As of today, some users in the MacRumors forums who are running iOS 9 noticed a different message when attempting to activate the feature, and just hours later, WiFi calling began working for a limited number of AT&T subscribers.
When attempting to activate WiFi calling in the Settings app, users who have access to the feature are receiving a welcome screen, a disclaimer, and a notice that WiFi calling has been activated and should be available within a few minutes. During the setup period, users are required to enter an address that emergency services will visit as a caller’s location cannot be determined from a WiFi call.
Following a short waiting period, WiFi calling becomes ready for use with the “Wi-Fi calling on This iPhone” option toggled on. While a few of our readers have had success getting the WiFi calling feature working, several other users do not have access, suggesting AT&T may be testing the feature in a limited number of areas ahead of launch.
WiFi calling was first introduced with iOS 8, and shortly after the feature debuted, AT&T announced plans to support it. The company has not made any further announcements, but it is likely an official launch will come after iOS 9 is released to the public in September. An AT&T employee who is also a MacRumors reader says that his store has not received word on an upcoming launch, so official word on further availability of WiFi calling may still be a few weeks off.
WiFi calling is a feature that lets calls be placed over a wireless connection when cellular connectivity is poor. It is similar in function to Apple’s own FaceTime audio feature, and has thus far been limited to T-Mobile and Sprint users.
You’re probably tired of hearing just how “unconventional” Google is after yesterday’s surprise restructuring announcement. Sure, making Google a subsidiary of a company called Alphabet is certainly strange, especially after it’s become a household brand practically synonymous with technology culture. But, really, CEO Larry Page’s decision to reorient the company makes plenty of sense given just how far Google has come from simply being a search company. On top of wildly popular offerings like Android and YouTube, Google is also exploring things like self-driving cars, delivery drones and even life extension. Now with everything under Alphabet, Page no longer has to justify why a search company is delving into such far-out territory. And that sets up a future where Google can avoid the stagnation so common to big tech companies, and its subsidiaries can be even bolder in their ambitions.
So what does all this mean for you, the tech-savvy consumer? At first, probably not much. Page was clear that Alphabet isn’t intended to be a consumer brand; instead the whole point is to give each subsidiary the ability to build up their own brands. And you can bet that things like the company’s self-driving car initiative will forever be thought of as a “Google” project. The company will separate Google’s financials from the rest of Alphabet in the next earnings report, which should give peace of mind to investors. Google’s stock jumped around 6 percent in overnight trading, so it’s clear the market is responding positively to the news.
In the long term, forming Alphabet basically seems like a way for Google to avoid following in the footsteps of Microsoft and IBM, companies that faced stagnation at points in the face of younger, nimbler competitors (like Google). When you’ve got successful legacy businesses, like Google’s search and Android OS, sometimes it’s better to keep them separate so they don’t get in the way of new ideas. Each of Alphabet’s subsidiaries will have their own CEOs and will be managed somewhat independently, which should technically make it easier for them to innovate without worrying about what every move means for the entire conglomerate. At the same time, they’ll also be able to share their successes with other Alphabet companies.
“We’ve long believed that over time companies tend to get comfortable doing the same thing, just making incremental changes,” Page said in his announcement yesterday. “But in the technology industry, where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant.”
Indeed, there’s something to be said for avoiding comfort. IBM’s dominance and massive success in the mainframe era was one of the big reasons it ended up losing the PC market to Microsoft and Apple. And while Microsoft was in the smartphone arena before Apple, it missed out on the modern mobile revolution by being slow to catch up to the iPhone’s capacitive touchscreen and large app library. You can probably blame the steady cash cows of Windows and Office for that (among many other issues at Microsoft).
But while Alphabet is an intriguing move by Google, it’s unclear if Page’s ideal vision of the company will pan out. All of the company’s CEOs will still have to answer to Page and Google co-founder (and Alphabet president) Sergey Brin. So while Sundar Pichai is technically now CEO of Google, he doesn’t have anywhere near the amount of influence Page and Eric Schmidt had as former CEOs. In the end, he’s still a product guy focused on Google’s online services, Android and Chrome. We also don’t know what it’ll look like when Alphabet subsidiaries end up conflicting with each other.
In trying to avoid the mistakes of many big tech companies, Google has crafted itself an unconventional future. But it will be years before we see if Google’s Alphabet pays off.
[Photo credits: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images (Larry Page); smoothgroover22/Flickr (Self-driving car)]
Tags: Alphabet, google, LarryPage
Verizon has announced that it has successfully completed field tests of its new super-fast fiber optic technology, dubbed the next-generation passive optical network (NG-PON2). It could offer users connectivity speeds anywhere from 10Gbps to 80Gbps some point “in the future”, according to a Verizon press release. The new system utilizes an optical line terminal (OLT) capable of generating four wavelengths of light, each of which is able to transmit at an eye-watering 10Gbps down and 2.5Gbps up.
