The next Apple Watch might not need an iPhone for data

Well, Apple Watch fans have more to look forward to than just a new operating system. According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple will release a version of its Watch with cellular network support built-in by year’s end, relieving users of the need to carry their iPhones around. Three words: it’s about time.

Rumors of a cellular Apple Watch are nothing new, and the whole concept should sound very familiar by now. After all, Samsung and LG have had LTE-enabled smartwatches for years, and the latter developed one such wearable to help launch Android Wear 2.0 earlier this year. While it’s not yet clear what Apple plans to let people do with these mobile data connections, it’s likely that users will be able to send messages and make phone and FaceTime Audio calls without being tethered to an iPhone.

Interestingly, Intel is said to be providing the modem for the new Apple Watch, which isn’t a huge surprise — Apple tapped the chipmaker for modems used in certain versions of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Given the Watch’s small size, Apple and Intel may opt to use a digital “eSIM” rather than a traditional plastic SIM card as well. That could signal a similar decision for future iPhones, which would have potentially huge ramifications for how such smartphones (and their data plans) are sold.

If nothing else, though, use of an eSIM would likely preserve the Apple Watch’s compact footprint. Consider LG’s flagship Watch Sport: it was the more powerful of the two smartwatches that debuted alongside Android Wear 2.0, and the space required to fit a physical SIM card inside helped make it big and somewhat unwieldy. That’s not really Apple’s style, especially since the company’s new Watch is said to benefit from an all-new form factor.

If true, Apple’s next step in wearables may be an iterative one. Still, if the company’s most recent earnings release is any indication, demand for the Watch is still going strong. According to CEO Cook, Watch sales grew 50 percent year over year — seriously, Tim, would some hard numbers now and then really kill you?

Source: Bloomberg

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Porn doesn’t need a XXX hologram

In December, the internet exploded with news of a XXX hologram. CamSoda, a small adult-cam site was bringing a holographic cam girl to the 2017 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo. I had to see it for myself.

Decades of work have gone into the pursuit of true, full-color video holograms as sophisticated as Princess Leia’s cry for help in Star Wars. I didn’t expect a porn conference to be the place where more than a half-century of scientific research would bear fruit. But two weeks after CES, I was on my way back to Las Vegas for porn’s premier event. I was fully expecting an industry stuck in the past, but hoping for something more.

When I arrived, AVN CEO Tony Rios greeted me and quickly assured me that despite what I might have heard, the show was bigger and better than ever. He took us up to the “Real World” suite, where a 2011 season of the MTV show was shot. As we walked the halls, Rios hinted at the party that had happened there the night before. The suite had an AVN-branded bowling lane and a giant, raised en-suite bath. I had the strange sensation of being on the defunct set of an MTV reality show now serving as the late-night playground for porn’s biggest stars.

Wild nights aside, Rios showed no signs of fatigue as he defended the industry and the event. Not only was he expecting a record 25,000 attendees, but the Hard Rock had also built an entire new wing specifically for AVN’s adult-novelty exhibitors.

That might come as a surprise for those who’ve followed porn’s recent history. After the stock-market crash of 2008, reports of the industry’s demise became commonplace. A mix of a weakened economy, the growth of free tube sites, and an ongoing battle with online piracy crippled the Hollywood-style studio system of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.

According to Rios, reports of porn’s death were premature. All I had to do was hit the show floor to see that the industry had evolved. It was now more nimble, diverse and technologically advanced than ever.

“We’re going to continue to see huge growth in cams, and I’m excited to see what happens with VR,” Rios said. “It’s still in its infancy and, you know, a lot people think they know what’s going to happen, but I’ve been around long enough—you just have to wait and see what actually bubbles up to the top.”

That “see what bubbles up” approach is why I was at AEE to begin with. The holographic cam girl is one of a series of often-bizarre experiments to come out of CamSoda’s labs. CamSoda is a relatively new startup in an established and booming segment of adult entertainment focused on connecting users to entertainers through live video and chat. Like Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook, porn’s new heavyweights aren’t content creators first but social-networking platforms.

And like their mainstream counterparts, CamSoda realizes iteration is key. In the space of a year, it introduced live 360-degree sex shows, an “iTunes for blow jobs” and, most recently, OhRoma, a VR peripheral that lets you smell your porn. In talking about the hologram and the company’s more practical pursuit of 360-degree live video, CEO Daron Lundeen employs the Silicon Valley cliché, “fail fast, fail often.”

“We’re the site that’s gonna experiment,” Lundeen told me. “If you got a new idea, a new technology that’s out there, we want to grab it, and try it, and use it.”

