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“Creepy” Google robot toys would be your smart home butler

“Creepy” Google robot toys would be your smart home butler

Google is flirting with the concept of interactive robotic toys, that could provide a personable - or just plain creepy - interface to the smart home. The research, revealed in a recently published patent, is the handiwork of Richard Wayne DeVaul of Google [X], the search giant's unorthodox skunkworks lab: like a cuddly, moving version of Amazon Echo, the robo-pals would listen out for trigger words and then subsequent spoken instructions, capable of responding with not only speech but actions and expressions.

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Five things we’re expecting at Google I/O 2015

Five things we’re expecting at Google I/O 2015

Yep, it's that time of year again. Google fans and Android faithful will be glued to their screens, that is, if they're not already preparing to make an appearance at the mothership in California. Naturally, the rumor mill is teeming with what may or may not happen at the developers conference. And of course, we have our own picks of what we believe will take place, or at least wish will take place at Google I/O 2015 next week. We start off, in no particular order, with the most obvious of them all.

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2016 Volvo XC90 first-drive – Scandinavia on wheels

2016 Volvo XC90 first-drive – Scandinavia on wheels

Nordic noir has invaded our television and our bookshelves, and now Volvo wants to do the same for luxury SUVs with the all-new 2016 XC90. As many companies, automotive and otherwise have discovered, throwing money at a problem isn’t necessarily the best way to fix it. Nonetheless, it helps to have deep pockets when you’re tasked with completely reinventing your line-up, and Volvo has spent over $11bn since it was sold to Geely in 2010 and began to rebuild its range from the ground up. Now, we’re getting a taste of what that money bought, and like moody Scandinavian detectives, it turns out to be complicated.

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Java, java! Three coffee makers to fuel your day

Java, java! Three coffee makers to fuel your day

Life is busy business and coffee is the fuel upon which it runs (for many of us, anyway). Coffee shops have their place, but discerning coffee drinkers know making their own cuppa is the best way to make sure it tastes just right...and that there's enough for a second or third cup when needed. Coffee makers are nothing new, but the three we've detailed are -- and they're smart, too, able to accommodate your tech-filled life. Fancy a cup? Read on.

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iOS 9 will work with your old iPhone

iOS 9 will work with your old iPhone

Apple's next iPhone and iPad software tipped to focus on quality, will work on older devices. Word this week is that the next operating system suite for Apple mobile and desktop machines will be aimed at delivering a highest-quality experience to the user. Not that Apple products with iOS or OS X didn't promise this before, but this round it's suggested that every product released over the past several years will be getting onboard with the same top-notch quality experience, working well top to bottom.

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Level 257: a day at the upscale Pac-Man themed arcade and lounge

Level 257: a day at the upscale Pac-Man themed arcade and lounge

"To play is human." Such is the philosophy behind Level 257, a new luxurious lounge, arcade, restaurant, and bowling center near Chicago. Whatever you think it is, you're wrong. It's not an arcade. It's not a bowling alley. It's not a lounge. It's not a restaurant. At least, it's not any of those things in the way you're thinking of them. Level 257 is a place all of its own, and no single part of it exists separate of the other. It is luxury that invites you to dress casually. It is an arcade woven around a miniature library. It is sparkling bowling lanes a few paces from a full bar and cushioned leather lounge seating. It is, ultimately, an experience.

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The Apple Watch Death Counter is here

The Apple Watch Death Counter is here

Apple Watch app Deadline tells its wearer when they'll die, suggests ways that they might extend their life. Like that episode of The IT Crowd, there are mathematically sound ways in which you can figure out how long you'll live. There are also ways to extend your expected lifespan, and this Apple Watch app knows those ways. As such, this particular app is very, very popular with new Apple Watch wearers. What better way to fully enjoy your new purchase than to find out when you're going to die?

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iPhone 6c leaked at Apple Store

iPhone 6c leaked at Apple Store

A possible mess-up in an early uploading of images to Apple's store website reveals a new iPhone. This newest iPhone would - more than likely - be called the iPhone 6c, adding a Touch ID sensor to the already colorful iPhone 5c. This previous model replaced the iPhone 4s as the lowest-end iPhone of the bunch, coming with a plastic backing in several bright colors instead of a metal back. The release of the iPhone 5c also effectively ended the reign of the 3.5-inch display on all iPhones.

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See the world’s oldest stone tools up close

See the world’s oldest stone tools up close

A newly published paper suggests that the oldest known tools pre-date the previous record holders by 700,000 years. This places the first tools squarely in the hands of pre-humans, likely in the palms of our ancestors, well before the previous record holders: Homo habilis. These tools were found in a dried up river bed in Kenya, where similar tools have been found that ranged thousands of years forward - the ones found here may have been the first. As should be obvious, these tools are just about as rudimentary a set of tools as you're ever going to see.

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X37-B: Everything we know about this secret Air Force space mission

X37-B: Everything we know about this secret Air Force space mission

The United States Air Force X37-B Space Plane (one of two) takes off into orbit above Earth in its fourth secretive mission. The craft itself is not a secret - we know what it's capable of. The contents of the craft are not entirely secret - we know MOST of what's inside. What the United States Air Force is doing on this mission with the cargo they carry - that's the question here. With one of two X-37B space planes headed to space with, amongst other cargo, 10 minuscule "cubesats" and a real deal Solar Sail, we'll be interested to see what becomes of their testing and action.

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Xiaomi did something interesting with Snapdragon 810

Xiaomi did something interesting with Snapdragon 810

If you're a smartphone company that doesn't make its own mobile processors, you're at a disadvantage. Xiaomi isn't at the scale to follow Apple and Samsung and dive into quite silicon yet - though the increasingly popular manufacturer is growing rapidly - but that doesn't mean the latest Mi Note Pro doesn't have a performance edge over Snapdragon 810-powered rivals like the HTC One M9. Usually they're rarer than hen's teeth in North America, so you can consider me curious when I had the opportunity to do some benchmarking with the fettled phone.

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Nearly 1/3 people use Facebook while driving

Nearly 1/3 people use Facebook while driving

AT&T commissioned Braun Research poll finds nearly 1 out of every 3 people use Facebook while driving. Driving their automobile. On the road, in the United States, where you live. The study was done by poll, asking 2,067 in the United States aged between 16-65 who use their smartphone at least once a day AND drive at least once a day a number of questions. What was found was a bit shocking, to say the least. Not only do a lot of people drive while using their phone, a lot of those people do some pretty involved things on their phone whilst driving.

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