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20
Mar

Save $30 when you buy 2 Google Homes from Verizon


Intelligent speakers shouldn’t be confined to just one room of your house.

Verizon has been pushing its offering of accessories and smart home products quite a bit recently, and its latest deal will give you two Google Homes for $229. That’s $115 each … or one at $130, with the second one at $100. Hey, any way you slice it, you’re saving $30 when you buy two Google Homes, and that’s a really solid deal.

See at Verizon

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Maybe you haven’t yet hopped on the Google Home train or you’ve already bought one and want two more for around the house; either way, Verizon is a great place to look if you’re in the market. Verizon also offers free shipping if you want to buy online.

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

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20
Mar

SoftBank eschews $100 million investment in Andy Rubin’s ‘Essential’ smartphone company


Money from tech-focused ‘Vision Fund’ is flowing, but not to Andy Rubin this time.

After first hearing about Andy Rubin’s upcoming phone company called “Essential” back in January, information is being revealed today that SoftBank has pulled back on an expected $100 million investment in the company. SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son has decided to put the brakes on the investment that would have valued Essential at $1 billion.

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That would have been putting a considerable amount of faith in a company that has yet to announce or even tease a product, though according to sources of The Wall Street Journal, Essential could be launching a phone as early as this Spring. WSJ claims Essential’s phone would be “high-end” and of course running Android, with tie-ins to home automation and artificial intelligence. It would be priced similarly to Samsung’s Galaxy S line.

Essential still plans to launch a high-end phone this year.

As we all know, the high-end smartphone market is a tough one to crack today, and a whole lot has to go right in order to make a splash. The reported investment would have involved more than just money, though, as SoftBank would have also used its large marketing and carrier power in Japan to help launch the phone there.

Sources indicate that the deal between Essential and SoftBank was nearly finalized after months of talks, only to be called off in the late stages by Son. Speculation is that Son had a last-minute change of heart on the deal following Apple’s $1 billion commitment to his “Vision Fund” venture capital fund. Though Apple itself did not explicitly block the investment in Essential, Son may have seen some conflict of interest in investing with a rival smartphone maker.

It is unknown as to how much the loss of this funding will play into the launch plans of Essential’s phone.

20
Mar

LG’s cute airport robots show a lighter, more helpful side of technology


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There’s more to these big companies than just phones and computers.

When we think about LG as a company, we understandably tend to focus on its phones, TVs and perhaps components — after all, we’re most excited when something like the LG G6 or a new display is announced. But LG is a massive company that does all sort of things with electronics (and beyond), like the cute and helpful airport robots the it announced at CES 2017.

Immediately after my trip to South Korea in February, LG started trialling these two autonomous, helpful airport robots at Seoul-Incheon International Airport (ICN). One tall model with a screen, aptly named “Airport Guide Robot,” is designed to help passengers find their way around the massive ICN airport terminals. Slightly less exciting from a passenger perspective, but still important, is the “Airport Cleaning Robot” that’s designed to tidy up the floors.

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ICN airport’s main terminal is nearly 6.4 million square feet, and is set to expand further with another passenger terminal and more remote concourses. It currently serves over 55 million passengers per year, and by 2020 will be expanded to handle up to 100 million. At that kind of scale, it makes sense to try and integrate robots to help alongside signage and people. LG is hoping the two robots it has developed will be a good fit.

With over 6 million square feet of space and 60 million yearly passengers, robots are practically required.

The Airport Guide Robot simply rolls around the terminal on its own, offering to help passengers — not unlike a traveler support employee would. With a scan of a boarding pass, it can show a map of where the passenger needs to go to get to their flight, or give directions to other amenities and points of interest like restrooms, restaurants and shops. It can do so in English, Korean, Chinese and Japanese. The robot can even personally escort a lost traveler to any location, as it is completely capable of getting anywhere in the airport a passenger would need to go.

All of those people make a mess, as we know, big international airports aren’t fully closed even late at night — that’s where the Airport Cleaning Robot comes in. It’s basically a gigantic version of the robot vacuums many of us have around our own house: it moves around the terminal, dodging people and objects using sensors and LIDAR as it scrubs the floors. A robot like this a much better solution than people walking (or riding scooters, as is currently the case) with typical dust brooms to keep the terminal in top condition between deep cleanings as millions of people pass through.

