Latest Technology News

American Girl selling 'Xbox Gaming Set' for dolls

Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I remember video games being considered a "boy thing." This was just marketing -- of course girls liked gaming too. Sadly, games that were designed for girls were often terrible. It seemed like developers thought they could use, say, Barbie as a way to sell garbage games to this particular demographic. The truth is, girls enjoyed playing the same games as boys -- Super Mario Brothers, Street Fighter, etc. Ultimately, there was no need to market games based on the player's gender.

These days, the old stereotypes are largely gone, though not entirely. Seeing a girl or woman play a video game should be unremarkable, although there are still trolls that feel threatened by it and harass female gamers. In other words, there is still work to do. Thankfully, as time marches on, girls are being increasingly empowered to embrace video games. Today, wildly popular doll-seller American Girl unveils a really cool accessory kit that reinforces the fact that girls can enjoy gaming. The "Xbox Gaming Set," as it is called, lets the owner turn their doll into a gamer. How cool is that?

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Google launches Podcasts app for Android

Google Podcasts

Google has never really shown much interest in podcasts -- despite their age and popularity -- but today this changes. The company has launched a new Android app called simply Google Podcasts complete with ubiquitous AI for personalized suggestions.

Available in 47 languages, the app currently provides access to a collection of around two million podcasts, but this number is likely to grow very quickly. Google boasts of integration with Google Assistant and Google Home, the main benefit of which is being able to start a podcast on one device and continue on another.

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Bricked iPhones with 'Error 53' just cost Apple $6.7 million in Australia

Hanging Apple logo

Apple has been hit with an AUS $9 million ($6.7 million) fine for misleading customers in Australia. More than two years ago Apple started to "brick" iPhones that had been fixed at non-authorized third-party repairers, generating an Error 53.

Apple admitted to intentionally preventing certain repaired iPhones and iPads from working for security reasons, but later apologized and issued a fix. However, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) sued Apple for "misleading or deceptive conduct", and now an Australian court has hit the iPhone-maker with a multi-million dollar fine

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IBM celebrates 10 years of DevOps with new releases

IBM logo

Over the past decade, DevOps techniques have helped to transform software development teams with a new and more agile approach.

But now companies are starting to move beyond the standard DevOps approach in what is being called 'Day 2' DevOps, a world that emphasizes scalability and teamwork. In such environments, development teams shift one way, operations teams shift the other and together they can deliver and manage multiple, complex applications at the same time.

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Website attacks up as smaller businesses are targeted

On screen lock

Website attacks increased 14 percent in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the final quarter of 2017 as cybercriminals set their sights on independent websites and small businesses.

Figures from website security specialist SiteLock show that one percent of sampled sites are infected at any one time. This may not sound much, but it means 18.7 million sites are infected.

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TP-Link launches Deco M9 Plus AC2200 Smart Home Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi System

When it comes to Wi-Fi, we are living in very exciting times. It used to be that the majority of homes -- regardless of size -- had one router. Then, depending on needs, people would piecemeal various range extenders and repeaters that would maybe work well. Worst of all, routers of yesteryear were not only slow, but woefully unreliable -- they often required rebooting. I recall TV show South Park once had a joke where the entire internet was fixed by unplugging the power from a giant router and then plugging it in again.

These days, however, many routers are rock solid, requiring a reboot almost never. They are insanely fast too, usually offering performance that surpasses the user's internet speed. The greatest innovation for home networking in recent memory, however, is mesh. If you aren't familiar, this is where several access points work together to blanket a home in Wi-Fi. There are many great mesh offerings on the market, and today, TP-Link unveils its latest. Called "Deco M9 Plus," it is a small disc-shaped Tri-Band access point that offers AC2200 performance -- an upgrade to the existing non-plus version.

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Senate opposes Trump and votes to reinstate US ban on ZTE

ZTE battery closeup

ZTE has had a tough time of things in the US, having been slapped with a Denial Order that forced it to close its main operations. Despite the sanctions, President Trump expressed a desire to get the company back up and running, implementing a huge fine which ZTE agreed to pay in order to be allowed to operate in the US again.

