Motorola's snap-fit magnetic puzzle-phone looks promising

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The Moto Z phone uses a system of magnetically aligned components that snap on and off to add functionality, from high-quality speakers to extra batteries to a projector. Read the rest

Simulation of live mobile internet stats

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This simulation of live mobile internet stats offers a sense of scale: there are millions of concurrent Google searches, and, every minute, about half a million photos posted on WhatsApp, 3,000 smartphones sold (roughly half from Samsung and Apple), 35m messages sent on Facebook, and 40m emails opened. It is a marketing infographic, take heed, but it does conclude "Heck some people think smartphones are the gateway to transhumanism, where one day we will fully merge with machines!", which is nice. Read the rest

To see the future, visit the most remote areas of the GBAO

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Jan Chipchase travelled 7,100km through the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) ("a remote, sparsely populated, mostly Pamiri, Kyrgyz-speaking region of Tajikistan") with only a small piece of hand luggage, and in those rugged, beautiful mountains, discovered 61 glimpses of the future. Read the rest

Pokemon Go privacy rules are terrible (just like all your other apps)

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Pokemon Go wants access to your Google account (and thus your email and Google Docs) and its privacy policy is a Kafka-esque nightmare document that lets them collect every single imaginable piece of private information about your life and share it with pretty much anyone they want to, forever. Read the rest

The week in Pokemon: home invasions, armed robbery, police militarization

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Pokemon Go is the game of the summer: the first really successful alternate reality game that mashes up crowdsourced maps, in-phone cameras, seriously addictive game mechanics, and (of course) a free-to-play/cash-to-accelerate slot machine mechanic that children wouldn't be allowed to stand near if it were in a casino -- in less than a week, it's lifted Nintendo's stock price by 10% and been implicated in any number of bizarre news stories: Read the rest

Universal, CC-licensed mobile phone charging dock

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Eirik writes, "I like those old charging docks for mobile phones. But the problem is that you need to buy a new one every time your phone change. And it won't fit if you use a cover on your phone. So I just designed a dock that can be adapted to almost any phone." Read the rest

Spotify threatens to report Apple to competition regulators over App Store rejection

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Apple has rejected Spotify's latest app for inclusion in the Ios App Store, citing its rules against app vendors processing their own payments; Apple requires software vendors to pay to use Apple's own payment processor -- which collects hefty commissions -- in their apps. Read the rest

Star Trek: TOS communicators that run on Bluetooth

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Thinkgeek's $150 Bluetooth Communicators are based on 3D scans of a prop communicator; pair it with your phone and clip it to your belt: when you get a ring, the psychedelic hypno-disc in the middle will spin prettily, flick it open and start talking. Read the rest

Rubber fingertips to use with fingerprint-based authentication systems

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Mian Wei, a Chinese student at the Rhode Island School of Design, has created an experimental series of fake fingertips with randomly generated fingerprints that work with Apple and Android fingerprint authentication schemes, as well as many others. Read the rest

Apps help women bypass states' barriers to contraception

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In many states in America, legislatures have erected punitive, vindictive barriers for women seeking contraception, requiring them to get prescriptions for safe, widely taken medications. Read the rest

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)

Read the rest

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

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