LG expects both robots to be fully tuned up and operational at ICN by mid-year, well ahead of the massive number of people who will fly into Seoul for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

20
Mar

Lineage OS surpasses 1 million active installs, with OnePlus One leading the charge


From the ashes of CyanogenMod, Lineage OS continues to grow.

Late last year the world officially said goodbye to CyanogenMod when its parent company, Cyanogen Inc., shut down operations. But in its wake came Lineage OS, a rebranding of the same core OS carried on by the CM community.

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Despite the setback, the movement appears to be back on track. Just under 3 months later, there have been over 1 million active downloads across all the different builds, according to the project statistics page.

Lineage OS is available for a growing number of devices. Currently, the most popular active build is “bacon” for the OnePlus One, with over 60,000 active installs.

If you’re interested in getting involved in the community, you can check out the Lineage OS subreddit.

20
Mar

New Guess Connect Android Wear watches announced in two sizes with lots of gold


More fashion names are getting into the Android Wear world.

You may have forgotten by now that Guess actually had Android Wear watches, but it’s hoping to re-spark enthusiasm for its brand in the smartwatch world with two new entries in the Guess Connect family. The new Guess Connect models come in two sizes, corresponding with different styles: a 41mm women-focused design, and a 44mm with more of a men’s look. The 41mm Guess Connect will have multiple color choices, including silver, gold, and rose gold.

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Just like we’ll continue to see throughout 2017, the Guess Connect watches are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor, which is designed specifically for Android Wear 2.0. Because we won’t see the products actually launch until late this year, Guess isn’t laying out any more specs at this time. And to be fair, most people looking at a Guess smartwatch likely don’t care about how much RAM is in it either.

Guess takes its best shot at who it thinks will be interested in a Guess Connect watch:

The global fashion powerhouse recognizes the importance of providing smart, hi-tech value on the wrists of their young, sexy, and adventurous consumers.

Uh huh. That perfectly describes us! Well, they’re bound to appeal to someone — Guess sells plenty of mechanical watches and is an extremely well-known name in fashion. Google has shown a propensity to make partnerships with well-known fashion brands for Android Wear rather than just electronics companies, and it’s a good dual-pronged approach that can appeal to a wider audience.

We’ll have a better idea of complete specs, pricing, and availability of the Guess Connect watches later this year.

Android Wear

  • Everything you need to know about Android Wear 2.0
  • LG Watch Sport review
  • LG Watch Style review
  • These watches will get Android Wear 2.0
  • Discuss Android Wear in the forums!

20
Mar

Neverware offering Office 365 focused version of CloudReady Chrome OS


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Neverware is now offering a version of its take on Chrome OS with Microsoft OneDrive and Office 365 integration.

CloudReady is software designed to breathe new life into your old Windows computer or Mac by using Chromium — the free open source version of Chrome OS. We looked at a build of CloudReady designed for virtual machines and found it was an excellent way to experience Chrome OS without buying any new hardware. It’s great to see another company using the resources the Chromium project makes available and doing such a good job with it.

Now Neverware has taken the next step and is offering more than just the same software you can get from Google. The CloudReady: Office 365 Education Edition.

Neverware thinks this combines the best of two worlds for students and IT managers.

While still Chrome OS at its core, this new version of CloudReady offers integration with OneDrive in place of Google Drive. When it’s time to create or edit documents, the user is directed to the online versions of Word, Excel, and the rest of the Microsoft Office 365 apps. Neverware says they worked with Microsoft to develop the Office 365 Education Edition of CloudReady and that this should enable “more efficient learning for students” while keeping the safe and simple reliability that comes with using Chrome OS.

While any Chrome-powered PC can access the online Office 365 suite, having this deep integration is something we haven’t seen before. Similarly, these Office 365 Edition computers can still access all of Google services through the web browser for a best of both worlds scenario.

Since this is geared towards the education sector, it has a very enticing price: $1 per student (or $15 per machine) per year. A lifetime license is just $59 per machine. Learn more at Neverware’s Office 365 Edition web page.

