Must Read Bits & Bytes

This is Audi’s custom car-controlling LG smartwatch

This is Audi’s custom car-controlling LG smartwatch

The automotive status symbol may no longer be the fob on your keyring but the smartwatch on your wrist, and we’ve got up close with the LG-made wearable Audi casually revealed during its CES keynote. R&D chief Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg used the watch to summon a self-driving Prologue to the stage, the touchscreen timepiece similar in appearance to LG’s existing circular-screened Android Wear model, but updated to suit the German marque’s automotive needs. Audi exclusively demonstrated the new smartwatch to SlashGear, and explained to me why it’s more than just a G Watch R with a custom skin.

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Report: new 12-inch MacBook Air slims down, has single USB port

Report: new 12-inch MacBook Air slims down, has single USB port

According to a new report from 9to5Mac, a new MacBook Air is coming. The new computer is alleged to have a12-inch screen, but remain about the size of the 11-inch model via reduced bezels on all sides. Possibly even cooler than that is the computer is said to be an actual thing, not like the iPad Pro we keep hearing about. Sources inside Apple claim to have been hands-on with the new device, which is also lighter than existing MacBook Airs.

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iPhone 6 and 6 Plus SIM-free models now available

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus SIM-free models now available

Yesterday word surfaced that Apple would begin offering the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus today with a SIM-free option, allowing those buying off-contract to get a model without a T-Mobile SIM card included. Fast-forward to this morning, and such an option is indeed now available on Apple's website. This follows a relatively long wait for such an option, and will also be available to those who buy one of the handsets in-store rather than online. The price is the same as the with-SIM version.

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‘Dropcam killer’ Simplicam now has facial recognition

‘Dropcam killer’ Simplicam now has facial recognition

Simplicam, a rising force in the home security field, is introducing a very special feature at CES this week. Facial recognition is coming to Simplicam via a software update, meaning all existing and new users will have the feature available straight away. Still in beta, facial recognition also works closely with Simplicam’s existing software, making for a truer home security experience for all. Later this month, Simplicam will also roll out detection zones, allowing users to geofence their home security like never before.

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Mercedes-Benz F 015 self-driving car in-depth: AI & lasers

Mercedes-Benz F 015 self-driving car in-depth: AI & lasers

Mercedes-Benz teased something big - figuratively and literally - for CES 2015, and the F 015 Luxury in Motion autonomous car ticks both boxes. Latest in the German marque’s F line of prototypes and proofs-of-concept, the F 015 is a luxury lounge on wheels, as Mercedes flirts not only with how cars of tomorrow might pilot themselves, but what those inside will do with the extra time they’ve suddenly had handed to them. Strikingly long, with color-changing LED lights on the outside to show if the AI is in charge and four electrically pivoting seats inside, it’s Mercedes’ take on what transport could look like in 2030 and beyond.

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SmartThings revamped as Samsung gets IoT serious

SmartThings revamped as Samsung gets IoT serious

We guessed Samsung had big plans for the smart home when it splashed out on SmartThings, and now the first step of that scheming has been revealed as the next-gen Hub. The new SmartThings Hub gets a more powerful processor than before, along with an integrated battery and cellular connectivity options meaning even if both your power and DSL go out, your smart home will stay online. Meanwhile, there's a new clutch of sensors, along with a premium subscription service which Samsung is clearly hoping will help make them some extra cash from home automation.

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Samsung SUHD TV one-ups Ultra HD with uber-colors

Samsung SUHD TV one-ups Ultra HD with uber-colors

What comes after Ultra HD when you're trying to sell people new TVs? If you're Samsung, the answer is SUHD, when the added "S" somewhat nebulous in its abbreviating but kept for the firm's most high-end models. It's not just a name and some sleek beveled edges, however, with Samsung turning to nanocrystal semiconductors to improve picture quality, contrast, brightness, and color, even running at the same 4K resolution as last year's sets. Meanwhile, under the hood of each SUHD is a new Smart TV platform powered by Tizen.

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ASUS ZenFone Zoom packs 3x optical zoom into Android

ASUS ZenFone Zoom packs 3x optical zoom into Android

ASUS was gleefully teasing something special for its flagship CES 2015 smartphone, and sure enough it is, with the ASUS ZenFone Zoom squeezing in a 3x optical zoom. The new Android handset has a 5.5-inch Full HD display and runs the latest version, 5.0 Lollipop, but it's the backside which we're most intrigued by, with its 13-megapixel camera and laser auto-focus system. The latter we've seen on handsets from LG, such as the G3 and today's G Flex 2, but an optical zoom in a smartphone is altogether more unusual.

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Chromecast opens up for streaming music to connected speakers

Chromecast opens up for streaming music to connected speakers

The greatest thing about Google’s Chromecast is not that it’s cheap (even though that’s an amazing aspect), it’s that Google made it wide open. All any software provider has to do is support the Chromecast rather than wait for it to come around to them. To that end, Google is aiming for the growing connected speaker market, and will make their dongle available for streaming to speakers and soundbars. They’ve also got a lineup of heavy-hitting partners in Sony, LG, and Denon to kick this new functionality off.

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LG G Flex 2 hands-on – A curveball keeper

LG G Flex 2 hands-on – A curveball keeper

I guarantee that the first time you hold the LG G Flex 2 in your hand, you're going to ask yourself why aren't there more phones with a curved display. And that's LG's hook. Instead of making you read this entire hands-on to really know how I feel about the G Flex 2 (though, you know, you really should read it anyway), I'm going to just come right out and tell you that it's beautiful to look at and it's beyond comfortable to hold. I'm not just saying this just because this is another new device coming to market but because, for the first time in a while now, I feel that LG has hit a home run.

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