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5
Jul

Apple Seeds Second Beta of macOS Sierra to Developers


Apple today seeded the second beta of macOS Sierra, the newest operating system designed for the Mac, to developers. macOS Sierra beta 2 comes three weeks after the software was first unveiled at Apple’s 2016 Worldwide Developers Conference.

The update can be downloaded through the software update mechanism in the Mac App Store or through the Apple Developer Center.

macOS Sierra is a major update that brings Siri to the Mac for the first time, allowing users to conduct voice searches to quickly find files, look up information, and more. New Continuity features offer an “Auto Unlock” option for unlocking a Mac with an Apple Watch and a Universal Clipboard for copying something on one Apple device and pasting it on another.

Deeper iCloud integration makes files stored on the desktop or the Documents folder of a Mac available on all of a user’s devices, and Photos features new deep learning algorithms for facial, object, and scene recognition. There’s a new Memories feature for displaying photo collections, and Messages has features like rich links, bigger emoji, and “Tapback” response options.

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Apple Pay is coming to the web in macOS Sierra, with payments authenticated through an iPhone or Apple Watch, and new features like multiple tabs, Picture in Picture multitasking, and optimized storage are available.

For full details on all of the new features included in macOS Sierra, make sure to check out our macOS Sierra roundup.

Related Roundup: macOS Sierra
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5
Jul

Open impossible plastic packaging with this kitchen tool – CNET


5
Jul

Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET


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Sennheiser is marketing the PXC 550 Wireless to “discerning business travelers.” Undiscerning ones need not apply.


Sennhesier

When it comes to headphones, one tends to associate Bose with the “business traveler” demographic. But Sennheiser’s making a pitch to that segment of the market with its new PXC 550 Wireless, a “premium” over-ear Bluetooth headphone that also features active noise-cancellation. It’s a direct competitor to Bose’s QuietComfort 35 and costs $399, £329 or AU$630.

Sennheiser is not only touting the PXC 550’s sound quality, but its customizable sound modes (via the company’s CapTune app for iOS and Android), touch controls, long battery life (30 hours) and strong headset performance for making phone calls.

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The PCX 550 Wireless will ship by the end of July.


Sennheiser

I haven’t tried the headphone yet but look forward to getting my hands on one when it goes on sale later in July. In the meantime here’s a quick look at the PCX 550 Wireless’ key features, according to Sennheiser:

  • Price: $399, £329, AU$630
  • Fold flat, lightweight design (8.0 ounces or 227 grams)
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • NoiseGard adaptive noise cancellation monitors ambient noise levels to provide the exact level of suppression needed
  • Up to 30 hours of battery life with noise cancellation engaged
  • Four presets for adjusting sound and one customizable Director mode that can be tailored using Sennheiser’s companion app, CapTune
  • Earcup-mounted touch control panel and voice prompt system
  • Music automatically pauses when headphones are removed
  • NFC tap-to-pair technology for devices that support it
  • “Unrivalled” speech clarity for business and personal calls ensured by a beamforming array with three microphones
  • Travel carrying case included
  • Ships late July 2016
5
Jul

Save $100 on this 15-inch Chromebook today only!


Prime Day is rapidly approaching, and Amazon is offering a number of sales leading up to it. Right now you can score Acer’s 15-inch Chromebook for just $249, a savings of $100 from its regular price. Featuring 4GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, the 15.6-inch Chromebook is powered by an Intel Celeron dual-core chip.

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Google has already announced that this Chromebook will be able to run Android apps when the feature is released later this year. If you are looking for a good Chromebook at an awesome price, you won’t want to wait too long. This deal is only good for today, July 5, so don’t miss out. You will need to be a member of Amazon’s Prime service, but don’t worry if you aren’t already. Right now you can sign up for a 30-day trial to take advantage of all the deals!

See at Amazon

5
Jul

Forget Nougat — These are the Android O nicknames you need to know


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Android O is coming — and with it a confectionary reckoning.

Have you heard? Android N is now Nougat! Depending on your opinion of the sugary, nutty bar thing in question, it’s either good or bad. And depending on where you come from, it’s either nugget, nooget, noo-gah or something else entirely. Google’s taken some flak for a weird and slightly lackluster statue, as well the pronunciation nobody can agree on. Maybe that’s not surprising given the dearth of decent “sweet treats” beginning with N.

That’s nothing compared to the dilemma Android will face in 2017 with the arrival of the inevitable Android O release. There’s a real shortage of desserts starting with the letter O, and that could lead to some unusual dishes emerging as candidates for the Android 8.0 nickname.

Let’s take a look.