Interestingly, the network can actually transmit both the current GPON (Gigabit-capable Passive Optical Network) signal as well as this new NG-PON2 simultaneously. What’s more, should one of the wavelengths fail (due to, say, equipment failure), the system can reportedly switch over to one of the other three wavelengths to quickly restore the 10Gbps connection, a redundancy that should help improve the FIOS network’s reliability.
The company sees its implementation as a necessary step for the upcoming shift to 4K video streaming. As such, Verizon will begin issuing “requests for proposals” for the hardware and software needed to upgrade its FIOS service later this year. There’s no word yet on when the service will actually come online but it will likely only be available to businesses at first. And even then, potentially only on the East Coast. By comparison, Comcast offers 2Gbps for $300 a month, and Google offers 1Gbps service for $70, both of which are already deployed throughout the country and available to personal and commercial users alike.
[Image Credit: Associated Press]
Tags: 10gb, fios, NG-PON2, opticallineterminal, verizon
The Steam Machine invasion is happening this fall. But while these computers are said to be more powerful than traditional consoles, such as the Xbox One or PlayStation 4, none of them are exactly portable. Smach Zero’s device, however, is. Formerly known as Steamboy, the handheld system runs Valve’s SteamOS and features a 5-inch, 720p screen, 32GB of onboard storage (plus an SD card slot), 4GB RAM, HDMI-out and configurable gamepads. In terms of connectivity, you’ll find Bluetooth, WiFi and, on the Pro model, 4G for true on-the-go gaming. Smach Zero is also promising access to over 1,000 Steam games at launch, but we’ll have to wait and see if that turns out to be true. According to the manufacturer, it will be available during Q4 of 2016 starting at $299. If you’d like to pre-order it, you can do so on November 10th — the same day as other Steam Machines are launching.
Back in June, Smach Zero said the handheld would be powered by AMD’s G-Series system-on-chip (Steppe Eagle) with Jaguar-based CPU and GCN-based Radeon graphics, which should be good enough to play through SteamOS titles like BioShock Infinite, Civilization V, Half-Life 2 and many more.
Tags: hdpostcross, Smach Zero, SmachZero, Steam Machine, Steam Machines, Steamboy, SteamMachine, SteamMachines, Valve
Last year, we had a lot of fun at Engadget Live Los Angeles and now we’re gearing up to do it all over again. Next Friday, August 21st, we’ll take over Exchange LA from 7PM to 10PM and give readers like you a chance to experience the future of technology.
For your refreshment, our friends from Drizly will be on hand to offer drinks, including a signature Whiskey cocktail that’ll be complimentary for the first 250 people who ask for it. And we’ll announce many more sponsors in the weeks to come.
If this all sounds like an amazing night in the City of Angels (and it should), grab your free tickets here and we’ll see you on the 21st. Then, we’ll wrap up our Engadget Live series in Austin on October 16th.
Tags: boston, drizly, engadget live, engadgetlive, escape 2016, events, ford, fordsync3, lax, los angeles, losangeles, sync 3
It doesn’t take long for social media to become antisocial. A tactless tweet, an inappropriate picture or even a mundane status update can create the perfect storm for online shaming. In an attempt to convert those rabid online tendencies into opportunities for empathy, the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) has teamed up with Google News Lab to create a VR pop-up studio. It invites newsrooms to collaborate and explore the visual medium as a tool for creating compelling stories. Journalists will be able to use practical tools like data visualization in a virtual setting and eventually progress to realistic experiences that will place viewers in situations that might otherwise seem far removed from everyday life.
From high school bullies to fallen PR exec Justine Sacco and most recently, lion hunter Walter Palmer, the discussion around cyber-ridiculing tends to reach hyperbolic heights. The first tool under the studio’s collaborative umbrella, called Fader, will allow journalists to pull relevant activities from social media in real time. It’s essentially a dashboard, powered by the Unity gaming engine, where they can use keywords and filters to search for shaming snippets and aggregate them. The “virtual room” is expected to help them analyze those instances better, so they can identify key influencers.
While identification will help clear through the online clutter that often misguides opinions, the pop-up studio could eventually encourage empathy with immersive experiences. Journalists like Nonny de la Peña have already employed the technology to demonstrate the power of emotions within the context of news. Her pioneering work with “Project Syria” and “Hunger in Los Angeles,” for instance, places the viewers in simulated situations so they can witness the scene for themselves.
“VR can help in understanding bigger, very difficult subjects,” Linda Rath-Wiggins of VRagments, a Berlin-based organization that has partnered with CIR, told Engadget. “When people are in front of a specific event, you can make it more understandable.” It’s the virtual equivalent of walking in someone else’s shoes.
In addition to providing a network to create those experiences, Joaquin Alvarado, CEO of CIR, believes the studio will also encourage a unique a peer-to-peer relationship in the virtual space. He likens the platform to massive multiplayer games where the community network is just as integral to the experience as the environment and the action.
