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20
Jun

iPhone 7 May Have Dual SIM Trays for Use With Multiple Carriers


Chinese smartphone repair shop Rock Fix recently shared photos of alleged iPhone 7 components on microblogging service Weibo, potentially including dual-SIM trays that would allow for the smartphone to send and receive calls and messages from multiple phone numbers (via Engadget).

Dual SIM technology would also enable iPhone 7 users to use multiple carriers based upon network coverage, pricing, and other competitive differences. A customer in the United States, for example, might elect to use AT&T for nationwide voice and text messaging and T-Mobile for cheaper and unlimited 4G LTE data.

Dual SIM support would differ slightly from the Apple SIM, which allows cellular iPad users to easily switch between different short-term data plans from select carrier partners using one SIM card. The Apple SIM is particularly useful for traveling abroad, with coverage in more than 90 countries and territories.

A number of Android-based smartphones feature dual SIM support, particularly in Asia, including select models sold by Alcatel, BLU, Bluboo, HTC, Huawei, Lenovo-Motorola, LG, Meizu, Samsung, UMI, and Xiaomi. The OnePlus 2, OnePlus 3, and OnePlus X also have dual SIM trays.

Rock Fix turns out to be the same source of a previously leaked Lightning cable assembly for the iPhone 7 that retains a 3.5mm headphone jack, despite widespread rumors claiming that Apple will switch exclusively to Lightning and Bluetooth audio output for wired and wireless headphones respectively.

iPhone-7-parts-rock-fix-weibo
The smartphone repair shop shared further pictures of the aforementioned Lighting cable assembly alongside purported images of a dual-lens camera and 256GB SanDisk flash storage appropriate for the iPhone 7 series. There are also a trio of display components that may be from early prototyping stages.

Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 7 series in September. The smartphones are expected to retain iPhone 6s-like designs with faster Apple A10 processors, dustproofing and waterproofing, repositioned antenna bands, and faster LTE and Wi-Fi. A dual-lens camera and 3GB of RAM may be exclusive to the 5.5-inch model.

The addition of a Smart Connector, stereo speakers, a touch-sensitive Home button, and a new Deep Blue color option have also been rumored, but it is not entirely clear which features are destined for the iPhone 7 series, no longer planned, or reserved for the alleged OLED-based iPhone with glass casing in 2017.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
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20
Jun

Fitbit’s New ‘Sleep Schedule’ Combines ‘Bedtime’ in iOS 10 With Sleep Tracking


Fitbit today announced a new featured called “Sleep Schedule” as an update to its existing iOS and Android apps, aimed at guiding users into an overall more healthy lifestyle through the introduction of consistent sleep patterns. Users who wear their Fitbit devices to bed will gain increased insight into their sleeping schedules, as well as personalized sleep goals and reminders that are all aimed at encouraging a consistent bedtime every night.

Interestingly, Fitbit’s new Sleep Schedule appears largely similar to the new “Bedtime” tab in iOS 10. Beta testers have commented on Bedtime’s disappointing sleep tracking functionality — which lacks Fitbit’s motion-sensing nighttime wearable technology — but other aspects of the new Fitbit update fall largely in line with Apple’s first party Clock app. These include a sleep goal, bedtime and wakeup time alarm, sleep history chart (although more rudimentary on Apple’s part), and push notifications to remind users when it’s time for bed.

Still, for Fitbit fans, the new “Sleep dashboard” will be designed with a user’s personal sleep data in mind, and adjusted to fit their specific needs. The app will now recommend a sleep goal, give you an ideal bedtime and wakeup target to get you on schedule, and send out push notifications to make sure you don’t deviate from the plan. Fitbit hopes the new sleep tools help its users rest up and recharge to better take advantage of the workout and activity features Fitbit provides during waking hours.

“What’s great about the new Fitbit Sleep Schedule feature is that it looks at your sleep data from your Fitbit device you’re wearing day and night, analyzes it for patterns and creates a personalized schedule just for you,” said Tim Roberts, Executive Vice President, Interactive at Fitbit. “This is a great example of how we’re providing guidance using Fitbit data to help millions of people develop healthier habits and routines, and is just the first in a series of new sleep features that we’re working on to help our users improve their health through data and coaching.”

