From BGR: Volvo has a new baby SUV that might make Tesla worried

Volvo has fully embraced the next generation of car technology. It’s committed to producing no gas-only cars after 2018, its self-driving tech is some of the most advanced in any road-legal car, and it knows how to make a killer truck ad. But in addition to looking at the future, it’s also making killer cars for right now.

The Volvo XC40 is the latest model to join the company’s SUV range, and it’s a looker. It takes the technology and architecture from its bigger siblings, the XC60 and XC90, and puts them in a smaller and cheaper package. The XC40 will start at $33,000 in the US, with options handily taking it over $40,000. That’s going to have Tesla’s new Model 3 — and the SUV crossover it’s expected to launch next — sitting uncomfortable.

The comparison between Tesla and Volvo is closer than you might think. They both target a luxury segment, and Volvo is just as good at many of the things that’ve put Tesla on the map. There’s a giant touchscreen to control in-car systems, a host of self-driving systems, and modern touches like built-in wireless charging for phones.

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The self-driving systems include Pilot Assist, which is similar to Tesla’s Autopilot; City Safety that helps with pedestrians and urban obstacles; and Cross Traffic Alert with autonomous braking, which should help prevent things like the fatal Autopilot accident that killed the driver of a Tesla Model S.

The XC40 will come with a conventional gas or diesel engine at launch, with gas-electric and EV models coming later.

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From BGR: Scientists spot odd pair of asteroids locked in a watery dance

While NASA is hard at work getting a fancy probe to steal rocks from a nearby asteroid, researchers with their eyes on the rocky belt of debris that dominates the space between Mars and Jupiter have detected a pair of rocks that are doing something never before seen. The rocks, which are considered a binary asteroid with the singular name 288P, are locked in orbit around each other, shooting out plumes of water vapor as they dance in the darkness of space.

Astronomers have seen many different types of asteroids and gone to great lengths to observe and document their behaviors. They’ve seen binary asteroids in the past, as well as asteroids that have a habit of firing jets of vapor as they cruise along, but never before have the two factors been present in a single body.

The interesting traits of 288P don’t end there; the two rocks are also orbiting each other at a much wider distance than they theoretically should. A gap of over 60 miles separates the rocks, which is an order of magnitude greater than what scientists would have predicted. The current best guess as to why centers on the rocks’ water-spewing behavior, which may have gently nudged the two asteroids in opposite directions, resulting in an incredibly wide gap between them.

This peculiar combination of features makes 288P a real weirdo, at least in terms of asteroids, but it could also hint at how some asteroids mature over time. The asteroids are quite a ways from Earth, so studying them in great detail isn’t possible, but scientists will be keeping an eye on the odd pair in the hopes that they will reveal more of their secrets.

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From BGR: Here’s an idea: Buy solar eclipse glasses now for $15 so you don’t have to pay $150 later

People started to lose their minds last month when we were getting close to the solar eclipse. They scrambled to get their hands on solar eclipse glasses so they and their children could see the exciting event without potentially damaging their eyes. Well, guess what: solar eclipses aren’t really that rare, and the next one visible from North America will happen before you know it. Instead of scrambling three days before it happens and spending $150 to get your hands on a pair, grab a 5-pack of solar eclipse glasses right now on Amazon for just $15.

Here’s what you need to know from the product page:

  • MADE IN THE USA | Be assured with only the highest of quality materials from an American manufacturer who has turned out over 30 million viewers. Ensuring the best viewing experience, these patriotic viewers are produced with 2 mil scratch resistant black polymer lenses which filter out 100% of harmful ultraviolet and infrared rays and 99.999% of intense visible light.
  • ISO AND CE CERTIFIED FOR DIRECT SUN VIEWING | With an optical density of 5 or greater, the eclipse glasses are ISO 12312-2 compliant and CE certified. The lenses and frames are independently tested so you can be confident in your safety for watching of all phases of the eclipse.
  • ONE SIZE FITS ALL | Everyone will be prepared for this monumental event because these glasses fit all sizes ranging from children to adults. Featured are multiple bend points also allowing them to fit comfortably over prescription glasses.
  • BUY NOW BEFORE THEY SELL OUT | Don’t be stuck at the last minute to find that all of the safe and authentic solar eclipse glasses are sold out! With views that stellar, you don’t want to be caught without your memento pack of patriotic solar eclipse glasses!

