Android 6.0 Marshmallow review: All about polish and power

Android 6.0 Marshmallow review: All about polish and power‚Äč

When Android 5.0 Lollipop started hitting devices last November, people could tell. Google’s new Material Design aesthetic made sure you wouldn’t mistake it for any prior version of the OS, which was great… especially when you consider how confusing parts of it could be. Now that Android’s look has been more or less firmed up, Google set about making its operating system smoother, smarter and more battery-friendly. The end result: Android 6.0 Marshmallow. So, how’d they do? Spoiler alert: pretty damned well.


91
Google

Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Pros

  • Now on Tap is handy, has great potential
  • Improved search and voice commands
  • New permissions give users more control
  • Flex Storage blurs the line between internal, external storage

Cons

  • It’ll be a while before everyone gets it
  • Now on Tap sometimes swings and misses
  • Permissions can seem intrusive 
  • Where did that dark mode go?

Summary

While we didn’t get a huge cosmetic overhaul as with last year’s big update, Android 6.0 Marshmallow does a great job of fixing Lollipop’s foibles. More importantly, Google is really flexing its contextual smarts with the addition of features like Now on Tap, and an improved version of permissions gives users a better understanding of what their apps are trying to do. Couple those mostly great features with plenty of polish and we’re left with a must-install update — here’s hoping OEMs deliver it sooner than later.

Look and feel

Android 6.0 Marshmallow review: All about polish and power

Go ahead: Take a look around. Do it quickly enough and you might not notice anything different from the big Android update we got last year. Material Design was a huge, highly valuable step forward for Android; this year’s update polishes down some of the look’s rougher edges and makes a few things more prominent. Consider the lock screen’s font, for one — the time is a bit bolder than it was before, better for those discreet time checks. Then there’s the launcher, which some people have been getting a taste of without even updating to Marshmallow. The white background will seem awfully familiar, but that’s it as far as similarities go.

Remember the multiple pages of apps you had to swipe left and right through in Lollipop? They’re all gone, replaced by a single, vertically scrolling tray of icons capped off with four of your most used programs sitting atop the tray. Above that sits a handy search bar, which also (thankfully, finally) lives in the Settings menu so you don’t have to poke around aimlessly looking for an arcane option to change. I sort of preferred the paginated app view from days past, but the addition of a search feature is insanely helpful — where was this before?

Android 6.0 Marshmallow review: All about polish and power

Marshmallow’s actually slightly more customizable than previous versions if you know where to look. The System UI tuner we first spotted in the Android M preview is hidden by default; to access, you have to swipe down into your Quick Settings panel and press on the gear icon until it starts spinning. Once all that’s squared away, you can use it to rearrange your Quick Settings icons and add a few extra design flourishes, like tacking a battery-percentage readout to the vaguely helpful battery icon. Google warns that you probably shouldn’t muck around with this too much, and I’m inclined to agree (although not for system safety purposes) — it’s just that there’s only so much to be done here.

The same can’t be said about my favorite of Marshmallow’s minor UI enhancements: the much-improved copy-and-paste commands. It used to be that pressing and selecting text to share required you to decipher some arcane symbols at the top of the screen, but that’s been replaced by a simple pop-up menu with — wait for it — the words select all, copy, paste and web search. That latter option is on a separate “page” from the others; while that’s mildly annoying, it’s still worth actually having command buttons that make sense at a glance. Once the sharing mood sets in, you might also notice what Google calls Direct Share. When you try to share content from certain apps, you’ll get the option to send it directly to contacts instead of just opening that stuff in another app. Incredibly handy? You bet, but sadly, very few apps support it right now.

Now on Tap

Android 6.0 Marshmallow review: All about polish and power

Now on Tap, on the other hand, is Google at its most Google-y. Long-pressing the home button causes a white line to trace its way around the screen — once that’s done, Google tries to figure out what you’re looking at and gives you related information about it. After using it for a while, Now on Tap feels like one of those little touches that should’ve always been there. Let’s say you’re listening to something in Spotify, since Now on Tap plays nice with apps beyond ones Google has crafted. I’ve used the Hamilton example before, but let’s dive back into it. Listening to the track “My Shot” (which you should definitely do) and invoking Now on Tap brings up four results cards: three for the principle singers in the song, plus one for the title of the song itself.

It’s also, sadly, far from perfect. Spotify songs are easy to figure out — all that’s on-screen to interpret is the name of the song, the artist and the album title. Launching Now on Tap on a web page, for instance, can be far less rewarding as Google doesn’t always provide a results card for the things you want to see. Now in fairness, it’s early days for this feature and it’s pretty great in its current shape. Still, given how much of my own information I’ve willingly offered to Google — all my emails, all the birthdays and meetings in my calendars, the entirety of my search history — you’d think it would be able to get a better sense of what it is I’m actually trying to learn more about. Then again, that logic cuts both ways. For all that Google knows about us, it’s (thankfully) not a mind reader and can’t anticipate my desires on the fly. That Now on Tap will get better is a given; the question you’ll have to consider is whether you want to give even more insight into what you do on the web.

A better approach to permissions

Android 6.0 Marshmallow review: All about polish and power

As damned helpful as Now on Tap can be, chances are you’re going to experience Marshmallow’s revamped approach to app permissions far more frequently. Let’s flashback to last year: Before even downloading an app, users had to agree to a load of potential actions that software could perform at some point. With Marshmallow, Google very smartly decided not to front-load all that information and instead alerts you whenever an app you’ve installed tries to do something new for the first time, like when Twitter wants to figure out where you are or when Chrome wants access to your media. If an app mentions wanting to do something that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, feel free to deny it the access it wants — in most cases, the rest of the program should still work.

Oh, and if you’re the kind of person who just taps “Accept” all the time anyway? Popping into the Settings reveals which apps have access to which parts of your device, from the camera to contacts to location, storage and even body sensors. Revoking access is just a tap away, so don’t be afraid to make some executive decisions. Yes, you’ll be dealing with these notifications pretty frequently, and yes, the whole thing feels a little more intrusive than before. Still, it forces users to understand what their apps are doing and when — making everyone more security-conscious is worth some tiny inconveniences.

