Author Archives: Chris Davies

Writing for R3 Media since 2006, Chris Davies is currently executive editor for SlashGear and Android Community. Based in San Francisco, he's responsible for SlashGear's editorial decisions and covers all forms of consumer technology. You can follow him on Twitter.

Amazon free Echo Dot promo goes live for just a few minutes

Amazon free Echo Dot promo goes live for just a few minutes

A clandestine Audible promotion made Amazon's Echo Dot free for a short window, though the deal was only stumbled upon accidentally on Friday afternoon. The promotion, only disclosed when Echo Dot buyers had the smart speaker in their cart and had reached the checkout stage, was listed only as an "Audible Promo" credit. However, it reduced the normally $49.99 device to free.

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Self-driving car tech just took a big step closer to mainstream

Self-driving car tech just took a big step closer to mainstream

Major car part supplier Delphi has inked a deal with a major LIDAR company, baking laser scanners into its turnkey kit for autonomous cars. The deal will see Innoviz Technologies supply solid-state LIDAR scanners to add to Delphi's work-in-progress system, which should give car-makers a shortcut to vehicles that can drive themselves. While Delphi might not be a household name, the vehicle parked outside many of those houses are likely to have at least some of the company's components inside.

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Removing watermarks from stock photos is worryingly easy

Removing watermarks from stock photos is worryingly easy

Watermarking photos may be the go-to route to prevent copyright theft, but Google researchers have figured out a clever way to remove watermarks altogether, automatically. Watermarking, where a logo is placed somewhere on a photo to show who took it, varies in intrusiveness from a small caption in one corner to the sort of full-image obscuring lines, text, and other graphics that stock image companies often plaster their previews with. As the researchers found, though, the very ubiquity of that strategy might be its undoing.

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Car hack affecting millions could be unfixable

Car hack affecting millions could be unfixable

A security flaw that could affect millions of cars has been identified, with researchers warning that there may be no fix available to protect susceptible vehicles. The exploit works by overloading the so-called CAN, or "car device network", which connects all of the different aspects of modern vehicles together. With the right code, essential parts of the car's safety features - such as the airbags or antilock brakes - could be forced offline.

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Andy Rubin’s Essential aims big by staying small

Andy Rubin’s Essential aims big by staying small

For the guy who once operated the mighty levers of Android as a whole, you might suspect a smartphone startup like Essential would be small fry for Andy Rubin. The ex-Googler and current head of product incubator Playground didn't intend to get into hardware development, at least not himself. His focus at Playground has been artificial intelligence, though not the sort that you'd find running Wikipedia searches and pulling down weather forecasts in Amazon's Echo or Google's Home.

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Instagram makes sliding into DMs more graphic

Instagram makes sliding into DMs more graphic

Instagram's Direct messaging is getting an upgrade, with the ability to reply to posts with stickers or even split-screen selfies. The new feature is billed as a way to have "visual conversations" by the company, though without them taking place publicly. It should cut down on "what photo were you talking about?" confusion in chats, too.

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Essential Phone first-impressions

Essential Phone first-impressions

In a crowded smartphone world you need to do something seriously special if you want to stand out. Essential's mix is a combination of pure Android, high-end build quality even a Vertu fan would have to give credit, and an ambitious roadmap of modular accessories, multiple form-factors, and a new generation of AI. Today, though, with the Essential Phone in hand and most of the rest still somewhere on a nebulous roadmap, I can't help but wonder: would it be taken as seriously if it wasn't the handiwork of Andy "Father of Android" Rubin?

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iOS 11 Touch ID lockdown is sneaky security done right

iOS 11 Touch ID lockdown is sneaky security done right

Apple's iOS 11 has a secret lockout option that temporarily disables Touch ID, a so-called "cop button" that could take advantage of legal loopholes about phone searches. While an increasing number of smartphones have fingerprint readers, and indeed all iPhones have for the past few generations, the idea that not all security systems are created equal goes further than just on-device security. In fact, while Touch ID might be more convenient than a PIN code or password, there are cases when it could be less resilient from legal compulsion to unlock your device.

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Amazon Alexa just raised the stakes ahead of HomePod

Amazon Alexa just raised the stakes ahead of HomePod

Amazon's war on the Google Assistant - and pre-emptive assault on Apple's HomePod - continues today, streamlining the ways for Alexa to spread to third-party hardware. The retail behemoth has been pushing Alexa as a simple way for device-makers to add AI smarts to their products without going to the time-consuming hassle and expense of developing their own virtual agent. Now, it's even closer to being a plug-and-play process.

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BMW Concept Z4 teases 2018 rear-wheel drive droptop

BMW Concept Z4 teases 2018 rear-wheel drive droptop

The car world may be going all-wheel drive, but BMW still has rear-wheel drive ambitions: welcome, then, the BMW Concept Z4. Previewing, as the name suggests, the third-generation Z4 that will replace the seven year old second-gen car, the droptop two-seater is being shown off for the first time at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance 2017 this week. It's a chance to bring the sporty convertible bang up to date with BMW's current design language.

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Google Home free calls just went live: What you need to know

Google Home free calls just went live: What you need to know

Google is firing up free voice calls on the Google Home, turning the smart speaker into a speakerphone. The feature allows for voice calls to any US or Canadian number, including landlines or cellphones. However, some users may find their friends are reluctant to answer the phone.

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Amazon will pay for popular Alexa skills to keep Echo’s edge

Amazon will pay for popular Alexa skills to keep Echo’s edge

Making skills for voice agents isn't just a hobby now, with Amazon opening up its wallet for those who make popular skills for Alexa. Intended to encourage developers to adopt Alexa as their virtual assistant platform of choice, the reward will be offered to those making skills in the US, UK, and Germany initially. However, Amazon is playing coy with exactly how much developers might hope to make.

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