Music headlines are often dominated by which albums are (or aren't) on popular streaming services, but an older music format is quietly making a comeback: vinyl. After the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) announced that annual UK album record sales passed the one-million mark last year, Tesco has confirmed that it will back the format when Iron Maiden's The Book Of Souls goes on sale next week. In doing so, it will become the first UK supermarket to enter the vinyl market.
According to Tesco music buyer Michael Mulligan, it was an easy decision for the company: "In the last year we began selling record decks in our largest stores and initial sales are very encouraging so giving our customers some new vinyl to play on those decks seems like the logical next step." If the trial is a success, more vinyl albums could make their way onto store shelves by the end of the year, helping to round out the two new vinyl-specific UK top 40 charts.
Speaking of stores, Tesco says that The Book Of Souls LP will cost £24 and go on sale in 55 of its biggest Tesco Extra locations. If vinyl isn't your thing, but Iron Maiden certainly is, the CD will also be sold in 850 stores as well as online. Tesco may have exited digital music when it sold off its Blinkbox service at the end of the last year, but it still caters for fans of physical formats inside its stores. We won't be holding our breath for a cassette revival, though.
[Image credit: Nick Harris, Flickr]
LG's Watch Urbane was a pretty watch, but it was hardly going to impress the super-rich with its sub-$300 price tag. That's why the Korean company has teamed up with Reeds Jewelers to craft the LG Watch Urbane Luxe, a shinier version of the hardware for the most conspicuous of capitalists. The insides haven't changed, but the outside has been dipped in 23 karat gold, while the strap is now made of gen-u-ine alligator leather. In addition, the timepiece comes in a piano gloss lacquer case and will be produced in a limited run of 500. As the company's Chris Yie says, "Wearable devices shouldn't be thought of as an extension of one's smartphone, but as an extension of oneself." Presumably the part of yourself that really likes spending $1,200 on a $300 smartwatch.
a href="http://www.engadget.com/products/lg/watch/urbane/" title="LG Watch Urbane
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Sony's incoming Xperia Z5 flagship will be the first smartphone with a 4K screen, according to a leaked video from Clubic.com. In it, Sony's marketing director says the company will release both a 5.2-inch Z5 and 5.5-inch Z5 'Premium,' and the video (below) is focused on the larger model. On top of the 4K screen (which yields over 800 pixels per inch), the device also packs a 23-megapixel camera with a 0.03 second autofocus and 5X digital zoom, confirming a previous leak. The new flagship will be just as waterproof and dustproof as the Xperia Z3+ model, but with an interesting twist -- the micro-USB connector is waterproof, even without a cover.
The all-metal phone retains Sony's boxy design language to a 'T,' though it now has the Xperia logo engraved into the side for a more premium look. The Z5 will also be Sony's first phone with a fingerprint sensor, which is mounted in an unusual spot: the tiny side power button. As for the rest of the specs, previous rumors had both of the new Z5s equipped with Snapdragon 810 SoCs, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal memory. (Unlike it's bigger brother, the 5.2-inch Z5 is said to have a 1080p screen.) Given the nature of the video, we wouldn't treat this info as gospel just yet. However, Sony will reveal all at IFA in Berlin later this week.
In Europe, Google stands accused of favoring its own products and services when providing search results to users. Now, India has joined in, with the country's Competition Commission accusing the company of abusing its dominant position in the search market. A report by the Economic Times says that a coterie of other firms have poured anti-Google sentiment into official ears, including from Microsoft and Flipkart. The latter claiming that its position in the ranks seems to get higher the more advertising it buys from the engine. It's not the first time that Indian regulators have jabbed angry fingers towards the firm, accusing it of dodgy dealing when it came to AdWords sales in 2012.
As with the EU's investigation, the company is believed to be pushing its own products ahead of those actually wanted (or needed) by users. In one example, this means that CNBC's India-based investment site MoneyControl will get second-billing to Google Finance, even if the former is more popular. The company now has 10 days to answer the charges, and public hearings will kick off shortly afterward, although it has already protested its innocence. If the commission finds that Google is at fault, it'll be able to fine the firm up to 10 percent of the company's income -- and if Europe follows suit, it's going to mean some painful weeks for Alphabet's accountants.
