Google Introduces Pixel Smartphone Models, VR Headset

Today's topics include Google's unveiling of its new Pixel smartphones and Daydream View VR headset, the Department of Homeland Security's effort to protect voter registration data, Intel's release of its Stratix 10 FPGAs and Microsoft's move to make it easier to use Power BI on smartphones.

Google's long-rumored Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, as well as its all-new Daydream View VR headset, were finally unveiled Oct. 4 after months of speculation, bringing new entries to both markets from the giant in online search.

The smartphones, which were designed and engineered by Google, are available immediately for preorder, starting at $649 for the Pixel phone, which has a 5-inch display and 32GB of onboard storage, and at $769 for a Pixel XL, which has a 5.5-inch display and 32GB of storage.

The new Daydream View virtual reality headset is priced at $79 and will arrive in November. At launch, users will be able to view YouTube videos, Google Street View content, Google Play Movies and more.

Voter registration officials in 21 states have contacted the Department of Homeland Security to request help in dealing with attempts to break into their voter registration systems.

Responding to a letter sent from the bipartisan leadership of the House and Senate, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson reiterated his earlier messages about the willingness of his department to help states deal with cyber-attacks aimed at the voting process.

So far, 20 states have experienced intrusions of sufficient severity that are considered causes for concern by DHS. The department has not said which states have been attacked. This is a significant increase since earlier this year, when only two states had reported being attacked.

At this point, there are few details about what the hackers were after, although in most cases it appears it was voter registration databases rather than voting machines or the IT systems that support voting results.

Intel has begun sampling its Stratix 10 programmable chips, which the company expects to use as accelerators in data center environments running compute- and data-intensive applications.

In a blog post Oct. 4, Dan McNamara, corporate vice president and general manager of Intel's Programmable Solutions Group, wrote that company engineers were able to combine the chip maker's 14-nanometer tri-gate manufacturing process with its HyperFlex fabric architecture.

This allowed them to develop a field-programmable gate array that will address the growing demands from end users for more performance and power efficiency as they try to manage the proliferation of smart, connected devices and the huge amounts of data they're producing.

Intel is aiming the Stratix 10 FGPAs at such workloads as data center applications, cloud computing, radar and imaging systems, and network infrastructure.

Power BI reports are getting a mobile makeover. What looks good on a desktop browser doesn't always translate well to mobile displays, and so Web developers are adopting responsive designs and other mobile optimizations that help content shine despite the cramped quarters.

Microsoft is following suit with a preview of a new mobile viewing mode for reports authored on the company's cloud-powered business intelligence platform, Power BI.

Once a user publishes a report using the Power BI Desktop client, the service automatically scales and resizes its various elements, enabling them to render properly on a variety of mobile screen sizes.

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