Need a current events update? You can now get it from YouTube’s Breaking News

Why it matters to you

Need to know what’s happening in the world? YouTube’s breaking news section can tell you.

You may use YouTube for nothing more than cat videos and old NASA footage, but rest assured, you can do a lot more than simply waste time on the video streaming platform. As initially reported by Android Police, YouTube now has a “Breaking News” section that, as the name might suggest, contains a collection of videos that share breaking news from around the world.

The news videos can be seen in a horizontally scrollable format, and while they’re not unique to you, they are unique to your region. So sure, you may not be seeing the same thing in the U.S. as you would in the U.K., but your fellow Americans are being served the same breaking news. If, for some reason, you don’t want to see the news, you can either hit the “x” on your desktop version or tap the “Not interested” option in the three-dot menu on your mobile device.

As it stands, the feature is live on both iOS and Android, as well as on desktop. But it doesn’t look like everyone has the feature quite yet. Nor is it clear as to whether this Breaking News section will only exist when there is, in fact, breaking news, such as a natural disaster or national emergency, or if it will be a constant addition to the YouTube platform.

Although it may seem odd for YouTube to be delving into the breaking news arena — after all, YouTube clips seem to be how folks escape the news, not consume it — it does make sense that the platform would at least try to bring some current events into the content reel. In June, YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki announced that 1.5 billion people watched an hour of video on mobile alone.

Currently, for those who are seeing the new section, it looks as though they’re being served information from traditional networks. However, if the section finds a surer footing, it may be an opportunity for YouTube celebrities and personalities to give their viewers their own take on daily happenings. After all, if Snapchat is serving its viewers daily news, why not YouTube?

‘It’s Cool’ weather alarm app reminds us the summer heat isn’t that scary

App Attack is a weekly series where we search the App Store and Google Play Store for the best apps of the week. Check out App Attack every Sunday for the latest.

If you live in a state with all four seasons, you likely have a love-hate relationship with the heat. During brutal winters, it’s easy to long for the days when you won’t have to wear multiple layers. But then those scorching summer days hit — and so does the sweat — and you start to realize cold weather isn’t all that bad. This week, we have an app that will help you find the right balance between hot and cold.

It’s Cool — currently only available for iOS — is a weather alarm meant specifically to notify you when the weather is nice. In the App Store, the developer explained the idea was born from spending too many summer days and nights inside. With temperatures sky-rocketing, we don’t often realize how much time we spend sitting in air conditioned spaces to shelter us from the heat. Warm seasons are meant to be spent outside, and a weather alarm could be just the push we need to keep us from getting summer cabin fever.

This app is simple to use and doesn’t have much to its interface. Upon downloading it, you’re greeted by an animated bell with a plant inside and a sun hovering over it. Above the bell is the city or town you’re in and to the left of it you have the option of setting the temperature at either Fahrenheit or Celsius.

On the bottom is where you see the current temperature, a description of the current weather, and how many hours until it reaches your preferred temperature outside. The dial at the bottom lets you easily slide back and forth between the temperatures. Once you’ve stopped at your desired temperature, it will automatically set an alarm to notify you later. Underneath the set temperature, the app also lets you know how many hours it will take to reach it.

When I first tried out it out, the temperature in New York City was 85 degrees and partly cloudy. I set the dial to alert me at 84 degrees which said it would take two hours. But after two hours went by, the temperature went down and I didn’t get an alert. Then, I tried again by bringing it down to 77 degrees which said it would take four hours before alerting me. Even after four hours, I still had zero notifications on my phone.

