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Smartphones

It is a show that includes painstakingly executed self-portraits by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Frida Kahlo, as well as rather more spontaneous selfie portraits by Kim Kardashian, Tom Cruise and a macaque monkey from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi[1]. The images are being displayed together in London’s Saatchi gallery[2], and while the curators are not assigning them any aesthetic equivalence, they do argue that there is a direct line from one to the other. The gallery is staging what it believes is the first exhibition exploring the history of the selfie, from the 16th century to the present day. “In the 16th century, it was only the artists who had the skills, materials and tools to create self-portraits,” said gallery chief executive Nigel Hurst, who had the idea for the show. “Now we all have that wherewithal through our smartphones.” Hurst originally envisaged a small show, but the more he explored the subject, the bigger it became, with the exhibition occupying two floors and 10 rooms of the gallery. A detail from an 1889 self-portrait by Vincent van Gogh that features in From Selfie To Self-Expression at the Saatchi gallery in London. Photograph: The Courtauld Gallery/PA It opens with images of some of the finest self-portraits ever made, by artists including Rembrandt, Picasso, Munch, Courbet, Schiele and Kahlo. They take the form of a slide show – similar to the way you might see images on a phone – on dozens of screens. Visitors will be able to vote for the ones they like best. All that might be seen as a gimmick, but it is one Hurst is unapologetic about. “These are artists who I guess when we’re at school we’re not asked whether we like them or not – they are held up as people of genius. It’s not to be taken too seriously, but it is nice to give people the opportunity to decide, for example, ‘Rembrandt is not my cup of tea, but Picasso is.’” A visitor takes a selfie in front of a collection of daily passport photos by Juan Pablo Echeverri at the exhibition.…
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How long will I be able to continue avoiding the cloud? I mean things like Microsoft accounts (my computers all use Windows 10), Facebook, Google and so on. I like everything to be stored on my computer and I don’t need to “share” stuff with others, but I have a feeling that Microsoft[1] and others want everyone to sign up. BJG It’s almost impossible to avoid the cloud now, because of the movement of commercial and government services to the web, the multiplication of computing devices and the rapid growth in smartphones. These different trends reinforce one another. There’s nothing new about moving services online: the first online shopping service[2] appeared in 1984. Billions of websites, email services and applications are now cloud-based. Many of them run from giant cloud server farms such as Amazon’s AWS (Amazon Web Services)[3], Microsoft Azure[4] and the Google Cloud Platform. Many of the things people used to do offline are now done via cloud services. Streaming music, video and TV services are gradually replacing DVD players, standalone hi-fis and MP3 players. Some of us still prefer CDs and Blu-ray BDs for their quality and reliability, but we’d all miss BBC iPlayer, Netflix and Amazon[5] Prime. You’re not obliged to use social networks, and there are alternatives to Google/Microsoft such as DuckDuckGo[6], ProtonMail[7] and Zoho Workplace[8]. But taken literally, “avoiding the cloud” would mean avoiding all of those as well. Speciation Computers used to be so expensive that only governments and large corporations could afford them. Since the 1970s, however, microprocessors have made computer power cheaper and cheaper. This led to a sort of Cambrian explosion[9] of digital devices. The desktop PC, which democratised personal computing, was a multi-purpose device. People used the same PC for word processing and accounting etc, doing email, playing music and games, and much more. Today, people often have half a dozen devices for different purposes. These can include desktop and laptop PCs, smartphones and tablets, television set-top boxes, media servers and games consoles. To those we can add even more devices such as smart TV sets and digital radios,…
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Remember Pokémon Go[1]? It’s still around, and now the smartphone game is celebrating Valentine’s Day with its latest in-game event. Getting into the theme of love, perhaps the most exciting thing for Pokémon Goers is a huge increase in the duration of lures: the Pokémon-attracting devices will now last a whole six hours, 12 times longer than their standard 30-minute duration. That means that players should see a load more lures around and about. Maybe they can even find love with another player, each of them standing in the cold outside a local museum waiting for virtual monsters to enslave, looking up from their smartphones and locking eyes, one shyly smiling and summoning up the courage to ask which team the other is a member of, hoping against hope the answer won’t be “Team Valor”. Maybe. If staying forever alone is more your style, the event’s changing up a few other things too: pink Pokémon will now be more common, meaning Chansey, Clefable, Porygon and others will show up more often, and Cleffa, Igglybuff and Smoochum will hatch from eggs more often. There’s also a veritable candy avalanche approaching, with players getting double candy for doing pretty much anything in the game. The event starts at 7pm on Wednesday, and runs until 7pm on 15 February, handily killing a third of the remaining time until the release of Nintendo’s Switch console, when better mobile games will become available. References^ Pokémon Go (www.theguardian.com)...
