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10
Apr

Apple Seeds Second Beta of tvOS 10.2.1 to Developers


Apple today seeded the second beta of an upcoming tvOS 10.2.1 update to developers for testing purposes, nearly two weeks after seeding the first 10.2.1 beta and two weeks after releasing tvOS 10.2, an update that included 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, security enhancements, and performance improvements, so we may not know what’s new until the software sees an official release.

No notable changes were found in the first tvOS 10.2.1 beta, but should anything new popup in the second beta, we’ll update this post.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10
Buyer’s Guide: Apple TV (Don’t Buy)
Discuss this article in our forums

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10
Apr

Apple Seeds Second Beta of watchOS 3.2.2 to Developers


Apple today seeded the second beta of an upcoming watchOS 3.2.2 update to developers for testing purposes, nearly two weeks after seeding the first watchOS 3.2.2 beta and a two weeks after the release of watchOS 3.2, which introduced Theater Mode.

The second beta of 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. No notable features

Given that this is a minor 3.x.x update, it’s likely to focus primarily on bug fixes. No notable features were found in the first watchOS 3.2.2 update, but we’ll update this post should anything new be discovered.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3
Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
Discuss this article in our forums

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10
Apr

Apple Seeds Second Beta of macOS Sierra 10.12.5 to Developers


Apple today seeded the second beta of an upcoming macOS Sierra 10.12.5 update to developers, nearly two weeks after seeding the first beta and two weeks 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.

According to the release notes accompanying the beta, the update “improves the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac.”

Because Apple’s release notes don’t often provide much insight into what’s included in new beta software, we don’t yet know what features or bug fixes might be included in 10.12.5.

Nothing notable was discovered in the first beta, but should new features be discovered in the second macOS Sierra 10.12.5 beta, we’ll update this post.

Related Roundup: macOS Sierra
Discuss this article in our forums

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10
Apr

ZTE Quartz hands-on


Android Wear 2.0 is slowly being rolled out to existing smartwatches, but when it comes to new models, we’re still waiting for the next batch to come around. So far, it’s been nothing except for the LG Watch Sport – with other major manufacturers remaining relatively silent.

See also:

ZTE’s new Quartz smartwatch brings Android Wear 2.0 for just $200

3 hours ago

One name you’ll be surprised about to hear is ZTE, who on the other hand, just announced its first wearable smartwatch for the US market. That’s quite a revelation, given its position in the market. The ZTE Quartz might look chunky and cookie cutter at first glance, but don’t let that fool you – just because ZTE is being aggressive about its price point. Would you believe this is only $192?

The Quartz really does match the LG Watch Sport in many areas

So yeah, it’s seriously undercutting the competition, especially when you pit it against the LG Watch Sport, which has an MSRP of $349. Obviously, there’s quite a disparity here when you think about the wide gap separating the two Android Wear 2.0 wielding smartwatches. The difference alone can be the deciding factor for consumers who are looking to save some money in the process, more so when you look at the Quartz’s spec sheet. It really does match the LG Watch Sport in many areas! It features a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset, 400 x 400 resolution AMOLED display, Corning Gorilla Glass 3, 768 MB of RAM, and 4 GB of internal storage.

Similarities in the specs aside, there are still some key differences here with the Quartz, and the first area directly correlates to its price, which is its design. Frankly, the Quartz doesn’t have nearly the same level of elegance or allure. First of all, it’s pretty chunky looking, so if you have a small wrist, it might look out of place.

Frankly, the Quartz doesn’t have nearly the same level of elegance or allure

Even though we’re content to find a metal casing here, the plastic underbelly of the Quartz just seems out of place. However, the decision for a thicker chassis allows the Quartz to accommodate a higher capacity 500 mAh battery, which ensures it’s going to be able to handle all-day independent usage without the worry of running out of juice. Still, it doesn’t have the same premium look and feel as its rivals. And that could potentially be a deal breaker for some!

While the included wrist strap is your typical rubbery textured one, you can easily replace it with any others. And honestly, we really weren’t expecting anything ornate with the strap, taking into consideration its price and all. What’s surprising, though, is that ZTE opted to not have a heart rate sensor, which of course helps to lessen its price point, but some people might be disappointed by this.

See also:

Best fitness trackers

4 weeks ago

This won’t be a huge issue, of course, if you’re really not looking to do any strenuous workouts using the Quartz. If you intend to do that, however, it can still track some other vital information. So, does it alienate fitness junkies? That depends, because you’re mainly losing out on heart rate tracking, but it still offers other things like GPS to track your runs.