With all of the new data, Fitbit will also create Sleep history charts so users can go back through previous nights and see how they are doing with sticking to a schedule. Fitbit has provided sleep tracking in the past, but the company now hopes the unified addition of a customized sleep plan, alarm, and history chart in one place will only bolster the use of these features among its users.

Fitbit users with a device capable of tracking sleep can test out the new features beginning today on the Fitbit app, available on the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

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20
Jun

BabyBit Baby Monitor Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET


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BabyBit

It can be tough to leave infants or toddlers with a caretaker while you’re out, whether they’re family members, friends, or hired help. But that’s exactly what millions of parents have to do when they go back to work soon after delivering a child. One developer, launching their Indiegogo campaign today, is hoping to make that prospect just a little less scary for new parents.

The $159 BabyBit Baby Monitor isn’t like other monitors. Instead of offering information to caretakers who might just be a few rooms away from a sleeping child, the device sends information to parents who are away from the house while their child is under another’s supervision.

Here’s how it works. The monitor clips to a child’s onesie and connects via Bluetooth to the caretaker’s phone. From there, it can offer some basic information — like if the child is crying — for the caretaker who’s watching the child. But the app also monitors things like a caretaker’s distance from the child, whether the child has been crying inconsolably for a longer period of time, and other important reasons for concern. Then, in the case of any of these, the app sends a notification to parents, who can check in with the caretaker to find out how they can help.

It’s a pretty simple mechanism, but it’s one no other device has done. And if it works, it could be an important addition to the current market. One of my biggest fears as an absentminded parent is accidentally leaving my son in the car while I’m thinking about a work project or talking on the phone with someone. And as research has indicated, it’s a mistake that can happen to anyone.

But with a device that not only notifies me if my phone goes out of close range with my son, but also notifies my wife if I stay out of range for more than, say, 3 minutes — that could actually save lives. And if BabyBit’s prototype car integration, which turns on the AC in the case of a child being left inside, also comes to fruition, the smart monitor could be a must-buy for many parents.

One of my big questions for BabyBit is whether the Bluetooth technology that responds to the proximity of users’ phones will be reliable. If the notifications for parents are simply based on signal strength, then depending on the quality of the signal and the nature of the environment, it could lead to too many false alarms, or too few real alarms. I’ll just have to wait to actually test BabyBit before knowing how well this feature works.

Crowd sourced projects always involve risk for investors, but according to the BabyBit team, they have a working beta unit of the monitor, and an app that is being tested and honed right now. That in combination with their backing by Jaguar Land Rover’s start-up incubator gives me hope that the November release date for BabyBit is attainable. Of course, it all depends on whether the project gains support.

20
Jun

Huawei Honor 5C Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET


Huawei offshoot Honor is bringing its latest smartphone to Europe. The Honor 5C is all about wowing potential buyers with the killer combination of high-octane power and an eye-catchingly low price. It’s just £150 in the UK — that converts to about $220 or AU$295, although a release has yet to be announced in the US or Australia.

Available in grey, silver and gold, the phone’s all-metal body is clad in brushed aluminium and from the back is reminiscent of the HTC One M9 — a slick-looking phone that really nailed it in the design department. The square 13-megapixel camera that sits on the rear not only promises to take great photos, but has a special coating that Honor says will reduce glare and prevent fingerprints from causing blur. It’s accompanied by an 8-megapixel selfie snapper on the front.

The 5C isn’t all about photography though. It has impressive features and specs across the board. These include two quad-core processors and a dual SIM-card slot, which will come in particularly handy if you’re a frequent traveller.

The 5C has been out in China for some time now, where dual SIM-card slots are common. This is not so much the case in Europe, even though there are undoubtedly phone users here who might appreciate the option to switch between SIMs. All the better for Honor — being able to offer this unusual feature will help it stand out in the otherwise crowded European smartphone market.

Honor 5C brings two SIMs and octa-core power
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Another major selling point is the 5C’s £150 price tag. From 20 June you can buy the phone SIM-free online from Honor, Amazon and a number of other retail sites. Alternatively, the 5C will be available on pay as you go or on contract from Three starting in August.

