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printed September 20, 2017
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LG V30 Launches In Korea This Week, North America Soon Thereafter

Yesterday, 8:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today said it will begin shipping its V30 flagship handset to customers in South Korea this week. The phone will arrive in North America, Europe, and other markets "in the days and weeks to come." LG didn't provide an exact launch window for the U.S., and LG's U.S. carrier partners have yet to announce pricing plans for the high-end phone. The V30 is the latest to adopt LG's 18:9 FullVision display with a plastic OLED panel and Gorilla Glass 5 covering the quad HD+, 6-inch screen. The phone boasts a twin-camera design with wide-angle and standard view lenses, high-resolution audio capture, wireless charging, and support for Google Daydream VR. The V30 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and it runs Android 7 Nougat.


Apple Boosts Over-the-Air App Downloads to 150 MB

Yesterday, 4:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today made it possible for iPhone owners to download larger applications via their cellular connections. "We’ve increased the cellular download limit from 100 MB to 150 MB," said Apple to developers, "letting customers download more apps from the App Store over their cellular network." Apple has slowly increased the size limit over the years to account for both the increase in app sizes and the improvement in network speeds. It's not uncommon to encounter apps that are larger than 100 MB. iPhone owners will have to find WiFi to download apps larger than 150 MB.


Apple Music for Android Updated to Match iOS 11

Yesterday, 3:43 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today updated its Apple Music application for the Android platform in order to ensure the experience is similar to that of the revised iOS version. Android device owners have access to the same iOS 11 Apple Music discovery feature that allows people to create public profiles and share playlists. The new music app also introduces support for voice search, which lets people say "OK Google" to find artists, albums, and songs. Apple Music gains a fresh widget that highlights music that was recently played, and a new tap-and-hold shortcut to quickly play Beats 1 Radio or start a new search. Apple Music is free to download from the Google Play Store, but the service requires a $10 monthly subscription.


T-Mobile Ups Throttling Threshold to 50 GB

Yesterday, 1:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said it will allow customers to use more LTE data before potentially throttling them. Previously, T-Mobile would slow the mobile internet speeds of the heaviest users after they surpassed 32 GB of mobile data in a single billing period. T-Mobile bumped that threshold by 50% to 50 GB effective immediately, which means T-Mobile subscribers can use more data before possibly being hit with slower mobile data speeds. To put this into context, 50 GB of data allows customers to stream 2 hours of (standard definition) Netflix content every day with plenty to spare at the end of the month. T-Mobile says customers who exceed the 50 GB threshold might see their top speeds dialed back only when the network is congested. T-Mobile anticipates this won't impact too many users (the top 1%). The 50 GB threshold resets each month. T-Mobile calls this practice "network prioritization" and says it is primarily used as a way to manage network load.


Apple Releases WatchOS 4.0 for the Apple Watch

Yesterday, 12:28 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today made watchOS 4.0 available to the Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2 wearables. The platform prioritizes the heart rate monitor. Apple Watches will now notify people when it senses a high heart rate if owners are not active. The new software can also look for atrial fibrillation and provide health alerts when necessary. WatchOS 4.0 includes the new Siri watch face that contains the owner's personalized data, such as commute times, calendar appointments, reminders, photo memories, weather updates, and more. The kaleidoscope watch face changes over time, and a wider selection of Disney characters are being added as watch faces. Activity notifications will be more personalized, including goal achievements. Apple says the new workout app makes it quicker to start workouts, such as swims, hikes, and runs. WatchOS 4.0 is more compatible with gym equipment for counting reps. The music player now supports multiple playlists and a wider selection of album art for workouts when using Apple EarPods. Moreover, music functionality will be much more accessible within workout apps. Other features include a new flashlight, a blinking light for nighttime visibility, and support for other sensors, such as glucose monitors. WatchOS 4.0 is free to download from Apple.


Apple Releases iOS 11 for iPhones and iPads

Yesterday, 12:14 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today made new system software available to its smartphones and tablets. iPhone and iPad owners can download iOS 11, which introduces new lock screen behaviors, new control center behaviors, as well as new features for the camera, messages, maps and more. For the first time, iPhone owners will be able to use augmented reality thanks to the addition of ARKit and apps in the App Store. iOS 11 is free to download. Apple suggests users back up their devices before updating. iOS 11 is compatible with the iPhone 5SE, iPhone 6/6 Plus, 6s/6s Plus, and 7/7s Plus.


