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12
May

Dlodlo Glass V1 Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET


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The Glass V1 looks more like a pair of sunglasses than a VR headset.


Aloysius Low/CNET

If you’ve found current VR headsets bulky and hot to use, Chinese VR maker Dlodlo (pronounced “dodo”) has just the thing: the Glass V1, which makes an appearance here in Shanghai at CES Asia. At just 2.75 ounces (78 grams), it’s about half the weight of LG’s 360 VR, itself light by most standards.

Looking like a chunky pair of aviator sunglasses, the Glass V1 easily fits into a pocket, unlike its more bulky counterparts. It won’t be cheap — Dlodlo says its second VR headset will retail for around $500 (that’s around £350 or AU$680). That’s because Dlodlo isn’t skimping on the Glass V1’s components, with a resolution of 2,560×1,024 pixels for each eye, with a 100-degree field of view and support for those with myopia.

While I would have loved to have tried on a pair, the company only had production samples on hand that were not working, and this doesn’t really inspire much hope in me. Unlike VR headsets such as the Samsung Gear VR, there’s nowhere you can slot in a mobile phone.

Instead, like the 360 VR, you connect the Glass V1 to a mobile phone or Dlodlo’s D-Box. This bundled box runs Android and is powered by a quad-core CPU, 4GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. There’s just one thing that concerns me — the connecting wire could get in the way of the VR experience.

I’m hoping the Glass V1 won’t be as bad as LG’s 360 VR, but it has the same open style, which in the 360 let in light and ruined VR’s sense of immersion. The Glass V1 will likely be sold online when it launches in three months’ time.

What you need to know

  • On sale in August
  • Super light at just 2.75 ounces (78 grams)
  • $500 (£350 or AU$680)
  • Comes bundled with Android touch-enabled box
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12
May

Hitman: Go for Gear VR is puzzles for would-be assassins


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It’s weird, but kind of brilliant.

Under normal circumstances, someone asking if you’d like to play a Hitman game where you don’t shoot anyone and it’s really more like a weird board game floating in space would be worthy of an eye roll and a sarcastic comment. Hitman is a franchise known for its sneaky violence, and the Hitman: Sniper release to mobile not that long ago refreshed that idea in the minds of gamers who enjoy sniping from a distance and planning out massive kill streaks.

There’s a new Hitman: Go out now for the Samsung Gear VR, and while you can use your imagination and say there’s a fair amount of killing in the game it’s a lot harder to sell to those who have played through the entire franchise.

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Agent 47 is a little figurine on a floating puzzle board, tasked with navigating the puzzle and killing his way to an objective. You take out enemies by sneaking up behind or beside them, but if you put yourself in front of any of these other figures you’re likely to find yourself dead instead. Stealth is a priority, but so is making sure you eliminate you mark. In some cases, you’ll even have movement minimums to add an extra challenge.

Like the original version of the game, which was released for Android two years ago, this game is a little different. In any other environment this game would be far too silly to be called a Hitman game, but in the Gear VR you’re able to move your head around and see the puzzle from many different angles. You can slip past the guard on the left and get the briefcase, toss a rock to lure someone to their death, or even rack your brain looking for a way to solve a puzzle with no kills at all. Each level gets increasingly more complicated, but the basic rules of Hitman are still in play, which makes things a little more interesting.

It all feels a little unusual — and in some cases downright cute — but Hitman: Go for the Gear VR is also a ton of fun. It’s a great puzzle game even if it’s not what anyone thinks when you see the Hitman branding on something. You can find Hitman: Go in the Oculus Store on your Gear VR.

12
May

Dark Sky can tell you exactly when the weather will start pouring down on your head


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Dark Sky is one of those weather apps that will save you from getting absolutely soaked by offering “hyperlocal” reports. Already available for iOS, the app has made its way to the Play Store and can now provide the Android ecosystem with down-to-the-minute, highly accurate readings.

As an added bonus, the app is free to download and use with a full 24-hour forecast, details 7-day forecast, current weather conditions and more. There is a premium tier membership on offer for those who require more advanced features like the down-to-the-minute readings, rain notifications/alerts, widgets and more. That’ll set you back $2.99 a year.

