For the love of god stop sending ‘Elon Musk’ your Ethereum. It’s a scam.

Seriously don't do that.
Seriously don’t do that.

Image: Mark Brake/Getty Images

People, please please please listen closely: Elon Musk is not giving away Ether

Scammers have swarmed Twitter in recent weeks in an attempt to trick people out of their hard-earned cryptocurrency, and as a particular tweet today makes clear they’re having a lot of success. 

The scam itself is incredibly simple, and starts with someone famous tweeting out some random statement. Like this, for example:

That’s when the scammers come in. Someone, with a Twitter account designed to mimic the famous person’s, posts a reply promising free bitcoin, ether, or some other cryptocurrency. All you supposedly need to do to be on the receiving end of this potential bonanza is send a little ether to a provided address. 

See where this is going?

“To celebrate this, I’m giving awaу 5,000 ЕTH to my followers,” reads once such reply from @elonlmusk (notice the extra “L”). “To pаrtiсipаte, just sеnd 0.5-1 ЕTH to the address bеlow and gеt 5-10 ЕTH back to the address you used for the transaсtion.” 

Clicking through the link takes you to a page that makes it look like ether is indeed being sent out. Spoiler: It’s not. That page is fake. 

Don't be fooled.

Don’t be fooled.

Image: some scammer

To make things even more confusing, the person behind the grift looks to have set up fake Twitter accounts to attest to the legitimacy of the con. The account @GaryPet70008539, for example, was created in January of this year and has only tweeted once. 

The account @MattMar46412834 was also set up in January, and has also only tweeted once. 

If you take the time to copy and paste the receiving ETH address into a legit service, like Etherscan, you are greeted with a very different picture. Specifically, one that shows no outgoing transactions and a whole lot of incoming. 

Never gonna see that again.

Never gonna see that again.

Image: etherscan

At the time of this writing there are almost 20 ETH in that account for a value of around $16,424. In other words, people are falling for this. Please don’t be one of those people. 

After all, while some fanboys like to call Elon Musk the real-life Tony Stark, Iron Man wasn’t exactly known for randomly giving away cryptocurrency on the internet. 

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Ford’s North America president, Raj Nair, is out due to ‘inappropriate behavior’

Raj Nair is now the former president of Ford.
Raj Nair is now the former president of Ford.

Image: Ford Motor Company

Ford’s president of North America, Raj Nair, is no longer with the company — effective immediately.

The company offered a statement about Nair’s departure on Wednesday, explaining that “The decision follows a recent internal investigation into reports of inappropriate behavior.” Nair was found by a review to have behaved in a way that was “inconsistent with the company’s code of conduct.”

In the statement, Nair said, “I sincerely regret that there have been instances where I have not exhibited leadership behaviors consistent with the principles that the Company and I have always espoused.”

Nair joined the Detroit-based car company in 1987 as a launch engineer. He’d served as the Ford North America president since June of 2017. His company bio page had been updated as of Wednesday afternoon to reflect the departure — it now includes a lot of past tense phrasing, like his role description: “He was responsible for leading all aspects of Ford’s North American business units.”

At last year’s TechCrunch Disrupt event in New York, Nair, who was then the chief technical officer and head of product development, had talked about self-driving cars and a growing dependence on ride-hailing services.

A replacement for Nair will be announced in the “near future,” the company said.

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Gadget Ogling: A Different Sort of Activity Tracker and a Smartwatch for Kids

Welcome to Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the column that delves into the latest gadget announcements in search of something dazzling, life-changing or simply ridiculous.

In our grab bag this time around are a novel way to track your time, a smartwatch for kids, and a musical controller you can put together yourself — and it just happens to be made of cardboard.

As ever, these are not reviews, because I haven’t even seen these items in person, let alone held them in my grubby hands. The ratings reflect only how much I’d like to try each item.

Tracking Time

More often than I’d care to admit, I feel the seconds, minutes, and hours of a day slip into the ether before I realize it’s happening. When it’s time for bed and I try to take stock of my day, it’s difficult to recall exactly how I spent my time.

As someone who would like to be more efficient and productive (but is perhaps a little too absent-minded and doesn’t want to deal with detailed journaling), I think Timeflip (pictured above) seems like a terrific way to keep track of where all that precious time goes.