Moving onto the screen, the 1.4-inch AMOLED display looks detailed and crisp – and it seems to handle outdoor visibility okay. And lastly, the biggest takeaway for the ZTE Quartz is that it features built-in cellular radios that allows it to function independently from your smartphone. Now this is nice if you just want to leave your phone behind, say like going on a hike, since you can still make phone calls through it.

Even though it’s not the most stylish watch, there’s still a lot to consider here when you look at its $192 price

Even though it’s not the most stylish or premium smartwatch out there, there’s still a lot to consider here when you look at its $192 price. That’s pretty aggressive when it’s cellular enabled out of the box and has specs similar to that of the LG Watch Sport. If you’re tinkering the idea of buying the Quartz, it’ll be sold through T-Mobile’s online portal starting on April 14, while in-store availability is set for April 21.

What are your thoughts on the ZTE Quartz? Will this be your next smartwatch? Be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below!

10
Apr

WeDrive from WHILL is a free online community service for mobility device users


Why it matters to you

Mobility devices are key to helping their users lead fulfilled lives, and WeDrive from WHILL hopes to help make finding the right mobility device easier than ever

Mobility has never been quite so … mobile. On Monday, WHILL, the power mobility device maker, launched a new service called WeDrive. Meant to connect WHILL owners with others looking to test drive wheelchairs and other mobility devices, WeDrive is described as a “nationwide shared economy service” that allows users to share experiences in an authentic environment.

Promising to revolutionize how users test drive personal mobility products, WeDrive wants to help differently abled folks around the country better understand their options when it comes to these products, and determine the best match for their lifestyle. While most of these devices are often relegated to medical showroom floors or rehabilitation centers, WeDrive wants to give customers more optionality and more space to test out a product that is key to their everyday lives.

More: The SafariSeat is an all-terrain wheelchair made from bicycle parts

“WeDrive is going to transform the way users gain access to products that best suit their needs,” said Satoshi Sugie, CEO of WHILL. “The new culture of the sharing economy is resource-friendly, economical, and authentic. WeDrive is designed to enhance the sense of connection in the community and allow users to engage each other in an environment that is reliable, authentic, and in the user’s own words.”

To test drive a product with WeDrive, customers to tap into an existing community of WHILL users, and try out these mobility devices while hearing more about others’ personal experiences. WHILL promises that all WeDrive Community Drivers (those allowed to share their devices) are verified and qualified to host test drives.

That said, all WHILL hosts have the option to register themselves with WeDrive, and invite others to join. Signing up is free, but once registered, users have the opportunity to earn money from WHILL, serving as something of a guerilla marketer.

So whether you’re looking for your own mobility device or just want to share your experience with others, WeDrive may be worth a closer look.

10
Apr

ZTE Nubia NeoAir VR is a 360-degree camera for your smartphone


Why it matters to you

ZTE’s offering shows that the 360-degree camera space is heating up, with potential benefits for consumers.

Filming 360-degree video content for viewing on your virtual reality headset doesn’t need to cost you a lot of money anymore. There are a number of manufacturers out there making compatible cameras and now ZTE has joined that list, with the debut of its Nubia NeoAir VR camera alongside a new Nubia Z17 Mini smartphone.

Although not a household name in the U.S., ZTE is one of the top five smartphone manufacturers in China. This is its first entry in the virtual reality camera game, but it kicks things off with strong specifications.

The Nubia NeoAir VR 360-degree camera is a small sphere that attaches to the phone through its USB Type-C connector. It’s made up of two cameras with a 2:1 aspect ratio, each offering 210 degrees of coverage. GizChina reports (via PocketNow) that still images can be taken at a resolution of 3,008 x 1,504 pixels, while video is recorded at 2,560 x 1,280.

More: 5 cool new 360-degree cameras that will turn your head

The only system requirements for the camera are that a compatible smart device have 2GB of RAM and support for USB On-The-Go (OTG). Although it’s only available in Chinese markets right now, priced at 700 yuan ($101), it may be importable or expand into international markets in the future.

If it does, it will have to face off with other established cameras, though the NeoAir may have a specifications advantage if it does. The Giroptic IO 360 camera we reviewed recently has some excellent features, but its resolution is limited to 1,920 x 960, which makes the NeoAir far more visually capable.

It won’t always lead the pack in that regard though. Although Samsung’s reputation in the smartphone market took a hit with the Note 7 fire debacle of 2016, it has its Gear 360 camera, which has a much heftier 4,096 x 2,048 resolution, and that aligns with dual 195-degree cameras.

10
Apr

ZTE’s Quartz is one of the most affordable Android 2.0 smartwatches yet


Why it matters to you

If you’re looking for a decent smartwatch that won’t break the bank, ZTE’s Quartz is shaping up to be a great option.

