Dropbox adds doc scanning to Android app, offline mode to Paper

Why it matters to you

With these updates, Dropbox and Paper have been made even more powerful for its users.

Dropbox is adding a couple of key features to its mobile apps this week, the company announced in a blog post. Doc Scanner is finally making its way to Dropbox on Android, while Paper is receiving offline mode.

Doc Scanner has been a popular feature of Dropbox’s iOS app, according to the company and now Android users can easily scan printed or handwritten documents as well. The app will crop and rotate scans automatically, but you can make further adjustments if you wish, and also upload multiple documents into one PDF. If you are a Dropbox Business user, you will have the added benefit of being able to search inside PDFs too.

Offline mode is something that has become standard in the mobile office space and it is good to see Dropbox Paper join the trend. Now, no matter what the status of your internet connection is, you can continue creating, writing, editing, and commenting on documents wherever you are. As soon as service is resumed, Paper will sync those changes with the rest of your team.

Both those additions join added support for a number of languages, bringing the total for both apps to 20: Chinese (both Simplified and Traditional), Danish, Dutch, English (United States, United Kingdom is web only) French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish (both European and Latin American), Swedish, and Thai.

Paper made the list of our favorite note-taking apps last year, alongside Google Keep, Any.do, Microsoft’s OneNote, and more. It is compatible with more forms of media than its competitors — it can handle SoundCloud and YouTube links, for example — and also boasts extensive collaboration features which are sure to come in handy if you are working with a team. And of course, it seamlessly integrates everything you have stored in Dropbox.

Chill, parents. Amazon’s new dashboard will let you see the content your kids are consuming.

Image:  MASHABLE COMPOSITE: AMAZON/BUSINESS Wire

Hey parents, great news! Thanks to Amazon‘s latest product you can feel slightly less guilty about leaving your child alone with technology instead of spending time with them.

The company’s new Parent Dashboard is allowing families to easily monitor the content their children consume and interact with via daily activity reports. It means parents can work, chat on the phone, or just take some much needed relaxation time while still knowing what their kids are up to. The dream.

According to a press release, the Parent Dashboard, released on Wednesday, will be available for free to all Amazon FreeTime users through parents.amazon.com.

The new feature will allow parents to gain additional insight on how many minutes children are using a tablet and what portion of that time was spent reading books, watching videos, playing in an app, or browsing online, which will help them better manage time limits and educational goals, and ensure their kids are viewing age-appropriate content.

Preview of Amazon's new Parent Dashboard.

Preview of Amazon’s new Parent Dashboard.

Image: amazon/business wire

“As kids learn and play more independently with their tablets, we want to provide parents with more ways to join in that digital discovery,” said Kurt Beidler, Amazon’s Director of Kids & Family.

To further achieve this goal, Amazon also introduced a Discussion Cards feature in the dashboard, which allows parents to gain additional insight into specific FreeTime books, videos, and apps their children are using. 

The cards, written by Amazon Content Editors, provide parents with a summary and sample questions about select content, which they can use to better connect with their child and become more familiar with their interests. Essentially, they’re helping parents become more involved and maybe even upping their cool level.

“Discussion Cards also offer ideas for real-world activities families can do together, like participating in community service or working on an art project — all inspired by what kids are doing in FreeTime,” Beidler said.

So hopefully the new features will put a social spin on technology and maybe encourage some ~fun~ parent-child bonding.

WATCH: iPhone 8 rumors include a ‘Smart Connector’ for AR headset

Google Home wants to discuss your next flight

Image: lili sams/mashable

Google Home wants to help book your next flight. You can now find flights and track their pricing directly with your voice via the connected speaker.

Google announced the feature on Wednesday. Saying something like “OK Google, how much are flights to Mumbai?” will start tracking the best flight prices for that route. The Assistant will respond with some price information and ask you if you have dates in mind. 

You can opt in to tracking prices for the cheapest flights at which point you’ll receive email confirmation and can then manage your tracked flights through Google Flights. You will then continue to receive email updates from Google flights.

Image: google

The feature is a nice touch if you often find yourself at home, wondering how much a flight costs but don’t feel like searching your phone. However, Google Home’s core functionality still has some gaps. For instance, the device cannot add reminders or events to your calendar. Ask Google home to remind you to do something, and it will tell you that it doesn’t support reminders yet. 

