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16
Sep

Advertisers are upset with Safari’s new anti-tracking features


One of the lesser talked about announcements from Apple’s WWDC event is that High Sierra’s Safari will have something called “Intelligent Tracking Prevention,” which uses machine learning to identify ad tracking behavior. Specifically, it’ll stop you from being tracked by advertisers as you go from site to site, so that you no longer keep seeing an ad for that thing you looked up on Amazon that one time. As you might expect, however, advertisers are not too happy about this, and a group of them have come forward to condemn the company for its “unilateral and heavy-handed approach” to user privacy.

Six major advertising trade associations released a joint letter stating that the new Safari would “create a set of haphazard rules over the use of first-party cookies (i.e. those set by a domain the user has chosen to visit) that block their functionality or purge them from users’ browsers without notice or choice.” They continue to say that the rules will hurt the user experience and that they’re “bad for consumer choice and bad for the ad-supported online content and services consumers love.”

Apple, however, is firmly convinced that it’s doing the best it can for users. In a statement, the company says: “Apple believes that people have a right to privacy. Safari was the first browser to block third-party cookies by default and Intelligent Tracking Prevention is a more advanced method for protecting user privacy.”

It further states: “Ad tracking technology has become so pervasive that it is possible for ad tracking companies to recreate the majority of a person’s web browsing history. This information is collected without permission and is used for ad re-targeting, which is how ads follow people around the internet. The new Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature detects and eliminates cookies and other data used for this cross-site tracking, which means it helps keep a person’s browsing private. The feature does not block ads or interfere with legitimate tracking on the sites that people actually click on and visit. Cookies for sites that you interact with function as designed, and ads placed by web publishers will appear normally.”

This is how ITP works: First-party cookies, which are the ones set by the domain that you visited, are allowed to stick around for 30 days. If you don’t revisit it after that, those cookies are purged. Third-party cookies, which are ones set by third-party ad networks, are purged immediately if they’re used as tracking cookies. If you interacted with those third-party cookies in a first-party context — aka they’re added when you visited a certain site — they’re allowed for 24 hours. After that, they exist in a partitioned state for 30 days before getting purged.

Advertisers, of course, would prefer that this was a user choice rather than one imposed on you by the browser. And, according to Apple, ITP can be turned off. But if you’re a user who’d rather not have companies track your browsing habits to show you ads, then you probably won’t do that.

This is just one problem that advertisers are dealing with. Google is also fighting back against ads with the introduction of a Chrome ad-blocker in early 2018, which should have Chrome users see fewer pop-ups and auto-playing videos. Yet, the Chrome ad-blocker doesn’t block all ads; just the annoying and distracting ones.

Source: CNBC

16
Sep

A Chinese tech giant tried to buy Spotify


Spotify is known for being fiercely independent, but that go-it-alone attitude might have been put to the test in the past several months. A TechCrunch source understands that Spotify rejected a buyout bid from Tencent, the Chinese internet giant behind WeChat, earlier in 2017. Reportedly, Tencent saw Spotify as an opportunity to expand its streaming music influence beyond China, where it thrives through services like QQ Music and KuGou. The insider doesn’t say whether or not talks got to the point where a price came up.

Neither Spotify nor Tencent is commenting on the apparent leak, to no one’s surprise, so there won’t be any official clarification as to what took place. If talks happened in first place, though, they’re still notable. They show that larger Chinese tech firms can feel confined by their home market — Tencent’s 600 million music customers may easily dwarf Spotify’s 140 million, but that still leaves a lot of potential listeners up for grabs.

Also, it’s significant that Spotify might have given up an opportunity for not only some useful financial support (it lost about $568 million in 2016), but a chance to expand into countries it doesn’t yet serve. There’s no guarantee that a Tencent deal would have guaranteed Spotify access to China (Tencent might have just used its existing services), but it might have opened doors to markets that weren’t even on the radar. While we won’t know Spotify’s reasons for turning down the offer without an official explanation, it’s possible that the company decided that its freedom was worth more than a potential market share grab.

Source: TechCrunch

16
Sep

Samsung Q9 setup and unboxing guide helps get your TV up and running


Samsung’s QLED series of televisions represents the best the company has to offer and some of the best TVs out there, period. Contrary to popular opinion, they are not actually just OLED televisions with a Q thrown in — they are entirely separate technologies, which both Samsung and LG will be happy to tell you.

Semantics aside, QLED displays are top-notch and the Q9F represents the cream of the crop when it comes to Samsung — the world’s top TV manufacturer (when it comes to sales, anyway). Featuring 4K Ultra HD resolution, flat-panel design, and a proprietary lighting system, the 65-inch variant of the Q9 is the perfect centerpiece for any den or living room.

