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MIT recently unveiled -- or rather, unfurled -- an unusual drone specimen. The tiny robot weighs a third of a gram and is just 1.7 cm long. It starts its existence as a flat, paper or polystyrene wafer. When activated with a small heat source, the drone folds itself up into the complex shape you see above and can begin moving (or swimming!) at a rate of 3 cm/sec.

The drone's movement is "powered" by two sets of magnets: a neodymium magnet integrated into the robot itself and another four electromagnetic coils located under the operating surface that attract and repel the onboard magnet as needed. Technically, the magnets cycle on and off at 15 Hz, causing the onboard magnet to rattle in time, driving the asymmetrical feet and moving the robot. When you're done using the drone, simply drop it into an acetone bath and the external structure will completely dissolve, leaving just the magnet behind. The MIT team, led by Shuhei Miyashita, debuted the robot at ICRA 2015 in Seattle yesterday. They hope that future iterations will dissolve entirely as well as be able to fold itself within your body, operate autonomously (doing lord knows what to your gut), then melt away without a trace.

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Google’s I/O 2015 keynote wasn’t the flashiest. The company has so many products that, even with a two-and-a-half-hour run-time, some of the demonstrations felt a bit short. No particular announcement stuck out.

That doesn’t mean nothing of consequence was introduced, though. Google announced entirely new platforms, new features for Android, and updates to Android Wear. Here are 10 highlights we think deserve your attention.

Android Pay faces off with Apple Pay

Google Pay

Google was first to the mobile payments race with Google Wallet, but that initiative languished. Now the company is making a second attempt with Android Pay. Though fundamentally the same as Wallet, Pay adds new features, like additional credit card partnerships, fingerprint verification and secure transaction tokenization.

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Posted by on in CNET

Google announced a new photo app separate from its social network. James Martin/CNET

SAN FRANCISCO -- For everyone who's been on Google+ deathwatch, the search giant says that's not necessary.

Google's embattled social network is alive and well, the product's boss said at a press event Thursday. But the team behind the product -- which has had trouble gaining traction with consumers -- is rethinking the goal of the service.

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The more things change, the more they stay the same, as the saying goes. Over half a decade ago, Techdirt covered a bakery out of Pennsylvania that used trademark laws to keep another bakery from putting smiley-faces on its cookies. Frankly, it's one of those stories we cover where the immediate question of how trademarks could be twisted into this nonsense is immediately followed by the assumption that the whole thing will soon go away, never to be repeated again.

Not so much in this case, as it turns out. Eat'n Park recently once again brought a federal trademark suit against another company for daring to put the universal symbol for happiness on a cookie.

Eat'n Park this week sued a Chicago company in federal court over its use of a cookie that the Pittsburgh restaurant chain says is too similar to its trademarked Smiley face cookie. The suit filed Tuesday said Chicago American Sweet & Snacks sells cookies called "Smiley's" that Eat'n Park says are a lot like its product. Eat'n Park has sold its Smiley cookies since 1985 and has filed numerous trademark infringement suits against various companies over the years to protect the design.
It should be noted that the dispute also seems to be about the two company logos for their respective smiley-face cookie brands, not just about the baked goods. Here are the logos for both.
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Now, let's leave aside for a moment the fact that the two logos don't look anything alike and are about as likely to be confused with one another as my manly physique is likely to be confused with a professional bodybuilder's. Instead, I'd like to propose that there should be a provision in trademark law that goes something like this: if your distinctive logo is so generic that tons of your competitors keep accidentally coming upon the same base design as yours, nobody gets to trademark it. Think of it as something like an independent invention test for patents. We can call it the Geigner rule, because vanity is my trademark, jerks.

