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19
May

Mercedes Benz is building cars that know the road better than you


As we approach a blind corner on a twisty mountain road above Sunnyvale, there’s a moment when I’m sitting in the passenger seat of a pre-production Mercedes Benz S-Class and I’m not not sure that the updated Intelligent Drive will really slow the car down in time for what’s up ahead. It does, and continues to do so for every corner it encounters. It’s an impressive step in the automaker’s march towards an autonomous vehicle.

Introduced at the Shanghai Auto Show in April, the new S-Class sports comes with the automaker’s latest version of Intelligent Drive. The update brings new features to Active Distance Assist Distronic (adaptive cruise control) and Active Steering. Steering is now smarter about automatic lane changes with only tap on the stalk needed to initiate the feature. If the car doesn’t find an open space after 10 seconds, it’ll abort its mission. But more impressive is Distronic’s ability to grab data from Mercedes’ mapping partner, Here, and adjust the speed of the car as it enters and exits a corner. The driver doesn’t have to use the brake and accelerator. Just turn the wheel and enjoy the ride.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The software determines the speed the S-Class should take a corner based on traffic, its current speed, and data supplied by Here provide the angle and tilt of the corner. The result is an impressive use of braking and accelerating that’s smoother than expected. Actually, it was even a better experience than when I’m the passenger while some of my human friends drive mountain roads.

Active Distance Assist Distronic works in conjunction with the vehicle’s current drive mode. In sport mode, it aggressively winds its way around corners. In comfort mode, it’s a relaxing drive. In eco mode, it’s painfully slow as it links corners together in the chillest way possible. If you’re going to be paying S-Class prices for a car, you should be able to use a feature as you see fit. Unfortunately, there’s no word on pricing and while some Distronic features will be standard, some of them will cost extra.

Aktiver Nothalt-Assistent; Wenn der Fahrer nicht mehr reagiert; Der Aktive Nothalt-Assistent bremst das Fahrzeug in der eigenen Spur bis zum Stillstand ab, wenn er erkennt, dass der Fahrer während der Fahrt mit eingeschaltetem Aktivem Lenk-Assistent dauerhaft nicht mehr in das Fahrgeschehen eingreift. ;Active Emergency Stop Assist; If the driver is unable to respond; Active Emergency Stop Assist brakes the vehicle in its lane to standstill if the system detects no driver reaction while driving with Active Steering Assist turned on. When there is no steering wheel movement over a predefined period, the systeminforms the driver by visual and audible prompt to place the hands on the steering wheel.;

Overall the latest version of Intelligent Drive is a solid step towards the company’s goal of full autonomy. But the company (like all automakers) is adamant that the driver still needs to be in control and paying attention.

Still, if you’re not that jazzed on giving your car the power to accelerate and brake outside of the highway, you can’t deny that the S-Class’ safety features will probably keep you out of more than a few fender benders. There’s emergency stop, brake, evasive steering assistance, an infrared camera that detects humans and large animals at night and displays them on the dash — all meant to keep you and your passengers safe.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Like the current S-Class the vehicle also comes with car-to-car (and eventually infrastructure) communications so you’re vehicle will know what’s happening ahead even if you don’t.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

By the end of the ride, I was confident enough in the system to stop checking the driver’s feet to see if he really wasn’t using the brake and accelerator. Even in sport mode, when it felt the car was entering a turn a little too quickly, I stopped trying to stomp on the invisible brake on the floorboard or brace myself. The car knew what it was doing and I was comfortable with that. It’ll be years before Mercedes (or any other automaker for that matter) has a fully autonomous car on the road, but for now, those that can afford an S-Class will have one the closest things that’s on the road.

19
May

Apple Celebrates Global Accessibility Awareness Day With Stevie Wonder Concert


Apple yesterday held a concert at One Infinite Loop in honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day. This morning, CEO Tim Cook tweeted out a thank you to Stevie Wonder, who performed at the concert.

Thank you to the incomparable Stevie Wonder for lifting hearts and celebrating accessibility with us! #GAAD pic.twitter.com/WvePkgte5R

— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) May 19, 2017

The event marked one of Apple’s traditional “Beer Bash” celebrations, which in the past have seen performances by Maroon 5, One Republic, Darius Rucker, and more, usually coinciding with a major milestone like the 30th anniversary of the Macintosh.

