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Elon Musk: The new Roadster will be Tesla's fastest car — but you'll have to wait (TSLA)

Tesla Roadster

The Model S is one of the fastest cars out there, but it won’t be Tesla’s fastest for too long.

CEO Elon Musk tweeted on Friday that Tesla’s next-generation Roadster would beat the Model S when it came to speed. But he added that we shouldn’t expect another Roadster for a few more years.

In February, the Model S beat a Porsche 911 Turbo S in a first-of-its-kind acceleration test. The Model S reached 30 mph .05 seconds ahead of the 911 and held a .2-second lead from 60 mph through 90 mph. All this occurred while the car was operating in Tesla’s “Easter egg” ludicrous mode.

There have been reports that Tesla’s new Roadster will launch in 2019, but an exact date hasn’t been confirmed.

The Roadster is Tesla’s flagship electric car. First released in 2008, the Roadster had a range of 245 miles and could accelerate to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds. Its base price at the time was $98,000, according to Car and Driver.

The Roadster wasn’t without its problems. The car repeatedly broke down and got stuck in second gear. That’s because the car used an “unsafe” chassis made by sports-car maker Lotus, Musk said in May 2016.

Tesla issued a design reboot within a year that improved the Roadster’s performance and generated a profit for the automaker. Tesla sold more than 2,400 Roadsters across 30 countries, the company reported.

Still, it looks as if the next Roadster will outshine Tesla’s Model S.

SEE ALSO: Elon Musk wants Tesla customers to temper their expectations of the Model 3 launch

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NOW WATCH: Everything we know about the Tesla Model 3

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America's newest bikesharing program lets you drop off bikes basically anywhere

spin photo

Earlier this month, Bay-Area-based startup Spin introduced the first large-scale deployment of a stationless bikesharing program in the US.

As of March 11, Austin, Texas now has hundreds of orange Spin bikes randomly scattered around the downtown area, each available for rent whenever and wherever Austinites need them.

Each bike pairs with a mobile app that electronically unlocks the bike for $1 per 30-minute trip.

Derrick Ko, a Spin co-founder, used to work for the ridesharing company Lyft, where he says he learned just how many people struggle with what’s known as a “last-mile transportation problem.”

Basically, people may find it easy to commute most of the way to work, but get snagged primarily within the last mile. In cities, Ko says, there are typically few options for people to travel that mile, short of walking or waiting in traffic.

If they had bikes right at their fingertips, Spin’s mission suggests, life would be a little easier.

“What we’re seeing is cities are getting extremely congested,” Ko says. “And public transportation infrastructure is very inconsistent around the US, to put it mildly. As a result, people are depending on cars.”

Spin’s solution is to give people the ability to rent a bike where they currently are, not where the bikes live in a designated rack — the way traditional bikeshare programs work. Just like Zipcar does for people who need a car, Spin’s app connects users to nearby bikes to rent them out for as long as they need.

Once they’re finished — say, arriving at a friend’s apartment — they can leave the bike up against a wall or beside a lamp post. There are no guarantees it’ll be there when they leave, but another will likely be just as close by. (If someone wanted to take the bike outside city limits, technically they have that option, Ko says. But he says that is an outlier case.)

In the short term, the goal is to mobilize people without adding to the congestion that’s already created by cars. In the longer term, Spin wants to transform how the US thinks about commuting — to take people from a car-centric mindset to one that prioritizes riding a cleaner and cheaper form of transit.

“It’s really about converting car trips to bike trips,” Ko says. “Every additional bike trip in place of a car trip will improve congestion; it’ll improve health; and it’ll improve pollution. And that to us is a great mark of our system working.”

Changing Americans’ preference for cars over bikes is kind of like asking them to prioritize Major League Soccer over the NFL, Ko admits. It’s a real challenge.

“This is a completely new model,” he says.

And launching a new model requires a number of precautions. Spin, for example, will be working with the Austin city government to educate citizens about the program, including telling people not to leave bikes in front of doorways or in places blocking pedestrian walkways.

