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4K Ultra HD Blu-ray support helps Xbox One S sales soar in September

Microsoft is considerably winning the battle of the slimmed-down consoles. In September, the Xbox One S 500GB and 1TB models helped UK sales soar by 989 per cent week-on-week.

Games industry trade paper MCV reports that GfK data shows Xbox One had 71 per cent of console market share in the week ending 24 September, a staggering 76 per cent increase year-on-year. The PS4, even with its own slimmer version launched that month, could only muster 19 per cent.

Of course, it can be argued that a slow down of PS4 sales can be attributed to the fact that there are plenty of Brits who already own one – a greater number than those with an Xbox One already.

  • Xbox One S review: Best console and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player out there
  • Xbox One S vs Xbox One: What’s the difference?
  • Xbox One S vs PS4 Pro: What’s the difference?

The imminent release of the PS4 Pro, with its vastly improved graphical capabilities, will no doubt have had an affect too, with many consumers willing to wait for it.

However, it can equally be said that Microsoft got it right with the Xbox One S. For a start, it’s the cheapest 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player on the market, which could account for sales to consumers who wouldn’t normally purchase a console.

Sony decided against adding 4K Blu-ray playback to its equivalent new machine.

“It’s great to see how popular both the Xbox One S and the FIFA 17 Xbox One S consoles are with fans, not just over the last week but since the Xbox One S was released in August. 4K video streaming and 4K UHD Blu-ray have been extremely well received by gamers and critics and we believe there is no better value right now for those looking to upgrade their console,” said Harvey Eagle, marketing director of Xbox.


Huawei Mate 9: Specs, release date and everything else we know so far

Huawei is widely tipped to launch the next version of its Mate-series flagships very soon, and with the prevalence of leaks and details having been published online, the picture of what to expect is becoming clearer by the day. 

Let’s dive in to what could be one of the greatest phones the Chinese manufacturer has released to date. 

Huawei Mate 9: Design

If the latest leak is anything to go by, it appears the Mate 9 will very much look like its predecessor, the Mate 8. That’s to say we’re likely to see a slightly rounded, wide, all-metal rear with parallel antenna bands running horizontally near the top and the bottom edges. 

The dual camera system will sit near the top, with the two lenses sitting vertically, rather than side-by-side horizontally like the P9 and P9 Plus. On either side of the camera system, there’s a dual LED flash and a laser sensor for autofocusing, while the round fingerprint scanner sits underneath. 

  • Huawei Mate 9 renders confirm Leica branded dual camera

As for colour schemes, it’s likely – according to a Weibo leak – that we’ll see up to nine different colours; including Amber Gold, Ceramic White, Amber Grey, Rose Gold, Moonlight Silver, Sky Grey, Mocha Gold, Champagne Gold and Enamel Gloss Black. Basically, all the golds. 


On the front, it seems as though there will be a huge – virtually bezel-free – screen dominating the available space, while the portions of the frame at the top and bottom have a subtle reflective finish like the back of the Honor 8. 

As is common for Huawei phones, the power and volume buttons sit on the right edge, within thumb’s reach, while the bottom edge – in the leaks we’ve seen – plays home to a USB Type-C port flanked by two sets of speaker grilles. Like the Nova Plus we reviewed, it’s likely only one of these actually has a speaker behind it. 

We’ve not seen any clear images of the top edge yet, but we assume this is where we’ll see the 3.5mm jack placed, just like the Nova Plus. It’s not likely Huawei will “do an Apple” and get rid of the port just yet. 

Baidu (via GSMArena)

Huawei Mate 9: Hardware and display

Spec-wise, the Mate 9 should have some of the most powerful and high-end components currently available. That means it’s likely to be the first phone to sport the company’s own Kirin 960 processor. And if that’s anything like the 950 or 955, this phone will be really quick. 

As well as its most powerful processor to date, the aforementioned leaks indicated that we should see the usual pricing and memory tiers we see often from Chinese manufacturers. That means there’s likely to be two versions with 4GB RAM, one of those will have 64GB storage, the other 128GB, while there may also be a 6GB RAM model with 256GB storage. 

Huawei Mate 9: Camera

With Huawei and Leica having recently announced a partnership, it’s no surprise that the two companies are claimed to be working together again on the Mate 9’s optics.

