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7
Nov

HTC Bolt tipped for Nov 11 launch with water resistance, ‘adaptive’ earphones


Bizarre new mid-ranger reportedly a Sprint exclusive in the United States.

Rumors have been swirling around the HTC Bolt in recent weeks, suggesting that the Taiwanese company will bring to market mid-priced, big-screened variant of the HTC 10 to market sometime this month.

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The deck of slides obtained by TechnoBuffalo breaks down a bunch of hardware features:

  • 16-megapixel f/2.0 main camera with OIS
  • 8-megapixel front camera
  • 3,200mAh battery with quick charging — 20 hours talk time with “power to last a day” in 30 minutes of charging.
  • Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box.
  • Amazon Assistant preloaded.
  • Water resistance, rated IP57
  • 4K video recording and 24-bit Hi-Res audio
  • Bundled with “the world’s first adaptive earphones” — “HTC BoomSound Adaptive Audio.” The new earphones are said to automatically measure and calibrate sound to adapt to your ears.

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The HTC Bolt is also rumored to ditch the regular 3.5mm jack in favor of USB-C audio, because that’s working out so well for Apple.

Bolt owners can also keep warm this winter with a toasty Snapdragon 810 processor under the hood, if earlier reports are to be believed. Joking aside, at least the relatively large battery should offset the demands of a notoriously power-hungry chip. But if the rumors are true, the choice of an almost two-year-old SoC with a dubious reputation for performance and thermals is a strange one indeed.

The slides refer to the new phone by the “Bolt,” name, as opposed to the alternative “HTC 10 evo” monicker that’s been doing the rounds in recent days, but we wouldn’t necessarily read too much into that.

With a reported launch date set for November 11, we shouldn’t have to wait long to find out more about this oddball device.

7
Nov

LeEco is ‘over-extended’ and running out of cash: CEO Jia Yueting


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LeEco is running out of cash, so its CEO is taking a big pay cut.

Chinese tech company LeEco is running out of cash to support its sprawling business expansion, as revealed in a letter sent by CEO Jia Yueting to the company’s employees. LeEco recently held a major launch event in San Francisco to celebrate their expansion into the U.S. market.

As reported by Bloomberg Technology, Yueting admitted the major Chinese technology company had ‘over-extended’ itself in its strategy to expand into new markets, including a big push into the U.S.:

In a lengthy letter to employees, company co-founder Jia Yueting apologized to shareholders and pledged to slash his income to 1 yuan (15 cents), slow LeEco’s madcap pace of expansion, and move the company toward a more moderate phase of growth.

LeEco is the umbrella holding company for a sprawling family of businesses that includes sports media, automobiles, smartphones and TVs. The company known for its LeTV streaming service has aggressively pursued funding and placed bets on new ventures, from an electric car plant in Nevada to a $2 billion acquisition of California TV maker Vizio Inc.

“No company has had such an experience, a simultaneous time in ice and fire,” Jia wrote in a letter, obtained by Bloomberg News, describing LeEco’s rise and subsequent issues. “We blindly sped ahead, and our cash demand ballooned. We got over-extended in our global strategy. At the same time, our capital and resources were in fact limited.”

We covered LeEco’s San Francisco event back in October, where they launched a U.S. e-commerce store, LeMall, alongside two phones, the Le Pro3 and Le S3. Interested in some of what LeEco is offering? You can check out LeEco’s flash sale planned for Nov. 9 on LeMall.com, which begins at 1 p.m. ET.

We’re sure they’d appreciate the support.

7
Nov

A weekend with Google Home: Where’s the magic?


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“Sorry, I don’t know how to help with that. But my team is helping me learn.”

I’ve heard that phrase, or some variant of it, 47 times since I took Google Home out of the box. Google’s answer to everything Home can’t do right now is a reminder that this system is designed to constantly improve, and for techy nerds like me that’s a comfort. My greatest personal hypocrisy is telling people not to buy gadgets that promise to get better with age and then turning around and doing it myself, and Google Home is no different.

I knew Home wasn’t going to deliver the experience I wanted based on the experiences had with the demo Google gave at the Pixel launch event, but over the last 72 hours I’ve gained some much needed perspective on where Google Home is now and where it needs to be before I recommend it.

“Hey Google…”

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Lets get this out of the way early: “OK Google” is not fun to say 50 times a day. It just isn’t. Google snuck in “Hey Google” as an alternative on Home, which didn’t work out of the box for me. When I tried toward the end of Day Two, it started working for me. “Hey Google” is a little better, but not as convenient as Alexa or Cortana. Being able to set your own hot word would be amazing, and something I’ve been saying about Google’s voice services for years now. I don’t think it’s happening anytime soon, but it’s nice to think about.

