For all the recent talk of moving to digital wallets, you can't really ditch the old-school kind yet -- you still need to carry physical copies of your driver's license and other forms of ID. If you live in Delaware, though, you may eventually have one less reason to worry when you leave your purse or wallet at home. The state's Senate recently passed a resolution asking the Division of Motor Vehicles to research a digital driver's license that you would store in an app on your phone. While many of the details still have to be worked out, you'd use some kind of biometric security (such as your face, fingerprint or voice) to get access on top of a code. There's no timetable for when Delaware would test these licenses, but it may not take long given that the state's development partner, MorphoTrust, has been working on the technology for a while.
When Sony unveiled its PlayStation Vue streaming service, it painted a rosy picture of what you'll get: tons of channels! You'll never look at TV the same way again! But what's it like to use in the real world? You won't have to wait until the formal launch to find out, apparently. One early user has shared impressions with GigaOM, and the early signs suggest that it might just beat Dish's Sling TV... in certain circumstances, anyway. The interface is polished and speedy, and your viewing rights are much more consistent than what Sling TV delivers. As a rule, you can assume that you'll have the promised 28-day window to watch saved shows from a cloud DVR.
Qualcomm's presence inside many of the world's most popular mobile devices over the last few years has kept the money coming in (creating the need for the picture shown above), but today there was some bad news. In its Q4 earnings release, the company revealed (PDF) "Expectations that our Snapdragon 810 processor will not be in the upcoming design cycle of a large customer's flagship device." Uh-oh. Even though it didn't say who the large customer is, for years there have been expectations that Samsung would eventually stop relying on Qualcomm chips to run many of its Galaxy phones.
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy has yet to grace a launch pad, but that isn't stopping the company from extolling the reusable rocket's virtues. Elon Musk and crew have posted an animation (below) demonstrating how a typical mission with the heavy-duty reusable rocket should go. As you might imagine, everything goes smoothly in this conceptual clip -- the machine blasts off from Kennedy Space Center, detaches its Falcon 9 boosters (which dutifully return to the ground) and puts its payload into orbit. Success!
While Facebook made waves last year with its investment in Oculus and WhatsApp, it continues to make most of its money from just plain ol' Facebook. And, in particular, from mobile. In the last quarter of 2014, the social networking giant made $3.85 billion. Of that revenue, about $3.59 billion was from advertising, and ads from mobile accounted for a whopping 69 percent of that. That means Facebook now makes almost two-thirds of its money just from mobile advertising. Facebook also posted its overall numbers for 2014, where it made $12.47 billion for the year alone. It marks the first time the company's made over $10 billion in a single year.
There aren't many work collaboration tools that you'd describe as being a joy to use, but Slack, the latest startup from Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield, actually manages to come close. Now in addition to slick text and document collaboration (it's crazy fast), Slack will soon get voice and video chat, as well as remote screensharing. The company announced today that it's snapped up Screenhero, a startup that was aiming to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Webex, whose features will slowly be absorbed into the Slack platform. It's not the first collaboration tool to get video and voice chat -- HipChat has had them for a while, and plenty of organizations use a combination of Microsoft's Yammer and Skype -- but their addition gives people one less reason to count Slack out as they beg their companies to adopt it (ahem, Engadget editors).
Snapchat's already working on a library of original content, and thanks to AT&T, there will soon be shows for viewing inside the app as well. Re/code reports that a "scripted series" with 12 episodes will feature YouTube personalities like Freddie Wong and Harley Morenstein -- in addition to the Snapchat-famous Shaun McBride. This "SnapperHero" project isn't part of the app's Discover content channel, though, as AT&T is sponsoring the videos, so they're more like produced two-minute ad spots. Yahoo and others were also rumored to be considering YouTube's "talent," so we'll see how pairing popular internet things turns out. The "show" is set to debut in the near future as the number of folks leveraging the ephemeral sharing service's platform continues to grow.
If you were seduced by offers of "unlimited" phone data on prepaid carriers like Straight Talk or Simple Mobile only to find your service unbearably slow after a certain point, the Federal Trade Commission has your back. The carriers' owner, TracFone, has agreed to pay the FTC $40 million to settle charges that it misled customers by advertising unlimited data that was really throttled into oblivion. In other words, Straight Talk was being... less than straight. Beyond the payout, TracFone has to avoid making sketchy claims in its ads and provide refunds to anyone who's been burned. The settlement won't affect a huge number of people, but it could serve as a warning sign to AT&T and other big carriers trying to avoid penalties for similarly shady throttling practices.
Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have brought up the potential dangers of super intelligent AI several times over the past few years (Musk even donated $10 million toward cautious AI research), but now Bill Gates is also getting into the mix. In his Reddit "AmA" Q&A session today, Gates made it clear that he agrees with Musk's stance, which basically amounts to being very careful about how we approach the rise of intelligent machines:
I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence. First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though, the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don't understand why some people are not concerned.
When a group of scientists drilled through 2,430 feet of ice in Antarctica to get to the water underneath, they only expected to find a few microbes here and there. Instead, they discovered a thrivi...
You've got to tell them. They're so wrong. What an idiot. Unbelievable. This will show them. Getting angry on Twitter may feel great (correction: amazing) at times, but that doesn't mean it's good f...