Google Search for iOS Adds Related Content Suggestions

Yesterday, 9:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today updated its mobile search application for iOS devices and made it easier for people to find similar articles or content. Moving forward, a pull-up tab will appear at the bottom of web pages with suggestions for related content. Once opened, iOS device users can scroll sideways through a carousel of content similar to the article they just read. For example, say someone searches for chili recipes and reads one of the initial results. The other recipe results will be fed into the pull-up tab, making it easier to jump to alternate recipes without returning to the search results screen. This feature is limited to English in the U.S. for now, but Google says it will expand to more languages and countries over time. Google Search is free to download from the iTunes App Store.


ZTE Intros the $80 Tempo X for Boost Mobile

Yesterday, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE today announced the Tempo X, an entry-level Android smartphone for Boost Mobile. This affordable handset features a 5-inch screen with 854 by 480 resolution and a 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 1 GB of memory and 8 GB of storage. The phone supports memory cards up to 32 GB. ZTE gave the device a 5-megapixel main camera and a 2-megapixel front camera. Other hardware features include a 2,200mAh battery, Bluetooth, GPS, FM radio, and of course LTE 4G. The device ships with Android 7.1 Nougat and costs $80. It is available from Boost Mobile online starting today.


iOS 11 Won't Support Peer-to-Peer Apple Pay Right Away

Monday, 6:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today reiterated that iOS 11 will reach iPhones, iPads, and iPods Touch beginning September 19. Not all the new features will be available at launch, however, with Apple Pay on deck for later this year. According to Apple, the peer-to-peer mobile payment function is "coming this fall with an update to iOS 11 and watchOS 4." Once installed, Apple Pay users will be able to send and receive money from friends and family quickly, easily, and securely. Payments will work through the Messages app and/or Siri. The money is funneled into the Apple Pay Cash card, which is found in Apple Wallet. The funds can be used instantly to pay for goods and services through any credit or debit card stored in Apple Wallet. Apple has held back other features in previous iOS launches so the news that Apple Pay will arrive later than iOS 11 itself isn't uncommon.


Essential Says PH-1 to Get Oreo In Next Couple of Months

Monday, 6:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Essential Products today indicated that its smartphone, the PH-1, will eventually receive the latest system update from Google. "Get your milk ready — #AndroidOreo is coming soon to Essential Phone. Watch for updates in the next couple months," said the company through its Twitter account. So far, Android 8 Oreo is only available to the Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6P handsets. Sony's Xperia XZ1 will ship with Oreo in several weeks. Motorola has committed to updating a slew of its mid-range and high-end phones to Oreo over the next few months. Other flagship makers, including Samsung and LG, have been less clear on when their high-end phones will see Oreo.


Google Surfaces Library eBooks In Search

Monday, 6:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made it possible for people to discover what ebooks are available from their local library directly in search results. Readers in the U.S. who search for books will be shown various ways to find, purchase, or borrow the book in question. For some, that means reading them via digital platforms, such as those from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Google Play Books. Beginning today, the info card for books will now also reveal whether or not the book can be borrowed in electronic format from the searcher's public library. The tool is available in the mobile Google Search app on Android handsets.


Gmail to Convert Numbers, Addresses, and Contacts to Clickable Links

Monday, 1:18 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said its G Suite customers will soon be able to take advantage of active hyperlinks in Gmail and Inbox that simplify the process of sending emails or making calls. Both mobile apps will convert text, such as phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses, into interactive links. That means people who click a street address link in Gmail will be taken to Google Maps. Similarly, people who click an email address will automatically be asked if they want to compose an email using the address, and people who click a phone number will initiate a call request. Google says the interact hyperlink feature for contact information will reach all G Suite Gmail and Inbox users on Android, iOS, and the web in the next few days.


Asus Reveals the ZenFone V for Verizon

Monday, 9:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Asus recently unwrapped the ZenFone V, an Android smartphone that's exclusive to Verizon Wireless. The ZenFone V features a metal chassis with 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass on the front. The handset sports a 5.2-inch AMOLED display with full HD resolution. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor, Qualcomm's 2016 flagship chip, with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The main camera has a 23-megapixel sensor with optical image stabilization, dual-LED flash, an aperture of f/2.0, and phase detection autofocus. The front camera boast an 8-megapixel sensor with a GIF maker and aperture of f/2.0. Other features include a 3,000mAh battery with rapid charging, high-resolution audio, fingerprint reader, and USB-C. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat with Asus' ZenUI, and it comes in black. Pricing and availability have not yet been disclosed.


