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Technology | The Guardian

Latest Technology news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice

Published: Sun, 22 Jan 2017 02:19:42 GMT2017-01-22T02:19:42Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2017

Vauxhall Mokka car review – ‘It is sturdy and handsome’

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 11:00:33 GMT2017-01-21T11:00:33Z

I was impressed by a number of things: the acceleration is more aggressive than you expect; the drive is swift and grippy

I had the Vauxhall Mokka during an ad campaign for the car, and driving past the billboards (all shiny, mustard-coloured bulk) in the actual car (a cheery, school-run blue, a rounded, friendly nose) was like seeing Myleene Klass in an M&S ad for your bra. “Mmmm…” I thought. “It’s not exactly like that in real life.” It is sturdy and handsome, without being glamorous, as befits its bid for the crossover crown, vying with the Nissan Juke and the Skoda Yeti. There’s a diesel option; I had the 1.4 petrol, all-wheel drive, which acquits itself pretty neatly. If you imagine these three cars as interns, the Mokka would uncomplainingly get you a coffee, just as you’d ordered it; the Juke wouldn’t be served in a coffee shop because of its piercings and intimidating makeup; and the Yeti would get a coffee and a sandwich you didn’t really want, leaving you feeling obscurely guilty and annoyed. So far, the Mokka has the job, right? (I don’t, incidentally, believe in unpaid internships. All of these cars deserve the minimum wage.)

Despite its versatility, I was happiest in town: the fuel economy isn’t the best, but the eco alerts on the dash, even though I never really understand them, make me feel as if I’m driving responsibly. It’s an automatic and shifted gears smoothly, without complaint. The steering was biddable. If it were still an intern, you’d be wondering whether it was a little too obedient, short on initiative, a rule-taker. To resolve this, you need to get to a motorway. I was impressed by a number of things: the acceleration is sharper and more aggressive than you expect; the drive is swift and grippy. The cabin looks functional at first, designed for the kind of people who spill (wait, that’s me – this car was designed for me!), but after driving for an hour or so, I’d happily do the same again. I’ve sat in far pricier seats bellyaching about the posture and fabricating reasons to stop. Functional, user-friendly satnav and USB connections are so much the norm now that it seems faint praise, like saying “she has A-levels” or “good personal hygiene”. But there’s lots of entry-level celebrity detail, electrically controlled wing mirrors, tinted windows.

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Why you should install ‘winter fingerprints’ on your phone

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 17:59:48 GMT2017-01-20T17:59:48Z

For many, the winter means using phone fingerprint recognition technology becomes almost impossible. Here’s what you can do about it

In the smartphone era, the journey from futuristic fantasy to everyday nuisance is short. When the Motorola Atrix 4G made phones with fingerprint scanners widely available in 2011, then when the iPhone 5S made them very widely available two years later, it was the sort of thing you would hungrily unpack the box to play with. Now, if a scanner gets your attention at all, it’s because the blasted thing won’t work.

Right now especially. For many people, it is a winter ritual to place a thumb on the sensor, then place it again, then again, then try a finger instead and ... oh, forget it, just pretend it’s still 2011 and enter the code! As Apple explains, and as we all know: “Moisture, lotions, sweat, oils, cuts or dry skin might affect fingerprint recognition.” So might “certain activities ... including exercising, showering, swimming, cooking”. Which is just a typically wholesome day, of course, in the life of an iPhone user.

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Tesla Model S cleared by auto safety regulator after fatal Autopilot crash

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 10:50:53 GMT2017-01-20T10:50:53Z

US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found no cause to order a recall of the vehicles, placing responsibility for the accident primarily on the driver

The US auto safety regulator has cleared Tesla’s Model S of defects that could have led to the death of a man who collided with a truck while using the car’s Autopilot system.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found no cause to order a recall of the vehicles, which have advanced driver aids capable of maintaining speed and distance to other cars on the road, lane position and overtaking. It placed responsibility for the accident primarily on the driver, former Navy Seal Joshua Brown.

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Ohio mother who taped son to wall on Facebook Live faces charges

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 02:04:23 GMT2017-01-20T02:04:23Z

Police say child is in custody after the woman live-streamed the two-year-old taped to a wall and said ‘now sit still’

An Ohio woman was charged with abduction on Thursday after she taped her two-year-old son to a wall and broadcast the episode on Facebook Live earlier this month.

Police from Reynoldsburg, Ohio, charged the mother, 18-year-old Shayla Rudolph, with the third-degree felony on Thursday, and said that Franklin County children services had taken her son into protective custody. In a statement, the department said that they were alerted to the video on Wednesday by a local news station.

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Uber to pay $20m over claims it misled drivers over how much they would earn

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 02:04:14 GMT2017-01-20T02:04:14Z

Agreement with Federal Trade Commission covers statements Uber made while trying to recruit more drivers to expand its service and remain ahead of Lyft

Uber is paying $20m to settle allegations that it duped people into driving for its ride-hailing service with false promises about how much they would earn and how much they would have to pay to finance a car.

The agreement announced on Thursday with the Federal Trade Commission covers statements Uber made from late 2013 until 2015 while trying to recruit more drivers to expand its service and remain ahead of its main rival, Lyft.

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Russia threatens retaliation over Facebook 'censorship' of RT

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 21:55:55 GMT2017-01-19T21:55:55Z

Government-backed network was temporarily banned from posting images, videos or live streams for about 20 hours, possibly over a copyright issue

Hardly a day goes by without Facebook landing itself in a censorship row, but the social media giant’s latest kerfuffle – a temporary ban of the Russian government-backed network RT – has drawn threats of retaliation from the Russian state censor.

RT was barred from posting images, videos or live streams on its Facebook page for about 20 hours, possibly over a copyright issue related to its stream of Barack Obama’s final press conference on Wednesday, according to the network. The network said it streamed a subscription Associated Press feed, which should not have violated any rights.