There also is an on-the-ground task force that Spin has hired to enforce some of the policies. If people steal the bikes or misuse them, Spin will assemble a team that can investigate the problem. Ko says reports about China’s stationless bikesharing program going totally awry are mostly sensational; save for a few bad apples, he doesn’t expect the heaps of discarded bikes China has seen in a few rare cases.

If Austin proves successful, the company will look to expand to the Bay Area and other cities around the US.

“There’s this sentiment that people don’t like to own things, and bikes are definitely one of them,” Ko says. “And thanks to ridesharing, people are very used to their mobile phone as their gateway to transportation.”

SEE ALSO: The 10 most innovative electric bikes in the world

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NOW WATCH: Japan has dozens of underground robotic parking garages for bicycles

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'Life' is an alien horror movie that riffs on some eerily plausible science

life science fiction alien horror movie sony pictures jake gyllenhaal 3

Warning: Some spoilers for “Life” are ahead if you haven’t seen the movie.

  • “Life” is a space horror movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson, and more.
  • The plot is about a Mars sample return mission gone terribly wrong.
  • The film’s creators worked with real scientists to make it more believable.
  • NASA is actually working on getting a Mars sample to Earth and is worried about contaminating the planet.

Big-budget science-fiction movies aren’t supposed to be documentaries.

They are, however, supposed to take us on journeys to far-flung places, immerse us in vivid alternate realities, and make us wonder “what if?”

But reality itself is a powerful filmmaking spice that, justly applied, helps suspend our disbelief — and sometimes scream our guts out.

Such is the case with the new movie “Life”, whose makers consulted a NASA-trained medical doctor, a Mars spacecraft engineer, and a geneticist to help produce their horrifying spectacle.

While the film, directed by Daniel Espinosa, whiffs on quite a lot of science, it does go far enough to be wildly entertaining. In fact, Business Insider’s Jason Guerrasio even argues it may be a cult classic in the making.

We join the story just as a Mars sample return spacecraft is being caught by a small crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS). With red dirt in hand, NASA astronauts go about analyzing the grit behind several “firewalls” of protection.

After an extraterrestrial microbe is discovered in the soil, it’s revived in a soup of water and nutrients. Then, to the astonishment of the crew, it springs to life. “Calvin,” as the life form is soon called, quickly divides and grows into a starfish-size creature with incredible strength and intelligence.

What could possibly go wrong?

To understand what doses of reality went into the movie, we called up Dr. Kevin Fong  a medical doctor, space medicine expert who’s trained with NASA and ESA for about a decade, and a paid science consultant for the new Sony Pictures film.

And to answer some of those “what if?” questions on aliens, we spoke to Catharine A. Conley, a planetary protection officer for NASA who gets paid to help humankind avert extraterrestrial disasters in the real world.

Astronaut doctor on set

life science fiction alien horror movie sony pictures jake gyllenhaal 2

“Life” features not one but two characters who are doctors, so filmmakers brought Fong on board to answer their pressing questions.

A lot of the early work happened by email, he says, but soon enough Fong was invited to join the set: an elaborate and modular reconstruction of the space station inside a giant green-screen studio.

“They paid more attention to detail than I’d seen in the space agencies,” Fong told Business Insider. “Although the modules are different than what they actually are on the space station, it was very close.”

The producers occasionally asked Fong to lend his expertise in physiology and emergency care to actor Jake Gyllenhaal (who plays long-duration astronaut David Jordan), actress Rebecca Ferguson (who plays Center for Disease specialist Miranda North), and others in various scenes.

life science fiction alien horror movie sony pictures rebecca ferguson“There are a couple of quite dense medical scenes, where I’d say, ‘I’d hold this tool like that,’ or ‘I wouldn’t hold that in the way you are,’ and ‘here’s some terminology I’d use in this situation.’ On the set, it came across as a very believable,” Fong says.

He was especially impressed with a cardiac arrest scene, saying it was “about as faithful as one could be” in a movie.

While he hadn’t seen the movie, at least at the time Business Insider interviewed him, Fong didn’t walk away thinking it’d be a documentary.

