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6
Sep

Engadget giveaway: win a ‘Star Trek’ prize package courtesy of ThinkGeek!


On September 8th, 1966, TV audiences were taken on a journey where no one had gone before. This was the date Star Trek first aired and whether you’re a fan or not, it’s likely made an impact. The 50th anniversary of this space adventure’s first voyage is officially just two days away, and to celebrate, ThinkGeek has provided us with some serious Star Trek merch for one lucky reader. Think you’d ace the Kobayashi Maru? Try pitting your strategies against your friends in the Star Trek 50th Anniversary Risk game, or just sit on the couch and zap your TV with this phaser replica remote control. Motorola’s StarTAC may have paved the way for real-world flip communicators, but now you can have the real thing (via Bluetooth). These and a pile of other spacey gadgets are all part of this week’s prize package. Have no fear, though, everyone can stock up on all they want over at ThinkGeek. For up to three chances at winning this stack of Star Trek gear, all you need to do is head to the Rafflecopter widget below. Live long and prosper!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • Entries are handled through the Rafflecopter widget above. Comments are no longer accepted as valid methods of entry. You may enter without any obligation to social media accounts, though we may offer them as opportunities for extra entries. Your email address is required so we can get in touch with you if you win, but it will not be given to third parties.
  • Contest is open to all residents of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Canada (excluding Quebec), 18 or older! Sorry, we don’t make this rule (we hate excluding anyone), so direct your anger at our lawyers and contest laws if you have to be mad.
  • Winners will be chosen randomly. One (1) winner will receive one (1) of each of the following Star Trek-themed items from ThinkGeek: Bluetooth Communicator, Phaser replica remote control, Transporter coaster, Tricorder, Romulan Ale glasses, Borg bath towels, 50th anniversary Risk game and Star Trek Original Series watch (ST39).
  • If you are chosen, you will be notified by email. Winners must respond within three days of being contacted. If you do not respond within that period, another winner will be chosen. Make sure that the account you use to enter the contest includes your real name and a contact email. We do not track any of this information for marketing or third-party purposes.
  • This unit is purely for promotional giveaway. Engadget and AOL are not held liable to honor warranties, exchanges or customer service.
  • The full list of rules, in all its legalese glory, can be found here.
  • Entries can be submitted until Sept. 7th at 11:59PM ET. Good luck!
6
Sep

Technics’ pricey SL-1200G turntable goes on sale this month


At IFA last year, Panasonic announced that it was reviving the iconic Technics brand with new turntables. After releasing a super limited special edition earlier this year, the company announced at IFA 2016 that the updated SL-1200G would arrive this month. What Hi-Fi reports that the new version is nearly identical to the SL-1200GAE that sold out in about a month, save for some design changes to the platter and the tone arm.

While there will be more than 1,200 of the SL-1200G available to masses, this turntable won’t be any cheaper than that special edition. With a price tag of £2799 (about $3,740, no word on exact US pricing yet), you’ll likely need to give some serious thought to nabbing one before September is up.

Via: FACT

Source: What Hi-Fi

6
Sep

T-Mobile to increase its max LTE speeds to 400 Mbps


In the last few weeks, T-Mobile introduced its One plan for unlimited data and then tweaked it after customer complaints. For power users, T-Mobile’s claiming several tech advances that combine for a max download speed of 400 Mbps. But you’ll only get those blindingly fast rates using a Samsung Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge within one of 319 cities, and only after a pair of software updates by the end of October.

The first announced speed boost, 4×4 MIMO (multiple in, multiple out), alleges to double upload and download rates by increasing data paths between device and cell tower by twofold. According to T-Mobile’s post, that’s already active in 319 cities and will go live on the aforementioned Samsung phones after a software update later in September. This alone will double data speeds up and down.

But you’ll only get to that magic 400 Mbps max when using both new speed-augmenting technologies. The other one, 256 quadruple amplitude modulation (QAM) for downloads and 64 QAM for uploads, will be available nationwide with an end-of-October software update to supported phones. Like MIMO, it’s only available for Galaxy S7 and Edge, though more supported devices will be named later on.

Source: T-Mobile blog

6
Sep

Instagram is dropping photo maps


Instagram isn’t just piling on new features — it’s taking them away, too. The social image service says that it’s removing the Photo Map feature, which lets you see where a person’s snapshots come from. The removals started last week, Instagram adds. It’s currently focused on removing maps on profiles of other people, but you’ll eventually lose access to your own photo map as well. Location info will stick around (such as pages showing all the photos taken at a given place), however, so you won’t lose track of where you took that stunning flower shot.