You can download Dark Sky from the Play Store.

12
May

Verizon adds more data to its prepaid smartphone plans


Verizon Wireless has announced the company is adding more data to its prepaid plans for smartphones, with 6GB of data a month for $60 and 3GB of data for $45 a month.

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Here’s the breakdown of what the new prepaid smartphone plans offer for Verizon customers:

  • 6 GB of data including 1 GB of AutoPay Bonus Data with unlimited talk and text in the U.S. and unlimited text and calling to Mexico and Canada for $60 per month (prior plan included only 3 GB);
  • 3 GB of data including 1 GB of AutoPay Bonus Data with unlimited talk and text in the U.S., plus text to Mexico and Canada for $45 per month (prior plan included only 1 GB);
  • Unlimited talk, text, Wi-Fi for only $30 per month.

In addition, people who still use basic phones can get 300 voice minutes, texts or multimedia messages.and unlimited mobile web for just $15 a month on Verizon’s pre-paid plan, or unlimited talk, text and mobile web for $30 per month.

12
May

Google makes finding Android apps even easier with new Apps tab in mobile search


Google has added a new tab to its mobile search results, apps. This tab will give you a list of related Android apps that you can download from Google Play, with an install button that will take you right to the listing. If you want to check and see if your favorite Android site has an app (hint: we do!) you can now just search for Android Central and then click the apps tab to show the related apps.

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Sure, you could always head right into Google Play to search for your apps, but this new tab makes it easier to see the related apps for all of your searches. It is always easier to be able to see more from one place than it is to hop around between various apps to find the information that you want. To try it out for yourself, open the browser on your phone or tablet, search for something and then tap the Apps tab in order to see related apps.

Thanks for the tip, Rob!

12
May

HTC 10 audio testing – BoomSound evolved


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The BoomSound you might remember from HTC phones of old is gone. It’s been replaced by something much better.

When HTC first announced the HTC 10, we learned that the traditional audio setup we saw with the last few high-end models was gone. With a new external speaker configuration and a promise of better audio tweaks for listening through both the speakers and with headphones, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. I’ve got some really good news — the new BoomSound is the best BoomSound. And I don’t mean just the outside speaker configuration.

The HTC 10 speakers

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The HTC 10 uses a new speaker configuration where a full range speaker is placed at the top of the phone (where the earpiece is positioned) and a bottom firing speaker for lower frequency sounds. This means things aren’t as loud as previous models that had two front-facing speakers, but the tone is better balanced and has more separation. It’s the same idea as putting a subwoofer behind the couch or under your desk while having full-range speakers pointed towards your ears.

If you liked the old BoomSound speakers, you’ll probably like the new BoomSound speaker setup even more

HTC gives you two software modes for BoomSound when using the built-in speakers — Music mode and Theater mode. These do a decent job of emulating 2.1 channel and 5.1 channel audio, and flipping between the two you can hear the “spatial” difference. Theater mode sounds like you’re using three other speakers placed around you, firing from different angles, while Music mode is more of a straight blast out of the front of the phone. In both modes, the bottom-firing speaker isn’t a problem and you’ll need to physically block the speaker port to muffle it.

Let’s be clear here — I still think music played through tiny electronic speakers with no travel and a very limited cabinet still sounds horrible. But the new BoomSound is far less horrible than the distorted loud sounds that came from phones like the M9 with two full range front-facing speakers. A good part of this is because the volume is more limited and has better adjustment, and the system itself responds very well to tone and equalizer adjustments from your music player. The speakers also do a pretty good job while watching video, because the separating makes dialog and speech sound more clear.

If you liked the BoomSound speakers on HTC’s prior phones, you’ll probably like the new BoomSound speaker setup even more. I certainly do.

Headphone audio

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I was very skeptical of HTC’s claims of excellent headphone audio on the HTC 10. Not only was I surprised at the results of both audio benchmarking and listening, but I found out my skepticism (as well as most everyone else with the same concerns) was unfounded.