Software Update Lets Galaxy S8, S8+ and Note8 Owners Disable Bixby Home Button

Monday, 8:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Owners of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note8 smartphones can now modify the behavior of their handset's dedicated Bixby button. The hardware key, located on the left edge of the phone, automatically calls up Bixby Home with a short press or Bixby Voice with a long press. A new software update that recently hit S8, S8+, and Note8 phones adds a toggle for controlling the Bixby button. Owners of these phones can opt to disable the short press function, which launches Bixby Home. This prevents accidental presses from opening the app. A long press still calls up Bixby Voice. The Bixby button has been a point of contention with some S8, S8+, and Note8 owners who'd prefer the button handled other tasks. The update from Samsung also makes a few performance tweaks.


Essential Phone Now Compatible with Verizon's Network

Monday, 8:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Essential Products says its smartphone, the PH-1, is now fully able to run on Verizon Wireless's network. The company announced the news via its Twitter account. Essential didn't say what changed, or what it might have updated to make the phone work more properly on Verizon's network. The handset is already for sale unlocked and from Sprint. Verizon does not actually sell the phone. The PH-1 is a high-end Android handset with a bezel-less design. It supports magnetic modules that attach on the back via magnets. It costs $699.


Apple Addresses Face ID and Safari Privacy Concerns

Saturday, 8:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Saturday, 9:20 AM

Apple this week provided more detail concerning some of the behaviors of its forthcoming Face ID tech on the iPhone X and Safari in iOS 11. Concerning the former, Apple executive Craig Federighi explained to Techcrunch that "[Apple does] not gather customer data when you enroll in Face ID, it stays on your device, we do not send it to the cloud for training data." Instead, all the data created by the dot projector is processed locally on the A11 bionic chip. Critically, the feature needs to see the user's eyes, nose, and mouth. Face ID will work with most sunglasses, though certain IR coatings can scramble Face ID. "If you’re a surgeon or someone who wears a garment that covers your face, it’s not going to work," explained Federighi. "But if you’re wearing a helmet or scarf, it works quite well." This means Face ID may not work with some masks required at work, or some religious head coverings. The feature works from multiple angles and distances, but it absolutely requires user attention: the owner must be looking at the iPhone X in order for Face ID to work. This means people can't unlock others' phones when they are sleeping. Last, people will be able to instantly disable Face ID by simultaneously squeezing the buttons on either side of the phone. Doing so will switch to the passcode backup. There are instances that will require a passcode, such as when the phone has been rebooted, if Face ID has not be used in 48 hours, or if there have been five failed attempts at Face ID. Concerning Safari, Apple recently took heat from advertisers because iOS 11 blocks intelligent cookies that track users across the web. The advertising groups in question maintain that this practice is vital for providing timely and relevant advertising. Apple thinks different. "Apple believes that people have a right to privacy ... and Intelligent Tracking Prevention is a more advanced method for protecting user privacy," said the company in a statement provided to The Loop. "Ad tracking technology has become so pervasive that it is possible for ad tracking companies to recreate the majority of a person’s web browsing history. This information is collected without permission. The new Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature detects and eliminates cookies and other data used for this cross-site tracking, which means it helps keep a person’s browsing private." Apple further explained that Intelligent Tracking Prevention does not get in the way of ads that are served normally on the web. It can be disabled in Safari's settings if people wish.


Google Deletes Inactive Android Backups After 2 Months

Friday, 7:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google will delete Android device backups that are left inactive for two months with little or no warning. The discovery was made by a Reddit user who left a Nexus 6P backup in his Google Drive Backup folder for more than two months, only to later find it had been deleted by Google automatically. Google Support documentation appears to confirm the behavior. "Your backup will remain as long as you use your device. If you don't use your device for 2 weeks, you may see an expiration date below your backup. Example: 'Expires in 54 days.'" The maximum limit for device backups appears to be 60 days, or two months. The short expiration date on device backups is odd, given how freely Google offers online storage to its users. Google has not addressed the discovery directly.


BMW Might Replace Car Keys with Smartphone App

Friday, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BMW is exploring whether or not it will continue to offer car keys to those who own its cars. Ian Robertson, speaking to Reuters, explained that all BMW owners already carry smartphones, which have access to the BMW App. The BMW App makes it possible to unlock BMW cars without a key. "Honestly, how many people really need [a key]," said Robertson. "They never take it out of their pocket, so why do I need to carry it around?" The company is exploring the idea, but has not made a definite decision. In addition to serving as car keys, smartphones may replace drivers licenses and auto insurance cards. Some U.S. states are in the early stages of drafting digital identification and proof of insurance tools that are carried via smartphone app.