Fingerprints for all

Android 6.0 Marshmallow review: All about polish and power

Speaking of security, Marshmallow is very much into the idea of using your fingerprints as authentication. Need proof? Just look at the two new Nexus handsets. Setup is dead-simple and familiar — you’ll be lifting and pressing down onto the sensor multiple times until you’re given the OK. Interestingly, Google doesn’t assume that you want to use your fingerprints for everything once you’ve got at least one on file. Buying apps from the Play Store defaults to using your password for authentication, for instance — you have to tick a box before you can sign off on purchases with a finger. Once that’s done, though, you’re all good, and thankfully both of the devices I’ve been testing Marshmallow with (the Nexus 6P and the HTC One A9) have excellent sensors that quickly and accurately pick up finger touches. That’s really no surprise, though: Google’s very picky about how good these sensors should be. Now we just need more developers to get on the fingerprint bandwagon.

Under the hood

Beyond some of those marquee features, Marshmallow also packs a few tricks to keep your device running for as long as possible. Doze is the more technically impressive of the batch since it determines when your device is just sitting around and shuts down nearly all background services and disables your network connection. If a priority message rolls in via Google Cloud Messaging, Marshmallow dutifully surfaces it, but otherwise you’ve basically got a device that automatically switches into airplane mode when you don’t need it. The results are obvious, and impressive. As I write this, a near-dead Nexus 6P has been clinging to life with 2 percent battery for nearly an hour.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow review: All about polish and power

Then there’s App Standby, which automatically flips programs into an inactive state if they haven’t been used in a while to further save your battery. If you’ve ever had to disable some carrier bloatware apps because they were just never used, well, that’s basically the same idea here. The only difference is App Standby works autonomically — Marshmallow disables apps that haven’t been launched lately, aren’t running a process or aren’t generating notifications. The only potential downside here is that Marshmallow could always deactivate an app you actually wanted to keep, but there are two quick fixes: Open it once in a while, or jump into the Settings to manually restore it (you can even flag it so that it never gets deactivated again).

Like it or not, the trusty microSD card slots of yore are disappearing from modern smartphones. If you’re lucky enough to have such a slot handy (and haven’t completely given yourself over to the cloud), Marshmallow allows you to format the card as internal storage so you can move apps and data that otherwise couldn’t have been routed to an external card. Word to the wise: If you do this, don’t panic at what you see. Marshmallow combines the storage counts into a single total (a feature called Flex Storage), but still offers a readout of how much room is available on both the internal and external memory.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow review: All about polish and power

Your phone will also warn you when the SD card you’re using is too slow to do much good –you’ll want the fastest microSD you can get your hands on, and even a 16GB microSD card with transfer speeds up to 48MB/s prompted a stern warning. The best-case scenario is that you won’t notice a difference between the two forms of storage when you start installing apps and moving data, but that’s going to hinge largely on the kind of card you’re working with. And if all of this sounds like too much effort, you could always just pop in a microSD card and treat it as portable storage — that way, you can move files between devices without a headache. The coming of Marshmallow also means we’ve finally got a robust way to backup app data without the need for physical cards. It’s called — what else — Auto Backup, which occasionally shuttles most of a user’s app data into a dedicated corner of Google Drive that can easily be drawn upon again if you’re reinstalling an app you’ve deleted. Oh, and in case you were worried, none of the space taken up by those backups count against your existing Google Drive quota.

Wrap-up

Android 6.0 Marshmallow review: All about polish and power

Marshmallow might not be the sort of dramatic leap forward we’d expect from Android 6.0, but let’s not dwell on the number. What we’ve got here is an update that takes most of what was great about Lollipop, axed what didn’t work (here’s looking at you, convoluted volume controls) and added features we didn’t even know we wanted. Sure, not everything has been executed perfectly, but the net value of features like Now on Tap, improved permissions, Flex Storage and others more than make up for occasional bits of flakiness. Android has never felt more complete — now (if you’ll pardon the pun) it’s on manufacturers to make sure everyone gets a taste soon.

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Xbox One Elite controller review: a better gamepad at a steep price

Xbox One Elite controller review: a better gamepad at a steep price

Is a gamepad worth $150? That’s the question Microsoft is asking with the Xbox One Elite controller, a revamp of its almost two-year-old paddle that shipped with the Xbox One. The company isn’t targeting this as a device for the mainstream, though. Rather, the Elite is instead for highly competitive gamers — the type that’d mod their controllers with third-party accessories for greater precision. The customization it offers comes at a steep price, costing over twice as much as the standard $60 controller.

Why should you care? Because the vanilla Xbox One controller feels like a cheap knock-off of the vaunted Xbox 360 pad that came before it. Microsoft said it spent over $100 million designing it, considering smell-o-vision and even a built-in projector for the gamepad, only to wind up with a mostly inferior clone. It has too many sharp edges, feels incredibly hollow and seems, well, cheap. Honestly, one of the biggest reasons I don’t play my Xbox One much as my PlayStation 4 is because I prefer the latter’s DualShock 4 controller. Keep all that in mind when you consider the following statement: I’ve been using the Elite controller for almost a week and I haven’t wanted to put it down; this is the Xbox One gamepad we should’ve had from the outset.


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Microsoft

Xbox One Elite wireless controller

Pros

  • Feels great in-hand; very grippy finish throughout
  • Loads of customization options
  • Mature, understated design
  • Improves on the standard Xbox One gamepad in every way
  • Bumper buttons are finally, actually usable

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Levers and faceted d-pad don’t feel secure
  • Feels heavy at first
  • Clamshell case doesn’t keep everything in place
  • Customization options could be overwhelming for some

Summary

The Elite controller is the best Xbox gamepad Microsoft has ever made, but it doesn’t come cheap. At $150, your best bet is waiting for a price drop or a bundle deal unless you’re dead-set on getting a leg up against folks online. 

Hardware

Xbox One Elite controller review: a better gamepad at a steep price

Out of the box, the Elite looks like a superficial upgrade. Aside from the 3.5mm headphone jack up front and the new slider control underneath and equidistant from the Menu and Options buttons, you’d be forgiven for confusing the Elite pad with the standard one. It’s when you start futzing around with the different thumbstick options or snapping metal levers into the underside that the gamepad starts looking unique.

The Elite comes with a clamshell case that has a molded space for the controller, a cargo pouch for spare earbuds, batteries and the pack-in, braided micro-USB cable (a requirement for most tournaments) that will tether the pad to a console. There’s also a molded rubber holder that keeps the four control levers, two sets of thumbsticks and spare directional pad in place. The idea behind the latter is that it’ll keep your extra parts secure during travel so they don’t fall out after unzipping the case. In practice, everything stayed in place for me aside from the faceted directional pad — its section is too loose to keep that from bouncing around. On the flip side, the cross-style option fit incredibly snugly.