Such fancy gizmos can be tough to figure out, though, which is why we put together a Samsung Q9 setup and unboxing guide to help minimize the amount of time spent reading instructions and maximize the amount of time spent beaming Game of Thrones into your eyeballs. Let’s get to it.

What’s in the box?

Other than the TV itself, the Q9 comes with:

  • An external power adapter.
  • A Samsung OneRemote.
  • A fiber-optic HDMI spool cable.
  • A Samsung One Connect box.
  • A user manual.
  • Two aluminum legs with screws and sheaths.

Note that the package does not include HDMI cables. You will need to buy HDMI cables to connect your TV to other devices. The easiest way to ensure you have HDMI cables at the ready is to buy the AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI cables at the same time as your TV. If you do not buy the AmazonBasics HDMI cable, make sure that the HDMI cables you do buy are rated as “high speed” to accommodate the large amount of data they’ll have to carry for 4K HDR content.

The TV also does not come with wall-mounting equipment. For more information about wall mounting check out our wall-mounting guide video.

Hardware setup

If you want to mount the Q9 on a wall, you need a mount. If you opt for a regular mount, you will use the four VESA-compliant holes on the television’s back panel. The Q9 is optimized for Samsung’s special wall mount, though, which docks in the center of the TV (behind the pop-out panel) and angles the television flat against the wall.

If you are happy setting the TV up regularly, slide the hooks on the two legs into their homes, located along the bottom of the TV. After screwing the legs in tight, you can slide the included sheaths over the vertical part of the legs to hide the screws for a cleaner aesthetic.

You will only find two ports on the television itself, both housed behind a slide-away panel at the bottom of the back panel. The first is, predictably, for the power adapter. The other is an HDMI port, which is where you plug the unique, fiber-optic spool cable into. The TV is designed this way to conserve space, so you can mount it flat against a wall without annoying cables in the way.

The other end of the spool cable connects to the included Samsung One Connect Box, which is like a super hub with basically every input you can imagine. It’s a cool solution for the web of cables we all have behind our TV.

Note: The 65-inch Q9 is a big, heavy TV. Setting it up is a two-person job, minimum. 

Features and design

Once your Q9 is set up on an entertainment center (or a wall), go ahead and take a second to marvel at its beauty. Its bezel is nearly nonexistent, with an anti-reflective display and a futuristic feel.

Like many newer televisions, there are no onboard buttons — everything runs through the remote, so don’t lose it (you can, however, use your phone with the Smart View app). Connect any device to your One Connect Box, and the television will detect it, label its input accordingly, and route it through the remote, which also features voice control.

Samsung’s Tizen smart operating system makes navigation a breeze, displaying a row of apps at the bottom of the screen and even suggesting content based on your activity.




16
Sep

Samsung MU6300 unboxing and setup: Get this stylish 4K TV up and running


We’re consistently impressed with Samsung’s TV lineup, and even the company’s entry-level options, like the MU6300 series, are well worth your consideration. If you’ve been won over by its 4K HDR picture and simple design and decide to make one of these TVs your own, this Samsung MU6300 unboxing and setup guide will help you install your new 4K display quickly and easily, and with some extra tips for the best possible setup.

What’s in the box?

  • The MU6300 itself.
  • Quick setup guide.
  • User manual.
  • Samsung One Remote, with batteries included.
  • Breakout cables for install legacy devices.
  • Power cable.
  • Two separate stand pieces.
  • Set of Phillips-head screws.

Several items are not included in with the TV. You will need to buy HDMI cables to connect your TV to other devices. The easiest way to ensure you have HDMI cables is to buy the AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI cables at the same time as your TV. If you do not buy the AmazonBasics HDMI cable, make sure that the HDMI cables you do buy are rated as “high speed” cables to accommodate the large amount of data they’ll have to handle for 4K HDR content.

The TV also does not come with wall-mounting equipment. For more information about wall mounting check out our wall-mounting guide video.

Hardware setup

There’s a quick setup guide included in the MU6300’s box to aid in setup, but rest assured the process is extremely simple.

First, assemble the stand. Make sure the lip on the top section inserts properly into the recessed notch on the bottom section. One that’s settled in, secure the pieces with screws.

Carefully set the TV screen-side down on a safe, flat surface. Insert the assembled stand into the slot at the bottom of the TV, and secure with screws. You can now stand the TV up.

