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3
Nov

The NFL’s first VR series is coming to Daydream and YouTube


Virtual reality is all the rage these days and the NFL is hopping on the bandwagon. The league announced today that it’s expanding its partnership with Google via a new VR series for YouTube and Daydream. Produced by NFL Films, the 9-part show will offer a look “a 360-degree perspective of life” from the point of view of players, coaches, executives, cheerleaders and fans. While the first episode is set to debut Thanksgiving Day on the league’s YouTube channel, the series won’t be available inside the NFL VR app for Google’s Daydream platform until “later this year.”

This new series is the league’s first dive into producing its own VR content and the NFL says it’s also the first episodic sports content for the medium. While the announcement doesn’t specify a title for the project, the league says the decision to pursue a full series came after it “experimented” with the tech last season. The series is still in production and NFL Films is using Google’s GoPro-driven Jump virtual reality camera to capture the footage.

When it arrives in a few weeks, the first episode will chronicle the Philadelphia Eagles as they prep for an upcoming game with views from the sideline on game day. In the episodes that follow, the NFL says the show will focus on unique aspects of other teams, like the football culture in Green Bay.

The league has been in cahoots with Google since early 2015 when the two partnered to bring highlights, previews and recaps to YouTube. The pair expanded the deal back in May to include classic games for all 32 teams. NFL Films has also worked with Amazon on the All or Nothing series that debuted in July.

Source: NFL

3
Nov

Ford’s next-gen driver assist will swerve before you do


The trickle-down benefits of Ford’s autonomous driving technology are making their way into more and more consumer vehicles. While Tesla might get all the headlines with Autopilot, Ford has been quietly rolling out smart, driver-assist features across more of its vehicles than any other manufacturer. Today, the automaker announced a new generation of technologies like evasive steering assist, cross-traffic alerts, pedestrian detection and enhanced self-parking that should make driving a little less stressful and a lot safer for everyone.

Currently in development, cross-traffic alerts will detect objects that are about to pass behind the vehicle while reversing and alert the driver with a warning sound and a wide-angle view on the backup camera. If the driver still doesn’t respond, the car will automatically brake to avoid a fender bender. For even more stress-free parking moments, the company says they’ll be rolling out an enhanced pushbutton parking system that can parallel park or even back into a perpendicular space with no driver input.

The evasive steering technology is a little more aggressive and uses a combination of radar and camera systems to detect stopped or slowed traffic in front of your own vehicle. If you suddenly pull up on a stopped car, your next-gen Ford will swerve to avoid it, even at highway speeds. To solve a burning question about autonomous vehicles, Ford says the system will only kick in when it knows there won’t be enough room to avoid the collision by braking.

The company also says their driver-assist system can use a combination of GPS data and visual information to alert drivers if they’ve accidentally started driving the wrong way down a one-way street. And an infrared camera system can spot pedestrians, cyclists and animals to notify drivers to even more unseen roadside hazards. Ford expects these features to show up in new vehicles sometime in the next two years, so there’s a chance you’ll never have to parallel park a 2019 Ford Fusion on your own.

Source: Automotive World

3
Nov

Google intros a cheaper subscription plan for apps


Subscription services have been on mobile devices for a while. Netflix, Hulu, Marvel Unlimited and others have made shelling out a few dollars a month part of our on-the-go digital lifestyle. But if developers who rely on that business model wanted to use the Android subscription feature they were stuck charging full price from day one. That’s about to change.

At its Playtime developer event today, Google announced that Android developers will soon be able to set introductory prices for subscriptions. For example, the Sling TV app could offer $10 per month for three months as an introductory offer, with the cost later rising to the usual price of $20 a month.

This would give users the ability to try out a service at a discounted rate before committing to the full out-of-pocket experience. While developers could get people to try their service without having to build a payment infrastructure from scratch.

Source: Google

3
Nov

Hackers hijack a Philips Hue lights with a drone


Surprise! The Internet of Things is a security nightmare. Anyone who was online a few weeks ago can attest to that. The massive internet blackout was caused by connected devices, and new research from white-hat hackers expounds upon those types of vulnerabilities. The target? Philips Hue smart lightbulbs. While they’ve been hacked in the past, Philips was quick to point out that it happening in a real-world situation would be pretty difficult. Digital intruders would need to already be on your home network with a computer of their own — the company claimed that directly attacking the lightbulbs wasn’t exactly feasible. But this new attack doesn’t require that sort of access.

