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26
Feb

Microsoft bolsters global fight against cybercrime with new facility in Mexico


Why it matters to you

Microsoft is taking the fight against cybercrime global with a new cybersecurity center in Mexico.

Not all heroes wear capes — in fact, some of them wear glasses and sit on the IT team at Microsoft. On Friday, the technology company announced the launch of a new Cybersecurity Engagement Center in Mexico as part of its global initiative to bolster IT security.

The new center seeks to underscore Microsoft’s “commitment to help people, companies and countries within Latin America to continue their journey toward digital transformation, and promises to leverage Microsoft’s many decades of software experience.

More: Microsoft Surface Pro 5: The rumors are mounting, but details remain scarce

“At Microsoft, we are committed to invest in the region so we can bring our cybersecurity capabilities to customers by identifying current threats that affect the economy’s prosperity. By opening this cybersecurity center, we are offering our clients protection from attacks and security risks, as well as ways to detect them and find solutions,” Jorge Silva, general manager of Microsoft Mexico, said in a news release.

The center will benefit Mexico and a number of other Latin American countries, and seeks to fight cybercrime by way of a number of different strategies. For one, Microsoft says it will dismantle criminal organizations that rely on botnet schemes, and will also bring together cybersecurity experts throughout the region to work alongside Microsoft specialists in order to fight cybercrime as a team. Microsoft also hopes that its new cybersecurity center will serve as a training headquarters, with activities focused on strengthening both the authorities’ and the public sectors’ technical capabilities.

“The objective is to help companies and governments with security solutions, which help them in their digital transformation through the international support of the intelligence, data analysis, avant-garde forensics, and legal strategies that we offer,” said Jean-Philippe Courtois, executive vice president and president, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing and Operations.

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26
Feb

Huawei Watch 2 Classic and Watch 2 Sport: Our first take


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The Huawei Watch 2 has the tech that lets you ditch your phone, but loses the swish suitable-for-all style of the original

The Huawei Watch was a breath of fresh air when it was released. Not only was it easily the most stylish Android Wear watch (and some may some smartwatch in general) out at the time, but it was also styled so it was suitable for all wrist sizes. Over time, Huawei enhanced the range with straps that appealed to both men and women, increasing its pull and making it stand apart from the competition. All this makes the sequel highly anticipated, because the wearable industry — despite the prompting from Huawei — hasn’t changed much, and is still driven by a masculine style.

More: Our first take of the Huawei P10

Unfortunately, Huawei may have led the pack in that respect before, but with the Huawei Watch 2, it has joined makers in producing larger, tougher-looking smartwatches. There are two versions, the Huawei Watch 2 Classic, and the Watch 2 Sport, and the pair differ greatly in style and functionality. However, neither are for the daintily wristed. The IP68 water-resistant body measures 45mm, up from the 42mm on the original. It may not sound much, but it makes a big difference when that device in on your wrist.

The body may be larger, but the screen is smaller. An odd decision, but Huawei has shrunk the 1.4-inch screen down to 1.2-inches for the Watch 2. It notices too. It doesn’t look bizarre, but it’s obvious there’s a lot more body around the screen than before. The Watch 2 is very lightweight, and both versions are comfortable to wear, with the Classic being the standout in this respect. The reason is its strap, which is made from leather with a silicone layer next to your skin. We’ve tried something like this on the Apple Watch (Native Union uses the same technique for their leather band), and it effectively reduces sweat and discomfort during exercise, while maintain an all-business look.

Watch 2 Sport doesn’t need a phone

While the stainless steel Watch 2 Classic wins the prize in the looks department, it doesn’t in the features department. Huawei has thrown everything at the Watch 2 Sport, which has a ceramic bezel, and silicone straps in either black, green, or incredibly bright orange. The reason for the ceramic case is due to the 4G LTE support. That’s right, the Watch 2 Sport works as a standalone device, so you can leave your phone at home without losing contact with the world. The antenna array includes a special double version for 4G, plus GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. It has a noise reducing microphone and a speaker, ready for calls.

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Android Wear 2.0 is installed on the Watch 2, which along with the interface and feature improvements, also adds a dedicated app store, Google Assistant, and Android Pay. The Watch 2 Classic and Sport both have large bezels, and it cries out to be twisted and turned to scroll through the revised Android Wear 2.0 menus, like you would on the Samsung Gear S2 and Gear S3. However, the Watch 2 is a touchscreen only device. A Snapdragon chipset drives the Watch 2 models, and there’s 2GB of internal memory space for your music.

This is an important part of Huawei’s fitness focus with the Watch 2 Sport. Load your music, and it’s another job taken away from your phone. The Watch 2 has special software for fitness fans, including workout plans and guidance. This includes feedback from the heart rate sensor in real-time, plus data on steps, calorie burn, step frequency, speed, your VO2 Max, and even estimated recovery times post-workout.