Next, let’s plug it in. You’ll find the power cable port on the right-hand side, several inches in from the bottom-right corner. Plug in the power there.

On the other side of the TV is an inset bay housing the three HDMI ports (one with ARC for easy soundbar setups), two USB ports, an Ethernet port, and legacy connections. As noted in the above section, you’ll need your own cables to connect your devices.

An import thing to note here is that the MU6300 has some serious wobble if you touch it. It’s enough for us to recommend that you secure the TV with a security strap.

Features and design

The MU6300 is a handsome TV. Though not as flashy as some of Samsung’s other models, the MU6300’s steel gray bezel and stand are clean and simple, and should easily blend in with just about any home theater aesthetically. You can get our full thoughts on the MU6300 in our full review (needs link).

Software setup

Software setup starts with Wi-Fi if you’re not connected via Ethernet already. You’ll need to provide your Wi-Fi network’s login credentials. After you’re connected to the internet, the TV will automatically detect any connected devices – like gaming consoles, streaming devices, or Blu-ray players – and label them properly. You’ll then be able to control your connected devices with the included Samsung One Remote.

Next, let’s optimize your picture settings. For presets, we recommend the Movie setting. Should that be too dim, try enabling the HDR+ setting. You’ll find it located in the Expert Settings. This will give you and HDR-like effect for non-HDR content, while simultaneously giving you a brilliant picture.

Finally, we recommend switching off the motion smoothing. Under the Auto Motion Plus settings, we recommend setting the Judder Reduction to zero, or switch it off entirely. If you notice your picture is too stuttery, bumping the Judder Reduction back up a couple notches should smooth it out, but we don’t recommend going above 3, otherwise you’ll end up with that distracting soap opera effect.




16
Sep

The Wype ‘snack rag’ wants to keep your gadgets from going kaput


Why it matters to you

If you like to snack during a PC or gaming session, the Wype can take care of the mess and protect your devices in the process.

Crumbly cookies, greasy pizza, or a particularly nasty bout of influenza — these can all leave your fingers covered in muck, and as you may have already learned to your cost, gunk-covered hands can soon lead to messed-up tech gadgets.

To keep your equipment protected from all the mess, Utah-based Open-Vision Labs has come up with the Wype, a “personal desktop snack rag” designed to ensure your fingers always stay clean. At least, that’s the theory.

The Wype is a round piece of custom-made carpet consisting of microfibers that take dirt from your fingers with a quick wipe. It also includes an antimicrobial solution to kill any germs that may have been using your hands as a home.

“If you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of time on your computer, your phone, your gaming console,” Open-Vision Labs’ Seth Konopasek explains in his Kickstarter video. “You know that napkins don’t really get your fingers clean, neither do paper towels or wiping it on your pants. And we all know what happens if you have dirty fingers.” Yes, it screws up your gadgets.

The Wype’s cloth is removable and sits on a secure base that you can place beside your keyboard or console so it’s easy to reach. When it gets so gross that you don’t want to touch it anymore, you can either throw it in the laundry or donate it to scientific research — you never know, they might discover some new strains of bacteria living in there.

The team suggests a variety of scenarios besides PC and gaming sessions where the Wype might come in handy. You can use it to protect your TV controller when you’re snacking in front of the box, for example, or when you’re cooking in the kitchen and using a tablet to read the recipe.

Provided the campaign reaches its $15,000 funding goal, the Wype will be ready to cleanse your fingers in December, 2017. Pledge $15 and you’ll score yourself one Wype set comprising a black base and three covers; $30 will get you double that, while a $40 pledge offers better value for money with three black bases and nine covers coming your way.




16
Sep

The Wype ‘snack rag’ wants to keep your gadgets from going kaput


Why it matters to you

If you like to snack during a PC or gaming session, the Wype can take care of the mess and protect your devices in the process.

Crumbly cookies, greasy pizza, or a particularly nasty bout of influenza — these can all leave your fingers covered in muck, and as you may have already learned to your cost, gunk-covered hands can soon lead to messed-up tech gadgets.

To keep your equipment protected from all the mess, Utah-based Open-Vision Labs has come up with the Wype, a “personal desktop snack rag” designed to ensure your fingers always stay clean. At least, that’s the theory.

The Wype is a round piece of custom-made carpet consisting of microfibers that take dirt from your fingers with a quick wipe. It also includes an antimicrobial solution to kill any germs that may have been using your hands as a home.

“If you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of time on your computer, your phone, your gaming console,” Open-Vision Labs’ Seth Konopasek explains in his Kickstarter video. “You know that napkins don’t really get your fingers clean, neither do paper towels or wiping it on your pants. And we all know what happens if you have dirty fingers.” Yes, it screws up your gadgets.

