Google’s mind-bending quantum computer actually works

A major breakthrough from Google’s quantum-computing team could eventually lead to artificial-intelligence systems complex enough to make sci-fi nerds lose sleep in fear of the robot apocalypse. The breakthrough sounds simple, but it has massive implications: The quantum computer the team co-operates with NASA actually works. And not only does it work, but it can […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Ford Brings Siri Eyes Free Support to 5 Million Vehicles Dating Back to 2011

While many carmakers are starting to roll out support for Apple’s CarPlay in-vehicle functionality, an older Siri Eyes Free feature is also designed to help minimize driver distraction by using Siri voice recognition and spoken responses to allow drivers to interact with an iPhone without needing to look at the screen.

Siri Eyes Free is generally activated through a hardware button on the vehicle’s steering wheel and is available in a number of makes and models, and Ford today is officially announcing the launch of Eyes Free support for over five million vehicles dating back to the 2011 model year via a software update to Ford’s second-generation SYNC infotainment system.

“SYNC, Ford’s entertainment and communications system, was designed to be flexible and updatable, just like other mobile technologies, so our customers are able to get the most out of their smartphones while behind the wheel,” said Sherif Marakby, director, Ford Electronics and Electrical Systems Engineering. “Siri Eyes-Free is another great voice-activated feature that not only adds convenience but helps our customers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.”

Eyes Free support actually went live two months ago with the launch of version 3.8 of the second-generation SYNC software, but Ford has apparently waited until now to make the rollout official as it has worked to apply the update to new cars coming from the factory and make it available to owners of existing vehicles.

Apple also lists Ford as one of its CarPlay partners, but the automaker has yet to announce specific plans for supporting it in upcoming vehicles. The most recent information from Ford indicates CarPlay support will be arriving „relatively soon.“

Tags: Ford, Siri Eyes Free, Ford SYNC
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Electric Motorcycle Startup Mission Motors Ceases Operations After Losing Talent to Apple

Electric motorcycle startup Mission Motors has ceased operations after losing some of its key talent to competitors such as Apple, and failing to develop a viable business model, according to Reuters.

„Mission had a great group of engineers, specifically electric drive expertise,“ [former CEO Derek] Kaufman said. „Apple knew that – they wanted it, and they went and got it.“

The report claims about six engineers from the San Francisco-based startup were recruited by Apple since last autumn, and the company’s assets are now controlled by its largest investor Infield Capital.

Mission Motorcycles, a related company created to sell the electric motorcycles, is reportedly in the process of filing for bankruptcy.

Apple never attempted to acquire Mission Motors outright, according to Kaufman, instead drawing from its pool of specialized engineers working on electric drive systems and battery algorithms for charging and cooling.

Mission Motors was founded in 2007 with ambitions to create a world-class electric motorcycle, and it launched an early prototype in 2013 to positive reviews. The company was reportedly often cash strapped, however, and some investors backed out as engineers left for competitors.

Mission Motors never released an electric motorcycle for sale to consumers.

Apple has been rumored to be working on an electric vehicle, codenamed „Project Titan,“ for several months, with its secretive automotive team reportedly including former employees from Tesla, Ford, GM, A123 Systems, Samsung and other competitors. Earlier this year, it reached a settlement with A123 in a poaching lawsuit.



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Apple Hiring Autonomous Vehicle Experts, Including Tesla Engineer Now Working on ‘Special Projects’

Apple recently hired a senior engineer from Tesla Motors, presumably to work on its secret car project. As highlighted by Reuters, former Tesla Motors Autopilot Firmware Manager Jamie Carlson‘s LinkedIn page says he now works at Apple on „Special Projects.“

His profile doesn’t go into detail on what he did for Tesla, but he was working on the company’s autonomous vehicle firmware project and could be taking on a similar automotive firmware role at Apple.

Reuters also points out several other previously unknown hires with similar expertise in autonomous driving, including Megan McClain, a former Volkswagen engineer, Vinay Palakkode, a graduate researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, and Xianqiao Tong, who developed driver assistance systems for NVIDIA.

On their respecitve LinkedIn pages, McClain is listed as a Mechanical Design Engineer, Palakkode is listed as an engineer working within Apple’s Special Projects Group, and Tong is listed as an R&D engineer. Last fall, Apple also hired Sanjai Massey, a Ford engineer who worked on connected and autonomous vehicles, Stefan Weber, a Bosch engineer who worked on driver assistance systems, and Lech Szumilas, a Delphi research scientist with former expertise in autonomous vehicles.

