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Google Wants to Help You Vote

GoogleGoogle has recently released a feature that will help U.S users register to vote. With a critical federal election coming up, and voter turnout being so important, Google’s program could potentially make a difference.

When someone searches for “register to vote” in the U.S, the search engine will now display detailed guidelines, voting requirements, and how to register based on the user’s state. This information will be available both on your PC and mobile device. Of course this information has been available on the web, but Google’s plan is lay it out simply so that everyone has a chance to participate in the democratic process.

Google has been involved in elections before. A few years ago the internet giant launched an online voter guide which prompted its users to register to vote via third-party service, TurboVote. It has also recently introduced real-time responses from the presumptive candidates into its search results.

Google also covered both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, offering event summaries, speaker line-ups and live streams on YouTube.

*Source: TechCrunch

Google Cutting Out the Android Middleman

androidGoogle reportedly has its own smartphones and smartwatches ready for release by the end of 2016. With the widespread global success of Android OS, it makes sense that Google would want to keep more of the profits for itself.

Google started by partnering with manufacturers like Samsung or HTC to sell Android-based third-party devices. It has also recently relied on Nexus devices, which were manufactured in collaboration with a number of tech firms. But now Google is cutting out the middlemen and selling in-house devices under the Google brand. The first, Android Nougat, is set for release this fall.

Google’s devices will likely be modular in design, meaning they will use interchangeable blocks to boost performance or replace faulty blocks.

According to the Android Police website, Google might also be working on two watches that feature Google Assistant. Again, these would be released under the Google brand with the wearable OS, Android Wear 2.0.

*Source: CTV News

Windows 10 in Exchange For a New Computer?

microsoft logoWindows 10’s free upgrade period ends July 29, and Microsoft really wants you to take advantage. From now until Friday, all American and Canadian Microsoft retail stores are offering to install Windows 10 on compatible devices for free. And if Microsoft can’t complete the upgrade by the end of that business day, they will give you a free 15-inch Dell Inspiron notebook.

Of course, some conditions apply. If your PC isn’t capable of running Windows 10, the offer isn’t valid. However, you may be eligible to receive $150 credit towards a new PC. Also, the offer specifies that your computer be checked in by noon of the given day.

Microsoft has made no secret that it wants you, desperately, to upgrade to Windows 10. If you’re a holdout, you may have noticed a frustrating stream of annoying pop-ups enticing you to update and install Windows 10.

Recently, Microsoft has admitted in won’t hit the desired goal of having one billion devices running Windows 10 by mid 2018. But it isn’t giving up on the effort anytime soon.

*Source: PC World

5G Standards Are on the Way

FCCIf you’re addicted to your phone’s data, but it just isn’t fast enough, you’ll be interested to know a faster network could be coming your way. Soon, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be sharing its thoughts on the future of data, 5G.

Right now most of us are using 4G and have been since 2010. This enabled revolutionary connection speeds, and HD streaming of video and music. 5G will take this to a new level by attempting to match our society’s increasing mobile needs. More towers are expected to be built, creating a broader frequency spectrum. The biggest change is that 5G will use millimeter wave bands for the first time; these are high frequency, short range bands that will allegedly increase connection speeds tenfold.

According to the FCC, 5G won’t roll out in full force until 2020, but companies like Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T have already begun testing. Verizon boasts limited release of 5G starting next year. Even so, the FCC and Congress still have to vote on and formalize the regulation and allocation of high-spectrum bandwidth.

*Source: Popular Mechanics

New Android Malware Poses Scary Threat

malwareThere are so many viruses and malware floating around out there, it’s impossible to keep them all straight. But if you’re an Android user, you should probably be aware of the new Trojan horse that will not only steal your payment data, but also hinder you from alerting your bank.

First identified by security vendor Symantec, the new version of the Android.Fakebank.B malware has a “call-barring” function. This means a hacker can delay the user from canceling any cards that have been compromised.

Fakebank has been around since 2013. It operates by pretending to be an Android app, all the while stealing the user’s money. It first scans the phone for specific banking apps, and upon finding them prompts the user to delete and replace them with malicious versions. Fakebank.B, the newer version, will also monitor phone calls and, if it believes a bank is being dialed, it will cancel the call.

Right now, Fakebank.B has only surfaced in Russia and South Korea. However, Symantec is warning users everywhere to refrain from downloading apps from untrustworthy sources, such as third-party app stores.

*Source: Network World

How Many Times a Day Do You Touch Your Phone?

smartphoneHumans are crazy about their smartphones – that’s nothing new. But a new study by research firm Dscout has calculated just how obsessed we really are. The heaviest 10 percent of users click, tap, or swipe their phone 5,427 times a day.