In fact, all it takes is tricking the bulbs into accepting a nefarious firmware update. By exploiting a weakness in the Touchlink aspect of the ZigBee Light Link system (again!), the hackers were able to bypass the built-in safeguards against remote access. From there, they “extracted the global AES-CCM key” that the manufacturer uses to encrypt and authenticate new firmware, the researchers write (PDF).

“The malicious firmware can disable additional downloads, and thus any effect caused by the worm, blackout, constant flickering, etc.) will be permanent.” What’s more, the attack is a worm, and can jump from connected device to connected device through the air. It could potentially knock out an entire city with just one infected bulb at the root “within minutes.”

“There is no other method of reprogramming these devices without full disassemble (which is not feasible). Any old stock would also need to be recalled, as any devices with vulnerable firmware can be infected as soon as the power is applied.”

The result is that the hackers were able to turn lights on and off both from a van driving by a house and a drone flying outside an office building. For the home, the team was 70 meters (229.7 feet) away and caused lights to go on and off individually. The office building houses a few security companies including Oracle, and was hacked from 350 meters (1,148 feet; about a quarter of a mile), and once under control, the lights started signaling “S.O.S.” in Morse code.

“We used only readily available equipment costing a few hundred dollars, and managed to find this key without seeing any actual updates.” Not terrifying at all, right? The researchers say that they’ve contacted Philips and included all the details needed for a fix. Philips has confirmed the weaknesses and issued firmware updates to hopefully guard against this ever happening.

Via: New York Times

Source: Eyalro (1), (2) (PDF)

3
Nov

Apple Pay Holdout Walmart to Launch QR Code-Based ‘Chase Pay’ Next Year


Chase has announced its payments service Chase Pay will launch at Walmart stores in the United States in 2017. The digital wallet will be integrated into the Walmart app for in-store purchases, allowing Chase Visa credit and debit cardholders to pay at the checkout by showing a QR code to the cashier.

Chase Pay will also be added to Walmart’s website next year, allowing customers to make online purchases while earning rewards and receiving offers. The service secures transactions with token technology, which utilizes one-time complex codes to process transactions and keep card information secure.

Chase Pay differs from Apple Pay, which uses contactless NFC technology and is secured with Touch ID in addition to tokenization. Walmart has so far refused to adopt Apple Pay, opting for QR code payments services like Walmart Pay and Chase Pay instead. The retailer has said it is open to supporting other digital wallets in the future.

Chase Pay was created in partnership with MCX, the consortium behind the indefinitely postponed payments service CurrentC. Walmart was a leading member of MCX between 2012 and 2015, when the consortium’s three-year exclusivity window expired. In 2014, Walmart explicitly said it would not accept Apple Pay.

Walmart’s app is a free download on the App Store [Direct Link] for iPhone.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
Tags: Chase Pay, Walmart Pay, Walmart
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3
Nov

How to setup multiroom music with Google Cast – CNET


Google Home can do almost anything… except beat Amazon Echo

The wait is over. Time to see if Google Home lives up to the hype.

by Andrew Gebhart

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Ever dreamed of having a future home? One where your music plays in multiple rooms simultaneously, and from multiple devices, party-style? Google’s Cast technology can realize that dream for an affordable price.

The $35 Chromecast Audio, the brand-new Google Home speaker, and numerous other Cast-compatible audio devices such as the Sony STR-DN1070 receiver and the Vizio Crave 360, can now work in concert together throughout your home. You can create groups of multiple devices and send music, news or whatever to any or all of them at the same time, using the Google Home app on your phone.

If you’re serious about multiroom music then Sonos and other systems, such as Samsung’s multiroom system or Play-Fi, might be better investments. But they cost a lot more and require you to buy Sonos speakers or expensive components. Chromecast Audio works with any powered speaker or audio system.

Here’s how to set it up.

Here’s everything the Google Home can do

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Getting started

First you’ll need to connect your device to the network. If you’re using a third-party Cast-compatible product, such as the Sony receiver mentioned above, follow the usual setup method when you buy the device, or look under Network within Settings.

If you’ve bought a Google Home or Chromecast Audio, connecting it to the network is a little more straightforward. You’ll use the Google Home app for iOS or Android.

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The main page of the Google Home app. The Devices shortcut is at the top right.

Screenshot Ty Pendlebury/CNET

From the main page of the Google Home app look for the little “setup” icon in the top right-hand corner. Pressing that will take you to the Devices tab.