20
Mar

Trump’s quiet war on data begins


Two months into the Trump presidency, there’s still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the new administration. One big area of concern is how the executive branch will deal with the vast amounts of data collected by the government. Federal agencies like NASA and EPA conduct countless studies crucial to understanding our impact on climate change. Labor Department surveys are vital to determining the economic health of the country. Will the administration manipulate data that contradicts its political views? Will information become a tool of oppression? Turns out there’s a simpler, but potentially just as troublesome possibility: The White House could simply make it disappear.

To be clear, President Trump can not personally go out and delete decades worth of information. The census continues to exist, and if you know where to look you can peruse data about demographics and population density to your heart’s content. Instead, the administration seems focused on two avenues of attack: One, make data harder to find, and two, slash funding until collecting data becomes difficult for government agencies.

Today Trump removed all open data (9GB) from the White House https://t.co/ELRMxTgdb2 but I grabbed it all Jan 20! Will distribute soon pic.twitter.com/5W1GXagYPS

— maxwell ogden (@denormalize) February 14, 2017

In mid-February the Trump administration scrubbed open.whitehouse.gov of datasets created under the Obama administration. It’s not unusual for an incoming president to do a little housecleaning. But there was something odd about the way the data simply disappeared without fanfare. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) made an archive available, as required by law, but there were no clear directions on how to find it. There were also some discrepancies between the file sizes and metadata hosted by the NARA and those pulled by third parties before the data was archived.

Alex Howard, deputy director of the Sunlight Foundation, told Engadget he has only “low to moderate confidence” in the completeness of the NARA archive. To make matters worse, the links pointing to the developer tools on the White House portal were simply broken and the NARA couldn’t guarantee API access would work for all the datasets.

The disclosure section of the White House website will supposedly be home to at least some of the information normally hosted on the open data portal, including visitor logs. But, so far, those areas of the site contain nothing more than a promise that they’ll be updated. The White House failed to respond to repeated requests for a timeline on those updates.

Positions such as CIO and chief digital officer, created under the Obama administration, were responsible for guiding these programs. But right now those roles are empty, and the White House has given no indication it plans to fill them any time soon (if at all). The same is true of more policy-focused positions involved in the government data programs like CTO and chief data scientist. These became increasingly important positions under President Obama, but they don’t appear to be big priorities for Trump.

By ignoring these offices, the new administration has let an entire data infrastructure system atrophy. Former Chief Data Scientist for the White House DJ Patil explains that often these are “datasets that people ask for by FOIA, and that’s an incredibly inefficient use of taxpayer dollars… A lot of people invested a tremendous amount of time to build the systems and infrastructure” to streamline the process of requesting government data. And, “a big chunk of that infrastructure is allowing what all administrations have typically provided, and that is transparency into who is using the White House and other datasets that people have a right to see.”

At this point, according to the Sunlight Foundation, there has only been one confirmed removal of data, and that was of animal welfare records from the USDA. But Howard warns, “The big fears that many people have about takedowns haven’t materialized so far. That doesn’t mean they won’t.”

The same is true of data manipulation. So far, at least, those fears have not quite panned out. In late February the Wall Street Journal reported that the administration was considering changing how it calculated the trade deficit. Essentially the proposal would make the deficit appear larger by ignoring re-exports — goods that are first imported to the US before being exported to a third country. For example, computers imported from China would be counted against the deficit on their way into the country, but the administration would not count any recouped value if they were sold to Mexico.

This sort of misleading math alarmed many career bureaucrats, especially those at the US Trade Representative’s office, which used the new methodology at the administration’s instruction but included stiff objections to be presented alongside the new numbers.

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Proposed funding cuts under Trump administration’s 2018 budget

Created using Canva

The biggest threat to data in the US isn’t takedowns or gaming the numbers, though — it’s the budget. What worries Howard and the Sunlight Foundation the most is “Congress defunding agencies in a way that affects their ability to collect or maintain or disclose data.” And the budget proposal released by the White House is a realization of many of those fears.

The Trump administration’s budget for 2018 slashes funding for pretty much all non-military expenditures. The agencies hurt the most are those that we count on for important research and data collection — especially those that study climate change. The Commerce Department would lose $1.5 billion in funding, mostly targeted at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The EPA would have its budget cut by over 30 percent, more than 50 of its programs would end and more than 3,200 federal workers would find themselves unemployed. The EPA’s Office of Research and Development specifically would lose half of its funding.