Compared to other, more established cam sites, like AEE title sponsor MyFreeCams.com and Chaturbate, CamSoda’s booth is relatively small, but no less kinetic. Women in plunging CamSoda-branded bathing suits line a horseshoe-shaped arrangement of tables. Some of the site’s most successful models are here signing autographs and performing for audiences at home at the same time. To the right of the booth is a series of experiments from the CamSoda labs. The crown jewel, like some outsize precious stone, is an inverted, rotating glass pyramid that appears to have a tiny stripper trapped inside.

Pay no attention to the lap dancing woman behind the curtain …

This is the “hologram” that we’d been promised, but it isn’t a hologram at all. As I’d suspected, CamSoda’s “invention” is a take on a parlor trick called Pepper’s Ghost that first appeared in 1862. It employs a series of angled glass panels to give the illusion of a full-color, 3D hologram. It’s the same trick that’s given life to dead celebrities like Elvis and Tupac and given increased visibility to living legends like Al Gore, Mariah Carey and even the prime minister of India.

In order to make your own porno Pepper’s Ghost, you’ll need to shoot your subject from four different angles. Once you have the video, just position your glass pyramid on top of your iPhone and press play.

Illustration by D. Thomas Magee

Anyway, I’d come to Vegas to find the future of porn, and while I was pretty sure this wasn’t it, I was ready for my demo. I was introduced to Alexis Monroe, who would be transformed into my own private hologram performer. She gave me a hug and quickly ran back to a small, makeshift studio outfitted with green fabric and a series of four cameras that would capture her movements in real-time and display them on the four sides of the rotating pyramid on the show floor.

I was placed in front of a microphone, pointed directly at the display, with a vibrating saddle donning a fleshy silicone nub at my feet and a petite fuck machine thrusting into thin air just behind me. The microphone was meant to enable two-way communication but was useless due to the surrounding noise. I stood mostly still as I attempted small talk with Monroe, who writhed around a plastic folding chair. She was like a small, soft-core stripper version of the Wizard of Oz on mute. It was, by far, the most bizarre lap dance I’ve ever experienced.

When pressed Lundeen admits that his holograms are more gimmick than true technological breakthrough—something fun to draw people in. He says the real attraction isn’t the medium but the models, and that his real focus is on simultaneous 2D and 360-degree live video broadcasting. But, he says, the spirit of experimentation that drives CamSoda is exactly why porn has been at the forefront of so many technological trends.

“I think that’s where adult probably has a leg up on most other industries,” Lundeen said. “We can put something like the hologram together very quickly without a whole lot of red tape.”

A quick sweep of the Hard Rock revealed an industry that emerged from a crisis more nimble and focused on the future than I expected. Surviving pioneers like Hustler, Evil Angel and Penthouse bumped up against cam sites like MyFreeCams.com and Chaturbate that were either nonexistent or in their infancy when the industry tanked. Rios points to the growth of virtual reality at the show as a sign of its vitality. VR exhibitors at AEE 2017 were up to more than 20, nearly double the number in 2016, he says. By contrast, CES, the world’s biggest technology showcase, put its official VR exhibitor count at 70. It has seven times the number of attendees.

But the most striking change on display at AEE wasn’t inside a headset: It was everywhere, in the blue glow of a laptop screen. At the Hard Rock hotel, big-name stars like Joanna Angel and Nina Hartley were lost in a sea of fresh young talent. These women, coiffed with every color of neon and pastel hair, giggled into tiny desktop cameras, pursed brightly painted lips and pushed together barely covered breasts. They offered a new face of a business once stuck in a mirror image of mainstream media. Like tech giants Facebook and Twitter, the big names in porn are banking on live streaming video, and like the latest batch of social-media celebrities, there’s no formula for a successful cam model.

Before our interview ends, Lundeen tells me what’s next for CamSoda labs. There’s “the whole T. rex strategy,” which, from what I can tell is a plush mascot that crashes events and cam sessions, and a new character called POV guy, equipped with cameras, battery packs and a cellphone for live video capture and real-time chat. But the least sexy of the three is the one that caught my attention: live, mobile broadcasting. This is the future of porn.

Lundeen knows you have to give people what they want. What they want right now is a connection unencumbered by creative camera angles, cheesy scripts and big-budget sets.

The people want live, frictionless tits. But what’s new?

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Amazon Prime Day 2016: UK deals you need to know about

It’s July 12th. For many, it’s just another Tuesday, but for Amazon, it’s another chance to sell millions of customers gadgets, homeware and lots of other stuff they don’t need. Yes, it’s “Prime Day,” a marketing gimmick where Amazon discounts thousands of products for Prime subscribers. To keep on top of things, you’d normally have to track shopping websites or keep an eye on social media, but we want to help. We’ve listed a number of all-day deals that we think are worth keeping an eye on, but act quick, other deals on the site will only be available for a couple of hours at the most.