Battery life doesn’t suffer

If the thought of 4G LTE, GPS, and a heart rate monitor on a smartwatch makes you fear for the battery, don’t worry too much. Huawei says the 4G Watch 2 Sport will give two days use from the battery, or three days for the Classic. Use the 4G version with the heart rate monitor and GPS active continuously, and it’ll still return an estimated 11 hours. There’s even a power-saving mode that turns off all the smart features to show only the time and a step count, which extends the battery life to 26 days.

There’s even a power-saving mode that turns off all the smart features.

Now we come to availability. Huawei will only sell the Watch 2 Classic in the U.S., but hasn’t revealed the price at the time of writing. We don’t know yet whether the Watch 2 Sport will only be sold in China, the U.K., or parts of Europe. It’s a shame. The Watch 2 Sport is definitely the more interesting of the two watches, despite the inevitably high price it’s sure to have. The Watch 2 Classic is a great showcase for the vastly improved Android Wear 2.0 platform, but the style may not give it the wide appeal of the original Huawei Watch. We’ll update you here when more information is available regarding price and release dates.

Highs

  • 4G LTE on the Watch 2 Sport
  • IP68 water resistance
  • Android Wear 2.0

Lows

  • Large body won’t suit all wrists
  • Limited availability
26
Feb

5 songs you need to stream this week: Ride, The Lemon Twigs, and more


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Every week, there are thousands of new songs hitting the airwaves — and it’s just too much for your two ears to handle. With all those options, you can’t be wasting your time on tracks that deserve a thumbs-down click.

But don’t worry, we’re going to save you the hassle. We listen to some of the most-hyped and interesting songs each week, and tell you which are worthy of your precious listening time.

More: Spotify may upgrade its free account to give users more on-demand streaming

Here are our top five songs to stream this week. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our Spotify page for a playlist of our weekly picks, which can also be found at the bottom of this post.

Ride — Charm Assault

Legendary British shoegazers Ride put out their first new single in more than two decades this week, a thoroughly classic selection called Charm Assault that brings out the best in the reunited band. Driving drums meet ethereal guitars and clean vocals in a song that feels like it might make a surprise appearance in Danny Boyle’s upcoming Trainspotting sequel.

The Lemon Twigs — I Wanna Prove To You

The healthy dose of mid-’60s sounds from the Beatles and Beach Boys are obvious influences in the music of young East Coast band The Lemon Twigs, and it’s especially evident on this live video of their recent performance on Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show. Playing with the comedian’s house band, they showcase an immense talent for captivating melodies and pitch-perfect harmony, utilizing a full horn and string section to take their song I Wanna Prove To You to the next level.

Slow Dancer — Don’t Believe 

Australian songwriter Simon Okely’s latest single Don’t Believe is a cathartic and extremely rhythmic groove machine, calming your 21st-century nerves with its steady and elegant composition. Drawing on classic R&B influences, the bandleader curates a warm and supple atmosphere that can be employed in a variety of settings, be it mid-workout or midnight drive.

Haley Bonar  — Hometown (and More)

The most recent folk songs from Midwestern songwriter Haley Bonar have just the right amount of pop-rock edge. This is especially true of Hometown, the lead single from last year’s Impossible Dream, which garnered Bonar a solid amount of well-deserved critical acclaim. A gently meandering song with a catchy hook at its center, this live version will likely compel you to watch the rest of her recently released KEXP live session — a set that’s well worth viewing in its entirety.

Euroz — Eyesoulated

A hookless banger from Las Vegas rapper Euroz, Eyesoulated relies on a myriad of well-placed soul samples to create a profound musical atmosphere that feels straight out of the 1990s. It may not be the most forward-thinking hip-hop single you’ll hear this year, but there’s something about the vintage vibe and wobbly J Dilla-influenced beat that will have you coming back for more.

That’s it for now, but tune in next week for more tunes — and check out the playlist loaded with our recent selections below:

26
Feb

The Party Squasher will keep your home safe from unapproved Airbnb ragers


Why it matters to you

Earning some extra money by Airbnb-ing your property is great, but how do you keep it safe from party animals? You could try the Party Squasher.

When it’s your house at stake, you can bet your bottom dollar that you’d be willing to be the party pooper. And now, you can be, thanks to a new device called the Party Squasher. It’s a small, discreet smart home product that serves as your eyes and ears when you’re not at home, and lets you know when things are getting out of hand.

Intended for use by homeowners who rent out their properties via services like Airbnb, the Party Squasher understands that for every exemplary guest, there’s another just waiting to throw a rager that is likely to ruin your new carpet. We’ve all heard the horror stories of Airbnb parties that have left tens of thousands of dollars of damage in their wake, and we all know that we don’t want to fall victim to such abuse.

