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The latest Technology News articles for residents and businesses of Australia from National and International resources.

 

Amazon's Echo and other smart speakers do much more than you realize

When Amazon first debuted its Alexa-powered Echo smart speaker in 2014, expectations for the device were relatively high.

More than two years later, the Echo’s success has spurred a new war of the tech titans: Companies including Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG, GOOGL), Microsoft (MSFT), Samsung and a slew of their Chinese counterparts have either released their own smart speakers or will likely release them soon.

But it appears consumers aren’t using their devices to their full potential. Instead of using these smart speakers to do things like start their cars or order movie tickets, consumers are focusing on more basic tasks like playing music and checking the weather.

And while that may not seem like it would be an issue for device makers, if users aren’t taking full advantage of their devices, manufacturers might lose out on some big cash.

What do you do exactly?

See, it turns out,...


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Pogue's Basics: Navigate the Start menu tiles using keyboard

As you probably know, the Start menu in Windows 10 has two sides. There’s the traditional list of your apps on the left, and tiles on the right. If you start typing, you’ll discover that you can navigate the left side from the keyboard. Too bad you can’t navigate the right side if you’re a keyboard nut!

Actually, you can! Just hit the Tab key. Now the arrow keys move around the tiles. Hit Enter to open one, and boom—you’re in.

Adapted from “Pogue’s Basics: Tech” (Flatiron Press), by David Pogue.

More from David Pogue:

The 4 people Steve Jobs handpicked to review the iPhone reflect 10 years later

Marty Cooper, inventor of the cellphone: The next step is implantables

Apple polishes up 23 features in Mac OS High Sierra

The 27 most interesting features in iOS11

The DJI Spark is the smallest, cheapest obstacle-avoiding drone yet 

The new Samsung Galaxy does 27 things the iPhone...


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Another fitness-band company shuts down. But why?

This week, according to The Information, Jawbone Inc. shut down.

That’s the company, one valued at $3 billion, that brought us the Up fitness bands.

So here’s the thing: Microsoft discontinued its fitness band in 2016. Nike discontinued its Fuel band in 2015.

Meanwhile, Fitbit, the biggest remaining seller of fitness bands, is having a tough time. Its first-quarter sales were down 39 percent over the same period last year.

What’s going on? Why are we abandoning fitness bands en masse?

The products themselves—the Fitbit Alta HR and Charge 2 especially—are fantastic. Superbly designed, very accurate, truly helpful in keeping you excited about moving more and sleeping better.

So why do the statistics show that half of Fitbit owners aren’t actually wearing their bands?

Two things are going on. First, lots of people give and get fitness bands as gifts. The number of bands sold is...


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Pokémon Go is celebrating its first birthday this month with discounts on items and something for fans of the original Pokémon TV show: Pikachu, donning Ash's hat.

SEE ALSO: 'Pokémon Go' is branding Pokémon caught by cheaters

Starting today and running through July 24, Pikachus found in the wild will be wearing Ash's hat from the first season of the Pokémon anime. Pikachu was the very first Pokémon that the show's protagonist caught and has stuck with him through all these years (despite Ash changing his hat several times over the course of the series).

Whether Pikachu will keep the hat on if evolved into Raichu is unknown at this point, but we can dream.

On top of Pikachu's new duds, players will be able to get a limited anniversary box that includes incubators, max revives, ultra balls, and raid passes at a discounted price.

Outside of the game, Niantic teased more details coming...


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China vs the World: Smartphone giants face a low-cost threat

When it comes to smartphones, most American consumers either look to Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone or Samsung’s Galaxy handsets. But the next time you decide to upgrade your phone, you might want to check out some of the impressive offerings coming out of China.

Companies ranging from OnePlus to Xiaomi to Huawei and more are producing handsets powered by Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) Android that are every bit as attractive, powerful and feature-rich as their more mainstream competitors for far lower prices.