[Image Credit: MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP/Getty Images]
For the better part of a year, Sony has encouraged employees to come forward with their own projects and showcase them via its First Flight crowdfunding platform. Early ideas have included an e-paper watch, a smart remote and a DIY smart project maker, but limited interest in them means they'll likely never see the mass market. Sony's latest project, however, has a lot more potential. It's called the Wena Wrist and it's a stylish watch that earns its smart credentials by packing technology into the strap.
Inside the Wena (which is short for "wear electronics naturally") band lies an NFC chip that supports the Japanese FeliCa standard and lets wearers enjoy contactless payments, hop on public transport and even use it as a student ID card. It also features a seven-color LED for notifications, vibration alerts, fitness tracking and is water resistant down to around 30 meters.
Sony drafted in help from Japanese watchmaker Citizen for the body. As the Wena includes a 22mm strap, it's technically possible that the band will fit any watch that matches its dimensions. Instead of having to upgrade a complete smartwatch when it becomes dated, Sony wants to see if consumers will modernize a stylish timepiece by simply upgrading its tech-laden strap.
The Wena will come in two styles, the $287 Three Hands and $576 Chronograph, and will only work with one brand of phone. No, not Sony; Apple. Specifically, devices running iOS 8 and above, at least for now. The band will last roughly a week between charges, but the Three Hands and Chronograph batteries will give you three and five years usage respectively. Sony hopes to raise 10 million yen ($82,450) via its crowdfunding portal and says it will begin shipping the Wena in March 2016.
Under the leadership of its always-entertaining CEO John Legere, T-Mobile has undercut its competitors, rebranded as an "Uncarrier," and generally painted itself as a champion of the people. Not so today. Legere has penned an open letter highlighting users that are getting around the company's tethering limits. Apparently, this "small group" of customers use "as much as two terabytes of data per month," and this makes John Legere very sad.
The issue stems from the company's "unlimited data" policies, which allow customers to download or stream whatever they like on their smartphones. When it comes to tethering, though, the plans are limited. Enterprising users have taken to using apps, rooting devices, and generally doing everything they can to hide the fact they're tethering, avoid the aforementioned limits, and "steal" data. Legere posits that, with 2TB per month, the users could be "stealing wireless access for their entire business, powering a small cloud service, providing broadband to a small city, mining for bitcoin -- but I really don't care!"
T-Mobile is gearing up to take action against the rogue tetherers, who apparently make up less than 0.01 percent of its total subscriber base. Legere's letter is a pretty transparent way to try and prevent negative headlines and articles about T-Mobile throttling data. By painting these users as thieves and hackers, it's clear he hopes to mitigate any damage the throttling policy will have on T-Mobile's "Uncarrier" reputation. The great throttling of 2015 will begin today, with "3,000 users who know exactly what they are doing" being the first to get hit.
"We started this wireless revolution to change the industry for good and to fight for consumers," Legere ends his open letter. "I won't let a few thieves ruin things for anyone else. We're going to lead from the front on this, just like we always do. Count on it!" Sounds to us like, as T-Mobile grows, it's running into the same problems that the likes of ATT have been facing for decades.
It's going to be a little while before humanity sets foot on Mars, but in the meantime NASA has a bundle of robots exploring the planet for us. The data they're collecting is valuable, but now researchers want to give their operators greater control. Specifically, they're interested in force feedback -- timely vibrations that would help astronauts carry out difficult tasks remotely. The European Space Agency (ESA) has developed a new rover with this in mind -- the "Interact Centaur," which has an onboard camera and two force-sensitive arms. ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen is headed to the International Space Station (ISS) on September 2nd and, five days later, he'll be controlling one that's back on Earth.
His mission is to guide the robot around ESA's ESTEC technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, before locating an "operations task board" and successfully securing a metal pin. The component has a tight mechanical fit and a tolerance "about 150 micrometres," or less than a sixth of a millimeter. With sight alone, this operation would be tricky, because it's hard for drivers to tell how much force they're applying and whether the robot is facing unexpected resistance. Rovers normally have rigid limbs, but on the Interact Centaur they'll flex and send that information back to Mogensen so he can "feel" what's happening.