After reading through the reviews on the App Store, I noticed that other users were posting the same complaint. It’s clear the developer — TinRocket — was well aware, because after a brief Twitter direct message exchange I was guided to a support article dedicated to the exact same problem.

its cool app attack it s settings

In the beginning, you’re asked for permission to use location information, access to background data, and permission to send push notifications. If you want to use the app to its fullest extent, make sure tap allow for all of them. If you tap don’t allow by accident, you can always go to Settings and scroll down to the It’s Cool app. There, you’ll have to turn the location on to While Using in order to find the local weather. Then, toggle Background App Refresh on to allow the app to check the weather periodically. If you want to receive notifications between the hours of 11 PM and 7 PM, toggle off Do Not Disturb mode.

After fixing the settings, I started receiving notifications to my phone. When the outdoors reached 68 degrees, I saw a push notification that read exactly that. Some could argue you could easily step outside and check the weather, or even simply open a window. But since it did take a few hours, I forgot that I was even waiting for the temperature to drop since I was focused on other tasks. Even though we tell ourselves we’ll go outside once it gets cooler, it’s more likely we’ll be too buried in our phones to remember. That’s where the handy-dandy notification comes in.

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While summer is coming to an end, temperatures in September still remain high — you technically have one more month to make up for staying indoors these past few months. Even if you don’t plan on using it to go outside, the app could help lower those AC bills.

Elon Musk and 115 other experts ask the UN to ban killer robots in open letter

Elon Musk, Google DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman, and 114 other leading AI and robotics experts have joined together to ask the UN to ban the use of so-called killer robots in an open letter published today.

The group is concerned about the potential use of lethal autonomous weapons and how they might be applied in the future, and they penned a short note released by the Future of Life Institute. The text was made public to kick off the opening of the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI 2017) in Melbourne, Australia, according to a press release.

“Lethal autonomous weapons” refers to the drones, autonomous machine guns, tanks, and other forms of weaponry controlled by AI on next-generation battlefields. 

Musk, for one, is famously wary of AI’s potential to go bad, recently calling it “the greatest threat we face as a civilization,” above even nuclear weapons — but the open letter is the first time a group of AI and robotics companies have joined forces to petition the UN specifically about autonomous weapons, according to the release. 

The UN’s Review Conference of the Convention on Conventional Weapons had unanimously agreed to start formal discussions on the prohibition of autonomous weapons, and 19 of the member countries have already supported banning the killer robots outright. The group was slated to meet on Aug. 21, but has been delayed until November, according to Fortune.

“Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close.”

The open letter, which was signed by representatives from companies worth collectively billions of dollars across 26 countries, could put even more pressure to make a prohibition happen.

One of the autonomous lethal weapons already out in the world.

One of the autonomous lethal weapons already out in the world.

Image: future of life institute

The actual text of the letter is short and stark. You can read it here, but we’ve included the most essential passage below:

Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare. Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways. We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close. 

Co-signer Yoshua Bengio, a deep learning expert who founded Element AI, is concerned about more than just the immediate damage lethal autonomous weapons might cause. He cited the potential to “hurt the further development of AI’s good applications” by focusing on warfare and the inevitable backlash against the technology as a major reason for his participation in the effort. 

The Future of Life Institute published a similar letter in 2015, which was signed by Musk, Stephen Hawking, and others with a message warning against the broader dangers of AI, not just those created for warfare. 

The danger posed by non-military AI is much less pressing, which makes some of Musk’s statements feel overblown and ridiculous and his self-important spat with Mark Zuckerberg more of a media spectacle than a debate with real stakes. But the potential for autonomous weapons to do damage, as the open letter states, is here now. Hopefully, the UN listens to the experts. 

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This iPhone 8 dummy may not be real, but it still gives a glimpse of the future

Why it matters to you

The iPhone 8 has had a lot of leaked information, this video gives you another take on what the phone might look like.

Every iPhone release brings rumors and possible leaks before the big unveil, but the iPhone 8 has elicited more speculation than ever. Plentiful leaked information has given avid fans of Apple products a possible glimpse at the new iPhone’s wireless charging, design, and color. Two videos have also appeared, showing what looks like iPhone 8 phones in a factory. Remember: All the assumptions made in this video are based on leaked photos and videos, so take this information with a grain of salt. Until the new iPhone 8 actually comes out, we can’t be sure what it will be able to do. These are the predictions of David Cogen, the Unlockr, based on an iPhone 8 concept model used by case manufacturers.