The first thing I noticed when I picked up the controller to pair it with my console was how heavy it was compared to the standard gamepad. Microsoft says that with all four levers attached, a pair of included Duracell AAs and standard thumbsticks, the Elite weighs 348 grams, give or take 15. That’s 12.3 ounces compared to its predecessor’s 9.9 ounces. Honestly, though, the only time I noticed was when I picked it up since more often than not, when I’m gaming, my hands rest in my lap.

That heft likely comes from the Elite’s revamped innards. The thumbsticks feel incredibly springy and precise, thanks to their metal construction. I’ve never been a fan of the sticks on the Xbox One pad. They’ve always felt rough and just weren’t comfortable to me. With the Elite, I had the option of choosing among three different sets (standard, tall and a pair of convex heads) and changing them on the fly, but most of the time I was perfectly happy with the standard set. All are incredibly comfortable, though, and have the same premium feel as the rest of the controller.

Customization station

Xbox One Elite controller review: a better gamepad at a steep price

Depending on the game, I opted for different configurations. For Halo 5: Guardians, I stuck a standard stick on the left and one of the twice-as-tall options on the right. With Forza Motorsport 6, I reversed that. Why? With shooters, the extra height gave me more leverage and ensured I wouldn’t hit a face button by accident while aiming my assault rifle at my quarry. In a racing game, the added height made steering a lot easier.

Not only have the thumbsticks gotten an overhaul, but also the pots they sit in did too. Microsoft added a low-friction ring to where the stick makes contact with the faceplate and the result is pretty dramatic. Movement just feels smoother because the metal shafts glide effortlessly around when you’re pushing them toward the edges. It makes using the controller a bit quieter, too.

The sync button’s now sharing a lime green hue with the d-pad socket, hair-trigger locks and contact points for the control levers. What are those? Metal pieces between an inch and an inch and a half long that act as secondary inputs for any button on the controller. There are four total (two angled, two straight) and you can arrange them in a number of different ways, some correct and others less so. It’s possible, for example, to arrange them in a way where they’ll overlap. Like the rest of the custom options, these hold in place magnetically and if you’d rather not use them, that’s entirely up to you.

Xbox One Elite controller review: a better gamepad at a steep price

One of my biggest complaints about the standard controller is how stiff the right and left shoulder buttons are. They have an incredibly narrow sweet spot to register a depression and using them has always felt really hit or miss to me, with the innermost edge being damn near impossible to press in. With the Elite, that gripe’s been eliminated. Here, they’re a little easier to press at their outermost edges, but even at the opposite end (where the actuators reside) it takes dramatically less effort and is more even all the way across. Both the shoulder buttons and the triggers below feature a matte silver finish versus the standard’s slippery black gloss, and the latter’s throw is about 3/16 of an inch shorter. And rather than the standard triggers’ squishy feel, these make a firm click when you bottom out.

The battery tray is in the same place as before, but now it has markers indicating what position the hair-trigger locks are in. Immediately on either side are the recessed metal knobs that take the analog triggers and dramatically reduce the distance you need to pull before your on-screen gun fires.

I couldn’t find a use for the faceted d-pad during my review, but supposedly it’s better for pulling combos in fighting games. As a button masher (rest assured I’m not quitting my day job for eSports) it felt like the magnet was barely able to hold the concave piece of metal in place. Sure, it looks cool, but once I installed the metallic cross d-pad, I never took it out. The A, B, X and Y buttons changed from green, red, blue and yellow, respectively, to all black. And the aforementioned standard headphone jack rests off to the side of where the previously required headset adapter did on the standard controller, while a legacy connection for purpose-built headsets like the Astro A40 Xbox One Edition sits next to it. It’s a smart move because it doesn’t alienate anyone who bought a specific headset previously.

To me, the standard controller has always felt like a prototype rather than a final product — with its rough edges and other questionable design choices. That isn’t the case here. The Elite features a soft rubber finish on a majority of its surface, with a more aggressive diamond-pattern grip where your palms rest underneath. The DualShock 4 has a textured underside too, but it can’t hold a candle to this. For example, sliding the Elite across the glass desk in my home office proved pretty difficult. I might as well have been dragging a pencil eraser across it. Even after a four-hour Halo 5 session, the controller didn’t feel like it’d slip out of my moist palms.

The app

Xbox One Elite controller review: a better gamepad at a steep price

The customization options don’t stop with the hardware — there’s an app that gives you the chance to completely rebind every button’s function (aside from Menu and Options) to a different one. Want the digital shoulder buttons to perform the trigger duties? I can’t recommend that, but go right ahead. How about adjusting the A, B, X and Y buttons so they mimic Nintendo’s non-standard layout? Have at it. Effectively, this gives you complete control of how your gamepad works, without being subject to the tyranny of pre-defined control schemes on a game-by-game basis.

Beyond that there’s a raft of other custom settings. The new slider button allows for swapping between two onboard control schemes, but you can create and save as many as you want to your system profile and access them from anywhere with an internet connection. There are independent adjustments for thumbstick sensitivity (slow start, fast start, instant, default) that govern how much distance the sticks need to travel before in-game movement registers. An option for adjusting trigger sensitivity and dead-zone is here too. Also, if you’ve ever wanted to turn down the haptic feedback, or turn it off completely, there’s an option for that as well. Really, all that’s missing is the ability to turn the guide button’s light off completely and the option to permanently invert the right stick’s Y-axis. The latter’s especially puzzling considering you can swap left and right thumbstick assignments (so movement maps to the right stick and aiming goes to the left) within the app.

In use

Xbox One Elite controller review: a better gamepad at a steep price

Let’s say you’re like me and are incredibly overwhelmed by the complexity of remapping every button on the controller. That’s where game developer-made presets come into play. There are only a handful available right now and they’re all for first-party games like Halo, Forza 6 and Gears of War, but Microsoft promises more are en route for Star Wars: Battlefront III and Call of Duty: Black Ops III. The Halo 5 preset tailored to campaign mode, for instance, liberates squad commands and waypoint location from their cumbersome position on the d-pad to the control levers. Reaching down to the d-pad to tell Team Osiris to attack an enemy is awkward, but assigning that task to the levers makes perfect sense because it’s always within reach.

