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12
Sep

IKEA’s Place app for iOS previews furniture in your home


Now that Apple’s augmented reality platform is nearly here, developers are ready to show off what it can do… and one of the first examples will be particularly handy if you’re updating your living room. IKEA has unveiled IKEA Place, an iOS app that uses ARKit to preview how furniture will look at home. As hinted at back in June, the software is smart enough to not only show off furniture at the proper scale (98 percent accuracy, IKEA says), but with the right kind of lighting and shadows. You’ll know if that couch is too large for your apartment, or whether or not that reading chair would be too gauche for the room. Naturally, you can share images to ask for your friends’ advice and jump straight to the IKEA website to buy your selections.

The app is free, but the dependence on ARKit logically means you’ll need to wait for iOS 11 (we’ve asked about an Android version now that ARCore is a reality). It won’t include absolutely every piece of furniture that IKEA sells, it should cover the bases: there will be over 2,000 products on launch, including every armchair, coffee table, footstool and sofa that the Swedish firm sells. You’ll also see “top-selling” storage units. Don’t expect to preview your home office on day one as a result, but it might be an option: IKEA is promising that Place will have a “key role” in product launches.

The concept of augmented reality furniture previews certainly isn’t new. However, the most accurate apps have required specialized hardware. Are you really going to buy a Phab2 Pro just to make sure a table is a good fit? IKEA Place theoretically eliminates that hurdle: you can use an off-the-shelf smartphone or tablet and get a reasonably accurate preview.

Source: IKEA

12
Sep

Slack’s shared channels make it easier to ditch guest accounts


Slack competitors seem to be popping up at regular intervals these days. There’s Facebook at Work, Google Hangouts Chat, and a bunch of rival apps from scrappy startups. Unfazed by the clones, Slack’s star is still rising. The company announced today that its group chat platform has amassed more than 9 million weekly users. To celebrate, it’s launching two new features. Chief among the updates are “shared channels,” which essentially allow for cross-organization work in Slack.

Previously, communicating with an external company on the app would have required guest accounts to be set up. The new feature streamlines the process, allowing you to create a public or private Slack channel where members from each organization can post messages, share files, make voice and video calls, and (most importantly) spam GIFs.

Best of all, it’s as easy as creating a regular Slack channel, and you can login using your primary account. Platform app integration (for services such as Dropbox, and Zoom) is also available. To make life easier for hardcore users, shared channels will be displayed under their own header in the sidebar. And, you’ll be able to identify external accounts by the company logo above their avatar. The feature, which is currently in beta, can be enabled by team admins.

Although the US is still its biggest market, Slack is now truly a global platform. According to its figures, its users span more than 100 countries, with 55 percent outside the States. That may explain why Slack is adding support for French, German, and Spanish. Once you select your chosen language, everything from your display name to the text and emoji you use will be localized. You can make the switch via the preferences tab. And, admins can select a default language for parts of Slack for their entire organization.

12
Sep

‘Arktika.1’ shooter arrives on Oculus Rift October 10th


Oculus Rift’s next big exclusive — Arktika.1 — from the team behind the Metro shooters will be released October 10th. That’s right, over a full year after its debut at Oculus Connect 3, folks at home will finally be able to give the motion-controlled shooter from 4A Games a spin. Pre-orders are up and at least for now, the game is marked down 10 percent off its standard $29.99 price tag. And here you thought that all of today’s news was going to be about $1,000 iPhones.

Source: Oculus

12
Sep

Live Coverage of Apple’s iPhone X Event at Steve Jobs Theater


Apple’s first-ever event at the Steve Jobs Theater begins at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time, where it is widely expected to unveil the iPhone X, a new Apple TV with 4K video, and Apple Watch Series 3 models with LTE connectivity.

Steve Jobs Theater via Apple CEO Tim Cook
We should also be hearing final details and the official release date for iOS 11, and likely macOS High Sierra, watchOS 4, and tvOS 11 as well. And, of course, there may be plenty of other announcements and surprises in the cards.

Apple is providing a live video stream on its website and via the Apple Events app on Apple TV. We’ve shared instructions on how to watch along with a list of when the keynote starts in time zones around the world.

In addition to Apple’s video stream, we will be updating this article with live blog coverage—no need to refresh—and issuing Twitter updates through our @MacRumorsLive account as the keynote unfolds.