Home has had other issues. Before even ramping up basic functionality, Google has begun introducing sponsored content like ads for Beauty and the Beast that the company insisted were not ads but a “tale” from a sponsor. The company also recently switched Home’s shopping-list function from Google Keep to the Home app, and added throws to Google Express at the same time (see note below).

Flight info is a welcome feature, but Google Home might have better luck attracting customers if it adds features that Google’s audience uses every day.

Update 4/12/17, 3:13 p.m. ET: Google says Home’s shopping list doesn’t have ads — it simply allows people to order off of their list, starting with Google Express merchants.

Correction 5:06 p.m. ET: An earlier version of this story said the feature was already part of Google Assistant on phones. It was not, but it may have been available in beta versions of the software.

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This insane Lexus covered in 41,999 LEDs is basically a drivable billboard

The Lexus LIT IS is covered with 41,999 LEDs.
The Lexus LIT IS is covered with 41,999 LEDs.

Image: raymond wong/mashable

The New York Auto Show is filled with shiny, jaw-dropping production cars (hi Dodge Demon!) to ogle, but no vehicle has sucked me into its tractor beam quite like Lexus’ LIT IS sedan.

Created in collaboration with Vevo for Dua Lipa’s “Be the One” music video, the LIT IS (get all your lit jokes out now!) is what happens when you cover a 2017 IS’s entire body with 41,999 programmable LEDs.

It’s loud, blinding, and ridiculous in every way—exactly how we like it.

I’m told the LEDs were hand-applied and output 175,000 lumens when they’re all switched on at maximum brightness. You think your tricked-out import car with its neon under-glow looks cool cutting through the night? Wouldn’t even compare with the LIT IS.

Words and videos can’t begin to showcase how sick this car looks, but here goes, anyway:

The one-of-a-kind car’s LEDs are more than just a pretty-looking exterior. Lexus says there are several modes, including one that turns the entire car into a equalizer-like light show when synced up to music. 

Another mode, which requires a game console, responds to gestures. I wasn’t able to see these work in person, but you can use hand gestures to bring up different animations, as if the car’s responding to you. Hey KITT, is that you?

As sweet as the LIT IS, you won’t be able to buy one since Lexus isn’t producing them. Still, it doesn’t hurt to drool. And stare. Because I could stare at it all damn day. It’s just that trippy and mesmerizing.

Image: DUSTIN DRANKOSKI/MASHABLE

Image: DUSTIN DRANKOSKI/MASHABLE

Image: dustin drankoski/mashable

WATCH: This futuristic car is so intuitive it knows your needs — and even your emotions

Jeff Bezos: Nobody asked for one of our most popular services

For a service nobody asked for, Amazon Prime sure is doing well.

That’s the gist of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s letter to shareholders, released Wednesday, in which he explained his now-famous “customer-centric” approach.

“There are many advantages to a customer-centric approach, but here’s the big one: customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great,” Bezos wrote. “Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf. No customer ever asked Amazon to create the Prime membership program, but it sure turns out they wanted it, and I could give you many such examples.”

Indeed, Amazon Prime has become a big hit with consumers since it launched in February 2005. The subscription membership, which has at least 66 million users by some third-party estimates, has transformed shoppers’ expectations around delivery. In turn, Prime has spearheaded an all-out arms race for faster shipping — an area other companies such as Google (GOOG, GOOGL), eBay (EBAY) and even Uber itself want a piece of.

Prime, meanwhile, has successfully evolved far beyond its simple roots into an all-inclusive package that also includes streaming entertainment, e-book lending and serves as a tool for acquiring and retaining customers. Prime’s original content has been well-received, with shows such as “Transparentnabbing awards.  

“In our opinion, Amazon continues to define consumer expectations for online shopping,” wrote Neil Doshi, managing director of Americas research for Mizuho Securities, in a recent research report obtained by Yahoo Finance.

But while Amazon Prime has reshaped customers’ expectations, the service has cost Amazon (AMZN) billions of dollars. For Amazon, it means relying upon and constantly expanding the company’s vast infrastructure of fulfillment centers to get items from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. More recent initiatives like Prime Now, which promise two-hour delivery timeframes to Prime members in over 45 US cities for free, also place added pressure on the company’s growing warehouse infrastructure.