Apple has been highlighting the importance of accessibility features throughout the week, beginning with a large collection of “Designed for” promotional videos that it posted on YouTube on Tuesday. The clips showcased features like VoiceOver and Made for iPhone hearing aids, accompanied by personal stories of how Apple fans with disabilities use each feature.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered pic.twitter.com/CI38dIU8Vj

— James Craig (@cookiecrook) May 19, 2017

On Wednesday, Tim Cook then sat down with three accessibility activists to discuss the company’s accessibility features across its range of devices. Last October, Apple published an all-new accessibility website that brings all of these features to the forefront as a way to explain and celebrate how the company has built unique accessibility features into iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, and Apple Watch.

Tag: accessibility
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19
May

iTunes Launches Sale and LEGO-Themed Makeover for Digital Release of ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’


Apple today gave the iTunes Movies storefront a small visual overhaul to coincide with the digital home release of The LEGO Batman Movie, which will debut on DVD and Blu-Ray on June 13.

With the update, the iTunes Movies carousel has a collection of films on sale for a limited time, and with a LEGO-themed visual twist. These include previous DC universe movies like Batman Begins (HD $4.99), The Dark Knight (HD $7.99), The Dark Knight Rises (HD $7.99), Man of Steel (HD $7.99), and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (HD $9.99), most of which get shout-outs within The LEGO Batman Movie.

The theme and sale extends to the early Batman movies, as well, including Tim Burton’s original Batman (HD $7.99) and Batman Returns (HD $7.99), and Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever (HD $7.99) and Batman & Robin (HD $7.99).


The LEGO theme goes beyond the iTunes Movies carousel, and even includes LEGO figures and art on some of the films’ main iTunes pages, including for Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman. Those interested in the actual The LEGO Batman Movie can purchase the film in HD for $19.99, or opt for a two-movie bundle that includes the original The LEGO Movie for $24.99.


There are a handful of non-superhero movies with sale prices and a LEGO makeover on iTunes today as well, including The Wizard of Oz (HD $7.99), Gremlins (HD $7.99), The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (HD $7.99), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (HD $7.99), and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (HD $9.99). As with the superhero movies, all of these films have characters that make cameos of some kind within The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie.

(Thanks, DJ Horton!)

Tags: LEGO, iTunes
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19
May

ElcomSoft Claims It’s Able to Recover Deleted iCloud Notes Well Past Apple’s 30-Day Window


Russian software company ElcomSoft today claimed in a blog post that iCloud notes marked as deleted are being stored on Apple’s servers well past the advertised 30-day period they are kept in the “Recently Deleted” folder.

ElcomSoft said it used an updated version of its Phone Breaker tool, version 6.5, to recover dozens of iCloud notes deleted more than a month ago. ElcomSoft said many of the notes were deleted a few weeks past the 30-day window, but in some cases, it was allegedly able to extract notes deleted “several months ago.”

When a user deletes a note in Apple’s Notes app, it’s moved to the “Recently Deleted” folder, which explicitly states that “notes are permanently deleted after 30 days.” Likewise, a support document on Apple’s website says users can view and recover notes for up to 30 days before they’re permanently deleted.

However, ElcomSoft CEO Vladimir Katalov said the oldest note it was able to retrieve was deleted around five years ago:

“We did it again,” says Vladimir Katalov, ElcomSoft CEO. “After recovering deleted photos and Safari browsing history from iCloud, we now add the ability to recover deleted notes from the same source regardless of how much time has passed after the deletion. The oldest record we’ve been able to pull was deleted back in 2012.”

In its blog post, ElcomSoft said it was able to extract 334 notes from an iPhone with only 288 notes stored on it, including those in the “Recently Deleted” folder. In other words, ElcomSoft claims it was able to recover 46 notes deleted more than 30 days ago, and that was only one example.


Nevertheless, ElcomSoft said that its ability to extract iCloud notes deleted more than 30 days ago is “not necessarily” guaranteed. “While some of our test accounts did indeed contain deleted notes going all the way back to 2015, some other accounts contained much less than that,” it explained.

