Tech News Today for September 27, 2017
Tech News for Wednesday September 27, 2017
The Amazon Echo Show always seemed destined to end up in the kitchen, with its screen that would make watching instructional recipe videos a piece of cake. But not if Google has anything to do with it. Or is it Amazon? Hard to say. But if you ask the Echo Show to play a YouTube video currently, it will tell you that Google doesn’t support YouTube on the device anymore. Read more at washingtonpost.com.
Remember in high school when you asked your math teacher when you're going to need to actually use all that stuff she was teaching you? It turns out, the answer is *a lot* if you grew up to be on Apple's FaceID team. Today Apple posted a white paper on how Face ID works and how it keeps your face secure. Spoiler alert: It's a lot of math. We read the entire white paper, so you don't have to. The most important part is that like Fight Club, facial matching is performed in the secure enclave and stays on the secure enclave. Also, FaceID data, including mathematical representations of your face, are as secure as Apple could make them. They're also as accurate as they could make them having tested the math with willing participants of different genders, ages, and ethnicities. Read more at theverge.com.
Speaking of secure enclave, Signal might be known as one of the most secure messaging apps available, but it still asks to sync your contacts upon install to make communication a bit easier for users, and that makes a lot of security minded folks uneasy. Now, the company seems to have a solution that lets it have its cake and eat it too. It relies on re-purposing a feature of Intel’s chips called Software Guard Extensions that was designed for Digital Rights Management. Not only that, it allows anyone to check the integrity of the technology to know if its been changed to suddenly allow for storage of those contacts in any other place. Read more at wired.com.
ReCode reports that Facebook, Google and now Twitter have all been asked to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in November. The social media scrutiny has been heating up all year, but has reached fever pitch following Facebook's disclosure that Russians bought $100,000 in ads on the site during the 2016 election. Sources told ReCode that executives at Twittter, Google, and Facebook will be asked tough questions about how the Kremlin used their platforms to spread disinformation and what they could have done to stop it. According to a report by The Daily Beast today, in addition to buying online ads, Russians posed as a group called the United Muslims of America in one of the many attempts to sway the US presidential election. Today the president also weighed in with a tweet saying that Facebook was always, anti-Trump. Read more at recode.net.
Yesterday, Jason and Megan chatted about how terrifying it would be for Amazon to tell you how much of your money you've given them over your lifetime. Well, it looks like that number is about to get bigger. Let's talk about all the announcements starting with the most expensive first: the $150 Echo Plus, your new smart home hub for all of your Internet of Things devices. Just say, "Discover All Devices" and everything should, theoretically, be linked. Check out the Amazon Echo Plus.
For $20 less than the Echo Plus, you can get the cute little Echo spot for $130. It's basically the Echo Show with a screen, but shrunk into the form factor of an alarm clock. It has a 2.5-inch screen and supports streaming services like Prime Music, of course, but also Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn. And not Apple Music or Google Play Music. Check out the Amazon Echo Spot.
Next comes the $99 new Amazon Echo. It looks more stylish with a smaller, shorter cloth-covered or faux wood design like the Google Home or the yet to be announced Apple HomePod. It's also competing in terms of sound with a new tweeter. It goes on sale today for $99. You can also buy three for $250, for multi-room audio. Read more at theverge.com.
Next in line price-wise is the $69 Fire TV with support for 4K HDR video with 2160p resolution at 60 frames per second. Its a tiny box, sort of like a dongle with an HDMI cable on it, that hangs off the back of your TV to avoid unsightly wires. It also comes with an Alexa voice remote, like the previous FireTV (that was half the price.) Read more at cnet.com.
And for $45 you can get the Echo Connect, a box that will let you make and accept landline phone calls from your Echo devices. It plugs into a standard phone jack and into your Echo, turning it into a phone that you can make phone calls with using your own number, not the Amazon app as you previously had to do. It will work with a landline number or VOIP. It's available for preorder today, available in the fourth quarter of this year. Read more at businessinsider.com.
And finally, the $10 Echo Button which lets you play family games on your Echo with buzzers instead of all shouting out the answer at once. The buttons can light up different colors. Read more at theverge.com.