There is one catch, though. The majority of these devices only work on AT&T (T) or T-Mobile’s (TMUS) networks. So if you’re a Sprint (S) or Verizon (VZ) user, you’re largely out of luck.

Many of China’s smartphones have their own gimmicks that help them stand out from the crowd. The OnePlus 3T, for example, is a high-powered device with a ridiculous 6GB of RAM and a gorgeous 5.5-inch AMOLED...


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How open-internet rules are actually helping consumers

Opponents of open-internet regulations have long argued that such rules will lead to slower broadband internet speeds. Their reasoning is that with more regulations in place, internet providers wouldn’t want to risk investing in the infrastructure needed to improve their networks, which would hurt consumers.

And yet five months after former-Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler challenged those claims by asking opponents “Where’s the fire?”, the broadband business has yet to implode.

In fact, it may have actually improved for customers. Data from internet providers themselves show that these firms have moved to offer people faster connections and better choices. Maybe you can’t credit the open-internet rules for that, but it’s certainly becoming harder to blame them for an industry-wide slowdown.

Net neutrality doesn’t seem to hurt ISPs

Until recently, much of the...


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Pogue's Basics: The master class on capturing screenshots

There are all kinds of reasons you might want to capture your screen as a graphic. Maybe you’re writing up instructions, illustrating a computer book, or collecting proof of some secret screen you found buried in a game. You can take pictures of the entire screen or capture only the contents of a rectangular selection.

In Windows, you can press the Print Screen (or PrtScn) key to copy a picture of the whole screen to the Clipboard; add the Alt key if you want to capture only the active window.

On the Mac, it’s Command-Shift-3 to capture the whole screen, or Command-Shift 4 to grab a region of the screen. (You can change these keystrokes to anything you like, in System Preferences.) If

If you hold down the Control key as you click or drag, you copy the screenshot to your Clipboard, ready for pasting, rather than saving it as a new graphics file on your desktop.

But on the Mac, that’s...


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A ruling against Google in Canada could affect free speech around the world

The Supreme Court of Canada issued an order to Google Wednesday: Stop showing search results for a company accused of fraud, not just in Canada, but throughout the world. Yes, that includes everybody reading this in America.

But the court’s ruling that the Alphabet. Inc., (GOOG, GOOGL) search subsidiary “de-index” the company could also invite other courts — including those in countries not as nice as Canada — to issue their own global takedown demands for other sites, which can easily lead to free speech being squashed.

And U.S. companies that want to do business in those other nations will have little choice but to comply. Too bad, eh?

Litigate locally, punish globally

This story started with a lawsuit filed by Barnaby, British Columbia-based Industrial-networking vendor Equustek Solutions Inc., alleging that a competitor, Datalink Technologies Gateways Inc., had started selling...


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How to switch from iPhone to Android and vice versa

Change is good. It’s, as the cliché goes, the only constant. But change is also hard. And the hardest kind of change, outside of my transformation from obnoxiously dressed teen to a just plain obnoxious man-child, is changing the kind of smartphone you use.

I’m not talking about going from an old iPhone to a new iPhone; I’m talking about changing from your old iPhone to a new Android device and vice versa.

Whether you’re moving from Android to iOS or vice versa, these are the steps that will get you there the fastest.

It’s almost as if Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG, GOOGL) don’t want you to leave their respective device ecosystems. And many consumers just stick with their current operating system, because they either don’t know how to change or are worried they’ll lose out on features.

But there is a way to jump between these two types of smartphones.

Moving from Android to...


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Even a $2.7 billion fine can't hurt Google

Europe is once again mad at Google, but this time European regulators’ angst comes with a serious price tag: a €2.42 billion, or about $2.73 billion, fine to punish the Alphabet, Inc. (GOOG, GOOGL), subsidiary for pushing its product-search tool in its own search results.

“Google abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors” European Commission member Margrethe Vestager said in a statement Tuesday morning announcing the EC’s ruling.