  • Fire Tablet – £35 (normally £50): We’ve put Amazon’s diminutive tablet through its paces and even at £50 we’d consider taking the plunge. You’ll save £15 if you decide to buy today.
  • Fire TV Stick – £20 (normally £35): Amazon’s high-definition streaming stick supports Prime Video, Netflix and a whole host of other apps. If you need a streamer for your spare TV, you can’t go wrong with this.
  • Amazon Fire TV 4K – £55 (normally £80): If you’ve already got a 4K TV and are looking for Ultra HD content to watch, the 4K Fire TV can help. It also supports voice search and play games with its smart remote.
  • Kindle Paperwhite – £80 (normally £110): With its improved high-resolution 300ppi display, the Paperwhite is the Rolls Royce of Kindles. With a bigger discount than Black Friday, now might be the time to pick one up.
  • Lenovo N22 11.6-Inch Chromebook – £100 (normally £160): It’s not an Amazon sale without a cheap laptop, and this year it’s a Chromebook that is getting the discount treatment. The Lenovo N22 comes with an HD display, Intel Celeron N3060 processor, 2 GB RAM and 32GB of internal storage.
  • Surface Pro 4 Bundle – £750 (normally £944): Microsoft’s 2-in-1 is also seeing some decent discounts today. The Pro 4 bundles with a 2.2 GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 4 GB RAM, 128 GB SSD and a range of coloured Type keyboards have been reduced by almost £200 today.
  • Xbox One 500GB Bundle: Amazon has a number of Xbox One deals on today. First is the standard Kinect bundle for £210, then there’s the Kinect Bundle plus Overwatch for £230. However, if you want Guitar Hero, that’ll cost you £235. Finally, there’s the Kinect Bundle, Forza 6 and a extra controller deal for £246.
  • PlayStation 4 500GB Bundle: There aren’t as many deals for the PS4, but Amazon is putting on an Uncharted 4 bundle that costs £240 and will save you quite a bit of cash. If you want Uncharted 4 on its own, that too is discounted and will set you back £32 for today only.
  • Microsoft Band 2 – £129 (normally £200): Microsoft’s fitness tracker is enjoying another big sale.
  • Nvidia Shield 16GB – £100 / 500GB – £170: Both boxes are £50 off today (and still come with a free controller).
  • 12 Months of Xbox Live plus £10 credit – £31.49 (normally £40): To get the most out of your Xbox One, you’ll need a subscription to Xbox Live. This deal will see you right for a full year and give you some extra cash to spend on games or DLC.
  • SanDisk SDSSDHII-480G-G25 Ultra II SSD – £77 (normally £95): If you’re looking for a way to speed up your PC (or even Mac), Sandisk’s Ultra II SSDs will definitely help things zip along.
  • Beoplay H2 On-Ear Headphones – £79 (normally £150): Bang & Olufsen’s on-ear headphones are almost half off today and are available in green or silver.
  • Anker PowerCore+ 26800 portable charger – £35 (normally £50): Anker markets the PowerCore+ 26800 as the world’s highest capacity portable charger with Quick Charge 2.0 technology. It’ll juice your iPhone 6 over 10 times and a MacBook over three.

Source: Amazon Prime Day

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Does your sous vide gear really need WiFi?

If you spend a considerable amount of time reading J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s writings on better cooking through science, you’ll come across his sous vide steak guide. I’ve read what Lopez-Alt and others have to say about the culinary method for preparing a slab of beef, or, more specifically, that cooking a thick steak in a low-temperature water bath before searing produces stellar results. But that process can take a couple of hours for a thicker ribeye or New York strip. Also, keeping watch for that long sounds like an awful way to spend an evening.

That’s where Nomiku’s WiFi sous vide comes in. Thanks to wireless connectivity, you can keep tabs on dinner via a companion app for Android and iOS. At a time when seemingly all of our household devices are connected to the internet, is WiFi essential to the sous vide experience? The $ 199 Nomiku makes a compelling case.

When you’re first starting out with a new gadget, it’s helpful to read the directions. But even if you’re the type who hates to do that, as I am, Nomiku’s WiFi sous vide is still relatively easy to figure out. The device itself is controlled by a rotating dial around the touchscreen display. While you can use your phone to set the cooking temperature and time, you’ll need to interact with the device itself for some setup — mainly connecting to your home WiFi network. From there, entering the temperature and time is straightforward, even if you don’t glance at that step-by-step list.