More: Your next questions texted to an Airbnb host may be answered by chatbot

Enter the Party Squasher from BlueFox.io. The device counts the number of people in a home by way of signals emitted from their mobile devices. If the Squasher detects that there are more people on the premises than the owner permits (you preset your desired head count), the device will send a text. From there, you can decide what action to take, whether it’s to rush home (if that’s an option), send a neighbor to check on the property, or if worse comes to worst, call the cops.

Of course, you can also just try to ride it out, as the Party Squasher and its companion app will also give you trend information, showing you when people come and go from your home. Operation is pretty straightforward — simply plug the Party Squasher into your Wi-Fi router and download the app. You then set your detection range based on the property size, and how many people (which is to say, mobile device signals) are permissible.

“With the release of our external API, property management companies can now track tens, hundreds, or even thousands of homes at once, and be alerted if there’s an issue at any given property,” said Amanda Mills, the co-founder of Party Squasher. “The device’s estimations will let you know when there’s a crowd, but have enough wiggle room to avoid invading privacy.”

So if you’re looking to protect your home from a party (when you’re away), you can grab a Party Squasher for $149.

26
Feb

Balance, simplicity and a tall screen: How the LG G6 was made


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Over a year of development and testing went into the most substantial update to the G series since its inception.

With the amazing amount of coverage and information out there surrounding every smartphone launch today, everyone is quick to over-analyze and jump to conclusions about every minute aspect of a device. It has always been the purpose of our reviews to give context to all of the parts of a smartphone and how they all influence one another, but it’s a rarity that we can tell a deeper story about the chain of thought that went into creating a new top-end phone came to be. The decisions before the decisions, if you will.

In mid-February, Alex Dobie and I had the unique opportunity of meeting several of the people deeply involved with the design, development and creation of the LG G6, including specialists in hardware, design, cameras, software and testing. Naturally the discussion centered around the latest top-end device from LG, giving us insights into the thought process and development of a complex smartphone, but the discussions also gave us great insight into just what it takes to design, build and launch a smartphone today.

First take

Get to know the LG G6

Nearing the end of our time in Seoul with LG, Alex Dobie and I sat down to recap everything we had seen and talk about how it all comes together. For our initial impressions of the phone, be sure to watch the video above!

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It’s complicated

LG G6: It all started with a taller screen

Our crash course in understanding how the LG G6 came to be started in the Gasan district of Seoul, South Korea, where a majority of the “Mobile Communications” division of LG Electronics is located. Ian Hwang, Director of Product Planning, and Ho-joong Jeong, VP of Product Development, were an excellent pair to get us up to speed with the initial thoughts on the latest in the G series.

Hwang immediately set the stage for the G6: “We heard our customers’ voices when we planned this product. People want a bigger screen, smaller body, water and dust-proof, and reliability.” He continued,”People love bigger screens, but they don’t like big, bulky smartphones. More than 80% of people are holding their phones with one hand […] meaning the grip and portability are very very important.”

‘People want a bigger screen, smaller body, water and dust-proof, and reliability.’

Over the next two days, it was clear these basic principles were the foundation for the creation of the G6. Despite releasing the big and brash V20 just a few months ago, LG had been rethinking its strategy for the G series — a process that began before the LG G5 was released — by focusing on making the most compact and easy-to-handle phone that also offers a substantial screen size for people to do everything they wanted on a modern smartphone. As we would continually see through our time spent at LG, individual decisions on materials, components and software all came back to this basic principle of having a simpler phone that was easier to manage in one hand.

Our complete LG G6 review!

The LG G6 breathes new life into the G series, with a fresh design and a renewed sense of simplicity that helps it feel more cohesive. To learn all about it, we have a complete review for you to enjoy.

Read our complete LG G6 review here!

It all started with this choice of an extra-tall 18:9 (yes, that should just be 2:1) aspect ratio display that keeps the phone narrow — under a magical “maximum” width of 72 mm that LG spoke about — while also providing room on the screen we all desire. That screen size and aspect ratio would in turn influence all other decisions that went into the creation of the G6. Now in order to fit that display in a phone that we can all still use, bezels had to shrink. And of course as the bezels decrease, so does the overall size of the case — and now, together with the market’s desire for waterproofing, the back of the LG G6 had to be sealed with an embedded battery inside. You can see how this quickly cascaded through the development process.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Of course it’s rather easy to make a phone that looks good — that is, until you think about the usability or practicality of creating a device that has to last two or three years spending hours a day being bumped, dropped and abused. As is the case with every other company making top-end phones today, LG doesn’t look at hardware in a vacuum — it knows that these phones go everywhere with us and need to be robust. You can’t go too far in the other direction and start going with “rugged” designs, but that main point of “reliability” kept coming up.

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It’s easy to make a phone look good … until you pay attention to usability and practicality.