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Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is making its way into cars in the UK, bringing voice controlled music and even the ability to remotely control smart home devices onto the road. The freeing of Alexa from the confines of Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot is happening due to the launch of the company’s Alexa Voice Services in the UK, which ports the cloud-based Alexa to third-party devices. The same service launched in the US in June 2015[1], and was put into some cheaper speakers and other devices. One of the first systems to bring Alexa to cars will be Logitech’s ZeroTouch, a £50 dashboard mount for a phone that works with an app running on Android smartphones. Users simply place their hand near the smartphone’s screen and command Alexa like they would at home. With full Alexa integration, users will get access to every one of the 8,000 Alexa skills, from audiobooks and shopping lists to smart home control and shopping. The ZeroTouch and Alexa combination will read and send text messages and emails, review calendars and even entertain children with voice-based games, but is almost entirely dependent on a solid internet connection provided by the smartphone. Vadim Kogan, Logitech’s head of partnerships for the smartphone business, said: “Ford, Volkswagen, [Hyundai] and Volvo all announced Alexa integration, with Ford adding it to Sync 3 cars but most saying ‘later in 2017’. With ZeroTouch you don’t need to buy a new 2017 car, you can have Alexa in any car with just a simple accessory and a smartphone.” Aaron Brown, director of Amazon Alexa, said: “Voice is the future, and this is particularly true in cars. The ability to use your voice to control your smart home, manage to-do lists, access Kindle content, and more makes for a safer, more enjoyable driving experience.”[2] Alexa Voice Services represents the next step in Amazon’s war with Google for the future of voice control. Amazon already has a lead within the home thanks to the Echo[3] and Echo Dot[4] devices that launched a year ahead of rivals and became a hit in both the US…
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2016 was a year full of possibility. From new wireless earbuds to virtual assistants built into speakers a lot of what we saw seemed like a glimpse of a better future. But what if someone actually made the tech we dream of? Here’s the products we’d love to see in 2017. A full-body Dyson Airblade Towel not necessary Photograph: Getty Images Scraping the water off your hands with blades of air is great, but what if Dyson’s hand dryer technology could be applied on a larger scale? What better way to wake up in the morning than walking out of the shower through a human-sized Airblade? From soaking to super in just five seconds. Make it happen, Sir James. A fitness band that makes you fit just by wearing it Getting fit in 2017 could look like this Photograph: Alamy Fitness bands have long promised a revolution in public health, but simply tracking your steps or your heart rate is not really making the strides one might hope. Surely a true smart fitness band would do all the work for you so you don’t actually have to do anything. Maybe by firing tiny electric pulses or something – there must be a way. Slap it on, press a button and be transformed into Brad Pitt in Fight Club. Self-walking shoes Self-driving cars will be great, but what about that last mile? You step out of the car, train, plane or bus and, what, you have to manually walk to your destination. Hoverboards exploded, so let’s count them out, but what about shoes that know where they’re going? All you’d have to do is take the first step and the shoes will do the rest – leaving you safe to stare down at your phone without fear of walking into a lamppost. Waterproof laptops It’s fine, this one is waterproof, right? Photograph: Hinterhaus Productions/Getty Images Waterproof smartphones have been a thing for a few years now. There have even been a few waterproof tablets, but why not waterproof laptops? Coffee, beer, wine and vodka gets spilled on laptops just as much…
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Australia is on the move. The continent drifts in a north-north-east direction at rate of 7cm a year. But, from this year, its recorded latitude and longitude will move 1.8[1] metres – a scheduled update to the local coordinate system to reflect the movement of the Earth’s tectonic plates. The transition to the new datum, overseen by Geoscience Australia, will be gradual over the next two years. But for the 10,000 or so Australians who use coordinates for geocaching, it has sparked much discussion. Geocaching began in the early 2000s as a sort of real-world treasure hunt, or high-tech orienteering, in which players hunt for registered “caches” hidden and recorded by other players. The cache itself is a box, often a reusable food container, though the only requirement is that it is watertight and large enough to hold a logbook. A player hides it and records its location with enough detail for it to be found by another player, who will then take something out of the box and replace it with an item of equal or greater value. James Finger, a forensic scientist and president of Geocaching NSW, says it combines “bushwalking and geeky technology”. “The old axiom is ‘Geocachers: We use multi-billion dollar satellite technology to hunt for boxes in the bush. What’s your hobby?’” Since 2009, he has made about 5,800 finds, which he says puts him “at about the middle of anyone who’s taking it seriously”. He managed just over 400 this year, but backpacking through Europe “in a previous life”, he racked up a streak of more than 1,000 days. With between six and eight million players (and 2.8 million caches) registered around the world, the game has grown as the technology has become more accessible. In 2000, a top-of-the-line, over-the-counter GPS unit could take a player to within 20m of the hidden cache, Finger says. “But now your new smartphones have got comparable accuracy – if you know how to use them – with a basic bushwalkers’ unit. That’s what’s spurred the popularity. You no longer have to buy a dedicated piece of kit,…