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How can I tell if a PC processor is any good?

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 11:38:53 GMT2017-01-19T11:38:53Z

The processor is the most important part of a computer, but CPU names and numbers don’t mean much to most people. Regular commenter 75drayton wants help figuring them out

I had no idea the Core i3-6100 you mentioned last week is faster than some of the slower i5 chips. Is there any chance of you writing an article that focuses on processors? I appreciate that PCs are more than just processors, but I would find it useful. 75drayton

It’s worse than that. There have been cheap Intel Pentium chips that were faster than Core i7’s! Intel uses BMW-style branding, where the Core i3, i5 and i7 are marketed as good/better/best. This is usually a fair reflection of current performance per watt of power used, but it doesn’t tell you the raw performance.

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In the post-truth era Sweden's far right fake fact checker was inevitable

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 11:09:31 GMT2017-01-19T11:09:31Z

A Swedish Facebook group called Mediekollen promises to debunk false information on the web. The twist? Mediekollen is faking its facts

Anyone who thought the furore over fake news would lead to fast and effective action to tackle disinformation on the web has been quickly disabused of the notion.

From Donald Trump labelling news sources he doesn’t like as “fake news” to doubts about Facebook’s plans to use third-party fact checkers to verify disputed stories, each twist and turn seems to open up a new can of worms.

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Male or female? Genderless Nipples account challenges Instagram's sexist standards

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 02:02:54 GMT2017-01-19T02:02:54Z

Instagram bans female nipples, but closeup images make it difficult – if not impossible – to tell whether they are male or female

An Instagram account depicting nipples in extreme closeup aims to topple sexist double standards in censorship on social media.

Genderless Nipples shares closeup images of nipples taken at such proximity, it is difficult – if not impossible – to tell whether they are male or female. After just 70 posts in six weeks, the account has close to 50,000 followers on Instagram.

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Civil rights groups urge Facebook to fix 'racially biased' moderation system

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 22:37:09 GMT2017-01-18T22:37:09Z

A coalition of more than 70 social and racial justice organizations urged Facebook to adopt reforms that would better target abusive content and harassment

Facebook allows white supremacists to spread violent threats while censoring Black Lives Matter posts and activists of color, according to civil rights groups that called on the technology company to fix its “racially biased” moderation system.

“Activists in the Movement for Black Lives have routinely reported the takedown of images discussing racism and during protests, with the justification that it violates Facebook’s Community Standards,” the groups wrote in a letter on Wednesday to CEO Mark Zuckerberg and director of global policy Joel Kaplan. “At the same time, harassment and threats directed at activists based on their race, religion and sexual orientation is thriving on Facebook.”

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The six worst US presidents in video game history

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 12:46:53 GMT2017-01-20T12:46:53Z

From Fallout to Metal Gear Solid – here are six leaders of the free world that no one would vote for

The history of video games has seen many fine upstanding leaders, prime ministers and presidents. Stoic Marion Bosworth from Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 who instigates the fight back against cyber terrorist Raul Menendez; The President in Saint’s Row IV who must defend their country against an alien invasion; and who can forget President Ronnie in Bad Dudes who remains steadfast in his love of burgers, even after being kidnapped by DragonNinja?

But sometimes these digitised demagogues fare less well, and understandably, it’s these more troublesome characters that have come to mind this week.

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Chatterbox: Friday

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 07:00:01 GMT2017-01-20T07:00:01Z

The place to talk about games and other things that matter

It’s Friday.

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Gravity Rush 2 review: boundless fun if you ignore the storyline

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 07:00:01 GMT2017-01-20T07:00:01Z

There are too many unanswered questions when it comes to the game’s story, but to get bogged down in these frustrations is to deny its intoxicating thrill

Part of the joy of video games is that they can offer a level of control that’s so often lacking from real life. They allow you to take your fate in your own two hands – a cool head and nimble fingers will decide whether you dodge a blow in Dark Souls, pull off an outrageous feint in FIFA, or make Mario leap the extra hair’s breadth that separates life from death.

Gravity Rush takes the opposite tack, sacrificing precision and finesse for the thrill of the unpredictable. Your character, Kat, can manipulate gravity, able to decide which way is “down”, allowing her to tumble gracelessly through the sky in any direction, the world tilting and lurching around her. This isn’t flying, it’s falling sideways through crowded cities, crashing through crates and knocking off chimney pots.

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Putin says those behind Trump dossier are 'worse than prostitutes'

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 14:58:30 GMT2017-01-17T14:58:30Z

Russian president dismisses alleged links between US president-elect and Moscow and says sex claims are ‘obvious fake’

Vladimir Putin has dismissed the dossier published last week about alleged links between Moscow and Donald Trump, describing the people who ordered it as “worse than prostitutes”.

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Watch out, Europe. Germany is top of Russian hackers’ list | Natalie Nougayrède

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 19:19:48 GMT2017-01-13T19:19:48Z

The Bundestag was hacked in 2015. Angela Merkel should expect this year’s election to be targeted too

One year ago in Berlin, Lisa F, a 13-year-old German-Russian girl, disappeared for 30 hours. When she returned to her parents, she claimed she had been kidnapped and raped by “Arab” men. This was a lie – as she later admitted. She had fallen out with her parents and invented the whole story. But that did little to stop the episode from becoming the centrepiece of a whirlwind Russian disinformation campaign aimed at destabilising Angela Merkel and German institutions.

Related: The leaked Russia-Trump dossier rings frighteningly true | Andrei Soldatov

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Rudy Giuliani is an absurd choice to defend the US from hackers | Trevor Timm

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 12:23:43 GMT2017-01-13T12:23:43Z

Donald Trump promised to assemble ‘some of the greatest computer minds’ to address cybersecurity. Instead, he picked the former mayor of New York

At Donald Trump’s now-notorious press conference on Tuesday, lost amidst his threats to news organizations and denunciations of his enemies, the president-elect claimed he would soon assemble “some of the greatest computer minds anywhere in the world” to tackle the US government’s cybersecurity problem. On Thursday, he went the opposite route instead and hired Rudy Giuliani.