Highlights from the event and separate news stories regarding today’s announcements will go out through our @MacRumors account.

Sign up for our newsletter to keep up with Apple news and rumors.

Apple’s online store is currently down in advance of the event. It should be accessible again shortly after the keynote.

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Tag: September 2017 event
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12
Sep

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


Everyone likes Apple apps, but sometimes the best ones are a bit expensive. Now and then, developers put paid apps on sale for free for a limited time, but you have to snatch them up while you have the chance. Here are the latest and greatest iOS app deals available from 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. 

Tap Cam

Tap Cam is the powerful camera with more than 50 live filters and effects to process images in real time. Many useful tools like a zoom, delayed automatic release, continuous shooting, image stabilizer, and a grid, help you taking awesome pictures.

Available on:

iOS

Tabata

Work out with Tabata any time and any place. Choose the duration of the workout and fully enjoy the most effective exercises.

Available on:

iOS

7 Minutes Workout Program

7 Minutes Workout Program features more than 20 different exercises, and each exercise lasts 7 minutes maximum. You can also customize your own workout settings, and exercise without even looking at the phone.

Available on:

iOS

Megaplay

Listening to music on the go has never been so easy. This app features a large, clean interface that makes controlling tunes while driving a breeze (and safe to boot).

Available on:

iOS

my.eggbite

This app, my.eggbite, tracks and records your activities and achievements. Record elapsed time, distance, altitude, speed, and minimum and maximum speed, no matter what you’re doing.

Available on:

iOS

Free Video Player

This app features a built-in viewer that supports PDF, MS Office (Word, Excel, and Powerpoint) and Apple iWork (Keynote, Pages, and Numbers) files, HTML, RTF, TXT, PNG, JPG, GIFs, and more.

Available on:

iOS




12
Sep

Anki Cozmo is getting a big app update, new color options, and a carrying case


Lots of important little changes are coming to this adorable little robot.

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It’s been a little over a year since Anki took the world by storm with the adorable little AI-powered robot called Cozmo. Even though it was only big enough to be the champion of your average desk or counter, Cozmo has stolen hearts all over the globe.

Today, Anki is announcing a big software update to Cozmo alongside the launch of some killer new accessories, but the main event is the new “Liquid Metal” Collector’s Edition of Cozmo, which is now available to buy.

Taking Care of your Cozmo

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Your Cozmo app is now rocking a shiny new UI with more interactive ways to engage with your bot. This new interface is called Needs, and it has three basic concepts.

The Play bar decreases over time, and can only be filled by playing games and letting Cozmo explore. These activities drain Cozmo’s Feed bar, which you refill by shaking a cube and letting it “eat” the power stored inside. After all of this activity, it will occasionally be necessary to Tune-Up your Cozmo, which involves a series of exercises that properly calibrate your Cozmo so it’s always in the best shape.

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It’s a cute system, but the biggest thing here is how these Needs encourage you to interact with Cozmo all the time. This system is perfect for kids who need that pet-like interaction for Cozmo to learn new things about playtime. Remember, Cozmo learns by doing. The more faces it learns and the more games it plays, the smarter and more fun it becomes.

Your Cozmo app also now includes a Code Lab, where you can build programs for your Cozmo to execute. These programs can be something simple, like moving one of its Cubes across your desk, or complex maneuvers to help make your ‘bot feel more natural. Code Lab is expected to be updated regularly with new features, with the expectation that some of you will really be diving in to these new tools.

Personalizing and securing Cozmo

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Available separate from this new “Liquid Metal” Cozmo is a pair of new accessories. You can now buy replacement treads for your Cozmo in four different colors, as well as a new carrying case to bring all of your Cozmo gear around safely.

The Cozmo treads are all bright colors to help set your ‘bot apart, but you don’t have to choose just one. The $14.99 pack includes all four colors so you can swap based on Cozmo’s environment at the time.

Carrying Cozmo by itself isn’t a huge challenge, but the official carrying case has slots for everything to do with your Cozmo. There are custom slots for each cube, the charger, and Cozmo. The case itself is plenty durable, and of course rocks those big blue eyes on the front so you know what is inside. For $29.99, it’s an impressive case for keeping your Cozmo safe.

