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Amazon’s 3D Smartphone, Project Ara Release, Cortana Easter Eggs [Tech News Digest]

Dave Parrack 16-04-2014

Today in Tech News Digest, Amazon’s 3D smartphone, Google’s modular Project Ara, preventing smartphone thefts, texting while driving, making your own 2048 game, and Clippy compromises Cortana on Windows Phone 8.1.


Amazon’s Smartphone Is Revealed, Kinda

There have been rumors and speculation surrounding Amazon’s first smartphone for months, but BGR has obtained photos of the device that, at the very least, prove that it’s real. We also now have a fair idea about the specs and release date for this future hardware.

Despite the photos, how the Amazon smartphone will look is still a mystery thanks to a protective shell obscuring the design. The name is also a mystery, though we’d stake money on it including the word Fire, as the recently released Fire TV Amazon Fire TV, Windows Phone Cortana, Indiegogo GoBe, Binge Watching PSA [Tech News Digest] Amazon Fire TV, Windows Phone 8.1 with Cortana, Windows 8.1 Update 1 for mouse and keyboards, GoBe on Indiegogo, Rdio, Vudu, and Crackle on Chromecast, and a PSA about the dangers of binge watching. Read More does.

The biggest differentiator between this and the other smartphones on the market will be the 3D display, which will, like the Nintendo 3DS Nintendo 3DS XL Review and Giveaway Among all the big names in gaming consoles, Nintendo is definitely among the top favorites. As a '90s kid, I associate much of my childhood with playing Nintendo games. I remember growing up with the... Read More , work without glasses. The Amazon smartphone will run on a customized version of Android and feature a 4.7-inch 720p HD display.

Expect to see the Amazon smartphone officially announced around June, with a launch following in the summer. A second Amazon smartphone, with entry-level specs and a lower price point, will follow later. That is if BGR’s sources turn out to be telling the truth, of course.

Google Reveals Project Ara Release Date

During the first Project Ara developer’s conference, Google revealed it’s aiming to release the base model of Ara as early as January 2015, with a price tag of $50. This “Gray Phone” will literally be gray in order to encourage customization.


As expected, the Project Ara modular smartphone Project Ara Arrives, Apple Hates Snow Leopard, Nintendo Kills Multiplayer [Tech News Digest] Project Ara is happening, Apple ends support for Snow Leopard, Nintendo ends support for online multiplayer on Wii and DS, Sony to close most stores, Facebook retires email service, and retro games invading Adam Sandler. Read More will run on Android, with Google adding drivers in December enabling Android to support dynamic hardware. The chassis around which the whole phone will be built is promised to last for “five to six years.” Which isn’t at all bad for $50.

Preventing Smartphone Thefts, Soon

The effort to include anti-theft measures in smartphones The 7 Best Android Anti-Theft Apps to Protect Your Device If your Android phone gets stolen, you'll need a way to get it back. Here are the best Android anti-theft apps. Read More is coming together, with the wireless industry announcing a voluntary commitment to including the technology in new hardware from 2015. This isn’t quite the “kill-switch” favored by some, but it’s better than nothing.

Under the plan, devices sold after July 2015 will include “the ability to remotely wipe data and be rendered inoperable, if the user chooses, to prevent the device from being reactivated without the owner’s permission.

According to Re/code, the list of names on board include Apple, Google, Microsoft, HTC, Huawei, Nokia, and Samsung, as well as “the five largest U.S. cellular carriers.” None of whom usually work well together.


A Reminder Not To Text While Driving

Texting while driving is bad, mmmkay? If you’re still partaking in this idiotic practice then please refrain from doing so in the future. While it may not be illegal to text while driving in all countries or all parts of the United States, it’s still an extremely bad idea.

The latest example of how much of a bad idea it is to text while driving comes from Australia, where a 21-year-old by the name of Kimberley Davis struck a cyclist from behind due to being too busy using her phone. She lost her license, and the cyclist almost lost his life. The subject is no laughing matter, but the video embedded above is rather amusing.

