A day before $799 preorders go on sale U.S., HTC has announced international pricing information for the consumer version of its Vive virtual reality kit. Depending on the country, price stays close to what we’ll be paying here in the States, or it goes up by a couple hundred dollars or so. And that’s, of course, not counting the high-end PC you’ll need to run Vive in the first place.
Nations in the Eurozone will have to pony up €899.00 — that’s about $991 USD. China, however, will pay the equivalent of $1,056 USD. (European prices include tax.)
HTC also announced that in addition to Fantastic Contraption and Job Simulator, Google’s Tilt Brush 3D drawing app will be included in the pre-order bundle. (If you haven’t seen it, it’s fantastic.)
Source (and more prices): HTC Vive blog
Back from Barcelona and down to business.
If there’s ever a week that’s guaranteed to be absolutely insane, it’s the week of Mobile World Congress. MWC 2016 was no exception, bringing a huge number of new devices to the mobile party.
Let’s start with Android: we finally got to check out the Samsung Galaxy S7 and its bigger and curvier S7 edge stablemate. As well as the modular metal LG G5. And the quite impressive Xiaomi Mi5. Plus the Sony Xperia X and X Performance and Alcatel Idol 4S.
Not to be left out, Microsoft was on hand at MWC as well, showing off the insane new HP Elite x3, targeted at business users with optional desktop and laptop Continuum docks. Huawei unleashed the powerful Matebook and Alcatel went after entry-level customers with the Alcatel Plus 10. Plus Lenovo’s Yoga 510, 710, and MIIX 310.
Apple’s fight with the FBI continued, and you can expect it to continue for some time across the media, courtrooms, and boardrooms across the world. [Apple filed their formal legal stance on the issue), claiming that the FBI has neither the law nor the U.S. Constitution on their side. We’ll see how this is going to play out, but we expect it’s going to take a very very long time to reach a final resolution.
All that and much much more in this edition of Mobile Nations Weekly!
Android Central — An MWC hangover
This was the week of Mobile World Congress, and that means there’s a lot to talk about here.
Plenty happened at the show itself, from smaller phone announcements to some information coming out of interviews with company representatives, but some of the biggest news just simply coincided with the show, happening at outside venues instead. Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, LG brought out the modular G5 and Xiaomi took the wraps off of its spectacular Mi5.
Here are some of the biggest MWC stories:
- Samsung Galaxy S7 hands-on
- LG G5 hands-on
- Sony Xperia X and X Performance hands-on
- Alcatel Idol 4 and 4S hands-on
- ‘Moto’ brand not going anywhere, exec says
- Intel not backing down from hard fight in Android
- Xiaomi Mi5 hands-on
- Here are Android Central’s Top Picks for MWC!
Believe it or not, there was also some non-MWC news that happened this week:
- Marshmallow rolling out for the NVIDIA Shield Android TV
- What Samsung Pay means for Canadians
- Smartphone security: You are the weakest link
- Hands-on with 360Fly
- Nexus 6P owners: How’s your battery?
- Getting to know USB-C
CrackBerry — Acquisitions
Although Mobile World Congress was light on hardware news for BlackBerry, the company still had plenty to announce including new partnerships, new acquisitions and new company initiatives.
- BlackBerry expands security portfolio with launch of Professional Cybersecurity Services
- BlackBerry reiterates stance on encryption: lawful compliance and no backdoors
- BlackBerry COO Marty Beard talks cross-platform strategy, IoT and more with Mobile World Daily
iMore — No cancerous GovOS for us!
FBI vs. Apple continue to dominate the news cycle this week, with the government hitting the blogs, Apple hitting the courts, and everyone else hitting the web to talk about it.
Meanwhile Apple’s March Event approaches, which means we’re getting close to a new 4-inch iPhone 5se, an iPad Air 3 that might end up being more iPad Pro mini, and plent more.
Come, walk with us!
- #StandWithApple for your chance to win an iPhone!
- Apple says no to GovOS: FBI’s demands conflict with U.S. law and the Constitution
- Pencil’ers rejoice: Apple restoring gesture navigation
- Best password managers for iPhone
Windows Central — Pivot
Microsoft has been busy once again this week releasing Windows 10 build 14271 for both Fast Ring Mobile and PC Insiders on the same day. The company has only done that one other time, but with 2016 upon us and backend changes to OneCore, more updates on both platforms for Insiders is to be expected. Speaking of, production builds of Windows 10 Mobile build .107 is now going out to more phones including the AT&T Lumia 950.
The purchase of Nokia’s mobile division never sat right with Microsoft’s focus as a software company, which is why the acquisition of Xamarin makes so much sense. Xamarin makes very popular cross-development tools for iOS, Android and Windows and Microsoft plans to make Universal Apps truly universal.