Despite the inherent fragility of using glass (in this case Gorilla Glass 5) on the back of a phone, LG made some serious claims about durability. 250 drop tests went into picking out the right thickness and shape for the 6013 aluminum frame. The larger corner radius and wider spacing between the antennas showed over threefold improvement in durability when dropped on the corner of the phone — which, in LG’s testing, was the most-common contact point for random drops. In LG’s labs, the G6 took 15 drops to the corner before its hardware was affected to the point where it was no longer IP68 water resistant.

Given the current emphasis on safety following the Galaxy Note 7’s recall, LG was keen to spend extra time talking about batteries as well. Tests that involved dropping a 20-pound steel rod on a fully charged battery and then piercing it fully with a nail didn’t cause its batteries to fail — the result of technology LG understandably wasn’t keen on explaining due to its confidential nature.

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In many ways, all of these external hardware decisions are predicated by what required components are already tightly packed inside the desired frame size. Though many of us are spec hounds that want everything in a single device, that isn’t practical — there are concerns of power consumption, heat, battery size, individual component costs and interoperability between it all.

A decision to go with a Snapdragon 821 instead of the newer 835 may seem like simply a choice about a processor, but that change in chip would instead necessitate a redo of the internal structure of the phone, choices of other components and of course hours of engineering time in firmware. More succinctly, as Hwang put it, “If people can fully enjoy the smartphone experience on this 821, which is reliable because it is the third generation of this chipset, […] this is the best possible option we could give to our users.” The engineers know this chipset intimately, have fully optimized for it, and there are efficiencies to sticking to this processor.

Half of users prefer to use the wide-angle camera as their primary shooter.

One of the important spec trade-offs to understand was in the camera setup. LG has continued to refine its dual camera approach, and customers have taken to it kindly. According to user research, Hwang explained, “Almost half of G5 users are using the wide-angle lens as their main camera.” Using identical camera sensors for both standard and wide cameras in the LG G6 made sense, then, but of course led to additional compromises in terms of the “main” camera reducing resolution to 13MP.

Size and thickness of the camera assembly also had to be kept in check to make sure the G6 wouldn’t have a camera bump on the back or cut into space on the main board where the processor lies. In a world where the wide-angle camera is increasing in importance, this was a net positive move.

Through all of the iterations, trade-offs and designs, the LG G6’s final form emerged as yet another take on what the G series means while doing something completely different from any preceding phone in the line.

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Inspiration from hardware

UI and UX: Bringing it all together

After a jam-packed day of learning about the LG G6’s hardware, we traveled to another LG building in the Seocho area of Seoul to talk software. Kun-ho Lee, Head of GUI Design, gave a fantastic introduction into LG’s refreshed software experience. When you turn the LG G6 on you see something very much along the lineage of the V20’s customized version of Android 7.0 Nougat, but in this case it is now heavily influenced by the G6’s unique hardware.

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The driving factors behind the interface and UX work on the LG G6 came down to balance, simplicity and fresh colors. The focus on balance, as Lee explained, comes directly from the G6’s 18:9 display — now with this aspect ratio, the interface can be split into a series of squares with perfect symmetry. Default apps were redesigned to introduce top/bottom symmetry using these squares, and while it isn’t something every user will notice explicitly, the hope is that it will subconsciously be more appealing to the eye. This is something that really only works if your screen is of this proportion, and it’s a brilliant move that marries the hardware and software designs.

The same goes for the influence of the G6’s rounded display corners (which themselves are coordinated with the curves of the phone frame) on the icons and interface elements of the software. Pointed to a slide deck that itself had rounded corners, Lee explained that the various rounded corner elements “provide a balance and unity to the home screen” that on other phones is disrupted by seeing icons of all shapes and sizes. For this reason LG is not only redesigning all of its own app icons to be rounded squares, but also applying a filter of sorts to either scale or put backgrounds on third-party apps to normalize the look across the phone.

You can appreciate the dedication required to find such unity and consistency.

However you personally feel about manufacturers getting their hands into your app icons, you can appreciate the dedication shown here to try and offer something consistent and enjoyable when you unlock your phone.

Another small nod to the hardware found in the entirety of the software is the color palette. LG’s design team spent time with the color specialists at Pantone to pick “vivid and vibrant, yet natural, colors” that looked unique and played to the strengths of the G6’s LCD screen. And in a rather large nod to Google’s Material Design philosophy, Lee and his team created a dozen new unique wallpapers for the G6 by taking high-resolution photos of various stacked pieces of paper and plastic to create true works of art.

Fueled by inspiration from the hardware design rather than true physical constraints, the software designers for the LG G6 were able to create an interface that feels more consistent, connected and naturally balanced.

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Hard work pays off

The end result: LG G6

When you pick up an LG G6 you won’t immediately be able to break down and identify the myriad tiny pieces that went into its creation. But the goal isn’t to have you spend time thinking about the details — it’s about the complete product. Its taller screen surrounded by sturdy hardware and thoughtfully chosen internals are aimed at giving you the best experience with the fewest compromises. The balanced software accented by complementary colors and nods to the hardware design is supposed to be something you just use rather than constantly think about.

