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printed July 26, 2017
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Cochlear Debuts iPhone-Compatible Cochlear Implant Processor

Today, 10:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

A new product from Cochlear Limited will allow iPhone owners to stream sound from their device directly to their cochlear implant. This is made possible by the Cochlear Nucleus 7 Sound Processor, a behind-the-ear sound processor that bridges the iPhone and the implant. Cochlear says the processor makes it possible for iPhone users to not only stream audio to their implants, but to also control, monitor, and customize their hearing via the associated application. The app can help people record coil-offs time, as well as time in speech environments, including time spent listening to FM radio or streaming music. It also offers a tool for locating lost processors if they happen to fall off. Cochlear says the Nucleus 7 was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month and should be available in September for those looking at new implants. The Nucleus 7 will support some of Cochlear's older implants through an upgrade beginning in October.


Android Auto Can Now Navigate with Waze

Today, 9:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made Waze available within Android Auto. The new integration means those who prefer Waze to Google Maps can take advantage of Waze via their car's in-dash infotainment center. In order to use Waze, Android users will need to download the latest version of Android Auto and Waze, and then connect their phone to their car via USB. Waze is a popular alternative to Google Maps because it provides real-time information about accidents, construction closures, and other events that may impact navigation. It relies on crowd-sourced data to provide the most up-to-date information. Google says Waze fans will be able to navigate to their favorite destinations saved in Waze (work, home, etc.), receive visual and audio alerts about hazards, check the estimated time of arrival along with alternate routes, and of course help other Waze users by sharing information about accidents and traffic jams. Google said it is working on a version of Waze that works within Android Auto directly on smartphones, but for now Waze integration is limited to in-dash access.

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Apple Must Pay U. Wisconsin $506 Million Over Patent

Today, 8:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple was ordered this week by a U.S. judge to pay $506 million to the University of Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) thanks to patented technology found in Apple's A7, A8, and A8X processors. The patent involves increasing the efficiency of chips by predicting what instructions the user will give them. WARF originally filed the lawsuit in January 2014 and was granted a jury victory in October 2015. The original judgement was for $234 million, but the judge more than doubled the damages because Apple has continued to use the patented technology in its iPhones (A9 processors) during the course of the lawsuit. Apple sought to have the patent declared invalid, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected Apple's bid. Apple is appealing the ruling. WARF sued Apple again in 2015 over the same patent, which it claims is being violated in newer versions of the iPhone. That second case is still winding its way through the courts. The patent, originally granted to WARF in 1998, expired in December 2016. Apple maintained its innocence.


USB 3.2 Spec Promises to Double Data Transfer Speeds

Today, 7:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group this week released the spec for USB 3.2, which has the potential to boost speeds through cables. Specifically, USB 3.2 takes advantage of the multi-lane operation that has been built into existing USB Type-C cables. Now, as long as both devices support USB 3.2, end users should see data transfer speeds double. The Promoter Group says the spec allows for up to two lanes of 5 Gbps or two lanes of 10 Gbps operation. The spec makes use of the existing SuperSpeed USB physical layer, but makes minor updates to the hub specification to address increased speeds in addition to transitions between single- and two-lane operation. The USB 3.2 specification is available to developers only at this time. The USB 3.0 Promoter Group expects to release the final version of the spec in September. Devices with support for USB 3.2 will likely not appear in the market before 2018. It's unclear if or how USB 3.2 might be used with mobile devices. Some of the companies in the USB 3.0 Promoter Group include Apple, HP, Intel, Microsoft, ST Microelectronics, and Texas Instruments.


Giphy Makes It Possible to Create GIFs In Your Mobile Browser

Today, 7:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Giphy recently rolled out a new tool that eases the GIF creation process. Now, there's no app to download and install because Giphy built the GIF maker into its mobile web site. People need only enter a YouTube or video URL, or capture or upload a video to begin the process of creating a GIF. The tool supports text and graphics overlays, and once the GIFs are saved online they can be shared most anywhere across the web. Giphy's new GIF maker is free to use in Chrome and Safari on Android and iOS devices.


Google's Trusted Contacts App Lands On iOS

Yesterday, 3:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today brought its Trusted Contacts app, available to Android devices since last year, to iOS handsets. Trusted Contacts lets people share their location with others during emergencies. The app simplifies the process of adding friends and family as emergency contacts. It allows those added to the list to request location at any time, and works even when offline or the phone's battery is dead. Users can proactively share their location if they feel unsafe or become involved in an emergency situation. People added to the Trusted Contacts list will see the phone's activity status to know the owner is okay. The app is an alternative to Facebook's Safety Check, which allows users of the social network to mark themselves safe during times of crisis. Trusted Contacts is free to download from the iTunes App Store.