Like the P9 and P9 Plus, it’s claimed the dual camera on the back will again be made up of one monochrome (black and white) sensor alongside a more usual colour one. Rumours have suggested we could see either a similar 12-megapixel sensor in each, or 20-megapixel sensor.  

To keep costs down, and presumably battery life up, there’s been suggestion that the 5.9-inch screen on the front will have a resolution of 1920 x 1080, which doesn’t seem quite as sharp as what you’d expect from a line-leading smartphone. Especially not with a screen this large. We’ve been hoping for a quad HD panel, but it’s not been mentioned yet. 

Huawei Mate 9: Software

Like all Huawei phones, the Mate 9 is bound to launch running Android with the company’s own EMUI skin on top. Which versions of each is possibly up for debate. 

The company’s most recent efforts run Android 6.0 Marshmallow – the OS launched originally in Autumn last year – and EMUI version 4.1.

With LG having already launched an Android 7.0 Nougat phone, it wouldn’t be too unbelievable if Huawei followed suit in offering its first Android N device to market. There has been suggestion in the past that we may see Nougat – albeit a heavily skinned version – running the show on the Mate 9. 

Huawei Mate 9: Release date

Actual retail release date predictions and launch date bets have varied widely from September to December, and everything in between. However, Huawei has just sent out invitations to an event on 3 November in Munich.

  • Huawei Mate 9 launch date confirmed, 3 November in Munich

All things considered, it would seem that is the date the Chinese firm will unveil its next creation, with a bigger focus on European and UK launch this year.  

Huawei Mate 9: Price

Of the three storage/memory models mentioned at the top of the post, it’s been claimed that the cheapest model will only be available in Europe, and that it’ll cost around €700. That puts it at a price of around £600, which is virtually iPhone 7 territory. 

While we don’t know for sure how much it will cost here, it’s clear that the next Mate series phone isn’t aimed at the budget/affordable end of the market. This is a high-end phone with a premium price. Best start saving now if you’re certain you want one already. 


Restauranteur hopes the Apple Watch will improve fine dining

Danny Meyer is considered to be quite the progressive restauranteur. His employees don’t rely on tips to make ends meet (the practice is outlawed at his establishments, in fact), and they get various benefits including a share of profits. Aside from running his hospitality empire in an unorthodox way, he’s also the mastermind behind Shake Shack. His next forward-thinking initiative doesn’t involve any new management strategies, however. Rather, at one of his flagship restaurants he’ll soon be ceding some of that responsibility to the Apple Watch.

When the Union Square Cafe in Manhattan reopens next month, Apple Watch-toting managers and sommeliers will roam the floors, being made aware of every minor interaction by an enterprise app created by mobile booking platform Resy. Taking cues from other front of house employees, ResyOS will notify the appropriate people when customers are first seated, the kitchen runs out of crab, a bottle of wine is ordered, when a group is done and requires their coats, or when someone vaguely famous strolls through the door.

In the future, it’ll be improved with a consumer-facing twist, too. Guests will be able to share booking information with their group, thereby telling the restaurant who else is in the party. A diner will also have the opportunity to flag when they’re running late, and a floor manager will be notified on their wearable. Furthermore, the platform will soon allow groups to split the bill and pay separately via smartphone. And if all goes well, Meyer could introduce the system at other eateries.

The new Apple Watch Series 2 is a slightly better fitness tracker than the first-gen model, but otherwise it’s much as the same as every other smartwatch: A companion device lacking that killer, standalone purpose. Perhaps enterprise-focused roles are where smartwatches will have a renewed impact. That said, ResyOS sounds like it could easily lead to better customer service and restaurant efficiencies, or send managers into perma-notification comas. Either way, we’re sure they’re looking forward to the first system outage.

Source: Eater


VW and Mercedes open Paris Auto Show with futuristic EVs

The Paris Auto Show is missing Lamborghini, Volvo and other automakers, but it’s still one of the biggest displays of automotive tech in the world. Fittingly, in a city that bans gas-powered cars from its streets once a month, Volkswagen and Mercedes kicked things off with prototypes that represent their future EV ecosystems. That no doubt made everyone feel better about CO2 pollution, but most of the cars here are still burning fossil fuels, and many, like the Jaguar F-type (below), plenty of it.

Volkswagen had the first major press conference of the show and CEO Herbert Deiss certainly took a conciliatory tone, without mentioning the diesel-gate crisis. He threw around words like “fresh start,” “new challenge” and so on, adding that VW sales had picked up over the last few months. Then, he revealed the swoopy Volkswagen ID prototype with 370 miles of potential range. The collective air went out of the room when he said the EV wouldn’t come until 2020, however.

