Twitter removed the 140 character limit on direct messages Wednesday, with the first platforms to see the change being Android and iOS apps, twitter.com, TweetDeck, and Twitter for Mac. The company said it would roll it out elsewhere in the world over the coming weeks. Public tweets remain unchanged, and will still have the hard 140 character limit. You'll need to update to the newest version of the apps where applicable to take advantage of the new feature.
Check out the Screwdriver - MINI +|- on Kickstarter. This is a screwdriver with a changeable head that's small enough to put on a keychain. Plus, it has a bottle opener, so giddy up. The version shown below was printed from a 3D printer and is a prototype. The final product will be made of a zinc alloy with a chrome finish on the body. I love clever gadgets, and as someone who has wished he had a screwdriver on him countless times, I think this is cool. Funding options are simple: $15 gets your two of these devices when they ship. They're only looking to raise $5,000, too. Check it out.
The media viewing and management app Plex is out with a new iPhone and iPad update that adds in some cool new features like the ability to check Rotten Tomatoes ratings, search for similar movies, and hunt for movies with the same actors or director. The app beefed up its sync functionality, can read chapter data from your videos and look up info at the ChapterDb website. It also has a fresh new interface, and you can pick it up for free as a remote and media transfer tool. Full functionality is available through an in-app purchase, or just log into your Plex account.
Standard home and business electrical outlets are just not designed for the modern smartphone and tablet user. But the thingCHARGER, a very successful Indiegogo project, changes all that. It fits nicely over a standard double outlet and features an interchangeable connector on the top (including Apple's Lightning) plus two standard USB outlets on the bottom. Inside are stored the interchangeable plugs, and you have options there at purchase. You can buy one for US$39.90 or buy a 4-pack or 7-pack and save money. This looks like one of those very cool, 'gotta have' home accessories. The video tells all.
With all the different cables and power adapters we use these days, it's likely they all end up mixed together in a box. What a rat's nest it can be. But the Cable Hive (Kickstarter) aims to help you organize all those cables in a simple, modular system. From the developer: "The 330 x 330 x 220 mm crate comes with either a 39 hexagonal compartment core, suitably sized for most consumer computer style cables. Or alternatively a larger core size with 20 hex compartments, for the musicians needing to organise their longer and thicker guitar, microphone or other audio leads." Pledges start at US$44, and first deliveries are expected in December. This is just what you'd expect to see in Lt. Commander Data's quarters.
Microsoft released a cool app for the iPhone and Apple Watch on Thursday that automatically translates between 50 languages. What makes Microsoft Translator so cool is that you talk to it, and it converts what you say into whatever language you need. In essence, it's like your own personal Babel Fish or Star Trek universal translator. You can speak into your Apple Watch to convert what you say into different languages, and it it's too loud to play back the translation you can show the written version that appears on your iPhone or Apple Watch screen. Even better, it's free. You can pick up Microsoft Translator at Apple's iTunes-based App Store.
Remember that Lexus hoverboard the company teased back in June? Though many (of you) scoffed and called that video a bit of CGI, it turns out to be real! Lexus released a new video (below) showing the device/gadget/wonder being ridden at the specially constructed skateboard part created just for this. As we suspected back in June, the device is a super-cooled superconductor floating on a magnetic field. The skateboard park was constructed with a layer of metal underneath it to create that field. The video is killer, and Lexus gets heaps of kudos for developing this project. Highlights include a pool of very shallow water and some rides up and across a wall.
But wait, there's more! Lexus also released a behind-the-scenes video showing the development process of this project. It took more than a year, and it's just as cool to watch as the video above.
The nice folks at Inateck sent me their waterproof MercuryBox Aluminum Bluetooth 4.0 Speaker to play with a few weeks ago. The first thing I did was drop it in the hot tub for a minute to test its waterproof-ness, which didn't hurt it a bit. Its sound quality is surprising for such as small speaker, and the solid aluminum case should stand up to abuse. While I'm not sure I'd recommend it at $129.99, Amazon currently has it for $46.99, which is a bargain. For the record, here are its specs: Dual 5-watt precision-tuned drivers; IPX5 water resistant speaker; 1800mAh rechargeable Lithium Ion battery for up to 15 hours of play time; built-in high sensitivity Microphone for hands-free telephone calls; compatible with all Bluetooth-enabled devices and non-Bluetooth devices via 3.5mm audio cable.
Taylor Swift is featured in the September issue of Vanity Fair in a cover piece titled, "Taylor Swift Reveals How She Stood Up to Apple." In it, she revelaled that she was scared of a backlash against the open letter she wrote ciriticizing Apple for not paying royalties to music streamerd during an Apple Music trial period, and surprised at the warm reaction it received. My favorite line was, "Apple treated me like I was a voice of a creative community that they actually cared about. And I found it really ironic that the multi-billion-dollar company reacted to criticism with humility, and the start-up with no cash flow [Spotify] reacted to criticism like a corporate machine." It's a good read.
Apple's licensing deals with the music labels allow the company to launch additional Beats stations whenever it wants. Citing unnamed sourced, The Verge reported that Apple has the power to launch new stations—thinks Beats 2, Beats 3, Beats Reggae, or even Beats Death Metal—without having to renegotiate. Beats 1 is Apple's radio-station-format show that is live around the world for 12 hours per day, and then repeated for the other 12 hours. It has been highly praised, and may well be the most-liked feature of Apple Music, which was rolled out in late June. Even the record labels are pleased, according to The Verge's sources.
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