Apple Makes Third iOS 11 Beta Available to Public Testers

Yesterday, 2:37 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today released iOS 11 Public Beta 3 to those testing the platform. The release follows closely that of a new build for developers, which was made available earlier this week. This third beta is much more stable than the first or second. iOS 11 targets the iPad more than the iPhone, but both devices gain expanded Control Center tools, a refreshed App Store, new camera features, Siri improvements, as well as updates to iMessage, the Keyboard, files, and more. The final version of iOS 11 isn't expected until the fall.


Adobe to Retire Flash In 2020

Yesterday, 2:35 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Adobe today said it will stop updating and distributing the Flash player in 2020. The web plugin is widely used across the web to power experiences such as video and gaming. Adobe says new, open standards such as HTML5 and WebGL have already begun to replace Flash in web browsers. Adobe is working with partners including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla to help with the end-of-life process. Adobe will update and patch Flash up until the end-of-life moment arrives in order to ensure users are protected. It is already encouraging content creators to adopt the new open standards ahead of the change. Flash was once a flashpoint in the mobile space after Apple debuted the iPhone. Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously penned a blog post entitled "Thoughts on Flash" in which he explained Apple's reasons for not supporting Flash within iOS. It was a major point of contention, as it prevented the iPhone from accessing some web content. Apple is now helping Adobe with the transition away from Flash.


Motorola Offering Free Projector Mod with Moto Z2 Force Purchase

Yesterday, 2:14 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today said consumers who purchase the new Moto Z2 Force at any time between now and September 10 will receive a free projector Moto Mod. Consumers can buy the Z2 Force via any channel, such as a wireless carrier, electronics store, or Motorola.com. Consumers then need only send the phone's IMEI number to Motorola, which will ship the projector free of charge. The Insta-Share Projector, released last year, is capable of projecting 70-inch images and video in high definition onto any flat surface. The projector includes its own battery and kickstand for finding the right angle. The projector normally costs $299.


Motorola Shows Off 360-Degree Camera Moto Mod

Yesterday, 2:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today revealed a new modular accessory along with the Moto Z2 Force: an attachable 360-degree camera. The camera can capture 360-degree images and 4K video, as well as 150-degree shots from either the front or back. The 360 Camera Moto Mod comes with its own photo-editing software so people can customize the images to fit their particular sharing needs. The camera can also stream live 360-degree video across social media channels, such as Facebook and YouTube. The snappable mod goes on sale with the Moto Z2 Force on August 10. It costs $299.


Qualcomm Makes Good On Promise to Release Neural SDK

Yesterday, 1:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm today made its Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine SDK available to all developers. The SDK was first announced in May 2016 and has been in limited testing with select partners since the third quarter of 2016. Today signals the wide release of the SDK. The SDK will allow smartphone and other hardware manufacturers to add their own machine learning programs to devices with Snapdragon 600 and Snapdragon 800 series mobile platforms. Qualcomm says it is ideal for applications in industries including mobile, automotive, healthcare, security, and imaging. The Neural Processing Engine SDK relies on Qualcomm's Zeroth Machine Intelligence Platform. Zeroth is already baked into the Snapdragon processors. Qualcomm says the SDK will enable typical deep learning behaviors such as scene detection, text recognition, object tracking and avoidance, facial recognition, and natural language processing.. The SDK includes a bevy of tools to help developers create and add such learning behaviors to their devices.


Hands On with the Moto Z2 Force

Yesterday, 12:32 PM   by Eric Zeman & Rich Brome

Motorola today announced the Moto Z2 Force, the company's newest flagship phone. The phone sports a durable ShatterShield display, thin metal design, dual cameras, and of course supports the company's Moto Mods system of snap-on accessory modules. We took it for a quick spin and have some first impressions to share from our hands-on time with it.

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Moto Z2 Force Drops 'Droid' Branding On Verizon

Yesterday, 11:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola announced the Z2 Force today, which replaces both the Z and Z Force from last year. The phone will be sold by most U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. Motorola said the Verizon variant will not include the "Droid" branding that was found on last year's phones. Motorola is sticking with a single device name across carriers. Verizon did not provide comment on the name change. Motorola plans to sell the phone unlocked from Motorola.com, but there is no single unlocked model, according to Rudi Kalil, vice president and general manager at Motorola. Kalil said Motorola will offer unlocked variants for each carrier due to the specific cellular radio requirements for forthcoming 1 Gbps service that's under development from the carriers. The Moto Z2 Force is available for preorder today and will ship starting August 10.