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From BGR: Mercedes-Benz is making a $1 billion bet against Tesla

Daimler AG, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, is spending $1 billion to start the production of electric vehicles at a factory in Alabama. Blockbuster investment in electric vehicle manufacturing in a US state? Sure sounds like someone’s trying to take down Tesla.

The investment will create Daimler’s fifth battery plant worldwide, and turn the existing Tuscaloosa, Alabama plant into a big threat to Tesla. It’s set to assemble all-electric SUVs, which are designed to take on the Model X and Tesla’s upcoming crossover vehicle.

“We’re celebrating our 20th anniversary at our production facility in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and we’re taking this as an opportunity to expand the operation and further fuel growth,� production chief Markus Schaefer told Bloomberg. “We’re very confident for future growth in the U.S. in the long-term. �

Tesla poses a unique threat to Mercedes, and other German luxury car manufacturers. The Model S offers a level of technical sophistication that’s long been the reserve of the Mercedes S-Class, in a vehicle that’s made in the USA and accelerates insanely fast. While it’s still going to be years before electric vehicles can take over mass transportation — whatever Elon Musk might say about the Model 3 — Tesla is making fancier toys for the rich right now.

Transitioning to electric vehicle manufacturing will be a big change for the plant in Alabama. Currently, it produces the GLE, GLE Coupe and GLS SUVs for Mercedes. Crossovers have been one of the few consistent profit-makers for the auto industry over the last five years, so the transition to all-electric is a big vote of faith in the technology.

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From BGR: HBO is already working on five ‘Game of Thrones’ spin-offs

Game of Thrones is HBO’s best TV series ever, and we’ll certainly miss it once it’s gone. But does that mean we need five distinct spinoffs? HBO certainly seems to think so.

According to Variety, HBO is indeed working on five distinct prequels for Game of Thrones.

If you think that’s terrific news, you’re partly right. The Game of Thrones universe is certainly large enough to warrant more stories. But these prequels will not be tied to the action in the series you love so much. George R.R. Martin said that each project is a distinct prequel, not a traditional spin-off. That means you won’t see any of the current characters in the new series.

Furthermore, neither one is focused on Robert’s Rebellion, which set in motion the entire plot of Game of Thrones. The writer also said that they will not focus on his characters Duncan the Tall and Aegon the Unlikely.

What will they be about? We have no idea, but we do know that Bryan Cogman will be writing the fifth prequel. He already worked in various capacities on Game of Thrones, including writing some episodes like S07E02 Stormborn and S06E07 The Broken Man.

According to Martin, apart from himself and Game of Thrones experts Elio Garcia and Linda Antonsson there’s nobody “who knows and loves Westeros as well as� Cogman.

Variety reminds us that the four other writers working on Game of Thrones prequels are Max Borenstein (Kong: Skull Island), Jane Goldman (Kingsman: The Golden Circle), Brian Helgeland (Legend), and Carly Wray (Mad Men, The Leftovers).

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From BGR: Google’s Android One Moto X4 is the first of its kind in the US

Google’s big Pixel 2 event is still over a week away, but you won’t have to wait that long for some big news. On Thursday, Google announced that the Moto X4 will be the next phone that will work with the company’s Project Fi network, which makes it the first non-Google phone to do so. But that’s not all: The Moto X4 will also be the first Android One phone available to purchase in the United States.

While the Android One Moto X4 has the same specifications and hardware as the phone announced at IFA 2017 this summer, it replaces the custom software with a pure Android experience, a limited selection of preinstalled apps and guaranteed software updates for two years. In fact, Google says that the Android One Moto X4 will have Android Oreo before the end of the year and will be one of the first phones to get Android P.

With the Pixel 2 expected to retail for over $600 and the Pixel 2 XL for over $800, Google needed to add a more affordable device to the Project Fi lineup. Not only is the Android One Moto X4 affordable at $399, but with its dual rear camera system, octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM, TurboPower fast charging, and solid design, it actually stands a chance of making an impact in a market where high-end phones dominate.

The Android One Moto X4, which comes in Super Black and Sterling Blue, will only be available on Google’s Project Fi network in the US. You can preorder the phone right now on the Project Fi website. Plus, with Google’s new trade-in program, you can get $165 for select Nexus devices, and if you start your trade-in for an Android One Moto X4 by October 5, you’ll earn an extra $50 in Fi credit too.