ElcomSoft said its Phone Breaker tool is the only software it knows of that can be used to recover iCloud notes deleted more than 30 days ago. It also said the latest version of its Phone Viewer tool is needed to view them. The tools start at $79 each and appear to be compatible with both Mac and Windows.

To extract and view deleted notes, ElcomSoft says all someone has to do is launch Phone Breaker version 6.5 or newer, click “Download Synced Data from iCloud,” authenticate with an Apple ID and password or a binary authentication token, wait for the download to complete, and open the file in Phone Viewer.

ElcomSoft’s Phone Viewer tool appears to show recovered iCloud notes
ElcomSoft said “there is no doubt Apple will fix the current issue,” but it didn’t confirm if it has been in contact with the company. MacRumors has opted not to use the Phone Breaker tool out of an abundance of caution. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment today.

Last year, ElcomSoft generated headlines when it claimed Apple “secretly” syncs Phone and FaceTime call history logs on iCloud, even with backups turned off. In a statement, Apple said it offers call history syncing “as a convenience to our customers so that they can return calls from any of their devices.”

In February, ElcomSoft also found that iCloud was allegedly storing deleted Safari browser history for a long period of time, ranging from several months to over a year. Forbes reported that Apple quietly “started purging older history records” once the news broke, but Apple never officially commented.

Tags: Notes, ElcomSoft
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19
May

TouchArcade iOS Gaming Roundup: Zelda, The Sims, Oceanhorn 2, and More


Hey everyone! I’m Eli Hodapp, and I serve as Editor in Chief over at MacRumors’ sister-site TouchArcade. If you haven’t heard of us before, we’re the largest iOS-exclusive gaming site out there. We post daily news, reviews, previews, and more, covering the latest and greatest in the world of mobile gaming. We regularly stream iOS games on Twitch, and we’ve got our own forums which are packed with iOS gamers and developers discussing both new and upcoming games. Also, if you’re into the whole Discord chat thing, we’ve got a great Discord server which is similarly packed with people talking about mobile gaming around the clock.

If you’re a podcast person, The TouchArcade Show is a weekly podcast we publish every Friday. iOS gaming is way more than Clash of Clans and Candy Crush, and through these weekly roundups we hopefully aim to keep you tuned in to the big news items of the week, as well as some great new games to check out. If any of this seems interesting you, I encourage you to get involved in the TouchArcade community by following any of the above links, as these new weekly roundups here at MacRumors are just a taster and there’s a lot more where this came from.

Noteworthy News

This week started off strong with some (very) early news on Monday morning surrounding rumors that Nintendo is planning a Zelda game for mobile. Both Super Mario Run and Fire Emblem Heroes have been incredibly popular, and with an Animal Crossing game on the way, it makes sense that Nintendo would continue to slowly bring their franchises to mobile.

This upcoming Zelda game will undoubtedly be free to play, and the internet seems to be split between thinking it will have a one-time unlock like Super Mario Run or whether it’ll have endless spending potential through randomized draws like Fire Emblem Heroes. Analysts speculate Fire Emblem Heroes has made significantly more than Super Mario Run, so if Nintendo is following the money, the question of mobile Zelda payment models may already be settled. Regardless, it’s possible more news surrounding iOS Zelda will be revealed at E3 which kicks off on June 14th.


Another big upcoming release to look forward to is Ubisoft’s Rocksmith which has soft launched in Canada. (It is common practice to release big games in limited regions, like Canada, before launching worldwide. This is known as a “soft launch.”) Rocksmith was first released on the XBOX 360 back in October 2011, and differed significantly from the explosion of other music and rhythm games at the time.

Unlike Guitar Hero or Rock Band which had you fiddling around with plastic instruments consisting of paddles, buttons, and pedals, Rocksmith had you plug in a real electric guitar and the game actually taught you how to play it – claiming to be able to do it in 60 days. The upcoming iOS version supports both electric guitars through various adapters as well as acoustic guitars using your iOS device’s microphone. Better yet, it’s totally free to download and try with (as of this writing) four songs included for free with more available via IAP. New “professionally curated and transcribed” songs will be available every week.


In other soft launch news, a brand new The Sims game called The Sims Mobile soft launched in Brazil. There’s been a Sims game on the App Store for a few years now titled The Sims Freeplay, which is a significantly trimmed down version of The Sims on the PC. The new The Sims Mobile, on the other hand, seems to be offering an experience that’s far closer to the depth experienced in a “real” Sims game.