Get to know Cozmo (again)

For existing Cozmo owners, this new update should be rolling out over the next couple of days. Your existing progress and Sparks earned while playing with Cozmo will still be there, but the Daily Challenge has been replaced with these new Needs, and you’ll find there’s no more need for Bits in the gameplay.

If you don’t own a Cozmo and have been looking for the right time, now is it. This Collector’s Edition Cozmo is only going to be around for a little while, but if you prefer the original design you can find those on the shelf right now.

See at Amazon

12
Sep

Should you buy a Galaxy Note 8 unlocked or from a carrier?


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The Note 8 will be available unlocked on day one. But should you get it from Samsung directly, or go with a carrier option?

For the first time ever, Samsung will be offering its latest flagship, the Note 8, in unlocked and carrier versions from day one. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it’s still really difficult to decide whether to buy the phone directly from Samsung or to take advantage of the myriad deals from one of the many carriers selling the phone starting September 15.

Let’s break it down.

Buying unlocked

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The unlocked Note 8 is available directly from Samsung for $930, and right now only in Midnight Black. The unlocked model is compatible with all four major U.S. carriers, including the notoriously device-fickle Verizon and Sprint, and (for a limited time) it comes with a bunch of great accessories, including a Gear 360 headset and controller (the new Note 8-compatible version) and a bundle of a 256GB microSD card and convertible wireless charger. The phone itself is expensive, yes, but it comes with $400+ worth of add-ons, which is nice.

The unlocked model has a couple other advantages: it doesn’t come with any carrier bloatware, even when a SIM card is installed; and it is updated directly from Samsung. While that hasn’t proved to be an advantage in the past, with the S8 Samsung has proven to be much more consistent with its updates than its unlocked S7 line, which took months longer to be updated to Nougat than its carrier equivalents.

Samsung also offers a pretty great insurance policy where, for $11.99 per month, you get in-person support, a $99 deductible on all major repairs, and free phone troubleshooting for the life of your device. The first two months are free, too.

Finally, the unlocked Note 8 is available with very attractive financing rates: $38.75 per month for 24 months through Samsung’s own financing partner, TD Bank, and there’s no interest if the phone is paid off within two years. Samsung, at least for the foreseeable future, is also offering trade-in values of up to $300 depending on the phone, which can bring down the price of the Note 8 by a considerable margin.

See at Samsung

Reasons not to buy unlocked

There are two (and a half) reasons you’d want to hold off buying an unlocked Note 8:

  • You want a color that isn’t Midnight Black.
  • You want to avail yourself of the many carrier deals that are being offered, or will be offered in the future.
  • (You want to take advantage of carrier-related optimizations such as VoLTE or VoWiFi, which aren’t available with every carrier).

Buying from a carrier

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Every U.S. carrier has a different way of selling their flagship phones, and the Note 8, being one of the most expensive devices around, is being used as a test bed for a variety of deals.

As expected, T-Mobile and Sprint are great options for leasing the phone with the goal of paying less in the long run — T-Mobile, for instance, offers a BOGO deal when signing up for a second line; Sprint is offering new customers the phone for half off when signing up for an unlimited plan.

The carriers are also offering the same great accessory bundle as Samsung itself, which isn’t surprising, but some, like Verizon, are going even further, incentivizing users to buy a Gear S3 for $200 off.

The carriers, surprisingly, have been better at rolling out updates to the Galaxy S7 and S8 than Samsung itself over the past couple of years, with regular security updates and relatively fast platform updates once they’re available. Though the carriers come with baggage of their own in the form of bloatware, they’re (mostly) easy to disable or uninstall, and much of it doesn’t affect the performance of the phone.

Most carriers offer their own trade-in and insurance plans, mainly through the same vendors, but they’re not quite as generous as Samsung’s.

Finally, the carriers are the only ones offering the Orchid Gray version of the Note 8 in the U.S., which isn’t necessarily the nicest color, but it’s a fine alternative to Midnight Black.

Where to buy the Galaxy Note 8

Reasons not to buy from a carrier

There are three reasons not to buy a Note 8 from a carrier:

  • You don’t want to deal with bloatware.
  • You travel a lot and need an unlocked phone for overseas networks.
  • You want Samsung’s Premium Care support.