More dramatic is the difference the levers make in Forza 6, where they serve as paddle shifters and a clutch for manual transmissions. They’re really useful; I’ve never been comfortable using a stick shift with a gamepad, but since I don’t have the space in my apartment, a racing wheel isn’t feasible. That isn’t the case anymore. But, having all four levers in place (manual requires two; manual with clutch doubles that) clutters things up a bit. Anytime I put all four on regardless of the game, I ran the risk of accidentally pressing a few simultaneously. What’s more, of everything on the controller, the levers feel most likely to fall off while playing because the magnets don’t seem as strong as elsewhere on the gamepad.

The previous controller’s battery life is incredible, and after roughly 15 hours during my review, the fresh set of standard AAs had only worn down to 75 percent capacity. I have no doubt that the Elite will match or best its forebearer’s battery lifespan, especially considering the options for adjusting haptic motor intensity.

Wrap-up

Xbox One Elite controller review: a better gamepad at a steep price

Again, is all of this worth $150? That answer depends on how much and what you play on Xbox One — regardless of your pro-gaming aspirations. Even disregarding the hardware customization options, there are considerable improvements. Were the Elite a $30 premium over the standard controller instead of $90, my recommendation would be a lot easier. Instead I’m hesitant: One of the controllers will set you back almost half of what the console you’d use it with costs. Sure, the Elite doesn’t feel like a cheap toy, but everyone else might want to hold out for a price drop considering that the customization app is coming for the standard controller too, and the rubber handgrips I’m so fond of exist on another official gamepad. If you’ve been waiting to buy an Xbox One, go for the upcoming Elite bundle that packs the controller and a console sporting a 1TB hybrid drive for $499 because for now the controller’s price is too hard to justify on its own.

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‘Steve Jobs’ isn’t totally accurate, and that’s okay

'Steve Jobs' isn't totally accurate, and that's okay

Steve Jobs isn’t your typical biopic. That’s something we explored in our interview with its director, Danny Boyle, and writer, Aaron Sorkin. It’s more like a play set in three acts, each of which occurs right before a major product debut. And yet, it’s hard not to approach it as a biographical film — Jobs’ name is right there in the title; what else would you expect? So, it’s not too surprising to see the film being dismissed among some techies because it isn’t 100 percent accurate. Jobs didn’t really have life-changing conversations with his friends and family before these product announcements! Joanna Hoffman wasn’t even working at Apple when he launched the iMac! These are all facts worth bringing up — but focusing on those inaccuracies also misses the bigger picture.

Art doesn’t have to be accurate

Not to put Sorkin on too high a pedestal, but what he’s doing with Steve Jobs is no different than what William Shakespeare did with his many “historical plays.” Julius Caesar, for example was based on Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans — a series of biographies. Shakespeare condensed action to make things more dramatic, introduced characters that never existed and basically constructed the entire play around his dramatic vision. Similarly, Steve Jobs is a film that uses elements of Walter Isaacson’s biography, but takes plenty of liberties to tell a story about a genius and his contentious relationships with his daughter and the people around him.

Really, it’s hard not to see Jobs as a Shakespearean character in the film. He’s a man with a singular vision of how computing will change the world, and the willpower to make it happen. And yet he’s not able to admit that Lisa Brennan-Jobs is actually his daughter, even though a paternity test made that indisputable. How do you reconcile those two sides of his personality? You can do that by exploring the facts, as documentarian Alex Gibney did with Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine. Or you can show how Jobs matures from a hotheaded guy that’s too smart for his own good, to someone a bit older and a bit wiser, as Sorkin and Boyle did.

Michael Fassbender’s casting also makes sense — he doesn’t really look like Jobs at all, but that’s also a reminder of the artifice of the film. We know we’re not really looking at someone trying to be Jobs; we’re instead exploring the idea of Jobs.

'Steve Jobs' isn't totally accurate, and that's okay

There’s plenty of truth in the film

On top of using Isaacson’s biography, which was approved by Jobs (even though it didn’t always paint him in the best light), Sorkin also talked with most of the people featured in the film. That includes former Apple CEO John Sculley, who’s most famous for firing Jobs (and who has worked hard to stay out of the limelight for the past few decades); and Joanna Hoffman, the marketing executive who was a part of the original Macintosh team and was among the closest people to Jobs. And of course, Steve Wozniak had plenty to say, as well. The lead actors also had a chance to meet their real-life counterparts, which added a bit more nuance to their roles.

All of that context grounds the relationships in the film, even if the film itself presents a bit of a heightened reality. Sculley, for example, is seen as a father-figure for Jobs, which makes his ultimate betrayal all the more heartbreaking (even though Jobs basically forced his hand). Hoffman, meanwhile, is Jobs’ rock. When she pushes for him to accept Brennan-Jobs as his own, you can feel the weight of years of friendship behind it. Wozniak and former Mac engineer Andy Hertzfeld end up serving as moral foils. Woz wants Jobs to acknowledge the employees he’s trampled on, and Hertzfeld serves as a sort of surrogate father to Brennan-Jobs when she needs help the most.

Lisa Brennan-Jobs actually participated in the film

Jobs’ eldest daughter, Brennan-Jobs (her name was changed when she was nine), also agreed to talk with Sorkin about the film. That’s particularly surprising because she didn’t even talk to Isaacson for Jobs’ official biography. As Sorkin tells it, their conversation allowed him to see the humanity behind a man who refused to accept his child.

“I’ll be honest, it was very difficult for me to initially get past Steve’s treatment of his daughter,” he said in our interview. “I thought … the story kind of stops there for me. I don’t care what’s past that. I never said that to Lisa, but Lisa helped me past that. She would tell stories about her father that weren’t necessarily the most flattering stories, but she would always, at the end of it, kind of point and say, ‘See? He really loved me because of this.’ And that was very helpful.”

Though plenty has been written about Jobs over the years, Brennan-Jobs’ experience hasn’t really factored into much of that. It’s refreshing to see her perspective as part of a Steve Jobs story, for once, even if it isn’t completely true to life.

[Photo credits: Universal Pictures]

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Why Dyson’s pricey robot vacuum is late for its Japanese debut

Why Dyson's pricey robot vacuum is late for its Japanese debut

We warned that Dyson’s first robot vacuum was going to put all that cyclone technology to use on your wallet’s contents and we weren’t wrong. After a hefty half-year delay, the 360 Eye robot vacuum goes on sale in Japan today priced at 138,000 yen — before tax! That’s around $1,150. Cutting-edge robot house cleaners that take care of themselves apparently demand high salaries (just ask Rosie). Dyson’s 360 Eye has undergone a handful of minor changes, both in the hardware and software, to prepare it for its first customers: the Japanese. My biggest takeaway? Dyson thinks the 360 Eye knows its way around cleaning a room even better than you, you big ole’ irrational human.

