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28
Mar

T-Mobile Gifting Customers Free Year of MLB.TV Premium Ahead of 2017 Season


T-Mobile today announced that it will offer its customers a free annual subscription to MLB.TV Premium, a $119.99 value, on Tuesday, April 4.

T-Mobile customers will be able to claim the gift through its T-Mobile Tuesdays app until Wednesday, April 5 at 1:59 a.m. Pacific Time. Then, customers need to sign up for MLB.TV Premium by Tuesday, April 11 at 1:59 a.m. Pacific Time.

MLB.TV Premium allows baseball fans to stream every out-of-market game live or on demand on the web with supported devices, including the Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, PlayStation 4, Roku, and Google Chromecast.

MLB.TV Premium also includes a free subscription to At Bat Premium, which unlocks high-quality streaming of select live MLB.TV broadcasts and highlight clips in the MLB.com At Bat app for iPhone and iPad.

Opening Day of the 2017 Major League Baseball season is Sunday, April 2. Spring Training wraps up this week.

T-Mobile customers must have a qualifying monthly rate plan, including “most consumer and business, postpaid, and prepaid plans.” Government accounts and plans without high speed data are not eligible.

2017 marks the fourth consecutive year that T-Mobile has offered its customers a free year of MLB.TV Premium.

Tag: T-Mobile
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28
Mar

Apple Seeds First Beta of iOS 10.3.2 to Developers


Apple today seeded the first beta of an upcoming iOS 10.3.2 update to developers, just one day after introducing iOS 10.3, which included features like a new Find My AirPods feature and Apple File System.

Registered developers can download the iOS 10.3.2 update from the Apple Developer Center or over-the-air with the proper configuration profile installed.

We don’t yet know what features or improvements are coming in iOS 10.3.2 as Apple doesn’t offer detailed release notes, but as a minor 10.x.x update, we can expect it to focus on bug fixes and under-the-hood performance improvements rather than major new features. Apple does say the update fixes the new SiriKit car commands, which should now work as expected.

Should anything new be found in the iOS 10.3.2 beta, we’ll update this post.

Related Roundup: iOS 10
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28
Mar

Apple Seeds First Beta of watchOS 3.2.2 to Developers


Apple today seeded the first beta of an upcoming watchOS 3.2.2 update to developers for testing purposes, one day after the launch of watchOS 3.2, a major update that introduced Theater Mode.

watchOS 3.2.2 can be downloaded through the Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General –> Software Update. To install the update, the Apple Watch must have 50 percent battery, it must be placed on the charger, and it must be in range of the iPhone.

watchOS betas require an iPhone running iOS 10 to install, and they’re only available to developers because there’s no way to downgrade the software on an Apple Watch.

It’s not yet clear if watchOS 3.2.2 introduces any new features or bug fixes because Apple doesn’t typically provide release notes for betas, but we’ll update this post should anything new be discovered.

Given that this is a minor 3.x.x update, it’s likely to focus primarily on bug fixes.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3
Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
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28
Mar

Apple Seeds First Beta of tvOS 10.2.1 to Developers


Apple today seeded the first beta of an upcoming tvOS 10.2.1 update to developers for testing purposes, one day after releasing tvOS 10.2, an update that introduced improve scrolling and iPad support for the Apple TV Remote app.

The tvOS 10.2.1 beta is designed for the fourth-generation Apple TV. It can be downloaded by connecting the Apple TV to a computer with a USB-C cable and installing the beta software from a registered developer account using iTunes.

Because of the tricky installation requirements, tvOS betas are limited to developers. tvOS 10.2.1 will not be available to the public until the final version of the software launches.

Apple does not typically provide detailed beta release notes, so we don’t yet know what’s included in tvOS 10.2.1. It’s likely to focus primarily on bug fixes and under-the-hood performance improvements, so we may not know what’s new until the software sees an official release.

Should any noticeable changes be discovered in tvOS 10.2.1, we’ll update this post.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10
Buyer’s Guide: Apple TV (Don’t Buy)
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28
Mar

Apple Seeds First Beta of macOS Sierra 10.12.5 to Developers


Apple today seeded the first beta of an upcoming macOS Sierra 10.12.5 update to developers, one day after releasing macOS Sierra 10.12.4, which introduced Night Shift for the Mac.

macOS Sierra 10.12.5 can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center or through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store.

Apple’s release notes don’t often provide much insight into what’s included in new beta software, so we don’t yet know what features it might offer. As the update follows the release of 10.12.4, which was a major update, this one may focus primarily on bug fixes and other small improvements.

The release notes accompanying the beta release say only that the “update improves the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac.” Should any new features be found in macOS Sierra 10.12.5, we’ll update this post.

