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The app that may end robocalls forever

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Ethan Garr and Bryan Moyles may have the cure for unwanted robocalls infecting mobile phones.

They created a mobile app so promising that the Federal Trade Commission awarded them $25,000 this week to further invest in the development of RoboKiller.

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"I do believe we solved the problem of robocalls," Garr said.

The FTC’s head of bureau consumer protection, Jessica Rich, says the app may also help report illegal robocallers to law enforcement.

“We hope the winners bring their dynamic solutions to the marketplace soon,” Rich said.

RoboKiller answers every call and “tricks” robots to start their prerecorded message.

Within seconds the voice goes through an algorithm to assess if it is human or robotic.

Real callers would hear the common sound of a phone ringing as the app goes to work and examines the call.

Calls determined to be from a robot would be blacklisted to a spam folder in the app, letting mobile phone users browse rejected calls like junk email.

The tool may solve the puzzle of how to stop robocalls without blocking calls from spammers spoofing legitimate phone numbers.

Garr says he’s yet to get a robocall since installing the technology on his own phone.

Fifteen robocalls have gone to his spam folder in nine days.

“Our accuracy in detecting humans versus robots is 98 percent,” Garr said.

The app is in beta testing.

More information is on RoboKiller’s Kickstarter page.

Must-see photo: Hubble telescope captures space smiley

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Did the Hubble telescope capture a photo of an outer-space smiley face? Well, sort of.

http://twitter.com/washingtonpost/status/564822830706343937

According to a Washington Post blog published Monday, Judy Schmidt spotted this image among Hubble's data and submitted it to Hubble's Hidden Treasures competition. 

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Although the image resembles an eerie extraterrestrial grin, it's just a photo of galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849. The "eyes" are two galaxies.

Click here to learn more.

'Dorothy' app lets you control phone with heel clicks

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Have you ever wished you could control your smartphone with the click of your heels?

The 'Dorothy app' by Washington, D.C.,-based iStrategy Labs.works when you slip a blue tooth chip called "Ruby" into your shoe.

When you click your heels the phone will do whatever you programmed it to do. It can text your friends, order you a pizza, or even request an Uber car.

You can even use Dorothy to help you escape a bad date by programming the app to generate a fake phone call.

UPI reports the company is working to expand Ruby's functionality and is tyring to create a smaller version of Ruby to better fit a user's shoe.

—Read more from MyFoxBoston

New OK Go music video will blow your mind with amazing UNI-CUB stunts

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Remember a few months ago when we started seeing those promotional videos for the UNI-CUB, a weird mobility device that appeared to be a cross of Segway and a stool?

Critics blasted the personal mobility device as just another thing to make Americans fatter and lazier.

Well, the music group OK Go may have just helped invent a market for the UNI-CUB with an amazing new music video released Monday. 

Post by OK Go.

For their latest single, "I Won't Let You Down," the group, who brought you the unforgettable treadmill music video a few years ago, is back and blowing our minds again.

"I Won't Let You Down" features more than 2,000 performers, loads of colorful umbrellas and, of course, the stars ... by which we mean the UNI-CUBs. Honda, maker of the UNI-CUB, helped pay for the music video.

OK Go was on the "Today" show Monday morning to release the video. The group said the video was all one shot, however, parts had to be shot in sections becasue there "just aren't that many UNI-CUBs in existence."

New math app a student dream or teacher nightmare?

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A new smartphone app may reignite a debate about how technology should be used in education.

PhotoMath, by London-based software company MicroBlink, is an app available for iOS and Windows phones (Android is reportedly coming in 2015) that allows users to  scan a math problem with their camera and get an answer instantly.

Engadget reports the app will show you the steps to get the answer.

The app maker is marketing the tool as a next-generation calculator, but some are likely to question if this technology is helping or hurting students.

What do you think about the app? Is this a tool that will help students absorb difficult math concepts or is it just a tool to help students cheat? 

Amazon reportedly set to open first brick-and-mortar store

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According to a Wall Street Journal report, Amazon.com will open its first brick-and-mortar store in Manhattan later this year.

The store would reportedly open in time for the holiday-shopping season at 7 West 34th Street, across from the Empire State Building. 

“Same-day delivery, ordering online and picking up in store are ideas that are really catching on," Wells Fargo analyst Matt Nemer told The Wall Street Journal. "Amazon needs to be at the center of that.”

The report states that the store would carry limited inventory and provide nearby customers with same-day delivery as well as be a location for pickups, returns and exchanges of online orders.

The store will likely devote a large amount of its space to showcase Amazon's Kindle e-readers, Fire smartphones and Fire TV set-top boxes.

The Wall Street Journal reported that people "familiar with the company's thinking" have indicated that if the New York location is successful, the storefront concept could roll out to other U.S. cities in the future.

Apple announces iPhone 6, Apple Pay and Apple Watch

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For the first time in years, Apple's iPhones aren't the star of the show. Apple unveiled a smartwatch called the Apple Watch on Tuesday, a wearable device that marks the company's first major entry in a new product category since the iPad's debut in 2010.

The move is significant because of recent questions about whether Apple still has a knack for innovating following the 2011 death of co-founder Steve Jobs.