The end goal is to develop a robot that can explore Mars and be controlled remotely by astronauts orbiting the surface. "Flying astronauts around the planet would overcome the problem of time delay, extending human intelligence and intuition to planetary exploration without the danger and expense of landing," the ESA says. In addition, researchers believe the Interact Centaur could be used one day to install telescopes and prepare a human base on the far side of the moon. In this scenario, the operator would be able to control the robot from Earth -- a place slightly more comfortable and convenient than the ISS.
The trouble with security software is that it's always racing to catch up with new viruses and malware. They typically check against a database of known issues to protect you, which isn't very useful for brand spanking new attacks. Qualcomm is trying to fix that with its Smart Protect technology, which uses machine learning to keep an eye out for potential security issues in real time. Instead of relying on a static list of threats to protect you, it'll actually watch out for suspicious app behavior. Smart Protect will debut on Qualcomm's upcoming Snapdragon 820 mobile processor, details of which it's slowly leaking out. We already know the Snapdragon 820 will have faster graphics capabilities, for example, making it ideal for VR solutions. Naturally, Qualcomm is also offering an API for the new Smart Protect feature, allowing security software companies to take advantage of the new chip's heightened awareness.
"Snapdragon Smart Protect is engineered to look at the actual behavior of device applications in real time and almost instantly detect and classify any application behavior that is considered suspicious or anomalous," Qualcomm wrote in a blog post. "Suspicious applications are classified into severity levels of malware, ranging from more destructive malware applications, to spyware apps, to less threatening though annoying adware apps."
By making Smart Protect a feature right on Qualcomm's new hardware, it will also be able to keep your device secure without an internet connection. The big takeaway here: Malware protection on mobile devices is getting even more sophisticated than desktop security software, which, for the most part, still relies on downloading new antivirus and malware definitions to keep you safe.
Microsoft is launching a premium "Elite" controller for the Xbox One next month, so of course it's also readying a new console bundle that includes the pad and a 1TB "Solid State Hybrid Drive" system. From November you'll be able to get the set for $499 -- pre-orders start today in the US and it'll be exclusive to GameStop and Microsoft Stores for the first month. For comparison, the regular 1TB Xbox One bundle costs $399 -- so with the $150 Elite controller thrown in, you're getting at least $50 in savings. If you need a reminder, Microsoft's new gamepad has an extra four bumpers on the back, "hair trigger locks" and the ability to customize the thumbsticks and D-pad with swappable parts.
If you already own an Xbox One, or think the Elite controller is just a little too expensive, Microsoft has another pad for you to consider. The "Special Edition Lunar White Wireless Controller" is the same as the regular gamepad, albeit with a white and gold color scheme and some improved grips on the reverse. It's a GameStop exclusive in the US and will be coming out in late September for $64.99 -- there's no word just yet on an international release. Regardless, if you've been debating an Xbox One purchase, you now have a ton of bundles and accessories to consider. And with a bunch of exclusives coming down the pipeline, there's little else Microsoft can do now to close the gap with Sony's PS4.
a href="http://www.engadget.com/products/microsoft/xbox/one/" title="Microsoft Xbox One
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That Gizmodo investigation of leaked data suggesting that most of the women on Ashley Madison's affair-seeking service were fake? Completely bogus... if you ask Ashley Madison. It claims that there are plenty of real live women on the site -- the ratio of paying men to active women (who get to use it for free) is reportedly 1.2 to 1, and women sent 2.8 million messages just in the past week. Gizmodo made "incorrect assumptions" about what some of the data fields meant, Ashley Madison says. Whether or not that's true, you'll want to keep the data in context. The service isn't outlining the ratio of real to fake women, so it's not clear whether real women are bountiful or needles in the proverbial haystack.
Also, Ashley Madison is adamant that it's still growing despite the data breach. It says it racked up "hundreds of thousands" of new users this past week, including 87,596 women (see, they're real! Honest!). Of course, it's not certain how many of them are paying customers, or whether or not this rate will drop once the buzz surrounding the hack dies down. However, the stats do suggest that the breach was anything but a death knell for the online cheating hub.
[Image credit: Carl Court/Getty Images]