Sir James Dyson already explained how the 360 Eye works, but earlier this week we talked to the company’s Senior Robotics Engineer, Mike Aldred. He’s been working with robotics at Dyson for a while (including the DC06, the robot vacuum that never made it to stores), so there’s likely no-one better placed to explain what caused the robot vacuum’s debut to be delayed so much.

During beta testing in Japanese homes, the company realized the 360 Eye wasn’t ready for the posited Spring retail date. Feedback from users indicated some specific problems that the engineers hadn’t thought of: in Japanese homes most have a tiny lowered entrance, the “genkan”, which is roughly 50mm lower than the rest of the house. The 360 Eye had troubles adjusting to this feature, so the company had to reprogram how the robot saw the space. “We can’t just set a height.. We still need to go up and down things [like carpets, rugs]. So we went back to the height handling systems.” explains Aldred.

Does Dyson’s robot chew up cables? It’s designed (in a few ways) not to.

I own a Roomba robot vacuum here in Japan, and while I like the extra degree of laziness it adds to my life, there’s one crime I can’t forgive of it: its incessant hunger for cables. Does Dyson’s robot chew up cables? It shouldn’t, a it’s specifically designed not to. Dyson made the base of the machine is particularly smooth, and put the cleaning bar (aside from the bristles) flush along the base to spare cable a grisly end. It’s not perfect: the senior engineer adds that while the 360 Eye should easily run over cables and wires laid flat, any kink or loop could get drawn in. He added this was something they discovered in very early testing, especially stereo wires. In the retail model, the team had to adjust the guards on the caterpillar tread wheels which would sometimes catch on wires.

Why Dyson's pricey robot vacuum is late for its Japanese debut

The company also offered a closer look at the companion app (you’ll be able to schedule the machine to clean, or interrupt it while it works, if you want to). The app also shows you schematics for how the 360 cleaned last — an almost artistic, yet methodical spiral showing that the robot is getting everywhere it needs to. You might think you clean methodically and completely, but Dyson’s own research showed that humans are, well, only human: missing parts, cutting corners and repeating the same area multiple times. These maps, (stored after the vacuum cleans) tries to visually convey just that.

Why Dyson's pricey robot vacuum is late for its Japanese debut

While making changes to software is easy, it’s the hardware changes that take time. Your 360 Eye might not eat your cables, but making that happen is why we’re already in October. Dyson aims to become the global leader in cleaning robots with the 360 Eye — which Aldred calls” “a vacuum first, robot second.” The machine is set to launch in other countries in 2016: depending on what hurdles beta tests elsewhere might throw up.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2015/10/23/dyson-360-eye-price-delay/

The problem with ‘pumpkin spice’ security bugs

The problem with 'pumpkin spice' security bugs

Bad Password is a hacking and security column by Violet Blue. Every week she’ll be exploring the trendy new cyberhysteria, the state of the infosec community and the ever-eroding thing that used to be called “privacy.” Bad Password cuts through the greed, fear mongering and jargon with expertise, a friendly voice and a little levelheaded perspective.

When asked, “Why give a vulnerability a website, logo and brand image?” many infosec professionals will confidently answer that flamboyant bugs raise awareness toward fixes. Fixing and patching, we’re led to believe, is almost as fun as a trip to the dentist. Which is true. Heartbleed, Shellshock, Stagefright, Sandworm, Rootpipe, Winshock and the truly terror-inducing nom-de-sploit POODLE are not, in fact, a list of situational phobias. These were named with intent to become PR markers — although looking at the way some of these vulns (vulnerabilities) got their names and brands, it seems like the focus was more on the credit for naming them, rather than the actual usefulness of trying to “pumpkin spice” a bug.

The problem is, it’s widely understood that a seasonally branded latte is a simple sugary gimmick that the public finds both irresistible and strangely offensive. Heartbleed — birth name CVE-2014-0160 — was the first seriously branded bug. It was not the worst of all those other names I rattled off in the previous paragraph. It was also not in any way widely understood. While everyone heard of it, few outside infosec could really explain what it was. Mostly, the media didn’t really know what Heartbleed was either, but its logo was on major news outlets spanning local to global in a matter of days after the bug’s… launch

Heartbleed was branded like an overpriced startup on purpose, and its branding was as divisive within infosec communities as pumpkin pie spice Pringles are to normal people. Many information security professionals were above-normal suspicious about the intentions behind giving the vuln a branding package and website before most affected companies had even heard of it. And for infosec, where paranoia is more than just a way of life, that’s saying something. The CEO of Codenomicon, Heartbleed’s branding origin, told The Guardian, “I think that the fact that it had a name, had a catchy logo that people remember, really helped fuel the speed with which people became aware of this.”

This being true, then so was the inverse: Heartbleed’s viral branding most likely helped fuel the speed in which attackers learned about it, too. Heartbleed attacks appeared within days.

My first trip down the infosec rabbit hole of naming conventions came from endpoint security firm CrowdStrike’s 2014 Global Threat Intel Report. I had pitched a piece on the report for an enterprise security news outlet, and it seemed like a really good idea at the time. The report was my first real experience with the practice of information security companies “discovering” things that were already there, and naming each discovery to assert ownership — the infosec version of manifest destiny, but as I was about to discover, way weirder.

No one had warned me that CrowdStrike named its discoveries, in this instance, criminal attack groups, in such a manic way as to suggest someone there is desperately trying to fight the advance of Alzheimer’s. Or perhaps they just have better drug connections than me. Possibly both. I found myself totally freaked out by Goblin Panda, CrowdStrike’s name for a cyberattack group primarily targeting Vietnam. The visuals I got from seeing Vixen Panda and Deep Panda’s names together put me on an internet porn fast for about a week. Predator Panda was surely going to hunt me for sport in the jungles of Guatemala. Pale Panda may have appeared in a nightmare after reading the report, telling me to put the lotion on its skin. Keyhole Panda didn’t help my standard level of hacker-grade paranoia.

All of these names had me wondering if someone somewhere wasn’t telegraphing a tortured cry for help from the same basement (painted over to hide the bloodstains) in which seasonally branded lattes are created.