The brand new Jaguar F-Type SVR

Then it was Mercedes’ turn, and it also did a dramatic reveal of its Generation EQ, an entirely new electric vehicle lineup. The launch prototype vehicle will never be built, but represents the technology to come in the lineup. Both Mercedes and Volkswagen specifically mentioned Tesla by name as a primary rival, though they’re now playing big-time catch-up with Musk’s company, which has already pre-sold over 300,000 Tesla 3 EVs.

As for the rest of the show, let’s just take it for what it is — pure vehicular porn. In a quick tour around several pavilions, I saw new vehicles from Jaguar, Lexus (including its wild UX crossover concept), Infiniti, Porsche, Audi, and Range Rover, to name a few. Those vehicles are out of our remit in terms of coverage (and price), but it doesn’t mean we can’t throw them all into an ogle-worthy gallery. Enjoy!


Wireless Emergency Alerts are about to get more detailed

The FCC has voted to strengthen the Wireless Emergency Alerts system, which sends warnings about missing children, natural disasters and other dangerous events directly to citizens’ cell phones. The new rules allow government officials to write up to 360 characters, rather than 90, for 4G LTE and future networks, and it requires participating carriers to support the use of embedded phone numbers and links in all alerts. For example, in an AMBER Alert, the message may now include a link to a photo of the missing child.

FCC votes to strengthen Wireless Emergency Alerts, a system that delivers critical warnings to Americans on wireless devices. #OpenMtgFCC

— The FCC (@FCC) September 29, 2016

The updated rules also expand the range of Wireless Emergency Alerts to “more granular geographic areas,” and require carriers to support Spanish-language messages. Additionally, the FCC has created a new type of alert, Public Safety Messages, which will outline essential and recommended actions that people in affected areas can take to save their lives or property. These include orders to boil water or the locations of emergency shelters. Finally, it will now be easier for state and local officials to test the WEA system and train personnel.

The WEA system went live in 2012. It became the center of attention earlier in September when New York City residents received a message about a suspected bomber that read, “WANTED: Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28-yr-old male. See media for pic. Call 9-1-1 if seen.” This was the first time that the WEA system was used as a wanted poster, as The New York Times characterized it.


Stream performances from the Austin City Limits Festival this weekend

Planning on a weekend at home? Allow us to provide an entertainment suggestion. Like it does with Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza, Red Bull TV is providing music fans who aren’t making the trip a way to watch live performances from this weekend’s Austin City Limits Music Festival. The livestreaming starts tomorrow at 3PM ET and runs through Sunday with LCD System, M83, Major Lazer, Local Natives, Mumford & Sons and many more scheduled to take the stage.
When the time comes, Red Bull TV has apps for Android, iOS, Kindle Fire and Windows 10 or you can watch on the web. What’s more, the livestreams are also available on Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox, Samsung Blu-ray players and both Samsung and LG smart TVs. There are plenty of viewing options and the live shows are free to watch, so if you didn’t have any plans this weekend, there’s an easy activity that doesn’t require you to leave your favorite chair.

Source: Red Bull TV


AOL’s Alto Dashboard is a daily organizer for your email

In this era of texting and instant messaging you might not be emailing many long, heartfelt letters to your best friend from college. I certainly don’t. But I’m still drowning in a sea of less personal correspondence: Receipts. Bill payments. Flight confirmations. Even with apps like Gmail sorting these assorted messages into tidy little folders, it’s pretty easy to lose track of the things I might need to know. Alto, the email app from AOL (Engadget’s parent company), is attempting to fix inboxes like mine with its new feature, Alto Dashboard. Out today, the dashboard places the most important bits front and center and lets you act on them, without ever leaving the app.

Alto Dashboard should look familiar to anyone who’s ever availed themselves of the cards in Google Now: Important bits of information like upcoming flights, hotel reservations and package tracking are given their own slides, arranged in chronological order with all the most important details displayed out front. You can glean the relevant data at a glance, or tap on each card to access the entire message.

Alto’s function as a keeper of info is way to raise it above a sea of similar apps, part of a larger trend of programs like Facebook Messenger branching out past their core functions and adding more and more functionality to varying degrees of usefulness. And, while the Alto Dashboard is distinctive and useful, it’s also strongly reminiscent of how TripIt can trawl your email for flight and hotel reservations and then bundle all that information into a single trip file.

