Last week in tech: Sorry in advance for getting ‘Despacito’ stuck in your head
All the important tech stuff you missed last week.
Hard gadget news can be sparse in these deep summer days. The season is a welcomed lull that precedes a furious torrent of product madness that leads into the holiday shopping season. But there’s still lots to talk about in the tech world, so grab a pineapple full of a tropical beverage and peruse the tech stories you may have missed last week.
For the record, the world has about 7.5 billion people
“Despacito” is now the most watched video of all time on YouTube. It has over 3 billion views, which is slightly more times than I’ve heard it on the radio so far this summer.
Get the DL
In related news, YouTube Music announced offline mode for its streaming service, which makes it seem, well, actually useful. Previously, users relied on YouTube’s algorithms to suggest songs based on their listening history, but now they can download individual songs, playlists, or albums to listen to whenever. You have to subscribe to YouTube’s premium Red service to take advantage.
Better safe than sorry
The US Army has reportedly put a halt on the use of drones made by Chinese company DJI for official work. The official reason for the stoppage is “increased awareness of cyber vulnerabilities associated with DJI products.”
Marcus Hutchins was celebrated when he found an exploit that helped stop the brutal WannaCry malware attack, but now he has reportedly been arrested for creating malware that targets banks.
Found in translation
iTranslate has a new version of its app that promises to make real-time conversational translation more realistic and less awkward. It automatically detects up to 38 different languages.
One controller to rule them all
When you’re a gamer, the number of controllers that litter your living room can get out of hand, especially since every platform typically requires its own special pad. The All Controller, however, promises to unify those systems with a single set of sticks. The device is currently in Kickstarter (and won’t be shipping until May 2018), but it promises full customizability and compatibility with consoles like the Xbox One and PS4, as well as PCs, tablets, smartphones, and even smart TVs. The company plans to add support for the Nintendo Switch, if you’re lucky enough to find one in stock anywhere.
Dodging big brother
Karma’s new Black portable hotspot is designed specifically to help users maintain privacy when using mobile data. The new device operates with an integrated VPN, and promises to protect vital details about users, like their location and their browsing data. The constant stream of hacking news and other cybersecurity nightmares—see the mess HBO was in last week for a nice reminder—should help reinforce how important it is to watch yourself online.
Watch out, Annie Leibovitz
Smartphone cameras have come a long way, but they’re still capable of some very crummy captures under the wrong circumstances. MIT is working on a way to help smartphones “enhance” images in real time before you even fire the shutter. The example images look rather impressive and this seems like the kind of tech that will be more important as we hit the limits of tiny camera phone hardware modules.
Introducing Bitcoin Cash
Bitcoin and cryptocurrency can be a tricky thing to navigate, and bitcoin isn’t making it any simpler by splitting up into two different segments last week. CNN Money has a pretty good explainer if you need an introduction.
Your mileage may vary
Consumer Reports compared the range of some electric cars and found the the Chevy Bolt could go 250 miles on a single charge, beating the EPA estimated 238 miles. It beat the Tesla Model S 75D, which managed a respectable 235 miles.
The 2018 Nissan Pathfinder will be the first vehicle in the company’s lineup to include a backseat alert system. The vehicle will take note of whether the back door was opened before a trip. Then, when the car is turned off, it will remind the driver with a notification on the display to check the backseat. It will also chirp the horn a few times as you’re walking away from the vehicle. It could save groceries from hot summer months, but it could also reduce the number of tragic deaths when a child is forgotten in the car.
Boeing used one of its test flights to draw a giant airplane pictures across the United States. Adorable!
Americans are using less electricity, the US Energy Information Administration reported late last month. That’s because, in part, “energy efficiency improvements and economic factors have contributed to the decline in per capita residential electricity sales since 2010,” the EIA says. We suggest you celebrate by going out and buying an Energy Star product to replace your old refrigerator.
This week’s Musk-read
Elon Musk had some cool stuff going on this week, including a nearly 200 mph test of the Hyperloop and more news about Falcon Heavy spaceship launch, but he also had some of his classic cryptic Tweets. Who knows what this could mean?
It's what you don't say— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 14, 2017