It’s a 10-sided, die-like device that you simply turn to log the activity you’re engaged in at a given time. An accelerometer detects which side of the shape is active, and through a Bluetooth connection to your phone, it tracks how long you’re engaged in that action.

It comes with a bunch of printed stickers as well as some blank ones, so you can customize it to reflect the things you do most often. However, you need to register for an account, which seems superfluous unless you want to access your activity data from the cloud.

Timeflip seems to do that trick all the best gadgets have mastered: doing one thing really well in a way that improves one’s quality of life. Well, maybe that last part overstates it a little — but it’s a different type of activity tracker that at least might provide you with the data you’re looking for to make the changes you want to make. I’m absolutely interested.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Precious Seconds

Time to Play

And now, a smartwatch for kids. Omate and Nanoblock have teamed up to create Omate x Nanoblock. If the engineers spent as much time working on the device as the marketing teams spent coming up with the name, it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

The watch features colorful bricks — don’t call them “Legos” — around the wristband, and it certainly has the kind of aesthetic children will enjoy.

Omate smartwatch

It has 3G connectivity and determines a child’s location through a blend of cell networks, GPS and WiFi, and concerned parents can find the watch’s location through an app. Should a youngster feel in danger, there’s an SOS alert function.

Parents can keep in contact with their offspring with a voice chat feature, and there’s an alarm and stopwatch to keep the wearer in good time. Perhaps most attractively for kids, there’s a selfie camera to help them capture those fun moments with their friends.

At US$179, including a one-year, 100-MB per month data plan, it’s certainly going to be less expensive than a smartphone for those who might just be too young for them anyway.

I don’t have kids, so I can’t really speak to how much this would fit into my life. Parents will have to consider the privacy implications for their kids before buying Omate x Nanoblock, but it could be a solid way to help ensure their safety.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Better Than Calculator Watches

Paper Piano

Here’s one for the more musically minded. On the heels of the announcement of Nintendo’s cardboard Labo attachments for the Switch console comes a MIDI controller that is, yes, made of cardboard.

It can connect to computers and mobile devices, and you assemble it yourself with punch-out cardboard keys connecting to silicon sensors and a circuit board. The Kami-Oto controller can connect over Bluetooth or micro USB, but if you don’t have a device on hand to connect to, fear not! There’s a little speaker that can help you make music wherever you may be.

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Through a crowdfunding project, you can snap up a Kami-Oto for around US$46, which seems fair, for the Bluetooth version and additional cardboard sheets. The micro USB model will require a pledge of around $28.

It’s a neat device, even it’s going to be less about tinkling the ivories than slapping some thick paper. It’d sure beat trying to tap out an idea for a song or musical phrase on a phone keyboard for musicians, especially those without the budget to splurge on a baby grand.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Play It Again, SAMs


Kris Holt is a writer and editor based in Montreal. He has written for the Daily Dot, The Daily Beast, and PolicyMic, among others. He’s Scottish, so would prefer if no one used the word “soccer” in his company. You can connect with Kris on
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Intel ships update for newest Spectre-affected chips


Intel has announced that the fix is out for its latest chips affected by Spectre, the memory-leakage flaw affecting practically all computing hardware. The patch is for the Skylake generation (late 2015) and newer, though most users will still have to wait for the code to be implemented by whoever manufactured their computer (specifically, their motherboard).

The various problems presented in January by security researchers have to be addressed by a mix of fixes at the application, OS, kernel, and microarchitecture level. This patch is the latter, and it replaces an earlier one that was found to be unstable.

These aren’t superficial tweaks and they’re being made under pressure, so some hiccups are to be expected — but Intel is also a huge company that has had months of warning to get this right, so people may be frustrated by the less-than-optimal way the flaws have been addressed.

As before, there isn’t much you as a user can do except make sure that you are checking frequently to make sure your PC and applications are up to date — in addition, of course, to not running any strange code.

If you’re on an older chipset, like Sandy Bridge, you’ll have to wait a bit longer — your fix is still in beta. You don’t want to be their test machine.