Key specs

  • Quad-core 2.0GHz processor, plus quad-core 1.7GHz processor
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16GB of onboard storage (expandable with a microSD up to 128GB)
  • 3,000 mAh battery
  • 5.2-inch Full-HD IPS display
  • 13-megapixel rear camera with flash-capable HDR mode
  • 8-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Dual SIM-card slots
20
Jun

Best TV catch-up on Freeview Play: Eurotrash, The Living and The Dead and more


If you have access to a device that features Freeview Play, be it a supported TV or set-top-box, you can simply catch up with shows you’ve missed by scrolling backwards through the electronic programme guide.

That takes away the fuss of having to come out of the TV experience, find a dedicated application and, then, finding the individual television show.

It currently covers all BBC, ITV and Channel 4 stations, with the last seven days of programming available to you at the touch of a button. Just click on the respective show and it will automatically play through BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub or All 4 without you having to do much more.

Channel 5 will also be represented in the EPG soon, as will UKTV Play and its channels, so the only thing you need to stroke your chin about is what to watch.

That’s why we’ve given you some suggestions from the last seven days to help you choose.

READ: What is Freeview Play, when is it coming to my TV and how can I get it?

BBC

The Living and the Dead

BBC One (BBC iPlayer) – broadcast Friday 17 June

Created and written by Life on Mars scribe Ashley Pharoah, The Living and the Dead in similarly a swerve on traditional BBC dramatic fare.

It is spooky and sinister, with Colin Morgan and Charlotte Spencer taking the lead in a tale of supernatural goings-on in 1894.

Channel 4

Eurotrash

Channel 4 (All 4) – broadcast on Friday 17 June

Eurotrash returned for a one-off show to celebrate the forthcoming EU Referendum vote.

Its 90s hosts Antoine de Caunes and Jean-Paul Gaultier come back for a silly, rude look at the saucy antics of Europeans, with archive and new footage combined. Considering the Twitter love for the special episode, we wouldn’t be surprised if it gets an all-new series in the future.

ITV

Carry On Camping

ITV (ITV Hub) – broadcast on Saturday 18 June

Also saucy, but in a more innocent, wholly British way is perhaps the best of the Carry On films, Carry On Camping.

It has the bra-busting scene that elevated Babs Windsor to superstar status and while some of the jokes are a little iffy today, it is a still a classic that brings smiles to our faces.

BBC

Comedy Connections – The Liver Birds

BBC Two (BBC iPlayer) – broadcast on Saturday 18 June

The sad passing of Carla Lane prompted the Beeb to repeat an old Comedy Connections documentary focused on, arguably, her best work: The Liver Birds.

The groundbreaking sitcom was one of the first two opt for an all-female lead cast, and its Liverpool setting continued into Lane’s next project, Bread.

ITV

UEFA Euro 2016 – The Fans Daily

ITV 4 (ITV Hub) – broadcast on Sunday 19 June

If you’re looking for some Euro 2016 coverage that’s a little different from the norm, these five minute rough-and-ready pieces are a good way to see what the fans are like, away from the gaze of the tabloid papers.

The tournament has been marred by violent scenes from the start, but these daily vlogs show the mindless thugs are very much in the minority.

BBC

Summer-night Concert from Vienna

BBC Four (BBC iPlayer) – broadcast Sunday 19 June

The BBC broadcast this year’s classical concert, with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra playing music by Bizel, Berlioz, Poulenc and Ravel from the grounds of Schonbrunn Palace in Austria.

An ideal way to unwind at the end of a long, hard day.

Get catch-up and on demand TV for £0 per month with Freeview Play. Click here to find out more.

20
Jun

Samsung Galaxy S8 leaks: Dual cameras and 4K screen incoming


The next generation Samsung Galaxy S8 is still a while off but already it’s begun to leak with impressive 4K screen and dual cameras.

According to Chinese blogging sources the next Galaxy flagship S8, due out in 2017, will be packing specs to impress.