Given Bezos’s penchant for emphasizing long-term “customer-centric” gain over short-term profits, don’t expect Prime to become a moneymaker anytime soon. 

JP Mangalindan is a senior correspondent for Yahoo Finance covering the intersection of tech and business. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.  

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New Chrome for Android update cuts down on those pesky page jumps

Why it matters to you

If it works as promised, scroll anchoring could make it significantly easier to read and navigate web pages on your phone.

Everyone hates page jumps. Even if you’re not exactly sure what they are, you’ve definitely encountered them, and they routinely ruin your browsing experience. It happens when you load a website, and as content trickles onto the screen, your browser is forced to haphazardly shunt your view of the page to shoehorn it in.

It’s infuriating, prevents you from reading, results in far too many unintentional clicks on ads, and — when it’s really aggressive — can make a site absolutely unusable. And it’s particularly damaging to the mobile browsing experience, where screen space comes at a premium and jumps can happen more frequently, because only a small part of the page is visible at any given time.

More: Chrome 57 restricts CPU usage of background tabs to one percent

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Enter one of the least-hyped but potentially most important updates Google has ever brought to Chrome on Android: Scroll anchoring. The feature has been tested in the beta version since last year and will debut in full with Chrome’s next release.

Google says with scroll anchoring, pages load with an average of almost three fewer jumps — and the development team is still improving that number. The name comes from the technique, as the browser’s scroll position is literally anchored to an on-screen element while content flows in.

There are a couple small caveats. The feature can’t be put to use on overly complex websites, and it is disabled when forward/back navigation buttons are used, so that the view is preserved from the previous time you looked at the page. Even so, this is a massively useful addition, whether most users are aware of what it means or not.

Not every single destination on the internet will benefit from scroll anchoring — but for the ones that do, it’ll make the internet just a little less of a headache-inducing place.

HTC One X10: News and rumors

Why it matters to you

HTC’s One X9 was a respectably performing, reasonably priced Android headset for the masses, and the X10 may continue that legacy.

HTC’s One X9 midrange handset apparently sold well enough to warrant a sequel, and it looks like the Taiwanese firm will now launch one, according to reports.

Rumors about the phone have popped up a few times over the past few months, giving us a pretty good look at the specs and design we should expect from the HTC One X10. Here’s everything we know about the upcoming handset so far.

More: HTC jumps onto the augmented reality bandwagon by investing in Lumus

Design

On the outside, the One X10 is rumored to adopt similar design cues to those featured on the OnePlus 3, the LeEco Le Pro 3, and plenty of other Android handsets. Based on leaked promotional materials and photos claimed to be of the device, it appears that is a reasonable call to make. Most recently, Evan Blass gave us our first detailed look at the One X10’s backside with this tweet. The image comes with a tagline: “Big style meets bigger battery.” For reference, the One X9 featured a 3,000mAh battery.

An earlier image, courtesy of SlashLeaks, depicted the front of the phone as it would come out of the box — protective stickers and all.

Specs

Under the hood, the phone is expected to sport relatively decent specs, although that will largely depend on how much it ends up costing. Rumored to power the One X10 is MediaTek’s octa-core 1.9GHz MT6755 chipset, which also made an appearance in the Desire 10 Pro, along with 3GB RAM. 32GB of storage is available out of the box, though a MicroSD card slot might be available for additional memory.

Around back, the phone is set to feature a 16.3-megapixel camera above the circular fingerprint sensor and next to the dual LED flash module. The front features a 7.9MP sensor above the 5.5-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 resolution display.

Below the display reportedly sits Google’s traditional back, home, and overflow buttons, noteworthy features given how prior HTC phones do not offer this set of buttons on the hardware.

If the specifications turn out to be accurate, the One X10 might not show enough improvement to persuade someone with the One X9 to make the jump. Apart from the processing package, the main difference is the former’s higher-resolution cameras compared to the latter’s 13MP and 5MP cameras.

By itself, though, the One X10 is a decent midrange option that most likely won’t break the bank — we assume the phone will not go for very much, although pricing and availability are currently unavailable. HTC initially unveiled the One X9 during the tail end of 2015, and sold it for around $170, so we are actually somewhat overdue for an announcement now. The One X9 made its way to China and other parts of the world, and there’s no indication that would change for the One X10.