Android 8.0 Ox-tongue Pastry

otp.jpg?itok=5hjGq6pEImage credit: Ricky Lau, Wikimedia Commons

Don’t let the name fool you: There are no actual ox tongues in this Chinese treat, also known as a “horse-ear pastry” (which frankly would’ve been much more fitting for the Honeycomb release.) It’s named for its shape — either an ear or a tongue, depending on whether you spend your time primarily around horses or oxen. Wikipedia describes ox-tongue pastry as a breakfast dish, “chewy, with a soft interior and a crunchy crust.”

Maybe this would be a fitting internal Google codename for the next version, a la Key Lime Pie, Lemon Merengue Pie or Macadamia Nut Cookie. (It could be “OTP” for short!) But conjuring up the visage of animal parts for an official Android nickname? Probably a bad idea.

Android Central Rating: 4/10

  • Pro: Could help Google’s push into China.
  • Con: Constant reminder of ox entrails.

Android 8.0 Ontbijtkoek

ont2.jpg?itok=TM8aXcTAImage credit: Takeaway, Wikimedia Commons

Pronounced, ont-betz-kook, this Dutch cookie loaf is spiced and sweetened, and often served with butter at breakfast time. It’s not a million miles away from Gingerbread — which you may remember was Android 2.3 — but it’s also not the most visually appealing sweet treat, looking basically like sticky brown bread. That said, it’d be easy to transform into a loafy, Dutch Android figure for Google’s statue garden.

Google could go with Ontbijtkoek to simultaneously win over fans in the Netherlands, while also masterfully trolling English-speaking journalists.

Android Central Rating: 3/10

  • Pro: Basically just Dutch gingerbread.
  • Con: Looks like it was typed by a cat walking across a keyboard.

Android 8.0 Oliebol

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Image credit: Teunie on Wikimedia Commons

Literally “oil balls,” oliebollen are a type of dutch donut made by dunking dough — often mixed with currants, sultanas or candied fruit — into a deep fat frier. It’s popular in the Netherlands and Belgium, particularly during the winter, while many other European countries have their own local interpretation of this sweet, doughy delight.

Oliebol earns a high score for deliciousness, while also being the right shape and size for hors-d’oeuvres, lawn statues, promotional graphics and Easter egg animations.

Android Central Rating: 5/10

  • Pro: Fun to say. Oliebol!
  • Con: Similarity to “volleyball” could lead to confusing/messy situations.

Android 8.0 Ozark Pudding

An accidental collision of other, lesser desserts.

The first truly American dessert on our list, Ozark pudding comes from the Ozarks region of Missouri — a dried fruit and nut custard often served with ice cream. It’s not quite a cake or a pie, but there are countless variants of it that uses different types of bases and coatings. (Like Android itself!)

Ozark has the look of an accidental collision of other, lesser desserts. It’s also got patriotism going for it, with the pudding being a favorite of President Harry Truman. The only problem is how Google would fashion a statue of Bugdroid holding — well — a pile of nutty, fruity slop.

Android Central Rating: 5/10

  • Pro: Warming southern dessert loved by major historical figure.
  • Con: Looks like vomit.

Android 8.0 Oatmeal Cookie

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Image credit: Paul Martin on Wikimedia Commons

The thing you mistakenly point to at the coffee shop expecting a chocolate chip cookie, oatmeal cookie would be the safe choice for Android O for English speakers. It’s like a regular cookie, except with added oats and sometimes raisins, with the end product often appearing vaguely congealed and malformed. (Perhaps an accurate metaphor for Android once certain manufacturers get their paws on it.)

Oatmeal Cookie would be less than the sum of its parts.

Though easy to spell and memorize, oatmeal cookie lacks both the sweetness of a cookie and the satisfying warmth of a bowl of oatmeal. Avoid at all costs.

Android Central Rating: 1/10

  • Pro: Easy to say.
  • Con: Fundamentally disappointing on every level.

Android 8.0 Orelletes

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Image credit: Chixoy on Wikimedia Commons

Literally “little ears” — named after their shape — these sweet Catalan pastries are often eaten at weddings and other celebrations. They’re made from flour, eggs, sugar, anisette and olive oil and fried, then dusted with icing sugar. Orelletes can come in all shapes and sizes, which lines up with Google’s vision of Android powering a multitude of devices in various form factors. (No, we’re not stretching that metaphor at all.)

Android Central Rating: 6/10

  • Pro: Can be used as a humorous replacement for your own ears.
  • Con: Thin and unsatisfying compared to heartier desserts on this list.

Android 8.0 Oreo

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Finally we reach the one “O” sweet treat that everybody instantly thinks of. If Google was to partner with Nabisco (as it did Nestle for Android 4.4 KitKat), we could have another commercial tie-in, with Oreo boxes promoting the next version of Google’s OS, and possibly limited edition biscuits (with antennae!) in the shape of the Android mascot, Bugdroid.