“I think it pays dividends to any movie producer to go as far as you can in suspending disbelief,” he says. “But I’m not expecting ‘Apollo 13.’ You have to make the drama more realistic without getting in the way of the story.”

Fong also said that while there are definitely parallels to the “Alien” space horror movie franchise, “Life” is imminently more believable.

“Around the time ‘Alien’ was made, you needed to imagine some far-flung place,” he says. But with the ISS floating just 250 miles above Earth, he added, “this is happening right on your back door.”

Fortunately for us, NASA has put decades of thought into protecting planet Earth.

Defending the planet from real-life Martians

life science fiction alien horror movie sony pictures space station

At first blush, the idea of a Mars sample return mission might seem far-fetched. But NASA researchers hope to do just that in the future.

In fact, both Congress and President Trump essentially codified that mission for the space agency by passing the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 into law in March.

The first line of defense for a Mars sample is Catharine Conley, who is NASA’s sole planetary protection officer. She has worked in that role since 2006, and helps ensure Earth’s microbes don’t reach other worlds — and other worlds’ microbes don’t reach Earth, at least in an uncontained way. (And that includes keeping dead bodies off of other worlds.)

“The phrase that we use is, ‘break the chain of contact with Mars,'” Conley told Business Insider.

catharine a conley planetary protection officer paul alers nasaConley also hadn’t seen the movie, but said if a Mars sample was flying toward Earth, it would be aimed slightly off-course from the planet. That way if something goes wrong, the capsule full of red dirt (and maybe a harmful microbe) wouldn’t enter our atmosphere in an uncontrolled way, break open, and induce panic.

Yet before such a capsule would ever leave Mars, she says, international guidelines require that an multi-governmental, multi-space agency committee convene to review the mission and make a recommendation on what to do.

“You’d want the international community to weigh in because it’s a of a high-enough concern,” she said. “There’s a lot of checks and balances.”

A Mars sample return mission — ostensibly to seek fossilized signs of ancient life, not actual microbes — wouldn’t be the first to test the mettle of protections for Earth: Apollo 11 astronauts had to stay quarantined for three whole weeks in a trailer before emerging.

apollo 11 astronauts quarantine president richard nixon nasa

In fact, she says, planning for a Mars sample return mission started with the nuclear-powered Viking landers of the 1970s and has been going ever since.

Plans “got the most carefully laid out” in the early 2000s, she said, but by then, bringing a sample to the space station had long been ruled out.

Thereason? It seemed far too expensive to ship equipment and experts into space, where they’d be ask to excel in a free-floating (and very foreign) environment). Also, containing a disastrous microbe inside the ISS seemed like a pointless step.

“The space station is going to fall down at some point,” she said.

Instead, Conley says scientists would make sure an extra-robust capsule carefully reenters Earth’s atmosphere, is quickly retrieved, and hurried away to a Biosafety Level 4 laboratory — the most high-security grade of research facility on the planet. There, scientists could meticulously analyze their invaluable prize to no end.

“I would love to find life elsewhere,” Conley said — if for no other reason than to compare it to life here on Earth, where the only organisms we know of exist. “If Earth and Mars life are related, that makes things a lot more complicated.”

SEE ALSO: Potatoes can grow in ‘extreme’ Mars-like conditions, a new NASA-backed experiment shows

DON’T MISS: Astronomers have found 7 Earth-size planets circling a dwarf star — and some might be able to host life

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Watch a scene from the new ‘Alien’ movie that’s eerily similar to the original’s shocking reveal

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Uber is considering leaving Seattle if drivers join unions

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick

Uber could say goodbye to Seattle if drivers in the city unionize as a result of a new law that recently took effect, according to a new report from GeekWire

One option on the table is leaving Seattle entirely if it finds it can’t operate, said Brooke Steger, Uber’s Pacific Northwest General Manager, during a Public Relations Society of America event, according to GeekWire.

We’re unsure of the future of Uber in Seattle,” Steger said at the time. “We don’t know if we will be able to continue to operate here and so it’s very important to us, obviously. It also is important to us nationally because I think us leaving a big city like Seattle, one of our first cities, has some pretty serious effects and there’s some deep concerns for the drivers here as well.”