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From BGR: Bose just announced the first headphones optimized for Google Assistant

Google and Bose teamed up on Thursday to announce the new QC35 II headphones, which are the first pair of headphones optimized for Google Assistant. Rather than taking your phone from out of your pocket to interact with Google Assistant, all you need to do is press the Action button on the headphones and start talking.

Bose says in a press release that the QC35 II headphones “have all the performance and features of the original QC35,” including the 20 hour battery life, noise cancellation and controls on the right earcup. The only notable change is the Action button, which connects you to Google Assistant with a single press.

Bose provides a list of use cases for Google Assistant: playing songs and playlists, adding appointments to Google Calendar, making a phone call and receiving notifications about texts, events and reminders. Plus, you can ask Google Assistant a question from the QC35 IIs to find out the score of a football game, whether or not your flight is on time, what’s in the news and what movies are playing in theaters at the moment.

While the hardware is mostly unchanged, Bose has added a new setting to its Bose Connect app to allow users to adjust noise cancellation between high, low and off. And if you don’t plan on using Google Assistant, you can also change the Action button’s functionality to control the noise settings instead.

Google says that more Assistant-optimized headphones are on the way, but for now, the Bose QC35 IIs are your only option. They’re available beginning today in black and silver for $349.95.

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From BGR: Hackers are locking people out of their MacBooks – here’s how to stay safe

Hackers using stolen iCloud credentials have been able to use Apple’ Find My Device features to remotely lock down computers and demand Bitcoin ransoms from affected users. However, that doesn’t mean Apple’s iCloud was hacked. Instead, hackers are likely trying their luck with some of the many available username and password combinations that resulted from recently publicized hacks.

As long as you don’t reuse passwords, and your iCloud login is distinct from any of your username and password combo that may have been affected by a recent hack, you are safe. Hackers won’t be able to log into your iCloud account and disable your Mac.

https://twitter.com/jcaffoe/status/910543213148102656

But there are users out there who don’t use this basic security feature — picking at least a different password for every online property you might own. As a result, hackers were able to lock down their devices, MacRumors reports.

https://twitter.com/bunandsomesauce/status/909181846591860736

As long as someone has access to your iCloud credentials, they can lock a Mac with a passcode even when two-factor authentication is turned on your account. That’s because an Apple user has to be able to search for an iPhone on a map in case it gets lost even if the iPhone is protected with two-factor authentication.

In case you have been affected by the issue, you should try contacting Apple support to for assistance.

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In the future, you should rely on unique passwords and password management programs to safeguard your devices and online accounts, and change the passwords when one of those accounts is hacked.

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From BGR: Want to know why the iPhone is special? Just look at the iPhone 5

Going off the Scrooge McDuck-sized piles of cash that the iPhone has made Apple over the years, you’d think that making money from selling $700 smartphones is easy. But as the list of failed smartphone companies grows, it’s increasingly obvious that doing what Apple does isn’t simple.

Plenty has been written about Apple’s secret sauce over the years, and I’m not going to try and rehash all that. But I think comparing the iPhone 5 to Android smartphones from 2013 can give us a relevant example of where Apple shines, and the rest fall down.

Apple just released iOS 11 to the general public, and if you read down through the release notes, you’ll see something surprising. The iPhone 5, first released in 2013, is getting the latest software update at the same time as the newest iPhone. How many Android phones from 2013 are getting Android 8.0 Oreo?

As far as I can work out, none. Certainly none of the flagship Android devices from 2013 are getting Oreo. The Galaxy S4, launched a few months before the iPhone 5, is wallowing on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The HTC One M7 is stuck a version further back, on Lollipop.

Even though Google is trying to fix the problem by making new features accessible to older versions of Android, the underlying issue remains. Android phones just aren’t designed to last for a long time, which itself is part of a bigger problem. The reason people like Apple devices is because they feel like they’re buying into a service, not just a device. Buy whichever iPhone you feel like right now, and Apple’s going to make sure that it provides the best experience until the hardware is completely dead. Buy an iCloud storage plan, use iMessages across all your devices, and listen to Apple Music on any iPhone — not just one made more recently than 2015.