The company doesn’t beat around the bush when explaining the move: it tells us that Photo Map “was not widely used.” It’s shifting its attention to other areas, according to the statement (which you can read below). Frankly, the decision isn’t shocking. When’s the last time you browsed your friends’ photo locations? And when Instagram is currently obsessed with video and beating Snapchat, cartography isn’t exactly high on the priority list.

“Photo Map was not widely used, so we’ve decided to remove the feature and focus on other priorities. You will still be able to see location tags on individual posts.”

Source: Mashable

6
Sep

Apple Watch Losing Ground to ‘Basic Wearables’ Like Fitbit Ahead of New Models


New data from market research firm IDC shows a split in the wearables market, with “basic wearables” (Fitbit) gaining popularity, and “smart wearables” (Apple Watch) seeing stalled growth. Despite a portion of the market stalling out, the overall wearable device market grew 26.1 percent in comparison to the year ago quarter, suggesting the burgeoning technology is gaining traction among consumers.

IDC specifically categorizes basic wearables as those devices without third party application support and smart wearables as any device with support for third party applications. Comparing each section’s growth from last year, the research firm said that the two categories “traveled at different speeds and directions” in 2016, with basic wearables up 48.8 percent from 2015, and smart wearables down 27.2 percent year-over-year. In total, basic wearables represented 82.8 percent of every wrist-worn device shipped during the quarter.

Basic wearables, which include most fitness trackers, have benefited from a combination of factors: a clear value proposition for end-users, an abundant selection of devices from multiple vendors, and affordable price points,” said Ramon Llamas, research manager, Wearables.

“Smart wearables, meanwhile, are still struggling to find their place in the market,” added Llamas. “There is plenty of curiosity about what smart wearables – particularly smartwatches – can do, but they have yet to convince users that they are a must-have item. The good news is that smart wearables are still in their initial stages and vendors are slowly making strides to improve them. But this also means that it will be a slow transition from basic wearables to smart wearables.”

Apple, representing the smart wearables section of the market, was the only company among the leaders in the wearable market to post a year-over-year decline in shipment volumes, which IDC ascribes mainly to the lack of a second generation Apple Watch on the first generation’s anniversary last March. Specifically, Apple again finished third in the overall wearables market with a 7 percent market share and 1.6 million units shipped. In the first quarter of the year, Apple had a 7.5 percent market share and approximately 1.5 million sales for the Apple Watch.

apple watch sales 2
As the Apple Watch stalls, Fitbit has grown, with a 25.4 percent share of the market and 5.7 million units shipped in the second quarter, compared to a 24.5 percent share and 4.8 million units in the first quarter. Because the company’s name remains “synonymous with fitness bands,” IDC believes its reign will continue in the wearables market. Until smart wearables with various functionalities can justify higher prices to consumers, a more affordable wearable with “a clear value proposition,” i.e. fitness-focused features, will help Fitbit remain on top of the market, according to the firm.

Any slowdown in market share of the Apple Watch could also be attributed to prospective buyers holding out for the second generation device, now expected to be announced during Apple’s media event set for tomorrow, September 7. In addition to a thinner display and larger battery, the Apple Watch 2 is believed to include GPS, an improved processor, and better waterproofing.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 2, watchOS 3
Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)
Discuss this article in our forums

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6
Sep

Apple’s ‘AirPods’ to Use Custom Bluetooth Chip, Target Higher End Than Beats Brand


In a report confirming rumors Apple will remove the headphone jack in the iPhone 7 to improve the device’s water resistance, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo today shared his predictions on how Apple will capitalize on the Bluetooth headphone market in the coming months.

First and foremost, as has been rumored, Kuo suggests Apple is working on its own Bluetooth-like communication chip and its own Bluetooth headphones. Previous information suggests the Bluetooth chip will improve battery performance for longer battery life.

The chip may be included in the wireless earbuds Apple has in development, which are said to be Bragi Dash-style wireless Bluetooth earbuds that are entirely wire free. The earbuds will be called “AirPods,” based on trademark filings that have been discovered, and the product could be unveiled as early as September 7 alongside the iPhone 7.