I didn’t end up filing my analysis of the CrowdStrike report, and I never got behind all the reporting on Heartbleed. It all felt too much like I’d be selling some company’s product. And I worried that the cutesy, bizarre little names are only raising public awareness of my infosec colleagues’ prurient interest in its situational phobias. I mean, what kind of anxious pervert names a privilege escalation “Rootpipe”?

[Image credit: JeepersMedia/Flickr]

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2015/10/22/the-problem-with-pumpkin-spice-security-bugs/

Time Warner Cable will test internet-only TV in NYC next week

Time Warner Cable will test internet-only TV in NYC next week

If you want cable TV without the cable box, Time Warner Cable may have something for you soon. Reliable sources tell Engadget that starting Monday, Time Warner Cable will beta test a TV service for its internet-only customers living in New York City. Similar to Sky’s Now TV in the UK, while it will support a number of hardware platforms, the plan is to focus on streaming TV through Roku’s set-top boxes, and any participants will get a Roku 3 for free. On top of their internet service, customers can pick up a “Starter” TV package for an extra $10 per month. Another option that adds Showtime and Starz will be available for $20 per month, and for those who want all the usual channels, just without a cable box, a Standard option with Showtime and Starz costs $50 per month.

Customers who either never sign up for cable TV service or who are ditching cable TV for the internet are definitely an issue for every company in the industry, and TWC’s internal documents show this pilot is an attempt to reach just those people. If you already have, or want, their internet service, you can get TV without needing a technician to bring out a box or paying a rental fee, and easily cancel the same way. What you’re missing are any DVR features, and stuff like StartOver, although video on-demand is available. One thing that’s different from the Sky TV setup is that even with the provided Roku 3 box, you can still use any other internet apps (Netflix, Hulu etc.) you want.

From what it sounds like, this will all be very similar to the TWC TV experience cable TV subscribers already get, just without signing up for “cable.” That’s been up and running for several years, and that it’s going over TWC’s own network may prevent some of the glitches seen with others like Sling TV. Customers can stream to up to 4 devices, with support ready for the TWC TV apps currently available for Xbox One/Xbox 360, Android, iOS, Fan TV, Kindle Fire and Samsung’s Smart TVs. TWC TV is meant for use inside the subscriber’s home, although some video on-demand and live TV is still available over any WiFi connection.

Comcast recently launched its internet service Stream, and Dish Network is behind Sling TV. Even as it’s being acquired by Charter, Time Warner cable is rolling out an internet-only product just as the Apple TV hits shelves — curious given past rumors. So if you’re a cord-cutter with access to Time Warner cable’s internet, could the ability to use your own box for TV bring you back?

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2015/10/23/time-warner-cable-internet-tv-beta-roku/

Sky’s new Now TV box is full HD compatible after all

Sky's new Now TV box is full HD compatible after all

Sky’s second-generation Now TV box goes on sale tomorrow, and the company’s just been in touch to say it made a bit of a boo-boo on yesterday’s announcement. You see, the new Now TV box is basically a rebranded Roku 3, and since that device supports full HD, 1080p streaming, we assumed Sky’s reskinned version would too. We were told yesterday, however, that Sky’s model was slightly different, in that it can only output at 720p like the first-gen Now TV box. As it turns out, this isn’t true: the new Now TV box does support 1080p, but Sky content will continue to stream at a maximum resolution of 720p. Also, there are “no immediate plans” to make the jump to full HD, as Sky would rather not hinge the user experience on the speed of your internet connection. By coming clean about its mistake, Sky’s actually made the £15 streaming puck a more attractive purchase. You can use the little set-top box to stream from plenty of content sources that aren’t the Now TV app, so where available, you’ll now be able to do so in glorious full HD.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2015/08/05/sky-now-tv-full-hd/

Roku 3 review: our favorite media streamer, and the simplest to use, too

Roku 3 review: our favorite media streamer, and the simplest to use, too

Roku’s media streamers have carved out a notable niche for themselves, with what started out as a Netflix box, but quickly grew to include hundreds of other entertainment options. Whatever they’ve lacked in style, they’ve always made up for with an easy-to-navigate menu and remote, not to mention low prices. In fact, they’ve become our default recommendation in the media streamer category, and now the company is back with its third iteration.

Its approach hasn’t changed: the Roku 3 is still a simple $99 box that brings internet content including video, some simple apps and even games to your TV. But this one is touted as the most powerful Roku ever, and the team behind it has even dared to tweak that boring, but simple menu system. There have always been some rough edges that needed polishing, along with holes in its offerings — join us to see if it’s good enough to be the best.%Gallery-184294%


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Roku 3

Pros

  • New UI is a welcome improvement
  • Upgraded CPU eliminates performance issues
  • Simple, capable and relatively cheap

Cons

  • Still no official YouTube or DLNA support
  • No analog AV output

Summary

The Roku 3 keeps everything that’s made the brand successful and ushers in some welcome improvements, all without boosting the price or ruining the simple setup.

Hardware

Roku 3 review: our favorite media streamer, and the simplest to use, too

The Roku 3’s design is but a small departure from the miniature hockey puck that preceded it.

The Roku 3’s design is but a small departure from the miniature hockey puck that preceded it, with a shape that bulges and flows with fewer sharp edges. It’s still all black with just a small purple tag and painted-on “Roku 3″ label — something you probably won’t see again once it’s hidden away within your entertainment center. The grippy material on the bottom covers less area than the Roku 2’s, but thanks to a slightly heavier weight, it seems to hold its placement better, where the 2 would occasionally fall victim to dangling HDMI cables and the like.

One element is missing this time around: the breakout port that provided support for analog video on the Roku 2 XS has disappeared. If you’re living an all-HDMI lifestyle, you’ll probably never notice, but owners of older TV or visitors to such forgotten hideaways should prepare for disappointment. The SD card and USB ports remain, however the power adapter has changed slightly from the previous gen — it looks the same, but it won’t plug into older models and vice versa. The new Roku is packing dual antennas inside and we didn’t have any problems connecting to home or hotel networks in our testing, although we’d never had a problem picking up a signal on the old box either. There’s also an upgraded CPU, but without detailed performance specs, we’ll consider it later by judging how the software runs.