Motorola Commits to Updating High-End Phones to Android Oreo

Sep 14, 2017, 3:27 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today said it will update a significant number of its smartphones to Android 8 Oreo. Those devices on deck for the latest version of Android include the 2016 Moto Z, Z Droid, Z Force Droid, Z Play, and Z Play Droid, as well as the 2017 Moto Z2 Play, Z2 Force Edition, X4, G5, G5 Plus, G5S, and G5S Plus. It appears that Motorola's E and C series devices will not be updated to Oreo. Motorola said that in addition to the core Oreo code and Google Play Protect, the updates should improve handset speed, battery life, multitasking, text selection, notifications, and autofill behaviors. The updates will arrive on a per handset basis beginning later this fall.


Facebook Brings Crisis and Emergency Tools Under One Roof

Sep 14, 2017, 12:29 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook today announced Crisis Response, a single spot where users will be able to find information about a range of natural and man-made disasters, weather events, and more. Crisis Response houses existing Facebook tools such as Safety Check, Community Help, and Fundraisers. Moving forward, the Crisis Response center will also include links to articles, videos, and photos of events or emergencies posted by the community. Facebook says it continues to refine these tools based on user feedback. People have taken advantage of offerings such as Safety Check in recent weeks to mark themselves safe in the face of storms Harvey and Irma. In addition to informing friends and family of their safety, users can rely on Crisis Response to learn more about individual events, create or participate in fundraisers, and contribute information to ensure others know when and where help is available. Facebook said it is rolling out the new Crisis Response tool on desktop and mobile to all users over the next few weeks.


Powermat to Upgrade Starbucks Charging Mats to Support iPhone X

Sep 14, 2017, 11:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Powermat, which has deployed PMA-compliant wireless chargers at thousands of Starbucks locations around the U.S., plans to update its charging pads to support the iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone 8 from Apple. At the moment, there are two competing wireless charging standards, PMA and Qi. Handsets from Samsung and others typically support PMA, though some (Galaxy S8, Note8) support both PMA and Qi. Apple's new iPhones support only the Qi standard, which makes them incompatible with the wireless chargers at Starbucks. Speaking to Slashgear, Powermat CTO Itay Sherman explained that its Starbucks charging pads are connected to its cloud. This gives Powermat the ability to update them when necessary. "If there's a new standard, a new variant of the standard — you have PMA, you have Qi, you have Samsung’s Wireless Fast Charging — we can download new software to our points and support them," said Sherman to Slashgear. "The biggest difference between PMA and Qi is the communication protocols. We designed a controller which is software programable so we can integrate new communication protocols on this platform." Further, Powermat "designed the magnetic part to be as generic as possible to cover all standards if possible." Sherman did not say how quickly it will be able to update its Starbucks Powermat chargers with support for Qi, and conceded it will rely in part on the individual venues in question. This upgrade will not impact stand-alone, consumer Powermat chargers, which will remain limited to the PMA standard.


Google Schedules Oct. 4 Phone Event As Pixel 2 XL Swings by FCC

Sep 14, 2017, 7:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 14, 2017, 7:57 AM

Google today kicked off a teaser campaign for a phone-based announcement that will take place on October 4. The company launched a web site with the address of madeby.google.com, and it specifically asks people what they want from their phones. A similar-themed billboard appeared in Boston in recent days, more or less confirming that the company will announce its 2017 smartphones on October 4. At the same time, a new handset from LG was recently approved by the FCC that could be a new Pixel model. Though the FCC documentation reveals no details about the handset itself, the FCC does potentially give away the name. The LG phone approved by the FCC this week carries the FCC ID of ZNFG011C, which is similar to that of the HTC-made NM8G011A. In this naming convention it is important to note that the first three digits are the manufacturer codes (ZNF for LG, NM8 for HTC) while the latter five digits (G011A and G011C) are the model numbers. The HTC G011A, approved by the FCC in August, is believed to be a Pixel-branded device for Google similar to the HTC U11. The newly-approved LG G011C could be a variant of the LG G6 or V30, or a completely new handset. Google has relied on both HTC and LG to make Nexus- and Pixel-branded handsets in the past.


Essential Phone Lands at Sprint Tomorrow

Sep 13, 2017, 2:39 PM   by Rich Brome

Sprint today announced that the Essential Phone will go on sale through all Sprint channels — including stores — on September 14th. The high-end, bezel-free phone is already available unlocked.