Featured Image: Alice Bevan–McGregor/Flickr UNDER A CC BY 2.0 LICENSE

Startup that sells your salary data to VCs gets bought by Solium


Investors don’t want their portfolio companies to pay you too much, or too little. So they pay Advanced-HR for its compensation data pulled from 2,500 startups. With a generic name, the service has flown somewhat under the radar since launching 20 years ago.

As startups grow more professional while staying private longer, they’re getting serious about how they structure equity compensation plans to retain talent. Solium sells them stock option planning software.

But together, they hope to offer the most accurate view of how much salary and stock other companies offer to help startups figure out exactly how to pay their employees. Today Solium announced that it’s acquiring the tech and whole team of Advanced-HR, which will continue to sell its Option Driver software-as-a-service.

It’s part of an acquisition spree that comes from a war chest of $50 million that Solium has told the public markets is going to buying companies and developing new products. In October Solium bought Capshare, which helps 10,000 smaller startups manage their equity compensation plans. In March, it bought NASDAQ’s ExactEquity planning business. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but you could expect it’s a modest chunk of the $50 million that’s being spread across multiple deals.

The plan seems to be working, as Solium’s share price is up 35 percent this year. Though Solium went public in 2001 and became profitable in 2004, it raised a $48 million financing last year to capitalize on the shift toward startups staying private longer and equity becoming an increasingly important way to keep talent from skipping off to somewhere with a higher salary.

“The other over-arching trend is that startups are taking over control of managing their equity,” says Lopez. “Equity has been historically managed with spreadsheets in a startup while the official ledger/cap table sat with a law firm. With equity management platforms like Shareworks there is now a system of record that the company controls and can give access to legal counsel, investors and other stakeholders as desired.”

Dee DiPietro started AHR as a consultant practice back in 1997 as a solo female founder. Eventually she took over running the popular Venture Capital Executive Compensation Survey from Benchmark. Its sponsors, including heavy hitters like Accel, Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia and Y Combinator, pay $4,000 a year to submit their data and get everyone else’s. The service has evolved from models in Excel to automated compensation planning software used by 120 top VC firms.

“We launched the first private company compensation survey, the first internet-based salary survey, the first real-time compensation data delivery system,” says DiPietro. “And more recently, the first compensation planning platform for scaling private companies in Silicon Valley and beyond.”

Still, what the industry really needs is a better tool for employees to vet their own job offers. It can be quite tough to predict what your stock options will be worth depending on vesting schedules, multiple rounds of funding and dilution. And then there’s the heavy upfront costs and risks of actually exercising your stock options.

The sad truth of the matter is that unless a company is an extraordinary 1-in-10,000 success, few teammates beyond the founders or very first employees stand to gain a life-changing windfall. Yet employees number 10 to 50 are often tasked with unrelenting deadlines and long hours that might only really benefit the C-level executives. Software like Advanced-HR and Solium make sure startups don’t pay too much, but it’s the rank-and-file workers that need to know if they’re earning enough.

Featured Image: studiostoks/Shutterstock

Camera rental startup KitSplit raises $2.1M


KitSplit, which operates an online rental marketplace for creative equipment, is announcing that it’s raised $2.1 million in seed funding.

The equipment available for rental can include cameras, lights and lenses, but also VR gear and drones. Renters get access to this equipment for a lower price (CEO Lisbeth Kaufman estimated KitSplit usually costs 30 to 50 percent less than traditional rentals), while the equipment owners get to make some extra money from equipment when they’re not using it.

I first wrote about KitSplit in 2016, and president Kristina Budelis (a former video producer for The New Yorker) said that since then, the service has grown from 5,000 to 30,000 members. It’s also acquired one of its competitors, CameraLends.

Customers include NBC, Vox and National Geographic. According to Kaufman (daughter of Troma co-founder Lloyd Kaufman), KitSplit is being used in all kinds of productions, but some of the strongest interest is coming from digital media companies as they try to the meet the constant demands of online video production. (The industry’s “pivot to video” may be hitting a rocky patch, but the need for video content isn’t going away.)

Investors in the seed round include HearstLab (which also invested in KitSplit’s pre-seed funding), Entrepreneurs Roundtable, 3311 Ventures, NYU Innovation Venture Fund, WTI and Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger.

Kristina Budelis, Lisbeth Kaufman

Among other things, the funding should help KitSplit continue to expand its presence in Los Angeles — users can rent gear anywhere in the United States, but the company is currently focused on the NYC and LA markets.