“In this particular case, the “Smiley’s Cookies” logo name and design used by the company infringes on our brand trademark,“ said spokesman Kevin O’Connell.
If it was audible, Mr. O'Connell would be hearing the sound of my eyes rolling. Nobody is associating a smiley-face cookie with any particular brand, because the very idea seems like the kind of thing that everyone came up with when making cookies in their home kitchens. Maybe it's time someone do a cookie with an "R" encircled by the treat, huh?
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Posted by on in PCWorld

Goodbye, Google Wallet! It's Android Pay's time to shine. Google has finally souped up its mobile payments system—though not too much. It's a pretty straightforward upgrade, with a few new features added to make it more secure than its predecessor. If you're interested in using it yourself, here's a quick primer on what you need to know about Android Pay. 

What is Android Pay?

Android Pay is Google’s new mobile payment platform. It uses the existing NFC chip in your phone, just like Google Wallet. If you had Google Wallet setup beforehand, all of that existing payment information will transfer over to Android Pay—it’s essentially the same API. Android Pay will also work for person-to-person payment transactions and the app will also let you store any supported loyalty cards.

How does it work?

Let’s say you’re at a vending machine that accepts NFC payments. All you have to do is hold up the phone to the machine to pay for the beverage. An alert on the vending machine's small display will let you know if the transaction was successful. Just make sure to aim your NFC chip at the machine.

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On the first day of its I/O developer conference Google made a series of iOS-related announcements, including making Inbox available to everyone, bringing its Cardboard virtual reality technology to the platform, and announcing updates to the iOS versions of Maps and the Places API.

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Google InboxVersion 1.3 of the simplified email client can now be freely downloaded from the App Store. Previously, people wanting to use the app could only do so through an invite system.Google has also added several new features, such as Trip Bundles, which automatically gather together trip-related emails and highlight key pieces of information. An Undo Send option lets users retract a message within a few seconds of sending it, and any reminders created in Google Keep will appear in Inbox as well. Two new settings options let users enable a "swipe to delete" gesture or create a signature.Inbox is free and runs on any device with iOS 7.0 or higher.Google Cardboard on iOSimage
Although Cardboard previously had some unofficial iPhone app support, Google today added iOS to the Cardboard SDK, making it easier for iPhone developers to enable virtual reality options. With a compatible app running, an iPhone simply needs to be inserted into a Cardboard-ready viewer.Google also released a revamped official viewer design, which can be assembled in three steps, has a new button, and supports devices with screens up to 6 inches — enough to fit phones like the iPhone 6 Plus. People wanting to try Cardboard can download instructions to make a viewer or buy a pre-assembled third-party unit.Google Maps & Places APIimage
The Places API for iOS is now available in its final form, having first emerged in March as a beta. The code lets developers access Google's points-of-interest database, in turn making it easier for apps to do things like determine location, search for a POI, and get business details such as a phone number and Web address.One developer working to implement the API is ridesharing service Lyft, which is crafting an update that will use Google services to mark pickup and dropoff points.Google is meanwhile preparing to update Maps with an offline search mode, and even offline turn-by-turn navigation. The new features should debut sometime later in 2015.
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Here at the Code Conference, we asked a handful of speakers and attendees to explain how they think the tech industry can address its diversity challenges.

Mary Meeker highlighted the challenge of unconscious bias; Simeon Simeonov discussed how growing up under communism affected gender expectations; and Apple’s Jeff Williams described some of the company’s feeder programs, including its $100 million donation to President Obama’s ConnectED.

See more in the video above.

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MojoKid writes with yet more news from the ongoing Google IO conference: Google I/O kicked off this afternoon and the first topic of discussion was of course Google's next generation mobile operating system. For those that were hoping for a huge UI overhaul or a ton of whiz-bang features, this is not the Android release for you. Instead, Android M is more of a maintenance released focused mainly on squashing bugs and improving stability/performance across the board. Even though Android M is about making Android a more stable platform, there are a few features that have been improved upon or introduced for this release: App Permissions, Chrome Custom Tabs for apps, App Links (instead of asking you which app to choose when clicking a link, Android M's new Intent System can allow apps to verify that they are rightfully in possession of a link), NFC-based Android Pay, standardized fingerprint scanning support, and a new "doze" mode that supposedly offers 2X longer battery life when idle.
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As promised back in March, the Nvidia Shield Android TV console is coming this month — today, in fact. The company has announced it's now available to order from Amazon, Best Buy, and its own website.