Giuliani, Trump election surrogate and the disgraced former mayor of New York, is apparently going to head up Trump’s efforts to coordinate “cybersecurity” issues between the federal government and the private sector, the transition team announced Tuesday. But what does Giuliani, last seen on the campaign trail claiming the president can break whatever law he likes in a time of war, know about cybersecurity? From the look and sound of it, not much.

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Russia dossier: what happens next – and could Donald Trump be impeached?

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 18:50:27 GMT2017-01-12T18:50:27Z

What are the origins of the 35-page intelligence dossier containing allegations about links between Donald Trump and the Kremlin – and how bad could it get?

With days to go before Donald Trump is inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States, Washington has been convulsed by news of a 35-page intelligence dossier containing incendiary allegations from Russian spies about close links between the Trump camp and the Kremlin as well as salacious sexual details that could allegedly expose the next US head of state to blackmail. The allegations are wholly unsubstantiated, but were deemed serious enough for US intelligence agencies to pass a two-page summary of them last week both to Trump and the current president, Barack Obama.

Related: Trump dossier: intelligence sources vouch for credibility of report's author

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What we know – and what's true – about the Trump-Russia dossier

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 16:02:59 GMT2017-01-11T16:02:59Z

The dossier includes lurid details from Trump’s 2013 visit to Moscow and claims an ‘extensive conspiracy’ between his team and the Kremlin – is it true?

What does the dossier which John McCain passed to FBI chief James Comey say?

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Russia's London embassy: UK preparing anti-Moscow witch-hunt

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 00:02:36 GMT2017-01-11T00:02:36Z

Foreign secretary tells incoming US administration that Russia and Putin have been ‘up to all sorts of very dirty tricks’

The Russian embassy in London has accused the Foreign Office of preparing to mount a witch-hunt against Moscow in the wake of allegations by the UK foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, that Russia has been “up to all sorts of tricks”.

Johnson had claimed that the Kremlin was behind the hack of the Democratic campaign headquarters computer during the US presidential race, the first time that the UK has confirmed US intelligence reports linking the hacks to Russia.

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James Comey refuses to tell Senate if FBI is investigating Trump-Russia links

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 21:46:03 GMT2017-01-10T21:46:03Z

  • FBI director: ‘I would never comment on investigations in an open forum’
  • Response stuns senators after his public remarks on Clinton’s email case

The director of the FBI – whose high-profile interventions in the 2016 election are widely seen to have helped tip the balance of against Hillary Clinton – has refused to say if the bureau is investigating possible connections between associates of President-elect Donald Trump and Russia.

Testifying before the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday, James Comey said he could not comment in public on a possible investigation into allegations of links between Russia and the Trump campaign.

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Two held over alleged hacking ring targeting Italian elite

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 14:50:26 GMT2017-01-10T14:50:26Z

Targets allegedly included former prime ministers Matteo Renzi and Mario Monti and ECB chief Mario Draghi

Italian police have arrested two people who allegedly tried to hack the communications of former prime minister Matteo Renzi and other senior Italian politicians and business executives as part of a cyber-espionage ring that sought sensitive financial and political information.

The alleged hackers, named as Giulio Occhionero and Francesca Maria Occhionero, a brother and sister who were residents of London, also targeted the former prime minister Mario Monti; the head of the European Central Bank (ECB), Mario Draghi; Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, a member of the conclave that elected Pope Francis, and top officials in Italy’s tax police.

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Germany's spy chief calls for counterattacks against cyber-enemies

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 14:43:58 GMT2017-01-10T14:43:58Z

Hans-Georg Maassen says it is not enough for German intelligence agencies to focus only on protecting digital infrastructure

The head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency has said his country should be prepared to actively counter cyber-attacks in the future rather than focus solely on protecting its digital infrastructure.

“We think it’s essential that we don’t just act defensively, but that we are also able to attack the enemy so that he stops continuing to attack us in the future,” Hans-Georg Maassen told the German news agency dpa.

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Browser autofill used to steal personal details in new phishing attack

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 11:24:37 GMT2017-01-10T11:24:37Z

Chrome, Safari, Opera and extensions such as LastPass can be tricked into leaking private information using hidden text boxes, developer finds

Your browser or password manager’s autofill might be inadvertently giving away your information to unscrupulous phishers using hidden text boxes on sites.

Finnish web developer and hacker Viljami Kuosmanen discovered that several web browsers, including Google’s Chrome, Apple’s Safari and Opera, as well as some plugins and utilities such as LastPass, can be tricked into giving away a user’s personal information through their profile-based autofill systems.

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As WhatsApp becomes latest victim, are any messaging apps truly secure?

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 18:12:00 GMT2017-01-14T18:12:00Z

While some are more secure than others, there always seems to be another flaw waiting to be discovered – so should security be prioritized over convenience?

Is there a truly secure messaging app? One could spend hours examining all the encrypted communications tools available, from popular services such as WhatsApp and Facebook’s Messenger to newcomers such as Signal and Wire. But while experts agree that some of these options are more secure than others, there always seems to be another flaw waiting to be discovered. This makes the search for a perfect app resemble the hunt for the goose that laid the golden egg.

Related: WhatsApp vulnerability allows snooping on encrypted messages

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Facebook Live is changing the world - but not in the way it hoped

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 17:08:41 GMT2017-01-05T17:08:41Z

Facebook’s betting big on everyone streaming their lives in real time, but has it unleashed a monster it can’t control?

In August 2015, Facebook rolled out a new feature: the ability to broadcast live video streams from the company’s app for power users, Facebook Mentions. Six months later, the feature, now branded Facebook Live, began a slow rollout for normal users, initially in the United States.