The remote is how many users will interact with their Roku, and thankfully that remains largely unchanged. The switch to WiFi Direct for communication with the box, plus a headphone-out and small volume control buttons, have not noticeably affected the size, shape or feel. That’s good news for existing users, who won’t have to relearn anything, and its dreadfully simple setup is easy to pick up for newbies. The d-pad is responsive when navigating through menus, and the back and home buttons still function as consistently as ever within the apps. One thing that might be nice would be the ability to control the TV’s volume with those side-mounted buttons, just to cut down on any potential remote swapping. The Roku 3 still supports IR control too, so if placed correctly, your universal remote will take over without a pause. Unfortunately, there’s currently no support for HDMI-CEC control for features similar to those found on the Roku Stick.

As far as the new audio-streaming capability, we didn’t have any problems listening to Netflix, Hulu or Amazon with headphones plugged into the remote’s jack. The stereo sound was clear to our ears, however we suspect you’d be well-served by tossing the bundled earbuds and using any others you may have lying around. We tried running the batteries down, but despite 20-plus hours of headphone-equipped streaming plus additional regular use, we’re still on the original set of AAs with no low-battery indicator in sight.

Software

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While the Roku 3 features hardware improvements both inside and out, its software has received the most TLC this time around. Users will immediately notice a difference in the UI: instead of the old horizontal layout, there’s now a grid of icons, which has greatly increased the amount of information on-screen at any given time. Roku has taken a page out of the classic gaming console’s book and it shows — like the evolving experiences on (most notably) the Xbox 360 and the PS3, the new screens also include a healthy amount of promo space for additional channels and / or content. Still, the navigation is simple and the ad / promoted space is far enough out of the way that we don’t anticipate it bothering users. Overall, the change works as intended, offering quicker access to the channels you already know you want and bringing to light channels most users may not even know exist from its catalog of 750-plus.

The apps themselves have remained the same for now, although a number of the more recently released ones (Spotify, Amazon) have been chugging noticeably on the Roku 2. There’s no hint of that here, with the upgraded CPU capably handling each option we tried. One minor annoyance remains: not every channel has the same features. For example, pressing down on the d-pad doesn’t always reveal picture quality or time left information. In our limited testing with Plex, the app loaded much more quickly and began streaming videos faster. Video performance seems to be the same between the newer and older units, while forum posters report the Roku 3 could more capably handle their streaming 1080p MKVs, though YMMV. One other addition is the opportunity to change the UI with different themes. It’s not a major change, but we tried out a few and found them pleasant enough, without any that negatively affected the experience.

Users will immediately notice a difference in the UI.

Still fresh on the software front is a feature that actually debuted late last year — Roku’s cross-provider search. While other devices (TiVo, Xbox 360) and services (Flixster, TV.com) offer similar functionality, Roku’s implementation comes out on top, especially with the upgraded hardware. If you’re really trying to find a particular movie, particular actor, et cetera, one of the included services will have it and you can reliably and quickly find them, especially if you’re using the iOS or Android mobile apps for a keyboard. Of course, limited selections on subscription video services mean most of what you’ll dig up will cost more money to stream, assuming it’s available online at all. That said, Roku’s wide coverage of services and lack of a monthly service fee make it an ideal solution.

Regarding those mobile apps, we didn’t notice any substantial updates. And that about sums up our thoughts on the software changes — that they don’t go far enough. If you were expecting significantly expanded support for different file formats / codecs, it’s not here; the list of new channels is (for the moment) limited and even the updated UI will appear on older boxes within the next few weeks. We’ve seen Roku continue to mold its players via updates and we expect no different from this one, but today, the difference in experience from 2 to 3 doesn’t feel like a generational leap.

We’d like to see Roku do more to become an entertainment hub / extender with cloud-based games or more apps that tie into pay-TV services like Comcast or DirecTV. It’s already made strides in that direction with channels like TWC TV and HBO Go, plus a few games / apps, and it feels like the platform has a considerable amount of headroom going forward. It’s greedy, sure, but many with a Roku can envision a future where it’s the only box connected to their TVs, and the software hasn’t quite brought it there yet.

The competition

Roku 3 review: our favorite media streamer, and the simplest to use, too

The Roku 3 replaces the Roku 2 XS, and unless you require an analog audio out, it’s an upgrade in every way.

Compared to other boxes in the segment, the Roku’s standing has stayed largely the same. If you’re looking for integration with Apple’s iLife, the Apple TV with support for AirPlay streaming of music, video and games will consistently win out, despite fewer options for native apps. If you’d like to bring your own content to the box via a library of rips, downloads or otherwise, the WDTV Live family offers more consistent file / format support, network connectivity and a fleshed-out local player interface, however having a Plex client here helps to even the playing field. The Roku 3’s strengths aren’t exactly game changers (yet) but as a mostly platform-independent box that offers access to many of the media services you probably already use for a reasonable price, its place remains secure.

Some of the new Roku’s biggest competition for new buyers will come from its own predecessors. Currently, the Roku 3 replaces the Roku 2 XS, and unless you require an analog audio out, it’s an upgrade in every way for the same price. The difference in the software experience will be easier to evaluate once the older boxes have been updated with the new menus — due next month — but the value proposition here, again, remains mostly the same. The $99 box offers several features you may never take advantage of over its lower-priced brethren (1080p, gaming remote), but, particularly with the processor difference, if you’re planning on using it for more than just a Netflix box, this is the only real option right now. We’ve already seen many apps require the Roku 2 and up, and future-proofing for whatever’s down the road is not so expensive that moving down the line makes a lot of sense.

For those who already own a Roku, this makes a worthwhile replacement if you’re ready to pass that box off to a friend or move it to another room. That said, we’d probably wait a bit longer to see exactly what software tweaks, upgrades and differences come out in the future. A faster, smoother-operating box and the remote control / headphone feature are nice to have, but not at $99.

Wrap-up

Roku 3 review: our favorite media streamer, and the simplest to use, too

Just like the Roku players before it, the Roku 3 is the easiest-to-recommend media streamer on the market. An appealing package of services, accessibility and price has gotten even better with this round of updates, and we expect it to keep improving over the coming months. YouTube continues to stand alone as the oddly shaped hole in Roku’s streaming-channel library, which can certainly be an issue when you’re searching for cat videos, but an abundance of premium content helps keep that issue hidden in the background most of the time.

Any failure of the Roku as the one true set-top box similarly fades when you look at its competition, all of which falter in one or more areas; whether DVR, game console, media player or HDMI-connected PC, they suffer from complicated UIs, subscription fees or high upfront prices that the Roku just doesn’t have. We just want to lean back and watch, and despite having room for improvement, the Roku 3 still does that cheaper, faster and better than the rest.