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The Devices tab.

Screenshot Ty Pendlebury/CNET

All of the compatible devices that the app has detected will appear here, and it will inform you whether they need to be set up or not. If for some reason Google Home doesn’t find them, you can press the Add Device button at the bottom of the screen. The setup process walks you through step by step; see “How to set up Google Home” for more info.

How to create groups

google-cast5.pnggoogle-cast5.png Screenshot Ty Pendlebury/CNET

A group consists of two or more Cast components (such as a Chromecast Audio, Google Home and a Sony receiver) which will operate as if a single speaker. To create one, choose one of the devices on the Devices page and click the “…” button. Choose “Create group”, and a setup page appears. Here you can name the group — for example “House Party” if they’re in three living areas — and then choose from the available devices that you’d like to add. The new “House Party” will now appear on your list as a single device.

Use your group in Google Cast apps

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Choosing a group in Pandora.

Screenshot Ty Pendlebury/CNET

There are dozens of apps that support casting, but here we’re going to concentrate on ones which are audio focused. First open up a Cast-compatible app, like Spotify or Pandora, and click the Cast button. On the list that appears you’ll see all the available devices as well as any groups you’ve created, like “House Party.” Choose a group, play a song using the app and the music will play to all the included speakers and devices simultaneously.

What about other Cast devices?

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The Sony STR-DN1070 is one of our favorite Google Cast devices.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Cast was originally used for video, not audio, and was born with the $35 Chromecast in 2013. Instead of using a remote control and big-screen Netflix app on the TV, for example, you browse videos on your phone’s Netflix app, then tap the app’s cast button to play them on the TV.

The multiroom function is not yet compatible with video Chromecasts (the ones with HDMI outputs). However it is available with a growing range of audio products from Sony, LG, Philips, Onkyo and more.

Is Google Cast a Sonos Killer?

While the technology shows great promise it’s not quite able to rival Sonos just yet. The biggest hurdle so far are the apps themselves. It’s one source or app at once. As of writing there are no Google Cast apps that can integrate multiple streaming services in the way that Sonos does.

So while we wait for the “killer” Google Cast app the eco-system is nonetheless an excellent look into the future of low-cost multiroom music. If you’re looking to dip your toes in the house party waters for a very modest outlay, Google Cast is definitely the best place to start.

3
Nov

The complete list of Google Home commands so far – CNET


Over the past year, the Amazon Echo has taken the world of smart home tech by storm. In November, Google finally released its long-awaited competitor.

The Google Home is a $130 smart home speaker that showcases the artificially intelligent, voice-activated Google Assistant. This clever bit of software lets you set timers, control lights and thermostats, play trivia games, watch YouTube videos and more — all with simple voice commands.

The Home’s roster of supported integrations will likely grow over time, as will its list of native commands. And compared to what you’ll get with Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s commands are a little more flexible, so you typically don’t have to search for the perfect phrasing.

Google hasn’t released a full list of commands for Home, so we had to do our best to assemble and test everything we could think of. If we’re missing anything, make sure to leave it in a comment so we can update the list as we go. Here’s the (almost) complete list of voice commands for the Google Home so far.

Here’s everything the Google Home can do

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Summoning the Google Assistant

You can begin a conversation with the Google Home by simply saying, “OK Google,” or “Hey Google.” Summoning the Google Assistant on your phone works the same way, but your account will know to only respond on one of the devices, even if both hear you.

Conversational commands

The Google Home allows you to ask lines of questions that are connected. For instance you could say, “Hey Google, play ‘Lose Yourself to Dance.’” Then, “OK Google, what album is this from?” Then, “Hey Google, play that album.”

Even though you aren’t using the name of the album, Google Assistant understands the context and supplies the answer.

Basiccommands

  • Ask for help: “OK Google, help.”
  • Control the volume: “OK Google, turn it up” or, “Louder” or, “Turn it to 11.” (Yes, the max is 11.)
  • Halt an action: “OK Google, stop” or, “Pause” or, “Be quiet.”