These moves pose serious danger, but they also don’t attract the same splashy resistance as deleting web pages filled with climate change data. Defunding agencies and programs that collect data doesn’t just mask potential problems within the government and harm our ability to make informed decisions — it provides useful political cover for even deeper budget cuts down the road.

One only needs look to our neighbors to the north to see what happens when governments intentionally break data collection systems. In 2010, Canada’s then-prime minister Stephen Harper decided the country’s long-form census would be voluntary, instead of mandatory. Suddenly cities like Peterborough, Ontario, were facing a crisis. Important public health data was no longer being collected by the federal government. And localities often don’t have the funds to conduct their own surveys, so entire portions of the government — from the local to the federal — were forced to work with old information. Data such as infection rates of certain diseases or even the population of the country required some serious guesswork.

Unsurprisingly, this lack of data disproportionately hurt poorer communities. Those most in need of assistance — immigrants, the poor and aboriginal people — were less likely to fill out a voluntary census and were underrepresented in official government datasets.

United States Census 2010

Thankfully, Trump has given no signs that he plans to make the census voluntary, but defunding major research organizations could have a serious impact. Without accurate demographic data the government wouldn’t know how to disperse Medicare funds or what neighborhoods were most in need of economic stimulus. Unreliable or inaccessible data doesn’t just hamstring the government; it also hurts businesses. Companies large and small rely on data collected by the government. Whole Foods looks at demographics when deciding where to open stores, and AccuWeather uses information from the National Weather Service and EPA to shape its forecasts.

Many agencies are bound by law to make their data publicly available. But how that data is made available and the quality of the data collected can easily be influenced by a determined White House and Congress. Open-data initiatives and the internet have given the public an unprecedented look at how our government works. And now a nearly decade-long trend toward increased transparency appears to be reversing. Engadget contacted the White House multiple times to ask about the administration’s plans for existing open government and open data programs. But so far our requests for comment have been met with silence.

Images: barisonal via Getty Images (lead image); trade balance chart (Wall Street Journal); budget infographic (created using Canva); census form (Getty Images/iStockphoto).

20
Mar

Apple files patents for “earbuds with biometric sensing”, health tracking capabilities on the horizon


The US Patent & Trademark Office has recently published a series of three patents, filed by Apple that refer to “earbuds with biometric sensing”. The three patents are for three different pairs of headphones: an in-ear pair with an ear hook, a conventional pair of in-ears and a pair of over-ears.

  • Apple AirPods review: Wire-free future or design disaster?

In the patents, there is a note to say that at least one of the built-in sensors will make contact with the tragus, the small bit on the inside of your ear in front of the ear canal.

By coming into contact with the tragus, the biometric sensor will be able to collect health information via a photoplethysmogram sensor (PPG), which shines a light onto the tragus and and measure the reflectivity. This information can reveal heart rate, temperature and VO2, the maximum rate of oxygen consumption.

Apple already employs a similar technique in the Apple Watch to measure the wearer’s health information, and as the Watch is in constant contact with the wrist, the information can be considered quite accurate. It’s unlikely an earbud will have the same constant contact with the ear during wearing, so the accuracy of the data will be questionable.

It’s also thought that Apple’s new headphones could offer noise-cancellation thanks to microphones that can block external sounds. The headphones would then provide varying levels of noise-cancellation, so you could let some external noise in, for example, when riding a bike in traffic, so you’re still aware of your surroundings.

  • Bose SoundSport Pulse review: Fine sounding sports earphones
  • Apple Watch Series 2 review: Fitness first
  • Apple Watch Nike+ review: Great smartwatch, just not a perfect runner’s watch

Of course, these are just patents for now, so it may be some time before we see any real products come to market, but it’s clear Apple is taking health tracking tech very seriously.

20
Mar

How to watch F1 2017 in 4K Ultra HD


The new Formula One season is almost upon us and it promises to be one of the most exciting for years.

Not only do car rules changes promise closer races – amongst the top three teams anyway – the entire season is to be broadcast in 4K Ultra HD. It will never have looked better.

So whether you are an F1 nut or fan of 4K visuals, here’s how to watch F1 2017 in 4K UHD.

When does the F1 2017 season start?

The 2017 Formula One season starts with the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday 26 March, with practice and qualifying on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 March respectively.