Everything detailed here is just the backstory, showing all of the hard work and dedication that goes into every single part of a smartphone. Over a year of development to come down to the single launch of the latest version in the G series from LG.

LG G6

  • LG G6 review!
  • LG G6 specs
  • These LG G6 features are exclusive to some countries
  • LG forums
  • Latest LG G6 news

26
Feb

Huawei P10 hands-on: Smaller, slimmer, smarter


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Huawei’s mainstream flagshi for 2017 builds on the solid foundations of the Mate 9 with upgraded cameras, a slim form factor and AI-powered performance — in two sizes.

Huawei’s steady improvement throughout 2016 culminated in the Mate 9, a phone which remains our pick for the best big Android phone. Now, a little earlier in the year than usual, it’s time for a new mainstream flagship from the Chinese firm.

At a technical level, the Huawei P10 takes the core technology of the Mate 9 and shrinks it down to a size that’s more manageable, and more attractive to the normal phone-buying public. The new Kirin 960 processor and second-gen Leica camera array now live in a phone more suited to one-handed use; the 5.1-inch display of the smaller P10 lives in a device with around the same footprint of the iPhone 7 (itself a 4.7-inch display). And the screen itself — an IPS-LCD panel at 1080p — looks fantastic, though we haven’t yet had the chance to use it outdoors.

On the outside, a very different design language can be seen. While it’s hard to deny that Huawei’s new flagships have been influenced by Apple — see the characteristic shape of the antenna lines, for instance — the P10 also represents an evolution of the P9’s look and feel. The side walls have soft curves, but without feeling especially slippery. And the camera window up top, which sits flush with the metal body, is a very Huawei design trait.

‘Dazzling’ new colors and ‘hyper diamond cut’ finishes.

Huawei’s also gone a little wild with color options. At a meeting ahead of the phone’s unveiling at MWC 2017, Huawei VP of design Soonsuh Kim told us that color was a big priority in bringing the P10 to life. The P9 shipped with a relatively restrained palette and added more hues after release, the P10 has eight at launch, from the usual black, white/silver and rose gold offerings to new “dazzling” blue and “greenery” options, with their own “hyper diamond cut” finish. Unlike the standard “sandblasted” matte textures, Huawei’s new finishing process produces a unique high-gloss coating that complements its eye-catching new colors. And the company says its glossy finish is less of a fingerprint magnet than glass-based rivals — a claim we’ll have to test when we’ve had more time with it.

More: Huawei P10 + P10 Plus specs

For a 5.1-incher, the Huawei P10 feels incredibly compact, with extremely minimal side bezels and a profile that brings back memories of the still-great Honor 8. Subtle visual flourishes like the orange trim around the power key — a holdover from the Huawei Nova and P9 Plus — are welcome additions too. Besides that, there’s very little visual cruft going on. (In stark contrast to Huawei’s new smartwatches.)

In an effort to simplify the design, and make fingerprint security more usable in a smaller handset, the P10’s scanner has been relocated around the front, keeping the back panel free of unnecessary protrusions. The fingerprint scanner takes the place of the front-facing Huawei branding seen in earlier models, a move which isn’t entirely accidental. One Huawei representative told me that in some cases, customers would prejudge a phone bearing a name they didn’t recognize, and so a more spartan front face would encourage prospective buyers to actually use the phone before coming to any conclusions.

Huawei’s new single-button setup is weird, and sometimes frustrating.

Regardless, the P10’s fingerprint scanner, which doubles as a capacitive key, is something of a mixed bag. It pulls triple duty as a home, back and task-switching key — single tap for “back,” double-tap for “home,” swipe for recent apps — which at least initially is a jarring transition. I’ve not had enough time with the P10 to form a full opinion on this set up, and we’ll definitely be checking back when we get the chance to give the phone a more thorough review.

If you decide that this new button setup isn’t for you, you can instead enable the standard on-screen keys. Ideally, though, we’d have much preferred a pair of capacitive keys flanking the new home button, like the Mate 9 Pro and Mate 9 Porsche Design. If you’re going to put a home button on the front of the phone, go ahead and add on the capacitive back and multitasking keys while you’re at it.

You also lose the handy swipe shortcuts on the home button to pull down the notification shade; I’ve enjoyed this on other Huawei phones, but it’s less of an inconvenience on a smaller phone like this. As for the sensor itself, Huawei claims it’s the “fastest and most reliable in the industry,” and in my brief time with the P10 ahead of launch I can confirm it’s pretty damn fast.

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EMUI 5.1 — Nougat plus optimizations

Huawei’s EMUI 5.1 software — still based on Android 7.0 Nougat — doesn’t make any major visual changes, but there are a bunch of important under-the-hood improvements. App optimization based on machine learning — first introduced on the Mate 9 — has been augmented further, with behavior-based memory compression. On the P10, EMUI’s machine learning sniffs out which apps are more demanding in terms of performance, and allows less performance-intensive ones to be compressed in memory. It’s this, Huawei says, that lets the P10 get the most out of its 4 gigabytes of RAM.

