Author Archives: JC Torres


Google Duplex will disclose it’s a bot, doesn’t know how yet

Google Duplex will disclose it’s a bot, doesn’t know how yet

Google's I/O 2018 conference kicked off with a lot of talk and demos of AI and machine learning. It painted a future of wonderful convenience but left audiences and readers wondering about the ramifications of an AI-powered world. This dichotomy, confusion, and fear was perhaps best shown in the demonstration of Duplex, an AI that sounded so human that it could book a restaurant reservation without the human on other side being the wiser. And thus the AI disclosure debates were born.

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Minecraft Nintendo Switch Bedrock update brings cross-play support

Minecraft Nintendo Switch Bedrock update brings cross-play support

It is almost ironic to think that it was after Microsoft acquired Minecraft and its developers that the popular voxel sandbox game exploded into more platforms and use cases. From mobile to rival consoles to education to AI research, Minecraft has become both a game and a learning tool for anyone and everyone. Continuing that "Minecraft everywhere" spirit, the Nintendo Switch Edition of Minecraft will finally get its "Better Together" cross-play feature in the Bedrock update schedule for next month.

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Xiaomi Smart Home products coming with Google Assistant support

Xiaomi Smart Home products coming with Google Assistant support

Xiaomi isn't in a rush to bring its crazy cheap smartphones to the US market. It never has been and, given the political atmosphere, it will probably be taking its sweet time. It has, however, made a few products available, most of them accessories and fan merchandise. Soon, it will be making another big step towards embracing the US market with a small expansion of its Smart Home product lineup. And all of them will have Google Assistant support.

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Xperia XZ2 durability test redeems its predecessors

Xperia XZ2 durability test redeems its predecessors

Sony made a huge gamble this year. At long last, it finally changed the design of its flagship phones, but it may not be what fans have been longing for. Especially after it visibly and tangibly increases the thickness of the devices. But that design change may also have some added benefits as YouTuber Zack Nelson from JerryRigEverything found out in his trifecta of durability test performed on the Sony Xperia XZ2.

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Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri vulnerable to inaudible commands

Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri vulnerable to inaudible commands

Smart assistants, especially those in smart speakers, have to always be listening. There is no other way to have them ready to answer your questions or obey your commands at a moment's notice, whether or not you have trigger phrase for it. Unfortunately, this also means that they will always be receiving and hearing any and all audio to intercept commands. The problem, according to researchers, is that these smart assistants might follow even those commands that you might not be able to hear.

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Microsoft Store finally support gifting digital games, DLCs

Microsoft Store finally support gifting digital games, DLCs

Contrary to stereotypes, gamers love to share. They are often very passionate about the games they love and, more often than not, are inclined to gift their friends a copy to spread the joy around. Unfortunately, digital distribution has made that act less straightforward compared to buying a physical disc and giving it to a fellow gamer. It relies on a distribution system supporting gifting digital copies of games. At long last, the Microsoft Store, a.k.a. Windows app store, has caught up with the times and is finally allowing gifting digital games and downloadable content.

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Google’s AI-powered future is convenient, wonderful, and scary

Google’s AI-powered future is convenient, wonderful, and scary

Google wants to make the world a better place by making it smarter and, perhaps by extension, making us lazier. All throughout its I/O 2018 presentation, AI, machine learning, and neural networks take center stage to relieve our brains of most of the cognitive workload and thereby free us to do and enjoy the more important things in life. There is, however, no such thing as a free lunch and everything comes at a price. And the price we'll eventually have to pay for Google's wonderful future is our privacy. At least some of it or maybe even all of it.

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OnePlus 6 trade-in begins as 3D renders leak out prior to launch

OnePlus 6 trade-in begins as 3D renders leak out prior to launch

The OnePlus 6 is due to arrive in a week's time so, naturally, OnePlus is kicking its marketing machine into high gear. While it has almost basically revealed all there is about the smartphone, the last important piece of the puzzle is still missing. While it hasn't yet revealed that, it is already preparing to soften what could be a big blow by offering OnePlus owners some cashback if they trade their older phone in.

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NEOGEO mini celebrates SNK’s 40 years with 40 classic games

NEOGEO mini celebrates SNK’s 40 years with 40 classic games

There are two trends that seem to still be going strong in the gaming market: nostalgia and miniaturization. The unsurprising success of the NES mini, followed by the SNES mini, has undoubtedly given console and arcade cabinet makers of old some confidence that their loyal fans not only still exist but are also very willing to throw some cash in the name of nostalgia and history. Japanese game company SNK is definitely hoping so. To celebrate the company's 40th anniversary, it is announcing a shrunken down version of its NEOGEO (Neo Geo) arcade cabinet called, what else, the NEOGEO mini.

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Android P notch options get a bit odd

Android P notch options get a bit odd

Android P is getting support for notches, that's pretty much a done deal by now. Of course, Google doesn't call it a notch but a "cutout" instead. All that's left, really, is to see the final form it will take. And apparently Google hasn't made up its mind just yet. The cutout options first appeared in the first Android P developer preview but has now changed rather considerably and strangely, adding more options but also removing others.

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Motorola foldable phone patent includes a curious case

Motorola foldable phone patent includes a curious case

Everyone is getting into foldable phones these days, from Samsung to Microsoft to even Apple. So no surprise that Motorola apparently wants in, too, and has actually been scheming for years. A recently awarded patent reveals its idea for a smartphone that folds out into a tablet, pretty much like other foldable phone patents out there. What makes this one a bit more interesting, however, is not the phone itself but the addition of a case cover that actually adds some value to the device.

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Wear OS Dev Preview 2: Actions on Google, Battery Saver

Wear OS Dev Preview 2: Actions on Google, Battery Saver

Android P isn't the only one getting a second developer preview. Being based on the upcoming Android release, Wear OS by Google, formerly Android Wear also by Google, is similarly getting a sneak peek. While the list of new features isn't as long as its smartphone version, Wear OS ' Android P update is promising to address one of the biggest gripes smartwatch users have: a shorter than ideal battery life.

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