Uber’s uncertainty about its operations stems from a first-of-a-kind city ordinance that the ride-hailing company has been actively fighting. The ordinance, which was passed in 2015 and went into effect in January, allows Uber drivers who work as independent contractors to join unions and negotiate pay and compensation like employees.

Not the first city exit

Currently under the ordinance, only drivers who have given more than 52 rides in a three-month period over the last year are eligible to join the unions. Uber has sued the city to try to block certain portions of the law and to expand who gets a vote. Last week, a Washington judge upheld the ordinance, dealing another blow to Uber’s defense.

Now, an April 2 deadline looms for when the ride-hailing company would have to turn over driver contact information to Teamsters Local 117, the union certified to represent drivers. The ordinance is still facing legal opposition from the US Chamber of Commerce and a group of about a dozen drivers who sued the city in March.

“I honestly feel bad that drivers are caught up in the middle of this and that they’re being used as a pawn in this game of unions and Yellow Cab trying to get Uber out of the city,” said Steger, the Uber GM. “To me, they’re the most important part of our business and they’re the most important people in this city.”

There’s certainly precedent for Uber leaving a city after it passed regulations the company didn’t like. Both Uber and Lyft pulled out of Austin in May 2016 after the city required the companies to perform fingerprint background checks on drivers. Neither company has returned to Austin since.

Uber hasn’t issued an ultimatum or decided on the future of its operations yet. But if the ride-hailing company doesn’t want to deal with the unions, Uber might have to put Seattle in its rearview mirror as well.

SEE ALSO: Uber’s board has no plans to consider firing Travis Kalanick from the CEO job

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: We took a ride in Uber’s new self-driving car on the streets of San Francisco — here’s what it was like

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At one end of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, there is a scene you must see to believe

canada oil tar sands alberta reuters RTR46ZSC

The Trump administration granted a presidential permit March 24 for a multibillion-dollar underground pipeline that would move Canadian oil through the US.

Called Keystone XL, the project is a new segment of the existing Keystone Pipeline system, which begins in Alberta’s oil sands, sometimes called tar sands, and ends at holding tanks in Patoka, Illinois, as well as points in Texas along the Gulf of Mexico.

The 1,180-mile (1,900-kilometer) XL segment, which is partially built but may ultimately cost entrepreneurs more than $10 billion, would move larger volumes of oil in less time by shortening the route and burying larger-diameter pipes.

Proponents of the pipeline say it will lessen dependence on foreign oil while creating jobs and growing domestic industry; that is, if financing, local permits, and legal challenges can be resolved. But environmental groups and many Americans — especially Native Americans — are furious about Trump’s support for the project.

Former President Barack Obama canceled the Keystone XL pipeline in November 2015 with an executive order that said it wouldn’t help lower gas prices or create that many jobs. He also said the pipeline’s long-term contribution to climate change — possibly more than 22 billion metric tons of carbon pollution, according to Scientific American — wasn’t worth the loss of America’s global leadership on climate change.

“If we’re going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground,” Obama said.

Neither Trump’s January 2017 reversal of Obama’s order nor this week’s State Department permit grant mention the project’s steep environmental costs, which include the potential industrialization of 54,000 square miles of Alberta wilderness.

“We’re not saying the project is good or bad. We’re just saying the scale and severity of what’s happening in Alberta will make your spine tingle,” Robert Johnson, a former Business Insider correspondent, wrote after flying over the Canadian oil sands in May 2012.

Keep scrolling to see an updated version of Johnson’s photo essay, which shows the effects of Canadian oil mining — a process in which tar-laden sand is dug from the ground and the oil separated. Today that process makes up about 50% of the Keystone XL pipeline’s oil, while “in situ” pumping generates the rest.

SEE ALSO: 25 of the most iconic images of Earth from space

DON’T MISS: Apollo astronaut: ‘You go to heaven when you are born’

To get a look at the oil sand mines, we rented this Cessna 172, which the pilot was allowed to bring down to 1,000 feet. Through the open window we could see what really goes on in one of the most controversial places on the planet.