At that point, you can still manually dial the settings on the device each time you want to cook. Nomiku’s WiFi model clips on the front of your sous vide container or pot rather than attaching to the backside like the Classic option (which doesn’t have WIFi capabilities). This means you’re not reaching across somewhat hot water to make adjustments, if you need to do so. The WiFi model is noticeably larger, so you’ll want to make sure you have a cooking vessel that will accommodate both the device and whatever you’re cooking.

This is 2016, though, and you use your phone to do nearly everything. That includes monitoring your precious steaks while they cook slowly in a warm bath. The Nomiku Tender app is where I spent most of my time in my own tests. I found that I could enter temperatures and cooking times much faster than when I had to rotate the physical dial and tap the display. What’s more, I didn’t have to stand in front of the gadget to do so, provided I’d already filled the cooking container with water and put the Nomiku in place.

Before I get into the finer points of the app, let’s chat about the difference between the Android and iOS versions. I have a Moto X, so naturally I tried the Android offering first. I found that it was a pain to use; even connecting to the Nomiku felt like a chore. My wife has an iPhone 6s, though, so it was easy for me to make the jump to the iOS version. Tender offers a better experience for the iPhone in both design and usability, but a Nomiku spokesperson told me the company is working to get the Android version on par with its iOS counterpart.

Once you set the water temperature, it takes a few minutes for the Nomiku to heat it to the desired level. I’ve been told a watched pot never boils, so I’d assume the same applies to a sous vide. Thankfully, I didn’t have to find out: The Tender app will notify you when your cooking setup is almost ready for action. I found that by the time I received the alert and placed my seasoned steaks in a bag with some fresh rosemary, the Nomiku had heated the water to the correct temperature.

From there, cooking is as easy as dropping the goods into the water and setting the timer. The Nomiku displays the temperature and time info on the built-in display as well as inside the Tender app, so if you leave your phone on the deck when you grab another beer, you can glance over at the device for an update while you’re in the kitchen. The first two times I used the device, the iOS app blew up with alerts that the temperature had dropped about eight minutes from the end of the cooking time. After speaking with Nomiku about the problem, it turned out that I had a defective unit that was lowering the temperature before it should have. The company quickly sent me a replacement, though, and I’m happy to report that I haven’t experienced the same issue since.

While the Tender app is great for controlling the Nomiku remotely, it also serves as your recipe box, with a library of dishes collected from other users. Looking for something besides steaks, I used one of the recipes for some slow-boiled eggs. Perhaps more importantly, you can save your own settings in the app so that you don’t have to remember them in the future. This is particularly useful when cooking steaks once you find the perfect cooking time. With both recipes from others and your own saved items, tapping on the food and selecting “Start cooking” will wake up the Nomiku and set it to the correct temperature before you even get up from the sofa.

When the cooking time is nearly up, the Tender app will send a notification to your phone. In the case of my steaks, that was my cue to fire up the grill so I could get a nice sear on the outside. Sure, you could eat the meat immediately, but it wouldn’t be nearly as appetizing or look as good as it does after you use a grill or cast-iron skillet to put a crust on it. Once you’re finished cooking, simply dump the water and let the Nomiku air-dry. The bottom is also removable for easy cleaning.


Yes, I know I didn’t let it rest. Maybe next time.

Aside from the temperature issue with the first unit I tested, I found the Nomiku easy to use, especially after I saved my recipes. I would suggest investing another $ 50 to $ 60 in a vacuum sealer if you’re going to get serious about sous vide, but for steaks, sealing ziplock bags with the displacement method worked fine. Speaking of price, I already mentioned that the new WiFi model will set you back $ 199. That’s the same price as Anova’s WiFi-equipped model, which also works in tandem with a mobile app. The Nomiku is typically $ 249, though, and there’s no indication of how long the current discounted price will stay in effect.

If you’d rather babysit a device the old-fashioned way, there are a number of sous vide options that don’t offer WiFi connectivity. The Nomiku Classic is also priced at $ 199 while the Anova version costs $ 179 and includes Bluetooth. There are a truckload of other options with a range of features. I used the WiFi Nomiku for steaks and slow-cooked eggs, but you can use a sous vide for fish, chicken and lots of other things. In fact, that’s where the Tender app is probably the most useful: giving rookies a starting point and inspiring experienced cooks to try something new.

At $ 199, this gadget is an investment, but I don’t think I’ve eaten a steak that was more tender than the one I slow-cooked in a hot water bath for over an hour and seared on a charcoal grill. It was a perfect medium pink from edge to edge. Sous vide makes it easy to cook a thick New York strip evenly, and, thanks to Nomiku’s connectivity, I didn’t have to constantly walk into the kitchen for a status update.

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