That screen is due to come in at 4K meaning a 2160 x 3840 resolution. This might seem like over kill but when it comes to VR it’s essential. Samsung has already shown off a prototype 5.5-inch 4K AMOLED with 806ppi so hopefully that’s what goes into mass production here.

At the moment the Samsung Gear VR uses the QHD display of the Galaxy S7 and other phones but still appears blocky. The issue is that the handset is held so close to the eyes. A 4K screen should help to solve this problem and make virtual reality higher quality and more immersive.

Also leaked was a rear dual camera on the Galaxy S8. This makes sense as Apple is already rumoured to use a dual camera on its iPhone 7 Plus, something Samsung will want to keep up with.

Rumour has it that the Samsung Galaxy S8 will feature 10nm processors for more power with greater efficiency than current chips can manage.

Finally the Samsung Galaxy S8 is also rumoured to feature an IP68 water and dust resistance rating.

READ: Samsung Galaxy Note 6 / Note 7: What’s the story so far?

20
Jun

Sony MDR-100ABN h.ear on Wireless NC headphones review: Silly name, serious noise-cancelling


Top-end Sony MDR headphones of recent years have offered a fantastic range of over-ear and on-ear products with leading audio. So when we received the new Sony MDR-100ABN wireless noise-cancelling headphones we were rather excited about using them on various long-haul journeys.

But it seems as though something has happened in MDR land. From the questionable “h.ear on” moniker – “H-dot ear-on?”, “hear on?”, “H-ear on?”, we don’t know – through to a slip from the 5-star standard in sound quality at this price point, especially for passive use, the MDR-100ABN do have some positive points, but miss the top mark at this level. Here’s the lowdown.

Sony MDR-100ABN headphones review: Design

If you’re into bright colours then this could well be your lucky day: the MDR-100ABN are available in four luminescent colours – cinnabar red, Bordeaux pink, lime yellow, viridian blue – and a more standard charcoal black. It’s that fifth monotone shade that we’re lucky enough to pull in for this review.

Pocket-lint

The main thing the MDR-100ABN headphones achieve beyond their MDR predecessors is a better fit. There’s no looseness around the head, so no slippage, yet they’re comfortable around the ears and don’t pinch at all. Indeed, they’re rather comfy.

This is helped along by the slanted-back earcups, which ensure they avoid pressing down onto your lobes. These padded earcups have plenty of foam in them too, further aiding the soft-to-touch appeal. This slanted positioning also gives a more distinctive look than most over-ear headphones, which we rather like.

Thing is, despite their quirky appearance in the colour and design stakes, the actual make-up of the MDR-100ABN cans isn’t up to much. They have a plasticky sheen, so look and feel like more budget headphones than their £220 price point suggests. From Bang & Olufsen to Audio-Technica, we’ve used plenty of competitors that exude a better overall build quality.

Sony MDR-100ABN headphones review: Noise-cancelling

What sets the ABN model apart from other MDR-100 derivatives is their built-in noise-cancelling. An on-board battery can be charged via the exposed micro-USB port on the left side, with separate on/off and NC (noise-cancelling) buttons above it. On the opposite ear is a track-skip and play/pause lever, next to volume controls.

Pocket-lint

You’ll really want to ensure this battery remains charged – and not just for the wireless Bluetooth connection prospect, but for sound quality too. The headphones do operate passively if the battery has depleted, but the sound quality when they’re powered is considerably better. It’s immediately obvious when engaged, but just to make absolutely sure you’ll hear a digitised female voice say “power on” (or “power off”), which seems unnecessary and breaks-up the audio temporarily. The noise-cancelling button, conversely, just makes a beeping sound whether turning the feature on or off.

Noise-cancelling operates really well, cutting out a significant level of surrounding external sound, ensuring you can better focus on the listening experience. In a car journey to an airport, for example, that low-level “fizz” from the road was largely cut out, although not entirely. The noise-cancelling further enhances the sound, too, with a more engaging listen. It’s this noise-cancelling feature that’s the main reason to consider these cans.

As we found with earlier MDR noise-cancelling cans, however, the microphones (used for the feature) aren’t positioned perfectly for outdoor use. A bit of wind and there’s that catching “tearing” sound as a result. It’s a feature better reserved for when in transit, as per most noise-cancelling cans.