Tools

  • Roll a die: “OK Google, roll a die” or, “OK Google, roll a 12-sided die.”
  • Flip a coin: “OK Google, flip a coin.”
  • Math: “OK Google, what’s 354 times 11?”
  • Measurements: “OK Google, how many liters are in 4 gallons.”
  • Time: “OK Google, what time is it?”
  • Location: “OK Google, where am I?”
  • Translations: “OK Google, how do you say [word] in [language]?”
  • International time: “OK Google, what time is it in [city]?”
  • Currency conversion: “OK Google, how much is 100 Euros in dollars?”
  • Alarm: “OK Google, set an alarm for [time].”
  • Snooze alarm: “OK Google, snooze alarm.”
  • Cancel alarm: “OK Google, cancel my alarm for [time].”
  • Timer: “OK Google, set a timer for [time].”
  • Check timer: “OK Google, how much time is left on my timer?”
  • Recipes: “OK Google, how do I make [dish]”
  • Add to shopping list: “OK Google, add [item] to my shopping list.”
  • Check shopping list: “OK Google, what’s on my shopping list?”
  • Daily briefing: “OK Google, good morning.” (includes personalized greeting, info on weather, traffic, and curated news stories)
  • Uber: “OK Google, order an Uber.”
7 ways Google Home outsmarts Alexa

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Search

  • Stocks: “OK Google, how are Alphabet’s stocks doing?”
  • Weather: “OK Google, how’s the weather today?” or, “Do I need an umbrella today?”
  • Traffic: “OK Google, what’s the traffic like on the way to work?”
  • Words: “OK Google, what does [word] mean?”
  • Spelling: “OK Google, spell [word].”
  • Special events: “OK Google, when is [event]?” (Easter, for example)
  • People: “OK Google, who is [person]?”
  • Facts: “OK Google, how tall is [person]?”
  • Things: “OK Google, what is [thing]?”
  • Places: “OK Google, what country is [location] in?”
  • Animal sounds: “OK Google, what does [animal] sound like?”
  • Distance: “OK Google, how far is [business name] from here?”
  • Restaurants: “OK Google, what are the nearest restaurants to me?”
  • Businesses: “OK Google, are there any [business type] around here?”
  • Business information: “OK Google, how late is [business] open?” or “Is [business] open now?”
  • Quotes: “OK Google, give me a quote” or, “Give me a love quote.”
  • Medical information: “OK Google, what is a torn meniscus?”
  • Calories: “OK Google, how many calories are in [food item]?”
  • Authors: “OK Google, who wrote [book title]?”
  • Inventors: “OK Google, who invented [item]?”

Media

  • Play music: “OK Google, play some music” or, “Play some [genre] music.”
  • Play an artist or song: “OK Google, play [artist]” or, “Play [song].”
  • Play a song by lyrics: “OK Google, play the song that goes, ‘Is this the real life?’”
  • Play a Google Play playlist or album: “OK Google, play some indie music” or, “OK Google, play [album].”
  • Ask what’s playing: “OK Google, what song is this?” or, “OK Google, what album is this?”
  • Get more information: “OK Google, when did this album come out?”
  • Fast forward and rewind: “OK Google, skip forward 2 minutes” or, “Skip backward 30 seconds.”
  • Play music through other speakers using Chromecast: “OK Google, cast [song] onto [speaker name].”
  • Play music on Spotify: “OK Google, play [artist] on Spotify.”
  • Play music on Pandora: “OK Google, play [artist] on Pandora.”
  • Like or dislike a song on Pandora: “OK Google, dislike this song.”
  • Play music on YouTube Music: “OK Google, play [artist] on YouTube.”
  • Play stations on TuneIn: “OK Google, play [station] on TuneIn.”
  • Play videos on YouTube using Chromecast: “OK Google, play on the [TV name].”
  • Pull up lists on YouTube: “OK Google, let’s look at what’s trending on YouTube on [TV name].”

Entertainment

  • Sports updates: “OK Google, who is [team] playing next?” or “Did the [team] win last night?”
  • Sports scores: “OK Google, what was the score for the last [team] game?”
  • Team information: “OK Google, tell me about [team].”
  • Movies: “OK Google, what movies came out last Friday?”
  • Casting for movies: “OK Google, what actors are in [movie]?”
  • Shows by network: “Hey Google, what shows are on [network]?”
  • News: “OK Google, what’s today’s news?”

Smart home

Google works with only a few smart home devices/platforms at present: Philips Hue, Nest, SmartThings, Chromecast and IFTTT. The roster of integrations will likely expand as time goes on. Even with these limited integrations, though, the flexibility of SmartThings and especially IFTTT allow the Google Home to control a wide variety of gadgets using 3rd-party triggers. For now, here are the built-in Google Home commands for smart home gadgets.

