KFC's new meal box with a built-in battery to charge mobile devices

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KFC's new "Watt a Box" is a meal box with a built-in battery, micro-USB, and lightning cables to charge your smartphone. It's available as a special limited edition "prize" for customers at KFC stores in Delhi and Mumbai. BGR reviewed the Watt a Box. It's a fun marketing gimmick but, no surprise, the battery kinda sucks. They claim it's a 6,100mAh power bank but perhaps a better approach (and name) would have been a Bucket of Batteries. From BGR:

The power bank claims to have a 6,100mAh battery but the claims fell short during our brief test. We put an iPhone 5s to charge, which gained 17 percent battery after charging for half-an-hour. But the downside was that the power bank was drained during this process. We recharged the power bank to 100 percent and tried to charge a Redmi Note 3. But the power bank ran out of juice again with the phone gaining just 7 percent of charge...

KFC is not the only one to toy with such marketing campaigns. Pizza Hut came up with a limited edition box in Hong Kong that converted into a projector for smartphones. McDonald’s had launched a special edition of its Happy Meal boxes in Sweden that could be converted into cardboard VR headsets. Coca Cola too had a similar cardboard VR headset one could make from its 12-pack cartons.

"Hands-on with KFC’s ‘Watt a Box’ that charges your phone while you eat" (via Laughing Squid)

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Phones without headphone jacks are phones with DRM for audio

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Nilay Patel's magnificent rant about Apple's rumored announcement that future phones won't have headphone jacks starts with the main event: "1. Digital audio means DRM audio." Read the rest

Right to repair is under assault in New York, and you can save it!

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New York is one of four states considering legislation that would guarantee your right to get your stuff fixed by independent repair centers, curbing manufacturers' attempts to limit access to technical documentation and parts, meaning you pay less to keep your stuff working, and that means that your gadgets don't become immortal, toxic e-waste. Read the rest

Edward Snowden performs radical surgery on a phone to make it "go black"

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If you think that your phone may have been hacked so that your adversaries can watch you through the cameras and listen through the mics, one way to solve the problem is to remove the cameras and microphones, and only use the phone with a headset that you unplug when it's not in use. Read the rest

As mobile carriers ramp up bribery program, Internet coalition says no to "zero rating"

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"Zero rating" is a widely practiced business among mobile carriers: they solicit bribes from Internet companies in return for their services being exempted from the carriers' data-caps -- products from companies that pay the bribes can be used for free, while a billing meter ticks for every bit downloaded from their competitors. Read the rest

Kickstarting Losswords: a mobile game you play by unscrambling passages from great literature

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A group of successful indie game devs are kickstarting Losswords, a game whose premise is that players are the resistance in a totalitarian future in which books have been banned, and games are the only form of permitted entertainment: you keep literature alive by making games out of the great books of history. Read the rest

The TSA spent $1.4M on an app to tell it who gets a random search

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"TSA Randomizer" is an Ipad app that tells TSA official swhich search-lane to send fliers down, randomly directing some of them to secondary screening. Read the rest

New trends in Chinese mobile UIs for 2016

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Dan Grover has updated his excellent annual survey of UI trends in Chinese mobile apps with a new installment that covers the t-shirt icon, the happy shopping bag, the moving SEND button, the rise of data-management apps and chatbots, and more. Read the rest

Hungarian ruling party wants to ban all working crypto

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The parliamentary vice-president from Fidesz -- the largest faction in the Hungarian government -- has asked parliament to "ban communication devices that [law enforcement agencies] are not able to surveil despite having the legal authority to do so." Read the rest

Silverpush says it's not in the ultrasonic audio-tracker ad-beacons business anymore

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Silverpush, the company that pioneered covert ultrasonic audio beacons that let advertisers link your activity on phones, tablets and laptops, says it will no longer sell the technology and does not want to be associated with the idea any longer. Read the rest

Hotel's Android-based lightswitches are predictably, horribly insecure

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Matthew Garrett checked into a London hotel and discovered that the proprietors had decided that "light switches are unfashionable and replaced them with a series of Android tablets." Read the rest

Fellowships for "Robin Hood" hackers to help poor people get access to the law

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New York City's Robin Hood Labs at Blue Ridge Laboratories have opening for paid fellowships to develop apps and technologies to give low-income people legal assistance in civil proceedings, like evictions, debt collection, and immigration procedures. Read the rest

If the FBI can force decryption backdoors, why not backdoors to turn on your phone's camera?

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Eddy Cue, Apple's head of services, has warned that if the FBI wins its case and can force Apple to produce custom software to help break into locked phones, there's nothing in principle that would stop it from seeking similar orders for custom firmware to remotely spy on users through their phones' cameras and microphones. Read the rest

As Apple fights the FBI tooth and nail, Amazon drops Kindle encryption

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Amazon's Kindle devices run a custom version of Android that, until today, supported full-disk encryption. Now they don't. Read the rest

Modular cellphone kits for makers

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Rephone makes modular open source hardware cellphone components -- GSM cores, touchscreens, speakers, GPS, miscellaneous sensors, and antennas -- that you can mix and match to build cellular capability into everyday gadgets; one project builds a complete cellular phone into a watch-strap for a Pebble smartwatch. Read the rest

FBI claims it has no records of its decision to delete its recommendation to encrypt your phone

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Two years ago, the FBI published its official advice to "protect your mobile device," including a recommendation to encrypt your storage. This year, the FBI is suing Apple to force it to break its encryption. Read the rest

Nissan yanks remote-access Leaf app -- 4+ weeks after researchers report critical flaw

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The remote access Leaf app has been recalled by Nissan, more than a month after researchers went to the company to report that they could remotely drain the battery and download the log of all the car's movements. Read the rest

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