Eventually, Kaufman said she wants KitSplit to become a “one-stop shop for content creators.”

“We’re reimagining the Hollywood production studio as a local marketplace,” she added. “We want to make resources like gear and staffing and location more accessible to all content creators.”

Budelis pointed to things like KitSplit’s insurance purchase features, its concierge service (to help with the logistics of actually transporting the equipment) and its events as early signs of how KitSplit is “starting to dabble” in areas beyond just being a marketplace.

Update: An earlier version of the story described KitSplit as a peer-to-peer marketplace, but Budelis said that’s not quite accurate anymore, since there are now businesses among the renters and the equipment owners.

Featured Image: KitSplit

Keep up-to-date with the best news apps on iPhone and Android

best news apps

It used to be that you would have to go out of your way to get the latest news. That simply doesn’t have to be the case any more. There’s no easier way to keep up with current affairs than using your smartphone. Your phone is likely the first thing you pick up in the morning and the last thing you put down at night, andthere’s a dizzying array of apps that claim to keep you up to date with the world’s comings and goings. But which are really worth your time? We took a look at the best news apps available on both iOS and Android, and picked out the best. Find your newsworthy companion app right here.

And because no-one’s got time to read all of those news stories at once, check out our picks for the best read-it-later apps.

Apple News

Apple News

Apple News comes preloaded on every iOS device, and like most of Apple’s apps, it remains unavailable on Android platforms. The News app places a big focus on images and quick-loading videos, and publications such as The New York Times and National Geographic have partnered with the company to make their content readily available. Users are also able to follow trends or individual topics, ranging from politics to niche topics.

Read more here:

Apple

Google Play Newsstand

best news apps google play newsstand

Google’s full-fledged news app, Google Play Newsstand, is every bit as polished and smooth as you might expect. You’ll find publications both big and small included here, with Google pulling together news sources from all across the world. You can set up a daily briefing to give you the most important stories of the day, or save a story or download specific publications to read later. Thanks to the recommendation system, Google claims that Newsstand gets better and more in tune with your interests the more you use it.

Download now from:

iOS Android

AP Mobile

AP Mobile

Associated Press covers news from all around the world, with a huge team of dedicated reporters that focus on all manners of topics and trends. The service’s companion app comes free of the usual glitz and glam that other news services offer, but for people who enjoy getting the facts and little else, it’s a useful resource.

Download now from:

iOS Android

BBC News

BBC News

The BBC is a universally respected worldwide news organization dedicated to keeping you up to date on the latest topics and news stories. Unlike some other news sources, the BBC News app isn’t afraid to offer a bit more fun with its articles, and it also comes with a live-streaming news channel that’s baked directly into the app. If you opt-in, you’ll be alerted any time the app deems breaking news to be urgent enough to warrant your attention, making it a fantastic way to keep up-to-date.

Download now from:

iOS Android

CNN App

CNN App

CNN was the first 24-hour cable news channel, and its official app functions as a condensed version of the site. It offers a wide variety of articles, primarily with a focus on U.S. audiences, as well as a bunch of original CNN content that you can’t watch anywhere else. Video also plays a large part of coverage on CNN, so fans of video news should find a lot to love here.

Download now from:

iOS Android

Appy Geek

It’s highly likely that you’re here because you love tech — and you’re certainly not alone there. Appy Geek exists in that particular niche, offering tech-based articles pulled from websites and publications from around the world. You can opt in to receive a daily digest, or simply swipe through the app every morning to get your fill. It also has a series of useful widgets so you can see news at a glance on your homepage — and if you’re into gaming in particular, there’s an Appy Gamer spinoff app, too.

Download now from:

iOS Android

BuzzFeed and Buzzfeed News

Buzzfeed App

BuzzFeed took the world by storm with its viral listicles and other fun content, then it went on to make waves with some seriously quality journalism. The app consolidates everything in one place, and allows you to customize the types of articles you see to suit your tastes. You can browse the menu to view quizzes, see what’s trending, or browse the news if you want to further hone your search. If you’re not into the more whimsical content it offers, then BuzzFeed also has a specific news app.