Don’t go to a carrier just to get financing — there are better ways

Your thoughts

If you’re buying a Galaxy Note 8, where would you get one? You can, of course, buy a carrier model from Best Buy or an unlocked version from Amazon, but I’ve tried to keep things simple with this guide.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

  • Galaxy Note 8 review
  • Complete Galaxy Note 8 specs
  • Galaxy Note 8 vs. Galaxy Note 5: Which should you buy?
  • Which Galaxy Note 8 color should you buy?
  • All Galaxy Note 8 news
  • Join our Galaxy Note 8 forums

Verizon
AT&T
T-Mobile
Sprint
Best Buy

12
Sep

What is wireless charging and how does it work?


Wireless charging isn’t magic, but it can be convenient.

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Wireless charging, such as the Qi charging tech many Android phones use, isn’t new technology. My Panasonic electric razor used it many years ago, and most of us have seen toothbrushes that charge wirelessly in a cradle. And of course, we can’t forget Palm and the way it brought wireless charging to the masses with the Touchstone. Now that size, cost, and efficiency constraints have all eased up a little, putting wireless charging in something like your Android phone or watch makes more sense.

We get more than a few questions about wireless charging and how it works, so let’s take a few minutes and talk about the basics; what it is, how it works and why you would want it in your next Android purchase.

More: The best wireless charging pads for Galaxy S8

What is wireless charging?

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Wireless charging isn’t magic — you still need a wire. The difference is that the wire is connected to a charging base instead of your phone, so you can just drop your Android onto the charger and things get to work without hooking anything up to your phone. The charging base can be almost any shape or size, and can even be in something like your car dash or the base of a lamp from IKEA. As long as you’re able to get the right spot on the rear of your Android on the right spot on the base of the charger, it will work.

A good example would be having a wireless charging base on your desk at work. When you’re not using your phone, you set it on the charger. When you need to use your phone, pick it up and it has a charge. Wireless charging isn’t as fast as Quick Charge, but it’s easy and something you’re more likely to use to keep your phone topped off throughout the day (in our example). That’s where wireless charging shines — ease of use.

How does wireless charging work?

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Wireless charging uses two resonant inductive couplings to transmit low-power signals between two devices. These are specially designed to transmit electricity without touching each other like a normal wired connection does. The base station, which is plugged into the wall through its own power supply, has a transmitter coil and your phone has a receiver coil. The base station regularly sends a signal out, and when a receiver coil gets close enough, a resonance change (the base station changes the amplitude of its oscillation — it vibrates faster) happens in the signal. The waveform of the signal is then modulated (changed to let the coil in the phone know power is being sent) and inductive charging begins.

Wireless charging uses the same electrical theory as a generator: mechanical energy creates electrical energy.

Inductive charging uses those two specially designed electromagnetic coils to create a magnetic field between two devices. There is an intricate process involved that allows a magnetic field to produce electricity through the difference of potential and oscillation. Oscillation is a timed repetitive variation, and in the case of an electromagnetic coil, you can think of it as vibration.

The coil in your Android device is also connected to the battery charging circuit, and your battery is charged using the energy induced by the magnetic field.

Electromagnetic induction is really cool, and the basics are that if you move an electrically conductive material, like a coil or winding, in the presence of a magnetic field you make electrons flow. Things like a gas-powered generator also “create” electricity by using mechanical energy to create EMF (electromotive force). Electromagnetic induction is also used in transformers and current measuring devices.

Wireless charging isn’t very efficient, but it is getting better with each iteration of the standard.

Excess heat is created as well, and that’s part of why wireless charging isn’t the most efficient way to transfer power from the wall to your battery. This is also why it takes longer to charge your phone on a Qi pad than it does to plug it into the wall. While new methods and materials use higher frequencies and thinner coils than past iterations, wireless charging is still less efficient and more costly than standard charging over a wire. It will stay this way for the foreseeable future.

To simplify:

  • Your Android and the charger each have special electrical coils in them.
  • When the two coils get close enough, they use magnetism to create small oscillations (vibrations) in the coil and an EMF is created by the coil inside your phone.
  • This EMF sends a small amount of power through the charging circuit in your phone and charges the battery.
  • It costs more and takes longer to charge than it would if you plugged your phone in, and creates more heat because this is less efficient than connecting wires the traditional way.
  • Faraday’s law of induction is awesome and the Maxwell–Faraday equation is like mathematical chocolate: sweet and decadent. Wireless charging is also pretty awesome when you’re using it, too.