Apple Watch Series 3 Supports Carriers' One Number Calling and Messaging

Sep 13, 2017, 2:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple this week announced the Apple Watch Series 3 with an optional cellular radio. The LTE radio makes it possible for the smartwatch to connect to cellular networks on its own, without a nearby iPhone. According to AT&T, the Apple Watch Series 3 is compatible with its NumberSync service, allowing people to make and receive phone calls from their main mobile number on the wearable. In addition to calls, NumberSync allows people to send/receive text messages from their main number directly on the smartwatch. The phone does need to powered on somewhere in order for the service to work. NumberSync is built into AT&T's network, so it doesn't require third-party apps in order to function properly. AT&T charges a $10 per month fee to add the Apple Watch Series 3 to an existing data plan. NumberSync is included for free. AT&T said it will waive the customary activation fee for the Apple Watch Series 3. Verizon Wireless customers will enjoy similar functionality via Verizon's NumberShare technology, which also allows people to make calls and send messages directly from their wrist over the cellular network. Like AT&T, Verizon is charging $10 per month to add the Apple Watch Series 3 to an existing plan. T-Mobile, too, has a $10 Apple Watch Series 3 plan that includes one-number calling from either the phone or the watch. Sprint has not yet detailed a similar service. The Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE goes on sale September 22 for $399.


ACLU, EFF File Lawsuit Over Warrantless Phone Searches

Sep 13, 2017, 1:49 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have sued the Department of Homeland Security for searching American citizens' smartphones at the border without a warrant. Specifically, the groups say the Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agencies have delayed citizens' entry into the country lest they give up smartphone passwords. In some cases, Customs held onto the devices for weeks and months at a time. The ACLU and EFF, which have filed lawsuits on behalf of a dozen impacted Americans, say the searches violate the Fourth Amendment. "People now store their whole lives, including extremely sensitive personal and business matters, on their phones, tablets and laptops and it's reasonable for them to carry these with them when they travel," said foundation attorney Sophia Cope. "It's high time that the courts require the government to stop treating the border as a place where they can end-run the Constitution." The Department of Homeland Security contends it has a right to inspect all goods entering the country. Many U.S. courts have sided with the Fourth Amendment on this issue, requiring law enforcement to obtain a warrant before searching the contents of mobile devices. The ACLU and EFF filed their case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.


AppleCare+ for the iPhone X Costs $199

Sep 12, 2017, 6:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today debuted new pricing for AppleCare+ alongside the iPhone X. Adding AppleCare+ to the new device costs $199, a significant jump from the $129 Apple has charged in the past for the same protection. AppleCare+ extends warranty and support coverage for up to two years from the date of purchase. With AppleCare+, replacing a damaged screen will cost $29, while repairing any other type of damage will carry a fee of $99. AppleCare+ also gives iPhone X owners 24/7 access to Apple experts via chat or phone. The iPhone X costs $999 for the 64 GB model and $1,149 for the 256 GB model. AppleCare+ for the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus costs $129.


Apple Seeds iOS 11 GM to Developers and Public Testers

Sep 12, 2017, 2:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today made the penultimate version of iOS 11 available to developers and those using the public betas. The company also made available gold masters of watchOS 4.0 and tvOS 11. All three platforms will push to iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices in final form beginning September 19. iOS 11 brings changes to the camera and messaging apps, App Store, as well as Control Center and multitasking. Apple watchOS 4.0 focuses on improving the heart rate monitor, while tvOS 11 tweaks the user interface and App Store experience.


Apple Adopts Qi Wireless Charging, Teases AirPower Charge Mat

Sep 12, 2017, 2:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 12, 2017, 2:21 PM

Apple today announced new iPhones that are for the first time capable of charging wirelessly. The company has adopted the Qi wireless charging standard for the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X. These new smartphones, which have glass rear panels, can charge on any Qi-compatible charging pad. Moreover, Apple showed off a forthcoming charging pad called AirPower that will be capable of charging an iPhone, an Apple Watch, and EarPods all at the same time. The AirPower mat is based on the Qi standard, but Apple has adapted it to handle charging multiple devices at once. Apple said it will work with the Wireless Power Consortium to help others adopt the multi-device Qi technology. The AirPower charging mat won't arrive until some point in 2018.