It would be a perfect match were it not for the nature of the Oreo itself. As someone who lives in a part of the world that only got Oreos relatively recently, I can’t help being underwhelmed whenever I eat one. It’s not incorrect to call it a cookie, and there’s some kind of sugary cream stuff going on too. Fine. But I’m left wondering where the flavor is each time I put one in my mouth. It’s like you’ve eaten a cookie, but what’s the point? Your taste buds are no better for it. Therein lies the Achilles heel of Android Oreo.

Android Central Rating: oreo.png?itok=SEeKYkpE/10

  • Pro: Brand recognition. Novelty Bugdroid cookies.
  • Con: Involves inking deal with tyrannical confectionary megacorporation. Cookie itself basically tastes of nothing.

What would you name Android O? Am I right about Oreos being totally overrated? Would you play volleyball with oliebols? Shout out in the comments and let us know!

5
Jul

Honeywell’s WiFi water and freeze detector has restored my calm


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I probably care way too much about this, but it’s still a great tool to have.

Mere weeks after buying our first house, which had a really nice finished basement that I decided should totally be our bedroom, a foot of water moved in for a little while. Four years and thousands of dollars in repairs later, I still keep a close eye on the weather report every day and am still a little paranoid about water coming into the house. We have water sensors, super-absorptive sandbag-looking things, and an array of dehumidifiers scattered about to make sure everything is fine.

Despite having created a home with lots of connected tech everywhere, including smart lighting and smart locks and a nice security system, all of our water-monitoring and -fighting tools are fairly low tech. There’s a real simple reason for this — they work, and I’m not about to let the Internet of Shit lead to another ruined bedroom. When Honeywell reached out to tell Android Central about their connected water leak and freeze detector, I decided it was time to take a look and see how exactly adding WiFi to my setup would improve anything.

Holy crap, am I glad I did.

Water leak sensors are, for the most part, all the same. There’s a pair of silver bumps that stick out of the bottom of the casing, and when water touches both bumps a circuit is completed and an alarm sounds. You go take a look, see a puddle, and a small problem is usually stopped from becoming a big problem. This is great as long as you’re at home or within earshot of the alarm — and goodness can these suckers get loud — but in any other situation there’s no way of knowing a problem has occurred. Honeywell’s sensor is WiFi-enabled and uses an app on your phone to let you know when something has happened.

You pop three AA batteries in this box, use the app to connect the box to your WiFi network, and Honeywell says those batteries will power this box for up to three years on the default settings. There’s also a 3-foot sensor cable if you need a water sensor in an unusual place, and the whole cable is the moisture sensor. So, right away the biggest thing you gain by adding WiFi is a remote way of letting you know when there’s a water problem.

In many ways this is exactly what a connected home gadget is supposed to be.

Honeywell’s box goes above and beyond water detection, and this is where having a connected sensor gets useful. The sensors in the box also let you know the temperature and humidity of the area you have the box in, letting you know if there’s a risk of freezing or if the moisture in the air is too high and could lead to other problems. Both temperature and humidity are measures over time and store in the app, which offers you a chart for both that you can use to see what is happening in that room all the time and not just when water has come in contact with the box.

For $100, Honeywell’s sensor is unlikely to replace every moisture sensor in your home if you’re using more than one or two, but this is an incredible asset for homeowners with problem areas. By offering a remote connection to the house and providing data over time it becomes much easier to gain the information needed to act on more than just the obvious problem sitting in front of you when there’s a puddle of water. In many ways this is exactly what a connected home gadget is supposed to be, something you set up once and treat like a “dumb” tool while it works in the background to make your life a little easier. For me in particular, it’s an amazing way to add some much needed calm to what is otherwise a serious water-based anxiety.

See at Amazon

5
Jul

You can save $75 on select refurbished Sonos speakers at Amazon right now


Right now, you can save $75 on select refurbished Sonos speakers at Amazon. The retailer is offering the PLAYBAR and both colors of the PLAY:3 at the discounted price, making it quite enticing for those looking to add to their set up or start one. Sonos puts these speakers through a series of testing before selling, and still backs them with the same 1 year warranty like a new one would have.

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If you want to expand your current speaker system into more rooms, or add that great Sonos quality to your TV experience, you won’t want to wait too long. This deal is only good for today, July 5. You will need to be a member of Amazon’s Prime service, and if you aren’t you can sign up now for a 30-day free trial to get the benefits now.