The HTC 10 uses a stand-alone DAC as well as headphone amp

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 does a lot of things right, but clear audio isn’t one of those things. Something in the digital to analog converter circuit introduces an extreme amount of noise and crosstalk into the analog output, and phones like the U.S. Galaxy S7 and LG G5 sound pretty poor because of this. After doing some testing, I was presented with results that just didn’t make sense from the HTC 10 — it was better than it should be, even with extra work and attention to the analog circuit that brings signal from the DAC output to the headphone jack. You can only do so much magic to a bad signal. I asked HTC how they did it, and found out that some assumptions about the HTC 10 audio hardware that the internet (and myself) has are incorrect. The HTC 10 uses a stand-alone DAC as well as headphone amp and isn’t using the Snapdragon 820 DAC. This is pretty important, and why the HTC 10 sounds as good as it does.

We use a discrete DAC (not one on the SoC) in addition to the amp and have done a ton of PCB engineering to insure the best possible signal-to-noise ratio. Credit to HTC engineering, not off-the-shelf components.

So much for relying on the internet. That’s a mistake I won’t make again.

Needless to say, the results of my benchmark testing with the HTC 10 are pretty damn outstanding.

Frequency response +0.00, -0.00 +0.02, -0.03 closer to zero is better
Noise -146.4 -94.4 lower/further from zero is better
Dynamic Range 133.2 94.1 higher is better
Total Harmonic Distortion 0.0000 0.0044 closer to zero is better
Intermodulation Distortion + Noise 0.0002 0.0088 lower is better
Stereo Crosstalk -147.8 -91.0 lower/further from zero is better

Let’s explain what you’re seeing here for those folks who aren’t doing audio benchmarks. The first column is the testing parameter. The second column is the audio equipment I’m using to benchmark the HTC 10 — the equipment itself will inject it’s own noise and distortion into the software, and knowing how much and where is important. The third column is the result from the HTC 10, and the fourth column tells you how the numbers should look. Also, remember that -100 is a lower number and further from zero than -90 or nothing here is going to make sense.

It’s worth noting that my testing equipment shows as “perfect” in some tests, but that only means the software used isn’t able to find the flaws. Hooked up to a scope or more sensitive (and expensive) audio testing hardware, it would show a much different picture. What’s important is that it is better than the devices being tested.

For folks who would like to perform their own audio hardware benchmarking or talk about the equipment used we can discuss that in the forums. It’s pretty fun, but a bit more complicated than something I’d want to write in a blog post.

The ultimate Android phone audio benchmarking thread

I can make it easy for those who aren’t quite sure what words like crosstalk or harmonic distortion mean — the HTC 10 audio hardware scores as good or better than the LG G5 with the B&O HiFi audio module installed, and there is little discernible difference when compared to the LG V10 — a product that most agree offers some of the best audio hardware available in a phone. On the hardware side, the HTC 10 will satisfy almost anyone, and the RightMark Audio Analyzer studio gives every category and “excellent” rating. So do I.

Listening tests

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Benchmarking audio hardware is just like benchmarking any other hardware — it only tells part of the story, and often does even that poorly. As an example, the HTC M9 spat out numbers better than the HTC M8, but most audio nerds would say the opposite was true and the M8 had a much better sound. What’s important is how it actually sounds through your favorite headphones. (Spoiler: it sounds good. Damn good)

I installed PowerAmp, loaded some of my favorite HQ FLAC files (24-bit/48kHz or higher) and used my favorite mobile headphones — the Sony MDR-7506 studio model. I then kicked back and played some music for a bit while the wife and dogs were out having fun. As expected, the results were great.

Benchmarks only ever tell part of the story, and often poorly

Part of the equation here is what happens the first time you plug a pair of headphones in. The HTC 10 allows you to set a personal audio profile, and let’s you do it by actually listening to reference tones if you like. You start the calibration, adjust things until you hear the sounds (both low and high frequency) then save it. You can choose this audio profile in tandem with HTC’s Dolby effects, or choose one or the other. I choose my own profile but didn’t apply the Dolby effects.