Front

The front of the phone is basically all screen with tiny bezels on all sides. Most glaringly, the phone is missing the home button or fingerprint reader. Along the top there are a variety of sensors. These sensors could possibly foretell the use of facial and iris recognition to unlock the phone, which would explain the currently missing fingerprint reader. If the sensors are for facial and iris recognition, the sensors on the top could include an infrared sensor. With the work that Apple has been doing with Augmented Reality, there could be additional depth and AR sensors as well.

One question that is probably on your mind is how you will return to the home screen with no home button. Well, there are several possible solutions. A squeezable frame could be in the works, but a new 3D touch input method is more likely. Maybe the power button will also act as a home button. We can’t know for sure, but Apple probably has something up its sleeve.

Back

As on older iPhones, you have dual cameras on the back, but now they are arranged in vertically instead of horizontally, like on the iPhone 7 Plus. The camera will probably do the same things as cameras on past iPhones, but the new alignment might be better for depth perception and AR – which could explain why Apple rearranged their camera design. The back appears to be glass, which goes towards supporting wireless charging as a possibility for this new phone.

Color

The three colors that have been showing up in the leaked photos are silver white, black, and blush gold. However, colors are the features that are the most unknown before the new iPhone is officially released. There might only be three colors, and they might have the same names, but the actual shade will probably be different from what has been leaked. Many times prototypes or dummy models don’t come in the exact correct shade that the final result will have.

Please keep in mind that these are just predictions based on leaked information and rumors that may not be true. We won’t know anything for sure until the iPhone 8 is released.

You can pre-order a limited edition Xbox One X right now

The Xbox One X is now available for pre-order. Sort of.

Microsoft is doing a special limited pre-order for Xbox One X, a so-called “Project Scorpio” edition that’s a reference to the technologically beefy console’s codename. It is the same price as the standard Xbox One X ($499) and will launch the same day (Nov. 7) but has unique design elements.

For starters, the Project Scorpio name will be accented on the console as well as the controller in a green font, and the whole box will be done up with a unique premium paint finish. Apparently, there is also an easter egg on the back of the console for the ultra Xbox fan.

The insides of the Project Scorpio edition will be the same as those of the standard One X, which has some pretty intense specs capable of running games in 4K resolution and making even Xbox One games that haven’t been patched for 4K look a little shinier.

Microsoft announced that more than 100 games — including Fallout 4 and Rise of the Tomb Raider — will receive special enhancements from developers to make them look even better on the One X.

This Project Scorpio edition will be available in limited quantities, and although exact numbers weren’t shared by Microsoft, Xbox Chief Marketing Officer Mike Nichols said if people want them, they should order quickly.

“We do expect demand to outstrip supply,” he said. This (hopefully) only applies to the Project Scropio edition, and not the standard Xbox One X.

Information about pre-orders for the standard version of the console will come at a later date.

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Elon Musk is back to taking fans’ ideas to make Tesla ownership even better

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You can call Elon Musk any number of things, but you can’t claim that the multi-hyphenate CEO billionaire can’t take feedback on his company’s work — especially on his one-of-a-kind Twitter profile.  

Musk took a break from posting (then deleting) weird videos on Twitter for a round of crowdsourced ideas this weekend, replying to fans’ suggestions and requests to improve the Tesla owner experience.

This is far from the first time Musk has interacted with the public on the social platform for product feedback and ideas for new features, notably asking his 11.6 million strong follower base to help name his Boring Company’s tunneling machines earlier this year. He responded to suggestions published in a newspaper too, back in 2014 — so if you put an idea in front of him, he might just listen. 