The new Shield — a thin, angular console with a sharp green streak of light — is powered by Nvidia's Tegra X1 mobile "superchip" with 3GB RAM. The main platform here is Android TV, and Shield is capable of streaming 4K video from compatible services (which include Netflix, YouTube, a handful of others). It's also a gaming device; Nvidia is touting over a dozen exclusive titles in addition to those already compatible with Android TV. It's also capable of streaming games via its GRID service.

The $199 standard model comes with 16GB storage, while the $299 "Pro" version comes with 500GB and a copy of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel — both include a game controller and can expand their storage via MicroSD and USB 3.0. You can buy a slimmer remote for $49.99, a stand to prop the Shield vertically for $29.99, and additional game controllers for $59.99.

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UK2015-05-28 18:25:04 UTC

LONDON — New footage captured Wednesday shows the tense scenes between protesters and police in London on the opening day of parliament in Westminster.

"David Cameron has got to go," protesters chanted as they walked through the streets of London on the same day as the Queen's Speech, which officially opened the new Conservative-led parliament.

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Yes, Google’s much-hyped Internet of Things effort is called Brillo. The company announced it today at Google I/O, where senior VP Sundar Pichai described it as “Android, polished down… an end-to-end functioning operating system.”

brillo-1 Google/YouTubeBut Brillo isn’t just Brillo—it’s also Weave, a communication layer that will enable IoT devices to talk to one another, the cloud, and of course, your phone. Pichai says Weave gives the growing world of connected, smart devices a common language. The actions each of these things is responsible for—smart ovens change temperatures, smart doors unlock and lock—won’t be so singular. Weave wants to make it so these devices aren’t linked only to your phone, but to one another as well. Weave exposes developer APIs in a cross-platform manner, so any connected device will speak the same language. brillo-2 Google/YouTubeGoogle also wants to use Brillo to refine the IoT user interface. “Any Android device [connected to] a device based on Brillo or Weave, a user will see the same thing no matter what.” You can jump into the Brillo platform via your mobile device, add owners for a device, and that’s it—that control hub of sorts will look to same to everyone who has the control, no matter the device. brillo-3 Google/YouTubeBrillo will be available to developers in the third quarter of the year, and Weave documentation will be announced throughout the year—the developer stack will be released in Q4. “We want to connect devices in a seamless and intuitive way,” says Pichai, “and make them work better for users.” This is a tall order for the Internet of Things, which remains fragmented and frustrated—but if Google can pilot real improvement from the software and hardware side, we might finally have a system that makes sense. Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.
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Amazon Now Offers Free Same-Day Delivery for Amazon Prime Members

Amazon Prime, already a valuable service, just got even better. Prime members can order something in the morning any day of the week and have it delivered that same day—at least if you live in one of the cities this is now available.

Here’s the deal: Order before noon and you’ll get your packages by 9pm. Or order after noon and get free next-day delivery. Orders have to be at least $35 (or you’ll pay $5.99 for delivery) and the items have to be among the 1 million items that qualify for same-day delivery. There’s a new icon and search filter for those items that qualify.

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The jets and knots of this galaxy, imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra Observatory.

Black holes of pretty much any mass can generate jets of material that shoot from their poles. These jets are so incredibly energetic that they can accelerate charged particles to a significant fraction of the speed of light. It’s still not known for sure how the particles in those jets get so much energy and hence move so fast.

One popular hypothesis is the "internal shock" model, which posits that the jets are uneven and lumpy and that some particles are moving faster than others. As a result, those particles will eventually catch up with the slower ones and collide with them. These collisions not only allow energy to be transferred through the jet, but they also allow the jets to have a magnetic field, which can further accelerate charged particles.

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google-io-20150001

Its been rumored for weeks, but consider it mostly official: Google is launching a photo service separate of Google+.