Google general counsel Kent Walker wrote in a blog post that the EU didn’t understand how product search now transcends traditional web queries, citing Amazon (AMZN) in particular as “a formidable competitor.” He said Google would continue to make its case in Europe.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, however, the company...


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What you need to know about Petya ransomware and how to avoid it

A new form of malware hit the internet Tuesday, shutting down systems across Europe and impacting companies from the U.S. to Russia. Unfortunately, the attack, which early reports indicate seems to have hurt Ukrainian organizations and agencies more in particular, is still largely a mystery for security researchers.

A form of ransomware, the malware encrypts a victim’s PC and demands that they pay $300 in exchange for the keys to unlock their computer or lose all of their data. The attack even managed to affect radiation monitoring equipment at the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site, forcing workers to rely on manual checks instead.

Cybersecurity firms originally believed the malware to be a perviously known form of ransomware called Petya, but Kaspersky Lab says it’s actually a different, unknown version kind of ransomware, causing the cybersecurity company to...


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Nintendo is bringing back the Super Nintendo just in time for the holidays

Nintendo (NTDOY) is bringing is bringing the Super Nintendo Entertainment System back from the dead just in time for the holiday shopping season in the form of its SNES Classic Edition.

Available Sept. 29 for $79, the SNES Classic will come loaded with 21 games including such beloved classics as “Super Mario World,” “Super Mario Kart,” “Super Metroid,” “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past,” and “Donkey Kong Country.” Nintendo says it will also include the never-before-released “Star Fox 2.”

The company will give you two wired SNES controllers in the Classic pack, as well.

Investors continue to be pleased by the company. Shares are up 2% today, and they’re up 70% since the beginning of the year.

The SNES Classic should prove to be a huge seller for Nintendo later this year. The original NES Classic was such an unexpectedly massive hit when it was released in 2016 that the company


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Your fingerprints could replace your airline boarding pass

Your driver’s license and boarding pass could wind up as excess baggage on your next flight if a new test of biometric identification takes off.

Instead of handing your boarding pass and ID to a Transportation Security Administration agent, you could soon simply place two fingerprints on a scanner to be recognized and ushered through security — and then you could repeat the process to board the plane.

But the initiative, which is being spearheaded by Delta Air Lines (DAL), faces a lengthy pre-flight checklist before it can eventually be implemented in airports, as I learned during a demonstration at Washington’s National Airport.

How it works — and will work

Delta’s system relies on the biometric-identification technology of Clear, the New York firm that sells expedited security screening for $179 a year to travelers who have their fingerprints and retinas scanned.

You can find Clear...


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Big Cable broke its promise and you're paying for it

 

Cable companies originally probably to give us free apps to watch TV without having to pay for cable boxes. We’re still waiting.

Last June, Big Cable made an appealing offer for viewers and regulators. Companies would provide consumers with free apps to watch TV rather than making them pay monthly fees for cable boxes. But the cable companies didn’t do this out of the kindness of their hearts — they wanted to stop the Federal Communication Commission from passing regulations making them ship apps.

A year after that “Ditch the Box” pledge, two things have changed. There’s now zero threat of federal regulators requiring cable operators to give subscribers free apps to replace rented boxes, and the industry’s “Ditch the Box” plan seems to have disappeared.

What was on the table

Twelve months ago, cable operators had reason to fear that the FCC would crack open the box...


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The 3 big challenges facing Uber’s next CEO

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is out. After a series of public relations disasters resulting from claims of sexual harassment, sexism, privacy invasions and law enforcement evasions, the co-founder announced his resignation under pressure from investors.

But a changing of the guard won’t necessarily right Uber’s listing ship. The new face for the company will undoubtedly encounter a slew of challenges right off the bat. But the most important matter is whether the person can continue to grow the business while completely changing its corporate culture.

Profit and culture

“It’s really important that they get someone in there that not only has a good business mind, but also has a good culture,” said Gartner research director Michael Ramsey. “That will be vital for them going forward.”

Kalanick, however, won’t be easy to replace. As Ramsey points out, a company’s founder helped bring the...