See at Amazon

5
Jul

Xbox avatars to get a wheelchair option


Accessibility doesn’t just apply to the real world — Microsoft’s Phil Spencer has revealed that Microsoft will soon launch wheelchair avatars for Xbox Live. Following a user tweet suggesting that “wheelchairs might be relatively simple” to do, and another suggesting a petition, Xbox head Phil Spencer jumped in. “No petition needed, we hear you. This is something that we’ve already looked at, [and it’s] not far off.” Soon after that, Xbox Director of Program Management Mike Ybarra tweeted a “sneak peek” of two possible avatars.

@XboxP3 @goldennike11 @SeamusBlackley Sneak peek… 😀 pic.twitter.com/szoTUGR6ef

— ♏️ike Ybarra (@XboxQwik) July 5, 2016

Some sites, including Yahoo and Second Life, have offered wheelchair avatars since early in their histories. Sociologists argue that they’re a powerful form of inclusion and a way for wheelchair-bound users to express their individuality. Despite being a popular part of Xbox 360, avatars were only recently brought back with the Xbox One Experience UI update. The renders above show more detailed avatars than the existing ones, so it could be a sign that an overall refresh is arriving soon.

Via: Videogamer

Source: Mike Ybarra (Twitter)

5
Jul

OnePlus 3 gets a £20 price bump after Brexit madness


As the UK government crumbles before our very eyes, the fallout from the vote to leave the European Union is even starting to impact our beloved gadgetry. OnePlus was eager to warn us last week that the falling value of the British Pound might cause the company to revisit handset pricing — much in the same way a Euro exchange rate slump was reflected in a jump in the cost of the OnePlus One early last year. That warning has become a reality today, with the announcement that as of July 11th, the price of the much-praised OnePlus 3 will increase from £309 to £329.

Before next Monday, though, you can still take advantage of the lower £309 price, and OnePlus has committed to keeping the cost of accessories at their current levels. So, that is what’s happening, but is this knee-jerk reaction really that necessary?

Without getting too economical about the whole thing — and yes, I know that’s incorrect word usage — every international company that sells anything within the UK is feeling exactly the same financial pressures as a result of the devalued pound. And yet, none of them are scrambling to put up prices less than two weeks after the Brexit result. I’m even happy to accept OnePlus survives on “extremely thin [profit] margins,” but not so keen to believe “the simple fact is that there won’t be a OnePlus in the future” if the company doesn’t react to the market like a veteran gunslinger.

OnePlus isn’t a startup. In fact, it’s effectively a subsidiary of Oppo, the fourth largest smartphone manufacturer in the world and itself, a subsidiary of a bigger consumer tech corporation. In short, OnePlus will not thrive or collapse on account of an extra £20 per device. Curiously, OnePlus is also supporting its decision on the basis of the pound to US dollar exchange rate, though it does claim “our expenses are mainly in USD” — curious because OnePlus is a Chinese company headquartered in Shenzhen. Shouldn’t the more important numbers be the pound to Chinese yuan exchange rate, then? For clarity, this has also taken a significant hit following the Brexit vote.

Finally, nothing is forcing OnePlus to move its hard-earned pounds into other currencies before some sort of favourable recovery. That’s unlikely to happen any time soon, however, so OnePlus is actually making a sensible business decision to pass the losses onto the consumer as soon as possible. Just don’t express sympathy for the company for doing so.

Rant over. The OnePlus 3 will cost £329 from next Monday.

Source: OnePlus

5
Jul

Amazon robot challenge winner counts on deep learning AI


Amazon’s robot Picking Challenge is back for a second year, and it’s clear that the competition has learned a lot in that time… in more ways than one. The Netherlands’ TU Delft won both parts of the challenge (stowing and picking warehouse items) with a robot that relied on the combination of deep learning artificial intelligence and depth-sensing cameras to get the job done. The machine studied 3D scans of the stockroom items to help it decide how to manipulate items with its gripper and suction cup. That adaptive AI made a big difference, to put it mildly. The arm got a near-flawless score in the stowing half of the event, and was over three times faster at picking objects than last year’s champion (100 per hour versus 30).

Even the also-rans fared better, TechRepublic notes. Despite tougher demands, only four competitors failed to score (versus half in the 2015 challenge). Nearly half of the entries managed over 40 points, which would have been good enough to get third place a year ago.

TU Delft and other entrants aren’t about to replace people any time soon. Human workers typically pick 400 items per hour, and they won’t suffer the 16.7 percent failure rate of the Picking Challenge leader. As it stands, Amazon is quick to stress that it doesn’t want robots to replace humans (at least, for now). They’d be supplements to the flesh-and-blood workforce, helping them fulfill orders more effectively. With that said, the rate of progress is brisk enough that you might just see robots like these in real Amazon warehouses within a few years.


Via: TechRepublic, The Verge, BBC

Source: TU Delft, Amazon Picking Challenge

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