Sony MDR-100ABN headphones review: Sound quality

The MDR-100ABN need to be considered in a multi-layered approach when it comes to sound quality. We’ve spent quite a lot (i.e. too much) time listening to them passively once the battery has depleted, which gives a hollow, floaty and poorly balanced sound that lacks punch in any of the right places. That these headphones sound like this makes us think their passive functionality should simply not be available – it’s just not up to standard.

Pocket-lint

With the battery charged the sound quality take a steep upward turn. Everything sounds more “locked in” with enhanced bass and better spatial distribution. However, it’s not class-leading. We much prefer the Audio-Technica MSR7 headphones and their more neutral and driven sound.

Pop the noise-cancelling on and it’s like an audio airlock is activated, delivering an even more engaging sound. It’s tighter and if the volume is turned up sufficiently has a lot more pop. This is the MDR-100ABN at its best.

However, we’re not convinced the balance is quite right. When listening to the bass in Heavens’ Patent Pending it sounds as though it has an EQ curve on it pushing things out of proportion. Certain mid-levels feel misrepresented or drowned-out, while high-end lacks the clarity of some competitors.

These h.ear on Wireless NC can certainly crank out the volume, which is very much needed: drop the output to lower levels and much of that engagement is lost. We would expect a more standard listen throughout the range.

Verdict

With the battery charged, power on, volume up high and noise-cancelling activated the h.ear on Wireless NC MDR-100ABN headphones are at their best. In this situation the output is solid, albeit not class-leading and not of the quality of previous top-end MDR models. The noise-cancelling is exceptional though.

Listen to them passively, however, and sound quality lacks drive and cohesion. This, coupled with the plasticky build quality and high price-point puts a question mark over the MDR-100ABN. They’re comfortable, and certainly colourful, but not leading in every department.

20
Jun

Skylanders Imaginators at E3 2016: Crash Bandicoot joins the fun


We’ve previously previewed Skylanders Imaginators after having its basic theme and gameplay demoed to us at an event in London prior to E3 2016, but during the US expo itself we found out so much more.

It injects some role-play character creativity to add another layer of strategy to its action adventure gameplay, something we saw before. However, we’ve now found out that it also includes Crash Bandicoot as fully playable guest star this year.

At E3, Activision completed the reveal of this year’s Skylanders game. To be totally accurate it’s actually 2016’s second game after the launch of card-battling mobile title Battlecast last month.

The novelty is creating your own character. Perhaps taking inspiration from the success of Skylanders Swap Force’s character mix-up feature, but Imaginators takes this to a whole other level.

Starting with a blank or randomly generated slate players can customise almost every aspect of their character; arms, legs, torsos, heads and tails all combine to make characters as varied as player’s imaginations.

Activision

Skylanders Imaginators: Building your Skylander

Once the basics are plugged together, you can then set the colour and size any of the parts – or the character as a whole. There is a lot of work being done here under the hood to obscure just how complicated a process it is. Happily, children can simply plug together any combinations and let the game figure out how the physics work when they run around the levels.

As ever, we have new Skylanders characters this year again. Unlike previous years though, these are entirely unseen – the Senseis. They work with the created character to unlock new abilities and parts through the levels.

There are 20 Senseis to collect, spanning 10 different types. If you want to unlock all the special parts it seems you will likely need one in each of the 10 categories.

Skylanders Imaginators: Here’s Crash Bandicoot

Classic Sony platform gamer hero Crash Bandicoot was revealed as the new element for E3, as an in-game a guest star. The character is not only included in the game but also as a figurine. Both on screen and in the hand this will be a must have for any retro gaming fan.

In an interesting twist that, unlike last year’s Amiibo characters that only worked on Nintendo, Crash is playable on Xbox and Wii U as well as PlayStation consoles – especially as he’s always been a Sony exclusive previously. Initially, it seems he will only be available in the PlayStation starter packs though.

Parents should remember that the game can be completed with the Starter Pack on its own and that any of the existing 300 or so toys are supported. In fact, a great way to save money this year will be picking up some of the classic Skylanders second-hand or discounted. The only items not supported this year are the plastic Traps from 2014.