  • Turn Philips Hue lights on/off: “OK Google, turn on/off my lights.”
  • Dim Hue lights: “OK Google, dim my lights to fifty percent.”
  • Change Hue colors: “OK Google, turn my lights [color].”
  • Control Nest thermostat: “OK Google, turn the temperature to [temp].”
  • Make incremental changes: “OK Google, raise the temperature 1 degree.”
  • Customize trigger phrases for IFTTT. For example: “OK Google, let’s get this party started.”

Easter eggs

  • “Hey Google, always be closing.”
  • “Hey Google, what is your quest?”
  • “Hey Google, I am your father.”
  • “Hey Google, set phasers to kill.”
  • “Hey Google, are you SkyNet?”
  • “Hey Google, make me a sandwich.”
  • “Hey Google, up up down down left right left right B A Start.”
  • “Hey Google, do a barrel roll.”
  • “Hey Google, it’s my birthday.”
  • “Hey Google, it’s not my birthday.”
  • “Hey Google, did you fart?”
3
Nov

Google Assistant: Tips for talking to Pixel, Google Home and Allo – CNET


Start chatting with Google Assistant

Google’s digital assistant has learned some new tricks and can now handle a real conversation! Here are some new commands you can start with.

by Vanessa Hand Orellana

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Google Assistant (which replaced Google Now) is like Siri, but a lot more helpful, carrying full-fledged conversations and taking notes about your likes and dislikes. It taps into Google’s huge database of apps (like calendars, email and so on) as well as restaurant reviews, weather, travel, maps and a whole lot more.

The voice assistant is baked into Google Pixel, the Google Home (the Alexa competitor) and the Allo app (on iPhone and Android). Here are some tips to get you started.

1. Start with a “Good morning”

Google Assistant is deeply integrated with your Google account, including Google calendar. A simple “good morning” at the start of your day will give you all the information you need to start off on the right foot.

Google Assistant will give you a quick weather update, read your list of appointments or events for the day, alert you of any pending reminders and even go through the day’s news by automatically playing relevant podcasts from a variety of news outlets you can customize.

And it’s not just stuck in the present, you can ask to see gate information about your next flight or find out if you missed your last gym class.

2. Set your news preferences

You can ask Google Assistant for news updates with phrases like “Tell me the news.” But to really take advantage of the feature, you need to set up your news preferences in the Assistant’s settings.

With Assistant open, tap on the three-dot icon in the corner. Select Settings > News > Customize. Select from a wide-ranging list of news podcasts, including NRP, WSJ, Fox News and CBS.

When you ask Google Assistant for the news, it will begin playing your selected podcasts in the order listed under the News section. Right now, it may not be all that useful considering it’s playing through your phone’s speaker, but when the Google Home launches you can use it to listen to your news without extra setup.

3. Tailor your daily updates

While in the Google Assistant settings page, tap on My Day. Here you can indicate what information you want Google Assistant to include when you say “Tell me about my day.”

You can include your weather forecast, work commute, next meeting and any pending reminders. You can also opt to have the daily briefing end by playing news podcasts or by closing out the app.

4. Ask a follow-up question

When we asked the Assistant asked about the Cubs game, it answered with the correct time and date. It could also answer the follow-up question “When was the last time they made it to the World Series” accurately without us having to repeat the name of the team.

Instead of listing off web results, the Assistant read off the information from the Wikipedia entry out loud and kept it on screen. Ask a third related question and it will still know what you’re talking about.

5. Let Google Assistant be your guide

Like previous digital assistants, this one is capable of locating you on a map. But unlike its predecessors, it’s also aware of your surroundings.

If you happen to be near a certain pointy skyscraper in San Francisco and can’t remember its name, just ask. Google Assistant can correctly identify the Transamerica Pyramid based on your location.

Ask for directions home from your location, and it will default to driving directions, but follow up with “walking” if you’re traveling on foot and it knows exactly how to guide you.

6. Take a photo with your voice

Google Assistant isn’t the first assistant to be able to launch the camera on a phone, but now it actually does the work for you so your finger never has to touch the shutter.

Say “take a photo” or “take a selfie” to launch the camera with an automatic three second countdown.

7. Ask for a joke

The best friendships always start with a joke. So, ask Google Assistant to tell you a joke. Granted, you’re likely to hear some of the worst Dad jokes ever, but they’re still good for a laugh. Just say “Tell me a joke.” Laugh. Repeat.