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Of course, you can also do this with your own reference tones and an equalizer, and maybe get even better results if you know what you’re doing and don’t mind spending the time doing it. But the way HTC does it is simple and still very effective — especially if you want to use “flat” sounding headphones and adjust things to your liking by hand. Which I do. After setting things up, I made sure any eq and tone adjustments in PowerAmp were shut off and just listened.

In my experience, the HTC 10 is a really good music player

All the music I tested — old “classic” Country and Western, heavy Rock and Metal, Classical and golden age tunes from Sinatra and the like as well as remastered songs from the ’70s sounded great. Music sounded clear, with little to no distortion even at the highest levels, background noise was almost non-existent and the separation (hearing each tone and frequency without them blending together) was really nice. Even testing with a self-generated 30 seconds of silence or a track with quiet single instrument portions has no hiss or noise to drive me crazy. It’s not perfect audio, but that’s something I’ve never been able to experience from a handheld player (or any home audio equipment I can afford to buy). I’m sure someone out there can find fault with it, but in my experience it’s every bit as good a music player as the V10.

If you’re thinking about buying an HTC 10 and great audio is on your short list of must have features, you’re good to go. If you already have an HTC 10, go ahead and snag a good pair of headphones and fill your SD card with some hi-res music files — you’ll like what you hear.

12
May

How to watch the Europa and Champions League finals for free


It’s coming to the end of the domestic football season and that means a couple of the sport’s greatest honours will be contested in the next couple of weeks.

On 18 May in Basel, Switzerland, Liverpool will take on Sevilla in the final of the Europa League. Then, on 28 May in Milan, the two Madrids, Real and Atletico, will battle it out for Europe’s biggest trophy – both figuratively and literally, in the Champions League final.

Traditionally, both have been broadcast on terrestrial television in the UK. Not so this year, as BT has the exclusive rights.

That doesn’t mean you need a subscription to a sports package with one of the paid TV services though. You can still watch it no matter your circumstances. And on telly too.

Here’s our guide to the different ways you can watch both finals; free and paid.

When is the Europa League final on TV in the UK?

The Europa League final between Liverpool and Sevilla will kick off at 19:45 BST on Wednesday, 18 May.

When is the Champions League final on TV in the UK?

The Champions League final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will kick off at 19:45 BST on Saturday, 28 May.

Where can I watch the Europa and Champions League finals in the UK?

On paid TV

If you subscribe to BT YouView, or the sports packages on Sky or Virgin Media you can watch both finals on the BT Sport Europe channel, with build-up shows starting at 19:00 BST ahead of each match’s kick off time.

Check your provider for costs and package details.

READ: BT Ultra HD YouView+ review: A bold step into future 4K entertainment

On Freeview

BT Sport Showcase on Freeview channel 59 will also show both matches live.

Online

BT.com and BTSport.com will also livestream both matches.

On YouTube

In a first for both tournaments, the finals will also be livestreamed through YouTube. You just need to head to BT Sport’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/user/BTSportOfficial.

In Ultra HD (4K)

While you can watch the matches live in several other ways, only customers with access to BT Sport Ultra HD can watch either final in 4K.

You can find out more about BT Ultra HD here.

In Liverpool

Liverpool fans have been advised not to travel to Basel if they do not have tickets for the Europa League final. Ticket allocation has been particularly stingy and St Jakob Park only has a capacity of around 38,000.

BT therefore will host a massive screen in Liverpool’s Echo Arena for fans who want to watch the match with others in the best way possible. Tickets cost £5 each and doors open at 6pm. All proceeds go to charity.

12
May

13 iPhone battery tips and tricks


Smartphones are great dates: they look good and they are patient with you while you take photos, reply to emails, browse the internet and respond to messages. The flaw almost all of them have however, is they don’t have the stamina to last all day and night.

The chances of it making it through from breakfast to dinner, after dinner drinks and your Uber or train ride home are pretty minimal, no matter what device you have.

Here are 13 battery tips to squeeze as much life out of your iPhone as possible.

Turn your screen brightness down

Sometimes you need your display to be nice and bright, but most of the time it’s not necessary, especially indoors.