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Apple Drops Prices of Older iPhones

Sep 12, 2017, 2:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today said it will continue to sell some of its older iPhones, including the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and iPhone SE. Apple has dropped the prices of these handsets across the board. Moving forward, the iPhone 7 starts at $549 and the 7 Plus starts at $669, the iPhone 6 starts at $449 and the 6 Plus starts at $549, while the iPhone SE starts at $349. These devices will be sold at Apple and carrier stores alongside the new iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X.


Apple Reveals iPhone X with Facial Recognition

Sep 12, 2017, 1:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 12, 2017, 2:11 PM

Apple today announced the iPhone X (iPhone 10), a more advanced smartphone that serves as the company's flagship device. It boasts an edge-to-edge display with glass on the front and back surfaces. It has a stainless steel frame holding the glass panels together. Like the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, the iPhone X is water and dust resistant. It includes what Apple calls the Super Retina display. It is 5.8 inches across the diagonal with 2,465 by 1,135 pixels and it relies on OLED technology rather than LCD. It gets rid if the home button that has adorned the front of iPhones for 10 years. Swiping up from the bottom of the screen calls up the home screen, as well as the app switcher. The side button now activates Siri. It uses Face ID for unlocking the handset, based on facial recognition. It relies on the A11 Bionic chip and specialized hardware to create machine learning algorithms. The neural engine has its own dual-core design and can conduct 600 billion operations per second to assess the user's identity. Apple says Face ID requires user attention to unlock the phone, and it can't be fooled by photographs. It works with Apple Pay and apps, and can adapt to your face as it changes over time. The bar at the top of the screen includes an infrared camera, user-facing camera, flood illuminator, dot projector, earpiece, and proximity sensors. Apple created what it calls Animojis, which are animated emojis that rely on your own facial expressions to create movement in the movement. Like the iPhone 8 Plus, the iPhone X has a revised 12-megapixel camera sensor with better dynamic range with two lenses, one at f/1.8 (wide angle) and another at f/2.4 (telephoto). It has optical image stabilization to create sharp focus and a quad-LED flash. It comes with the Portrait Lighting feature of the iPhone 8 Plus, as well, and can shoot 4K video at high frame rates. The iPhone X has a more advanced selfie camera. Apple claims the new handset offers two more hours of battery life, on average, than the iPhone 7. It supports Qi wireless charging, LTE-A, Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi, and GPS. The iPhone X comes in black and silver. It will come in 64 GB and 256 GB variants. It will be available for pre-order October 27, and will ship November 3. It starts at $999.


Apple Provides Final Details About iOS 11

Sep 12, 2017, 1:18 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today showed off a few unannounced features that will arrive with iOS 11 later this month. iOS 11 introduces improved discoverability for stickers and emoji. iOS 11 automatically syncs conversations across devices (iPhone, iPad, macOS), including deleted messages and threads. Apple says most iMessage content is stored in the cloud, which means it uses less storage on mobile devices. Apple Pay gets a boost in iOS 11, too, with the addition of person-to-person payments. Apple used deep learning to create a new voice for Siri, both female and male. The app interface now displays multiple results, and can handle translation. Translations works between English and Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. SiriKit, for developers allows developers to push Siri deeper unto their own applications. The camera app takes advantage of new compression techniques in order to use less on-device storage. The camera roll gains more tools for Live Photos, which allows for video looping and other effects such as bouncing. The camera roll takes advantage of machine learning to identify the subjects within photos and tag them accordingly. Live Photos now support trimming, shortening, and more. iOS 11 redesigns the Control Center, as well as the lock screen and notifications center in order to make vital controls and data as easy to reach as possible. Apple Maps gains indoor map data, such as mall and airport floor plans, for navigating around within large buidings. A new tool called 'Do No Disturb While Driving' will essentially silence iPhones and prevent notifications when it senses it is in a moving vehicle. AirPlay 2 brings with it playback controls for multi-room speakers. A separate API will help developers add AirPlay 2 and multi-room functionality to their own speakers. Apple Music lets people see what their friends are listening to. The new MusicKit API for developers will target social sharing for music, too. Apple expects to distribute iOS 11 to existing iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices on September 19.


