? All Tech Radio Episode 483
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  • Wearable technology was firmly on CES 2015's agenda, secured by the announcement of the Apple Watch, not to mention numerous other releases and collaborations from the industry during 2014. Duly - 'wearables' as they are known in the trade, were given pride of place at this year's show. However, despite the hype, these gismos disappointingly failed to deliver for another year. Designs are still clunky and basic functionality of most attempts remain unchanged. In short, what we've got is a series of "me too" devices - items that match in both what they look like and do. Yes there are a handful of designs certainly more geared towards women than in 2014, which is perhaps the most positive takeaway from all this, but even those aren't overly worth shouting about.
  • Here are some of the other trends at CES this year. Audi and Mercedes were among the car manufacturers showcasing self-driving vehicles. Meanwhile, BMW and chip maker Nvidia demonstrated technology where the car would serve as an auto-valet, finding its own parking space and returning to your location when ready. Here comes 4K. This is not a drill. It seems consumers have been hearing for years about the display resolution that's four times sharper than traditional HD. Now comes the rush of affordable TV sets and compatible programming to satisfy your desire for only the highest of high-definition. But don't get too comfortable. There's already talk of 8K. Drones are kind of a big deal. They were everywhere, and they're available in all sizes, from behemoths that can be used for industrial purposes to a wearable drone that can help users take selfies. And if CES attendees weren't flying them, they were constructing them with a 3-D printer. Nearly every single object is connected to the Internet. Last year offered a taste of this with smart appliances like refrigerators with digital grocery lists or ovens users can adjust with their smartphone. Now, think of any object and there's likely a version that is Wi-Fi enabled or tailored for the "Internet of Things" era. Don't ever lose your smartphone. Set aside the usual functions of our mobile devices, such as checking e-mail, texting and - yes, phones still do this - calling and chatting with friends. Now, you can start your car, pay for purchases, unlock your home and monitor your health or that of loved ones. It seems a bit scary to have so much tech at CES and elsewhere potentially tethered to your smartphone (or tablet).
  • An update to Google's mobile apps will convert your phone into a universal translater that can take your voice and convert it into recognisable audio in 80 languages, allowing you to have a natural conversation with somone even if you can't speak their language. Google will launch a live translation tool that can take spoken audio in one language and convert it into a synthesised voice speaking a second language in real-time, according to reports. The ability will be unveiled as part of the Android and iOS phone apps which already offer the ability to convert spoken language into translated text using speech recognition, as well as provide spoken translations of inputted text so that you can converse with others despite a lack of shared language.
  • Microsoft has issued heavy criticism of Google for disclosing a 90-day-old bug in Windows just two days before it plans to issue the fix. Google revealed the bug on January 11th, describing it as offering a chance to elevate user privileges thanks to some inelegant action during the Windows 8.1 login process. This isn't the first such disclosure by Google, which revealed a nasty takedown for Windows 8.1 on December 30th, after reporting it in September. Google did so because the rules of its Project Zero security regime sees the text ad giant reveal flaws 90 days after it reports them to vendors. In the case of this new flaw, Microsoft was notified on October 13th.
  • Crayola is apologizing after hackers filled its Facebook page with off-color content. The Forks Township, Pennsylvania-based crayon and marker manufacturer regained control of the page late Sunday and removed the offending posts. Instead of burnt sienna and cerulean blue, the page's 2.4 million followers saw cartoon breasts and sophomoric sex jokes. Crayola tweeted early Sunday evening that it was aware of the hack and "making every effort to stop the unauthorized posts." A few hours later, it had restored the page to its usual family friendliness.
  • Not being able to answer your phone increases a person's levels of anxiety and unpleasantness, and cuts into their cognitive abilities, a new study has found. Do you feel anxious and tetchy when you're separated from your phone? Do you feel like a part of you is missing? You are not alone, a new study shows. Researchers found that iPhone users who are unable to answer their phone experience a faster heart rate, increased blood pressure, higher levels of anxiety and unpleasantness and even a lower sense of self, all of which decreases their ability to perform thinking tasks.
  • With the introduction of an affordable electric car that can go 200 miles on a single charge, General Motors is setting up a showdown with Tesla to sell an electric vehicle to the masses. It may also upstage a car of its own. GM on Monday unveiled the Chevrolet Bolt, a $30,000 concept car that likely will go on sale in about two years. The range will make it attractive to many who wouldn't consider a fully electric car for fear of running out of juice. The rollout of the orange compact hatchback eclipsed GM's unveiling of a revamped Chevy Volt Monday at the Detroit auto show. When the plug-in gas-electric hybrid Volt was introduced as a concept car in 2007, it was touted as an electric vehicle for everyone. It could go 38 miles on battery power, with a gas generator taking over to end worries of being stranded. But its $40,000 price tag hamstrung sales, even with a $7,500 federal tax credit.
  • Samsung unveiled Monday its thinnest smartphone to date: The Galaxy A7. The Galaxy A7 clocks in at a 6.3mm thickness with a full aluminum unibody. It also expands on social capabilities with a new 'Auto Selfie' mode, noise reduction for voice control and LTE Category 4 4G for faster data speeds, Samsung said in astatement. Additional features on the A7, which runs on Android 4.4 KitKat, include an extra security layer for important files and documents and multi-screen capability for convenient multitasking. Samsung will also offer a dual SIM model in some countries to let users have two phone numbers, which is common in South and Southeast Asia where it's cheaper to make calls between customers of the same wireless company.

email from listeners:

  • Justin from Portland asks "What trends in smart phones do you see in 2015?"