In classic Facebook style, the feature was late arriving, slow to roll out, and steadily demolished the competition. Meerkat, the company which ignited the live streaming craze, launched its mobile app in February 2015 and went meteoric at the South by Southwest Festival in March that year. But its time in the sun was limited: shortly after SXSW ended, Twitter subsidiary Periscope launched its own, technically superior, live-streaming service, eclipsing Meerkat almost instantly.

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Telling Facebook you've changed your phone number – the weird T&Cs you've unwittingly signed up to

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 16:23:27 GMT2017-01-05T16:23:27Z

Nobody reads the small print when they sign up to social media – so no one knows what they’re giving away. Martin Belam has found out for you

The Children’s commissioner has warned that children as young as eight are signing up to social media terms and conditions without reading or understanding the agreements they are entering.

Let’s be honest, that probably goes for a lot of adults too – and most of these lengthy legal documents that we never bother to read include some rather unexpected clauses. Here are some of the more wide-reaching and most bizarre.

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Can Donald Trump save Twitter?

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 12:17:09 GMT2017-01-05T12:17:09Z

The president-elect’s musings are reported as news almost every day, but will the attention help make Twitter great again?

“It’s like owning your own newspaper – without the losses.” That’s how Donald Trump described the San Francisco-headquartered social media tool in November 2012.

In a little over four years, the celebrity businessman turned president-elect has grown his Twitter audience from about 2 million followers to almost 19 million, using it as his personal Pravda to post propaganda and stream-of-consciousness musings .

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Donald Trump is technology's befuddled (but dangerous) grandfather

Fri, 30 Dec 2016 08:30:28 GMT2016-12-30T08:30:28Z

The president-elect has repeatedly proven that an understanding of the complex problems presented by technology eludes him, but that hasn’t stopped him tweeting about it. The consequences could be dire

Technology? Bah humbug: “I think we ought to get on with our lives,” said Donald Trump on Wednesday, summing up his take on the complex problem of apparently Russian phishing attacks on multiple Democratic party groups during the 2016 election.

As the White House’s current resident prepared to impose sanctions on Russia for hacking, Trump said: “I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what’s going on.”

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How 2016 became the year of the hack – and what it means for the future

Wed, 21 Dec 2016 08:00:12 GMT2016-12-21T08:00:12Z

From Russia and the US election to revelations about Yahoo, the hallmark of the major cyber-attacks this year has been just how public they have become

While new revelations about Russian hacking during the US election continue to make headlines, they were by no means the only big cyber-attacks of the last year. In fact, there were so many that you could dub 2016 as “the year of the hack”.

A hallmark of 2016 cyber-attacks has been just how public they have become. On 21 October, an attack on internet infrastructure provider Dyn with a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack took down access to Netflix, Facebook, Twitter plus the Guardian, CNN, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and others.

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Google spins off self-driving car division, signalling new direction

Wed, 14 Dec 2016 11:57:58 GMT2016-12-14T11:57:58Z

Standalone unit Waymo will have more power to set its own priorities, but move comes after key employees walked away

Google’s self-driving cars have graduated from the company’s “moonshot division”, X labs, to become a full-blown subsidiary of umbrella group Alphabet, called Waymo.

The new company, headed by X alumni John Krafcik, is charged with turning the self-driving car technology that Google has been developing behind closed doors into a viable business for the future.

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Why it's dangerous to outsource our critical thinking to computers

Sat, 10 Dec 2016 12:00:02 GMT2016-12-10T12:00:02Z

It is crucial for a resilient democracy that we better understand how Google and Facebook are changing the way we think, interact and behave

The lack of transparency around the processes of Google’s search engine has been a preoccupation among scholars since the company began. Long before Google expanded into self-driving cars, smartphones and ubiquitous email, the company was being asked to explain the principles and ideologies that determine how it presents information to us. And now, 10 years later, the impact of reckless, subjective and inflammatory misinformation served up on the web is being felt like never before in the digital era.

Google responded to negative coverage this week by reluctantly acknowledging and then removing offensive autosuggest results for certain search results. Type “jews are” into Google, for example, and until now the site would autofill “jews are evil” before recommending links to several rightwing antisemitic hate sites.

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What does the future of Android look like in a world with the Pixel?

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 12:54:55 GMT2016-12-01T12:54:55Z

Google’s decision to make its own smartphone might have looked like a blow to the likes of Samsung but the reality is much more interesting

Android, the world’s most used mobile operating system, is going through a step change. For years, its creator, Google, only made a small number of own-brand devices running it for developers and enthusiasts. That changed with the release of the Pixel.

The Pixel is Google’s first real attempt to challenge Apple and Samsung’s smartphone dominance, but it wasn’t made by the same team that makes Android.

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Why Facebook's China adventure will need more than censorship to succeed

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 04:14:05 GMT2016-11-30T04:14:05Z

As social network reportedly develops tools to restrict users so the Communist party will let it in, some experts say it is ‘light years’ behind rivals already in place

Facebook needs to invest in more than just censorship tools if it hopes to lift a seven-year ban in China, experts say, amid a tightening space for foreign technology companies in the world’s most populous nation.

Last week it emerged Facebook is working on software designed to suppress content – widely seen as a prerequisite to ending the ban, put in place in the wake of deadly ethnic riots in 2009 in attempt to quell the sharing of information about the violence.

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Fifa: the video game that changed football – podcast

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 11:00:04 GMT2017-01-20T11:00:04Z

Fifa belongs to a select group of titles familiar to people who have no interest in gaming – or even real football. What’s the secret of its success?

