In the tech world, a lot happens in a week. So much news goes on, in fact, that it’s almost impossible for mere mortals with real lives to keep track of everything. That’s why we’ve compiled a quick and dirty list of the top 10 tech stories from this week. Everything from Netflix upping its subscription price to an attempted hack of Uber linked to competitor Lyft — it’s all here.
Beginning today, Netflix has increased its standard subscription to $10 per month. While existing subscribers on the two-screen plan will receive a grace period, the price increase goes into effect today for new subscribers in the United States, Canada, and parts of Latin America. The price for the one-screen standard definition plan ($8 per month) and four-screen “premium” plan ($12) will not change. The video streamer explained the increase is to offset the cost of adding new TV shows and movies.
It was a busy week for Twitter. Just a day after the company announced that Jack’s back, it rolled out a major new feature it hopes will drive engagement and ultimately draw in much-needed new users. “Moments” aims to showcase “the best of what’s happening on Twitter in an instant” by pulling together tweets – with accompanying images, videos, Vines, and GIFs – on big stories as they emerge throughout the day. The company has been testing the service internally for several months now and was previously known as Project Lightning. You can access Moments by tapping on the lightning bolt icon in the bottom bar of the Twitter app, or in the top bar if you’re using the desktop version.
Solar energy currently is an untapped resource, only providing 0.39 percent of the energy in the US. This figure is expected to increase exponentially in the coming years with some visionaries like Elon Musk predicting solar will become the dominant energy source by 2031. So what would the Earth look like if it were powered by solar panels? Land Art Generator Initiative used some fancy calculations to find out. According to Land Art’s calculations, we would need 496,805 square kilometers or 191,817 square miles of solar panels to provide renewable power for the entire Earth. This solar panel requirement is roughly equivalent to the land mass of Spain.
Microsoft’s October 6 event in New York City held several expected announcements and a few surprises. New Lumia phones, Surfaces, the HoloLens, and even a revamped Microsoft Band made an appearance. Microsoft also highlighted the HoloLens project and how Continuum in Windows 10 works with the Lumia 950 and 950XL. We’ve put together all the news from the event in one handy list. For more info, you can check out our hands on with the Lumia 950 and 950XL, Microsoft Band 2, Surface Pro 4, and Surface Book.
For most of modern history, we’ve treated the human body as a chemical system, and used pharmaceuticals to cure our ailments. But DARPA thinks that’s an outdated approach. The agency thinks that we should start looking at the body as an electrical system — and it just dedicated a bunch of funding to exploring the idea. Earlier this week, DARPA announced the first seven research teams that will participate in the agency’s Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx) program. As its name implies, this project is dedicated to creating technology that will treat mind and body disorders with therapies that alter the electrical pulses that run through nerves.
Next page: 5 more tech stories you might have missed this week
Whether it’s a bozo hobbyist or someone more sinister, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) seems resigned to the fact that there’s always going to be a few quadcopter pilots willing to put lives in danger by flying their remotely controlled machines close to busy airports. With reports of such incidents on the rise, and sales of the device set to soar this holiday season, the FAA is determined to find an effective way of improving sky safety around airports. Its latest effort, reported this week by Phys.org, involves a deal with Virginia-based tech firm CACI International that’ll enable the pair to test out a possible solution. CACI’s technology acts on a drone’s radio waves to pinpoint both the machine and its operator within a large specified area.
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg revealed plans to add a “dislike” button to the social network a few months ago, and earlier today the new reactions were finally revealed. Instead of a simple ‘thumbs down’ button, which Facebook claims would be ineffective and possibly abusive, the social network has added a range of reactions. The angry face is as close as we’re going to get to a dislike. Facebook wanted to add the reactions for times when a ‘thumbs up’ isn’t appropriate. The emotes use a similar style to one of Facebook’s packs found on Messenger, and the ‘love’ reaction from Instagram makes an appearance.
Smartphone-centric taxi cab service Uber has flourished in recent years, spawning a host of similar services in the process. Competition in this marketplace is fierce — and today we’re seeing the lengths that the company’s competitors will go to in search of a foothold. In February, Uber announced that a hack carried out in 2014 might have exposed the personal information of up to 50,000 drivers. At the time, the company simply stated that this breach was carried out by an “unauthorized third party.” A new Uber investigation into the hack has turned up an IP address that had access to a security key that was used in the breach, according to a report from Reuters — and here’s where things take a turn toward the world of corporate espionage. That IP address has been linked to Chris Lambert. the chief technical officer of Uber rival Lyft, Reuters said, citing anonymous sources.
After teasing an “amazing” announcement yesterday, NASA officially declared today that the New Horizons probe has detected trace amounts of exposed water ice on the surface of Pluto during its recent flyby. By using its onboard Ralph spectral composition mapper, New Horizons compiled enough data for researchers to affirm the existence of outcrops along the planet’s surface. Not content with stopping there, the space agency also released a series of color images snapped by the probe, which beautifully capture Pluto’s blue atmospheric hazes. Considering these findings, when is it okay to start calling Pluto a planet again?
Toyota is unveiling three concept cars at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, and one of them will be a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle. Called the FCV Plus, it’s even more radical than Toyota’s production fuel-cell car, the Mirai. Previewing a possible future where hydrogen is in more widespread use as a fuel source, the FCV Plus takes full advantage of the packaging flexibility of its powertrain. The one-box design looks like it came straight out of a science-fiction movie, and also makes for a more spacious cabin. It’s a design that wouldn’t be possible with an internal-combustion powertrain.
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