Today, we take OS X Yosemite public beta for a test-run, learn about robots in the American workforce, look at the top 12 tablets available and mull an interesting YouTube copyright infringement lawsuit. Read on for Engadget's news highlights from the last 24 hours.
The public beta of Apple's next desktop OS goes live tomorrow, but before you dive in head first, check out our preview. Click through for Dana Wollman's take on OS X Yosemite.
Deciding to buy a slate is easy. But choosing which one, that's a different story. Check out the Engadget Buyer's Guide for our top 12 favorite tablets that you can buy right now.
Robots haven't taken over just yet... but they are chipping away at the blue collar work force. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, a combination of technology and recession is forcing companies to give more work to machines.
Internet video stars, take heed before posting your next drum cover or pop tunes mashup. Michelle Phan, an uber-popular makeup expert, is being sued for using over 50 tracks on her YouTube channel without permission.
Engadget made another appearance in Seattle last Friday, again taking over the Showbox SoDo. This year's stop in the Emerald City was the second in our series of Engadget Live events, where readers can meet, mingle and try out all sorts of new tech. More than 1,000 folks did just that on a sunny day in the Pacific Northwest. Friends were made; photos were taken; and alcohol was... inhaled. Check out the gallery below for a few highlights.
Engadget Live Seattle
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Don't forget to join us at the next Engadget Live event in Boston on August 22nd, followed by Los Angeles on October 3rd. It all leads up to our flagship Engadget Expand event in New York on November 7th and 8th.
For even more photos from Engadget Live Seattle, check out our Flickr gallery below.
We were expecting to see the new iteration of the Oculus Rift arrive on developer's doorsteps earlier this month, but unfortunately it hit a couple of delays. Road to VR points out a Reddit thread where pre-orderers confirmed their credit cards have been charged ahead of shipping. Community manager cyberreality confirmed in the thread that it's happening, and the "DK2" hardware we (and Mark Zuckerberg) were so impressed by is ready to roll. The initial production run is only supposed to cover some 10,000 of the 45,000 units ordered, so for some your wait is just beginning (until next month). In the meantime, you can check out our hands-on video of the latest and greatest in virtual reality after the break (or the new X-Men related Comic-Con demo) -- hopefully Sony's Project Morpheus team responds to this as quickly as they did on Blu-ray 3D.
Oculus Rift Development Kit 2
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Google quietly slipped out a big upgrade to Maps' local discovery features on iOS a couple of weeks ago, and today it's Android's turn. Once your device gets the refresh, you should see a new Explore guide that offers suggestions for things to do based on both context and your tastes; it knows not to point you to a nearby park when it's raining, and can suggest breakfast spots the night before you need them. In that sense, Google Maps could become a solid alternative to familiar location-based recommendation apps like Yelp and Foursquare. Don't be surprised if it takes some time for Explore to arrive, though. It's just starting to reach Android this week, so you may have to rely on other tools for a little while longer.
The rumor is that eventually we're going to see Google Voice merged completely into Hangouts, and that's getting even closer to becoming reality. You can now make phone calls via Hangouts directly from the Google Voice website, no Google+ necessary. As Mountain View's Alex Wiesen notes on G+, the new feature is listed as an option in the "phone to call with" drop-down box. It seems a bit minor, sure, especially when you consider that Hangouts is already how you make phone calls from within Gmail -- but any updates for the oft-neglected service are welcome, right?
Many have assumed that Samsung's fabled metal smartphone would be a very high-end device, but some new leaks hint that it could be considerably more modest. Both SamMobile and Tinhte have posted photos of the Galaxy Alpha (shown on the right), a mid-range Android handset that reportedly touts a 4.7-inch screen and that long-rumored, slightly more fashionable metal trim. It's not certain exactly what's under the hood beyond LTE-Advanced data, although SamMobile suggests that the internals would slot in neatly between the Galaxy S5 and its smaller, slower mini counterpart. Alongside a previously rumored 720p screen, the Alpha would supposedly pack 32GB of (sadly non-removable) storage and either an Exynos 5 Octa or a Snapdragon 800 for a processor -- good enough, but not great.