Subscribe via Audioboom, iTunes, Soundcloud, Mixcloud, Acast & Sticher

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Games reviews roundup: Her Majesty’s Spiffing, Super Mario Run, Don Bradman Cricket 17

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 09:27:31 GMT2017-01-15T09:27:31Z

Brexit Britain goes into space, Mario hits the smartphone sector in style, and the cricket simulation series hits us for six

PS4, Xbox One, PC, Billy Goat Entertainment, cert: 3

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First look at the Nintendo Switch – video

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 14:40:58 GMT2017-01-14T14:40:58Z

Nintendo are back with their latest games console, the Nintendo Switch. The device revealed in full on Friday is being described as a hybrid system. It works as a traditional home console, plugging into your TV, but it can also be slid out of its dock and played on the go, via a built in screen. It will cost $299.99 in US and £279.99 in UK and goes on sale on March 3

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Nintendo Switch: hands-on with the world's strangest games console

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 10:59:14 GMT2017-01-14T10:59:14Z

At a London launch, we got our first look at Nintendo’s hybrid gaming system, as well as playing Zelda, Splatoon 2 and more

Some are calling it Nintendo’s last chance. At least at manufacturing a games console. The creator of smash-hit machines since the original Nintendo Entertainment System in 1983 suffered an ignoble commercial failure with Wii U. Announced last year and revealed in full on Friday, the new Nintendo Switch machine has a lot to prove.

Related: Why I am confident enough to pre-order a Nintendo Switch

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Why I am confident enough to pre-order a Nintendo Switch

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 15:08:45 GMT2017-01-13T15:08:45Z

Pre-ordering is a dangerous game, an untried console could be a total flop. But I’ve got a good feeling about the Switch, I think I’m going to be very happy with it

When I went to bed on Thursday night, I knew I would be pre-ordering a Nintendo Switch as soon as I woke on Friday.

I had some rules for myself, of course. The price had to be right; there had to be at least one game I wanted coming on launch day, plus at least one other shortly after; and the implicit promises made in the first announcement – that it would be a truly hybrid system, as capable on-the-go as docked – had to be kept.

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The most anticipated Nintendo Switch games

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 11:31:30 GMT2017-01-13T11:31:30Z

From old-school fantasy to family-friendly team shoot ‘em ups, classic Street Fighter titles and an all-new Super Mario adventure, here’s what to look forward to

Nintendo announced all the details of its Switch console on Friday morning, revealing a 3 March launch date and £280 price tag. But what about the games? Everyone was expecting a new Super Mario title and perhaps a remaster of ElderScrolls V: Skyrim – and those were certainly delivered. But what else has been confirmed?

Here are the titles we’re most looking forward to.

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Nintendo Switch: hybrid games console to launch on 3 March

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 07:35:15 GMT2017-01-13T07:35:15Z

Japanese gaming company reveals new console, which launches with flagship title Zelda: Breath of the Wild, will cost $299.99 in US and £279.99 in UK

Japanese gaming company Nintendo has unveiled its new Nintendo Switch console at a presentation in Tokyo.

The device, a hybrid that can be used both handheld and with a TV when in a dock, will go on sale on 3 March priced $299.99 in the US and £279.99 in the UK. Other European prices will vary, Nintendo said.

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Is Nintendo's Switch hybrid console the future of gaming?

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 12:57:48 GMT2017-01-12T12:57:48Z

The new machine seeks to merge the handheld and home console experiences. Now it needs to find an audience

In 2013, Nintendo opened a new research and development facility in its home town of Kyoto, Japan. Usually, a consumer technology manufacturer opening a new office wouldn’t be news, but this was different: the $350m building would house both the company’s handheld and console gaming R&D teams.

In the past, these groups had been kept apart, producing very different hardware and games for the different markets – now they would be merged. At the time, analysts thought this was to improve functionality between the Wii U and 3DS, but now we understand this was not the end goal – the end goal was Switch. This hybrid gaming system, which works as both a portable machine and a home console, now looks to represent Nintendo’s future in the games industry. But what does that mean?

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We could’ve avoided President Donald Trump. Now, we must learn the lessons | Rebecca Solnit

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 07:00:01 GMT2017-01-20T07:00:01Z

There were hundreds of opportunities to stop the Republican demagogue. That should focus our minds as he takes the oath of office

Donald Trump inauguration: the world holds its breath – live coverage

Inauguration day schedule: our guide to the day

The road to President Trump was long and bumpy. There were many turns not taken, countless alternative routes that would have spared us this outcome. Instead, we kept going, corruption, infighting and sheer obliviousness stopping us changing course.

What could have been different? There are a thousand possibilities. You could start with the long decay of the US news media into a branch of the entertainment industry, primed to seize on Trump’s celebrity. A wiser society would have demanded better, resisted more vocally, criticised more intelligently.

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Sexless in Silicon Valley: why nobody's getting laid in America's tech hub

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 11:00:00 GMT2017-01-19T11:00:00Z

Peter Thiel said we tolerate the Bay Area because ‘people there don’t have much sex’. Has the city that hosted the summer of love entered a winter of celibacy?

It’s no secret that Silicon Valley opposed the election of Donald Trump. For many, the general distaste for the reality TV star could be chalked up to the candidate’s virulent xenophobia, Islamophobia and misogyny – all ideas that are at odds with the Bay Area’s prevailing social liberalism.

But for Trump’s most high-profile tech supporter, PayPal founder and Facebook investor Peter Thiel, Silicon Valley’s discomfort with Donald “grab-them-by-the-pussy” Trump stems from its denizens’ difficulty getting laid.

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Seasteading: tech leaders' plans for floating city trouble French Polynesians

Mon, 02 Jan 2017 12:00:24 GMT2017-01-02T12:00:24Z

As a Peter Thiel-funded group moves to build a colony in a local lagoon, residents fear wealthy Americans just want to use their home to avoid taxes

A futuristic plan to build a floating techno-libertarian city in a French Polynesian lagoon has left some local residents worried they could be the next unsuspecting inhabitants of a peaceful planet in a science-fiction movie.