Apple’s earbuds are rumored to resemble the Bragi Dash
According to Kuo, Apple will sell its Apple-branded Bluetooth headphones alongside its Beats line of headphones, targeting the high-end market with the “AirPods” and the mid-range market with the Beats headphones. It is not clear if that means the AirPods will be priced higher than Beats headphones are at the current time or if Apple plans to lower prices on Beats going forward.

We believe Apple will position Beats in the midrange market once it launches Apple’s own-brand Bluetooth headphones, in order to maximize profit with a dual-brand strategy. We also believe Apple will have its own-designed Bluetooth-like communication chip, given its higher requirements for power-saving, communication specs and potential rapid growth of Bluetooth headphone shipments. Cheng-Uei and Inventec are the likely choices for assembly service.

While Apple will sell multiple models of Bluetooth headphones and expects strong growth potential in the market, Kuo does not believe the company will package Bluetooth headphones with the iPhone 7. Instead, Apple is likely to ship the iPhone 7 with Lightning-based EarPods that feature a Lightning connector instead of a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Apple’s Bluetooth headphone plans will become clearer starting tomorrow, following the debut of the iPhone 7. At its September 7 event, Apple will show off the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, the Apple Watch 2, and new Beats headphones. As previously mentioned, it’s possible we’ll see the AirPods, but given a lack of rumors, the device may not be ready for launch.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Discuss this article in our forums

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6
Sep

What you need to know about dark themes and battery savings


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Dark is beautiful.

I’ve said this for years: Every time I have any support interaction with Google Play Music, I conclude the conversation asking about the return of that glorious dark theme. Dark themes in apps can be awesome, but dark themes for your home screen can be pure perfection. If you’re using an AMOLED phone, dark themes can be energy-efficient as well as gorgeous — but only in very specific circumstances.

Here’s what they are and how to make your own.

AMOLED and power-saving

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If you have an LCD or IPS (which is a type of LCD) screen on your phone, you can skip down to the next section: black or not, your pixels and screen are on and using energy, period. Any dark theme you use will be for pure aesthetics or for time efficiency, which we’ll get to in a bit.

But if you have an AMOLED screen, then yes, a dark theme can save you a bit of battery. This is because your screen lights up individual pixels rather than lighting up the whole screen with a backlight. BUT, if that color is one digit off from hex black #000000, the pixel is still technically on and being used. This is why when dealing with dark themes, details are important.

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You want to know another detail that’s important? Most of you aren’t on your home screen enough for it to really matter. See, the home screen is like a landing page, or the desktop on your computer. How often do you just sit there looking at the wallpaper and the app icons?

Ever see your launcher show up in your battery stats? Not really, right? Well, that’s because it’s not using enough of your battery for it to be worth listing outside apps like GSam, where it uses around .2% of the battery, depending of course on your launcher.

Your screen, on the other hand, can account for over 50% of the battery use on your phone, and while I agree lighting up fewer pixels can save you a few drops of power, your goal should be to have as little of the screen lit up as short a time as possible, because nothing will save your battery more than getting the screen shut back off sooner.

The Layout

dark-theme-screens-folders-widgets.png?i

Now, some dark theme guides tell you to have as little as humanly possible on your home screen so that there’s as few pixels being lit up as possible. Not only does this make your home screen sparse, it honestly makes it kind of wasteful. Instead of aiming to eliminate as much as possible from your screen, the idea should be to consolidate what’s there so that you can find the apps you’re looking for quickly and then turn the screen back off.

To this end, if there are several apps you use on a regular basis, instead of digging in the app drawer every time you need them, consider stashing them on the home screen or in a home screen folder. Or using gesture shortcuts in launchers like Nova Launcher to access them, so that you can still have a shortcut on the screen without lighting up the pixels an icon would use.

Many guides also eschew widgets, saying that they waste battery and are unnecessary. If a widget can keep you from going into an app to do something simple like see your next calendar appointment or change tracks on a song, then a widget can save you time, energy, and can absolutely be worth it. It’s all about making sure it’s a widget you actually use, and getting a minimalist widget if available.

The Wallpaper

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If you AMOLED users want to get the most energy-efficient wallpaper, here’s a rectangle of pure darkness.

For those of us who still want some personality in our dark wallpapers, check out these. Now, AMOLED-users need hex black wallpapers for their dark theme to actually be energy efficient, so if you choose a wallpaper that isn’t, you’ll need to make it #000000. If you can’t tell, open the wallpaper in Google Photos and see if there’s a change between the wallpaper’s black and the hex black of the viewer.