Learn How To Make Your Own 2048 Game

If you’re addicted to 2048 and its many variants then you could, if you so desire, make your own 2048 game. Thanks to the open-source nature of 2048 all of the tools needed to do so are available online. And thanks to Udacity, so is the knowledge.

The online educational organization Where To Study: Navigating The Free Online Education World Now that online learning is commonplace, it also is bit of a nightmare to choose which learning systems to use. We make it easier by giving you an overview of the best options out there. Read More is currently offering you the chance to make your own 2048, with a one-day MOOC teaching basic HTML, CSS, and Javascript skills. Whether your version of 2048 would be good enough to make our list of the best versions of 2048 Playing 2048: 20 Of The Best Versions Of The Addictive Puzzle Game [Weird & Wonderful Web] There may not be 2048 versions of 2048 listed here, but with the original game being available as an open source project, perhaps there will be. Here are twenty variants to test your skills on. Read More is unclear, but it should be edutaining finding out.


Clippy Compromises Cortana

And finally, Clippy is back, but only in the form of an Easter egg for those using Windows Phone 8.1 Windows Phone 8.1 Reviews, Android Heartbleed, US Airways Tweets [Tech News Digest] Windows Phone 8.1 reviews, Gmail scanning practices, Android Heartbleed, American Airlines' tweeting troubles, mini notebook chargers, overheating VAIOs, and a vending machine that tweets. Read More . The much-hated former Office assistant is one of a handful of Cortana Easter eggs discovered so far, with Windows Phone Central finding him.

Clippy also recently popped up on Office 365 as an April Fool’s Day joke The Bumper List of April Fools' Day 2014 Pranks [Weird & Wonderful Web] Cheer up, turn that frown upside down, and stop being such a miserablist misanthrope. We are here to help, with the best April Fools' Day pranks you may have missed in 2014. You had better... Read More , so while he may have retired in 2001 he can never be forgotten. As the video above shows, Cortana also responds specifically to questions about Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates, and Satya Nadella.

Tech News Digest… Breaking News Into Bite-Sized Chunks.

Image Credit: Paul Fisher via Flickr

Related topics: Google, Project Ara, Windows Phone 8.

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  1. maff
    April 16, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    I hope the 3D display/camera isn't what's never been seen before!
    I had the LG Optimus 3D phone for a year or so, the camera and 3D display were brilliant

    • Dave P
      April 20, 2014 at 12:10 pm

      There have been 3D phones before but none that handle it in quite the same way as the Amazon handset. Still, BGR was always going to up the hyperbole in order to drive traffic.

  2. Tom W
    April 16, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    The base of Project Ara isn't a bad deal at $50, but it will all come down to how much the modules cost, and how much variety they have. There's no point in buying a $50 base if it costs $600 to make it into a working smartphone.

    • Maarten D
      April 16, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      That's true. And even then, people are just going to buy it. Maybe not you, but others will.

    • Dave P
      April 20, 2014 at 12:09 pm

      I assume the base model will work as a phone, and that the extra costs will just be improving the phone. But I could be wrong. I'm still torn as to whether modular phones are the future or just a distraction.

    • Tom W
      April 21, 2014 at 10:23 am

      Most modular phone ideas that I've seen claim that one of the major benefits is reducing electronic waste by allowing you to upgrade a part of a phone rather than throwing it away and buying a new phone. This completely ignores the fact that it doesn't reduce waste, it just modularises the waste. Sure, it may slow it down in some cases, but I think the majority of people will be likely to upgrade most or all of their modules at once.

  3. dragonmouth
    April 16, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    "Preventing Smartphone Thefts"
    Why not just implant the bloody things?!
    1) It would reduce phone theft dramatically. Phone would be body-powered. If surgically excised, it would become inopperable.
    2) The owner would never have to worry about forgetting it. (S)he would be guaranteed a 24/7/365 connection to the world. Did I hear someone say "Borg Hive Mind"?
    3) Governments would know exactly whom they are tracking. Phone cannot be passed on to somebody else.

    What's not to like? Win-win for everybody.