“It reminds me of the innocent Ewoks of the moon of Endor who saw in the Galactic Empire a providential manna,” said Tahitian TV host Alexandre Taliercio. “They let them build what they wanted on earth and in orbit, but that’s not to say that the Empire shared the blueprints of the Death Star with them.”

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More than one-third of schoolchildren are homeless in shadow of Silicon Valley

Wed, 28 Dec 2016 11:00:33 GMT2016-12-28T11:00:33Z

Tech economy is drawing new inhabitants and businesses but is contributing to dislocation, leaving families, teachers and even principals with housing woes

Every night for the past year or so, Adriana and Omar Chavez have slept in an RV parked in East Palo Alto, a downtrodden community in Silicon Valley.

On a recent morning before sunrise, they emerged on to the empty street. Omar showed his phone to his wife: 7.07am. “Shall I wake up the girls?” he said, his breath visible in the freezing air.

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Constructed reality: are we living in a computer simulation? – tech podcast

Fri, 23 Dec 2016 15:54:47 GMT2016-12-23T15:54:47Z

Elon Musk says the likelihood that we are not actually all living in a simulated world is ‘one in billions’. In this episode of Chips with Everything, philosopher and cognitive scientist Dr David Chalmers weighs in to explore those odds

What if our ability to develop technology becomes – or, in theory, already became – so advanced that we are living in a computer simulation that more technologically-capable humans have constructed for us? For tech mogul Elon Musk and a flurry of high-profile scientists and philosophers, that theory is very much plausible.

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Tim Cook on why he met Donald Trump and the future of desktop Macs

Tue, 20 Dec 2016 10:42:52 GMT2016-12-20T10:42:52Z

At company Q&A, Apple CEO argued it is important to engage with president-elect and suggested a bright future for desktop

Tim Cook has spoken to Apple employees in a closed Q&A about his decision to meet with US president-elect Donald Trump, arguing that it’s more important to engage than stand on the sidelines “yelling”.

Cook also answered employee questions about the perception that Apple has abandoned its Mac line of desktop computers, and about what he thinks most differentiates the company from its competitors.

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Tech CEO who allegedly hit girlfriend 117 times gets venture capital job

Mon, 19 Dec 2016 23:17:46 GMT2016-12-19T23:17:46Z

Gurbaksh Chahal got NIN Ventures gig less than six months after he was given a year in jail for violating probation by allegedly assaulting second woman

Gurbaksh Chahal, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who pleaded guilty to assault after police said he punched and kicked his girlfriend 117 times in 2013, has been appointed an adviser at a venture capital firm, something domestic violence organizations say sends a “disturbing message”.

The appointment by Chicago-headquartered NIN Ventures comes less than six months after Chahal was sentenced to a year in jail for violating his probation by allegedly assaulting a second woman months after pleading guilty to the first case. His sentence is suspended pending an appeal.

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The tech industry won't save us – or the planet – from Trump's excesses | Kate Aronoff

Thu, 15 Dec 2016 16:05:06 GMT2016-12-15T16:05:06Z

As the likes of Elon Musk and Sheryl Sandberg flock to meet Trump, will they ditch their lofty commitments to climate change along the way?

Related: Donald Trump's presidential transition is basically reality television | Richard Wolffe

Swamp monsters are about to take over the White House, and the consequences for the environment are terrifying. Tech millionaires are known for making lofty promises on climate. Now that they’ve jumped into the bed with Trump, they’ll be quick to say they can “disrupt” the administration from within. That’s nonsense.

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Trump to meet tech firms including Apple, Facebook and Google

Wed, 14 Dec 2016 11:47:30 GMT2016-12-14T11:47:30Z

Members of Silicon Valley’s elite including Tim Cook, Larry Page, Satya Nadella and Sheryl Sandberg to meet president-elect in New York

One of the most pressing questions Silicon Valley leaders will want answered at their Wednesday meeting with President-elect Donald Trump is whether his administration will clamp down on the immigration policies that technology companies have come to rely on.

You only have to look at the executive boards of some of the world’s fastest growing companies to see the contribution immigrants have made. According to a study by the National Foundation for American Policy, immigrants founded more than half (51%) of the current crop of US-based startups valued at more than $1bn.

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Black Ops Advertising by Mara Einstein review – stealth marketing is everywhere

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 15:00:05 GMT2017-01-19T15:00:05Z

Your smartphone is an ad-delivery device. The line between content and advertising is blurred. But is the answer to go offline?

On the internet, advertising is the industry that dare not speak its name. A Facebook post is “suggested”; a tweet is “promoted” – they are ads. An article or video is “presented by” or “sponsored” – it’s an ad. Even something as impressive as Felix Baumgartner’s skydive from the edge of space in 2012 – that was an ad, paid for by Red Bull. The term “content” serves to blur lines – helpfully, from an advertiser’s point of view – between what is advertising and what isn’t.

Google’s founders once wrote that any search engine that sold ads would be compromised; now it’s the biggest advertising company on the planet. Your smartphone, media studies professor Mara Einstein says, is fundamentally an ad-delivery device. Advertising is everywhere. And yet, increasingly, we don’t want to see it. We install ad-blockers because webpages are increasingly slowed down by waiting for intrusive adverts to be loaded from some distant server, and because we don’t want to be tracked around the internet by shadowy companies that trade our personal data. But who does ad-blocking really hurt? Clue: not the advertisers.

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Beyond smartphones: next-step cameras

Sun, 08 Jan 2017 09:45:14 GMT2017-01-08T09:45:14Z

If you’re taking your photography more seriously, and would like to upgrade from camera or phone, here are six top models with connectivity

with a M.Zuiko Digital 14‑42mm 1:3.5‑5.6 II R lens; 16MP; 503g; £549

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Zero Days review – Alex Gibney's chilling cyberwar doc

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 21:00:01 GMT2017-01-05T21:00:01Z

Cyber attacks, warns Gibney, are not just ‘hacking’ but a complete offensive capability – and a new form of geopolitical dysfunction

The title of Alex Gibney’s new documentary about cyberwar has something apocalyptic about it: a digital version of the Book of Revelations, perhaps. It’s actually a technical term relating to malware developed in the last decade by the US and Israeli security services. Analysts nicknamed it “Stuxnet”, though the intelligence officers themselves gave their baby the creepy codename “Olympic Games”.