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It’s time to party like it’s 1999: Apple[1] has patented a flip-phone. Admittedly, the phone depicted in the patent, spotted by AppleInsider[2], is rather more advanced than 2004’s Motorola Razr. The patent envisages a phone with a flexible OLED screen on the front, designed to fold in the middle with a more conventionally hinged back, allowing the whole thing to fold in half for portability. Patents are not products, of course, and there’s every possibility that Apple may never ship anything using the idea. But it indicates a few potential changes in the company’s thinking. Apple has yet to make much use of OLED screens. A newer display technology than the backlit LCDs that are used in every iPhone[3], iPad, Mac and iPod, OLED displays emit their own light without the need for a backlight. As a result, OLED displays have darker blacks and bolder colours, as well as lower power consumption. The company has only used them in the Apple Watch so far, but OLED screens are widely expected to feature in 2017’s iPhone. The patent was filed in July 2014, before the Apple Watch was announced, and what it depicts isn’t yet possible. While bendable or flexible OLED screens have hit trade shows[4], few shipping products have incorporated them, except for a few curved televisions and smartphones, and none have yet been demonstrated that can bend to the extreme degrees depicted in Apple’s patents. References^ Apple (www.theguardian.com)^ spotted by AppleInsider (appleinsider.com)^ iPhone (www.theguardian.com)^ have hit trade shows (www.oled-info.com)...
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A link to a video, which when watched slows down any iPhone until it crashes, is being used as the latest iPhone crash prank.[1] The video from the Sina Weibo-backed video-sharing app Miaopai plays normally in the iPhone’s video player, but once the video is finished it can take up to a minute for the iPhone to lock up, requiring a forced reboot to recover it. Most people are unaware anything has happened, continuing to use their smartphone until it either won’t turn back on or locks up in an app, the home screen or with a spinning loading logo on a black screen. The bug, which appears to involve the media handling functions of iOS, affects versions of the operating system as far back as iOS 5 and devices from the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 7[2]. The older the smartphone, the faster the lockup occurs. The lockup is not permanent, but requires a soft reset or forced reboot to recover the functionality of the iPhone. Video demonstrating the bug with various versions of the iPhone and iOS. On an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus users will need to hold down the power and down volume buttons until they see the Apple logo. On the iPhone 6S[3], 6S Plus or older Apple smartphones, users need to hold down the power and home buttons until they see the Apple logo. Once the iPhones reboot, everything appears to function as normal. Apple’s iPhone has a history of strange links and bugs crashing the device as a prank. In January, a link sent to an iPhone user and opening in Safari would crash the browser[4] and force the smartphone to reboot. The bug also affected Android devices and computers, although to a lesser extent. Perhaps the most prolific crash bug prank for the iPhone used the “effective power” text message[5] that caused the recipients’ smartphone to crash without needing to be opened. Apple[6] has not replied to a request for comment. References^ iPhone (www.theguardian.com)^ iPhone 7 (www.theguardian.com)^ iPhone 6S (www.theguardian.com)^ opening in Safari would crash the browser (www.theguardian.com)^ iPhone used the “effective…
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Apple will replace the batteries on its iPhone 6S free of charge after discovering a fault with the 2015 top-end smartphone.[1] The company has started a free repair programme for iPhone 6S[2] smartphones manufactured between September and October 2015. Apple said in a support document published on Sunday[3]: “Apple has determined that a very small number of iPhone 6s devices may unexpectedly shut down. “If your iPhone[4] 6s has any damage such as a cracked screen which impairs the replacement of the battery, that issue will need to be resolved prior to the battery replacement. In some cases, there may be a cost associated with the repair.” Checking whether your iPhone 6S is eligible for the free repair requires a trip to an Apple[5] store or authorised service centre. Mobile phone network stores are not part of the service programme. Apple is also offering refunds for those who have already paid to replace their batteries for the same issue. The smartphone maker recently kicked off a repair programme for the so-called touch disease affecting the iPhone 6 Plus[6], which starts as a thin grey line on the display and eventually renders the phone’s touchscreen inoperative. Apple charges £146.44[7] for affected devices with unbroken screen glass to repair the touchscreen issues. References^ iPhone 6S (www.theguardian.com)^ iPhone 6S (www.theguardian.com)^ a support document published on Sunday (www.apple.com)^ iPhone (www.theguardian.com)^ Apple (www.theguardian.com)^ so-called touch disease affecting the iPhone 6 Plus (www.theguardian.com)^ charges £146.44 (www.apple.com)...
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