Survey: Canon maintains title as top seller of interchangeable lens cameras

Why it matters to you

Canon is the top seller for interchangeable lens cameras, and the firm’s growing list of patents promises further features going forward.

Canon’s EOS system is celebrating 30 years in 2017 — and for the last 14 of those years, the camera giant has been the top seller of interchangeable lens digital cameras.

The sales data, shared by Canon on March 29, considers global sales for all interchangeable lens digital cameras, though that is based on a survey conducted by Canon and not on actual sales numbers. The data spans from 2003 to 2016 and encompasses a wide range of technical advances over the years.

More: Canon’s 120MP image and 8K video sensors will eat data at insane levels

Canon first earned that title with the launch of the EOS Digital Rebel, an entry-priced compact DSLR that later launched a long line of Rebels designed for beginners and enthusiasts. The company continues to produce a range of models, from basic consumer DSLRs to high-end professional rigs like the EOS-1D series.

The firm for several years was recognized for video performance after launching the first DSLR with HD video in 2008, and while the more affordable models haven’t yet seen 4K in the specs, the high video resolution arrived in the 5D Mark IV last year. Earlier this year, the company said that it is looking to bring 4K to more of its entry-level cameras, but is proceeding with caution because of the battery drain and heating issues associated with the feature.

The company says that the EOS 80D, EOS 5D Mark IV, EOS-1D Mark II and EOS M5 mirrorless camera helped the company continue to retain the top selling title last year.

So what’s next for the company? Canon says it will continue to bolster its lineup, with 2017 already bringing dual-pixel autofocus, a more accurate autofocusing system for interchangeable lens cameras, now on the EOS M6, EOS 77D and EOS Rebel T7i. The company was also ranked third overall last year in the number of U.S. patents, and was higher than any other camera company, suggesting Canon’s research team has a few more novelties heading to the company’s future cameras.

Apple opens App Accelerator in India to foster iOS app development

Apple is taking further steps to foster the developer ecosystem in the world’s fastest growing smartphone market. 

The Cupertino-based company said it will open a new App Accelerator in Bangalore, India. The announcement comes less than a year after the company said it would open an iOS App Design and Development Accelerator in India’s Silicon Valley. 

Through the new App Accelerator, the company hopes to offer specialised support to developers as well as tools to help them push the boundaries. 

At the centre, a group of experts will lead briefings and provide one-on-one app reviews for developers. The company is calling it “the first-of-its-kind facility” for the nation which already has tens of thousands of developers making apps for iOS.  

“We are impressed by the great entrepreneurial spirit in India, and are excited to provide a platform for these developers to share their innovations with customers around the world,” said Philip Schiller, senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing at Apple. 

“In just the first few weeks, we’ve already seen some incredible developers here at the App Accelerator Bengaluru, including Practo and Reliance Games, create innovative apps that can meet the needs of customers in India and around the world.”

Over the past two years, Apple has grown more focused on India. In addition to setting up development centres, the company is also about to begin manufacturing locally in the nation, a move that would allow it to cut the prices of the iPhones for the Indian market. 

WATCH: Apple Patent Reveals Text-to-Speech Translator for Notes App

A UK entrepreneur takes flight by attaching miniature jet engines to his limbs

A YouTube collection of grainy video clips highlights the progress Gravity founder Richard Browning has made toward his outlandish dream over the past year. Each seems more terrifying than the last, with multiple jet engines attached to his limbs in various configurations, as he hovers a few feet from the ground.

The press material attached to the announcement heralds the oil trader turned entrepreneur as a real life Iron Man, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that you’re watching some sort of backyard mad scientist, a few moments away from the world’s most dangerous Jack Ass stunt. Browning acknowledges how downright alarming the footage of the Daedelus rig appears, but shakes off any notion that he’s actually in danger at any point during the three-and-a-half minute package.

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“I can just strap this thing on and go flying at a moment’s notice,” he told TechCrunch in a phone interview this week. “It’s less dangerous than riding a sports bike through the countryside.” Browning rattles off a list of safety precautions with the excitement of a child attempting to convince a parent about the safety of some ill-advised new toy. He adds that he has yet to injure himself during operation.

The top speed of the current configuration isn’t any faster than a human running pace, Browning explains, and the aviation fuel was chosen specifically for its non-explosive qualities. The craft never hovers more than a few meters above the ground by design and there’s an unfortunately named dead man’s switch he has to keep pressed at all times to continue operation.

