Google Shows Off 2 New Nexus Phones, a New Pixel, and More 208

Two of the products officially unveiled at Google's much-anticipated (at least much-hyped) release announcement were widely and correctly predicted: a pair of new Nexus phones. The flagship is the all-metal Huawei 6P, with a 5.7" AMOLED display (2,560x1,440), 3GB of RAM, and a Snapdragon 810 chip. The Huawei overshadows the nonetheless respectable second offering, the LG-made Nexus 5X, which makes concessions in the form of less RAM (2GB instead of the 6P's 3), smaller battery (2700mAh, instead of 3450) and a lesser Snapdragon chip inside (808, rather than 810). Both phones, though, come with USB-C and with a big upgrade for a line of phones not generally praised for its cameras: a large-pixel 12.3-megapixel Sony camera sensor. Much less predicted: Google announced a new bearer for the Pixel name, after its line of high-end Chromebooks; today's entrant is a tablet, not running Chrome, and it's running Android rather than Chrome OS. The Pixel C tablet will debut sometime later this year; google touts it as "the first Android tablet built end-to-end by Google." Also on the agenda today, news that Android 6 will start hitting Nexus devices next week.

Sony Decides Its Waterproof Xperia Phones Are Not Actually Waterproof 136

Mark Wilson writes: Sony seems determined on confusing its customers by giving very conflicting advice about its Xperia smartphones. If you're familiar with the range, you'll no doubt be aware of the advertising material that appears to show users taking photos in the rain and even (seemingly) underwater at the pool. Take a look at the picture above and you'd probably assume that a) it depicts someone shooting a video or taking a photo in a swimming pool, and b) you can do the same with your phone. But you'd be wrong (at least on b) because Sony has changed its mind about what waterproof means. Or it doesn't know. It really depends on where you look on the Sony website.

Vietnam's Tech Boom: a Look Inside Southeast Asia's Silicon Valley 40

rjmarvin writes: Vietnam is in the midst of a tech boom. The country's education system is graduating thousands of well-educated software engineers and IT professionals each year, recruited by international tech companies like Cisco, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Intel, LG, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba and others setting up shop in the southern tech hub of Ho Chi Minh City and the central coastal city of Da Nang. Young Vietnamese coders and entrepreneurs are also launching more and more startups, encouraged by government economic policies encouraging small businesses and a growing culture around innovation in the country.
XBox (Games)

Xbox One Launch Woes Were Preventable, Next Console Likely Digital Download Only 230

MojoKid writes: Microsoft's Xbox One launch didn't go off exactly as planned in late 2013. Before the console's release, the company was dogged over DRM restrictions with the console and concerns over its high price tag compared to its counterpart, the Sony PlayStation 4. Microsoft would attribute the higher price tag to the included Kinect camera — a peripheral that many gamers didn't particularly care for. Former Xbox Chief Robbie Bach offered his two cents recently on the Xbox One — a console that launched years after he announced he retired from the company in 2010. Bach noted, regarding the Xbox One's rocky launch, "...gosh, I think some of that was predictable and preventable." As for the future of physical game media, Bach doesn't think that the future will be so bright when it comes to DRM and always-connected requirements in the next generation of gaming consoles. He said that the next Xbox would "probably not" have physical media to speak of, with consoles adopting digital-only distribution.

Sony Unveils Smartphone With 4K Screen 117

An anonymous reader writes: Sony has taken the wraps off its new Xperia Z5 Premium smartphone, which has a 5.5" display that operates at 4k resolution. "The company acknowledged that there was still a limited amount of professional content available in 4K — which provides about four times the number of pixels as 1080p high definition video. But it said the Z5 Premium would upscale videos streamed from YouTube and Netflix to take advantage of the display." Sony's answer to the obvious battery concerns raised by such a pixel-dense (808 ppi) screen was to use a 3,430 mAh battery and memory-on-display technology. The video upscaling can also be turned off to decrease battery drain.

Canadian Music Industry Faces Competition Complaint Over Public Domain Records 38

An anonymous reader writes: A Canadian record label specializing in public domain releases has filed a complaint with the Competition Tribunal over alleged anti-competitive conduct by Universal, Sony, and host of other music industry leaders. The complaint tells a fascinating behind-the-scenes tale, with the recording industry doing everything in its powers — including posting false reviews, pressuring distributors, and lobbying for changes to the law — to stop the sale of competing public domain records.