Making a dark wallpaper hex black

Download your desired wallpaper.
Download Snapseed photo editor.

Open Snapseed.

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Open your downloaded wallpaper.
Edit the image (tap the pencil icon in the bottom right corner).

Tap Tune image.

hex-black-wall-screens-2.png?itok=K45bm0

Swipe up on the image to change from Brightness to Shadows tuning.
Look at the graph on the bottom of the editor, just above the bottom control bar. You should see a spike near but not quite to the left edge.

Swipe to the left on the image to dark the image and pull that spike towards the left edge.

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When the spike gets to the left edge stop swiping.
Tap the checkmark to finish editing.
Tap Save to save your new hex-dark wallpaper.

hex-black-wall-screens-4.png?itok=t5Zyet

Note: If your image is just back/white or black/white with a small accent color, you can hit Contrast and boost your whites and your darks at the same time by increasing the contrast of the image.

Once you have the image edited, you can set it on most launchers by long-pressing a blank space on your home screen and selecting Wallpapers.

The Icons

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The icons we use here should be easy to recognize and light up as few pixels as possible (if on AMOLED). To that end, I recommend Lines (Free, $1.99, whose icons have a beautiful wireframe look to them and fit well with most minimalistic themes and wallpapers. If Lines is a little too hard to read for your eyes, try Whicons (Free).

Another important setting to consider alongside your icons is the labels below them. The apps on your home screen should be apps you already recognize, so why light up pixels for app names you already know? Labels are already turned off on the dock for most launchers, and you can turn them off for the Nova Launcher home screen in Nova Settings > Desktop > Icon layout. In Action Launcher, app labels can be turned off in Action 3 Settings > Desktop > Text labels.

Is it worth it?

dark-themes-dual-hero.jpg?itok=LwxORHlV

If you’re a heavy user and are looking to get every iota of use out of your AMOLED phone that you can before you reach for your handy dandy power pack? Yeah, a smartly laid out hex black theme can probably get you a few extra minutes.

If you’re not that big a home screen user anyway? If you’re not on AMOLED? Then it could be a bit faster for you, but it’s not gonna magically boost your battery. It’ll look cool, though, and that’s enough for this darkness-loving girl.

Android 7.0 Nougat

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6
Sep

Go Time! Episode 8: Mrs. Cloyster and Mr. Onix


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Episode 8 of Go Time has arrived!

In Episode 8 of Go Time, the team returns with a member of Valor, Mystic and Instinct.

This week things got a bit silly though, since Team Instinct throws out the script. We discuss the upcoming update where you’ll be able to choose a Pokemon to walk with you. After that, the shenanigans ensue. It starts with our favorite names for Pokémon before diverging into what team characters from our favorite television shows would belong to!

We’ve been having a ton of fun talking about Pokemon Go, and we hope you’ll join in our shenanigans!

  • Google Play
  • Soundcloud
  • iTunes
  • Or add us to your podcatcher of choice!

You can also join our Facebook page to keep up on all things Pokémon Go. See you in the world!

Pokémon Go

  • Join our Pokémon Go forums!
  • How to deal with GPS errors in-game
  • Which team should you choose?
  • How to play without killing your battery
  • The Ultimate Pokémon Go Game Guide!
  • Listen to the Pokémon Go podcast!

6
Sep

Water and dust proofing: IP-ratings explained


In a world where the number of gadgets being launched is on the up, and so many being made to cope with indoor and outdoor life, there’s an increasing number of products sold with an IP-rating. After all, if you have an action camera, smart sports watch or even smartphone, you need to know it’s going to survive the British rain, at the beach or even white water rafting. 

With so many different codes, stamps and names for water and dust resistant qualities and certifications, it can be confusing. In this guide, we’ll brake down what the IP-rating even means, explain a few of the more common ones, as well as detail other kinds of water resistance. 

IP ratings – what do the letters and numbers stand for?

IP ratings are made up of four characters. Five in some very rare cases, but you’re unlikely to ever see those on a phone, unless Samsung makes a phone that’s impervious to high pressure jets of steam. 

The first two characters, I and P stand for Ingress Protection or – in other words – how good it is at stopping stuff getting inside it. The third digit is the number that indicates how good it is at protecting against small solids (dust/sand etc), with a maximum rating of 6. This ranges from no protection at all, through small screws, a little dust or all dust. 