Fans of Skylanders fiction will be excited to get their hands on toys for 11 different villains this year. These characters reprise their roles, but in the hands of the player rather than fighting against them for a change. Placing the toy on the portal lets you play as them in the game.

Activision

Skylanders Imaginators: Graphics

The game itself looks similar to previous years’ although with an added shine to visuals and pop to the audio. The PlayStation 4 version demonstrated at E3 really did look impressive.

The main challenge here is to ensure the game doesn’t become overly complex. Unlocking hundreds of parts as you play through the adventure will multiply the character creation options exponentially. Add to this the ability to apply special abilities in a custom upgrade tree and it starts to sound pretty involved.

This may be no bad thing for most players, apart from the youngest who might find it a little to much. There is a little more complexity here which serves to age-up the game slightly and makes it more inviting to fans of role play experiences.

As is the way with toys to life games, Skylanders likes to keep us guessing. No doubt more will be revealed through the year – most likely at Gamescom in Cologne in August. We’ll report back as soon as there’s more.

20
Jun

Vi is the world’s first AI personal trainer, and she’s in Harmon Kardon HR headphones


Headphones that measure your data and offer running feedback are already here, but superior artificially intelligent ones are coming, in Vi.

LifeBeam’s Vi is an AI that lives inside a set of neckband earphones packed full of smart sensors. The company behind them, currently smashing its Kickstarter goal, has teamed up with audio specialists Harmon Kardon to make sure these aren’t just smart but sound good too.

The hardware comes packing plenty of biosensing smarts for heart rate, motion, height and even speech detection. That means you can run while Vi tells you where you need to vary technique to achieve whatever goal you have in mind. It even pulls in data from Google Fit and Apple HealthKit to get a more rounded picture of you.

She might ask if you’re finding the run ok, as your heart rate has dropped, and you can reply verbally to be given more instructions, like being told to run up a hill or speed up to reach your goal. The workout is tailored to you specifically and for the state you’re in at that time.

Vi will even contact you in the day, via messages on your phone, to see how you’re recovering and plan your next training session. Annoying or helpful? That remains to be seen but with software updates it should be honed to perfection, theoretically.

Throughout the day the neckband can be worn to track activity and the earphones and mics can be used to read out notifications or for taking calls. The headset should be good for eight hours of use on a charge, LifeBeam says.

The LifeBeam Vi headphones are currently on Kickstarter for $199 and are due to ship in December.

READ: Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch leaks, codenamed Solaris running Tizen OS

20
Jun

Honor 5C launches in Europe: Metal body mid-ranger, £149 price tag


Honor has announced that the Honor 5C will be available from today, 20 June, in the UK and across Europe.

Launched previously in Asia, the European version of the Honor 5C loses the fingerprint scanner on the rear, which Honor says was necessary to hit an aggressive price point. 

At £149/€199, the Honor 5C is certainly good value for money, pushing a Kirin 650 octo-core chipset and offering a 5.2-inch Full HD display. There’s only 2GB RAM and 16GB storage (with microSD), but you get what you pay for.

There’s an 8-megapixel camera on the front and 13-megapixel camera on the rear, both packed with clever features to help you get the best out of your photos. We’ve been impressed with the attention to detail on previous Honor devices when it comes to the phone, and we wouldn’t expect the Honor 5C to be any different.

Impressively, however, this is all crammed into a metal body. The anodised metal back meets a textured edge for grip, resulting in a phone that’s a far cry from the cheap plastic devices that used to occupy this price point.

The Honor 5C is up against devices like the Moto G4 and where it really differs is in the software. Where Motorola takes a lean approach to Android, the Honor 5C comes with EMUI 4.1, the skin that Honor and Huawei devices share. 

This gives the user interface a full reworking. One of the things we don’t like is a aggressive alteration of all the app icons and the loss of the apps tray, but you’ll get used to the changes it makes.

The Honor 5C will be available from 20 June through Honor’s usual online retail outlets, with vmall.eu, Honor and Huawei’s e-store being the first port of call. It also also be available from Amazon.

The Honor 5C will also be available exclusively on Three from August 2016.

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