Former Apple CEO Creates an iPhone Competitor 143

An anonymous reader links to Fast Company's profile of Obi Worldphone, one-time Apple CEO John Sculley's venture into smartphones. The company's first two products (both reasonably spec'd, moderately priced Android phones) are expected to launch in October. And though the phones are obviously running a different operating system than Apple's, Sculley says that Obi is a similarly design-obsessed company: "The hardest part of the design was not coming up with cool-looking designs," Sculley says. "It was sweating the details over in the Chinese factories, who just were not accustomed to having this quality of finish, all of these little details that make a beautiful design. We had teams over in China, working for months on the floor every day. We intend to continue that process and have budgeted accordingly." Obi is also trying to set itself apart from the low-price pack by cutting deals for premium parts. "Instead of going directly to the Chinese factories, we went to the key component vendors, because we know that ecosystem and have the relationships," Sculley says. "We went to Sony. It’s struggling and losing money on its smartphone business, but they make the best camera modules in the world."

Parts of SOPA Hiding Inside a Boring Case About Invisible Braces 174

derekmead writes: The most controversial parts of SOPA, an anti-piracy bill defeated in 2012 after a massive public outcry, may end up becoming de facto law after all, depending on the outcome in an obscure case that is working its way through the legal system without anyone noticing.

Next week, the U.S. Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit will hear oral arguments in ClearCorrect Operating, LLC v. International Trade Commission, a case that could give an obscure federal agency the power to force ISPs to block websites. In January, The Verge reported that this very legal strategy is already being considered by the Motion Picture Association of America, as evidenced by a leaked document from the WikiLeaks Sony dump.

A Look At the Rare Hybrid Console Built By Sony and Nintendo 37

An anonymous reader writes: Long before Sony and Nintendo were rivals, the two companies were partners for a brief time. In 1988 the duo started work on SNES-CD, a video game media format that was supposed to augment the cartridge-based SNES by adding support for higher-capacity CDs. In 1991 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Sony introduced the "Play Station" (yes, with a space) but it never saw the light of day. Now, more than two decades later, Imgur user DanDiebold has uploaded images of the unreleased console. This particular model (about 200 Play Station prototypes were created) confirms that the system was supposed to be compatible with existing SNES titles as well as titles to be released in the SNES-CD format. In other words, it would have been the world's first hybrid console: game developers and gamers alike would be able to use both SNES cartridges and CDs. If you want to learn more about this particular prototype, check out the following thread on Assembler Games.
Data Storage

Where Facebook Stores 900 Million New Photos Per Day 121

1sockchuck writes: Facebook faces unique storage challenges. Its users upload 900 million new images daily, most of which are only viewed for a couple of days. The social network has built specialized cold storage facilities to manage these rarely-accessed photos. Data Center Frontier goes inside this facility, providing a closer look at Facebook's newest strategy: Using thousands of Blu-Ray disks to store images, complete with a robotic retrieval system (see video demo). Others are interested as well. Sony recently acquired a Blu-Ray storage startup founded by Open Compute chairman Frank Frankovsky, which hopes to drive enterprise adoption of optical data storage.
Hardware Hacking

Celebrating Workarounds, Kludges, and Hacks 145

itwbennett writes: We all have some favorite workarounds that right a perceived wrong (like getting around the Wall Street Journal paywall) or make something work the way we think it ought to. From turning off annoying features in your Prius to getting around sanctions in Crimea and convincing your Android phone you're somewhere you're not, workarounds are a point of pride, showing off our ingenuity and resourcefulness. And sometimes artful workarounds can even keep businesses operating in times of crisis. Take, for example, the Sony employees, who, in the wake of the Great Hack of 2014 when the company's servers went down, dug out old company BlackBerrys that, while they had been abandoned, had never had their plans deactivated. Because BlackBerrys used RIM's email servers instead of Sony's, they could still communicate with one another, and employees with BlackBerrys became the company's lifeline as it slowly put itself back together. What hacks and workarounds keep your life sane?

