Must Read Bits & Bytes

Three things that surprised me about the Nexus 6

Three things that surprised me about the Nexus 6

Is there anything more to say on the Nexus 6? Google's latest flagship smartphone has come in for more than the usual degree of attention, as the first handset to run Android 5.0 Lollipop. The fact that Google can't keep them in stock for longer than sixty seconds or so isn't doing anything to dampen the hype, either. I've already gone digging through Google's huge new phone in my equally huge Nexus 6 review, but it turns out the Motorola-made handset hadn't quite finished teaching me a lesson.

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YouTube Music Key released: not just Play All Access

YouTube Music Key released: not just Play All Access

This morning YouTube Music Key became official for the first time. It'll be released in Beta mode for a monthly fee, appearing at first to come up against Google Play Music's All Access system. Instead, subscribers to Google Music will be included in the subscription cost of YouTube Music Key - all one package. As for those of you that already subscribe to Google Music - we're waiting to hear back from Google on that. For now, gotta catch em all - music style.

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Nexus 6 Review – You want to lick this Lollipop

Nexus 6 Review – You want to lick this Lollipop

A new Google smartphone is a big deal, and the Nexus 6 is a very big phone indeed. Largest so far of Google's collaborations with handset manufacturers, and first to see Motorola take the Nexus reins - ironically just as the two firms part company - it's a riff on this year's Moto X but with a new turn of speed and a crazy Quad HD display. It's also the launch vehicle for Android 5.0 Lollipop on phones, arguably the biggest thing to happen to the OS in many generations. So, with supplies still frustrating all but the best-timed of buyers, is the Nexus 6 the Android phone you want in your pocket?

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Rosetta mission success: comet landing a go!

Rosetta mission success: comet landing a go!

This morning the ESA Space Probe Rosetta has successfully sent a lander to a comet. This was the first time humanity has ever accomplished such a task. It's been confirmed as of 10:05 AM Central Time that the Philae Lander has touched down and that the Rosetta craft is indeed receiving signals from the surface of the comet. This 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is the first comet to have been landed on by a human-sent craft in space. Now we begin the wait for photos from the surface.

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Nexus 6: where you can (and can’t) get one

Nexus 6: where you can (and can’t) get one

If you’ve been itching to get your hands on a Nexus 6, the wait is probably tiring for you. This time around, Google has broken the mold with their Nexus flagship. What used to roll out via Google Play, then take weeks or more to hit a carrier here or there is now this long, slow trickle from every avenue. The Play Store doesn’t even have reliable stock levels, and it seems at least one carrier is pushing their release back to give potential buyers a “better experience”.

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Here’s what Obama’s net neutrality stance really accomplished

Here’s what Obama’s net neutrality stance really accomplished

Today, President Obama sided with you and I. Like most of you reading this (sadly, not all), “Barry” wants his Internet free and open, just like it is right now. Barry wants to be able to check his stock quotes and brag his holdings up via Facebook, just like he can (but probably doesn’t) today. though the FCC doesn’t necessarily have to heed his words any more than they would yours or mine, the leader of the free world siding with his constituents makes a bolder statement than any — well, statement.

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Facebook Messenger’s Inevitable Takeover

Facebook Messenger’s Inevitable Takeover

Back in August, Facebook messenger became obligatory. I ran a column called Yes, you DO want Facebook Messenger that many Facebook users were shockingly opposed to. But it's been barely 3 months and Facebook has already announced it: they've reached a tipping point. They already have 500 million users using - not just having downloaded - using Messenger each month. They're aiming to prove that because you do not pay money to use Facebook, you are the product - you don't have a choice in the matter. You need to download that app.

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How private is Amazon Echo?

How private is Amazon Echo?

Put a microphone in your product, and someone is going to assume you're listening to them. That's one of the challenges Amazon Echo - the online retailer's "Siri in a totem pole" - faces, with suspicion about just how much Jeff Bezos & Co. (or his algorithms, at least) are actually eavesdropping on. Given the power of Amazon's recommendation engines and the amount of data it gathers just from casual browsing, you can certainly see where some of the paranoia might come from, too. A microphone-mute button takes pride of place on top of Echo, but will it be enough to persuade potential users that the virtual assistant is working for them and not for Amazon itself? I went hunting for some answers on just what Echo shares and how you can tame it.

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Star Wars The Force Awakens: Episode 7 officially named

Star Wars The Force Awakens: Episode 7 officially named

This morning the next Star Wars movie was named officially - Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This is Star Wars 7, the move set to be released in 2016. Star Wars The Force Awakens has completed principal photography, and it's suggested that the first trailer is also cut and prepped for delivery. Now we'll have to start guessing what vehicle it'll come in on. Any guesses on what movie it'll start before? Maybe The Hobbit? Something epic? Into The Woods? Big Hero 6? Something Disney owns, that's for certain.

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Amazon Echo puts Siri-style smarts in a column of cloud

Amazon Echo puts Siri-style smarts in a column of cloud

Amazon has revealed its latest hardware project, Amazon Echo, an unusual always-listening home assistant that promises Siri or Google Now style virtual PA features from a cloud-connected totem for your home or office. Woken with a spoken keyword - "Alexa" or "Amazon" initially, with more to come - rather than pressing any buttons, Echo can be asked for information on anything from current news or weather conditions, to play music from a particular artist, to set alarms or add items to shopping or to-do lists, or just to get the answers to questions.

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