Apple won’t wait for iOS 11.3 to fix Indian character bug, plans to roll out interim iPhone patch soon

Article Image

While the fix for the Indian language character bug is in the iOS 11.3 and macOS 10.13.4 betas, Apple is not waiting for them to issue an update, which will rectify the issue at least on iPhones and iPads.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

4 likely Google Assistant improvements we can’t wait to see

Android P, a new version of Google’s mobile operating system, is due out later this year and will include a deeper Google Assistant integration, a source familiar with the matter told Bloomberg today.

It’s just the latest in a series of new features for Google Assistant rumored about in recent days and weeks based on APK teardowns, anonymous sources, and other means.

Not all information gained from these sources leads to real change, but if true, these developments would be in line with Google’s strategy to place its Assistant at the heart of its software and hardware offerings.

1. Deeper Google Assistant integration for Android

With Android P, developers will be able to bring Google Assistant into their apps, which could lead to Android-Google Assistant experiences more in line with the way Siri interacts with some third-party iOS apps.

A modification for Android phones to allow a forward-facing notch like the iPhone X is also coming soon, a move to allow Android smartphone makers to continue to compete for high-end iPhone users by putting camera and sensors on the front of smartphones.

The company is also considering integration of Google Assistant into the Google search bar on the Android home screen controlled by the Google app.

Alongside a deeper Google Assistant integration in Android, the chat and conversational experience on Android devices may continue to change, with an upgrade to Android Messages on the way.

2. Google Assistant for Chromebooks

Google released the Pixelbook with Assistant inside late last year, and could be planning to bring it to the Chrome OS for Chromebooks.

If true, Chromebooks would be the latest Google hardware to incorporate its Assistant since Nest joined Google’s hardware team last week for deeper integrations with Google Assistant and Google Cloud AI services, and it would mean Assistant will begin to work its way into the classroom where Google enjoys an advantage over its rivals.

More than 25 million teachers and students use Chromebooks worldwide, while more than half of all primary and secondary school students in the United States use Google education apps.

Google upped its smarts for kids and students last year with tutoring apps and games made especially for kids, as well as Family Link integration to make voice recognition for kids 12 and under.

In addition to the potential Chromebook expansion, since Google Assistant launched in 2016, it has been integrated into Android smartphones, Android tablets, Pixelbook, Pixel Buds, and millions of Home products sold in the fast-growing smart speaker market.

It’s also been used to roll out exclusive features to Pixel smartphone owners, such as its Lens computer vision AI that can do things like recognize artworks, identify landmarks, or draw email addresses or URLs from photos.

3. Secondary languages

Google Assistant support is expanding to additional languages as Google chases to keep up with Amazon, which expanded to more than 80 countries in December 2017.

Next up appears to be Russian and Hindi. Google Assistant is already able to speak English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Also potentially on the way: support for a secondary language.

Providing support for more than one language would be helpful to users in multilingual societies where a person may, for example, articulate some things better in English and others better in Spanish.

This would help Google as it expands to more countries, making dialect and localization of language more essential to effective voice computing services.

4. Additional or custom Google Assistant wakewords

According to a recent Android Police APK teardown, Google Assistant could soon respond to new or custom wakewords. Today Google Assistant only responds to “OK Google” or “Hey Google.” Support for custom wakewords would essentially allow you to name your Google Assistant whatever you want.

It doesn’t seem like a massive technological leap forward or major market play like other potential new features, but I welcome the chance to summon Google Assistant without the need to say Google.

Apple – VentureBeat

With no multi-room support for HomePod at launch, will you buy now or wait? [Poll]

Those waiting eagerly for Apple’s HomePod smart speaker have now twice been disappointed. First, when Apple delayed the release from December until February, and a second piece of bad news now as the release date has been announced.

Coming this year in a free software update, users will be able to play music throughout the house with multi-room audio.

So if you were planning on buying more than one, it won’t offer multi-room support until some unspecified later date …



The Long Wait for Fusion Power May Be Coming to an End

Renewable energy sources like solar and wind account for a growing share of the world’s electric power. That’s no surprise, given concerns about the carbon emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants and their harmful effect on the climate.

Nuclear energy offers some advantages over renewables, including the ability to make electricity when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. But today’s nuclear plants use fission, which splits atoms of rare metals like uranium. Fission creates radioactive waste and can be hard to control — as evidenced by reactor accidents like those at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima.

Another form of nuclear energy known as fusion, which joins atoms of cheap and abundant hydrogen, can produce essentially limitless supplies of power without creating lots of radioactive waste.

Fusion has powered the sun for billions of years. Yet despite decades of effort, scientists and engineers have been unable to generate sustained nuclear fusion here on Earth. In fact, it’s long been joked that fusion is 50 years away, and will always be.

But now it looks as if the long wait for commercial fusion power may be coming to an end — and sooner than in half a century.

Leading the Charge

One of the brightest hopes for controlled nuclear fusion, the giant ITER reactor at Cadarache in southeastern France, is now on track to achieve nuclear fusion operation in the mid- to late-2040s, says Dr. William Madia, a former director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory who led an independent review of the ITER project in 2013.

Construction of the ITER reactor — a doughnut-shaped vacuum chamber known as a “tokamak” that spans more than 60 feet — recently passed the halfway point.

Madia says the decades needed to bring the ITER reactor to full operation reflect the huge engineering challenges still facing fusion researchers. These include building reactor walls that can withstand the intense heat of the fusion reaction — about 150 million degrees Celsius (270 million degrees Fahrenheit), or 10 times hotter than the core of the sun.

And then there’s the challenge of creating superconducting materials that can generate the powerful magnetic fields needed to hold the fusion reaction in place.

ITER has international backing and a budget of more than $ 14 billion. But it’s not the only promising effort in the long quest for sustained nuclear fusion, or what some have called a “star in a jar.”

Lots of Competition

Several smaller fusion projects, including commercial reactors being developed by Lockheed Martin in the U.S., General Fusion in Canada, and Tokamak Energy in the U.K., aim to feed fusion-generated power to electricity grids years before ITER produces its first fusion reactions.

“Our target is to deliver commercial power to the grid by 2030,” says Tokamak Energy’s founder, Dr. David Kingham.

Lockheed Martin’s legendary Skunk Works engineering division is developing a compact fusion reactor that uses cylindrical magnetic fields to confine the fusion reaction instead of the donut-shaped reactor being built at the ITER site.

The company foresees its fusion reactors replacing the fission reactors used in warships and submarines — and being put on trucks so they can be deployed wherever power is needed. A 100-megawatt fusion reactor that fits on the back of a truck could generate enough power for 100,000 people, according to the company.

Other fusion power projects include the Wendelstein 7-X fusion reactor in Germany, which uses an alternative to ITER’s tokamak design known as a stellarator. Like ITER, the German reactor is backed by an international consortium and serves mainly for experimental research.

Exactly which, if any, of these initiatives will crack the fusion nut is still uncertain. But experts hope fusion power one day can make fossil-fuel-fired plants and nuclear fission reactors obsolete, along with most of their environmental problems.

And we can take heart that the remaining challenges are all just a matter of advanced engineering. Says Madia, “We know the science is absolutely real because we can see it happening in the sun every day.”

The Long Wait for Fusion Power May Be Coming to an End was originally published by NBC Universal Media, LLC on December 29, 2017 by Tom Metcalfe. Copyright 2017 NBC Universal Media, LLC. All rights reserved.

The post The Long Wait for Fusion Power May Be Coming to an End appeared first on Futurism.