Finally, early in the week HP unveiled the Elite x3, which is the most powerful Windows Phone to date. Targeted for enterprise the phone can operate as a mobile, laptop, or desktop device using Continuum. The phone is a remarkable feat of engineering if only because HP has jammed every piece of modern technology into it. The phone should ship by late summer. Read our Elite x3 FAQ to learn more and check out our hands-on video.
- Check out the HP Elite x3 Windows 10 Mobile phone
- Alcatel OneTouch Fierce XL phone giveaway
- Windows Central + Microsoft Gems campaign
- These are Windows Central’s top picks of MWC 2016!
- Review: Far Cry Primal for Xbox One
Two stellar phones, with overlapping specs. No wonder folks are getting so excited.
Without a doubt one of the more … discussed … announcements at Mobile World Congress this year was the LG G5. If you’re only looking at the specs, on paper, it might seem like a slight step backward in a mobile world that’s always going bigger and faster. But get the G5 into your hands, and things change a bit. It’s very nicely designed. That’s not to say there aren’t questions about real-world use — how often will we use the dual rear cameras, for instance.
And, of course, there are the optional modules — one that adds a camera grip, some physical buttons for shooting, and an extended battery; another for high-definition audio.
One of the more vocal questions we’ve heard about all this has come from those who currently own the flagship of LG’s other line — that’d be the V10. So let’s take a quick look.
The biggest difference between the G5 and the V10 is, of course, size. The V10 is a large phone by anyone’s standards. But it’s also a very well-designed large phone, and it feels like a tank. The G5 is a full centimeter shorter. (That’s not a unit of measurement we get to use too often around here.) It’s a little more than a half-centimeter more narrow. The display is a good bit smaller. So for many folks this is going to be a more manageable phone.
The LG V10 and the LG G5 aren’t as different as you might think. But each has its place.
There’s been a lot of hemming and hawing over the smaller battery in the G5. It’s all of 6 percent smaller than the battery on the V10 (and the LG G4, for that matter). Just 6 percent — and in a much smaller size. We’ve got to wait until we get to spend more time on the phone before we can comment on what sort of real-world battery life to expect, but the Snapdragon 820 in the G5 is, on paper anyway, supposed to be even more energy efficient. So maybe it’ll be a wash. Maybe it won’t be. But it’s premature to write off the G5 just because of a 6 percent difference in stock battery capacity.
Other than the size, the display isn’t a big departure from the V10. I didn’t think the V10’s secondary display was perfectly implemented (though it was an interesting idea), and maybe you’d miss it on the G5. On the other hand, the G5 gets an always-on display that’ll give you a little more information all the time, too.
Then there’s the matter of high-definition, 32-bit audio, via a B&O-powered digital-to-analog converter. The V10 does that out of the box (minus the B&O part). It’s built into the phone. The G5 can make use of an optional module that replaces the stock bottom of the phone. The plus side is that the DAC module outputs everything in 32-bit, not just certain apps. And it’s relatively small for what it does. The down side is that we have no idea how much this module is going to cost yet. That’s a big question mark.
Remember that the V10 is the start of a new line for LG, though, with its phones being meant more for content creators. And as such it has full manual control over video recording. The G5 doesn’t. That’s probably not a deal-breaker, but it is a really cool feature we’d love to see expand.
|Processor||Snapdragon 808||Snapdragon 820|
|Main display||5.7-inch QHD||5.3-inch QHD|
|Storage||64GB + microSD||32GB + microSD|
|Rear camera||16MP||16MP main, 8MP wide-angle|
|Front camera||5MP Dual Lens||8MP|
|Battery||3,000mAh (removable)||2,800mAh (removable)|
|Operating system||Android 5.1.1 Lollipop||Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow|
|Size||159.6 x 79.3 x 8.6mm||149.4 x 73.9 x 7.7mm|
|Weight||192 grams||159 grams|
And we still have a lot of questions about the G5 itself. I’ve not seen anything yet that inherently rules it out. It’s different than the V10. Better? Worse? That’ll be your call.
- LG G5 hands-on
- LG G5 complete specs
- LG G5 CAM Plus module
- LG G5 B&O Hi-Fi audio module
- The G5 has an always-on display
- LG G5 keeps the SD card, shuns adoptable storage
- Join the LG G5 discussion
- Read our full review
- LG V10, a second opinion
- LG V10 specs
- All the latest LG V10 news
- Join the discussion in our forums
- LG V10 vs. the LG G4
Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Amazon
It’s been a week of mixed news for the tech industry. Boston Dynamics and MIT showed off new devices that could radically advance humanity while, at the same time, Sharp spent billions on a company whose employees regularly throw themselves from its roof. Samsung showed off some massive new memory chips even as its lawyers continued their perpetual war with Apple. Worst of all, some genius gave Woody Allen money to make a new movie. Just, ugh.