As it is held in Australia, UK fans will have to get up extra early to watch the live coverage. The main race, for example, starts at 6am BST on the Sunday. Thankfully, as the clocks go forward earlier that morning, that’s better than other years where the race has kicked off 5am in the morning.

What Formula One 2017 races will be in 4K Ultra HD?

All of them!

The entire F1 2017 season will be live on Sky Sports in 4K. All races in the new calendar will be available in Ultra HD. They will also be available in Full HD for those without the right equipment to view them – with some also broadcast by Channel 4 in 1080p. Qualifying and practice will also be live on Sky Sports, but not in 4K.

These are the races on the F1 2017 calendar:

  • 26 March, Australia, Exclusively live on Sky F1 (4K Ultra HD)
  • 9 April, China, Exclusively live on Sky F1 (4K Ultra HD)
  • 16 April, Bahrain, Live on Sky F1 (4K Ultra HD) and Channel 4 (Full HD)
  • 30 April, Russia, Live on Sky F1 (4K Ultra HD) and Channel 4 (Full HD)
  • 14 May, Spain, Exclusively live on Sky F1 (4K Ultra HD)
  • 28 May, Monaco, Live on Sky F1 (4K Ultra HD) and Channel 4 (Full HD)
  • 11 June, Canada, Exclusively live on Sky F1 (4K Ultra HD)
  • 25 June, Azerbaijan, Live on Sky F1 (4K Ultra HD) and Channel 4 (Full HD)
  • 9 July, Austria, Exclusively live on Sky F1 (4K Ultra HD)
  • 16 July, Great Britain, Live on Sky F1 (4K Ultra HD) and Channel 4 (Full HD)
  • 30 July, Hungary, Exclusively live on Sky F1 (4K Ultra HD)
  • 27 August, Belgium, Live on Sky F1 (4K Ultra HD) and Channel 4 (Full HD)
  • 3 September, Italy, Exclusively live on Sky F1 (4K Ultra HD)
  • 1 October, Malaysia, Live on Sky F1 (4K Ultra HD) and Channel 4 (Full HD)
  • 8 October, Japan, Exclusively live on Sky F1 (4K Ultra HD)
  • 22 October, USA, Live on Sky F1 (4K Ultra HD) and Channel 4 (Full HD)
  • 29 October, Mexico, Exclusively live on Sky F1 (4K Ultra HD)
  • 26 November, Abu Dhabi, Live on Sky F1 (4K Ultra HD) and Channel 4 (Full HD)

How do I watch F1 2017 in 4K Ultra HD?

All races are being broadcast live by Sky on the Sky F1 channel for Sky Sports subscribers. However, to watch the races in Ultra HD you will need to be a Sky Q customer with the Sky Q 2TB box too.

  • What is Sky Q, how much does it cost and how can I get it?

You will also need to have a 4K TV with HDCP 2.2 copy protection to watch the live 4K feed.

Like with Sky Sports’ live football matches, many of which which have been simultaneously broadcast in 4K, you will be prompted by the Sky Q on-screen EPG when on the correct channel and as the coverage starts. Alternatively, you can press the red button on your remote to view the race in Ultra HD.

There will also be a thumbnail in the Ultra HD section of the main Sky Q menu that will start the 4K version of the race.

Sadly, Sky+HD or Sky Q 1TB box customers cannot view 4K Ultra HD content so cannot watch the races in that format. You can’t watch races in 4K on Sky Q Mini boxes even if you have the 2TB main box because they are limited to 1080p maximum.

20
Mar

Instagram now lets you save your live videos to your phone


Instagram first revealed its take on livestreaming back in November and has continued to roll out the feature around the world in early 2017. Today, the social network announced that users can now save that live footage to their phone after the broadcast is over. Yes, the Live Stories will still disappear from the app when you complete the stream, but in the event something worthwhile happens, you now have the option to archive the footage for yourself.

There’s a new “save” button in the top right corner of the screen after you finish a live session. Instagram explains that you can only take the video with you without any of the likes, comments or other interactions. As you might expect, the file is saved to your camera roll for easy access. Facebook Live already allows users to save videos for later, so it’s not really a surprise that Instagram would add the ability to do the same. The company says the save function is now available inside both the Android and iOS versions of the photo app so you shouldn’t have to wait to use it.

Source: Instagram

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