Now, you’re not likely in that top 10 percent, right? Maybe not, but the average person is still on their phone more than you might expect – an average of 2,617 times a day.

Dscout installed special software on 94 smartphones, tracking user interaction over five days. The results showed those Top 10 heavy users will end up touching their phone a couple of million times every year.

“Each tap and swipe feels small and harmless. Just a tiny fraction of our brain power and physical effort,” explained Dscout in a blog post.

This is true in the sense that most of these 2,617 touches comprise brief interactions. Dscout discovered that long-periods of usage on phones was unusual, and when it did happen it was mostly due to Netflix and reading. In general, people use their devices in small sessions. The average person is on their device for a total of 145 minutes a day, with the heavier users clocking in at 225 minutes.

*Source: Network World

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Twitter is the Future of News Coverage

Twitter_logo_png-5Twitter and Bloomberg Media have announced a deal to live stream three Bloomberg shows on the social media service, along with the network’s markets coverage. Twitter and other social media sites have become a go-to source for all kinds of information for many in recent years, and this deal proves where the future of news coverage lies.

The agreement includes Bloomberg West, which covers technology news; What’d You Miss?, the global financial news show; and With All Due Respect, a political analysis program.

“Partnering with Bloomberg will give people on Twitter the best way to see live financial markets performance combined with the live commentary on the underlying drivers and implications,” said Twitter CFO, Anthony Noto, in a statement.

Twitter has signed deals like this before. For example, it is working with CBS to stream the Republican and Democratic national conventions this month. In April, it made an agreement with the NFL to stream Thursday Night Football. There are more. Undoubtedly, Twitter is expanding its domain.

Specific details of the Bloomberg deal were not disclosed, but both parties are reportedly going to share ad revenue.

*Source: Tech Crunch

Move Over YouTube: Audio Streaming is No. 1

SpotifyYouTube has been the hot place to listen for music for almost as long as any millennial can remember. It’s free and it has virtually every music video you could ask for – of course people love it! But now listeners are shifting towards plain old audio, as the music streaming industry is attracting more and more Americans. Nothing like this has happened since the birth of MTV.

Analytics provider BuzzAngle Music told TechCrunch that since the beginning of 2016, Americans have streamed 114 billion songs on apps like Spotify, Apple Music, and many others. In comparison, 95 billion music videos have been played on YouTube.

Since this time last year, audio streaming has increased by 107.8 percent in the United States alone. Video streaming only grew 23 percent. This is interesting, because services like Spotify and Apple Music charge a monthly subscription fee, and for the most part, YouTube is free.

Although YouTube, owned and funded by Google, is by no means in trouble, this still poses and interesting question for the future of this industry. On the positive side, since Spotify and Apple Music have to pay artists royalties, musicians are benefitting from the rise of audio streaming.

*Source: Tech Crunch

The iPhone 7 Will Finally Have Enough Storage

apple logoIt seems like every time an iPhone user opens their camera, they get a notification telling them their storage is too full. Well, if you intend on purchasing the iPhone 7 when it is released in two months, this problem might disappear. According to the Wall Street Journal, even the entry-level iPhone 7 model will feature 32GB of storage.

This means, if Apple follows its usual pattern, the mid-tier iPhone 7 will feature 64 GB of storage, and the highest tier will have 128GB. There are even rumors of a 256GB version, but there is no way to verify that at this point.

All this new storage will come in handy for the allegedly improved camera in the iPhone 7. It will supposedly come with a larger sensor and an improved dual-camera system. Your selfies will be so much clearer!

*Source: Network World

Dell Ditches Android Tablets

dell-logoDell has decided to stop selling tablets that run on Android OS, focusing instead on Windows two-in-one devices. Dell has been discontinuing a number of Android-run devices for a while. Now, the Venue line of tablets and the Wyse Cloud Connect computer will no longer be available.

“The slate tablet market is over-saturated and is experiencing declining demand from consumers, so we’ve decided to discontinue the Android-based Venue tablet line,” a Dell spokesperson was quoted as saying in a Network World article.

Although the traditional slate tablet was fun and innovative at one point in history, two-in-one devices have the potential to serve as both a tablet and a laptop, making them more desirable. The Dell spokesperson said two-in-ones are “rising in popularity” most notably in the “commercial space.”

“For customers who own Android-based Venue products, Dell will continue to support currently active warranty and service contracts until they expire, but we will not be pushing out future OS upgrades,” the spokesperson explained. Dell also made it clear this is not a vendetta against Android, and it remains open to supporting the OS in the future.