I would pay many additional dollars to Disney Marvel to license “Jarvis” as the wake word and audio response for Google Home.

— Russell Holly (@russellholly) November 6, 2016

Lets get this out of the way early: “OK Google” is not fun to say 50 times a day.

Having been an Amazon Echo user from the day I was able to purchase one — after waiting ages on a list that gave me Google Glass flashbacks — I’ve known for a long time that all Google really needed to do for me to want their alternative product was make Google’s services available to me. Google Home delivers a minimum form of that, with Play Music, Podcasts, and Google Keep all available with my voice. These are all things I use, and not having access to them on Echo has always been a pain point. But as nice as having access to these apps are, the functionality is incredibly limited. I can’t ask Home what podcasts I have available to listen to, Google Keep integration is currently only for the shopping list Home created for me, and accessing my playlists on Play Music is spotty at best.

Some of this matters less when you can use Google Home as a Cast target, or when you can use Home to control the other Google Cast targets in your house. When that works, which is most of the time, it’s cool as hell. For video, it only really works with YouTube right now, which is less incredible. I rarely know the exact name of the video I’m going to watch on YouTube, and go hunting for random videos with even lower frequency. It’s nice to ask for the latest from Minute Physics, but it’s clear I’m going to appreciate the feature a lot more when Play Movies, Netflix, and more have adopted voice support.

Meet the Family

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Google Home is exactly the same as Amazon Echo to my family, by which I mean they have no interest in using it because their stuff isn’t available to them with the same ease my information is available to me. I’m the only one who can ask for a calendar recap. News briefs only come from my input. Traffic conditions are based on my drive routes. Multiple account support isn’t easy, but it’s the only way this speaker gets used by anyone other than me most of the time, and that’s not great.

I look forward to seeing Google’s Home team sprint on support.

My kids are big fans of being able to cast APHMAU to the television with their voices, and love being able to add toilet paper to my grocery list 45 times, but that’s about it. My oldest wanted to know why she couldn’t just say “OK Google, turn out my lights” and have Home recognize her voice and associate that voice with her name on the Hue bulbs in her room. When I finished laughing at what a terribly perfect First World Problem that was, it became clear voice distinction was the thing that was going to draw people in. That may never happen with this version of the hardware, but it’s the next step I think.

There’s also a fun sensitivity “issue” with Google Home right now. Any commercial for Google’s products right now activates the hot word on the Home in my living room, which immediately results in a laughter from the family. It’s a great demonstration of not really thinking about your existing audience while selling to the next person, and something that happens way less on Amazon Echo when Alexa is called out in commercials on TV shows. If Amazon can figure out how to keep my Echo from responding to a sleep deprived FBI agent in Mr. Robot, surely Google can do the same in their ads.

It’ll probably improve quickly

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Google needed massive human trials to figure out what to prioritize and how to implement new features, which is why Google Home was released in its current form. That’s fine for early adopters, but Amazon’s Echo in the early days that makes this something I’m unlikely to recommend to much of anyone for a while. It’s not finished, and the gymnastics people are going through in order to shoehorn Home into their personal workflow already is kinda nuts. Some folks are buying one Google Home for each household member and setting up individual accounts on each, while others are considering a Google account for the household on a Family Plan so everyone has even access and no one can mess with personal accounts in the house. While kind of clever, it’s also not something I’m even going to tell people to do just so they can kind of enjoy this speaker a little more.

Google Home is a big beta, and I’m tired of it.

I look forward to seeing Google’s Home team sprint on support, because the things Home does right now it does fairly well. I can use more natural language when controlling my smart home tech, the speaker quality is nicer than Echo, and what Google services I have access to right now I mostly enjoy. The next step is the hard one, and I’m going to sit here and watch as this little speaker learns some new tricks before telling people to add one to their lives.

Google Home

  • Google Home review
  • These services work with Google Home
  • Google Home vs. Amazon Echo
  • Join our Google Home forums!

Google Store Best Buy Target

7
Nov

Google posts latest Pixel and Nexus factory images with November security patch


Those getting antsy for the latest software can now apply the latest Google software updates manually.

Factory images with the latest November security patch built on Android 7.1 for the both the Pixel and Pixel XL are now available, as are the images with the same security patch with Android 7.0 for the Pixel C and latest Nexuses (6P, 5X, 6, 9, 9 (LTE) and Player). For those who don’t need the full factory image and would prefer a simple OTA file, those are available with the same software patches as well.