Players will of course be able to create Sims and their homes, but this time around the game emphasizes stories you can create, with Sims that even eventually retire, unlocking careers and hobbies for future generations of Sims. Additionally, the new The Sims Mobile features a robust multiplayer component.

Holly molly! Just saw Death Road to Canada in Designated Survivor ep20! Congrats @rocketcatgames! pic.twitter.com/zR0dbuS3ZQ

— Kris Antoni (@kerissakti) May 14, 2017

Rocketcat Games’ Death Road to Canada is a masterpiece of a mobile game, and it seems the rest of the world is catching on. The game was briefly featured in Netflix’s Designated Survivor, season one episode twenty. It’s a fitting pairing, as in Death Road to Canada you’re a lone survivor inside of a zombie apocalypse doing everything you can to make it to Canada.

This isn’t the first time mobile games have been featured in Netflix series, as Agar.io was seen in season four of House of Cards, while Monument Valley made an appearance previously on the show. Someone high up at Netflix must really love mobile gaming for them to keep giving these subtle nods to incredible iOS titles.


The currently available Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas is the closest thing you’ll find to a real-deal Zelda game on the App Store, at least until Nintendo releases its version. The original Oceanhorn was incredibly popular and well received, and anticipation surrounding the release of Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm couldn’t be higher. The game was shown at the Nordic Game event in Malmö, Sweden, and we’ll be following news of this game very closely as it approaches the end of its development.


As far as games you can actually download and play now are concerned, this was a great week for releases. The best places to look when finding new iOS games to download is our hot games listing as well as our latest reviews. Most recently, the artistic adventure game Old Man’s Journey knocked our socks off. In the game, you interact with the environment to solve puzzles and help an old man on his way. The story of the game had a profound effect on us.

Also, while the mash-up might seem crazy, I promise Arkanoid vs Space Invaders totally makes sense once you start playing it. In a nutshell, you use an Arkanoid-like paddle to deflect incoming enemy fire from 150 levels of different Space Invader enemy waves. There are multiple characters to unlock, boss battles, and a super-difficult hard mode as well.


On the subject of interesting spins on classic arcade games, No Stick Shooter takes the basic idea of Missile Command and cranks it up to 11 with unbelievably frantic gameplay. Players balance multiple different weapons to defend against seemingly endless arrays of different enemies.

Last, but not least, (and a little old compared to these other three games but still worth mentioning) is Spaceplan. With a pace that is the complete opposite of No Stick Shooter, Spaceplan is one of the most innovative clickers we’ve ever played as it takes some totally unexpected turns, and features an amazing story that reminded us a lot of the book/movie The Martian. A prototype of Spaceplan is playable in your browser, but the mobile version of the game is much, much better.

That’s all from me, so stay tuned for next week’s iOS gaming roundup here on MacRumors, or for all this and much (much) more, come on over to TouchArcade!

Tag: TouchArcade gaming roundup
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19
May

These digital filters will add instant pizzazz to your aerial drone shots


Why it matters to you

Enhancing color in aerial video is time consuming, but these new presets make quick work of the process.

PolarPro, the company that boosts aerial drone video with custom-sized filters, is now developing filters for after the shot, too. On Thursday, May 18, PolarPro announced Aurora, a set of cinematic color presets designed for drone videography.

The software is designed to enhance D-Log video (the videographer’s equivalent to a RAW photo) by taking advantage of the file format’s wider dynamic range while helping users quickly enhance the color in the footage. The 12 cinematic color presets have two variations, one designed specifically for the camera profile on the DJI Mavic Pro and another for the Phantom Pro 4, with additional versions for more drone cameras expected to launch in the future. The presets are compatible with a number of editing programs, including Adobe Premier, After Effects, and Photoshop, as well as Final Cut X (with an additional plug-in) and DaVinci Resolve.

The presets offer a range of different color enhancements, with several including variations for warm, cool, and neutral colors. The Elektra preset adds a pop of color while Purity sticks with more natural color enhancement. Deep adds saturation and darker blacks and shadows while the Classic preset is designed for a Hollywood look with more pastel colors. Morpheus and Knight create their styles by pushing the greens and blues to enhance the video’s mood.