It is safe to say that smartwatches, the once-derided mash-ups of digital guts and analog bodies, have graduated from passing fad to budding business. You need look no further than timepieces like Tag Heuer’s $1,500 Connected 2, Movado’s $700 Bold, and Michael Kors’ $350 Access for evidence that smartwatches aren’t just novelties anymore — they’re functional accessories. And they’re also a market that Chinese smartphone maker ZTE can’t wait to break into.

ZTE’s Quartz, which leaked prematurely a few weeks back, is a first step in that direction. It runs Android Wear 2.0, the newest version of Google’s Android operating system, and in many ways, it’s an amalgam of current smartwatch trends.

More: The only guide you need to get started with Android Wear

The Quartz boasts a unibody design with a 1.4-inch, Gorilla Glass 3-shielded circular touchscreen (400 x 400 pixels) that can withstand water and dust. Under the hood is a step-tracking accelerometer, a  gyroscope, a pressure-sensing barometer, a GPS, and a heart rate sensor. A 1.1GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor and 768MB of RAM handle the heavy software lifting, and 4GB of storage provides ample space for music and apps.

But there is more to the Quartz than meets the eye. Like LG’s Watch Urban 2nd Edition and Samsung’s Gear S3, it has a speaker, microphone, and a built-in cellular antenna that can handle phone calls, texts, and data.

The Quartz taps T-Mobile’s network for connectivity, and will eventually support the carrier’s Digits service (currently in beta) to deliver a seamless calling experience. With Digits enabled, the Quartz will be able to share your smartphone’s number.

More: 9 of the worst Android Wear problems, and how to fix them

NFC is a notable omission — the Quartz doesn’t support Android Pay’s tap-to-pay feature, so contactless transactions are a no-go. But ZTE has taken advantage of the extra space to stick a massive 500mAh battery inside, which it said should last a full 36 hours off the charger.

Lack of NFC also helped ZTE get the Quartz’s price down to $192, making it far and away the cheapest smartwatch to ship running Android Wear 2.0. Considering competition like LG’s $350 Watch Sport, which ships with a 430mAh battery and smaller (1.38-inch) screen, that is not a bad deal.

ZTE is a brand best known for its killer phones and awesome accessories. Sales of the blockbuster Axon 7 propelled the Chinese smartphone maker’s shipments to a record 15 million phones in the U.S. With the Quartz, the firm is trying to replicate that success in the wearable space.

More: Android Wear is back in business with two new watches from LG

“The ZTE Quartz is the industry’s best introductory smartwatch that allows you the opportunity to experience Android Wear 2.0 without breaking the bank,” a ZTE spokesperson said. “The ZTE Quartz smartwatch evokes a solid and sturdy, yet stylish design that blends form and function.”

10
Apr

Best app deals of the day! 6 paid iPhone apps for free for a limited time


Everyone likes apps, but sometimes the best ones are a bit expensive. Now and then, developers make paid apps free for a limited time, but you have to snatch them up while you have the chance. Here are the latest and greatest apps on sale in the iOS App Store.

These apps normally cost money, and this sale lasts for a limited time only. If you go to the App Store and it says the app costs money, that means the deal has expired and you will be charged. 

More: 200 Awesome iPhone Apps | The best Android apps for almost any occasion

dB meter

The dBA Meter app is well-calibrated with professional noise meter tool OKTAVA 110A-PRO so you can keep close tabs on any noise level.

Available on:

iOS

iMerchandise

This Trade Show App helps retailers like you buy more efficiently, plan wholesale purchases and deliveries, and generally be more organized, productive, and profitable.

Available on:

iOS

Dahli

Dahli makes it very hard to text or email while driving. Are you a parent of a teen driver? Have you ever tapped a text or email while driving? This app will stop that risky behavior.

Available on:

iOS

Musicfeed

Find your next favorite song from the friends and experts you trust. See what your favorite artists and music friends are sharing in your music feed.

Available on:

iOS

WorldMessage

WorldMessage is a cross-platform mobile instant messaging app which allows you to exchange messages, and automatically translate messages, videos, and more.

Available on:

iOS

Thinglist

There are plenty of “to-do” and task apps out there. Thinglist was created for all the things you “want to do” to make life a little more enjoyable.

Available on:

iOS

10
Apr

Google strives to make its Duo video-calling app a FaceTime killer


Why it matters to you

As tech companies focus more on emerging markets, finding ways to service slower connections and older networks is a top priority, and Google’s Duo app does just that.

Is there really room for yet another video-calling app? Google certainly thinks so with Duo, and it has the numbers to back it up. In a little more than a week after launching, the app was downloaded more than 5 million times on Android, and its popularity has only continued. In March, Google introduced users in Brazil to audio calling in Duo, which allowed folks to easily move between video and audio-only calls. And now, Duo’s technical lead Justin Uberti has announced that audio calling is globally available.