Motorola Reveals the Moto Z2 Force Flagship with Shattershield

Yesterday, 10:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 11:37 AM

Motorola today announced the Moto Z2 Force, its flagship handset for 2017. The Z2 Force carries over the Shattershield nearly unbreakable display from last year's phone. It is a slim handset boasting a metal chassis and compatibility with Motorola's system of Moto Mods accessories. The display measures 5.5 inches and offers quad HD resolution. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. The new dual-camera array includes two sensors (one standard, one monochromatic) in the single raised module with two-tone flash. The cameras capture 12-megapixel images and allow for true black-and-white photography as well as selective focus for blurred backgrounds. Other specs include a wide-angle, user-facing camera with CCT flash for more accurate skin tones. The device includes Motorola's TurboPower charging with all-day battery life. Motorola says a 15-minute charge delivers 8 hours of battery life. This year's phone includes Motorola's standard nano-coating to protect the inner components from water damage, but the Z2 Force is not fully waterproof. It includes Motorola's multi-function fingerprint sensor as well as Moto Display with quick reply and Moto Voice with "show me" commands. The phone will be available in gray, black, and gold colors. The phone will be sold by most U.S. carriers and is available for preorder starting today. Motorola said the Moto Z2 Force hits stores August 10. It runs Android 7 Nougat.


Google Maps and Google Search Debut SOS Function

Yesterday, 7:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced its Google Maps and Google Search apps will soon show critical information regarding natural and other disasters that may strike. The SOS Alerts, as they are called, will appear at the top of search results and within maps as people look for information concerning the disasters or impacted areas. In Google Search, results will include pertinent news stories or broadcasts, emergency numbers, and relevant web sites. Those close to disaster areas may receive push alerts with the same information. In Google Maps, Google will showcase data concerning the event, phone numbers and web sites, as well as placement on the map and real-time information regarding road closures or changes to mass transit. Google partnered with agencies including the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross to gain access to the information. Google is bringing SOS Alerts to its mobile Search and Maps apps for Android and iOS. The same information will also be available to desktop machines.


Google Says More Daydream VR Phones Are On the Way

Yesterday, 7:08 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company's handset partners have new Daydream-compatible devices in the pipeline and there should be a total of 11 such phones available by the end of the year. At the moment, only four phones are able to use Google's virtual reality headsets, including the Pixel and Pixel XL, ZTE Axon 7, Motorola Z, and Huawei Mate 9. It's not clear if Pichai was including the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, which are primed to receive Daydream compatibility through a software update. The figure likely does include Google's 2017 Pixel devices, whatever they may be. Daydream has certain hardware requirements, particularly where the display is concerned. For example, the display must be between 4.7 and 6 inches, must have a 60 Hz or greater refresh rate with low-persistence mode, and must have at least full HD resolution, with quad HD preferred. Companies including Motorola, HMD Global, Samsung, Sony, Huawei, and LG all have major device announcements lined up between now and early September. It is possible these forthcoming handsets will be among those supporting Google Daydream.


Samsung Makes the Galaxy J7 and Galaxy J3 Available Unlocked

Monday, 3:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today added the Galaxy J7 and Galaxy J3 to its list of unlocked smartphones. The two inexpensive handsets will be available to purchase directly from Samsung's web site as well as select retailers starting July 28. The J7 (pictured) is the larger, costlier of the two with a 5.5-inch 720p HD screen and $220 price tag. It also has a 3,300mAh battery, 8-megapixel main camera, and 5-megapixel front camera with flash. The smaller J3 has a 5-inch 720p HD display and a $150 price point. The J3 also has a 2,600mAh battery, 5-megapixel main camera, and 2-megapixel front camera. Both phones support expandable memory cards, support U.S. 3G/4G networks, and run Android 7 Nougat. They have been available from several U.S. carriers (AT&T/Cricket, T-Mobile/MetroPCS) for several months.


Google Drops Android O Release Candidate

Monday, 1:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made Android O Developer Preview 4 available to application developers and said this is the final preview before Google releases Android O to consumers later this year. This build contains the final user interface system behaviors, the latest bug fixes and optimizations, and the final set of APIs. Google says along with the penultimate version of Android O, it is offering developers the stable version of the Android 26.0.0 Support Library along with incremental updates to the SDK, Android Emulator, and other developer tools. Among the new tools is a way for developers to test their applications for Android O preparedness. Those who have enrolled their devices in the Android Beta Program should receive Developer Preview 4 over the air in the next few days. Google has already made the system images available for those who prefer to manually install updates. This new preview can be installed on the Nexus 6p and 5x, Pixel, Pixel XL, and Pixel C, and the Nexus Player. Some of the core features of Android O include picture-in-picture, notification dots, widget picker, new emoji, and revamped settings tools. Google said the final version is expected to arrive later this summer. Google still has not revealed what dessert the "O" will be.

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