All of the presets are designed to enhance D-log, which offers aerial photographers a wider dynamic range but flat color profiles that require editing. Using the camera’s built-in color profile narrows the camera’s light capturing capabilities down to eight stops, PolarPro explained, while shooting in D-log has no color profile but a 12-stop dynamic range for more detail in the lightest and darkest areas and more control over the editing process. The new presets are designed to take advantage of the D-log format but helps minimize the required editing by quickly re-calibrating those colors.

The cinematic color presets sell for $30, with versions for the Mavic Pro and Phantom 4 Pro.




19
May

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

Gymster Pro

This app not only teaches you how to lift weights, but also comes with healthy recipes. There are two workout modes (randomized and manual) that only suggest exercises based on equipment you have available at your gym.

Available on:

iOS

TopScanner

This app turns your iPhone or iPad into full-featured PDF document scanner. For example, you can scan your receipts and save as PDF file to trace your expenses.

Available on:

iOS

PostBot 3

The Bot that tells you when to post to Instagram and what tags to use. Best hours of the day determined with intelligence, specifically for your audience.

Available on:

iOS

Dramatic Black & White

Using Dramatic Black & White you can make your own black and white photographs, ones where light and contrast, grit and form come together to tell a story.

Available on:

iOS

FancyDays

FancyDays helps you manage those days that matter to you and count down to them. You will never forget those important days.

Available on:

iOS

Stream

Stream was created to give you a seamless listening, managing, and syncing cloud music experience. It allows you to create a personal streaming service with cloud storage like Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Yandex.Disk to save space on your device and have access to all of your music.

Available on:

iOS




19
May

HTC U11 vs. HTC U Ultra: Which HTC phone reigns supreme?


When HTC said it would nix affordable phones in favor of several high-end handsets, it wasn’t kidding. Case in point? The HTC U11, a new flagship on the heels of this year’s U Ultra.

The HTC U11 and U Ultra don’t share much in common. The U11 omits the U Ultra’s secondary display, for one, and the new phone has a much more powerful processor. But they’re certainly cut from the same cloth, or liquid glass, as the case may be. Both boast HTC’s UltraPixel camera tech and BoomSound speakers, ship with the same amount of memory (4GB), and come preloaded with with HTC’s AI-powered Sense Companion assistant.

Still, there’s enough of a difference between the HTC U11 and U Ultra to crown a winner. To put an end to the debate, we pitted the two phones against each other in a specifications battle to the finish.

Specs and performance

HTC U11

HTC U Ultra

HTC U Ultra

Size
 153.9 × 75.9 × 7.9 mm (6.05 × 2.99 × 0.31 in)
162.4 × 79.8 × 8.0 mm (6.39 × 3.14 × 0.31 in)
Weight
 5.96 ounces (169 grams)
6 ounces (170 grams)
Screen
 5.5-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED
5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED

2.05-inch secondary display

Resolution
 2,560 × 1,440 pixels
2,560 × 1,440 pixels

160 × 1,040

OS
Android 7.1 Nougat
Android 7.1 Nougat
Storage
 64/128GB
32/64GB
SD Card Slot
Yes
Yes
NFC support
Yes
Yes
Processor
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
RAM
4/6GB
4GB
Connectivity
Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, GSM
Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, GSM
Camera
 Front 16MP, Rear 12MP with OIS
Front 16MP, Rear 12MP with OIS
Video
 2,160p 4K HDR
2,160p 4K UHD
Bluetooth
Yes, version 4.2
Yes, version 4.2
Fingerprint sensor
Yes
Yes
Other sensors
Edge Sensor, barometer, gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, proximity sensor, iris scanner
Barometer, gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, proximity sensor
Water Resistant
Yes, IP67
Yes, IP67
Battery
3,000mAh
3,000mAh
Charger
USB Type-C
Micro Type-C
Quick Charging
Yes
Yes
Wireless Charging
No
No
Marketplace
Google Play Store
Google Play Store
Color offerings
Blue, black, silver
Black, blue, white, pink.
Availability
AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile

AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile

DT Review
Hands-on
4 out of 5 stars

The differences between the U11 and U Ultra start under the hood. Both phones share the same RAM (4GB, up to 6GB) and base storage (64GB, up to 128GB) in common. But the U11 packs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835, one of the newest in Qualcomm’s arsenal. The U Ultra, on the other hand, ships with Qualcomm’s aging Snapdragon 821 — the processor in the Google Pixel and OnePlus 3T.

