Molly Wood is on the show today. We’ll discuss whether the $129 Moto E is a smoking gun, and why Microsoft is backtracking on Kinect Xbox One bundles and the Xbox Live requirement for Netflix.
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Today’s guest: Molly Wood, columnist for The New York Times.
Un-Kinected: CNET reports Microsoft announced a new Xbox One without the Kinect bundled will begin selling June 9th for $399 in the U.S. and £350 in the UK. A separate Kinect will become available later, though no timeline was announced. Microsoft also announced that sometime in June, its paid subscription service, Xbox Live Gold will no longer be required for most apps, including Netflix, ESPN, and YouTube. If you do keep paying though, Xbox One owners will get Games with Gold and Deals with Gold features starting in June.
Who you callin’ cheap? Ars Technica reports Motorola announced the Motorola E Android smartphone for sale unlocked at $129. The E runs Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat, has a 4.3-inch 960 x 540, 256 PPI display, a 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdragon 200 processor, 1 GB of RAM and 4 GB of storage. Although, it does have a microSD card slot that can add up to 32GB. Motorola even promises it will get at least one update to the next version of Android, possibly more. Like the Moto G, it has swappable rear shells you can buy for $15. One big gap, no front-facing camera. The phone comes to 40 countries in the next few weeks.
Multi-taskers with ADD, rejoice! 9to5 Mac cites “sources with knowledge of the enhancement in development” say Apple will add split-screen multitasking to iOS8 for iPad. It’s described as similar to how Windows 8 can snap multiple apps in the tiled interface on tablets. The iOS feature would let users drag content from one app to another. On the back-end, this means iOS developers could share content between apps. Sources do warn that the feature might be pushed back to a later version or canceled altogether. Oh, sources.
I’ve come undone: ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley reports Microsoft is adding advanced rules and a new undo option to Outlook.com. Users will be able to create multi-condition, multi-action rules, including options for time constraints, email tallying, checking read/unread email state and more. Microsoft also simplified undo functions by adding an undo button and allowing CTRL-Z to work wherever you need to undo. The new features start rolling out today and should arrive for all users in the next few weeks.
Where’s my stethoscope when I need it? GigaOm reports LG will begin selling its Lifeband Touch fitness wristband on May 18 in the U.S. for $150, with Asia and Europe releases to follow. The Lifeband can track the usual fitness metrics but can’t track your heartbeat. That’s why it’s fortuitous that LG will also start selling its Heart Rate earphones this month exclusively at Best Buy for $180, with additional retailers coming mid-June.
And the saga continues … Re/code reports 28 CEOs of U.S. Internet Service Providers sent a letter to the U.S. FCC urging the agency not to reclassify their services as telecommunications. Some have urged the FCC to classify ISPs as telecommunications providers, as they were until 2002, in order to have a firmer legal justification for net neutrality regulations. The ISPs say in their letter that doing so, “would impose great costs, allowing unprecedented government micromanagement of all aspects of the Internet economy.”
Eviction notice: More elements of the Cold War are returning! The Verge reports Russia has rejected a request by the United States to continue to use the International Space Station after 2020. The U.S. wanted to extend joint missions until 2024. The U.S. currently pays Russia $60 million per person to ferry its astronauts to the space station. Russia will also bar the U.S. from buying Russian rocket engines that would be used to launch military satellites from the US.
News From You
Our top story on the subreddit today came from ancientbearwizard who submitted yesterday’s Guardian excerpt from a book by Glenn Greenwald alleging the NSA has been intercepting shipments of routers heading for export. The US spy agency then installs surveillance tools, repackages the device and sends it along. The allegation is based on a leaked June 2010 report from the head of the NSA’s Access and Target Development.
mranthropology sent us a Wired article that Volkswagen announced it will introduce a 10-speed dual-clutch transmission targeted to arrive in the 2015 Passat. More gears allows the engine to optimize RPMs and save fuel. VW Group Chairman Dr. Martin Winterkorn believes the design can help improve fuel economy across VW’s group model range by 20 percent. That includes not only Jettas and Audi A4s but Bugattis and Porches as well.
MikePKennedy posted the Verge story about a European Court of Justice ruling that Google is responsible for content on its servers and must respond to individual requests to remove outdated or irrelevant information originating from third parties. A Spanish resident asked Google to remove links to an article about his house being auctioned after a failure to pay taxes. The individual said the matter had been resolved making the articles outdated. The decision runs counter to a statement made last year by the Advocate General.
tm204 sent us a Rice University posting that Rice chemist James Tour and his colleagues have developed a flexible material that combines qualities of a battery and a supercapcitor without using lithium, which is found in almost all commercial batteries today. It can charge and discharge quickly like a supercapacitor or discharge more slowly like a battery. The capacitor is about a hundreth of an inch thick and flexible like graphene. The researchers hope they can make it even thinner.
According to former Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield, today the last day you can (legally) watch the video of him singing ‘Space Oddity’ aboard the International Space Station. The first music video shot in space was filmed in 2013 near the end of Commander Hadfield’s tenure on the ISS and his license of the David Bowie song expires today. Although Hadfield says he’s working with Bowie’s people to extend the rights, it’s worth watching again, for the weightless guitar solo, and to honor Hadfield for proving that astronauts don’t just have to be stoic scientific ciphers; they can also take the time to be creative in space. If you’re listening to this podcast on Wednesday, never fear, Hadfield’s original song “Jewel in the Night” is still available.
Discussion Section Links: Ground Control to Moto E
Pick of the Day: Ghostery via Loren Lang
Ghostery is a web privacy tool that is available as a browser add-on (for most major browsers, anyway) and an iOS app. It blocks all sorts of trackers, beacons and cookies from over 1900 sources and you can choose to allow or disallow any or all of them with individual granularity as well as whitelisting sites to allow everything from them. You can also choose to allow an item once and then automatically go back to blocking it which is extremely useful when blocking something breaks a site in some way. I’ve first checked it out when i heard Steve Gibson recommend it in 2011 (see Security Now, Ep. 305) and have been using it ever since. I’m not fully in the Tin Foil Hat Brigade but I also don’t necessarily want to have everything I do on the web tracked and sold. There wasn’t a lot of middle ground between being not caring and locking things down so much as to make some sites unusable. Ghostery is exactly the compromise I was looking for.
Plug of the Day: It’s a Thing, a podcast about things that are becoming ‘ a thing’ with Tom Merritt and Molly Wood.
Wednesday ‘s guest: Dr. Kiki Sanford, host of This Week in Science