At its core, Duo is a FaceTime-like offering for Android and iOS that Google first showed off back in May. The app is all about simplicity — you’ll find no superfluous features here, with the app pretty much a case of tap-and-talk.

Google Duo now over 5M Android downloads in a week! https://t.co/ctwn131gYq

— sundarpichai (@sundarpichai) August 25, 2016

Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweeted about the 5 million milestone last summer, when the app shot to the top of the free apps list on the Google Play Store within the first two days of its offering.

Duo focuses on reliability. Aware of how frustrating most video-calling apps can be, with calls temporarily dropping out or crashing entirely, Google claims to have created something altogether more stable.

“We’ve built Duo to be fast and reliable, so that video calls connect quickly and work well even on slower networks,” Google software engineer Justin Uberti wrote in a message launching the new app. “Call quality adjusts to changing network conditions to keep you connected [so] when bandwidth is limited, Duo will gracefully reduce the resolution to keep the call going smoothly.”

This same concept applies to Duo’s audio calls, which is to say that you’ll be able to maintain connection even in 2G networks. And as tech companies focus more and more on markets with slower, older infrastructure (like India), apps like Duo will become ever more important.

Knock Knock

Duo’s most notable feature, however, is something called “Knock Knock.” No, it’s not a built-in joke generator that automatically offers up corny word-play gags at the conclusion of every call, but a feature that lets you see live video of the caller before you even answer. It’s supposed to “give you a sense of what they’re up to” (hopefully not picking their nose) before you take the call.

If after 30 seconds of absurd face-pulling (or whatever other antics that your buddy thinks will persuade you to pick up) the call remains unanswered, it’ll automatically disconnect, leaving your friend to wonder if you weren’t available or were simply ignoring them.

Google insists Knock Knock “makes video calling more spontaneous and welcoming, helping you connect with the person before you even pick up,” though some users may consider it as little more than a creepy gimmick they could well do without.

More: We break down Google’s 6 different personal chatting apps

The company has endeavored to keep the software simple, but there are still restrictions that mean not everyone will be able to use it. For example, it’ll only work on Android handsets running Jelly Bean (v. 4.1) or later, and iPhones running iOS 9 or later. And the requirement of your phone number to get started means it won’t work with tablets or other devices like the iPod Touch.

Duo’s arrival leads us to expect that Google’s text-based messaging app, Allo, will also land soon. You can learn more about that particular offering here.

So does Google’s new Duo app have what it takes to persuade users already happy with FaceTime or Skype – or messaging apps with video-calling capabilities already built in like Snapchat and Facebook Messenger – to take the software for a spin? Pulling in users could turn out to be quite a challenge for the web giant, but it’s hoping Duo’s ease of use and lack of flashy extras will be enough to make a success of its offering and keep it from going the same way as many of its past efforts, among them this, this, and this. And all of these.

Article originally published on 08-16-2016. Updated on 04-10-2017 by Lulu Chang: Added news of Duo’s audio calling rollout to users globally.

10
Apr

Teaser hints at an imminent rollout for Google Home’s multi-user support


Why it matters to you

Google Home has been teasing us with the possibility of multiple user support for at least a month, but now, it looks like the feature is finally ready to be unveiled.

We’ve been waiting about a month for this, and it looks like Google Home is finally ready to start rolling out support multiple users. As of Monday morning, it seems as though users have begun to discover something new in the Discover tab of the Google Home app. The new card is called “Multiple users now supported,” and unless Google is playing a very mean trick on us, it would suggest that the smart home hub can now be linked to multiple people in a household instead of just one master commander.

The card’s description reads: “Now, you and others in your home can get a personalized experience from your Assistant on Google Home.” Unfortunately, however, although Google is already touting the new feature, it doesn’t appear to be live quite yet. That said, it certainly doesn’t seem as though Google would allow such a card to exist on the app if multiple user support weren’t truly forthcoming, so hopefully, we can expect the feature to become publicly available in the near future.

More: Google Assistant keeps gaining skills, adds new Listen tab for Google Home app

Of course, we should point out that details still aren’t available around how different users will actually be able to use the same smart hub. Ostensibly, Assistant will be able to identify different individuals’ voices, and switch among different accounts accordingly. After all, if Siri is working on voice recognition, it stands to reason that other smart assistants are as well.

Once multiple users are indeed able to use Google Home and its associated features like Assistant, Android Police notes that you might be able to access a number of options that were previously available only on your phone, like setting personal reminders, sending messages, and creating calendar events.

So get excited, friends. Your smart home assistant looks to be getting even smarter in the days ahead.

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