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The Attention Merchants review – how the web is being debased for profit

Mon, 26 Dec 2016 07:30:36 GMT2016-12-26T07:30:36Z

Tim Wu on a decades-long campaign to monetise attention which has reached new intensity in the Facebook age

Tim Wu is an expert on concentrations of power. An author, activist and lawyer, he is most famous for coining the phrase “net neutrality” – the idea that the oligopoly that owns our internet infrastructure shouldn’t charge differently for different kinds of data. In his new book, he targets another kind of corporate domination: the industry that monopolises our attention.

According to Wu, this industry emerged from the first world war. In 1914 Germany could mobilise 4.5 million men; the best Britain could do was 700,000. To build a bigger army, the British government embarked on the first systematic propaganda campaign in history. It printed 50 million big, colourful recruitment posters and plastered them on shops, houses, buses and trams throughout the country. It staged rallies and parades. It filled vans with film projectors and screened patriotic films in towns across Britain. And it worked: stirred by this unprecedented experiment in state-sponsored persuasion, millions of young men marched off to gruesome, pointless deaths in a gruesome, pointless war.

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Top hairdryers reviewed: is the £300 Dyson Supersonic really the king?

Tue, 20 Dec 2016 07:00:42 GMT2016-12-20T07:00:42Z

Is the Dyson’s Supersonic really worth at least twice as much as its top-end rivals? We put them to the test

Can a hairdryer really be worth £300? That’s the price of Dyson’s Supersonic. It’s the most expensive consumer option on the market, and by more than a hair’s breadth. We wanted to know if the extra money is worth it, so tested it and four other top-end rivals.

Our team of testers – with various different hair types, from dense, tight curls of afro-textured hair to pencil-straight east-Asian hair (type makes a big difference when it comes choosing a good dryer) – put the top brands through their paces, judging how fast they worked, how heavy they felt and most importantly how they made hair feel.

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Sit back and enjoy the show: five of the best projectors

Sun, 18 Dec 2016 12:00:00 GMT2016-12-18T12:00:00Z

A good projector can transform a patch of plain wall in your home into your very own movie theatre

The big screen at home has become commonplace of late. TVs the size of small aquariums can be bought for such paltry sums that everyone, it seems, now owns a domestic cinema of sorts.

A projector takes that to the next level, creating the illusion of living room as auditorium for a fraction of the cost of the equivalent television. You don’t even need to splash out on a dedicated projector screen; any patch of white or lightly coloured wall will suffice. Which one to choose, though?

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I tried every set of wireless earbuds until I found some that worked, so you don’t have to

Fri, 16 Dec 2016 07:00:47 GMT2016-12-16T07:00:47Z

Over the course of a year, our tester tried several pairs of cable-free earbuds. Fledgling technology with plenty of flaws – are any worth your money?

Completely wireless earbuds are the future of in-ear music, freeing us from the shackles of cables even between the ears. But while many have tried to make wireless earbuds that work, very few actually do. Others haven’t even got theirs to market yet, with even Apple being forced to delay its AirPods for six weeks.

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Apple 13" MacBook Pro review: the best computer you shouldn’t buy

Mon, 12 Dec 2016 07:45:23 GMT2016-12-12T07:45:23Z

It’s the best, lightest, most beautiful laptop around. Until it runs out of battery. Or you forget a dongle. Or you realise you’re bankrupt

Apple’s latest laptop, the new 13in MacBook Pro, is a much anticipated re-design of the company’s notebook range and represents a brave new USB-C-only future. But is it worth sacrificing ports and spending the best part of £2,000 to use?

The last update to the MacBook Pro that was more than simply a spec-bump was in 2012 with the addition of a high-resolution “Retina” screen. Four years on, powerful notebooks with high-resolution screens that can last all day on a single charge are commonplace in the premium market. The competition has never been more fierce.

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OnePlus 3T review: the top-end smartphone that won't break the bank

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 07:00:17 GMT2016-12-05T07:00:17Z

The new, improved Android device might not be quite the bargain the OnePlus 3 was, but it’s still right up there with the best

The OnePlus 3T is a minor update to a very good smartphone which improves on some key areas, but it isn’t quite the bargain the original was.

The Chinese smartphone firm only released the OnePlus 3 in June, but already it has been replaced. The 3T is practically identical to its predecessor, a slight colour difference on the outside the only sign that things have changed.

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Amazon Echo Dot review: as good as the Echo for one-third of the price

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 07:00:23 GMT2016-11-28T07:00:23Z

Small gadget brings voice control to almost any smart device in the home, while playing music, answering questions and telling you the weather

The Amazon Echo Dot is essentially all the bits of an Amazon Echo that make it interesting, but without the speaker beneath it – and so it costs just one-third of the price.

The Dot is one of three Alexa-enabled products from Amazon that puts the company’s voice assistant front and centre. Only two, the Echo Dot and the Echo are available in the UK: the third, the portable Bluetooth speaker called Amazon Tap, is only available in the US.

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Married to money: 'smart' wedding ring doubles as payment method

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 22:06:28 GMT2017-01-06T22:06:28Z

Unveiled at CES 2017, Tappy ‘smart rings’ connect to wearer’s bank account and can be used to make purchases through contactless pay terminals in stores

In the future, rings could become much more than statements of commitment or fashion. According to a Hong Kong-based tech company, wedding rings will continue to be symbols of everlasting love – but also a method of payment.