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If you want to learn a bit more about what’s included in the latest security patch, Google has a complete breakdown on its developer website. But even if you don’t understand the intricacies of the potential vulnerabilities, you can appreciate that the issues have been mitigated in the latest software.

You’ll notice for the Pixels that there are actually three versions of the “latest” software available, ending in U, V or X. You’ll want to just go straight to using the X version, as that’s the absolute latest software with the most up-to-date security patches. The previous U and V versions were a few days older and are simply there for legacy reasons.

OTA updates are likely to be rolling out automatically to Pixel and Nexus owners in short order, but if you just have to have the latest update right away, you can flash the OTA file manually. If you need help with getting that process started, be sure to read our comprehensive guide on manually updating your Pixel or Nexus!

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

  • Google Pixel and Pixel XL review
  • Google Pixel XL review: A U.S. perspective
  • Google Pixel FAQ: Should you upgrade?
  • Pixel + Pixel XL specs
  • Understanding Android 7.1 Nougat
  • Join the discussion in the forums!

Google Store
Verizon

7
Nov

AT&T’s prepaid plans just gave you another reason to leave postpaid


Yet another reason to consider prepaid from AT&T.

AT&T’s GoPhone prepaid plans just keep getting more enticing, with a free jump this week to higher data allowances on the top two plans. The top-end $60 plan ($55 with auto pay) will automatically bump to 8GB of data per month, while the $45 plan ($40 with auto pay) jumps to a respectable 4GB. Both easily land above the average data usage of most people, and are dramatically cheaper than postpaid offerings from AT&T (and the other carriers).

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If you’re a higher-than-average data user right now you’ll probably be eyeing the new 8GB plan option, and AT&T has even more incentive for you as it offers free use of calls, texts and data while in Canada and Mexico. With that additional feature and the new data bucket, it makes GoPhone even more enticing for those who don’t want all of the baggage of a postpaid account or aren’t tied into a family plan.

AT&T is also taking this opportunity to promote new deals on its prepaid phone offerings — a couple of super cheap phones for $50 that regularly retail for a bit more. But we’ll remind you that you don’t have to buy a phone from AT&T in order to use its GoPhone prepaid plans. Any unlocked GSM/LTE phone that supports AT&T’s network bands (most do) can work just fine with a GoPhone SIM card. Bring your Pixel XL, Galaxy S7 edge or LG V20 — they all work great on these plans.

7
Nov

Samsung Pay starts rolling out in Canada


Canadian iPhone owners have had Apple Pay for a while, but what if a Samsung phone is your weapon of choice? You might be set after today. Just a couple of weeks after the company revealed that Samsung Pay was coming to Canada in November, Galaxy phone owners are reporting that the tap-to-pay service is going live. You currently have to sideload the Samsung Pay app and framework on a compatible phone (typically a Galaxy S6, S7 or Note 5), but you may not have to take your wallet out after that. A formal launch should come soon.

The big catch: Samsung Pay only works with “select” Visa credit cards from one bank, CIBC. You’re out of luck if if you pay with debit or prefer to stash your money elsewhere. More banks and cards are coming, but the service won’t initially be as ubiquitous as Apple Pay (which supports debit and most Canadian banks). At least you won’t have to worry as much about where you shop. Samsung Pay has the advantage of working with virtually any payment terminal, so you won’t have to reach for old-school plastic as often as you might otherwise.

Via: Android Central, MobileSyrup

Source: Reddit

7
Nov

You can now get Android Auto in any car, and it’s simpler than you think


Android Auto is Google’s answer to Apple CarPlay. It lets you view compatible apps from your smartphone on the car’s main head unit display, leaving you to keep your eyes on the road and ultimately be a safer driver.

  • Android Auto explored: Taking Google on the road

But Google is all too aware that some people don’t have an Android Auto head unit, either their car doesn’t come with one, or there isn’t room to install an aftermarket one. To solve this, Google has released an update for all Android phones running Android 5.0 or later that will add a simplified version of Android Auto.

It means you can now get a similar Android Auto experience in your car using your phone’s screen, no more having to connect your phone to the car’s system.

The mobile version provides a simplified interface that gives you basic information from the apps it thinks you’ll need: Google Maps, music and calls/messaging. You can use hands-free commands to make calls, send messages, get directions and change music tracks.