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Here’s who could lead Uber out of its scandals

To call last week a “doozy” for Uber would be an understatement, with CEO Travis Kalanick announcing a leave of absence from the ride-hailing business following a slew of scandals in recent months and the death of his mother in a boating accident.

Now that the dust has settled somewhat, the question remains: Who can steer Uber into a new chapter?

The onus could fall on a chief operating officer, which the company has actively searched for since March, following allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace from a former Uber engineer. The Wall Street Journal reported in April that Uber interviewed candidates including former Walt Disney Co. COO Thomas Staggs, former Wal-Mart CIO Karenann Terrell, and Helena Foulkes, executive vice president of CVS Health Corp (CVS).

View photos

Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Thomas Staggs talks with reporters after arriving at...


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Nintendo's 'Arms' is a whimsical fighter with wonderful multiplayer

The Nintendo Switch has just two major titles capable of pulling people in: the incredible “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” and “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.” But now you can add a third game to the list with the company’s new fighter “Arms.”

A Switch exclusive, “Arms” offers the kind of whimsical, party game-style fun that Nintendo (NTDOY) excels at. That’s not to say that “Arms” is a perfect title, though.

It does have shortcomings, especially when it comes to its single-player mode. But its local and online multiplayer options and spring-inspired character design make it the kind of approachable game you’ll enjoy playing with friends on your couch and online.

Getting into the swing of things

Fighting games are a staple of the gaming industry. But getting the hang of a new fighter always takes time. And if you take the fight online, you better be an expert, because button mashing...


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Why Apple would need to use ex-NSA workers to stop leaks

Apple (AAPL) is tired of leaks. And according to a report by The Outline’s William Turton, the company is employing individuals with experience through the likes of the N.S.A., F.B.I. and the U.S. military to stop its confidential information from being tomorrow’s big headline.

But in the irony to end all ironies, the information that Apple is trying plug its leaks comes from a leaked recording of an internal meeting about how to prevent leaks. So it’s a safe bet that Apple is quite unhappy right now.

The report not only touches on who is working with the tech giant, but also how successful its Global Security team has been in reducing leaks as of late.

Most interesting is the fact that Apple has cut leaks at its production facilities overseas so much that the main sources of information leaving the company are employees at its Cupertino, California headquarters.

We reached out to...


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The top 10 games of E3 2017

The greatest video game show on Earth has ended, but the hype is just heating up.

Nearly 70,000 gamers flooded an overpacked Los Angeles Convention Center for three straight days (not counting a few days of fancy media briefings) of digital insanity, and game makers of all shapes and sizes delivered enough gaming goodness to last a lifetime — or at least until the holidays.

Though E3 2017 lacked the explosive punch of last year’s incredible show, it was home to dozens of cool games spanning every system under the sun. So how do you narrow that down? Some games were playable; others were little more than a trailer and some concept art. You’ll get your hands on a handful of them in 2017, while many more won’t see the light of day for years. But regardless of development state (and in no particular order) these are the 10 titles we’re most excited to play.

‘Super Mario Odyssey’ (Switch |...


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Tags: 2017,games,top

These are the coolest VR games at the world's biggest video game expo

There’s no getting around it: virtual reality has stalled out.

After years of gushing previews and bold corporate stage shows, reality seems to have virtual reality. It’s clunky, pricey and still mostly a curiosity. We know that will eventually change — the headsets will slim down, the prices will drop and the experiences will get more exciting — but it’s safe to say that our virtual future is taking a lot longer than many anticipated.

Take a gander around the massive E3 video game conference in Los Angeles this week, however, and you’ll find plenty of proof that game makers are still very much on board the VR hype train. Sony (SNE) prominently displayed a half-dozen VR games during their fancy media briefing, Bethesda went all-in with three VR games based on hugely popular franchises and games for Facebook’s (FB) Oculus and HTC and Valve’s Vive were scattered throughout the show...


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