Related Roundup: macOS Sierra
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28
Mar

Netgear extends the Orbi brand to include two new Wireless AC networking kits


Why it matters to you

Customers looking for an affordable solution to expand wireless AC coverage in a home or office just got two more options.

Netgear released its first Orbi networking kit in August. The company argues that Orbi is not part of the mesh-based networking market because it provides Wireless AC connectivity differently than the hockey puck-styled rivals, despite Orbi being a multi-unit setup. Now the company is expanding the Orbi brand into an entire family of networking products so customers have more choices regarding connectivity speeds and price.

Beginning Tuesday, Netgear sells three Orbi-branded wireless AC systems: The new RBK30 setup, the new RBK40 setup, and the current RBK50 kit. All three solutions are Tri-Band devices, meaning Netgear threw in an additional 5GHz band although it’s never directly accessed by the user. Instead, that lane is reserved for sending data between the Orbi units, making Orbi different than the typical mesh-based system that only has one 2.4GHz band and one 5GHz band.

Here is the updated Orbi family:

RBK30
RBK40
RBK50
Class:
AC2200
AC2200
AC3000
Coverage:
Up to 3,500 sq. ft.
Up to 4,000 sq. ft.
Up to 5,000 sq. ft.
Dedicated 5GHz speed:
2x streams at 433Mbps
4x streams at 433Mbps
4x streams at 433Mbps
Client 5GHz speed:
2x streams at 433Mbps
2x streams at 433Mbps
2x streams at 433Mbps
Client 2.4GHz speed:
2x streams at 200Mbps
2x streams at 200Mbps
2x streams at 200Mbps
Hub unit type:
Router
Router
Router
Satellite unit type:
Wall-plug
Identical shape
Identical shape
Kit cost:
$300
$350
$400
Additional unit:
$150
$200
$250
Additional unit coverage:
Adds up to 1,500 sq. ft.
Adds up to 2,000 sq. ft.
Adds up to 2,500 sq. ft.

Notice that the dedicated 5GHz band consists of two antennas in the RBK30 units, and four antennas in the RBK40 and RBK50 units. Thus, all data originating from the ISP’s modem travels across this private two-lane or four-lane access road connecting the Orbi units together. Data is then transferred to and from wireless devices through the generally accessed 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands (or Ethernet for wired).

More: Netgear Orbi review

In theory, this tri-band design speeds up connectivity because the Orbi units aren’t relying on a single 5GHz band for Orbi-to-Orbi communication and Orbi-to-client-device communication. That is supposedly the problem with standard mesh networking kits because the more client devices users add to the network, the slower the overall connection to the ISP’s modem becomes.

Here is a diagram found in an older Netgear press deck that draws the comparison of Orbi versus Luma/Eero-type hockey puck networking kits:

Orbi is also highly different than mesh-based systems in that the hub unit is an actual router. Users can dive into the browser-based interface to configure a plethora of network settings. By contrast, the Luma and Eero kits depend on Android/iOS apps with highly shallow customization capabilities. To that extent, Orbi is ideal for gamers, Ultra HD content streamers, and customers wanting complete control over every aspect of their network. The Luma and Eero kits are seemingly made for plug-and-play customers.

Ultimately, Netgear made a smart move by adding more affordable options to the Orbi brand. Customers now have a $300 starting point to take advantage of Netgear’s unique tri-band networking design.

28
Mar

Netgear extends the Orbi brand to include two new Wireless AC networking kits


Why it matters to you

Customers looking for an affordable solution to expand wireless AC coverage in a home or office just got two more options.

Netgear released its first Orbi networking kit in August. The company argues that Orbi is not part of the mesh-based networking market because it provides Wireless AC connectivity differently than the hockey puck-styled rivals, despite Orbi being a multi-unit setup. Now the company is expanding the Orbi brand into an entire family of networking products so customers have more choices regarding connectivity speeds and price.

Beginning Tuesday, Netgear sells three Orbi-branded wireless AC systems: The new RBK30 setup, the new RBK40 setup, and the current RBK50 kit. All three solutions are Tri-Band devices, meaning Netgear threw in an additional 5GHz band although it’s never directly accessed by the user. Instead, that lane is reserved for sending data between the Orbi units, making Orbi different than the typical mesh-based system that only has one 2.4GHz band and one 5GHz band.

Here is the updated Orbi family:

RBK30
RBK40
RBK50
Class:
AC2200
AC2200
AC3000
Coverage:
Up to 3,500 sq. ft.
Up to 4,000 sq. ft.
Up to 5,000 sq. ft.
Dedicated 5GHz speed:
2x streams at 433Mbps
4x streams at 433Mbps
4x streams at 433Mbps
Client 5GHz speed:
2x streams at 433Mbps
2x streams at 433Mbps
2x streams at 433Mbps
Client 2.4GHz speed:
2x streams at 200Mbps
2x streams at 200Mbps
2x streams at 200Mbps
Hub unit type:
Router
Router
Router
Satellite unit type:
Wall-plug
Identical shape
Identical shape
Kit cost:
$300
$350
$400
Additional unit:
$150
$200
$250
Additional unit coverage:
Adds up to 1,500 sq. ft.
Adds up to 2,000 sq. ft.
Adds up to 2,500 sq. ft.