Updated on 04-12-2017 by Adam Ismail: Added Evan Blass leak.

Samsung reportedly has a foldable, dual-screen smartphone in the works

Why it matters to you

A foldable smartphone could be like a tablet small enough to fit into your pocket.

Samsung may have just announced the Galaxy S8, but the Seoul, South Korea-based company may have something better up its sleeve. That’s according to ET News and The Investor, which reported on Wednesday that Samsung will begin to produce a limited number of dual-screen smartphone prototypes this year.

Work has reportedly begun in earnest. The design will feature a pair of flexible 5-inch, nearly bezel-less OLED displays joined by a single hinge that can be folded 180 degrees. And Samsung’s developing software with multitasking features that take advantage of its unfolded, effective 10-inch resolution.

More: Samsung Galaxy X: Rumors and news leaks

The Investor speculates that it’s a preliminary version of the company’s long-rumored foldable smartphone, the Galaxy X.

The reports follow on the heels of Samsung’s Project Valley, an “early vision” of a foldable smartphone that featured a single flexible panel. It’s not a new idea — as The Verge points out, both NEC’s Medias W N-05E and the Kyocera Echo featured collapsing dual-screen designs. But it’s the first material effort from Samsung, which has long expressed its intention to build a foldable handset small enough to fit in a pocket.

Samsung plans to make between 2,000 and 3,000 units in the first half of 2017. According to The Investor, Samsung and its display-making arm Samsung Display have been accelerating development for a pilot test with “tens of thousands” of prototypes during the second half of this year.

More: Samsung patent for flexible screen suggests bendable device is on the way

But don’t hold your breath for a mass-market launch anytime soon. In April, Samsung Display’s principal engineer, Kim Tae-woong, said the company is currently focused on bezel-free displays. “Because the bezel-free display current sells well, we still have enough time to develop foldable displays,” Kim told The Verge. Samsung is pegging 2019 as the year it will commercialize foldable phones.

The comments were at odds with a Bloomberg report which claimed that Samsung would release two bendable smartphones: One that folded in half, and another with a 5-inch display that “unfurled” into a tablet-sized 8-inch panel. But one thing’s for certain: Samsung’s chasing rivals.

At an event in June 2016, Lenovo showed off a concept smartphone that uses a flexible screen and segmented body to converted from a watchband to a handset. And at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, LG Display showed off a prototype 18-inch screen that rolls up like a sheet of paper.

More: The Galaxy S8 is exciting, but Samsung’s rumored bendable phone sounds amazing

“Since foldable products draw the most attention in markets recently, it is important to understand demands and ideas regarding new UX through this prototype,” a source told ET News. “This is part of Samsung Electronics’ effort to introduce foldable Smartphones as ultra-premium products.”

Chip’s new chatbot app points the way to ‘plugin banking’


When London fintech startup Chip launched late last year, the company’s vision was something a lot more ambitious than a simple ‘micro savings’ app delivered through a millennial-friendly chatbot. Instead, the plan was always to become a fully-fledged banking app that ‘plugs’ into your existing bank accounts and adds a raft of new functionality to help you make the most of your money. A significant update to Chip rolled out today begins to see that ambition become a reality.

In addition to helping you save small pots of money based on what Chip’s AI together with access to your historical transaction data deems you can afford, the chatbot app has added spending insights and a clever new feature to help you pay off your overdraft. I’m also told the company plans to launch “Smart Credit” later this year to replace your bank’s overdraft facility altogether.

“Chip is the ‘plugin banking’ app that sits on top of your current account and does the things that actually help you with your money,” the startup’s CMO Alex Latham tells me. “We are tackling three of the biggest problems young people face: the inability to save money, the difficulty of tracking spending… [and] the problem of getting stuck in a cycle of debt and paying a premium for it”.

Specifically, Chip’s new pay off your overdraft feature is based on the premise that many people don’t consider an overdraft as debt, in part because it is marketed by banks as “available funds” and, since it doesn’t sit separate from your main bank balance, is almost indistinguishable from your own cash.

