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Industry & Technology

Electric car boom prompts Apple to get serious about securing cobalt

Ars Technica - February 21, 2018 - 4:21pm

Enlarge / Cobalt chips (credit: Alchemist-hp)

Apple may cut out the cobalt middlemen by obtaining supplies for its batteries on its own. According to a Bloomberg report, Apple is in talks with miners to buy long-term supplies of cobalt, a key ingredient in the lithium-ion batteries used in Apple's iPhones and iPads. Apple has reportedly been in discussions to secure contracts for "several thousand metric tons" of cobalt each year for at least five years.

If a deal comes to fruition, it would be the first time Apple has secured its own supplies of cobalt for batteries. The tech giant currently leaves cobalt buying to battery manufacturers, but now the company wants to ensure it can lock down enough of the metal to maintain a sufficient supply.

The growth of the electric car industry has prompted fears of a cobalt shortage—electric car batteries use much more cobalt than those of consumer electronics, and car manufacturers are already seeking contracts with cobalt miners to get the amounts they need for their vehicles. BMW is reportedly close to securing a 10-year supply deal, and Volkswagen Group tried but failed to secure a long-term cobalt supply deal at the end of last year. Cobalt prices are rising, and VW's plans failed partly because the company wanted to set a fixed price for the metal for the entirety of the contract.

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Ferrari 488 Pista is a specialized track-day weapon - Roadshow - News - February 21, 2018 - 4:19pm
It's lighter and more powerful, which is par for the course for a special-edition Ferrari.

Ferrari and Porsche announce new cars for the wealthy track addict

Ars Technica - February 21, 2018 - 4:10pm


The Geneva Motor Show is just around the corner, and Porsche and Ferrari both have something special up their sleeves. Yes, it's a pair of track-focused supercars that promise to lap faster and thrill more than anything either company has built in the past. Meet the new 911 GT3 RS and 488 Pista, two cars that herald the end of the "regular" production models they're derived from—in this case the 991 generation Porsche 911 and the Ferrari 488, each of which is due for replacement in the near future.

In the red corner, from Maranello, Italy, weighing in at 2,800lbs...

We'll start with the Ferrari. The 488 Pista is the latest in a line that started with the 360 Challenge Stradale back in the early 2000s. Pista is Italian for track, and that's what this car has been optimized for.

It's not a race car, but it does incorporate a lot of the lessons that Ferrari has learned racing the 488 GTE and 488 GT3. In fact, Ferrari says that the Pista "marks a significant step forward from the previous special series... for the level of technological carry-over from racing."

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2019 Volvo V60 is your new lustworthy plug-in wagon - Roadshow - News - February 21, 2018 - 4:10pm
Gorgeous, functional and packed with tech. Volvo's new longroof checks all the right boxes.

Samsung Galaxy S9 smartphone images leaked by MWC app

BBC Technology News - February 21, 2018 - 4:08pm
Images of the firm's forthcoming flagship phone are revealed ahead of its Barcelona debut on Sunday.

Bosch and Daimler jump in together on driverless vehicle tech

The Register - February 21, 2018 - 4:07pm
Self-parking cars - and a lot of practical R&D going on

BCW18 Bosch’s Connected World conference opened with a demo of its automated valet technology. Though the firm’s chief exec, Volkmar Denner, drove the car up to its drop-off point, the self-parking mode failed to engage.…

Overwatch League makes the grade - CNET - News - February 21, 2018 - 4:00pm
In our first progress report, we grade the league's clarity, quality, consistency, accessibility and engagement.

Give your Amazon Echo or Dot a makeover for 30 percent off - CNET - News - February 21, 2018 - 3:52pm
If Alexa isn't fitting well with your decor, wrap her in a lovely sleeve of Toast. Plus: return of the $10 label-maker!

SpaceX satellite broadband test launch delayed to Thursday - CNET - News - February 21, 2018 - 3:48pm
It will be at least one more day before Elon Musk's planned "Starlink" global internet service gets off the ground aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.

Tesla investigates claims of crypto-currency hack

BBC Technology News - February 21, 2018 - 3:47pm
The company says that only internally used engineering test cars have been affected.

Uber will save you a few bucks if you just walk up the road

Ars Technica - February 21, 2018 - 3:43pm

(credit: Uber)

On Wednesday, Uber announced a new feature, where riders "wait a few minutes before their trips begin, and then walk a short distance to a nearby spot for pick up and drop off." If that sounds awfully similar to a bus, you’re not entirely wrong.

Uber calls it "Express Pool," an offshoot of an Uber option known as simply, "Pool," which allows Uber riders to save a few bucks by sharing rides (thus usually taking a little more time).

Express Pool, meanwhile, simply calculates what is ostensibly a more efficient route and asks the rider to walk a few minutes away.

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Citymapper Smart Ride is half-taxi, half-bus - Roadshow - News - February 21, 2018 - 3:40pm
The navigation app is launching a new flexible bus service, but says it's not setting itself up as a rival to Uber.

Spotify seeks hardware pro, sparks smart speaker speculation - CNET - News - February 21, 2018 - 3:26pm
The streaming service is looking for its next smash hit.

Yes, there's an Alexa-connected heated jacket - CNET - News - February 21, 2018 - 3:24pm
Ministry of Supply's thermostat-equipped Mercury Intelligent Heated Jacket promises to be ready by next winter. Here's what it's like to wear.

Farewell, Android Pay. We hardly tapped you

The Register - February 21, 2018 - 3:24pm
You still need two Google apps to do everything, though

“Android Pay” is no more, as Google attempts to unify its disparate transaction options under one brand. The redesigned, rebranded Google Pay app – which supersedes Android Pay – is already in the Google Play Store.…

Dogecoin: A cryptocurrency joke that somehow turned real - CNET - News - February 21, 2018 - 3:22pm
Here's how Dogecoin went from a joke equivalent of bitcoin to one of the world's most valuable cryptocurrencies -- before it all came crashing down.

Toyota is building a miniature Japanese Nürburgring, sorta - Roadshow - News - February 21, 2018 - 3:04pm
The Japanese automaker is investing heavily in a new test facility in its home prefecture in Japan.

2018 Subaru Legacy review - Roadshow - Reviews - February 21, 2018 - 3:00pm
A smooth drivetrain, comfortable ride quality and long list of tech features are hiding behind the Subaru Legacy's bland exterior.

'All Our Asias' Is a Vital Reminder That Creators Matter

Wired - February 21, 2018 - 3:00pm
The beautiful, surreal indie game about Asian heritage is made all the stronger by the self-conscious inclusion of its own maker.

UK data controllers to pay ICO up to £2.4k more a year when GDPR kicks in

The Register - February 21, 2018 - 2:58pm
Gov’s bid to keep cash in data protection watchdog’s coffers

The UK government has revealed plans to increase the top tier of annual fees for data controllers from £500 to £2,900 in an attempt to ensure the Brit privacy watchdog has enough cash to function.…

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