Computers

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Smart watches, TVs and cars featured prominently on Wednesday as Google laid out its plans for pushing its Android smartphone software into new fields. At its annual I/O developer event in San Francisco, “wearables” had pride of place, with news that the first smartwatches based on Android Wear are now on sale – before Apple unveils its much-anticipated iWatch. With Android TV and Android Auto, on the other hand, Google was playing catch up with Apple. The event pointed to how the battle for the next big tech markets beyond the smartphone will be fought. Richard Waters and Tim Bradshaw were at the Moscone Center for this round. 

Software may be “eating the world”, in the words of venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, but should some software be given the same moral status as animals or even humans?

In a new paper, Anders Sandberg, a research fellow at Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, takes the reader on a whistle-stop tour of the various moral quandaries that may be raised by “brain emulations” – hypothetical software that can replicate the function and structure of a whole animal or human brain. Read more

Paul Taylor

How best to judge Microsoft’s next-generation tablet, the Surface Pro 3, which was unveiled by its new chief executive Satya Nadella at an event in New York on Tuesday?

One way would be to compare it to its previous incarnation, which received a more positive critical response for its improved features, but still did not really make a dent in the market share of Apple iOS or Android devices – Microsoft has recorded about $2.64bn in Surface sales so far. For comparison, Apple sold $7.6bn worth of iPads in the latest quarter alone.

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Tim Bradshaw

While Silicon Valley races ahead into a future filled with drones, robots and wearable technology, the rest of the US watches on with a mixture of hope and anxiety.

Americans are optimistic about the long-term prospects for the next 50 years of technological and scientific advances, according to a survey of 1,001 people by the Pew Research Center in February, but more nervous about the immediate future. Read more

Alibaba’s decision to head to the US for its blockbuster IPO – perhaps the world’s largest ever – is undoubtedly a major blow to Hong Kong’s global ambitions.

But chucking out years of hard-won progress for a single pay-day – with the risk of opening
the market to myriad potential problems down the road – would have been the wrong move.

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Retiring Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer

There will be a new face in charge of Apple’s balance sheet.

Luca Maestri, currently a corporate controller at the iPhone maker, will be Apple’s next chief financial officer. He succeeds Peter Oppenheimer, who is retiring. Read more

Richard Waters

Like any widely hyped online phenomenon, Moocs – massive open online courses – are facing a reality-test.

Hardly anyone who starts one of the online courses actually finishes it. But even if the formula is being rethought, the potential impact on education hasn’t diminished. Read more

We’re trying to beat the Wikipedia updates to the entries for Jimmy Wales and The People’s Operator with this news. Read more

If you follow a certain section of the internet, over the last day your news feed has probably been buzzing with obscure clues to cryptography, William Blake’s poetry, transcendentalism and of course Cicada images, writes Emily Cadman.

If not, you’d be forgiven for wondering what this is all about.

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Here’s the perfect Christmas present for the ultimate Apple fan – the Cupertino, California company has just announced a computer featuring perhaps its most striking design to date is available to order from tomorrowRead more