Download now from:

iOS Android

SmartNews

SmartNews App

The name is a little grandiose, but SmartNews has the brawn to back it up. The app analyzes trending stories and categorizes them, ensuring that you’re always able to look at the news you want. It aims to give you the news in one minute, and it does that well, with a clutter-free and easy to browse interface and an algorithm that’s good at digging up fresh content you’ll actually want to read.

Download now from:

iOS Android

Feedly

Feedly

The death of Google Reader was a tragedy for a lot of avid users, but it was a blessing for Feedly. The news aggregator noticed a huge wave of new users within weeks of Google Reader’s shutdown, and has since improved its mobile service to make it easier to save, read, and bookmark articles. You can select multiple publications from Feedly’s search board, sort them into topics, and save articles for later viewing with bookmarks.

Download now from:

iOS Android

Flipboard

Flipboard

Flipboard created a new type of reading experience on mobile, and is focused on engaging the reader with the most exciting stories of the day using a magazine-style aesthetic that begs you to just keep flipping. Hundreds of publications are now available on the news reader, and Flipboard offers a generous number of topics. So, whether you’re broadly into technology, or want to know the latest Star Wars news, Flipboard has you covered.

Download now from:

iOS Android

Reddit

It might not be the most usual way to keep up with news, but it’s rare that a major global event goes unnoticed on Reddit. Reddit finally launched an official app in 2016, and it quickly became one of the best ways to experience Reddit on Android and iOS. Reddit is a great way to keep up with the latest news through various subreddits — Android news would be submitted to /r/Android, for instance — and users upvote popular content and comment on it.

Download now from:

iOS Android

AOL Mail, News & Video

AOL Mail, News & Video

AOL is still kicking, even if it is now a small segment in Verizon’s media empire. Thankfully, since the acquisition, there have been regular updates to its Mail, Weather, and News app. The app offers a dedicated newsfeed with local weather, topical news, and video sections — and you can check your emails while you’re at it!

Download now from:

iOS Android

News Republic

News Republic App

Owner of the previously mentioned Appy Geek, News Republic is just as good at delivering what you want. It offers a collection of articles based on trends and personal preferences, letting you see what everyone else is reading and what you might be interested in based on previous reading. For users with limited time, the service also offers a daily digest, so you can casually check the headlines without having to delve into the full article.

Download now from:

iOS Android

Inkl

Inkl is on a mission to rid you of clickbait articles, and aims to curate and bring you a stream of news that is trustworthy. You can filter newsrooms that are most important to you so that your feed is always bringing you the articles you want to read, from the writers you care about. It’s fast and it has a very modern layout that is easy to use and — best of all — it’s completely ad-free.

Download now from:

iOS Android

Al Jazeera English

Al Jazeera English

Al Jazeera was the first 24-hour news channel to cover the Middle East, and has become one of the most popular and established publications in the region. It has since grown and developed, reporting on news from around the globe. The app has access to 24-hour news coverage, video clips of the biggest stories, and reams of news stories, features pieces, and opinions from around the world.

Download now from:

iOS Android

Inoreader


Inoreader is another news aggregator that brings news from around the world straight to you. Choose from 28 sections, and you’ll be served news that’ll interest you. It allows you to save web pages for later viewing and search for content you’ve liked in the past. Best of all, it’ll remember which articles you’ve read and serve you only content you haven’t yet seen. Since it’s an RSS reader, you can even subscribe to your favorite YouTube channels. It’s compatible with Android or iOS, and there’s a version designed especially for iPads.

Download now for:

iOS Android

theScore


If you’re into sports — whether it’s the NFL, NBA, or Premier League Soccer — it’s in this app. It offers a huge amount of information, including detailed stats that you won’t find on many similar apps. It offers real-time scores alongside comprehensive information about your teams and players, all crammed into a good-looking interface. If you’re looking for an app that specializes in sports, then you’ve found your choice. If you’re an iOS user, there’s an Apple Watch app too.

Download now for:

iOS Android

NPR News Radio


If you’d rather listen to your news, then the NPR News Radio app is a consistently good performer. Follow and listen to local and national news on your smartphone, then create a playlist of your favorites — or just listen to the public radio podcasts. The app also finds local stations using your smartphone’s GPS, so you can even keep abreast of news close to home.

