NVIDIA Shield Portable gets an update to improve emulator performance

NVIDIA has released an update to the Shield Portable device that improves the performance of emulators on the device. The update is small, at just over 3MB, and is optional.

This is good news as the Shield Portable is an ideal device for running emulators. For those not aware, emulators allow you to run games from other platforms, such as classic Nintendo games, which otherwise won’t run natively on Android. Since Shield Portable has built-in controls, it is great for playing classic games on the move and it is good to see NVIDIA acknowledge the typical use case of the device and work on improving that aspect.

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OnePlus introduces Silver Bullet Earphones

OnePlus introduced the Silver Bullet Earphones. In line with the Chinese manufacturer’s philosophy behind the OnePlus One, the headphones combine eye-grabbing looks, stellar build quality, and attractive pricing.

The OnePlus Silver Bullet Earphones feature brushed aluminum. Their impedance and sensitivity are 32 Ohms and 108dB respectively, while frequency response ranges between 20Hz and 20,000Hz.

Naturally, the headset will feature a remote control. The latter will also allow users to capture selfies in addition to the usual array of music and telephony controls.

In order to celebrate the launch, OnePlus will hand out ten pair of its headphones for free (all you have to do is fill up this form). In case you don’t win, don’t fret – the headset will be available to order in 16 countries next week for only $14.99.

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Apple iPhone 6 hands-on

The Apple iPhone 6 is finally here at HQ and we’re eager to share some hands on impressions with the smaller of Apple’s flagship devices.

Before we dive into the action let’s get a sense for what the Apple iPhone 6 is. For starters it’s one of Apple’s first two big-screened phone – even if it comes at a time when 4.7″ is considered a mini’s display for Apple iPhone 5s users the iPhone 6 ushers in a big change.

The display stands at 0.7″ bigger than the one on the iPhone 5s and as a whole the new iPhone 6 towers over its predecessor. The display now has a higher 750 x 1334px resolution and retains the adequate 326ppi sharpness. Under the hood there’s a new A8 chipset that’s 64-bit, 25% faster than its predecessor and features a better M8 motion co-processor. The camera is still only packing an 8MP sensor but has some neat trickery up its sleeve – 240fps slow-motion and 1080p@60fps video capture is available. Panoramas are now much bigger and cap at 43MP. The design is all new and the iPhone 6 is much thinner compared to its predecessor – 6.9mm vs 7.6mm.

So what is it like to handle and use Apple’s latest iToy? Well, great. Everything you love about the iPhone has made its way to the new one and despite the new body and larger screen the device feels just like an iPhone. Here’s a quick video of the unboxing and a tour of what iOS 8 brings to the new hardware.

iPhone, On hand

Thanks to being really slim and low weight the iPhone 6 doesn’t feel drastically bigger than an iPhone 5s but once you start getting used to the bigger 4.7″ screen and go back to the iPhone 5s the latter will immediately feel miniscule.

The new aluminum body with a glass front that lightly but noticeably curves towards the edges looks and feels refined. Buttons have a solid feel to them and the TouchID home button is very clicky with good feedback. The Home button on the iPhone 6 Plus is more mushy and doesn’t click as positively.

The Apple iPhone 6 screen is by no means groundbreaking in 2014 and wouldn’t have been a year ago either. Neither the screen diagonal is special, nor the bezels surrounding it, nor the resolution or ppi density. That said, the screen isn’t bad in any way. Users of above-400-ppi screens may notice a slight lack of sharpness in the finest of webpage text but otherwise 326ppi is sharp enough. Colors look punchy and saturated and the screen has deep blacks and seemingly great contrast. Viewing angles are superb as well. We’ll tell you more once we’ve ran our display tests on the Apple iPhone 6.

Apple iPhone 6 compared to 6 Plus and 5s

We took a couple of samples with the new phone and want to share them with you, compared with the iPhone 5S. The image quality is slightly better than the iPhone 5S. In good light, we noticed less noise and better dynamic range. No time for a proper low-light test just yet.

Apple iPhone 6 camera samples

Apple iPhone 5s camera samples

If you’re coming from an older iPhone the 6 feels good and it’s the first iPhone in a while that could look appealing to Android users obsessed with larger screens.

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Google reveals its self-driving car

Google first announced its plans in 2010 to make a self-driving car that, well, drives itself around and the passengers just have to sit and enjoy the ride without worrying about driving the vehicle. After years in development, Google has revealed an early version of its prototype vehicle.

The car, other than its self-driving ability is not much. It’s a cute little hatchback with just two seats inside and a screen to show the route. It doesn’t have any creature comforts on the inside and that is on purpose as this one is more for testing and demonstration purposes.

The Google car has no steering, pedals or gear shift. It drives itself around using an array or sensors that can reportedly see as far as two football fields in every direction. You just have to press a button and tell the car where you have to go and it will do the rest for you. The speed on the current car is capped at 25 mph (40kmph). watch clip

Google will be building 100 prototype of this car and later this summer it will test early versions of this car with manual controls. If everything goes according to plans, the company plans on doing a small pilot program in the next couple of years in California and will eventually work with partners to bring the technology on to the road.


Skype Translator does speech to speech translation in near real time

Microsoft presented a cool upcoming update to Skype called Translator – it breaks down the language barrier by serving as an interpreter. It listens to what you say and then speaks it to the other side in a language they understand, then does the same for them.

Most impressive is the speed – not quite real-time, but the translation is spoken almost as soon as you’re done talking.

The system uses a neural network-based speech recognition, which is then translated by Microsoft Translate (which powers Bing Translate) and the result is converted back to speech. You can read more about the system at Microsoft Research.Skype Translator will launch by the end of the year for Windows 8 first as a limited beta.

By the way, Google has been working on a similar service with Google Translate since as early as 2011.


Using Air Transportation Data to Predict Pandemics

Computational work conducted at Northwestern University has led to a new mathematical theory for understanding the global spread of epidemics. The resulting insights could not only help identify an outbreak’s origin but could also significantly improve the ability to forecast the global pathways through which a disease might spread.

With this new theory, we can reconstruct outbreak origins with higher confidence, compute epidemic-spreading speed and forecast when an epidemic wave front is to arrive at any location worldwide,” said theoretical physicist Dirk Brockmann, who developed the ideas for this research at the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO). “This may help to improve possible mitigation strategies.” Continue reading