The issue of software fragmentation on its own isn’t the problem with Android. It’s the overall experience that customers get, and terrible software updating is just a symptom, not the root cause.

Most of the problems with Android come from the multiple cogs in the process. Phone services — things like the core messaging app, preferred cloud storage system, or digital AI — are not aligned with the phone’s software or hardware. On a brand-new Samsung phone, you’ve got duplicate AIs, duplicate cloud backup services, and five different messaging apps clamouring for your attention. Try explaining to your parents why they should use the Gmail app or the phone’s default Mail app, or why the cloud backup they made on their HTC isn’t going to magically fix their new Note 8.

I think that’s what Google is trying to solve with its acquisition of HTC’s Pixel division. For the first time since Microsoft’s aborted Windows Phone experiment, we’re going to have a company other than Apple making software and hardware. More importantly, we’re finally going to get a level playing field for the Android vs iOS showdown that we all want.

Google needs to be careful here, though. The temptation will be to focus so hard on making a killer device, it forgets about support. The key to Apple’s success is detail and consistency, across the board.

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From BGR: 7 paid iPhone apps that are free to download right now

Today, on the anniversary of the original publication date of The Hobbit, we have a bunch of free apps for you to download that have absolutely nothing to do with Middle-earth. Classic works of fiction aside, you should find something to keep yourself busy in the list of paid apps gone free below.

This post covers paid iPhone and iPad apps that have been made available for free for a limited time by their developers. BGR is not affiliated with any developers. There is no way to tell how long they will be free. These sales could end an hour from now or a week from now — obviously, the only thing we can guarantee is that they were free at the time this post was written. If you click on a link and see a price listed next to an app instead of the word “get,” it is no longer free. The sale has ended. If you download the app anyway, you will be charged by Apple.

Boxyn

Normally $0.99.

Boxyn is a hybrid messaging platform, an instant message style app that allows you to send and receive emails!

Add a boxyn.me account or just connect to an existing email address. Message anyone with an email account!

Works with any IMAP enabled email account, including Hotmail, Gmail, Office365, Yahoo, Exchange, Internet providers and more.

Boxyn only shows emails from people in your address book and others you choose to see, eliminating spam from your mobile email experience.

Get notified about emails you care about, not sales offers, newsletters and junk.

Frees you from the formalities of email, giving it a natural conversational feel.

Boxyn turns multi recipient emails into group conversations

Instant messaging for businesses and enterprises on your existing email server! Removes the cost and complexity of installing, deploying and maintaining another service

Download Boxyn


ChainWise

Normally $0.99.

Choose your favorite restaurants and then quickly find them nearby or in any city. ChainWise is perfect for traveling or just choosing a restaurant near home.

This free dining app shows your favorite restaurants and nothing else. Instead of spending time searching through reviews of unfamiliar restaurants, you can find a sure thing in a few seconds and get instant turn-by-turn directions.

ChainWise has everything from small regional chains to the franchise on every corner. Download the app now to make your list of favorites!

Features:
• Choose from over 300 regional & national chains
• Find nearby locations of your favorites
• Get turn-by-turn GPS directions
• Traveling? Search in your destination city
• Narrow your search by price, cuisine, or region of the United States
• Quickly add or delete saved chains anytime

Download ChainWise


InstaWeb

Normally $0.99.

InstaWeb is a powerful tool for iPhone and iPad to convert any website to PDF very fast and easy. InstaWeb also features a clutter remover to create clean and ready to read PDFs. A must have tool for students, teachers, and professional users who save online articles for offline reading.

With InstaWeb you can share your PDF via email, Dropbox, SkyDrive, Google Drive. Also, you can print your file using an AirPrint compatible printer.

Features:
+ EMBEDDED URL LINKS+
The PDF now preserves the clickable links for easy url access from any device.

+ WEB TO PDF CONVERTER – SECURE +
Convert any website to PDF using the built in browser. Everything is done inside the app, you don’t have to worry about privacy or external servers.

+ FOLDER ORGANIZATION – OFFLINE STORAGE +
Save every PDF on your device. Organize them using folder structure.

+ REMOVE CLUTTER, FOCUS ON READING +
InstaWeb features a clean reading view to enjoy your favorite articles or online magazines. Also, you can convert your clean article to PDF for offline reading!