Rumors have thus far disagreed over whether Apple’s secret car project includes self-driving technology, but it’s possible the company is exploring multiple avenues of development as the project is still in its early stages. A previous report from Reuters citing a source within the automotive industry suggested Apple was working on a self-driving electric car, but a report from The Wall Street Journal stated a self-driving car was not part of Apple’s electric car efforts.

Apple is said to have more than 200 employees working on the electric car, under the code name „Project Titan.“ Apple has been heavily recruiting automotive experts over the past several months, with many members on its team coming from companies like Tesla, Ford, GM, MIT Motorsports, Ogin, Autoliv, A123 Systems, General Dynamics, and more.

High profile hires have included Tesla mechanical engineering manager David Nelson, Tesla senior powertrain test engineer John Ireland, Chrysler Group Senior Vice President Doug Betts, A123 Systems Chief Technology Officer Mujeeb Ijaz, and Paul Furgale, a researcher with a specialization in autonomous vehicles.



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Apple Working With More Than 40 Tech Companies to Make iPad a Better Work Tool

Apple is working with more than 40 technology companies to make the iPad a better work tool, according to a new report by The Wall Street Journal. The initiative, which is called the Mobility Partner Program (MPP), is an effort to change the way business is done and boost lagging iPad sales.

The initiative is a bet that Apple, which has never been a big player in the $2 trillion annual spending on workplace technology, can grab a bigger slice of the market by reshaping the nature of work in mobile-friendly settings—where Apple has an edge.

Apple’s partners in the program include smaller companies like accounting firm Xero, digital cash register company Revel Systems, and field-service software firm ServiceMax. Some partners, like Xero, have been invited to train Apple business specialists while other undisclosed partners were invited to an Apple sales conference in March, an event that is typically closed to company outsiders.

Within the program, Apple reviews its partners’ apps and makes suggestions on their work. Apple has also suggested that companies who make complementary apps work together to make their apps compatible, ensuring a richer experience for users. In fact, the partnership has also worked in the reverse, with the Cupertino company’s partners getting Apple in touch with business customers in a way it hasn’t before.

However, the program is still shrouded in secrecy. It’s unclear which companies are participating in the program, and some of Apple’s partners don’t even know the other participating companies or what their role is in selling apps. Apple also doesn’t want companies to refer to the program by its given name, MPP, in public.

The new initiative is similar to the exclusive partnership Apple and IBM forged last year, in which IBM will begin selling iOS devices to corporate customers and develop 100 industry-specific native apps. As iPad sales continue to shrink and the tablet market continues to decline, it’s likely Apple feels boosting enterprise sales of its tablets could offset lack of consumer demand.



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Apple Joins NFC Forum to Work on Developing Future NFC Specifications

Apple this week joined the NFC Forum as a sponsor member, earning itself a place on the NFC Forum board of directors, reports NFC World. The Near Field Communication (NFC) Forum is the group that works to develop NFC specifications to ensure interoperability between different devices and services.

The team also encourages companies to develop products using the NFC Forum specifications and they make sure products with NFC capabilities comply with those specifications.

„The top tier of NFC Forum membership, sponsor membership, entitles an organisation to a seat on the NFC Forum board of directors, the association’s governing body,“ NFC Forum director Paula Hunter says. „We are delighted to welcome Apple to our board of directors as an NFC Forum sponsor member.“

Joining the NFC Forum board of directors on Apple’s behalf is Aon Mujtaba, who serves as Director of Wireless Systems Engineering at Apple. According to his LinkedIn profile, Mujtaba leads the iPhone Systems Engineering team and specializes in wireless systems engineering, architecture, and design.

Other companies who are on the NFC Forum board of directors include Broadcom, Google, Intel, Nokia, NXP Semiconductors, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sony, STMicroelectronics, Visa, and MasterCard.

Apple began using NFC with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which include the technology to facilitate wireless payments using Apple Pay. Apple has also included NFC chips in the Apple Watch, the iPad Air 2, and the iPad mini 3, and will continue using NFC in future devices.



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Dump Flash Player now or spend the rest of your life patching it

Adobe Systems Inc. has yet another patch for you to download and install to fix yet another critical security hole in its ubiquitous Flash Player browser plugin. Hackers are already onto the exploit, so if you use Adobe Flash Player,…Read more ›



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