“Chip’s first step to help people with their overdraft is to let them save to get out of it. By its very nature, you don’t actively pay it back, you can just aim to go less overdrawn this month than last month. But all the while, your bank account shows your overdraft as “available balance” so it feels like the money is yours, and getting out of that cycle is incredibly difficult,” says Latham.

To counter this, Chip alerts you if you are into your overdraft and lets you know the average amount you borrow each month and what it is costing you. It then puts its savings algorithm to work — the same one that powers the existing micro-savings functionality — with the goal to build up savings equal to your average monthly overdraft. Once that goal is reached, you are prompted to clear your overdraft in its entirety.

“The user has the option to save with Chip while overdrawn, putting aside a little bit of money every few days until they have enough saved up to pay off all of their overdraft debt in one go. Chip then notifies the user and gives them the option to deposit money back into their current account. Goodbye overdraft!”.

Meanwhile, “Smart Credit,” which is pegged to launch in July, will attempt to wean you off an overdraft facility entirely by essentially replacing it, albeit with a less expensive and more manageable form of credit. According to the company, the way it will work is as follows:

Every time your current account balance drops below £0, Chip instantly loads your current account with £100 of Smart Credit. The money is yours and Chip gives you all the information you need to spend sensibly, at your finger tips.

Smart Credit repays itself automatically at a rate you don’t feel. It uses the the Chip algorithm to analyses your transactions and gradually repays what you owe. You don’t need to do anything.

If you’re having an expensive week, Chip knows and pays back less. If you can afford to pay back a little bit more, Chip will increase your repayments automatically.

“Everything Chip does is based around these three fundamental problems which we face and offering a better UX for your money, all in a slick chatbot interface,” adds the Chip CMO. “We strongly think that the answer to these problems come from a better banking app which doesn’t force you to change bank”.

In other words, according to Chip, ‘plugin banking’ is where fintech’s future lies.

Scientists just proved your phone’s PIN can be cracked using its gyroscope data

Why it matters to you

Turns out your phone’s PIN code is less secure than previously thought. Researchers demonstrated how to hack it with gyroscope data.

It’s no secret that smartphone PIN codes are not perfect, but new research suggests they might be next to worthless. A team of scientists at Newcastle University in the U.K. was able to guess a user’s phone PIN code with nothing more than data from the device’s sensors.

In a paper published in International Journal of Information security, researchers demonstrated how a phone’s gyroscope — the sensor that tracks the rotation and orientation of your wrist — could be used to guess a four-digit PIN code with a high degree of accuracy. In one test, the team cracked a passcode with 70 percent accuracy. By the fifth attempt, the accuracy had gone up to 100 percent.

More: Security researchers expose Gmail smartphone hack

It takes a lot of data, to be sure. The Guardian notes users had to type 50 known PINs five times before the researchers’ algorithm learned how they held a phone when typing each particular number. But it highlights the danger of malicious apps that gain access to a device’s sensors without requesting permission.

“Most smartphones, tablets, and other wearables are now equipped with a multitude of sensors,” Dr. Maryam Mehrnezhad, a research fellow in the Newcastle University School of Computing Science and lead author on the paper, said. “But because mobile apps and websites don’t need to ask permission to access most of them, malicious programs can covertly ‘listen in’ on your sensor data.”

The risk extends beyond PIN codes. In total, the team identified 25 different smartphone sensors which could expose compromising user information. Worse still, only a small number — such as the camera and GPS — ask the user’s permission before granting access to that data.

More: 60 minutes asked a security firm to hack an iPhone, and the result is disturbing

It’s precise enough to track behavior. Using an “orientation” and “motion trace” data, the researchers were able to determine what part of a web page a user was clicking on and what they were typing.

“It’s a bit like doing a jigsaw — the more pieces you put together, the easier it is to see the picture,” Dr. Siamak Shahandashti, a senior research associate in the School of Computing Science and co-author on the study, said.

Mehrenzhad said the team reached out to leading browser providers to alert them of the issue and that Mozilla and Safari have implemented fixes. But she said that researchers are still working with the industry to find a better fix.

More: Top secret designs could be stolen from 3D printers using an ordinary smartphone

“We all clamor for the latest phone with the latest features and better user experience but because there is no uniform way of managing sensors across the industry, they pose a real threat to our personal security,” Mehrenzhad said. “It’s a battle between usability and security.”