Sony Releasing New 1TB PlayStation 4 In July 98

Mark Wilson writes: Known as the 1TB PS4 Ultimate Player Edition (or PlayStation 4 Ultimate Player 1TB Edition depending on who you're talking to), Sony is launching a new PlayStation 4 next month. With the ever-growing market for downloadable content, it's difficult to have too much disk space. Recognizing this, Sony is doubling the size of the largest capacity PS4. The 1TB console will launch next month in the US, Asia and Europe, and the announcement comes just weeks after Microsoft announced a 1TB version of its Xbox One. Gamers in Japan will be able to get their hands on the console by the end of June, but the rest of the world will have to wait until July 15. There's no word on pricing, but Sony has detailed a few other changes that have been made to this version of the console.

WikiLeaks' Latest: An Even More Massive Trove of Sony Documents 100

Newsweek is one of many outlets to report that Wikileaks' latest dump is a trove of Sony's company emails and other documents that consists of even more individual pieces than the 200,000-plus leaked in April. Included, says the Newsweek story, are "276,394 Sony Corp. communications, including email, travel calendars, contact lists, expense reports and private files." One interesting tidbit revealed by the documents thus revealed, spotted by Apple Insider, is that "Apple requested [from Sony] 4K content for potential digital distribution and on-demand services testing nearly two years ago, suggesting the company has been exploring ultra high-definition streaming for some time."

The Death of Aibo, the Birth of Softbank's Child-Robot 152

New submitter pubwvj writes: Sony is killing off their robot Aibo, stranding the 150,000 or so owners with no support, repairs or parts other than cannibalism. Now we have another Japanese company, SoftBank, releasing a robotic 'child.' Eventually, they too will discontinue the production of parts and support, beginning the process of killing off all those 'children' that are spawned. As robotics become (far) more advanced at what point will it be murder for a company to discontinue a product line?

E3 2015: A Lot of Nostalgia For Old Games 102

_xeno_ writes: E3 2015 saw a lot of game companies banking on nostalgia, but much less hype for new games. While the biggest thing coming out of Microsoft's press conference was undoubtedly the Hololens, the biggest buzz from E3 was probably Sony's announcement of Square Enix's announcement of a remake of a two decade old game (Final Fantasy VII), seconded by the announcement of a sequel to a fifteen year old game (Shenmue). Nintendo announced mostly new sequels as well. Ultimately, though, it isn't surprising that the biggest buzz is around old games. Old games are a known quantity, while truly new games are — well, new. Who knows if they're going to be the next classic or not?

Sony and Microsoft's Failed Releases Since E3 2014 26

SlappingOysters writes: Ahead of E3 2015, which begins next week, Grab It has undertaken an analysis of the games announced at the big E3 press conferences for Sony and Microsoft last year, and reveals — amongst other data — that 60% of Microsoft's announced titles remain unreleased a year later, and 50% of Sony's announced titles remain unreleased. The article then debates whether this is good enough for both companies as they fight for market share.

Sony Music CEO Confirms Launch of Apple's Music Streaming Service 86

An anonymous reader writes: Sony Music CEO Doug Morris said in an interview that Apple will announce a new music streaming service tomorrow at its World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC). The new Apple Music service will include subscription streaming music features as well as a revamped iTunes Radio service. "What does Apple bring to this?" Morris said. "Well, they've got $178 billion in the bank. And they have 800 million credit cards in iTunes. Spotify has never really advertised because it's never been profitable. My guess is that Apple will promote this like crazy and I think that will have a halo effect on the streaming business. A rising tide will lift all boats," he added. "It's the beginning of an amazing moment for our industry."

Epic's VR Demo Scene For the GTX 980 Now Runs On Morpheus PS4 Headset At 60 FPS 35

An anonymous reader writes: Originally created as a Unreal Engine 4 demo scene to push the limits of VR-capable graphics on the Oculus Rift 'Crescent Bay' prototype VR headset, Showdown is now running flawlessly at 60 FPS on Morpheus, Sony's PS4 VR headset. The demo was previously only able to run at Oculus' 90 FPS target VR framerate on the Nvidia GTX 980, a GPU which costs nearly $200 more than the PS4 itself. To the delight of UE4 developers, the performance improvement comes from general optimizations to UE4 on PS4, rather than specific optimizations to Showdown.