At last, we have a UK price for the HTC Vive. We always knew that the VR headset would cost a little more than the Oculus Rift, given the difference in the pair’s hardware. The bundled wand controllers and the external sensors for room mapping and location-tracking…it had to add up. But how much? £689.
If you do decide to pull the trigger, HTC says Google’s Tilt Brush will also be included in the pre-order bundle. However, that’ll only be available for a limited time. We hope you’ve been saving, because you’ll be able to order from 3pm tomorrow, ahead of its release on April 5th.
Source: HTC Vive Blog
I, Mat Smith, through the gift of working as a journalist here at Engadget, am verified. On both Twitter and Facebook. It’s the social networks’ way of certifying that I’m better than the muggles that people are who they say they are. I get a ticket to digital VIP room. Am I somebody? Not really. But you get certain bragging rights when you have that blue tick next to your name. Now Tinder’s jumped on the bandwagon: It, too, has verified profiles. To be clear, there’s no honorable, journalistic reason for me to be verified, but when I joked about getting such a certification on the online dating app, I received a flood of direct messages asking for confirmation (skeptics!) and for advice on how they could get the same treatment. Can I get Tinder Famous? Do I even want to?
Like other social networks, Tinder points people to its site FAQ for questions on how it verifies accounts. “Only some public figures, celebrities and brands will be verified,” it says. To the extent that you can link your Instagram account to your profile, it passes the buck somewhat to Facebook for authentication.
The confirmation process is otherwise a manual one: You shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org explaining why you should be verified. Ways to do this include showing you’ve been given the same treatment on other social networks, or by indicating that you’re someone in the public eye. To all the celebrities reading this, you probably have plenty of evidence if you’re really, actually famous. Tinder says it receives multiple requests a day. In response, the company takes a closer look at your background, fan base and other social media accounts before deciding if you get a verified badge. (At this point I get the feeling that I neither need nor qualify for Tinder’s blue tick — and didn’t try to use nefarious media powers to claim verification)
Verified on Tinder.
— Mathew (@thatmatsmith) January 18, 2016
The Hollywood Reporter said that Lindsay Lohan and Ashton Kutcher are users — and that Josh Groban is definitely not. Katy Perry said she used it at one point. And yet, I’ve not yet seen a blue tick while browsing in (I hope I don’t sound desperate here) New York, London, LA or Tokyo. I’m not the only one who’s found famous Tinder users conspicuous by their absence.
Multiple Tinder representatives told me that the company doesn’t disclose figures on how many people have been graced with blue icons. It could be a very small number, or it could be that verified Tinderellas and Tinderfellas are quick to find long-term love. Maybe?
Before Tinder’s verification system, I had seen famous people during my Tinder time-wasting, but I never swiped right (“yes”) on these famous people, as I wasn’t interested. There’s always the huge seed of doubt that this isn’t the person they say they are (the main reason for Tinder adding verification). Besides, it may be that many public figures don’t want the extra attention that a social network gold star would confer. They might avoid verification because they’re hoping it won’t get in the way — or fear the negative connotations that still pervade dating apps.
Perhaps, in the most naive of ways, famous people are just looking for love. That said, the famous people I’ve seen go for selfies and unpolished group pics. Katy Perry’s not on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards, and Zac Efron isn’t using a still with his top off from … all those movies where he’s topless at some point.
Even at my low level of writer fame — and as my colleague “Laptop Lady” Dana can already attest to — it’s a weird experience meeting with someone who knows your work. I often drop my employer from dating profiles. I might want a more visible profile when it comes to my work life, but I don’t need the same when it comes to dating.
Closet organization isn’t exactly rocket science. For example, you can use a large Command Hook or two to hang belts. However, finding a place to store certain garments or other miscellaneous items while also maintaining order is often easier said than done.
For ties and scarves, there is a very simple solution. All you need is a handful of shower curtain hooks and a clothes hanger, which you can find in packs of 12 for around $1.00 at your local Walmart or dollar store.
To make your own tie rack, take an unused clothes hanger from your closet and add one shower curtain hook per tie to the rung on the clothes hanger. Thread the ties through the hooks, one by one, and hang the clothes hanger on the clothes rod.
This also works exceptionally well for organizing your scarves and making them easier to sift through quickly.