EMUI 5.1 brings new video highlight features and important under-the-hood performance improvements.

Touch responsiveness has been tuned up too, the company says, including predictive finger tracking to allow the touch driver to anticipate the direction and location of swipes and taps.

Huawei has also dug deep into Android’s Linux kernel, optimizing garbage collection in the new version of EMUI and making other memory-centric tweaks. As a result, apps can load up to 30 percent quicker than before. It’s hard to nail down any major performance differences between the Mate 9 (on EMUI 5) and a freshly unboxed P10 on 5.1 — both are fast already. But these latest improvements suggest Huawei isn’t resting on its laurels.

That’s all behind-the-scenes stuff. Major user-facing changes in EMUI 5.1 include a bunch of new themes, tied to each of the new Huawei P10 colors. And Huawei has partnered with GoPro to introduce automatic highlight reels in the stock Gallery app. This feature is largely identical to the kind of thing HTC and others have been doing for years, with the ability to tweak the length and style of clips, automatically match transitions to the beat of the music and then drill down for more granular control of your clips. Nevertheless, it’s a neat feature, and yet another strategic partnership for Huawei.

Note: Huawei tells us the Mate 9 and other devices, including the Nova series, will be updated to EMUI 5.1, but there’s no timeframe for release just yet.

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Camera smarts

The regular P10 gets a camera comparable to the Mate 9. The beefier P10 Plus boasts superior optics.

As for the photos you’ll be shooting, the P10 packs the “Leica Dual Camera 2.0” setup, identical on paper to that of the Mate 9 — dual sensors at 12 megapixels (color, with optical image stabilization) and 20 megapixels (monochrome), behind f/2.2 lenses. It’s a proven setup, though as seen on the Mate 9, not quite as good as the very best out there.

For the P10, though, much of the focus is on portrait and selfie photography. A new dedicated portrait mode can dynamically adjust lighting in scenes, making use of what it knows about the structure of your face, based on data from the dual camera setup. A lot of this stuff will sound familiar to iPhone 7 Plus owners, and while Apple’s approach works very differently in terms of the optics, Huawei appears to be promising similar results. For that reason, it’ll be interesting to dig deeper into the P10’s portrait features.

The other side of that coin is the P10’s improved selfie camera, which puts an 8-megapixel sensor behind an f/1.9 lens. To boot, it’s also the first front-facing camera to bear Leica branding (and software tuning). While there’s only a single sensor and lens there, the brighter aperture and respectable resolution should allow for a significant improvement in selfies.

Huawei P10 Plus differences

As was the case with last year’s P9 Plus, the Huawei P10 Plus delivers a larger screen (and this time, an upgraded Quad HD resolution) and battery in a device of much the same shape and design as the regular P10. Alongside the fact that it’s bigger and (likely) longer-lasting, with a 3,750mAh battery compared to the P10’s 3,200, the P10 Plus brings some important camera improvements.

The “Leica Camera 2.0 Pro Edition” setup comes with a significantly brighter f/1.8 lens, which should go some way towards improving low light performance. And that bodes well for tackling one of the main weaknesses of the older f/2.2 setup, arguably making the P10 Plus the more interesting of the two. Other enhancements include a step up to 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, putting the P10 Plus in line with the chunkier Mate 9 Pro.

The Huawei P10 won’t be sold in the United States, however a Huawei executive confirmed to Android Central that the phone will be ranged by all four UK carriers — Vodafone, O2, EE and Three, as well as Carphone Warehouse.

More: Huawei Watch 2 hands-on

26
Feb

Nokia is back with three new Android phones, launching globally!


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New Nokias will have ‘pure Android’ and Google Assistant.

Nokia already tipped its hand earlier in the year with the launch of the Nokia 6 in China, and now the handset is getting a global release, joined by two more affordable offerings, the Nokia 3 and Nokia 5, announced in Barcelona at its MWC 2017 press conference today.

The Nokia 6 is the same handset we’ve seen for the Chinese market, only with software geared towards the West. That means “pure” Android Nougat with Google Assistant, and a commitment to frequent automatic updates. Like its Chinese counterpart, the Nokia 6 includes a 5.5-inch Full HD display with 2.5D curved glass, a Snapdragon 430 SoC, 4GB of RAM, 64GB storage, microSD slot, dual-SIM connectivity, 16MP rear camera with PDAF (phase-detection autofocus), Dolby Atmos sound with stereo speakers, Bluetooth 4.1, LTE, 3000mAh battery, and a fingerprint sensor.

In Europe, it’ll sell for €229, while the special black glass model will run €299 when it’s available in the second quarter of 2017.