“If I fell in some imaginably bad way and somehow burst my robust fuel system, I would just leak it very slowly on the floor,” he explains. “If I spent a lot of effort trying to somehow ignite that and it finally caught fire, I’ve got a fireproof suit underneath my kit and I’m never more than 30 feet from two people with fire extinguishers. So actually, it’s really quite lame in that sense, which was done deliberately. It’s no way as dangerous or crazy as it looks.“

It is, however, quite the spectacle. Even in stealth mode, the company has managed to attract the interest of investors and partners like Red Bull, which has been documenting Browning’s journey with far more stylized video of his early attempts. The rig’s inventor insists that he never had commercial ambitions for the Daedelus, that the flight suit was only intended to answer the question of “what if?”

Browning funded the project himself for the first nine months of its gestation, taking it from his initial conception of a flapping drone — only to have his thunder stolen by similar ongoing research at Oxford University — to something more akin to its current configuration.

“We pivoted the idea,” he explains. “We stuck with the idea of the human mind and body as being the core of it, but added in a little bit of horsepower. We played around with electric drone fans, but the power to weight ratio isn’t there, so we went to gas turbines.”

In its near final form, the suit offers a new take on the traditional jet-pack idea, offering the user more degrees of control and a potentially more natural interface by transferring mobility to the limbs. Browning likens it to riding a bike. “If you let go,” he says, “your brain does the rest.”

Of course, the rig’s got plenty of trials ahead of it. And for the time being, the only application that Browning anticipates for the Daedelus is sheer visual spectacle. Recreation use could be somewhere down the line for thrill seekers with $200,000 to burn on a suit. And maybe somewhere off in the distance, it has the potential to help EVAC teams navigate difficult to reach locales. For now, however, it’s just about the show.

And as for the name, Browning admits that “Daedelus” can use a bit of work, both with regards to its unpronouncability and the popular Greek myth tied to the name. “I’m going to blame my eight-year-old [son],” says Browning. Most of the Greek heroes have something lurking in the closet. But Daedelus, so my son tells me, was a renowned craftsman and innovator.”

But Daedelus’ best known story involves letting his son Icarus fly too close to the sun. It’s a tough metaphor to shake off for an inventor who is strapping a bunch of jet engines to his limbs. But Browning is unperturbed. Sure, the company is planning to give the next model a more straightforward title, but the entrepreneur laughs off the Icarus comparisons. In fact, he’s even working on a miniature version for his kids that trades the jet engines for something less aggressive.

“We’re messing around and seeing if we can adapt a couple of drone fans,” he says. “We’re going to mock up something for my boys, so they’ve got a sort of quiet, cold version of the same thing that they can leap around with.”

Bring GPS tracking and protective radar to the campsite with the Ra. Lantern

Why it matters to you

This lantern doesn’t just light up the campsite but also provides wireless communications, GPS tracking, a USB power station for recharging devices, and a radar.

Campers and backpackers searching for a new light source to take with them on their outdoor adventures may want to check out the latest camping gadget to hit Kickstarter. Dubbed the Ra. Lantern, it not only illuminates a campsite but also delivers a host of other useful high-tech features for anyone exploring the backcountry, including real-time GPS tracking, wireless communications, and a radar warning system.

At first glance, the Ra. Lantern appears to be a powerful source of light similar to many lanterns on the market. It’s capable of putting out as much as 500 lumens of light on its brightest setting and even comes equipped with a handle making it easy to carry around. Upon closer inspection, however, it becomes clear the device actually features several different parts, including the Ra. Core base unit and two detachable light panels.

Since each of these panels also emits up to 500 lumens of light, campers have the option to take one with them while finding their way in the dark. But the individual modules also do a lot more than simply illuminate a trail. For instance, it allows them to connect an iOS or Android device to the Ra. Lantern via Bluetooth, enabling them to use the modules to create a wireless network allowing them to stay in communication with others up to a mile away — even when a cell network doesn’t exist.

The Ra. Core serves as a base station of sorts and facilitates sending text messages via a special app. This same app allows users to also track each other’s whereabouts using the GPS chips located in their connected smartphones. It also features an onboard radar system which creates a protective mesh surrounding the campsite. The device’s radar module is able to detect movement from up to 30 feet away and then send a notification to users if anyone (or anything) draws near. Should that happen, the lantern also begins to blink rapidly in an effort to scare errant creatures away.