8. Tell it about yourself

Start teaching Google Assistant what kind of food you like and don’t like. Tell it your dog’s or spouse’s name (not necessarily in that order). Tell it where you live and work. Tell it your secrets, if you want.

The more it gets to know you, the smarter it gets, and the better it gets at fulfilling your every need. Google Assistant remembers everything you share with it, so invest the time in getting her up to speed on personal details you want it to know.

If you say “my favorite color is purple” for example, it will take note. And next time you ask to see pictures of flowers in your favorite color, it will actually know what you’re talking about.

9. Yo Google! I’m bored.

What good would any sort of assistant be if it couldn’t entertain you when you are bored? Try saying “OK Google, I’m bored” then tap on one of the different options it presents you with.

Selecting Games will give you the option to take quizzes, play Google Doodle games or pass the time with classic games like tic-tac-toe.

You can also ask for funny videos, random facts and memes if you’re into that sort of thing.

3
Nov

Use Alexa to turn on your PC – CNET


smartaptpromophotos-3.jpg Chris Monroe/CNET

Alexa gets smarter and more useful every day. I’ve talked extensively about how you can control your lights and thermostat, brew coffee and even order pizza using only your voice.

But reddit user garyngwind has come up with a simple and clever way to power on your computer using Alexa. Here’s how it’s done.

What you will need

The sheer number of components to this setup may seem daunting at first, but it’s actually quite simple. If you’re familiar with Tasker and IFTTT, it shouldn’t take more than 10 or 15 minutes to have everything up and running.

To get started, you obviously need an Alexa-enabled speaker and a computer. This will work with Windows and macOS, and it should work with most Linux computers. This setup also requires an Android smartphone or tablet, and you need to download two applications to the Android device: Tasker and Wake On Lan.

Finally, you need an IFTTT account with the Alexa and SMS or Android SMS channels activated.

Step 1: Enable Wake on LAN

Once you have all the required devices, applications and accounts ready, there is a small amount of setup that needs to be done on the Android device and the PC.

On the PC side, you will need to enable Wake on LAN. This allows you to bring the computer out of a low power state, such as Sleep or Hibernate, using another device connected to the same network. Enabling this is a little different per computer.

Windows

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  • Click Start, type “Device Manager” and press Return.
  • Locate Network adapters and double-click to expand.
  • Double-click the device name or right-click and select Properties.
  • Click the Power Management tab and check all boxes.
  • Click the Advanced tab, click Wait for Link and select On in the dropdown menu.
  • Click Wake on Magic Packet and select Enabled in the dropdown menu.
  • Click OK.

macOS

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  • Open System Preferences.
  • Click Energy Saver.
  • Click Power Adapter.
  • Click the check box to the left of Wake for Wi-Fi network access.

BIOS

  • Shut down the computer and boot into the BIOS menu. How to get into BIOS varies by computer, but the hotkey — usually Del or F2 — is listed on the boot screen.
  • Locate WoL settings. It isn’t always in the same place, as every BIOS menu differs, but it typically resides in the Power Management or Advanced Options sections. And the labeling of the feature sometimes varies, as well. In my BIOS, for example, it was listed as Power On By PCI-E/PCI under APM (Advanced Power Management).
  • Once the feature is enabled, save and reboot.

Step 2: Setup the IFTTT recipe

The IFTTT recipe is the pivotal part of this entire setup. You will be connecting the Amazon Alexa channel to one of the two SMS channels offered on IFTTT.

IFTTT Recipe: Alexa, trigger PC on connects amazon-alexa-us-only to android-smsIFTTT Recipe: Alexa to turn on PC connects amazon-alexa-us-only to sms

The first is Android SMS, which will use your phone to text itself. It requires the IF app to be installed. The second is the IFTTT SMS channel, in which IFTTT will text you from a designated number. The latter is limited to 100 text messages per month.

For these recipes, you can customize the trigger phrase, which I have set to default to “PC on.”

Step 3: Tasker and Wake On Lan setup

For those who are not familiar with Tasker, it’s a lot like IFTTT but for native functions on an Android phone.

You can create Profiles, which are similar to the This portion of an IFTTT recipe. These Profiles trigger on certain events, times, locations or the status of an application, and fire off any Tasks that are associated with them. Tasks are a lot like the That part of an IFTTT recipe.