Notice that the dedicated 5GHz band consists of two antennas in the RBK30 units, and four antennas in the RBK40 and RBK50 units. Thus, all data originating from the ISP’s modem travels across this private two-lane or four-lane access road connecting the Orbi units together. Data is then transferred to and from wireless devices through the generally accessed 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands (or Ethernet for wired).

More: Netgear Orbi review

In theory, this tri-band design speeds up connectivity because the Orbi units aren’t relying on a single 5GHz band for Orbi-to-Orbi communication and Orbi-to-client-device communication. That is supposedly the problem with standard mesh networking kits because the more client devices users add to the network, the slower the overall connection to the ISP’s modem becomes.

Here is a diagram found in an older Netgear press deck that draws the comparison of Orbi versus Luma/Eero-type hockey puck networking kits:

Orbi is also highly different than mesh-based systems in that the hub unit is an actual router. Users can dive into the browser-based interface to configure a plethora of network settings. By contrast, the Luma and Eero kits depend on Android/iOS apps with highly shallow customization capabilities. To that extent, Orbi is ideal for gamers, Ultra HD content streamers, and customers wanting complete control over every aspect of their network. The Luma and Eero kits are seemingly made for plug-and-play customers.

Ultimately, Netgear made a smart move by adding more affordable options to the Orbi brand. Customers now have a $300 starting point to take advantage of Netgear’s unique tri-band networking design.

28
Mar

Why is the Pixel’s camera so good? Google explains it, and what’s next


Why it matters to you

When you snap a photo with Google Pixel or Google Glass, you aren’t taking a picture — you’re taking several, stitched together by computers for a high-resolution image.

Last year, DxO Mark named the camera inside the Google Pixel the best smartphone camera yet — and new insight from Alphabet is showcasing just where the tech behind that camera camera from, and where it’s headed next. In an article for the Graduate Series exploring the tech that comes out of the X research division, Google says the camera tech inside Pixel was actually initially intended for Google Glass.

The tech, called Gcam, was first sparked in 2011 when researchers began looking for a high-resolution camera that could still fit inside a pair of eyeglass frames for Google Glass. Since adding a giant camera on the side of the glasses was out of the question, the team instead started looking at computational photography.

Instead of taking a single image on a large high resolution sensor, Gcam takes several images on a low-resolution sensor and, by merging them together with software, creates a high resolution image — or at least an image that can compete with the typical smartphone camera. The team, lead by Stanford Computer Science faculty Marc Levoy, called it image fusion and the feature launched in Google Glass in 2013.

More: Google may be testing a third, even larger Pixel phone code-named ‘Taimen’

Creating a small camera didn’t just introduce problems in resolution, however — a smaller lens captures less light, so photos from the lens small enough to hide in Google Glass was also a pretty poor low light performer. Merging the photos helped correct that. But the team next looked at getting more from the tiny camera using high dynamic range, a technique merging multiple images at different exposure levels together to create a wider range of light and detail. HDR+ then launched as an Android camera app for Nexus 5 (and later 6) in 2014.

The computational photography behind the Google Glass camera and HDR+ is now inside the Google Pixel, as well as the Google Photos app, YouTube, and Jump, a virtual reality device. The feature makes the lens blur setting inside Google Photos possible while the same program is piecing together 360 videos for Jump.

Levoy says that it took five years to get the Gcam software right before it launched in the Pixel smartphone. Since the system relies heavily on software, when users started complaining of lens flares, the team launched a firmware update for the software to automatically detect and remove it.

So what’s next for the tiny camera that started in Google Glass and now covers multiple products? The software-focused camera system could be getting a boost based on artificial intelligence. “One direction that we’re pushing is machine learning,” Levan said. “There’s lots of possibilities for creative things that actually change the look and feel of what you’re looking at. That could mean simple things like creating a training set to come up with a better white balance. Or what’s the right thing we could do with the background  —  should we blur it out, should we darken it, lighten it, stylize it? We’re at the best place in the world in terms of machine learning, so it’s a real opportunity to merge the creative world with the world of computational photography.”

Whatever’s in store for the next variation, the success of the Pixel likely sets that bar pretty high.

28
Mar

Why is the Pixel’s camera so good? Google explains it, and what’s next


Why it matters to you

When you snap a photo with Google Pixel or Google Glass, you aren’t taking a picture — you’re taking several, stitched together by computers for a high-resolution image.