We just heard it straight from the horses mouth while walking the halls of Google I/O, though I don’t think we were supposed to hear it just yet. It’ll be announced during Google’s I/O keynote, scheduled to start in an hour.

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THE DOCUMENT FOUNDATION, curator of the LibreOffice suite, has announced LibreOffice Viewer for Android.

LibreOffice Viewer is the first native application from the group to offer Open Document Format documents.

The term 'Viewer' should be emphasised at present, as the Foundation acknowledges that it is not ready for "mission critical tasks" in edit mode, and indeed users have to opt in to editing within settings.

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Posted by on in Gizmodo

Watch the Google I/O Keynote Here, Live

Google I/O is the annual event all you Droid lovers and Chromies and Moonshooters have been waiting for. Today we’re going to hear what Google has in store for the next year — from Android M to Cardboard and more. Tune in live right here, at 12:00 PM eastern time. We’ll be liveblogging from the event, too!

Contact the author at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Public PGP key
PGP fingerprint: CA58 326B 1ACB 133B 0D15 5BCE 3FC6 9123 B2AA 1E1A

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Lego Worlds

Lego's new Amiibo-like Dimensions figures haven't even hit stores yet, but already the company appears to be taking on another gaming phenomenon: Minecraft. The world's biggest toy brand has begun including small flyers inside some of its sets advertising a new game called Lego Worlds, inviting players to "Explore. Discover. Create." Sounds exactly like the premise of Mojang's popular sandbox game, doesn't it? Lego may have gotten a little ahead of itself as the dedicated website for Worlds has yet to go live, but something tells us we might learn more about this mysterious title when E3 comes around next month.

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Swatch still wants in on the smartwatch game. According to Chief Executive Nick Hayek, the watch will be Internet-enabled and feature remote-payment functions, although the specifics are still in question. Hayek, speaking recently at a shareholder meeting, said that its upcoming smartwatch will launch in Switzerland and “one big country.”

It’s not clear which large market Swatch is targeting. As the WSJ reports, Swatch already has a payments deal with China UnionPay, and China is Swatch’s largest market.

According to past interviews with Hayek, the watch will not have to be charged and will sport NFC. But, at least in February when the company announced its plans, the smartwatch will not work with iOS devices; it’s designed for Windows Phones and Android devices.

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Amazon has been busy ramping up same-day delivery lately, using every method at its disposal — including the subway — to deliver items to customers as fast as it possibly can. And for members of Amazon Prime, those delivery terms are about to get even better.

Starting today, Amazon is offering same-day delivery for free to Prime members in 14 metro areas throughout the U.S. The service is basically an extension of the free two-day shipping that Prime members have been using since the service was introduced.

The major areas served are New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle/Tacoma, Phoenix, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Indianapolis, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Atlanta, and the Tampa Bay area.

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Hard truths about Tomorrowland, Brad Bird and Disney’s optimism-based adventure film that was released last week: it only made $33 million dollars its opening weekend. That might be a fine box office gross for other movies released on other weekends in other years, but in summer 2015 it is not good. Two movies have already opened to over $100 million dollars this year — Furious 7 and Avengers: Age of Ultron — and Jurassic World is tracking to be the third, so Tomorrowland’s opening doesn’t even put it in the second tier of summer hits with Mad Max: Fury Road and Pitch Perfect 2.

Reviews on Tomorrowland weren’t overwhelmingly positive and the online circles of backseat driving have begun to debate if this is Damon Lindelof swindling us again or if the American movie-going audience doesn’t really want original action movies like they say they do (after Avengers: Age of Ultron makes roughly one zillion dollars). The one thing that was common across all reviews was that none of them seemed to encourage more people to go see Tomorrowland.

I must admit that I am one of those who wasn’t persuaded by the early buzz on Tomorrowland. I sent several of my canaries into the coal mine and not a single one came back alive. Everyone kept saying the ending devolved into nothingness and a quick skim of the Wikipedia page for the film seems to support that reading. How did a film that claimed to be about inspiring optimism fail so completely to do so?

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