Apple Announces iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus

Sep 12, 2017, 1:08 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 12, 2017, 2:11 PM

Apple today revealed the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, a refresh of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. It trades the metal rear panel for glass with a matching aluminum frame. Apple says the glass is infused with metal, making it strong. The phones are waterproof. Both the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus carry over the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch displays of last y pa's models, but add Apple's True Tone technology. The phones rely on the new Apple A11 Bionic processor with six cores. It contains two high-performance cores and four high efficiency cores for battery battery life. The A11 includes Apple's first custom-designed GPU. The phone includes a new image signal processor to handle quicker autofocus in low light while also reducing noise. The new iPhones have a revised 12-megapixel camera sensor with better dynamic range. The 8 Plus has two lenses, one at f/1.8 (wide angle) and another at f/2.8 (telephoto). The 8 Plus includes a new feature called Portrait Lighting. It dynamically adjusts the lighting on peoples' faces as you take their picture. A new video encoder can shoot at faster frame rates, including 1080p HD at 240fps for slow motion. The phones will support augmented reality via Apple's ARKit. Apple said the phones support Bluetooth 5.0 and LTE-Advanced cellular features, as well as Qi wireless charging thanks to the glass rear panel. The phones carry over features such a Touch ID, water resistance. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus comes in silver, gray, and gold. They will come in 64 GB and 256 GB options. The iPhone 8 costs $699 and the 8 Plus costs $799. They will be available for pre-order starting September 15 and will go on sale September 22.


Apple Refreshes the Apple Watch with LTE

Sep 12, 2017, 12:39 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 12, 2017, 2:12 PM

Apple today updated its smartwatch with several new features. Notably, the Apple Watch Series 3 gains an optional LTE radio for connections when phones aren't around or available. The Watch includes an e-SIM to save space, and uses the display itself to act as the cellular antenna. The LTE radio will require a data plan from carriers, such as AT&T or Verizon. People will be able to sync and control apps without their iPhone, as well as make voice calls. Apple says the cellular connection supports streaming from Apple Music and works with Apple's EarPods for on-the-go listening during workouts. The Watch Series 3 contains a new W2 wireless chip from Apple to enable Bluetooth and other connections and a refreshed dual-core processor that's 70% faster than Series 2. It comes in a variety of casings and bands, including a new sport loop made from breathable fabric. The ceramic option is now available in white and gray. The Apple Watch Series 3 costs $329 sans cellular and $399 with cellular. Apple will continue to sell the Series 1 for $249. Preorders begin September 15 and the Apple Watch Series 3 goes on sale September 22.


Apple's WatchOS 4.0 Arrives September 19

Sep 12, 2017, 12:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today said watchOS 4.0 will reach existing Apple Watch wearables on September 19. The platform prioritizes the heart rate monitor. Apple Watch will notify people when it senses a high heart rate when owners are not active. It can also look for atrial fibrillation and provide alerts when necessary. WatchOS 4.0 includes the new Siri watch face that includes the owner's personalized data, such as commute times, calendar appointments, reminders, photo memories, weather updates, and more. The kaleidoscope watch face changes over time, and a wider selection of Disney characters are being added a watch faces. Activity notifications will be more personalized, including goal achievements, and add monthly challenges with new "celebrations" for hitting milestones. The new workout app makes it quicker to start workouts, such as swims, hikes, runs, and more. Apple watchOS 4.0 will be more compatible with gym equipment for counting reps. The music service now supports multiple playlists and a wider selection of album art for workouts when using Apple EarPods. Moreover, music functionality will be much more accessible within workout apps. Other features include a new flashlight, a blinking light for nighttime visibility, and support for other sensors, such as glucose monitors.


AT&T's Throttled Unlimited Plan Scores HBO

Sep 12, 2017, 10:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said customers who subscribe to its Unlimited Choice wireless plan will be given free access to HBO. There are three ways to watch HBO for free. First, customers who already subscribe to HBO through an AT&T video service (DirecTV, U-Verse) will now get HBO at no cost as long as they also subscribe to Unlimited Choice. HBO will refund the monthly fee directly on customers' bills. Second, AT&T video and wireless customers who don't already subscribe to HBO will automatically receive access to HBO's premium channels through that video service for free. Last, customers who have AT&T Unlimited Choice, but don't use an AT&T-branded video service, will be able to access HBO via DirecTV Now or the HBO Go apps at no cost. The AT&T Unlimited Choice plan includes a $25 monthly video credit that can be applied to any AT&T video service. Subscribers to this plan have access to unlimited data service, but at slower speeds. For example, LTE 4G data is capped at 3 Mbps and video streams are capped at 480p.


