Top tech stories of the day for Wednesday 13 November 2013

Motorola unveils the Moto G, its new colorful and affordable Android phone – For the sum-total of 13 days, Google’s Nexus 5 has been without doubt the best value Android phone on offer. Today, Motorola — famously part of Google — has potentially stolen that title with the official reveal of the Motorola Moto G Android smartphone. A quick tour of the specifications — the 4.5-inch/720p screen, Android 4.3, 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, 8GB of storage and a 5-megapixel camera – might initially suggest it’s no threat to the Nexus’ universally superior artillery.

Motorola unveils the Moto G, its new colorful and affordable Android phone

 

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Google opens education-only Play store – Granted, they missed the back-to-school season by a couple of months, but now appears to be the time to launch educational initiatives.

Yesterday, MakerBot offered up some pomp and circumstance for its Academy offering, working to make 3D printing more accessible for public schools.

Today, Google’s opening up an education-themed version of Play, designed specifically for K-12 schools. The store offers bulk purchasing for classes and and districts, which should be a pretty solid enticement for devs attempting to break into the education market.

Google opens education-only Play store

 

Smooth operators: why phone companies don’t fight the NSA – Last week, the New York Times unearthed a troubling twist to the endless stream of bad surveillance news. Not only is AT&T handing over bulk call records to the CIA, but they’re getting paid for it, to the tune of $10 million each year. In a statement in response, AT&T said only, “we ensure that we maintain customer information in compliance with the laws of the United States,” emphasizing the law and giving little reassurance to customers that the company was looking out for them.

Ten million dollars is chicken feed to AT&T, of course; its profits are currently running a little over a billion dollars a month, with revenue triple that. It’s more the principle of the thing. If the company handling all the traffic in and out of your phone is literally on the government payroll, it’s hard to expect them to be on your side.

Smooth operators: why phone companies don’t fight the NSA

 

Netflix introduces one unified TV interface to rule them all – Watch Netflix instant streaming on your television and you know what content you’ll get — but you likely won’t know how you’ll find it. Whether it’s the PlayStation 3, Roku, or the Apple TV, every flavor of Netflix is slightly different, creating interface and feature fragmentation that’s in stark contrast to the ubiquity of the service itself.

Today Netflix is taking a big step towards tackling that problem with a faster, more engaging television interface that will put a majority of its living room customers on the same page — and let them stay that way. According to Chris Jaffe, Netflix’s vice president of product innovation, the idea was to meld Netflix with the experience of watching regular TV, where there’s always something on and viewers can be drawn in at a simple glance.

Netflix introduces one unified TV interface to rule them all

 

Dish Anywhere app for Android

Dish Anywhere mobile apps to get offline viewing by the end of 2013 – Dish currently has a splintered mobile app strategy: you have to use Dish Anywhere for streaming TV shows, and Hopper Transfers for all your offline viewing.

It’s about to get much simpler, though, as the company has just promised that Dish Anywhere will handle offline videos by the end of the year. In addition to consolidating the experience, the upgrade also introduces Transfers support to Android and iPhone users — you won’t have to use an iPad to catch up on Hopper DVR recordings.

Dish Anywhere mobile apps to get offline viewing by the end of 2013 

 

Morph: a bold seating concept for the flexible future of economy air travel –  Air travel on a budget isn’t often pleasant. Despite huge leaps forward in comfort for the upper classes (and the more recent “premium economy” class), the economy section of a cabin is more often than not cramped, packed, and charmless. British design firm Seymourpowell has a seating concept that it believes will change that. It’s called Morph.

“Passengers who can afford premium, business or first class have a choice and hence some control over their own experience,” says Seymourpowell’s head of transport Jeremy White. “Morph is a solution – a standard product that meets the needs of lots of different kinds of people.”

Morph: a bold seating concept for the flexible future of economy air travel

 

MIT’s shapeshifting display lets you reach out and touch someone (Video) – MIT has demonstrated a “Dynamic Shape Display” that can physically change shape to render 3D content. As Fast Company reports, the display is called inFORM, and it’s a large surface that sits atop a series of pins, actuators, and linkages. By moving each actuator, inFORM can move the pin it’s attached to up or down, allowing for a wide range of interactions.

A projector mounted above the surface provides context to the shapeshifting pins, giving them color and highlighting depth. In a video released by MIT, the table is shown moving a ball, mirroring a book, displaying 3D charts, and giving an extremely visible smartphone notification.

MIT’s shapeshifting display lets you reach out and touch someone (Video)

 

 Your Facebook friends can now see your Amazon reviews, if you want them to – Amazon’s connection with Facebook is about to go from “it’s complicated” to “in a relationship.”

In a bid to make its listings more social, the online retail giant has begun contacting customers to notify them that it will soon start showing product reviews and “wishes” from their Facebook friends. If you’re browsing Amazon’s Chromecast listing, for example, the company will let you know if any of your Facebook connections have either reviewed the $35 streaming dongle or are not-so-secretly indicating for someone to buy it for them.

Your Facebook friends can now see your Amazon reviews, if you want them to

 

Verizon admits it can't handle LTE demand in major cities

Verizon admits it can’t handle LTE demand in major cities – We’ve all seen those commercials where Verizon boasts about the breadth of its network, but what of the depth?  Turns out, at least in some cities, that Big Red’s LTE is so over-taxed that users are being downgraded to 3G. Executive Fran Shammo has admitted that Verizon’s capacity in places like New York and San Francisco is running out, but promised that the troubles should be fixed by the end of 2013.

The company has pledged an extra $500 million in investment to remedy the issue, in addition to promising that, when it comes to capacity, Verizon will be “ahead of the curve” going into next year

Verizon admits it can’t handle LTE demand in major cities

 

Retina iPad mini teardown uncovers giant battery, iPhoneclass A7 chip

Retina iPad mini teardown uncovers giant battery, iPhone-class A7 chip – Many were no doubt caught off-guard by Apple’s not-quite-surprise release of the iPad mini with Retina Display, but iFixit was clearly prepared – it has already torn down the tiny tablet.

The device isn’t just a shrunken iPad Air, according to the repair shop. It now includes a (relatively) massive 24.3Whr, dual-cell battery that represents a huge upgrade over the 16.3Whr unit of the original mini. The A7 processor is also the low-power version from the iPhone 5s rather than the souped-up chip found in the Air.

Retina iPad mini teardown uncovers giant battery, iPhone-class A7 chip

 

Xbox One demos distracted driving in Forza 5 with web browsing and live TV (video) – If you can’t get enough videos of the Xbox One’s fancy new features, Microsoft has another one for you.

In the latest footage, Redmond’s Yusuf Medhi shows off the next-gen console’s multitasking while doing laps around one of Forza Motorsport 5’s more dreary tracks. A few quick voice commands is all it takes to bring up Internet Explorer, ESPN and his friends lists’ activity feed along the right side of the screen, automatically pausing the game while doing so.

It seems to work without skipping a beat, but we’re curious to see if it does that in our own living room. Perhaps most importantly, the clip gives us a peek at how badly watching SportsCenter (or other live TV) could affect our virtual driving.

Xbox One demos distracted driving in Forza 5 with web browsing and live TV (video)

 

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Thanks for reading,
Tom Peters.



Author: Tom Peters

Journalist. Digital enthusiast. Asking questions about media business models and writing for DailyTechWhip.com

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