Alto will capture all the same info, like car rentals and theater tickets, and put it all on your timeline. What it doesn’t do yet is group them together, like “trip to Chicago” or “Saturday with mom.” But the team at Alto has plans to add that eventually, which would definitely make filing expense reports easier.

Where Alto Dashboard differs from Google Now or TripIt is not just how everything is contained within the app itself, but how the information can be acted on. The improved dashboard will not only remind you about your Hamilton tickets or pull up directions; you can actually call an Uber to take you there. You aren’t limited to a specific app for each task either: You can choose what maps program to use, or maybe choose Lyft instead. You can even send receipts to Expensify, though each item will have to be sent individually for now.

When you just need your email to just be email, the Alto app still helps you out with its existing “stacks” feature, which functions similar to the tabs in Gmail. Your messages are sorted by subject using the same algorithms that determine what shows up in your dashboard. There are preset stacks for shopping, travel and finance, but most useful are the ones that keep track of all the photos and files you’ve been sent — no need to keep them on your device, and you won’t have to scramble to find a photo attached to an email you got two years past.

I’m a weirdo who still keeps my AOL account around but, even if you kicked your address to the curb ages ago, you can still use Alto; it also works with Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, iCloud and Exchange, or any other IMAP email provider. Everything can be viewed in one dashboard, so you have both your business and leisure events organized into one stream to create a fuller picture of your days and weeks. Alto and its new dashboard are available today on iOS, Android and the web.


Download Android Wear apps right from your wrist

Android Wear smartwatches aren’t yet completely independent of your phone, but they just took one giant step in that direction. Google is releasing a third developer preview of Android Wear 2.0 that offers Google Play Store access on your watch, complete with support for paid downloads, beta tests and multiple accounts. Browsing is limited to recommend apps and keyword searches, but you can choose to install apps only on the watch — important when some Android Wear 2.0 apps won’t be available on phones in the first place.

You’ll have to be comfortable with running unfinished software if you’re going to install this on your own watch, of course. Otherwise, you’ll have to be patient. Google isn’t expecting 2.0 to reach wearables until early 2017, so the preview program will be the only way you can try the new Android Wear experience this year.

Source: Android Developers Blog


Watch HBO and Cinemax on PlayStation Vue starting today

PlayStation is beefing up the premium offerings on its PS Vue streaming TV service. As of today, HBO and Cinemax will be available either a la carte or as part of the new Ultra ($64.99 to $74.99 per month based on location) plan. Don’t feel like ponying up that much? Both HBO and Cinemax are $15 per month on their own. A post on the PlayStation Blog says that this is the first internet-based pay-TV service to offer the channels both live and streaming without a bundled package.

What’s more, subscribing will also give live access to the aforementioned channels, not just after-broadcast streaming via HBO Now. And on that note, HBO’s fully standalone streaming app comes out today on PS4 and PS3. Assuming your cable company (looking at you, Comcast) supports it, of course.

Source: PlayStation Blog


FCC Votes to Improve Emergency Smartphone Alerts With Longer Character Limits, Link Support

Emergency alerts delivered to iPhones and other smartphones to warn customers about poor weather conditions, missing children, local crime, and more, may soon feature support for web links, photos, phone numbers, and longer message content.

The United States Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to expand emergency alerts from 90 to 360 characters on 4G and LTE networks, and to include support for links so people can follow up to get more information about an unfolding situation. As it stands, emergency alerts are short in length and often offer no resources for people to get in contact with emergency personnel if necessary.

Image via NBC
Wireless providers like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile send these alerts and will be required to update their systems with support for the new features that have been mandated by the FCC.

“Vague directives in text about where to find more information about a suspect, just as we saw in New York, are not good enough,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, an FCC commissioner. “As we move into the 5G future, we need to ensure that multimedia is available in all of our alert messages.”

Carriers will also need to start supporting the transmission of Spanish language alerts and introduce a new type of safety alert designed to send “Emergency Governmental Information” like the locations of emergency shelters or an order to boil water before drinking.

The FCC’s decision follows criticism of the emergency alert system after alerts were sent out in New York and New Jersey asking citizens to help track down a man suspected of setting off bombs in the area. The alert included a message advising people to “See media for pic,” highlighting its shortcomings. It is not clear when the new rules will go into effect.

Tag: FCC
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