+ IN-APP BROWSER +
You can preview the webpage using the in-app browser. You can also use bookmarklet in Safari to send to article to InstaWeb.

+ SHARE, SAVE AND PRINT +
Share your PDF via Email, Message, Dropbox, Google Drive via Open in

+ IN APP PDF VIEWER +
You can read your PDF within the app using the built in PDF Viewer.

+BOOKMARKS+
Save your favorite and most visited websites for easy access and fast PDF creation

Download InstaWeb


Mind Games Pro

Normally $4.99.

Exercise Your Brain! This is the unlimited, ad-free, version of the hit brain training app. Mind Games is a great collection of games based in part on principles derived from cognitive tasks to help you practice different mental skills. This app includes all of Mindware’s brain exercising games. All games include your score history and graphs of your progress. The main app shows a summary of your best games and today’s scores on all games. Using some principles of standardized testing, your scores are also converted to a comparison scale so that you can see where you need work and excel. The Training Center selects games for you to play in order to maximize your progress and enjoyment.

Mind Games incorporates Mindfulness exercises. Previous research has shown that Mindfulness may provide improvements in focus, working memory, and mental flexibility for some. Research indicates that there may also be emotional benefits of Mindfulness. The app provides instruction on how to use Mindfulness during game play and in your life. Other activities are recommended that previous research suggests may help cognition for some (such as aerobic exercise). You may also learn new memory strategies. No scientific research has yet been conducted to determine if the app’s particular implementation of Mindfulness and brain training games has cognitive benefits. At a minimum you can have fun challenging your mind with our games, learning a new meditation practice, learning about strategies that may enhance your retention of information, and gaining knowledge in the knowledge-based activities.

Download Mind Games Pro


NodeBeat

Normally $2.99.

Make music with NodeBeat, the intuitive and fun visual music app for all ages. Whether you’re 2 or 92, NodeBeat will make you sound like a pro. Create your own music in a matter of minutes or listen to NodeBeat generate its own. Easily share your creations with others or save them for later to show your friends. Discover your musical genius with NodeBeat!

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◆ New Features ◆
– Audiobus support: Now you can stream live audio directly to other Audiobus-compatible apps! See http://audiob.us for more information.

◆ Audio Features ◆
– 20 Musical Scales
– All 12 Musical Keys Signatures
– 7 Octave Range
– 3-finger Background Keyboard/Piano
– Audio Waveform Adjustment (Sine, Triangle, Sawtooth, Square)
– Creative Sound Sculpting (Echo, Attack, Decay, Release)
– Audiobus Support

◆ Rhythm Features ◆
– Adjustable Tempo (BPM) & Note Beat

◆ Sharing/Exporting Features ◆
– Record and save creations
– Create Ringtones from recording
– Share Recording on SoundCloud
– AudioCopy to Another Application
– Save/Load Creations

◆ MIDI Features ◆
– Send Node and/or Keyboard MIDI
– Assign unique MIDI Channels to Generators
– Adjust latency for perfect sequence timing

◆ General Features ◆
– Background Audio support
– Adjustable Node Physics (gravity, speed, proximity)
– Drum and Octave Sounds
– Start/Stop Nodes by double tapping
– Sleep Timer for falling asleep to NodeBeat
– Child-lock for children-friendly exploration

Download NodeBeat


Professor Ball

Normally $0.99.

Ball is bouncing and escaping from obstacles.
Help the ball to escape and save it.
Pass the circles and get the highest point!

– Colorful design.
– Memory optimisation
– Watch ad to continue game and get the highest point.

New balls and IAP are coming in version 1.1!

Download Professor Ball


WonderNote

Normally $1.99.

WonderNote is a wonderful diary book which can help you to record your life with text, photo gallery and voice, from now on, your life will become remarkable.

Features Highlight:
1. Support text, photo gallery and voice.
2. Support both iPad an iPhone, sync notes and configuration to your iDevices automatically.
3. iCloud backup, your notes will always be there.
4. Support background color configuration, life is always colourful as it should be.
5. Support passcode to protect your notes.
6. Weather information retrieved automatically.
7. Share your wonderful moment via twitter, email or just save it to your photo library.
8. Notice on time to write an essay, which makes a great habit.
9. Support All orientations.

Download WonderNote

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