The real question may not be when we'll see the Alpha, but where we'll see it. While the handset could show up as soon as August, there are concerns that Samsung can't produce the phone in meaningfully large numbers. It may end up being a limited release that ships to just a handful of countries, like the company's native South Korea (Tinhte's shots reveal a Korean "LTE-A" logo). If this is the metal-clad Samsung phone of legend, it won't necessarily take the world by storm.
LG has just reported a record quarter for mobile phone sales, showing that it's taking advantage of a slump from arch-rival Samsung. LG sold 14.5 million handsets over the last quarter, its highest total ever and 20 percent more than last year -- with more than a third of those LTE models. It chalked up most of the success to its well-reviewed top-of-the-line G3 handset, along with strong sales of its mid-range L products. LG's mobile division scooped up KRW 3.6 trillion ($3.5 billion) and put an end to three straight quarters of losses. Home entertainment also performed well, climbing 3 percent on the strength of higher-margin UltraHD 4K sets. All that resulted in an operating profit of KRW 412 billion ($599 million) -- not nearly Samsung-level numbers, but at least LG's are going up, not down.
You may think that the 3GB of memory in your new smartphone is hot stuff, but that pales in comparison with what Rice University has in store. Its scientists have detailed a form of resistive RAM (RRAM) that can be made using regular equipment at room temperatures, making it practical for everyday gadgets. The trick is the use of porous silicon oxide where metals (such as gold or platinum) fill the gaps. Using the silicon material doesn't just give manufacturers something familiar to work with; it requires much less power than previous techniques, can last through 100 times as many uses and isn't fazed by heat. It's also far denser than earlier RRAM, storing nine bits per cell where even conventional flash storage stops at three. The result should be an easy-to-make RAM chip with the kind of capacity that you'd normally expect from much larger permanent storage, like an SSD -- as the company Crossbar hinted when it first discussed this approach, you could stuff 1TB into a component the size of a postage stamp.
That's just about ideal for mobile devices, and could mean that future phones and tablets won't have to worry about low memory errors for a long, long time. Crossbar's technology is due in later this year in chips destined for embedded uses like appliances and cars, so the breakthrough won't be noticeable at first. Research lead James Tour tells MIT that he expects a deal with an unnamed manufacturer in the next couple of weeks, though, so it's entirely possible that this super-capacious memory will become commonplace.
A couple of months back, Sky revealed that it was working to bring Now TV to Sony and Microsoft's latest consoles. Today, it finally started that rollout with the PlayStation 4, ensuring Sony fans have all of their bases covered in the process. Although the Xbox One app is still in development, the broadcaster notes that it will become available in the coming weeks. Neither the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One require a subscription to access the Now TV app, meaning you'll only need to put money down for Sky's movie, entertainment or sports packages to get streaming.
We're not sure how many of the new Oculus Rift VR kits have shipped out to developers already, but it looks like a healthy amount are in San Diego right now. That's where Comic-Con is happening this week and, following the X-Men VR demo we already heard about, Legendary Pictures and Oculus have teamed up for Pacific Rim: Jaeger Pilot. It lets attendees take control of the 250-foot tall Jaeger "Gipsy Danger" (no drift connection necessary) and do battle in a virtual reality combat simulator against the kaiju Knifehead (the first one you see in the movie). The whole experience is built in Unreal Engine 4 using the same assets Industrial Light Magic worked with for the movie. Sure, you've seen the movie, and maybe even in IMAX 3D, but we're pretty sure even Guillermo del Toro's directing tricks can't add up to feeling like you're there, fighting an 8,700 ton monster off the coast of Alaska. It's all in Legendary's booth #3920 for all four days the show is open, from Thursday through Sunday. Don't have a ticket? There's a video preview embedded after the break, but it can't compare to diving into a VR world with Oculus -- maybe we'll be able to enjoy it at home by April 2017 when Pacific Rim 2 arrives.
- Legendary (@Legendary) July 24, 2014