[Update: Now up for pre-order, ships May 28] Polk Audio announces the first soundbar with Alexa, goes on sale in April

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Over the past few years, we’ve seen Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant expand to a wide array of electronics. This includes robots, appliances, and even bathroom mirrors. But there is one product category that Alexa hasn’t yet made an appearance in – soundbars. While you could already connect an Echo Dot to a soundbar, there hasn’t been one with Alexa already integrated.

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[Update: Now up for pre-order, ships May 28] Polk Audio announces the first soundbar with Alexa, goes on sale in April was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Facebook announces how it will restrict third-party access from user data

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A couple of weeks ago, Mark Zuckerberg made a statement following the realization that Facebook’s platform was used to influence the outcome of the 2016 United States election. Today, Facebook offers a more specific look at how exactly it is restricting users’ data from falling into the wrong hand while admitting that at least 87 million accounts’ information were improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica (70 million accounts were of the US). A lot of user data was available through APIs, or Application Program Interface, which would allow third parties to pull information from…

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USDA Announces Super-Chill Stance on Gene-Edited Crops

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Zero. Zilch.

That’s how much interest the U.S. government has in regulating gene-edited crops. And while that might sound a dramatic stance, it’s actually just a more formal articulation of a policy that’s been hinted at for years.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued a statement clearing up the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) stance on crops created using gene-editing techniques such as CRISPR.

According to Perdue, those crops don’t require any additional regulation because they’re just as safe as those produced through conventional breeding practices, which can be more time-consuming and expensive than gene-editing.

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This is a pretty significant departure from the USDA’s approach to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Their names may be similar, but the products themselves are as different as apples and genetically modified oranges.

With gene editing, scientists make simple, precise changes to a crop’s genome, snipping out certain parts or adding in others. Want mushrooms that don’t brown as quickly? Delete the genes that contribute to browning, like researchers at Pennsylvania State University did in 2016. The key is that the gene-edited crops could appear naturally in the wild.

With genetic modification, scientists mix and match genes from different organisms. Want soybeans that are immune to pesticides? Insert DNA from a pesticide-resistant bacteria right into the soybean seeds. Yeah, that’s not happening naturally, even if you get the soybeans and the bacteria super drunk.

The USDA was already taking a hands-off approach to gene-edited foods even before Purdue put it in writing.

In 2016, the department confirmed it wouldn’t regulate those browning-resistant mushrooms — the first time a CRISPR-edited food got the go-ahead from the department. Since then, it’s given another dozen or so crops the same treatment, according to Wired.

Perdue’s statement just makes it official: The USDA has complete faith in the safety of gene-edited crops. In fact, not only does Perdue think gene-editing food is totes safe, he also sounds like a straight-up fanboy.

“Plant breeding innovation holds enormous promise for helping protect crops against drought and diseases while increasing nutritional value and eliminating allergens,” Perdue wrote in the statement. “Using this science, farmers can continue to meet consumer expectations for healthful, affordable food produced in a manner that consumes fewer natural resources. This new innovation will help farmers do what we aspire to do at USDA: do right and feed everyone.”

The confusing rhetoric and rampant misinformation surrounding GMOs? There’s no need for that with gene-edited crops. That’s good news for consumers.

And it’s not too shabby for gene-editing researchers, either. They may have suspected the USDA wouldn’t oppose their work, but now they can be certain. Confidence in regulatory smooth sailing may help scientists secure funding for further research.

Once a gene-edited product is ready for stores, it won’t bear any special identifying marker, such as the labels on GMO’d foods. Those can function like a scarlet letter, keeping supermarkets and consumers away from foods that are in many ways superior to their conventionally-grown counterparts.

So get ready for gluten-free wheat, bigger tomatoes, and (yup) those non-browning mushrooms, to hit store shelves. You just might not know gene-editing had a hand in their creation. And, as the USDA statement indicates, you don’t need to, either.

The post USDA Announces Super-Chill Stance on Gene-Edited Crops appeared first on Futurism.

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Niantic Announces ‘Pokémon GO Earth Day Cleanup’ Events All Over the Globe

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While Pokémon GO might not be working out to the huge crowds it used to at launch, there are still plenty of people who still play the game all over the world. Continue reading
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Intel announces 6-core 12-thread i9 laptop CPU; possibility for 2018 MacBook Pro

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Longstanding rumors of Apple making an eventual switch from Intel to its own Mac CPUs may have been given fresh impetus by yesterday’s Bloomberg report, but Macs will be using Intel chips for some time yet.

Intel has today announced a new high-end laptop CPU that could be an interesting candidate for this year’s MacBook Pro …

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Griffin announces new PowerBlock Wireless Charging Pad for iPhone with 15% off launch price

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From 9to5Toys:

Griffin has today launched its newest iPhone accessory, the PowerBlock Wireless Charging Pad. This new offering will be priced at $ 60, but Griffin is offering 15% off on the new charger through April 2, bringing it down to $ 51.

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MyFitnessPal Announces Data Breach of 150 Million Accounts

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Under Armour announced a massive data breach on Thursday that impacts about 150 million accounts on its popular MyFitnessPal nutrition and fitness tracking app. The data breach took place in February. The stolen data includes usernames, email addresses and hashed passwords, Under Armour said in a statement to Reuters. On the other hand, social security […]
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Google announces new features for Play Books

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In January Google launchedPlay Books – a store for audio books and a direct competitor to Audible. Today the company announced a handful of updates on its blog that should bring better user experience. According to the article, you’ll now be able to place bookmarks wherever you want in the audiobook, so you can later get back to it. There are also plenty of new and updated features like Smart Resume, speed control and Family Library. Smart Resume is continuing the book from the sentence you paused it at, instead of the exact word, so that way you won’t feel confused what is going on…

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Under Armour announces MyFitnessPal data breach of 150 million accounts

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

Under Armour announced on Thursday that its popular diet tracking app MyFitnessPal has been hacked. The company said that the data breach occurred in February, and involved the usernames, email addresses and [hashed] passwords of some 150 million user accounts…. Read the rest of this post here


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Zendesk Announces Support for Business Chat in Messages

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Zendesk is partnering with Apple to introduce support for the Business Chat beta feature that’s available in the Messages app on iOS devices running the new iOS 11.3 update.


With Business Chat integration, retailers who use Zendesk tools for customer support will be able to interact with customers using the Messages app, providing more prompt and responsive support.

“Today’s customer expects to communicate with businesses in the same way they do with friends, on whatever channel is most convenient for them.” said Caitlin Henehan, VP & GM of Zendesk Chat. “Zendesk’s integration with Apple Business Chat Beta will allow customers to engage with businesses on a much more personal level through Message. Companies will be able to provide timely responses and interact on the channel that is familiar and accessible to the consumer.”

First announced when iOS 11.3 was previewed in January, Business Chat is designed to allow iPhone, iPad, and macOS users to communicate directly with businesses right within the Messages app. Business Chat allows users to chat with businesses, schedule appointments, and make purchases.

As with most of its services, Apple focused on privacy with Business Chat. No business is provided with a user’s contact information and chats can be ended at any time.

In addition to Zendesk support, several major companies are supporting Business Chat at launch, including Lowe’s, Discover, Hilton, and Wells Fargo. Additional businesses are likely to begin adopting the feature in the near future.

Business Chat is currently in beta and is available to users who are running iOS 11.3 in the United States.

Related Roundup: iOS 11

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