Chrome beta disses plug-ins, speeds tapping on Android

Google released a beta of Chrome 32 on Thursday, fulfilling a promise to block many plug-ins and speeding up some tap operations on Android.

And Imgur fans will be eager to know that the new release also brings support for animated WebP images, a feature already added to Google's image format but that had to overcome hurdles before finding a place in Chrome, too. Some advocated for a shift to plain old video, but animated GIFs have attained newfound popularity. Google promises smaller file sizes with animated WebP as an alternative, said Urvang Joshi, the Google programmer who championed … Read more

Compact widgets turn tables into loudspeakers

HANOVER, Germany--For those who want to take their music with them, a more convenient option than lugging loudspeakers is now available: fist-sized, battery-powered devices called vibration speakers.

These chunky widgets transform a table, floor, car roof, or even window into a large speaker. One one end is a tweeter for playing higher-frequency pitches, and on the other a driver that moves the surface to which it's attached, converting it into a giant woofer.

The devices were thumping loudly on the CeBIT tech show floor here as manufacturers tried to drum up customers, distributors, retailers, and business partners. … Read more

How to create custom vibration alerts on Android with Vybe

Vibrating alerts are useful in situations when a loud ringer may be inappropriate or undesirable. Unfortunately, most phones have just one type of vibration alert. An Android app called Vybe - Custom Vibrations can help you create custom vibration alerts that you can use for different contacts. In doing so, it can help you identify callers, even if your phone is in your pocket.

Creating a custom vibration alert is easy to do in Vybe. You just tap the record button, create the vibration sequence you want, then save it. You can then assign contacts to use that particular alert.… Read more

Apple patent aims to stifle noise from iPhone's vibrate mode

Annoyed by that buzzing sound triggered by your phone's vibrate mode? Apple may one day provide a solution.

Dubbed "Vibration In Portable Devices," a patent filed today with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office details an Apple invention in which that annoying sound can be monitored and reduced.

Apple's technology would use sensors to detect the vibrations of the phone when in vibrate mode. If the sensors determine that the sound given off by the vibration exceeds a certain level, that noise is automatically toned down. The technology could also decrease the sound and even … Read more

Smart Tools are powerful, yet simple

Even with its belt full of powerful tools onboard, Smart Tools is, for the most part, simple. The app opens up to a wall of choices, and if you've used any of Smart Tools' apps before, then all of them should look familiar. Smart Tools combines the powers of all of the developer's individual Pro tool sets.

The first set lets you measure length and angle, using a level, ruler, and two protractors (one which uses the screen, and the other your device's camera).

The second offers a Distance tool, which is a bit more complicated, as … Read more

The 404 1,016: Where we need a social network for our social network (podcast)

Leaked from 404 Podcast 1,016:

Thank you, Facebook: A way to demote annoying 'friends' on the sly. Want a vibrating tattoo that alerts you to a call? Nokia does. Three online dating sites agree to screen for predators. AT&T's vibrating steering wheel tells you when to turn, claims less distracting than visual cues. Miami judge says BitTorrent downloads are protected anonymous speech. Wait, nevermind. Bathroom break video : Wes Anderson's 'Made of Imagination' Sony TV commercial.

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Tamron's 24-70mm lens takes image-stabilization lead

Lensmaker Tamron announced a new 24-70mm F2.8 zoom lens today, beating Nikon and Canon with a model that brings image stabilization to this premium lens category.

The SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD lens includes Tamron's vibration compensation technology, which can counteract camera shake to stabilize photos. It's a feature that Canon and Nikon haven't added to their 24-70mm F2.8 lenses.

Such lenses don't have a huge zoom range, but they're popular among photo pros and enthusiasts, in particular because their wide aperture is good for low-light shooting with smoothly blurred … Read more

Vibrating dental device could cut brace-face time in half

Let's face it. Some things are just plain easier for kids today. Want to ask someone to the school dance without feeling so awkward? Just use your thumbs. Need to do research for a school paper? Just pick your search engine.

But perhaps my biggest tech envy to date can be found in the newly FDA-cleared AcceleDent system, a device that, when worn just 20 minutes a day, can dramatically speed up orthodontic tooth movement.

Traditionally, dental braces reshape the positioning of one's teeth by applying force to them. The AcceleDent device, worn with braces, simply speeds up tooth movement by vibrating them 20 minutes a day. (Insert inappropriate middle school joke here.)… Read more

New USB vibrator generates buzz

To consider the plight of the modern woman, all you have to do is read the plaintive experience of a Gizmodo writer who went on a date with a man she discovered to be the world champion of Magic: The Gathering Player.

So how can one not be both relieved and delighted that a group of dedicated designers in San Francisco has created the Crave Duet USB vibrator?

Fox News stepped out to relay the buzz surrounding this machine.

The Crave team, entirely unrelated (as far as I can tell) to CNET's Crave blog, is attempting to enter a market gap by offering what it calls "discreet, compact luxury vibe."

For myself, there are very few places in which a luxury vibe ends up being both discreet and compact. The Four Seasons is not compact. And one could hardly describe my local Starbucks as discreet.

I am sure, therefore, that quite a few humans, both men and women, will be fascinated by the idea of luxury portable pleasure.… Read more

Fingertip vibrator boosts your sense of touch

Combine the words "vibrator," "touch," and "heightened sensitivity," and the subject is obvious, right? A tricked-out glove that heightens your sense of touch.

The glove, developed by Georgia Tech researchers, includes a tiny vibrator that sits on the side of your finger. Turn the vibrator so low that you don't quite notice it vibrating, and voila, your fingertip is more sensitive to touch.

Prototype tests showed that the heightened-sensitivity glove enabled people to sense lighter touches and distinguish sensory points that were closer together than they could without it. People correctly distinguished among different fineness levels of sandpaper 15 percent more often with the glove.

The glove could help surgeons and others who rely on a fine sense of touch, and it could help people with an impaired sense of touch.… Read more