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The Nokia 5 steps down to a 5.2-inch display and 2GB of RAM with 16GB of storage, with a 6000-series aluminum body and antenna lines top and bottom, as part of a curved metallic design for €189. And at the entry level, the polycarbonate-backed Nokia 3 runs quad-core MediaTek chip and packs a 5-inch display, with RAM and storage configurations identical to the 5, priced at €139.

Nokia is clearly going after the entry-to-mid-range segment with its new handsets, with a handful of standout design features, and slick software that may tempt more tech-savvy users. What’s more, the brand recognition of this veteran manufacturer shouldn’t be underestimated.

We’ll have more on all of Nokia’s new Android phones from MWC 2017 landing shortly, so stay tuned!

26
Feb

Motorola launching an Alexa-powered speaker Moto Mod with Amazon


Amazon Alexa is expanding into phones, and Motorola’s implementation is definitely the most interesting.

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Motorola is set to launch a new Moto Mod for its Moto Z line that sits on a bedside table or at an office, providing Amazon Alexa connectivity through a Harman-branded speaker while docked.

Announced at the company’s press conference for the Moto G5, Motorola says that its Moto Mods will take three forms in the future: first-party, collaborations, and full third-party creations. Motorola’s head of Mods, Dan Dery, reiterated that the company is dedicated to the platform indefinitely, and that is may not need to launch phones as often in the future because Mods are so good at augmenting new features launched annually with phone refreshes from other companies.

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The Alexa Mod, which doesn’t have a release date, works as a dock, offering always-on listening and a loud Harman-made speaker to answer questions while the Moto Z is docked. It holds the phone at an angle for easy reference, and the company hinted that this wouldn’t be the last partnership between the companies.

Dery also announced a few new Mods that will be launched in the coming months, including updated battery Mods, a small accessory to charge other Mods, a wireless charging attachment, and a game pad (which is my personal favorite).

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He also outlined a number of prototype or concept Mods that may not see the light of day, such as a portable printer that connects to the phone, a multi-SIM card holder, and, most impressively, a robot building kit for kids.

Moto Z, Moto Z Force and Moto Z Play

  • Moto Z + Z Force review!
  • Moto Z Play review
  • The Hasselblad True Zoom is a Mod to remember
  • Moto Z specs
  • Moto Mods custom backs
  • The latest Moto Z news
  • Discuss in our Moto Z forums

Motorola
Verizon

26
Feb

Samsung introduces Galaxy Tab S3 at MWC 2017 with 9.7-inch display, S Pen


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The 9.7-inch premium tablet is made of glass and metal and features last year’s favorite mobile processor. It’s also the first tablet in years to have an S Pen.

It’s not the flagship we typically expect from Samsung around this time of year, but it’s a Samsung debut nonetheless. The company has just introduced the Galaxy Tab S3, a 9.7-inch Android tablet that’s the successor to the well-received Galaxy Tab S2.

The Galaxy Tab S3 runs on a Snapdragon 820 processor, the same chip fueling many top-end smartphone favorites from 2016. It’s the first tablet to come equipped with the Vulkan API, which was a major selling point for both the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy Note 7 (RIP). The Galaxy Tab S3 is also paired with 4GB of RAM and a 6000mAh battery, which is powering a 2048×1536 Super AMOLED display, and it features AKG-tuned quad speakers that can adjust the sound direction based on the tablet’s orientation.

The Galaxy Tab S3 only comes with 32GB of storage space, though it offers an expansion slot that’s compatible with microSD cards to alleviate the storage anxiety. There are also two cameras on the Galaxy Tab S3: a 13-megapixel one on the back with an accompanying LED flash and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera for video calls or the occasional awkward tablet selfie.

More: Galaxy Tab S3 hands-on preview

If you were hoping for a productivity device, the Tab S3 is a worthy consideration. It’s the first Galaxy tablet to come with an S Pen in tow since the Note 10.1. However, in this reprise the S Pen isn’t dockable inside the device, and it’s been tweaked so that it’s thicker in an effort to make it easier to maneuver on the Tab S3’s large glass display. It comes loaded with all the software features made famous by the Note 7, too, including the instant animated gif feature, PDF annotation and Screen off memo, which allows you to take a note by simply touching the S Pen to the screen. If you desire a keyboard, you can purchase the additional keyboard cover, which features chiclet keys for typing long drafts.

The Galaxy Tab S3 will be on sale later this season. Pricing and official release date are yet to be confirmed.

Press release:

Samsung Expands Tablet Portfolio with Galaxy Tab S3 and Galaxy Book, Offering Enhanced Mobile Entertainment and Productivity

New tablets demonstrate Samsung’s continued heritage of delivering best-in-class Galaxy technology

– February 26, 2017 – Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. today announced the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 and the Samsung Galaxy Book, stylishly designed tablets with advanced computing technology offering a premium mobile experience. For digital content enthusiasts, the Galaxy Tab S3 delivers superior video and gaming experiences along with versatile usage as a productivity tool, while the Galaxy Book gives professionals enhanced computing power for work and play.