Slide up from the bottom of your home screen and toggle the screen brightness to as low as you can go. You can always ramp it back up if you need to see something specifically and then flick it back down.

Turn off background app refresh

You don’t need every single app you’ve downloaded on your iPhone to be refreshing in the background so turn off the ones you don’t need.

Unfortunately, this means going into each app individually to check if background refresh is on, but it will be worth it if you have your iPhone to order your Uber at the end of the night. Head into Settings and scroll down to see all the apps on your device.

Turn display Auto-Lock to 30 seconds

Most of us turn hit the power button to check for notifications or the time, but it’s easy to forget to hit the power button again to turn the display back off.

Making sure Auto-Lock is set to the shortest possible time, which is 30 seconds, will ensure your display isn’t using power for longer than necessary.

Avoid constantly turning your screen on

As we said above, many of us have a habit of constantly turning our screens on even when we know we haven’t had a message and we looked at the time two minutes ago.

Try and avoid turning your display on unnecessarily as much as you can. It sucks a lot of power, which you could use for more important things.

Turn on airplane mode when signal is weak

Searching for signal is one of the biggest power munchers so if you are in an area that has weak or no signal, consider turning airplane mode on or turning mobile data off.

Airplane mode is not ideal as it means you’ll get no calls, messages or anything else coming through but it will save your battery and it can be done easily, swiping up from the bottom of the home screen.

Turning mobile data off will mean your iPhone will still receive calls and texts but it won’t be constantly searching for 3G. To do this, head to Settings > Mobile Data and toggle Mobile Data off.

Turn location tracking off

Tracking location means your iPhone is constantly using Wi-Fi networks, Bluetooth and built-in GPS to pinpoint where you are, which obviously will use battery power.

If you aren’t using a specific app that requires your location data to get you somewhere then turn it off.

Turn vibration off

Vibration alerts are useful, especially if your iPhone is on silent, but they require the use of the motor and that motor needs juice from the battery.

To do this, head to Settings > Sounds and toggle Vibrate on Ring and Vibrate on Silent off.

Turn off notifications

You probably don’t need to be notified for absolutely everything that is going on. Yes, it’s useful to get WhatsApp or Message notifications but do you really need to know when someone has commented on your new Facebook profile picture? Probably not.

Limiting the number of notifications you receive will help your battery life and maybe even your sanity. Like background app refresh, you have to go through each app individually. Head to Settings > Notifications and then start filtering through your apps.

Fetch email manually

It’s useful to get emails as they are sent, but just because you get them straight away doesn’t mean you have time to read them straight away.

Changing your email settings so you get them manually instead of your iPhone fetching them will help save your battery life. If you don’t like the idea of entirely manual, change the fetch schedule to a longer duration such as hourly instead of every 15 minutes for example. To do this, go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Fetch New Data.

Turn Siri off

Siri is always listening. That means Siri is always using your battery. You can turn the Hey Siri feature off easily enough so it’s worth doing if you’re trying to save some juice.

To do this, go to Settings > General > Siri > Allow “Hey Siri” and toggle it off.

Check which apps are eating your battery

There are some apps that eat more battery than you would think. It’s worth checking which apps you are using that are impacting your battery life the most so you are aware.

Head to Settings > Battery > Battery Usage. You can choose the last seven days or the last 24 hours. It’s worth checking both to see if you can see a pattern or figure out which apps to especially avoid.

Turn off Bluetooth

We mentioned turning on airplane mode or mobile data off when you have weak or no signal, but it’s also worth turning Bluetooth off separately.

You might not always be in a position whereby airplane mode is convenient but turning off Bluetooth on its own will still save battery. Swipe up from the top and toggle Bluetooth off from here.

Turn Low Power Mode on

If all else fails, Apple has a Low Power Mode that will reduce power consumption as much as possible. This mode will turn off background app refresh, Hey Siri, Mail fetch, automatic downloads and reduce visual effects.

To turn Low Power Mode on, head to Settings > Battery and toggle it on.