Download now for:

iOS Android

News360


News360 is one of the most well-known news aggregation apps for a reason. The app looks great, it’s very straightforward, and offers rich content. The way it allows you to search for your favorite topics or specific news sites makes it similar to Flipboard, and it works just as well. Not only does it offer integration with iMessage, but it also has an Apple Watch app for iOS users. You can connect the app to your Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus to share the news, and it supports Pocket, Instapaper, and Evernote integration. It also allows you to save stories, so you can read them later.

Download now for:

iOS Android

Editors’ Recommendations

Wear your keyboard like a pair of brass knuckles with Tap Strap

In the near future, you may not need to touch your phone, tablet, or keyboard when you want to type. That’s the concept behind the Tap Strap, a wearable Bluetooth keyboard that converts finger movements into keypresses, so you can tap out messages using any surface as a virtual keyboard.

Don’t expect a visual prompt, or some laser-projected keyboard to guide you. It’s all done using gestures. You start by putting on the Tap Strap. It slides over your fingers like a glove and is made from a soft smart-fabric that has sensors inside to analyze finger movements. It can go on either hand, or you can wear two for faster two-handed typing.

Tapping with each finger will see a character or number appear on the screen, and it’s possible to punctuate and insert special characters using different gestures. While Tap Systems, the company behind the Tap Strap, hasn’t said exactly how it works, a Bloomberg report says a single tap from each of your five fingers translates into a vowel, and combinations add consonants.

Tap Strap

There are apparently 31 possible finger taps, and although an accuracy of 99 percent is promised, we expect a strong predictive text element to play a part of the Tap Strap’s typing skills. Most people struggle to remember more than a handful of gestures, let alone 31. Tap Systems sees the Tap Strap as an alternative to voice control, emphasizing the privacy aspect of using gestures to type messages as one of its major benefits.

Bluetooth connectivity

The Tap Strap connects using Bluetooth and therefore should operate with almost any mobile device, but the real advantage here could be for use with VR headsets. Anyone who has tried typing on the Gear VR — where you must look at each individual character on the screen — will know how laborious the process can be. Wear the Tap Strap, and you could tap out commands on your leg. It also negates the problem of how to type on a smartwatch’s small screen and is already compatible with smart TVs, Windows and Mac OS X, plus Android and iOS devices.

tap strap wearable keyboard news

Its use goes beyond virtual keyboard control, and Tap Systems founder Ran Poliakine envisages it being used for playing music on digital devices and being incorporated into mixed reality hardware such as Microsoft’s HoloLens headset. To promote the Tap Strap’s multiple uses, a development kit and a reference design will be available to developers and hardware manufacturers.

If you’ve heard Poliakine’s name before, it’s because he also founded Powermat Technologies, one of the companies still battling for wireless charging supremacy.

Tap Strap is now shipping to those that pre-ordered it. Those that didn’t can get it for themselves for $150 at the Tap Strap website.

Updated February 21: The Tap Strap is now shipping to pre-orders and available for purchase.

Editors’ Recommendations

A system to tell good fake bokeh from bad


The pixel-peepers over at DxOMark have shared some of the interesting metrics and techniques they use to judge the quality of a smartphone’s artificial bokeh, or background blur in photos. Not only is it difficult to do in the first place, but they have to systematize it! Their guide should provide even seasoned shooters with some insight into the many ways “computational bokeh,” as they call it, varies in quality.

Generally the effect created by an SLR with a good lens open wide, leading to smoothly blurred backgrounds and predictably shaped light points, is the gold standard.

The advantages and disadvantages of artificial background blur, as found in most flagship phones these days, come from the basis they all have in dual cameras. By using both cameras to capture information about a scene, then using that information to determine a depth map and blur out things beyond a certain distance or object, a passable simulation of the SLR’s effect can be created.

Look at that smooth background blur… photo by me.

But of course it can be done well or poorly. There are telltale signs of having taken this shortcut, many of which the DxOMark review team has identified and fit into their review schema. Some are expected, while others are a bit surprising. But they all show up in the rather crazy test setup concocted to provoke these undesired behaviors.