Last year, DxO Mark named the camera inside the Google Pixel the best smartphone camera yet — and new insight from Alphabet is showcasing just where the tech behind that camera camera from, and where it’s headed next. In an article for the Graduate Series exploring the tech that comes out of the X research division, Google says the camera tech inside Pixel was actually initially intended for Google Glass.

The tech, called Gcam, was first sparked in 2011 when researchers began looking for a high-resolution camera that could still fit inside a pair of eyeglass frames for Google Glass. Since adding a giant camera on the side of the glasses was out of the question, the team instead started looking at computational photography.

Instead of taking a single image on a large high resolution sensor, Gcam takes several images on a low-resolution sensor and, by merging them together with software, creates a high resolution image — or at least an image that can compete with the typical smartphone camera. The team, lead by Stanford Computer Science faculty Marc Levoy, called it image fusion and the feature launched in Google Glass in 2013.

More: Google may be testing a third, even larger Pixel phone code-named ‘Taimen’

Creating a small camera didn’t just introduce problems in resolution, however — a smaller lens captures less light, so photos from the lens small enough to hide in Google Glass was also a pretty poor low light performer. Merging the photos helped correct that. But the team next looked at getting more from the tiny camera using high dynamic range, a technique merging multiple images at different exposure levels together to create a wider range of light and detail. HDR+ then launched as an Android camera app for Nexus 5 (and later 6) in 2014.

The computational photography behind the Google Glass camera and HDR+ is now inside the Google Pixel, as well as the Google Photos app, YouTube, and Jump, a virtual reality device. The feature makes the lens blur setting inside Google Photos possible while the same program is piecing together 360 videos for Jump.

Levoy says that it took five years to get the Gcam software right before it launched in the Pixel smartphone. Since the system relies heavily on software, when users started complaining of lens flares, the team launched a firmware update for the software to automatically detect and remove it.

So what’s next for the tiny camera that started in Google Glass and now covers multiple products? The software-focused camera system could be getting a boost based on artificial intelligence. “One direction that we’re pushing is machine learning,” Levan said. “There’s lots of possibilities for creative things that actually change the look and feel of what you’re looking at. That could mean simple things like creating a training set to come up with a better white balance. Or what’s the right thing we could do with the background  —  should we blur it out, should we darken it, lighten it, stylize it? We’re at the best place in the world in terms of machine learning, so it’s a real opportunity to merge the creative world with the world of computational photography.”

Whatever’s in store for the next variation, the success of the Pixel likely sets that bar pretty high.

28
Mar

Best emoji keyboards for iOS and Android


Gone are the days when simple words were enough to communicate our thoughts and feelings. The 21st century has given rise to a new form of communication — the humble emoji. Most major keyboards for both Android and iOS feature built-in support for emojis, but that doesn’t mean they present them front and center.

If you’re looking for a keyboard to truly satisfy your emoji-typing needs, then you may need something more substantial. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best emoji keyboards out there. Conveying your emotions via text has never been easier.

More: 12 Android keyboards that will have you texting faster than a 13-year-old

iOS

Emoji>

Emoji> is one of the most popular emoji keyboards out there, and for good reason. The app recently reached 50 million downloads, and is perfect for those looking for a way to up their emoji game. There are a ton of emoji you can use through the keyboard, and they’re split into different categories, making it easy to find the emoji you like best. The keyboard also offers animated stickers, and the ability to set up emoji as “favorites,” so you can access them at a moment’s notice without having to take the time to search for the ones you want.

Download now for:

iOS

Swiftkey

Swiftkey may not be a emoji keyboard per se, but it is the next best thing — an excellent keyboard that comes pre-loaded with hundreds of emoji for you to use. Swiftkey is known as one of the better keyboard apps out there, namely because of its excellent predictive typing, which can also be applied to emoji use. When you type a word or phrase, for example, the app suggests emojis that you can quickly tap on to use.

Download now for:

iOS

Slash Keyboard

Slash Keyboard is another keyboard that’s not exclusive to emojis, but it does have a ton of emoji support. For starters, the keyboard allows users to share songs, files, and more from connected apps. It also allows you to search through a robust catalog of emojis, GIFs, and stickers. Because of this, you won’t have to wade through hundreds of emojis to find the one you want — just search for the term in question and it should pop up.

Download now for:

iOS

Minuum ($4)

Minuum has been around for some time, and it offers relatively strong autocorrect options, word prediction, and more. Not only that, but the keyboard is being billed as one of the best for typing with one hand, making it suitable for larger phones. One of its best new features, however, is smart emoji, which predicts the emoji it thinks you’ll want to use based on the message you’re typing. The app also learns how you type, meaning said predictions should get better as you keep using the app. The $4 price tag is a little steep for a keyboard like this, but if you find that it works well for you, it may be worth the cash.

Download now for:

iOS

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