Must Read Bits & Bytes

Sony throwing in the towel on phones and TVs

Sony throwing in the towel on phones and TVs

Sony's appetite for struggling through the cutthroat smartphone and TV segments may have finally faded, with the company's chief exec saying he will no longer chase sales growth, and is open to spinning-off each. The admission of near-defeat comes as CEO Kazuo Hirai outlined his new focus for the next three years, concentrating on PlayStation and camera sensor development rather than segments like phones which have been attacked at either end of the market, both by cheap rivals from Asia, and from more high-end competition from Apple and Samsung.

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Apple Watch isn’t a wearable doctor, so what will it be?

Apple Watch isn’t a wearable doctor, so what will it be?

We may have already seen Apple Watch, but in actual fact we've hardly seen it at all: just what will we get from having the iOS wearable on our wrists? While Apple demonstrated early prototypes of the wearable back in September 2014, complete with nowhere-near-final software, the actual direction the Apple Watch has taken is, developers and project insiders say, quite different to the original intentions. In fact, while app makers aren't short of praise already, that's not to say Apple itself has made quite the timepiece it initially set out to.

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LG Watch Urbane brings metal luxury to Android Wear

LG Watch Urbane brings metal luxury to Android Wear

Third time's a charm, they say. First there was the G Watch, which was an Android Wear pioneer that was both smart yet plain looking. This was followed by the G Watch R, which tried to add a bit of sophistication with its round face but failed with its bulk. Now LG is trying again with a slightly different name and a slightly different aesthetic but with the same circular body. The LG Watch Urbane is designed to appeal to fashion, both male and female, and it's coming in time for MWC 2015.

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Apple Titan self-driving electric car rumors gain traction

Apple Titan self-driving electric car rumors gain traction

Apple's auto ambitions are shaping up to be far more broad than simply dominating the dashboard with maps and multimedia, with multiple sources tipping an autonomous, electric car project underway dubbed "Titan". The Tesla-challenging car would be a cocked-snook not only to the traditional auto industry, it's suggested, but key rivals like Google which are themselves working on self-driving technologies. Reports that Apple had raided top automakers for engineers and R&D specialists broke late last week, for what at the time was speculated as a more advanced version of CarPlay. Now, however, the scope of the rumor-worthy skunkworks seems to be far greater.

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Interstellar’s black hole code leads to real science

Interstellar’s black hole code leads to real science

To achieve the effect of a black hole in the film Interstellar, Christopher Nolan worked with real physicist Kip Thorne to depict scientifically-sound images. Thorne and a team at Double Negative Visual Effects worked to create a new code to solve the equation for visualizing light beams as seen from a viewer as they approach a black hole. This has never been done before. While previous studies have been performed at great distances and with light rays, this system bundled light beams together to create an image that was realistic, beautiful, and scientifically sound.

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Obama signs divisive cyberthreat bill amid privacy fears

Obama signs divisive cyberthreat bill amid privacy fears

President Obama publicly signed the executive order driving through new cyber security legislation today, using an appearance at Stanford to discuss the controversial balance of privacy and protection. The bill - already a topic of fierce debate in Congress, which had continually refused to pass it - demands greater information sharing between government and private industry, "sharing appropriate information" as relevant to ensure vital infrastructure isn't compromised by hackers or malicious governments. However, exactly what counts as "appropriate", and what impact that has on individual privacy, remains to be seen.

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Smart home, smartphone, smart selling: Xiaomi’s power plan

Smart home, smartphone, smart selling: Xiaomi’s power plan

Xiaomi's schemes for smart home domination rest on a three dollar gizmo and a willingness to practically give it away, a warning note for rivals that, should a US launch happen, the Chinese curiosity could upset the game considerably. The Xiaomi Mi Module is a 22 yuan add-on linking regular appliances - whether they be heaters, rice cookers, or, as Xiaomi has already created for smog-heavy China, an air purifier - to the cloud, but rather than trying to fence the whole thing in, the company hopes to offer them at cost. It's a strategy that's at odds with how many of Xiaomi's competitors do business, and one which symbolizes quite how well a different approach can resonate with consumers.

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Xiaomi Mi Note hands-on: More than just an Apple clone

Xiaomi Mi Note hands-on: More than just an Apple clone

Xiaomi is on a charm offensive, and that means setting the record straight. Outspoken VP of International Hugo Barra returned to San Francisco alongside Xiaomi President Lin Bin to introduce the MIUI flavor of Android, not to mention the latest Mi Note smartphone, to a curious - if a little skeptical - tech press. Wildly popular in China and other countries, but known more for the inspiration it's accused of taking from Apple and others in the West, Xiaomi isn't quite ready for a US launch but thought it was high time we saw just what Chinese users are enjoying.

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Xiaomi’s Mi coming to US, just not how you’d think

Xiaomi’s Mi coming to US, just not how you’d think

It would appear that Xiaomi is coming to the United States to sell devices after all. Just not smartphones. Or tablets. Much of the rest of their wide variety of odd electronics from all corners of the electronics industry are on their way, on the other hand. Instead, they'll be bringing their Mi dot com sales website to the United States for sales of products on the accessories side of things - and other oddities. As far as smartphones and tablets go - they've got no plan in place for those as of now.

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Tesla home batteries coming to hoard renewable energy

Tesla home batteries coming to hoard renewable energy

Tesla's next product may not have an "insane mode" but the home battery pack CEO Elon Musk has revealed is in the pipeline could make more of a difference than its pricey electric sedans. Speaking during the Tesla investor call, Musk said that he expected the new batteries to be officially revealed in the "next month or two" and then hit production potentially mid-year. And, while in a performance car like the Model S P85D the idea is to get the power from the batteries to the road as swiftly as possible, the real merit of Tesla's home battery packs will be in how they can hoard electricity.

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