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Roku 3

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2013/04/03/dnp-roku-3-review/

Tesla’s Autopilot approved for international use

Tesla's Autopilot approved for international use

At the launch of its latest Autopilot features, Tesla CEO Elon Musk noted that it would roll out the new vehicle capabilities to nations outside the United States once it got regulatory approval. Today Musk tweeted that the company has gotten approval from all those countries (except Japan). Now Tesla owners around the world can enjoy the slightly unnerving feeling of letting their Model S drive itself on the highway. Musk also announced that Autopilot 1.01 would be coming soon with improved fleet learning, better lane tracking on poor roads, curved speed adoption and controller smoothness.

Regulatory approvals received, so Autopilot rolling out to all countries! (Excluding Japan, which is still under review)

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 23, 2015

Autopilot 1.01 coming soon: curve speed adaption, controller smoothness, better lane holding on poor roads, improved fleet learning!

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 23, 2015

Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving feature, Autosteer is still in the beta stage. Drivers are encouraged to keep their hands on the wheel while the car navigates the road and traffic. If the system gets confused or detects a section of road it can’t navigate it will inform the driver to take over driving duties.

Tesla's Autopilot approved for international use

The improved fleet learning shipping with the Autopilot update should help solve some of the issues the system has with roads with faded markers. As Model S drivers navigate over a problem portion of road, they are mapping it and their lane position.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2015/10/23/Tesla-autopilot-regulators/

Tesla takes the wheel: driving a Model S hands-free

Tesla takes the wheel: driving a Model S hands-free

Elon Musk isn’t happy just introducing an automobile and walking away to work on next year’s model. Instead his company continues to offer over-the-air upgrades to current vehicles. The latest software enhance is landing in its electric cars tomorrow with a slew of new autopilot features. They won’t drive you around town, but will make highway driving and parking a bit easier. While the new Autopark does exactly what you would expect, Autosteer is a bit more ambitious. With it, you’re supposed to be able to go for miles on the open road with it doing most of the heavy lifting. The car tracks lane markers and uses enhanced GPS data to keep the car from launching off into the median. I had a chance to drive a Tesla on the highway with its new ability — without using my hands — and it was outstanding, but also a bit weird.

Tesla takes the wheel: driving a Model S hands-free

The big feature, Autosteer, is less about autonomous driving; think of it as an advanced form of cruise control. For those looking forward to getting a robot car to drive them to work, Musk expects Tesla will have a fully autonomous vehicle ready to go in three years. In the meantime, this new autopilot feature will maintain the cruise control speed while keeping a safe distance between itself and the vehicle in front of it and stay in its lane. It’s a gradual step toward the future that’ll make commuting less of a pain.

Tesla takes the wheel: driving a Model S hands-free

After setting the mode in the car’s updated UI and double-tapping the cruise control arm, the car does the driving for you. It’s an eerily smooth transition. If the vehicle determines you’re not centered in a lane, it adjusts itself without jerking the vehicle. After that, I removed my hands from the wheel and the Model S tracked itself along Interstate 280 better than most of the other drivers on the road. It had no trouble with meandering corners. It kept a safe distance behind the car in front of it (something you can manually adjust if you would like more cushion). Adjusting the speed was a matter of flipping the cruise control arm: up to go faster and down to slow down. Meanwhile you just sit there. Because you’re hurtling down the freeway, you’re still paying attention, but it lowers the stress level a bit. If you’re stuck in traffic, it takes the pain out of the stop-and-go experience because it does it for you. You’ve gone from driver to driver/passenger. This is the first step to the pure passenger experience promised by truly autonomous cars.

While it is indeed cool, Musk stresses that this is a public beta of the feature and that drivers should keep their hands on the wheel at all time: “We want people to be quite careful,” he said. That warning becomes an audible alert in the vehicle when the lane markers become faded or another car slides into your lane. At that point, you’re reminded that, yeah you’re still the driver.

Tesla takes the wheel: driving a Model S hands-free

The entire Autosteer system is built around the vehicle’s confidence that what’s about to happen is safe. If the roadway is less than optimal, you can’t engage it. If while engaged, it detects something out of the ordinary, an audible and visual warning inform you to take control. If you ignore that, the warning gets more persistent and the system will eventually slow the car down and bring it to a complete stop.

That confidence spills over into the Auto Lane Change feature. While in Autosteer, I attempted to automatically move to the left lane. A vehicle was approaching at a rather quick pace on my left and the car wouldn’t complete the move on its own. At that point, it got a little too careful and wouldn’t automatically move itself into any lanes. After having the passenger turn the feature off and then back on again (just like a router, but speeding down the highway), I was switching lanes (when it was safe) without checking my blind spots or even grabbing the wheel. As someone who’s completely obsessed with safe driving, I found it unnerving letting the car take over like this. But with a quick brake tap or slight turn of the steering wheel, I was back in control.

Tesla takes the wheel: driving a Model S hands-free

While exiting the freeway, I was able to complete a few automatic lane changes, but when the car detected a vehicle that was behind and to the right of me, it again wouldn’t go on its own. I accelerated and pulled into the right lane as I would with any other car. The system errs on the side of caution without making you feel like you’re being coddled. Yes, it’ll be abused (get ready for more texting and driving), but even while driving down a surface street, it avoided a bus sticking out in the road.

But it’s not even close to infallible. Hence the repeated warnings from Musk during a briefing. It also has difficulty with sharp turns and inclement weather conditions like rain, snow and fog. Tesla is adamant that the feature is “hands on,” so you’re supposed to keep those mitts on the wheel. So don’t start updating Twitter while you’re supposed to be driving. Yet, it’ll get better as more and more Teslas drive in autopilot mode and feed road information back to the company’s highly detailed mapping system.

The update also brings enhanced versions of traffic-aware cruise control, side collision warning, vehicle hold (keeping the car rolling on inclines), Autopark and better climate control that cools or heats the interior quicker without using more energy. All of that is wrapped into a brand-new UI.

Tesla is still a few years away from getting us from point A to point B without our interaction. But in the meantime, it’s tackling the commute — the worst aspect of the driving experience — by letting its cars take the wheel. It’s a smart move and for anyone who regularly sits in a traffic, a welcome relief.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2015/10/14/Tesla-autosteer-drive/