Top Stories for the Week of June 7, 2017

  • Episode 507
  • June 7, 2017
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Here are the stories we're following for the week of Wednesday June 7, 2017

Microsoft will pay you to do your web searching through Bing

Microsoft Rewards is planning to pay people to use Bing instead of its competitors.

People with a Microsoft account can sign up for the rewards program, which gives users points when they purchase an item in the Microsoft Store or, get this: when they search on Bing.

These points can later be reimbursed for items.

Google still has a stronghold on the search engine market with close to 86% of all searches being done through their search engine. Bing is in second place with about 10%.

The rewards program will have a variety of levels. Level 1 members will be able to earn points for 10 searches a day, and Level 2 users can earn points for 50 searches per day.


Sent to us by: Jeff Weston

Toyota's latest infotainment system is powered by Linux

Toyota will be the first US automaker to use "Automotive Grade Linux", also known as AGL. They'll be including it in the 2018 Toyota Camry.

AGL is an open-source system based on, you guessed it, Linux. It boasts 200 members from various sectors including Toyota, Honda, Mercedes, Qualcomm, Intel and Samsung. The system is designed as an option to offerings from tech companies like Google and Apple, giving automakers a solid base that they can easily customize and update.

The Vice President at Toyota says the AGL platform gives drivers "greater connectivity and new functionalities at a pace that is more consistent with consumer technology."

He's referring to the fact that automakers are notorious for using slow, outdated tech in their homegrown entertainment systems. As a result, consumers prefer higher-tech, more current gear like Android Auto and Apple's Carplay.

While automakers have offered these options to give drivers what they want, they generally aren't crazy about giving tech companies like Google and Apple such a prominent place in their cars. That's where AGL comes in, returning control of the center console to automakers, while letting them easily update or modify the tech.

The tech will eventually come to other Toyota vehicles, along with models from sister company Lexus. The system may also appear in vehicles from Mazda, Mercedes and Ford as they and other members keep an eye on the success of the Camry release.


Sent to us by: Sr. Wences

Apple is bringing AR and VR to their devices.

Apple may be the biggest tech company in the world, but some of the biggest tech stories in recent years haven't involved Apple much at all.

Amazon redefined the concept of a personal assistant by freeing it from the phone, and creating a standalone speaker that you could talk to in your home. Myriad companies — none of them Apple — have been fighting over the future of virtual reality, augmented reality, and everything in between.

And now everyone is talking about machine learning, with Google and Facebook leading the charge.

Yet on Monday, at its annual developer conference, Apple announced new efforts in all three areas at the same time.

The company is bringing augmented reality to the iPhone and iPad, while virtual reality is coming to the Mac. And you can soon find Siri inside a standalone speaker for the home. At the same time, Apple is sharing machine learning tools with developers, while being more open about its own efforts.

Like so many of Apple's best ideas, someone else thought of them first. It's just that Apple believes it can make them better.

These are the technologies that some of the world's biggest technology companies believe will define the future of how we interact with our computers — not through mechanical interfaces, but more natural, human experiences.

Now that Apple thinks so too, it's simply a question of whether their slick software and massive customer base will allow the company to leapfrog its competitors despite their late start.


Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson

Scientific researchers have confirmed a part of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity that Einstein himself said would never be observed.

Albert Einstein predicted that whenever light from a distant star passes by a closer object, gravity acts as a kind of magnifying lens, brightening and bending the distant starlight. Yet, in a 1936 article in the journal Science, he added that because stars are so far apart "there is no hope of observing this phenomenon directly."

Now, an international research team has done just that, as described in their article which will be released in this Friday's publication of Science. The study is believed to be the first report of a particular type of Einstein's "gravitational microlensing" by a star other than the sun.

Terry Oswalt of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University explains, "When a star in the foreground passes exactly between us and a background star, gravitational microlensing results in a perfectly circular ring of light - a so-called 'Einstein ring.'"

The group observed a much more likely scenario: Two objects were slightly out of alignment, and therefore an asymmetrical version of an Einstein ring formed. The ring and its brightening were too small to be measured, but its asymmetry caused the distant star to appear off-center from its true position.

This part of Einstein's prediction is called 'astrometric lensing' and this is the first time it has been observed in a star other than the Sun.


Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson


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