The Galaxy Tab S3 comes with a 9.7-inch Super AMOLED display and the Galaxy Book is offered in a 10.6-inch TFT LCD version and 12-inch Super AMOLED version.

The new tablets unveiled at Mobile World Congress provide premium Galaxy technology including:

  • HDR (High Dynamic Range) Video Content: Galaxy Tab S3 and Galaxy Book 12-inch support
    videos in HDR (10bit colored) for true-to-life colors and vivid digital content.
  • Samsung Flow: Samsung Flow makes working on the go seamless. For a safe and secure login, Samsung Flow uses biometric authentication to log-in and can wirelessly tether compatible devices to transfer documents from a mobile device to a tablet. It also syncs message notifications so users never miss an important text message whether they’re using a
    smartphone or their tablet.
  • Refined S Pen*: For a natural writing experience, the S Pen has a smaller 0.7mm tip and
    increased pressure sensitivity. The S Pen also includes convenient features such as Screen Off
    Memo to quickly jot down notes, PDF Annotation for easy editing and professional-level drawing with Advanced Drawing Tools.

Both tablets deliver on Samsung’s legacy of innovative Galaxy technology including a 13-megapixel rear camera which includes auto focus and a 5-megapixel front camera for high-quality photos. The tablets also include expandable storage** and more power efficiency with fast-charge capabilities, supporting up to 12 hours of video playback on the Galaxy Tab S3 and up to 10.5 hours of video playback on the Samsung Book (12-inch). Both devices also support Pogo keyboards with no separate charging or pairing required.

“At Samsung, we are committed to expanding the boundaries of the mobile and computing experience by providing best-in-class products that satisfy mobile users’ diverse needs and demands,” said DJ Koh, President of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics. “Our new tablet portfolio is built with premium technology that delivers a productive and versatile experience to consumers, designed for users at home, work or on the go.”

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3: Optimized for Entertainment yet offering versatile usage

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 takes mobile entertainment to the next level providing a cinema-like experience with 4K video playback and a stunning Super AMOLED display. In addition, the Galaxy Tab S3 is the first Samsung tablet to feature quad-stereo speakers tuned by AKG by HARMAN for premium visual and listening experiences. And with content partners like Amazon, enjoy instant access to HDR original videos.

Optimized for gaming, the Galaxy Tab S3 includes Vulkan API for superior graphics and Game Launcher for an enhanced user interface and personalized gaming experience, as well as modes like Do Not Disturb for uninterrupted gameplay.

With an enhanced S Pen, the Galaxy Tab S3 allows users to be more productive, creative, and do multiple things at once. The Galaxy Tab S3 is designed to keep users always connected with faster charging and longer battery life.

Samsung Galaxy Book: Enhanced Power and Performance in a 2-in-1 Design

Available in 10.6-inch and 12-inch models, the Samsung Galaxy Book caters to productive on-the-go professionals who are looking for a powerful computing device that isn’t tied to the desktop. The Samsung Galaxy Book is lightweight and has a versatile form factor, easily transforming from a tablet to notebook.

For enterprise-grade performance, the Samsung Galaxy Book 12-inch is equipped with a 7th Generation Intel® CoreTM i5 processor, Dual Core 3.1GHz and the 10.6-inch with an Intel® CoreTM m3 processor, Dual core 2.6GHz.

Built on the Windows 10 operating system, the Galaxy Book offers the full desktop Microsoft Office experience for maximum productivity. It also features a keyboard that is larger and more tactile with discernible keys so users can comfortably type just as they would on a traditional computing device.

26
Feb

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 specs


The Galaxy Tab S3 is the first major premium Android tablet in a while and it’s geared up with flagship-worthy specs.

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Like the Galaxy S7 edge and Galaxy Note 7 before it, the Galaxy Tab S3 is essentially repurposed smartphone parts shoved into a 9.7-inch chassis. And that’s not bad at all — the Snapdragon 820 helped introduce Vulkan API to Galaxy S7 users and it’s on the Tab S3, too. Charge those Bluetooth-connected gamepads and get ready to play with your new mobile entertainment system.

Operating System Android 7.0 Nougat
Display 9.7-inch Super AMOLED, 2048×1536
Processor Snapdragon 820Quad Core 2.15GHz + 1.6GHz
Storage 32GB (U.S.)
Expandable microSD card
RAM 4GB
Rear Camera 13MP, Auto-focus, Flash
Front Camera 5MP
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11ac dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, USB Type-C 3.1, GPSLTE (optional)
Charging USB-C
Battery 6000mAhFast charging
Water resistance No
Input S Pen4096-levcel pressure sensitivity
Security One-touch fingerprint sensor
Dimensions 237.3 x 169 x 6 mm
Weight 429g (Wi-Fi)434g (LTE)
Colors Silver, black

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