A word about Powermat

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Qi is not the only wireless charging standard. Other standards like Powermat are used to build wireless charging solutions. These use a different standard than Qi but the science behind them all is the same. Powermat has partnered with companies like AT&T and Starbucks to provide base stations in public places, and using a special case or charging block attached to your phone lets you wirelessly charge. They are also partnered with General Motors and are working to bring built-in wireless charging bases in vehicles.

Powermat does some really great things (great if you’re an electrical engineer, anyway) and some would argue that it’s the better standard. In any case, Qi is more prevalent.

While the same basic electrical theory applies to both Powermat and Qi, the different standards mean they are not compatible. Your Qi-enabled phone won’t charge on a Powermat base because the signals sent and received are different. If you have Powermat equipment, you’ll need to be sure you’re buying more Powermat equipment to get everything working.

There are exceptions, like Samsung Galaxy phones, which include both Qi and Powermat standards.

Why do I want wireless charging in my next phone?

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Now that we have a widely accepted standard — we’re talking the Qi standard here — we have to remember that any Qi charger will work with any device that is Qi-certified. That means the charger you buy, whether it’s a $6 Chinese unbranded unit from Amazon or a name-brand like Samsung or Zens, will work with the device you have now and any devices you buy in the future.

You don’t use wireless charging because it’s “better”. You use it because it’s more convenient. A lot more.

Couple this with the convenience factor — and until you’ve bought a couple Qi chargers and put them in the places you’re likely to set your phone you don’t really understand how convenient it is. You might have a Qi charger at your desk, on the table in the living room, one in your car and one on your nightstand. Your Galaxy S8 will almost never have less than a 50% charge. Not because the battery life on the Galaxy S8 is great, or because Qi chargers work “better”, but because whenever it’s not in hand it’s charging.

Of course, there’s the initial cost of buying the charging bases, but they are pretty cheap — about the same cost as a good wall wart and USB cable. As more and more handheld devices and smartphones move towards the Qi standard, more and more devices will be able to take advantage of the chargers.

Wireless charging doesn’t make your phone work any differently, but it can change the way you use it.

Update September 2017: Clarified some of the electrical theory and made sure the latest versions of the Qi standard were represented.

12
Sep

AT&T brings free HBO to its cheaper unlimited plan


AT&T is responding to T-Mobile’s free Netflix with more free HBO.

AT&T is taking seriously the continued existential and financial threat that is T-Mobile. After the instigator carrier announced that starting September 12 it would offer free Netflix to all customers on its T-Mobile ONE plan with two or more lines, AT&T has fired back with a free HBO offer for its cheaper Unlimited Choice plan.

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AT&T began offering free HBO in April to its customers on the more expensive Unlimited Plus package — Choice limits download speeds to 3Mbps and streaming quality to 480p — so this isn’t a new development, but the addition of the popular channel certainly adds value to the less expensive unlimited option. A single line of Unlimited Choice starts at $60 while Unlimited Plus is $90 for the first line.

Which unlimited plan should you buy?

As with the previous offer, Unlimited Choice customers now get a $25 credit towards DirecTV Now, AT&T’s over-the-top TV streaming service, which effectively reduces the cheapest $35 DirectTV Now offering to $10 per month.

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AT&T has had a difficult time winning customers since it moved over to unlimited in February in response to T-Mobile and Verizon. While the company added 2.8 million phone subscribers in the previous quarter, it lost nearly 90,000 high-value postpaid customers — the ones that subscribe to unlimited plans — which dragged down the mostly-positive results. AT&T is in the final stages of buying HBO parent company, Time Warner, which is currently making its way through regulatory approval in the U.S.

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12
Sep

The long-lasting Moto Z Play is down to $250 as a refurb


If you’re in the market for an Android phone and battery life is important to you, you won’t want to miss this deal. Woot is offering unlocked versions of Verizon’s Moto Z Play in refurbished condition for just $249.99, which is an absolute steal. Shipping is a flat $5 fee.

Since it is originally the Verizon variant of the phone, this one will work on Verizon’s network as well as GSM networks like AT&T, T-Mobile, Mint SIM and more. As of right now, both the black and white versions are in stock, though supplies will be limited on each.

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Being a refurbished phone, it may show slight signs of wear and tear, but it will be in working condition. Woot is backing them with a 90-day warranty.

See at Woot

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