Musk answered a whole slew of questions and comments, but request in particular sounds like it will make it to a future Tesla software update, which are frequently pushed out over-the-air (OTA) to the company’s cars to fix bugs and keep them current with the latest breakthroughs.

Musk did more than just promise updates, too. He explained to other curious owners exactly why their wishes aren’t exactly feasible, given the cars’ designs. 

He also teased a new cloud profile system for drivers — but didn’t provide any exact details on its rollout. 

Musk has also perfected the art of using Twitter to build up hype for his companies and projects, which was abundantly clear after his super-premature declaration that his Boring Company will expand its operations to the East Coast last month

The Tesla CEO is a master manipulator, and some might even call him a “master of deception” — but Musk’s willingness to personally respond to consumer feedback (along with Tesla’s ability to push OTA updates to its cars remotely) make the car company uniquely positioned to make the owner experience personalized unlike any other.

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Google needs to pay Apple a small fortune to remain the default search engine on iOS


Apple and Google could be the biggest frenemies in tech. While they both compete like there’s no tomorrow, they also partner on some very specific deals. For instance, Google is paying a ton of money to remain the default search engine on iOS.

As CNBC first reported, according to a Bernstein analyst, Google could pay as much as $3 billion a year just to remain the default option in Safari.

Business Insider also obtained that Bernstein report and shared the thinking behind this number. Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi starts from a previous court document from 2014 that stated that Google had to pay $1 billion every year to remain the default search engine on iOS back in 2014.

But mobile traffic as well as iPhone sales have been growing steadily since then. If you look at Apple’s services revenue, and in particular licensing revenue, as well as Google’s traffic acquisition costs, that number could be around $3 billion right now.

It shows that Google is still highly dependent from Apple. The vast majority of Google’s revenue comes from ads on search result pages. And Apple controls roughly 18 percent of the smartphone market.

As most users update to the latest version of iOS in just a few months, it doesn’t take long to change the default setting on hundreds of millions of iPhones. Google has no choice but to spend a ton of money to acquire this traffic.

A few years ago, the iPhone shipped with a built-in YouTube app and Google Maps. When Apple realized that Google was becoming a serious competitor with Android, the company removed the YouTube app from iOS and worked on Apple Maps. Apple isn’t afraid of saying no to Google when it comes to iOS features.

Apple could probably not get as much money from Microsoft Bing, Yahoo Search or DuckDuckGo, but Apple doesn’t really need it anyway as it brings more than $45 billion in revenue per quarter now. It’s all about hurting Google’s bottom line.

As John Gruber noted, Apple is in a strong position in this negotiation. While it’s true that DuckDuckGo and Bing have gotten better over the years, it still lags behind when you’re using those search engines in non-English languages.

This incongruous situation is a great example of asynchronous competition. Apple and Google keep innovating and competing as hard as they can on the smartphone front. But they also partner on other aspects and even pay each other. Business schools will turn this situation into a great case study.

Jeff Immelt could be Uber’s new CEO, and he has his work cut out for him

Why it matters to you

After months without a leader, Uber is eager for someone new to take the reins. And it could be Jeff Immelt.

After a tumultuous several months, complete with resignations, lawsuits, and plenty of bad blood, it looks like Uber is finally gaining new leadership. As first reported by Recode, it would appear that the former chairman of General Electric, Jeff Immelt, has emerged as the top candidate to take on the reins at Uber. According to sources, the majority of Uber’s board has decided to back the experienced executive.

While there are apparently two other contenders still in consideration, a final decision is fast approaching. Uber’s directors are expected to vote on a new CEO within the next two weeks, and whichever candidate wins the majority will certainly have his work cut out for him. Although the hope is that the final vote will be unanimous, it doesn’t necessarily have to be (nor is it guaranteed to be).

“We know it is never going to be a perfect choice, but everyone is becoming exhausted,” one person close to the situation said, as per Recode. “We need someone with the skills to move us along.”