The Tappy “smart ring”, unveiled this week at CES, the annual electronics show in Las Vegas, will enable its wearer to pay for items in any stores using contactless payment terminals, simply by placing their ring finger close to a payment machine.

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Amazon’s Echo seems great, but what does it hear? | John Naughton

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 07:00:09 GMT2017-01-15T07:00:09Z

The voice-controlled home assistant works well, but on the other hand it is a networked listening device, with wider implications

A few weeks ago, I bought Amazon’s latest gizmo – the Echo. It’s a voice-activated, networked device equipped with a seven-piece microphone array, which means that it can pick up one’s voice from anywhere in its vicinity with impressive accuracy. It comes in two versions, one a 9.25in-tall cylinder that contains a number of speakers, the other a much smaller cylinder that just has tinny speakers. Since the latter was a third of the price of the former, your cheapskate columnist bought that and hooked it up to his hi-fi system, which means that when he speaks to it the Echo replies in sultry female tones modulated by a high-end analogue amplifier and a pair of very fine speakers. Her name, by the way, is “Alexa”.

I bought it because it seemed to me that it might be a significant product and I have a policy of never writing about kit that I haven’t paid for myself. Having lived with the Echo for a few weeks I can definitely confirm its significance. It is a big deal, which explains why the company invested so much in it. (It’s said that 1,500 people worked on the project for four years, which sounds implausible until you remember that Apple has 800 people working on the iPhone’s camera alone). Amazon’s boss, Jeff Bezos, may not have bet the ranch on it (he has a pretty big ranch, after all) but the product nevertheless represents a significant investment. And the sales so far suggest that it may well pay off.

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Prank crashes iPhones with rainbow emoji messages

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 13:09:06 GMT2017-01-18T13:09:06Z

Jokers are exploiting a bug in iOS and are sending messages stuffed with emojis which cause recipients’ iPhones or iPads to freeze

A bug in iOS is being exploited in a prank aimed at crashing iPhones and iPads using the power of simple text, flag and rainbow emojis.

The bug has two variants. One text string includes a waving white flag emoji, a zero, a rainbow and a hidden character called a variation selector, which can be copied into an iMessage conversation and sent to anyone. The other is the same string of characters, but embedded within a contacts file, which can be shared via iCloud Drive to an iMessage contact.

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Twelve things you need to know about driverless cars

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 07:30:09 GMT2017-01-15T07:30:09Z

By 2025 most of today’s drivers are unlikely to even want to own a car. But will we still have gridlock? Will you need to pass a test? We asked the experts

From forecourt to scrapyard, a new car in the UK lasts an average of 13.9 years, which is why if you got one today, it might very well be the last car you buy. Over the next decade, accelerating autonomous driving technology, including advances in artificial intelligence, sensors, cameras, radar and data analytics, are set to transform not only how we drive (or, indeed, are driven), but the notion of car ownership itself. “Autonomous driving has become the next major battlefield for the car industry,” says Luca Mentuccia, automotive global MD at Accenture.

The six levels of automation, defined under international standards by the Society of Automotive Engineers, range from “no automation” to “full automation”, explains Sven Raeymaekers, of tech investment banker GP Bullhound. “If you look at the most recent predictions, the majority of car manufacturers estimate the first highly to fully automated vehicles [AVs] will hit the market between 2020-2025,” he says.

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Ferrari California T car review: ‘It reads your mind’

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 11:00:24 GMT2017-01-14T11:00:24Z

‘It’s madly extravagant but be wary; once you’ve tried it, nothing else is like it’

The Ferrari did something to me, cognitively. I don’t know whether it was the alarm going off in my head, screaming “£200,000”, or the bright yellow brakes visible through the wheels, ramming home how much sheer metal work it takes to stop a machine such as this, once it gets moving. Perhaps it was because it arrived not with a driver so much as a minder and I felt the obscure urge to reassure him, as if I’d taken possession of an evacuee.

Immediately, basic skills like observation and decision-making were shot: from the inside, I couldn’t figure out how to open the door, only the window. In a perverse bid to protect the roof from my own fingernails, I opened the fold-down roof to take my jumper off (this takes 14 seconds and is like watching an acrobat climb into a tiny box). I was never not surprised by the roar of the ignition, nor anything but astonished by the acceleration. As the fresh acts of folly piled up, I couldn’t even reassure myself that nobody was watching; in a Ferrari, someone is always watching. The cliche is that it makes you feel like a film star, which is true. That film star was Mr Bean.

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Watch out, Ringo! Making the peace sign might help crooks steal your money

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 16:04:15 GMT2017-01-13T16:04:15Z

Scientists claim smartphone cameras are now advanced enough to allow crooks to copy your fingerprint from photos and unlock your phone. So put your hand back in your pocket

Name: The peace sign.

Appearance: Fist clenched, index and middle fingers outstretched skywards.

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Self-segregation: how a personalized world is dividing Americans

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 13:00:18 GMT2017-01-13T13:00:18Z

Most people aren’t looking to self-segregate, but the abundance of choice made possible by technology, alongside military privatization, makes it too easy

It’s a fact: while Americans have countless tools with which to connect with one another, we are also watching fragmentation, polarization, and de-diversification happen en masse. The American public is self-segregating, tearing at the social fabric of the country.

Many in the tech world imagined that the internet would connect people in unprecedented ways, allow for divisions to be bridged and wounds to heal – a Kumbaya dream of sorts. Today, those same dreamers find it quite unsettling to watch as the tools that were designed to bring people together are used by people to magnify divisions and undermine social solidarity.

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Should I be worried about the WhatsApp encryption vulnerability?

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 12:20:47 GMT2017-01-13T12:20:47Z

Why is there a hole in its encryption, what is the Signal protocol, what does that mean for my privacy and are there any alternatives?

A vulnerability has been found within Facebook’s secure messaging service WhatsApp, which would allow the company and third-parties such as government agencies to intercept and read supposedly encrypted and private messages.

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