For instance, you probably know that these artificial bokeh systems occasionally blur out pieces of the bits they’re meant to keep sharp — a curl or hair, a hand or nearby plant. That’s points off, of course, but real background blur also ramps up smoothly on either side of the focal point, meaning things near the sharp part will be only slightly blurred, while items far away like distant lights will be reduced to circular smudges.

For a phone to simulate that, it would need to calculate an accurate depth map for everything in the scene and render the blur progressively. That kind of processing costs time and battery, so few do anything like it. Still, it’s what they should do if they’re imitating this optical phenomenon — so DxOMark grades them on it.

That’s only one of several pieces of the puzzle, however, so read the rest and next time you read one of the site’s reviews, you’ll have a bit more insight into where all those points come from.

Google Pay to Challenge Apple, Amazon

Google on Tuesday officially launched its long anticipated Google Pay app, which combines the features of the former Android Pay and Google Wallet into one platform, with new benefits designed to accelerate mobile payment use and retailer participation.

Google Pay to Challenge Apple, Amazon

The change, originally announced last month, represents a bid to expand the use of Google’s growing ecosystem to take on both Apple and Amazon in the e-commerce space, where the use of contactless payments systems has been on the rise.

Combining the apps will result in benefits for Google customers and developers alike, noted Gerardo Capiel, product management director for consumer payments, and Varouj Chitilian, engineering director for consumer payments, in an online post.

“We’re currently working on bringing Google Pay to all Google products, so whether you’re shopping on Chrome or with your Assistant, you’ll have a consistent checkout experience using the cards you’ve saved to your Google account,” they wrote.

Feature Fresh

The new Google Pay home tab will include information on recent purchases, display nearby stores that accept the app, have information about rewards and offer tips on how to use. A cards tap keeps track of your credit and debit cards, loyalty cards, discount offers and even gift cards.


Google Pay

Click Image to Enlarge


Google Pay currently is accepted on various transit systems around the world, including in Kiev and London, as well as in Portland, Oregon, and it will expand to additional cities.

Popular Android Pay features such as extra security, bank perks and protection are also available in Google Pay.

Instead of having to fill out forms that require financial information, customers can just choose Google Pay and check out with a few clicks at the register. Also, customers in the U.S. and UK will be able to send and receive money, starting in a few months.

The Wallet app is now called “Google Pay Send.”

A major reason for combining the apps’ functionality in Google Pay is to expand the consumer perception beyond the mobile device. Google plans to expand e-commerce transactions to Google Home and other devices to compete with Amazon Echo, which owns the lucrative new voice-activated shopping space.

“They’re changing the name because Android is specific to mobile devices,” said Chad Lowman, director of project management at Cayan.

“There’s all kinds of opportunity to use the wallet in other platforms, such as e-commerce,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Google last year announced a program with TriMet, the public transit system in Portland, to create the Hop FastPass — the first virtual transit card to be available on Android Pay. The beta test involved TriMet, C-TRAN and Portland Streetcar users who were able to tap their phones to pay for commuter trips.

In test runs so far, Google Pay not only has helped consumers skip long lines at local retailers for transit cards, but also made it easier to buy tickets and board local commuter lines, helping the transit providers reduce the amount of cash they have to process.

“There’s definitely some back-end benefits,” said TriMet spokesperson Roberta Altstadt.

Security Swipe

Mobile payment apps have been catching on with some consumers.

The more she uses Apple Pay at retailers, the more she prefers it to traditional credit and debit card use, said Paula Rosenblum, managing partner with RSR Research.

“I really prefer exposing my debit card to as few retailers as possible — and it’s easy,” she told the E-Commerce Times. “I remain somewhat befuddled at the need to scribble my name on a receipt after I’ve activated the payment with a fingerprint, but it’s apparently a contractual obligation.”

One of the arguments for using payment apps is that consumers do not have to enter their payment information at the checkout counter.

However, contactless apps are not completely foolproof, cautioned Andrew Howard, chief security officer at Kudelski Security.

As with any digital tool, “attacks against digital payment methods are possible, and there have been attacks in the past,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Apple Pay was vulnerable to attack, either by infecting a jailbroken device with malware or by intercepting or manipulating SSL transaction traffic, Positive Technologies demonstrated las summer.

Apple did not respond to our request to comment for this story.


David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain’s New York Business and The New York Times.