The device draws its power via a rechargeable lithium-ion battery which boasts a 45,000 mAh capacity. In other words, that is enough to keep the lantern illuminated for up to 50 hours. The Ra. Core unit also comes equipped with two USB ports to keep mobile devices, tablets, digital cameras, and other gadgets charged. According to the Kickstarter page, the lantern recharges an iPhone up to 12 times, or an iPad as many as three times, before requiring its own recharge.

More: REI competes with big name brands after releasing redesigned Magma sleeping bag

The designers of the Ra. Lantern seek $80,000 to get this product off the ground and, as of this writing, sit a little over a quarter of the way to that goal with just over $22,000 raised. If the crowdfunding efforts prove successful, the device plans to go into production in June before shipping in July. It’s expected to carry an MSRP of $298, although early-bird supports have the ability to pre-order one now for $129.

Trump’s tweet about women just made the internet’s head explode


Image: POOL/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

No Donald. Just, no. 

The president tweeted out a video Thursday about how “only by enlisting the full potential of women in our society will we truly be able to (you have not heard this expression before) make America great again.”

Hmm, I wonder what people on the internet will think of this message. It’s not like Trump was caught on tape saying … oh yeah.

Well, it’s not like anyone compiled a video of … welp, there it is. 

At least he’s always respected women in politics. No? 

But, um, at least women are involved in his administration. Oh wait, sorry, I meant the opposite. 

Sometimes, only a GIF can explain what the people are thinking. 

WATCH: Mick Mulvaney on climate change.

Elon Musk heralds ‘huge revolution in space travel’ after historic SpaceX mission


It was one giant leap for SpaceX on Thursday evening when it successfully completed the first reflight — and landing — of an orbital class rocket.

Elon Musk and his team have completed numerous rocket launches and landings over the last 16 months, but bringing a Falcon 9 rocket back home for a second time takes the development of its reusable system to the next level as it continues in its quest to drastically reduce the cost of space travel.

Following the historic landing, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that he was “incredibly proud of the SpaceX team for achieving this milestone in space,” adding, “Next goal is reflight within 24 hours.”

Did you get that? The private space company’s next aim is to land a rocket and have it firing on all cylinders again within the space of a day.

The used Falcon 9 launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 6:27 p.m. ET on Thursday, returning to an ocean-based barge off the coast of Florida a short while later after successfully deploying a commercial communications satellite for Luxembourg-based firm SES.

Speaking soon after the rocket touched down, Musk said it “did its mission perfectly” before landing “right on the bullseye” of the barge. He added, “This is going to be a huge revolution in space travel. It’s the difference between … if you threw away an airplane after every flight versus you could reuse them multiple times.”

More: Elon Musk wants to populate Mars with one million people to save humanity

In April last year, the same rocket delivered an unmanned Dragon cargo ship to space destined for the International Space Station before returning to the barge for a smooth touchdown. The same rocket could now be used for a third mission.

SpaceX has now made nine successful rocket landings — six at sea and three on land —as it continues to perfect its technology ahead of its first crewed tests, possibly next year.

This week’s achievement will be a huge boost for the SpaceX team following a difficult period toward the end of 2016 when one of its rockets exploded on the launchpad. The company returned to flight in January this year, while Thursday’s effort shifts SpaceX’s ambitious project forward significantly as it looks toward launching missions into deep space and one day sending people to Mars

No, the ‘Microsoft Edition’ of the Galaxy S8 doesn’t run Windows 10 Mobile

Image: lili sams/mashable

All aboard the Samsung Galaxy S8 train!

After years of trying and failing to get anyone to care about Windows Phone and then Windows 10 Mobile, Microsoft’s finally making a smart move in mobile: It’s partnering with Samsung for a “Microsoft Edition” of the new Galaxy S8.

What makes the Galaxy S8 and S8+ Microsoft Edition, uh, Microsoft-y? For starters, the phones will only be sold at Microsoft Stores in the U.S. starting on April 21. They’ll still cost the same as the regular versions, though: $749.99 (S8) and $849.99 (S8+).

Aside from that, the only new additions to the Galaxy S8 appears to be the Microsoft apps that are installed after connecting the phones to a Wi-Fi network for the first time.

Apps that’ll be installed include “Office, OneDrive, Cortana, Outlook and more” according to ZDNet.

That’s all fine and dandy, but you’re probably thinking right now, can’t you just buy the regular version of the S8’s and install the Microsoft apps yourself?

Yes, you 100 percent can do that, but how many people will? One of the first things most people who buy new Galaxy phones do is replace the default Samsung apps with Google’s. How many people swap Samsung’s apps for Microsoft’s? I’d wager, not too many.