And based on his resume, it certainly appears that Immelt has those skills. As another source told Recode, “[Immelt] certainly is not someone anyone can push around easily, which is probably his best characteristic. We all know Immelt’s not the dynamic entrepreneur that Travis is, but he can certainly settle things down.”

Even so, there’s quite a bit to be done at the beleaguered ride sharing giant. Competitors in both the U.S. and abroad seem to have made up ground in the wake of the leadership fiasco that has hijacked headlines for most of 2017. Uber faces more challengers than ever in international markets, and even at home, Lyft is proving that it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Moreover, Uber has plenty of lawsuits from disgruntled drivers to face, as well as some from disabled persons’ advocates. And while the company has a seemingly astronomical valuation, it’s still losing about a billion dollars a year.

So whether Uber’s next CEO is Jeff Immelt or someone else entirely, it would be nice to see the company make some improvements from within.

Volkswagen will bring you its buzzy next-gen electric bus in 2022

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Volkswagen is ready to join the electric car revolution — and it’s doing so with a buzzy refresh of one of its most classic vehicles. 

The automaker announced that it will make its I.D. Buzz electric Microbus concept a reality by 2022, giving VW fans, EV enthusiasts, and modern day hippies alike a good reason to mark their calendars. The concept was first unveiled earlier this year to much acclaim, as the confluence of old school style and next-gen tech offered a much different take on the fully-electric car in a world filled with Teslas and Chevy Bolts. 

Volkswagen CEO Dr. Herbert Diess acknowledged the concept’s popularity while outlining the plan to bring the Buzz to North American, European, and Chinese markets. He said VW was flooded with letters and emails from excited customers, imploring the company to “please build this car” — so that’s exactly what VW is going to do.   

The production model all-wheel drive Buzz will offer drivers more than just a blast from the past. The next-gen Microbus will boast 369 hp from electric motors on each of its axles for extra handling ability. 

Most importantly, the Buzz is slated for up to 300 miles of range per charge, with the capability to power up to about 80 percent of its energy capacity in 30 minutes using VW’s fast-charging system.

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VW says the next-gen design will give the Buzz plenty of room for passengers and more. The batteries will be mounted in the vehicle floor, and Volkswagen says the Buzz’s compact electric drive components mean that there’s even more space inside than previously possible with gas-powered bus designs. 

The Buzz will offer riders tons of space.

The Buzz will offer riders tons of space.

Image: volkswagen

The Buzz will be semi-autonomous to start too, capable of Level 3 self-driving. That means the car will be able to handle some of the driving responsibilities, although a human driver is still required. Volkswagen is aiming to introduce a completely self-driving system, dubbed I.D. Pilot, by 2025, however, so future models might be be able to cruise without anyone at the wheel.    

Image: volkswagen

There will also be a specialized Cargo variant, which will be optimized for hauling and delivering goods for commercial clients. 

Image: volkswagen

This announcement is doubtlessly exciting for VW fans — but it shouldn’t come as a big surprise in the EV space. Volkswagen has another all-electric car concept, the I.D., slated for a 2020 release, and other automakers are doubling down on EVs for their future designs. Volvo, most notably, recently announced that its entire lineup will be electrified starting in 2019.

We’ll see even more electric cars on the road over the next few years, but it’ll be hard to top the VW Buzz in terms of looks and classic hippie vibes. Have a chill time counting down the days till its release in 2022. 

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Let’s review some of tech’s big second quarter financial stories

Now that the second-quarter “earnings season” — when all of the biggest public tech companies spill their financial guts to the public — is over, and it was filled with a lot of weird stories that seemed a little outside of the mold that we normally see.

There weren’t any blockbuster product launches, huge advertising beats, wildly surprising numbers (outside of Netflix) or alarmingly large bouts of layoffs. Still, even beyond that, this quarter managed to deliver a surprisingly large number of interesting stories in just about every report.

With that, let’s take a quick look at some of the highlights from this quarter.