If you have a scarf or tie that only goes well with one particular garment, put the shirt or garment on the coat hanger, slip the shower curtain hook over the hook end of the hanger and thread the tie or scarf through the hook.
If you want to take it one step further, you can attach a Command Hook to the wall and place your clothes hanger with the ties or scarves on it.
Here’s where things get tricky and frustrating. Once you get everything hung and in the closet, you may realize that the clothes hanger does a really poor job of staying level with ties on it. A slight bump will send all the hooks to one end of the clothes hanger.
To prevent this from happening, use a small amount of hot glue on each shower curtain hook to hold it in place.
Alternatively, if you find this solution isn’t stable enough and you have some extra space on the hanging rod in your closet, you can add the shower curtain hooks directly to the rod itself. This way, you won’t need glue and the ties will stay in place much better.
The Good Comfortable design; a large, readable display; good-looking accessories; solid four-day-plus battery life; works with iPhones and Android phones.
The Bad It’s wide; pop-out design for band-swapping and charging feels clunky; can’t shower with it; baked-in Fitstar workouts don’t do much.
The Bottom Line Fitbit’s first real smartwatch gets a lot of things right, including comfort, features, and price, but it’s not a slam-dunk design for everyone.
My wife said to me, “I want a fitness tracker that’s a watch. Can you get one for me?” I know there are lots of options. But I’m not sure a lot would be up her alley. There are almost-normal watches that have some basic fitness in them, like the Withings Activite Pop. There are super-powered smartwatches that do some health tracking but need lots of charging, like Apple Watch. And there are dedicated fitness watches for runners.
Then there’s Fitbit.
The Fitbit Blaze is the company’s first major attempt at making an everyday watch. It’s somewhere between a fitness tracker and a smartwatch, and picks a little from both. It’s a similar idea to what other companies like Garmin already have, but with Fitbit’s software. And it costs $200, or roughly £135/AU$280 (it has a variety of bands and accessories that can make it look nicer, but also run up the price).
I wore one for a week. Would it be my ideal combination watch and fitness tracker of choice? Well, it comes really really close.
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At first I thought: I don’t want to wear this
The Blaze aims to look attractive. It is, sort of. But a lot of the Fitbit Blaze’s design feels weirdly retro, like a first-gen smartwatch or something vaguely 80s. Someone at work called it a “Delorean on your wrist.” It also has an angular Diesel watch-like look. The sharp corners and wide screen aren’t for everyone. I’d say the office was pretty split on it. Some thought it was surprisingly lightweight and looked great, and others said it wasn’t their style at all.
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Fitbit Blaze next to similar-looking cousins: Apple Watch, iPod Nano with wristband, and Pebble Time Steel.
I wasn’t wild about it at first, but after taking off the Apple Watch and riding solo with Fitbit Blaze I found it met most of my needs. It’s not a bad design, either. And it’s extremely comfortable to wear. The whole package reminds me a bit like the Basis Peak (if you’re a smartwatch nerd, you might remember). Peak tried to be a fully automatic fitness watch. Its one-week battery life and always-on screen made it really convenient. Fitbit Blaze feels similarly convenient, but it doesn’t have an always-on screen. The Blaze’s finicky LED touchscreen blinks off after just a few seconds, but at least it lights up when you raise your wrist or tap.
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Blaze tracks steps, heart rate, sleep, stairs, and syncs with the same Fitbit app as always.
Then I thought: this isn’t much different than a regular Fitbit
The Blaze tracks steps, stair climbing, heart rate, and sleep automatically, just like our current favorite fitness tracker, Fitbit Charge HR. It also adds a large color touchscreen and side buttons, which can let you start and stop workouts plus get stats mid-session like heart rate, pace, etc. It comes with four fitness watch faces, which are all a little easier to read than the Charge HR’s super-tiny display. And it can work as a stopwatch or timer.
The Blaze has a few small “smart” functions: it gets texts, shows incoming phone calls, and calendar reminders. It can control music playback from your phone with a mini-remote on the screen. But that’s it. (Thankfully, messages can be silenced.) It can buzz you with silent alarms, too, for wake-up calls. Is that enough? I missed the extra messages, hooks and some apps of the Apple Watch. But I don’t always need them. After a couple of days, I learned to do without them. For someone who hates the idea of a smartwatch, Fitbit Blaze might be just enough of a balance.
In fact, most of the Blaze’s features are pretty similar to the more expensive Fitbit Surge, except the Surge has an always-on black and white screen, and also has built-in stand-alone GPS. By contrast, the Blaze needs to sync with the GPS on your phone to track runs. (Which means you need to have your phone with you — something serious runners sometimes don’t like to do.)