The Alberta oil sands are spread across more than 54,000 square miles, but we’re taking a look at just a small part of it. The red line is an approximate outline of the entire deposit — the green is where we were flying.

Thousands flock here to make real money in the oil sands, where creating synthetic crude begins in the strip mine.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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The director of the mind-blowing new sci-fi thriller 'Life' explains how he pulled it off

Life4 Sony final

Perhaps it’s because he refuses to live in LA or he tends to liken the way he makes movies to the classics he grew up on, but when Swedish filmmaker Daniel Espinosa was given the chance to direct the sci-fi thriller “Life,” he didn’t see a blockbuster. Instead, he saw a chamber piece about life back on earth.

“People compare this to ‘Alien,’ but this is a movie that takes place now,” Espinosa recently told Business Insider from his home in Sweden. “Back in the 1970s people speculated what our future would be, this is a somewhat realistic piece. Yes, it’s the feel of an episode of ‘The Twilight Zone’ or a zombie movie like ‘Night of the Living Dead,’ but its reality comes from Raymond Chandler.”

The movie follows a group of scientists on the International Space Station who discover life on Mars, but while studying it, that life becomes deadly and takes out the crew one by one. It all ends with a dramatic conclusion you never see coming, and that’s what hooked Espinosa.

“I wanted to make the two turns in the movie the essence of the picture,” he said, referring to the alien suddenly turning on the crew and the surprise ending. “But also have the characters have a complex past that would reflect on their actions. Normally in American movies that doesn’t really happen. You get everything told to you. In this movie all these characters had their secrets and that’s why they react certain ways.”

Life 2 Sony finalTo explore those complexities, Espinosa got some of the biggest stars in the world to join him: Ryan Reynolds, who was Espinosa’s first call, as the two had worked together on the director’s 2012 film, “Safe House”; then Jake Gyllenhaal; and finally rising star Rebecca Ferguson (“Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation”).

But there was one other person Espinosa had to reach out to before taking on the film: Ridley Scott. Though the legendary director has no real direct involvement in “Life,” his fingerprints are all over the story, written by “Deadpool” screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, which very much resembles Scott’s “Alien.”

“Once I decided to do ‘Life’ he gave the blessing right away,” said Espinosa, who had a relationship with Scott already as he was a producer on Espinosa’s 2015 movie “Child 44.” “He has always been encouraging of my work and he didn’t think it was an ‘Alien’ rip-off at all. I actually had the opportunity to spend time with him in his office and go through his storyboards for ‘Alien’ and ‘Blade Runner’ and talk to him about them. It’s an honor that he allowed me to do that.”

Though “Life” has the look of a big-budget blockbuster, it was made for a relatively modest $57 million on a shooting schedule of 65 days. Quite barebones for a Hollywood studio movie with A-list stars.

But for Espinosa, it created the perfect working environment. Sony mostly stayed out of his way and let him do unconventional things like ditch having a second camera unit and use preproduction time to come up with extensive backstories for the characters.

“What I do is a tradition of the Danish system in which we create the backstory to each character but they are not allowed to discuss it,” Espinosa said. “So as we are doing the scenes, all the actors are equally surprised by the reactions.”

It was that kind of detail that instantly grabbed the actors.

“What I loved about this role and how Daniel described it was the philosophy of her and the romance of science,” Rebecca Ferguson told Business Insider of her character. “It was all created through the backstory, which is never told, but hopefully it’s displayed through our acting.”

Then there was also Espinosa’s technical ambition. To open the movie, he introduces the cast and their mission with a five-minute single shot (or a “oner”) that travels throughout the International Space Station. No cuts allowed.

“I thought I have to do a oner to understand the claustrophobia and the ballet that these characters have to do to survive,” he said.

Though it’s a standout moment in the movie, looking back now, Espinosa admits it was a lot harder than he anticipated.

Daniel Espinosa AP“Halfway through [shooting it], I thought that I had gone mad, that this was completely impossible,” he said, though with the guidance of his cinematographer Seamus McGarvey (known for his famous oner in “Atonement”), they pulled it off.