The device's introduction upstaged the company's two new, larger iPhones, which won't just have bigger screens; they'll have a new, horizontal viewing mode to take advantage of the larger display.

The iPhone 6 will have a screen measuring 4.7 inches, while the iPhone 6 Plus will be 5.5 inches. In both cases, app developers will be able to design apps that can be viewed differently when the phone is held horizontally.

Apple also introduced a system for using the phone to make credit card payments at retail stores.

Here are some of the most interesting social media posts coming out of Tuesday's event:

More Coverage

>> U2 releases free album on iTunes

>> Photos: Tim Cook and Apple reveal new products at gala event

>> Photos: Apple reveals new iPhone 6

>> Photos: iPhone through the years

<iframe src="//storify.com/cmgnationalnews/last-minute-rumors-about-apple-s-new-iphone-6-iwat/embed?header=false&amp;border=false&amp;t=305" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe> <script src="//storify.com/cmgnationalnews/last-minute-rumors-about-apple-s-new-iphone-6-iwat.js?header=false&amp;border=false"></script> [View the story "Last-minute rumors about Apple's new iPhone 6, iWatch and more" on Storify]

Best replays of the hilarious #Madden15 glitches

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EA Sports' Madden football series is one of the most popular in video gaming history.

However Madden 15 has gained a lot of attention this week for the wrong reasons.

Social media sites have been filled with posts from users with video of bizarre, and often funny, glitches from the game.

Take a look at some of the best. 

<iframe src="//storify.com/cmgnationalnews/best-vine-videos-of-the-madden15-glitches/embed?header=false&amp;border=false&amp;t=124" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe> <script src="//storify.com/cmgnationalnews/best-vine-videos-of-the-madden15-glitches.js?header=false&amp;border=false"></script> [View the story "Best replays of the hilarious #Madden15 glitches" on Storify]

Russian gang reportedly hacks 1.2B passwords; experts say expect more

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A security firm says a Russian hacking gang managed to steal 4.5 billion online records, including 1.2 billion unique usernames and passwords, from 420,000 websites. Sounds terrifying, right? (Via Getty Images)

Well, it may be inevitable, according to cybersecurity experts. The latest cybercrime, which Hold Security is calling the largest data breach ever, could be the new normal for our personal information.

Hold Security, which discovered the breach, said a gang of Russian thieves used malware-infected computers to look for vulnerabilities in company websites. (Via Al Jazeera)

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The company said the thieves "​did not differentiate between small or large sites. They didn't just target large companies; instead, they targeted every site that their victims visited."

With all the high-profile hackings lately, like the European Central Bank and the NASDAQ, both reported last month, and last year's Target data breach, you could be forgiven for being used to stories about hacking and data theft by now. (Via CNETBusinessweekGetty Images)

And it may only get worse from here. The New York Times' report on the hacking says, "There is worry among some in the security community that keeping personal information out of the hands of thieves is increasingly a losing battle." And in another article published an hour later, The Times answers the question, "How can I stop my information from being stolen in the first place?" with "Increasingly, you cannot."

Instead, while individuals can really only do damage control after they've been hacked, it's up to the companies themselves to prevent breaches in the first place. Hold Security said it won't identify the companies that were hacked by the Russian gang because most of them are still vulnerable.

Congress OKs unlocking phones from carriers

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Sick of your wireless carrier but unwilling to give up your phone to make the switch? Pretty soon you'll have other options thanks to a bill just passed by Congress.

On Friday, the House of Representatives ratified the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, passed in the Senate last week, which is now awaiting a promised signature from President Obama

The bill legalizes "unlocking" cell phones so they can be used with a different service provider. It won't get you out of any contracts, but unfettered consumers are now legally free to switch networks whenever they want. (Via SprintVerizonAT&T,T-Mobile)

But why was unlocking your phone illegal in the first place? Well, it's all thanks to a clause in the much-maligned Digital Millennium Copyright Act. 

The 1998 law contains language banning any attempt to circumvent digital copyright protection measures — which, according to many providers, includes the phone software tethering your device to a single carrier. (Via Electronic Frontier Foundation)

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Fortunately for consumers, the U.S. Library of Congress can grant exemptions to the DMCA, which they did for cell phone unlocking back in 2006. Less fortunately, that exemption expired in 2012 after the Library failed to renew it. (Via Getty Images)

That ruling sparked protests from tech consumer advocates. Today's bill originally started as a petition to The White House which raised more than 114,000 signatures.

It's also worth noting that most major carriers in the U.S. voluntarily agreed to unlock their customers' phones back in December 2013, after facing pressure from the Federal Communications Commission and the public. (Via Ars Technica)

But cell phone unlocking may not be legal for long. The Library of Congress is set to review the practice in 2015, and its decision could outlaw unlocking all over again.

The Los Angeles Times says Congress needs to address fundamental problems with the DMCA, comparing their latest effort to "stopping people from coughing without curing their colds. It's a work-around that focuses on the symptoms, not the disease."

Unlocking a phone is not the same as jailbreaking an iOS device. That process is currently exempt from the DMCA when it comes to iPhones and iPods, but not on tablets — and those rules are up for review in 2015, as well.

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