CIR isn’t new to progressive experimentation. The organization has toyed with various forms of storytelling over the years including podcasts, animations, data apps and video games. As such, they’re aware of the challenges that come with a new medium. “To me the problem is not technical; it’s always creative and it’s about the practice,” says Alvarado. “What can and should journalists be doing in VR that significantly advances the story, that engages the communities and stakeholders and exposes the truth? Those challenges don’t change in VR; they are not heightened or lessened; they’re just tools that we can apply to journalistic practice.”
The practice of journalism evolves with every cycle of technological advancement. Could newsrooms someday be powered by virtual reality? “Every time we get the new fever for a technology, we all feel like we’ve finally found the Rosetta Stone,” says Alvarado. “Is this going to be a boutique with some superfans who like to geek out in VR or is it going to be a mass medium that will finally activate your game console around journalism?” In the absence of a mature VR market, it’s hard to predict that just yet. For now, the studio hopes to bring the community closer in an effort to put a human face to a passing tweet.
[Images credit: Fred Hayes/Getty Images]
Tags: CIR, ImmersiveJournalism, TechRaking, VirtualReality, vr, VRagments, VRPopupStudio
If you’re already annoyed with the autoplay video ads in your Facebook timeline, you might want to brace yourself. The social network is opening up that advertising tech to outside apps, or more specifically, to publishers who leverage Menlo Park’s Audience Network for their advertisements. In addition to those clips that play automatically, developers can leverage “dynamic product ads” that serve up content based on your browsing habits, carousel ads with up to five images and the more common (and less annoying) click-to-play videos. Of course, ads, especially on mobile, have been a big money maker for Facebook, and now it’s further expanding that reach.
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Since launching last year, the Audience Network has provided publishers and developers with engaging, high performing ad units backed by Facebook’s two million advertisers. Today, we are excited to announce a significant expansion of ad types and formats available in the Audience Network. The goal is even better outcomes for you, your advertisers and the people that use your app.Learn more about how you can enable native video ads for your app – https://developers.facebook.com/blog/post/2015/08/11/new-formats-for-audience-network/
Posted by Facebook Developers on Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Tags: ads, autoplay, facebook, mobile, social, software, video
Google Creative Lab, the development team behind the Photowall for Chromecast application, has just released three new experimental apps to the Google Play Store for free. None of these apps are extremely functional, though they still provide a fun look at what’s possible with some of Google’s technologies.
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First on the list is an app called Landmarker, which aims to turn your orientation into an interface by showing you major destinations around you. Once you start spinning your device around, the app will show you where key landmarks and destinations are located, and you can open any location in Google Maps if you’d like to get a better view. Take a look at the screenshots above to get a brief look at the app’s interface.
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Next up is an app called Tunnel Vision that lets you heavily distort video by using different filters. Each filter can be pinched or panned to alter your perception, which actually looks pretty neat in some cases.
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Last up is Lip Swap, which is probably the most fun of the bunch. This app lets you take any photo, scribble out the area that you’d like to remove, and swap out other peoples’ mouths, eyes, or any other features and replace them with your own. You can also record a video of your movements and share it with whomever you’d like.
Pushbullet has received a new update in the Play Store. Users will be glad to know, the update brings a major enhancement to privacy. Notification mirroring, universal copy and paste and SMS will now be encrypted on both ends. Information sent through Pushbullet is now kept private and your data is only visible to you. The update won’t bring any changes to features in the app and everything will remain untouched.
Here’s how to enable it:
- Download the update on all of your devices. Note: the update is currently only available to Android, Chrome and PC users. iOS and Mac availability will be rolled out in the coming weeks alongside support for other browsers.
- Open up the app and setup a password on each device. This can be done in settings under end-to-end encryption. The password is used in order to derive a key that’s used to encrypt all the data. The password won’t be viewed by anyone except for yourself.
It’s as easy as that! Your data will now be encrypted on both ends meaning your information will be encrypted before it ever leaves your device, and isn’t decrypted until after it’s received on your other device.
Come comment on this article: Pushbullet gets new update with end-to-end encryption
Google is now a subsidiary of a bigger company called Alphabet, but they may run into some issues using that name. Apparently, the name Alphabet (and alphabet.com) is already registered to German automobile manufacturer BMW. That Alphabet handles support to corporations for vehicle fleets, and BMW isn’t interested in selling the name or website domain. Google never approached BMW with an offer to purchase the domain, anyway, but that’s a moot point.
However, just because Google is using the name doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve broken any laws or infringed on BMW’s copyright. Technically, two companies can use the same name so long as it doesn’t cause any confusion for customers. Google might run into a problem with this considering they’re pretty heavily invested in Android Auto and self-driving cars, but that’ll be up to BMW to investigate if they plan on suing for Google’s use of the name.
This entire rebranding scheme is a little confusing, and throwing trademark litigations on top of everything definitely won’t help. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out with both companies, though.
source: New York Times
Come comment on this article: Google’s new Alphabet restructuring may run into legal issues with BMW