The last digit is the liquid or water resistant rating, with a max rating of 8. 

In other words, if you see IP68 somewhere, you know it offers the highest IP rating for both dust and water resistance. At least, when it comes to the IP-rating certification. 

What does IP68 mean?

When it comes to solids, devices like the Xperia Z5, Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S7 have been tested against dust and found to be dust tight. It’ll come as some relief that the ‘6’ also means it’s good with deliberate contact with a body part, so it won’t crumble like a Jacob’s Cream Cracker when you pick it up.

As for the 8 at the end, that means the phone has been tested at depths more then 1 metre, and found to be unharmed. While the standard testing doesn’t specifically mention an exact depth, you’ll find manufacturers do list them. For instance, Samsung says its IP68 rated Galaxy Note 7 can survive being up to 1.5 metres deep for up to 30 minutes.

  • IP = Ingress Protection
  • 6 = Dust Tight
  • 8 = Survives being submerged in water over 1m deep (manufacturer determines exactly how deep)

It’s probably worth noting, just because something is IP68 rated and great at lasting underwater, it may not be tested to withstand rain or spray from a jet of some kind.  

What does IP65 mean?

Often times you’ll see products with more than one IP rating, and that’s simply because they’re tested for different kinds of water proofing. For instance, the Sony Xperia Z5 has both IP68 and IP65 rating. As mentioned already, the IP68 rating means it can survive being submerged. IP65 denotes that it’s also good at handling spray.

Technically, it’s tested using water being projected by a 6.3mm nozzle. In real world use though, it just means it can survive the rain, or the shower. Just don’t go spraying it with a pressure washer. As a bonus, because it also has the ‘6’ in there, it’s also impervious to dust. 

What about IP67, IP53 or others? 

There’s a large number of combinations when it comes to IP ratings, and it can get confusing. IP67 devices, like the [X] for instance have the same dust resistance as the Galaxy S7 and Xperia Z5, but can only survive being up to 1 metre deep in water. Any more than that and the water will push through any protection.

HTC 10, as an other example has IP53, which means it’s somewhat protected against dust, but not totally, and can live with spraying water, but not jets of water and certainly not being submerged. 

What does IPX7 mean?

The presence of the X in the rating does throw some people, but devices like the Apple Watch, some Garmin cameras and wearables, and even some phones feature it. It means the device hasn’t been certified for protection against dust, but doesn’t mean it’s not dust resistant. 

As with any other rating with 7 at the end, it means the Apple Watch (as an example) can last up to half an hour in water up to one metre deep. 

What is nano-coating?

A nano-coating is essentially a microscopically thin film that’s sprayed over the internal components to help water roll away from anything that could potentially be damaged by moisture. 

Some companies, specifically Motorola, like to build their phones with a water repellant nano-coating, but don’t offer a specific IP-rating. With these devices, like the Moto Z, the phone will probably be fine with accidental spills, light rain or the odd splash, but won’t survive being submerged or when faced with jets of water or heavy rain.

Put simply: don’t take them in the shower, and definitely don’t take them underwater on your holidays.  

What does ATM mean?

Although some smartwatches will include an IP-rating, you’ll more often than not find water proof capabilities denoted by ATM, at least with watches designed for sports or outdoor activities. ATM stands for atmospheres (nothing to do with cash machines), and basically indicates how much pressure it can take. Or in other words, how deep you can take it under water. 

It’s normally reserved for devices designed to be used underwater, and in most cases, one ATM is 10 metres, five ATM is 50 metres and ten ATM is 100 metres. 

For a break down of each individual possible IP-rating, check out the level-by-level chart on DSMT.com. 

6
Sep

Volvo creates a company to sell self-driving car software


Volvo isn’t going to hoard its self-driving car expertise. It’s partnering with safety supplier Autoliv on a joint venture that will create autonomous driving software (including driver assistance) not just for Volvo, but for any company looking to add hands-free features to their lineups. The two firms hope to start selling driver assistance tech by 2019, and full-fledged autonomy by 2021.

The alliance will help Volvo, of course, since it’ll both increase the amount of work on its own self-driving vehicles and give it a way to profit from competitors. However, it should also tackle one of the greatest challenges in the industry: making driverless technology accessible. Car makers that can’t afford to design their own systems could soon buy it outright and focus their attention on building the cars themselves. In short, you may not have to be picky about your choice of ride just because you want to keep your hands off the wheel.

Via: Reuters

Source: Volvo

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