On a surface level, the two processors aren’t all that different. They have the same number of cores — four faster, high-powered cores that kick in for intensive tasks and four power-efficient cores that handle background apps — and architecture. But the Snapdragon 835 — the processor that also powers Samsung’s Galaxy S8 — is built on a 10-nanometer process, which means it crams 30 percent more parts into the same physical space as the Snapdragon 821.

In most apps and real-world scenarios, the Snapdragon 835 appears to best the Snapdragon 821 handily. Anandtech recorded it achieving a score of 3,844 in 3D Mark’s Slingshot Extreme test compared to the Snapdragon 821’s 2,106, and other benchmarks show a performance advantage as high as 40 percent. The U11 is likely to crush day-to-day tasks like a champ, in other words.

To sum up, there’s no question when it comes to overall processing power. We’re expecting the U11 to breeze through apps, games, and other tasks. That’s not to say the U Ultra’s a slouch — the U11 just does things faster.  

Winner: HTC U11

Design

At first glance, the U Ultra and U11 don’t look all that different from each other. That’s because they both sport HTC’s bright “liquid surface,” a glass back specially machined to shine and shimmer in the light.

The liquid metal surface isn’t the only design similarity between the two. There’s a lot of unused space near the U11 and U Ultra’s top and bottom, and sizable edges between the screen and edges. The U11 inherits the Ultra’s oval-shaped fingerprint sensor, physical power button, and volume rockers.

Otherwise, though, the U11 shares little in common with its months-old cousin. The rear camera is almost flush with the rear cover as opposed to protruding on the U Ultra, and the dual-LED flash has been moved to the opposite side of the sensor — from the left to the right. The U11’s edges also curve more gradually than the U Ultra’s, and have fewer seams — especially near the U Ultra’s charging port. It evokes the iPhone — right down to the position of the plastic bits that cover the U Ultra’s antennae.

Both the U Ultra and U11 pack four microphones that record high-quality sound from a distance. Neither have a headphone jack; instead, the U Ultra and U11 ship with HTC’s proprietary USB-C USonic headphones, which pack two microphones — one that sits on the outside of your ear canal and one that sits on the inside — to generate a detailed profile of your ear’s anatomy.

But unlike the headphones that shipped with the U Ultra, the U11’s have built-in noise-cancelling. HTC says they work in tandem with the U11’s BoomSound app to drown out the ambient noise around you.

We’re still not convinced that eliminating the 3.5mm audio jack is a great design move. But U11’s overall design improvements and noise-canceling headphones are enough to earn it the win here.

Winner: HTC U11

Display

In our review of the U Ultra, its display — or displays, more accurately —  colored us unimpressed.

The 5.7-inch Quad HD Super LCD 5 screen was dimmer than Apple’s iPhone 6S, even at full brightness. Colors seemed relatively accurate, but not from any angle — tilting the HTC U Ultra a little to the side resulted in washed-out blues and reds.

We haven’t had a chance to put the U11’s screen to the test, but we’re not expecting miracles. The U11 packs a slightly smaller 5.5-inch LCD screen with the same Quad HD (2560 x 1440 pixels) resolution as the U Ultra. Assuming HTC hasn’t made any brightness-boosting or color-correcting software tweaks, we wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t a difference.

We’re calling this one a draw. The U11’s slightly smaller screen doesn’t appear to offer a marked technological advantage over the U Ultra, and we’re expecting it to perform about — if not exactly — the same.

Winner: Tie

Battery life and charging


Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The U Ultra and U11 share the same 3,000mAh battery capacity. And based on our experiences with the U Ultra, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect.

In our testing, we got about a day and a half out of the U Ultra. With brightness set to automatic and Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular data enabled, we slogged through an eight-hour workday’s worth of emails, social media updates, Slack messages, and app updates without about 40 percent power to spare.