The update will also automatically connect your phone to your car’s built-in Bluetooth if it has it, or a Bluetooth car mount such as the Logitech ZeroTouch. You’ll have to use voice commands to find a contact to call for example, rather than being able to use your steering wheel controls. 

Google says it’s working on enhancing hands-free voice commands so you’ll be able to carry out current commands by saying “Ok Google”, no matter what app or screen is currently active. For example you could be in Maps and ask Google to change the song, without having to exit Maps.

It may only be required for Google phones that don’t have Assistant, as Assistant can be accessed from anywhere on the phone. Some older phones require you to be on the home screen.

The Android Auto update is rolling out now but to save you constantly checking the Play Store, you can sign up on the Android Auto website to be notified when it’s available to download.

7
Nov

Motorola’s metal body Moto M launches with ho-hum specs


Motorola has just launched the 5.5-inch mid-range Moto M by way of its listing on Tmall (China’s equivalent of Amazon). The Moto lineup always garners a lot of interest, thanks to previous stellar models like the Moto G and Moto X Pure Edition. However, the latest model is a bit disappointing. It does have a splash-proof metal unibody and brand new rear fingerprint sensor, but at $295, it’s specifications are wanting next to rival devices.

The device doesn’t pack a massive 5,100 mAh battery as had been rumored, but that was a rather doubtful claim. And the 4GB of RAM, 16-megapixel rear camera and P2i hydrophobic coating are nice, but the eight-core MediaTek Helio P15 processor seems weirdly out of place on a Motorola device. Other specs, at least on the China version, include a 1080p screen, dual SIMs, 32GB of storage and Dolby Atmos sound.

The specs aren’t bad overall, but the device has serious competition now, especially in China. For the same price, you can get the Xiaomi Mi 5s, for instance, which comes with the latest Snapdragon 821 CPU and a front, ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. Perhaps the Moto M will have a better chance outside of China.

Via: Engadget Chinese

Source: Tmall

7
Nov

Smoking triggers hundreds of DNA mutations every year


You know that smoking is bad for your health. However, scientists have just shed additional light on how those toxic chemicals can wreck your body. A newly published study has determined that a pack-a-day smoker typically produces 333 DNA mutations per year, and only about half of them (150) are in the lungs. There are also mutations in the larynx (97), pharynx (39), mouth (23), bladder (18) and liver (6). Many of those mutations are harmless, but you’re effectively rolling the dice with every year that you puff — you’re triggering a “cascade” of gene damage that could lead to cancer.

The team discovered this link by using supercomputers to compare thousands of gene sequences in cancer patients (both smokers and non-smokers) and lump them into mutational signatures, five of which are commonly linked to cancer in smokers. One signature in particular (where a DNA nucleobase changes from cytosine to adenine) was more common across smokers in general, especially those suffering from lung or larynx cancers. The mutations may not do much by themselves, but they speed up cellular ‘clocks’ and increase the odds that cell DNA will mutate prematurely.

This doesn’t provide a complete explanation for how smoking creates cancer (or factors behind other cancer types), but it illustrates the complexity of the process. It also helps explain how smokers develop cancer even in areas that don’t come into direct contact with smoke, like the bladder. And the findings you see here could get the ball rolling on preventing other, less avoidable forms of cancer — it might indirectly save your life, even if you’ve never come close to a cigarette.

Via: LA Times

Source: Science, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

7
Nov

YouTube is now streaming HDR video


We knew it was coming, but it’s finally here: YouTube is now streaming High Dynamic Range (HDR) video. Google announced today that it’s enabled support for the the display technology, allowing viewers with HDR TVs and monitors to enjoy content with increased clarity, color range and contrast.

Although 4K video has been available on YouTube for some time, Google has waited on incorporating HDR. Only now are TV makers baking it in as standard, while popular gadgets like the Chromecast and PlayStation 4 recently got the feature.

High Dynamic Range, in simple terms, doesn’t change the number of pixels that you see, it just gets more out of them. HDR offers a wider range of contrast and brightness than standard HD or UHD, allowing the resulting images to show more detail in darker parts of the screen and highlight a wider range of colors. You should be able to pick out details that you may not have noticed before.

Google worked with a number of YouTubers — including MysteryGuitarMan, Jacob and Katie Schwarz and Abandon Visuals — to have premium HDR content ready for launch, but anyone can now upload their visually enhanced video.

Starting today, you can watch YouTube videos in HDR on supported devices, such as HDR TVs with the new Chromecast Ultra, PCs hooked up to an HDR monitor and soon on all 2016 Samsung SUHD and UHD TVs.

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