But in a blow to the Trump administration and its work with Chinese president Xi Jinping, the Senate has voted to amend the National Defense Authorization Act to reinstate sanctions on the company.

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Microsoft issues statement distancing itself from ICE's separation of children from parents

Square Microsoft store logo

The separating of children from parents at the US southern border has created international outrage -- and lots of rhetoric from President Trump on Twitter. When Microsoft removed from its website a reference to working with ICE, the company found itself pulled into the political debate.

A blog post from January this year saw Microsoft stating it was "proud" to be working with ICE. When this was spotted, people took to social media to call out Microsoft, making references to the child separation policy; shortly afterwards, the ICE reference was deleted. Now it is back, and Microsoft has issued a statement clarifying its position about border policy.

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Google updates Android Messages so you can send texts from the web

Messages for web

Google is rolling out a series of changes to Android Messages, one of which makes it possible to send text messages from the comfort of your computer. Called "Messages for web" the feature enables users to use a desktop web browser to send SMSes rather than their phone.

While this is almost certainly the biggest and most exciting changes for Messages, Google is also pushing a number of other new features to the app, including Smart Replies, GIF search and link previews.

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Windows 7 -- 2018 Edition is the Microsoft operating system you've been waiting for

Windows 10 is a very good operating system, but despite Microsoft initially offering it as a free upgrade, many users were reluctant to switch from Windows 7, and it’s easy to understand why. A lot of Windows 10’s big changes -- the Microsoft Store, bundled third-party apps, live tiles in the Start menu, Cortana, Bing integration, and so on -- simply weren't that appealing to users of previous versions of Windows.

Windows 7 still offers everything that most people would want from an OS, but nearly a decade on from its debut, it now looks and feels quite dated compared to its successor. But if the aging OS had a modern makeover, could it win back many of those people who have moved on to Windows 10? I suspect so. Take a look at Windows 7 -- 2018 Edition and make up your own mind.

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Ashampoo Photo Optimizer 7 unveils improved one-click image optimization tool

Almost four years after the last major release, German developer Ashampoo has unveiled Photo Optimizer 7 for PCs running Windows 7 or later. The commercial tool offers a variety of quick and easy fixes, including various one-click optimizations tools.

Highlights include a complete user interface redesign -- including new dark theme look to accompany the growing number of apps sporting the eye-friendly look, "greatly improved" optimization tools and various other tweaks and improvements.

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Win a Neato Botvac D7 Connected Robot Vacuum from Wellbots #BetaNews20

Some people are worried about the prospects of robots taking over their jobs, but there are some tasks around the home that you would relish a robot doing for you -- such as vacuuming.

Robot vacuum cleaners are fantastic time-saving gadgets, and thanks to Wellbots you can win a Neato Botvac D7 Connected Robot Vacuum for your home as part of BetaNews' ongoing 20th birthday giveaway celebrations.

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Microsoft strengthens its education offerings by acquiring video discussion platform Flipgrid -- and makes it free

Microsoft and Flipgrid

Microsoft has acquired Flipgrid, a social video discussion platform used in classrooms around the world. The acquisition strengthens Microsoft's educational offerings and helps it to better compete with rivals Google and Apple.

Flipgrid is used by million of students and teachers to collaborate on lessons, covering everything from Pre-K to PhD level. The acquisition is great news for schools: Microsoft is slashing the current price tag of $1,000, and making the service free just like Office 365 for Education.

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Fans targeted by phishing campaign as World Cup gets underway

Football

As the FIFA World Cup tournament enters its second week, cybercriminals are using a phishing campaign to trick fans into opening an infected attachment.

Emails identified by Check Point attempt to lure would-be victims into downloading a schedule of fixtures and a result tracker, but doing so will prove to be an own goal.

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Apple will automatically share the location of 911 callers in iOS 12

iPhone 911

Apple has announced that with iOS 12, iPhone users in the US will be able to automatically share their location with first responders when they make 911 calls.

Building on its currently-used location technology, Apple says that it will start to use RapidSOS's Internet Protocol-based data pipeline to quickly and securely share HELO (Hybridized Emergency Location) data with 911 centers.

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