in on calls among other things. The revelation was detailed in the carrier's first Law Enforcement Disclosure Report, a 40,000 word breakdown of what Vodafone is - and isn't - allowed to say about the monitoring and tracking requirements it faces from agencies like the NSA.

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The Surface Pro 3 Opportunity

The Surface Pro 3 Opportunity

Third time looks to have been the charm for Microsoft, with the Surface Pro 3 proving to be a surprise hit among most reviewers - even those who are usually ardent Apple fans. As Vincent’s glowing judgement of the adaptable tablet suggests, there’s a lot of value to be found in a flexible form-factor. The glaring omission, though, is in not taking that flexibility to its logical conclusion: it wouldn’t take much for Microsoft to really tip Surface into must-have territory.

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SoftBank Pepper emotion-sensing robot headed to retail

SoftBank Pepper emotion-sensing robot headed to retail

SoftBank plans to sell an emotion-sensing humanoid robot, Pepper, in Japan next year, putting the sensor-toting 'bot into customer services duties in stores from this week. Expected to go on sale from February 2015, Pepper can track the emotions of the humans around it through their expressions and voice tones, and then react accordingly depending on what apps and cloud-data are available.

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Here’s how Apple iOS 8 HomeKit works

Here’s how Apple iOS 8 HomeKit works

Apple has set its sights on the smart home, and HomeKit is how it plans to dominate it, promising a more cohesive automation experience by becoming the glue that holds everything together. HomeKit won’t launch officially until iOS 8 arrives on iPhones and iPads later this year, but developers and accessory manufacturers are already being let into the loop so they can get their software and hardware ready. Read on to find out exactly how it works.

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Blurred Lines: Melding Mac and iOS into one Apple life

Blurred Lines: Melding Mac and iOS into one Apple life

There’s more to breaking down the barriers between desktop and mobile than making the UIs on an iPhone and a MacBook look alike, and Apple used its WWDC 2014 opening keynote to hint at how. Continuity came up several times during the presentation, on both the OS X and the iOS sides, explaining how later this year our Macs and iPhones will work together to transfer tasks as you move between them. Yet the potential for Continuity goes far further than just giving you a bigger keyboard to finish your email on.

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ST Octane Academy: Ultimate owner driving experience

ST Octane Academy: Ultimate owner driving experience

Take a compact car, add a meaty engine, and you’ve got a recipe for success, and Ford is aiming to show drivers just how fun its high-performance small cars can be. Held at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, the ST Octane Academy puts new Focus ST and Fiesta ST owners on the track with racing instructors to make sure they’re getting the best out of their cars. Ford invited me along to try my hand at the wheel.

There’s an art for squeezing the fastest lap times and the most fun out of a fast - but not supercar fast - car. In a supercar you almost certainly fall short of nudging its limits (my time behind the wheel of the Lamborghini Aventador was evidence of that) and can generally count on electronics and power to get you out of most situations.

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Ford Lightweight Concept Car eyes-on: High-tech, Low-weight

Ford Lightweight Concept Car eyes-on: High-tech, Low-weight

Ford wasn't going to let all that aluminum research on the 2015 F-150 be used on just one truck, and so now there's the Ford Lightweight Concept, a prototype car that, along with Samsung battery collaboration, aims to change the way we look at tomorrow's vehicles. Effectively delivering a car akin in size to a 2013 Fusion but with the weight of a Fiesta - a car two classes beneath it - the Lightweight Concept trims weight from the suspension, interior, glazing, and powertrain by using materials like aluminum alloy, carbon fiber, and composites.

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