I like that the Blaze records “active exercise” when it senses you’re working hard for over ten minutes. After each day, much like Apple Watch and other trackers are starting to do, I could get a better sense of how sedentary I was (or wasn’t).
Woe to the blogger who complains even a little bit about having to work in Barcelona for a week. But that’s not to say Mobile World Congress isn’t work, and that’s not to say some years aren’t better than others. And this year may well have been our best.
We did upwards of 100 stories. (Probably more, given that we undoubtedly missed a tag or two.) Some was done in advance, but more than half was live. (I’d been warning folks for a few weeks to expect some seriously heavy coverage, right?) Work at these things tends to expand to fill the time we have. There’s always something more to be done. (We’ve still got a few stragglers to be posted, actually.)
I’m pretty stoked about all the videos we did.
Having someone like Mark Guim on the ground with us is a game-changer for us when it comes to video. (And we’re lucky we get to steal him away from Windows Central as much as we do. And having the crew of Alex Dobie, Andrew Martonik, Richard Devine and Derek Kessler on hand means we pretty much can do anything you can throw at us. I raised a glass in Spain, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t do so here as well.
A few other thoughts on the past week or so …
- I really think folks are going to pleasantly surprised by the LG G5 once they actually get it in their hands. It’s a really good phone, never mind all this modular stuff.
- We did more interview-style reports this year. Those are fun to do, though they definitely take more time. But they’re important to do.
- Especially that piece on Sony, the new X line, and what it means for the Xperia Z line. A lot of single-paragraph quotes were floating around that morning. We brought you a full interview and the realization that maybe (and I’m not 100 percent convinced either way) the Xperia Z line isn’t all the way dead, with great context from Alex’s writing.
- Intel’s Aicha Evans is awesome. I’ve been around some candid execs before, but none quite this candid.
- Same goes for Motorola’s Rick Osterloh and Adrienne Hayes. The short version there is they’ve still got some marketing and branding hurdles to overcome. But they’re excited about upcoming products.
- I wish I’d been at the Xiaomi Mi 5 event. (Logistical issues strike again.) That looks like a sweet phone.
- I haven’t really said anything here about the Samsung Galaxy S7. My quick take is if you loved the GS6, you’re really going to love this phone. It’s even better. (I’m particularly excited about the size and feel of the GS7 proper.) It’s going to be a tough choice between it and the edge.
- And we didn’t really touch on 5G at all, which was the main theme of MWC this year. It’s coming, for sure, but it’s still way early. A couple years before it consumers need to worry about it. It’s not just speed this time either, but how all of these connected things will talk to each other.
- We had our list of MWC winners, but I think the big winner was Qualcomm’s marketing department. It was Snapdragon 820 everywhere you looked.
So that’s (just about) it for MWC 2016. Now the real work begins. We’re in the midst of a pretty big overhaul of what we do and how we do it. A lot’s going to change, but the core of what we do will remain the same. And it’s going to get even better. Stay tuned. I’m excited as hell. Thanks for coming along for the ride with us.
If you’ve been waiting forever for a flying car, you won’t have to hold out much longer: The Terrafugia TF-X will take to the skies by the year 2018. In other transportation news, Singapore-based Vanda Electric unveiled an insane 1,500-horsepower supercar that can go from 0 to 60 in 2.6 seconds. Tesla partnered with Radio Flyer to roll out a tiny Model S for kids. And a NASA scientist thinks that in the far future lasers could send a spacecraft to Mars in just 30 minutes.
Singapore-based Vanda Electric unveiled a 1,500-horsepower supercar that can go from 0 to 60 in 2.6 seconds
The Indian Point nuclear plant is located just 25 miles north of New York City, and recent reports show that it’s leaking “uncontrollable radioactive flow” into the groundwater. Meanwhile, a damage report on the Los Angeles methane leak shows that it’s one of the worst disasters in US history. On the brighter side of things, a revolutionary new solar plant in Arizona generates clean power all day and all night. Norway announced plans to build the largest onshore wind farm in Europe, and Bill Gates thinks that a climate-saving energy breakthrough is only 15 years away.
architect Vincent Callebaut unveiled plans for an urban farming utopia that produces more energy than it uses
LED bulbs revolutionized the way that we light our homes, and now they could give internet speeds a big boost. French startup Oldecomm has developed a new LED Li-Fi technology that’s 100 times faster than conventional WiFi. In other design and technology news, Tokyo students developed a 3D-printing pen that can draw structures in mid-air. Apparel company Oros is using NASA technology to create super insulating aerogel jackets for hitting the slopes. And visionary architect Vincent Callebaut unveiled plans for an urban farming utopia that produces more energy than it uses.