HTC estimates the U11’s battery life at 24.5 hours on 3G/4G, and up to 14 days on standby. That’s on par with the U Ultra, which HTC’s pegs at 26 hours on 3G/4G and 13 days on 3G/4G. The Snapdragon 835’s power efficiency could give the a boost in real-world usage, of course. And there’s a chance that HTC’s optimizations — and U11’s lack of secondary display — will make a meaningful difference day-to-day. But as of now, we’re not anticipating a drastic difference.

The U11 and U Ultra both support Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 standard, which delivers roughly 1 hour of battery power for every 1 minute of charge.

Given the negligible difference in battery life between the U11 and U Ultra, we’re calling a tie this round.

Winner: Tie

19
May

Enjoy lifetime access to the Disconnect Premium privacy suite for just $49


In today’s age of mass surveillance, online privacy has become a major concern. Increasing numbers of people are turning to security and encryption software, which were once solely within the purview of tech experts and government agencies. Award-winning software like Disconnect has now made it easy for average users to protect themselves from cybercriminals, nosy ISPs, and annoying advertising trackers.

The internet is full of threats to your privacy, with a myriad of hidden trackers designed to collect your personal information. Many of these exist for purposes such as targeted advertisements, Disconnect Premiumwhich, while annoying, are relatively harmless. Others pose a more serious danger, using these security holes as an avenue for hacking and theft.

Disconnect totally blocks these tracking requests, keeping your personal info and browsing habits free from prying eyes. Disconnect Premium takes security to another level: Along with completely blocking trackers, a Premium subscription gives you a full-featured virtual private network.

This VPN totally encrypts your internet connection and routs it through a secure network of private servers. Along with blocking trackers, Disconnect PremiumDisconnect Premium locks down your devices so that nobody – not even your internet service provider – can see the data being transmitted on your local network. Tunneling your connection through foreign servers also makes it appear as if you are accessing websites from a different country, further enhancing your privacy and allowing you to bypass regional access restrictions.

Disconnect has made a huge splash in recent years as one of the top providers of online privacy and anti-tracking software. The company has earned numerous accolades as well, including the 2015 Innovation Award for Privacy and Security from SXSW.

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19
May

Telegram lets you make and accept payments without ever leaving the app


Why it matters to you

Need to order takeout, call for a car, or refill your subway pass from your phone? Apps like this one are making it easier.

While no one has developed a way to make money by talking to bots, there seems to be an increasing number of platforms that will allow you to spend your hard-earned cash. The latest to join the fray is messaging app Telegram, whose new update allows users to make and accept payments via Telegram Bots. Telegram made its announcement in new blog posts directed both to bot developers and the general public, introducing yet another way to ensure that you never leave the messaging app.

“If you have Telegram 4.0 (or newer) installed, you can order goods or services from bots that offer them,” Telegram wrote in one announcement. “These bots may now add a Pay button to their messages. When you tap Pay, you’ll be asked to fill in your credit card and shipping information and confirm the payment. Then you get what you paid for.”

At launch, Telegram Bots already supports Apple Pay, which promises an entirely frictionless transaction process. You can, however, opt to input your credit card information, and if you have 2-Step Verification turned on in your account (as you should), you can save that card for future purchases.

You can already test out the new payment feature by making use of the @TelegramDonate bot.

“Telegram is an open platform, so bot developers can implement the necessary APIs and accept payments from users starting right now, without lengthy approval dramas,” the app notes. “If you’re a bot developer, check out the docs immediately.”

At present, most of the payments processed on the platform are handled by Stripe, but Telegram notes that its new bot feature serves as a “platform for payment providers all over the world.” Indeed, once bot developers get to work, they can choose from among the entire smorgasbord of payment providers, and Telegram says that within the next few days, payments will be made available to developers in over 190 other countries with various processors like RazorPay, FlutterWave, and PaymentWall.

Be warned though, Telegram stresses that it’s only the messenger when it comes to your payments. “It is impossible for Telegram to handle complaints or cashbacks — any disputed payments are the responsibility of the bot developers, payment providers, and banks that participated in the exchange,” the blog post reads. But by the same token, Telegram says that the app neither stores nor is able to access any sensitive data. And it doesn’t take a commission from payments, or profit from transactions either.

So hold onto your wallet. Telegram is making it easier than ever for you to spend its contents.




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