12
May

Google puts search, GIFs and more inside its new iOS keyboard


Although Google has plenty of iOS apps, switching between them to share directions or perform a web search can be time-consuming. The company knows that the iPhone keyboard is where you spend a lot of your time, so it’s decided to launch fresh take on Apple’s default option. It’s called Gboard and it can search the web, embed GIFs, locate the perfect emoji and grab weather reports. It will also help send restaurant information, flight times and news articles to friends and family. “Anything you’d search on Google, you can search with Gboard,” says Rajan Patel, Principal Engineer at Google.

Let’s talk more about that emoji picker. Apple’s standard keyboard lists hundreds of tiny images, but locating the fire emoji can prove frustrating unless you know which section it resides in (it’s in Animals & Nature, by the way). Simply search for the keyword that best describes it and Gboard should instantly find it. Another really useful feature is the ability to pull up a Google search from the big “G” button positioned on the top left corner of the keyboard. Hit the button, search for whatever you want to send and attach it as a card without having to leave your conversation.

While swipeable keyboards have been available on iOS for some time now, Gboard introduces support for Google’s Glide Typing, which lets you slide your finger between keys to input text with tiny gestures. The company says Gboard will launch in the US first, but it will come to more regions (and support more languages) soon. Also, with Google I/O just around the corner, it would be safe to assume that Android users won’t have to wait long to get a taste of Gboard’s features too.

Via: Google Blog

Source: Gboard (App Store)

12
May

Hyperloop One CEO wants us riding in tubes in 2021


The company formerly known as Hyperloop Technologies has had a busy couple of days. It renamed itself Hyperloop One, announced partnerships with governments and investors, launched a competition and performed a public test of its propulsion system.

At the helm of the company’s evolution from “pretty cool idea” to testing a functional sled in the desert is CEO Rob Lloyd. The former Cisco president obviously knows a bit about networks and scale. Both skills are needed if Hyperloop One wants to bring an actual transportation system to the world.

We sat down with Lloyd to talk about government partnerships (someone needs to build all those tube networks), when people will be allowed inside the pods, and if we’ll ever travel under the sea.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

As a private company, how do you see governments partnering with Hyperloop One?

I think first and foremost it’s going to take government support to create a regulatory framework to make Hyperloop a possibility. We’re seeing some very good support from federal transportation authorities and state and local transportation groups around the world. We’ll need a supportive environment for regulations. We need people that want to move faster than the status quo.

Also, we think we support many of the priorities that governments have which includes less destruction of the environment and a more sustainable all-electric transportation. It makes no noise. While the system today was on rails, Hyperloop in the future doesn’t have anything touching a rail while it’s being levitated. So there’s no friction. You won’t hear a Hyperloop go past your house. We think we’re generally so much aligned with government policy, we just need to educate governments and get them on our side.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So that involves governments building the tracks/tubes like the construction of the interstate system?

Exactly. The interstate system gets built from high density point-to-point locations. You solve a real problem and you build the network. Hyperloop is a network. You start with a few nodes in the network where you really solve a problem. Then you build extensions to those nodes. I think governments are instrumental. They may be the bigger challenge than building the Hyperloop technology itself.

If everything goes according to plan, how far is Hyperloop from becoming a reality?

I’m convinced that we will be building freight transportation systems in 2017 and 2018. I’m very convinced we’ll be working collaboratively with a government and regulatory environment to start construction of passenger systems in 2018. I’m entirely convinced we’ll be seeing freight moved in a Hyperloop by 2020, maybe 2019 and our first passengers by 2021.

So freight is the first application?

It’s an easier step. There are less systems that need to be designed and certified. And for passengers, they should be certified. We all want to have a trusted relationship when we do anything. When we drive our car, when we fly in a plane, or when we travel in a Hyperloop. That’s important to use. We’ve actually brought people on that are beginning to help us with the safety certification process. When people ride Hyperloop we want them to feel comfortable and confident.

You talked about underwater routes. Is that a pie-in-the-sky idea or something we’ll see in 2020s?

Let’s go in this order: Above ground first. Below ground in a tunnel through very rapid boring technology that allows us to do very straight and direct tunnels next and then underwater. Probably in that sequence.

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