Pop the S8 into the Samsung DeX dock and....

Pop the S8 into the Samsung DeX dock and….

Image: lili sams/mashable

...boom, you've got a desktop PC-like experience.

…boom, you’ve got a desktop PC-like experience.

Image: lili sams/mashable

The Microsoft Edition of the S8 is less about having any exclusive features, and more about putting Microsoft’s suite of powerful productivity services in front of more eyeballs on mobile — something it just doesn’t have considering what a steaming failure Windows 10 Mobile is.

Bundling its apps and having them front and center on the Galaxy S8 — a phone that’ll no doubt sell very well — is also another chance for Microsoft to keep the phone-transforms-into-a-desktop dream alive. 

With a Microsoft Edition, sold at Microsoft retail stores, Samsung and Microsoft can easily showcase the benefits of getting a desktop-like experience with the Samsung DeX dock.

Microsoft Continuum was a cool idea and it could have really morphed into something serious, if not for the fact that it was stuck on a virtually non-existent platform. The Galaxy S8 is Microsoft’s best shot at realizing the promise of Continuum. Samsung will get the credit and Android is the interface (not Windows 10), but at least Microsoft’s apps will be there leading the charge.

WATCH: Samsung has unveiled the new Galaxy S8, and it’s beautiful

Phonemakers battling over production contract for the Pixel 3, report claims

Why it matters to you

The competition over who will get to produce the future of Google’s flagship phones could make those phones better and more readily available for purchase.

As Google prepares the successor to the Pixel and Pixel XL due for release later in 2017, the battle has apparently already begun over who will get to manufacture the third iteration of the flagship Android phone.

HTC is once again in the running, along with LG, current Blackberry producer TCL, and Coolpad, according to Chinese publication Commercial Times by way of Digitimes. Google’s existing contract with HTC will expire after the release of the Pixel 2, so says the report, opening up an opportunity for other hardware companies. LG is purportedly leading the race, though Commercial Times does not elaborate as to why.

More: Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus vs. Google Pixel XL: Two plus-sized phones battle it out

Since September, HTC has reportedly shipped more than 2.1 million Pixel devices, but Google may be looking to ramp output up to 5 million in time for the Pixel 3. Meanwhile, most variants of the original Pixel — especially the XL — remain out of stock about six months after the phone’s launch, as HTC continues to struggle to fill orders quickly enough.

Remember, too, that HTC may not have been Google’s first choice to build the Pixel, but rather Huawei, according to the accounts of multiple executives from the Chinese tech firm last fall. Keeping this in mind along with the supply-side constraints, it’s possible Google is more confident in LG’s manufacturing capabilities, given that the companies have worked together on multiple Nexus phones in the past.

Commercial Times’ report comes shortly after rumors that Google could be planning a third, larger version of the Pixel 2 for release, codenamed “Taimen.” This article only mentions the “Muskie” and “Walleye” devices we’ve already heard about, which lends credence to the theory that Google is simply testing a variety form factors for the next Pixel, but still only plans to release two of them.

There is also the chance of a lower-end Pixel phone named the 2B that broke early in the rumor cycle, though more recent reports — including a statement from Google’s Senior Vice President of Hardware Rick Osterloh — suggest that the Pixel brand will stay premium, and the 2B could instead fit into the Android One family.

SpaceX even landed the nose cone from its historic used Falcon 9 rocket launch

SpaceX had one more victory this evening in its historical reuse of a rocket: it also landed the nose cone on top of the rocket that surrounds the payload to keep it safe, called a fairing. This is a first for SpaceX.

You can think of the fairing like a hard protective bubble atop the rocket. So it’s big: 5 meters — or more than 16 feet — in diameter. Fairing recovery has been a target for SpaceX for at least a year; Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, mentioned fairing retrieval as a goal in April 2016.

That’s because those nose cones, which are made of carbon fiber and aluminum honeycomb, can cost a couple million dollars each, according to Musk. Being able to recover fairings is another step toward cheaper, multi-use rockets.

About three and a half minutes after liftoff, the fairing split in two and began to fall toward Earth — as it was designed to do. These parts have their own thruster systems, and when they’ve slowed enough, they deploy parachutes to land.

That doesn’t mean that SpaceX has necessarily recovered the fairing pieces, though. They must have landed in the ocean — no part of the rocket’s flight path goes over land. Still, it marks another success for SpaceX’s reusability project, along with its reflight and re-recovery.