To bridge Alexa and your PC, you need to connect Tasker and IFTTT through an SMS, your Android device and PC using the Wake On Lan app. It’s actually much easier than it sounds.

power-on-pc-with-alexa.jpgpower-on-pc-with-alexa.jpg Taylor Martin/CNET

  • First, connect your Android phone to the same network as your PC and open the Wake On Lan app.
  • Click the plus sign in the lower right corner of the app and select your computer from the listed network devices.
  • Next, open Tasker and swipe over to the Tasks panel.
  • Click the plus sign at the bottom and give the task a name, such as PC On or WoL.
  • Click the plus sign again and select Plugin. Select Wake On Lan.
  • Click the pencil icon in the upper right corner of the app, to the right of Configuration.
  • Select your computer from the listed devices and click the back navigation button.
  • Swipe back to the Profiles panel and click the plus icon at the bottom of the screen and select Event.
  • Tap Phone and select Received Text.
  • Tap the search icon to the right of Sender.
    • If you used the Android SMS channel, find and select your own contact info.
    • If you used the IFTTT SMS channel, run the recipe once by saying, “Alexa, trigger [trigger phrase]” and add the IFTTT number to your contacts. Search for and select the IFTTT contact.
  • Press the back navigation button to finish the Profile and select the PC On (0r WoL) task from the dropdown menu that appears.
  • Make sure the Profile is toggled On and back out of Tasker.

Turning on your PC with Alexa

Something to note is that this setup does not work when the connected computer is fully powered down. It should be in a low power state, such as Sleep or Hibernate. It also will not work if the connected phone is not on the same Wi-Fi network.

With those things in mind, when you say “Alexa, trigger PC on,” your phone will receive an SMS and Tasker will tell the Wake On Lan app to wake your computer.

There is a short pause before the SMS is sent, but in my testing that delay is typically only between 3 and 10 seconds, making this solution perfect for powering on my computer while I make coffee in the morning, before I ever open the door to my office.

3
Nov

Huawei Fit review – CNET


The Good The Huawei Fit is lightweight, comfortable to wear, and has week-long battery life. It can track daily activities, including heart rate, and can show notifications from your phone. It can be worn in the shower and while swimming.

The Bad The display is dull and touchscreen is difficult to operate when working out. There’s no GPS or automatic exercise detection. The Huawei app lacks any sort of social features.

The Bottom Line The Huawei Fit is a capable fitness smartwatch, but the software falls short of the competition.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

The Huawei Fit is like so many other wearables on the market. It’s a good device on paper, but ultimately fails to dethrone Fitbit, Garmin and Samsung.

Why does that keep happening? Because the software doesn’t live up to the hardware. The Fit can track all of the basics: Steps, distance, calories burned, sleep and heart rate, which it does automatically every 10 minutes. It also doubles as an entry-level smartwatch, and can display notifications from your iPhone or Android device. This includes calls, text messages, emails and any third-party apps.

The watch is also swim-proof and equipped with a battery that will last up to a week. But, it’s not that simple anymore. The wearable market is changing and getting more competitive. There are a ton of devices out there that can measure your daily activities, more than anyone needs. It’s not about the device, it’s about the platform. Unfortunately the Huawei app falls short of the competition in that regard.

The Huawei Fit is available now for $130 (about £105 and AU$170).

Fitness first

Huawei is positioning the Fit as a fitness watch. It features workout profiles for running, walking, biking, treadmill running and swimming, but it doesn’t include built-in GPS. If you want real-time (and accurate) data on your pace and distance, you will have to run with your smartphone.

Huawei calls this “connected GPS”, but unlike from what we’ve seen on the Fitbit Charge 2 and Fitbit Blaze, this feature doesn’t actually show any information on the watch itself. The watch is able to broadcast your heart rate to the app, but it would have been better if you could actually see your running data on your wrist.

huawei-fit-10.jpgView full gallery

The Huawei Fit (center) compared to the Samsung Gear Fit 2 (left) and Fitbit Charge 2 (right).

Sarah Tew/CNET

Another problem for everyday fitness is the lack of physical buttons. The Huawei Fit has a clean design, but this minimalist style isn’t ideal for working out. The touchscreen can be difficult to operate with sweaty fingers. There is the option to flick your wrist to change screens, but this isn’t even available in workout mode.

Oddly, the Fit’s display is easy to read when outdoors, but dull and hard to read when you step inside. The Fit also lacks automatic exercise detection like we’ve seen in trackers from Fitbit and Samsung.

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