Energizer Power Max P600S Has 2:1 Display, Huge Battery

Sep 12, 2017, 10:31 AM   by Rich Brome

French phone maker Avenir Telecom has licensed the Energizer brand for a range of large-battery phones, which it aims to bring to the U.S. by the end of the year. One model is the Energizer Power Max P600S, which has a tall-aspect-ratio display much like Samsung and LG's flagship phones this year, as well as LG's Q-series. Avenir hopes to sell the P600S starting at $330. The phone has a 4,500 mAh battery with fast charging over USB-C, as well as the ability to charge other devices. Its display has full-HD+ resolution, and it also features a fingerprint reader, dual rear cameras, a MediaTek P25 processor, 3 GB of RAM, a memory card slot, and Android 7.0. Its network support includes LTE 2/4/7/17, for basic support on AT&T's network. Its design has a metal frame, curved-edge glass on the front, and a rounded plastic back with a carbon-fiber design. A very early prototype was shown off at the MWC Americas event in San Francisco this week. (See photos.) The company also showed off two models with rugged bodies and large batteries: the Energizer HardCase H550S and HardCase Energy E520 LTE. Both are water-proof, shock-proof, and have 4,000 mAh batteries. Avenir is still looking for distribution and retail partners to bring these phones to the U.S. market.

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Samsung Working On 'Foldable' Note Smartphone

Sep 12, 2017, 7:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung is developing a variant of its Galaxy Note line that will have a foldable screen. Koh Dong-jin, head of Samsung's mobile business, said the phone will arrive at some point during 2018 and will feature a bendable display. Koh also noted that Samsung is working intently with Harman to bring artificial intelligence to a speaker-style device. The speaker will be able to play music, as well as conduct other tasks. Koh didn't say when the speaker device will reach the market. The comments were made during a press conference concerning the Galaxy Note8 handset, which recently went on sale on Korea. The phone has garnered praise from the press. It goes on sale in the U.S. for $930 starting September 15.


Qualcomm and Nokia Partner to Develop 5G NR Tech

Sep 11, 2017, 8:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm and Nokia today said they plan to jointly test potential 5G technologies in an effort to speed up adoption of the standard. Specifically, the companies intend to conduct over-the-air field trials of 5G New Radio (NR) Release-15, which is still being developed by the 3GPP. Nokia will supply its 5G First AirScale base station and Qualcomm will supply a prototype device capable of connecting to the network. They will explore 5G NR in the 3.5 GHz and 4.5 GHz bands, as well as mmWave spectrum in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands. They'll use technologies including massive MIMO, beamforming, adaptive TDD, scalable OFDM waveforms, advanced coding and modulation, and a low-latency slot structures. The goal is to reach multi-gigabit per second speeds with latency as low as 1ms. The interoperability testing will start in the second half of 2017. The companies hope to have their technology developed in line with the official adoption of the 5G standard, which is expected in 2019 or 2020.


Xiaomi's Mi Mix 2 Shrinks the Screen, Improves Design

Sep 11, 2017, 7:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Xiaomi today announced the Mi Mix 2, its second-generation showcase handset with a bezel-less design and ceramic chassis. This year's phone dials back the size a bit. The screen drops from 6.44 inches at a 17:9 aspect ratio to 5.99 inches at an 18.9 aspect ratio. The company also reduced the size of the chin bezel by close to 12%. The result is a slimmer, shorter, handset that is easier to manage day in and day out. It is built on an aluminum frame and wrapped ceramic with 18K gold accents. The phone boasts top specs. It is powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor with either 6 GB or 8 GB of RAM, and up to 256 GB of storage. Importantly, the phone steps up its LTE game with support for six modes of LTE operation and 43 different LTE bands — including those used by carriers in the U.S. (The original Mi Mix did no support U.S. LTE bands at all.) The Mi Mix 2 adopts a 12-megapixel Sony IMX386 camera sensor with four-axis optical image stabilization and phase detection autofocus. The front-facing camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and comes with 36 self-beautification profiles. The phone packs a 3,400mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 and USB-C charging. Other features include Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, and WiFi. The cost is about $500 and the phone will go on sale in China starting September 15. Xiaomi did not announce plans to sell the phone in the U.S.


Google Retools Dashboard for Mobile Devices

Sep 8, 2017, 12:55 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it plans to roll out a refreshed version of its account management tool, Dashboard, in an attempt to make it simpler for people to control their data. Specifically, Google has made Dashboard much more touch friendly, which allows people to access and use it more easily from mobile devices, such as smartphones. Dashboard lets people quickly view their Google account activity, such as emails, documents, photos, and settings. Google says the redesigned Dashboard includes a better overview screen and simplifies the process for downloading data. Dashboard includes a range of individual tools, such as My Activity, which tracks everything, as well as My Account, which helps people manage their personal data and select what's available publicly. The new Google Dashboard will reach all users in the days and weeks ahead.


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