But what really makes Espinosa stand out in the Hollywood system today is his feeling about sequels.

“I think it’s uninteresting,” he said, when asked if there will be a sequel to “Life.” “I think you make a piece of work that stands by itself and then to go back on it is like meeting an old lover and trying to start a relationship again.”

Espinosa believes it was a big gamble by Sony to allow him the creative freedom to take chances and not be controlled by test-screening audiences or the pressure of building a possible franchise. He hopes “Life” is part of a trend of studio projects that tell unique stories.

“We’re in an interesting time where movies that don’t fit under the current banner, like ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Logan’ and hopefully my movie, show there is an interest in something that is different than the road we’ve been going down the last 20 years,” he said.

“Life” opens in theaters on Friday.

SEE ALSO: How Rebecca Ferguson went from “Mission: Impossible” scene-stealer to the star of “Life”

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The Oscars just had its biggest gaffe in history — here’s what happened

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A giant U-shaped skyscraper designed for New York City could be the longest building in the world

THEBIGBEND_ oiio_16

Manhattan developers keep building skyscrapers taller and taller, but Greek architect Ioannis Oikonomou hopes to break a new kind of record.

His firm, Oiio Studio, has designed a U-shaped tower called the “Big Bend” that aims to become, what Oikonomou calls, “the world’s longest building” (if you were measure from end to end of the U, which would total approximately 4,000 feet). 

The design calls for a super-tall, skinny skyscraper bent in half, to form what looks like the first drop of a roller coaster. From the sidewalk to the building’s peak, it would stretch about 200 feet taller than One World Trade Center, the largest tower in the city.

For now, the Big Bend is merely a design. Oikonomou tells Business Insider he has sent the design to a few developers, and is currently seeking investment.

The residential building would be located on the southern border of Central Park, an area that’s known as “Billionaire’s Row” and contains many luxury skyscrapers.

Oikonomou is confident that plans for the Big Bend could move forward since many developers will do whatever it takes to get a better return on investment, he says. In a  huge skyscraper that doesn’t take up much space, more people would pay mortgages or rent.

THEBIGBEND_ oiio_19

The Big Bend has been created, among other things, in order to emphasize the fact that New York has become a giant hotel,” Oikonomou says, referencing the recent trend of people buying condos without using them as primary residences. The Big Bend would “ensure maximum profit for its investors, even if its apartments are inhabited only for some days every year.”

SEE ALSO: The 25 most beautiful buildings in the world, according to architects

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NOW WATCH: London is building Europe’s tallest residential skyscraper

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Apple: Macs and iPhones are safe from newly revealed CIA exploits

The Mac and iPhone exploits described in new documents attributed to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency were patched years ago, according to Apple.

WikiLeaks released a new set of files Thursday that supposedly came from the CIA. They contain details about the agency’s alleged malware and attack capabilities against iPhones and Mac computers.

The documents, dated 2012 and earlier, describe several “implants” that the CIA can install in the low-level extensible firmware interface (EFI) of Mac laptop and desktop computers. These EFI rootkits allow the agency’s MacOS spying malware to persist even after the OS is reinstalled.

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Microsoft delays tools for third-party Cortana integrations

Microsoft has delayed the release of its tools for connecting other services to the Cortana virtual assistant, a decision that could cause it to lose ground in a crowded industry.

The tech titan announced the Cortana Skills Kit in December of last year, saying at the time that it would be released to the public in February. As Microsoft watcher Brad Sams noted on Twitter, Microsoft missed that deadline, and the Skills Kit remains locked in a private beta with a select group of partners. Microsoft didn’t offer an explanation for the delay, saying in a statement that the kit will be coming soon.

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Google Play faces cat and mouse game with sneaky Android malware

What’s the best way to avoid Android malware? Downloading all your apps from the Google Play store — where software is vetted – is perhaps the best advice.  

But that doesn’t mean Google Play is perfect.

Security researchers do find new Android malware lurking on Google’s official app store. That’s because hackers are coming up with sneaky ways to infiltrate the platform, despite the vetting processes that protect it.

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