The Wype’s cloth is removable and sits on a secure base that you can place beside your keyboard or console so it’s easy to reach. When it gets so gross that you don’t want to touch it anymore, you can either throw it in the laundry or donate it to scientific research — you never know, they might discover some new strains of bacteria living in there.

The team suggests a variety of scenarios besides PC and gaming sessions where the Wype might come in handy. You can use it to protect your TV controller when you’re snacking in front of the box, for example, or when you’re cooking in the kitchen and using a tablet to read the recipe.

Provided the campaign reaches its $15,000 funding goal, the Wype will be ready to cleanse your fingers in December, 2017. Pledge $15 and you’ll score yourself one Wype set comprising a black base and three covers; $30 will get you double that, while a $40 pledge offers better value for money with three black bases and nine covers coming your way.




16
Sep

Google Drive vs. Dropbox: Original cloud storage titans duke it out


Two of the most popular cloud storage solutions are Google Drive and Dropbox, and with good reason. Their feature sets, pricing, and free trial options make them some of the best cloud backup offerings out there. But how can you choose one over the other? In this guide, we’ll pit Google Drive vs. Dropbox to find out which is the best for you.

Free storage

Both Dropbox and Google Drive offer free storage space for those who would like to try out their respective services before putting down a few dollars a month for something more expansive and permanent. Google Drive comes as standard, with 15GB of free space, which is far more than Dropbox’s initial free storage offering of just 2GB.

Although that does give Google a serious edge in this section, Dropbox offers a number of ways to increase your free storage. Basic (free) accounts can earn an additional 500MB of storage space for each friend or family member referred to the service, up to 16GB. Dropbox also recently introduced the chance to earn a further 500MB for earning the “Mighty Answer” badge for helping out a fellow Dropbox user on the forum.

While the additionally earned free storage space does lead to Dropbox offering more free space than Google Drive, referring hoards of friends isn’t a simple task, especially in today’s world, where most people who want cloud storage already have it. It’s good that Dropbox has that option, but ultimately Google Drive’s free storage is simply better.

Winner: Google Drive

Premium storage

If you want to store anything beyond a few gigabytes, it doesn’t matter which cloud storage solution you opt for: you’re going to have to pay for it. Both Google Drive and Dropbox offer premium subscription services which give you much more remote storage to work with. The question is, which one has the better packages available?

For personal users, Dropbox has a very simple pricing structure for its premium storage offerings, as it has only one main one. The Dropbox “Plus” account offers a terabyte of storage space with most of the same features as the Basic and business accounts. It’ll set you back $100 for the year, or $10 a month. There’s also an option for an extended version history download window for an additional $40 a year.

For teams and business users, Dropbox also offers “Advanced” accounts, which feature additional file recovery time and a few other features. Most notably though, storage space is essentially unlimited, listed as “as much space as needed.” It’s much more expensive, though, costing $20 per user per month when paid annually, or $25 per month on a rolling basis. The minimum number of users is three.

In comparison, Google offers a trio of options beyond its free account. The entry level option is $2 a month for 100GB, followed by its “most popular,” option for $10 a month, which comes with a terabyte of space. For the heavy users, there’s also a 10TB account, though that comes with a rolling monthly charge of $100.

For those who require even more space, it also offers 20TB and 30TB packages, costing $200 and $300 a month respectively.

Ultimately, Google Drive and Dropbox both have their advantages when it comes to pricing. If 100GB of space will suffice, Google Drive’s $2 a month option is the best bet. It also has many more varied options for larger storage capacities. However, Dropbox’s Business package offers unlimited storage space for as low as $75 a month, which is far more and far less, monetarily, than Google Drive’s biggest offering.

Winner: Draw

File Syncing

Although in an ideal world cloud stored files and folders would update instantaneously if updated locally, that’s rarely the case. But which service, Google Drive or Dropbox, syncs their files the quickest and most efficiently?

Dropbox has the ability to sync files across multiple devices and operating systems, including all major desktop and mobile platforms. As Cloudware breaks down in its comparison, its Linux support and “smart-sync” set Dropbox apart from the competition, as it means only changes are synchronized, not the entire file or folder.

In comparison, Google Drive’s syncing supports multiple devices and operating systems, though doesn’t support Linux natively. There are some workarounds to make it so, but it’s not an officially supported platform for file syncing. While it does let you select specific files to sync, it doesn’t support syncing of file changes, often called “block level” synchronization. That means it needs to re-upload or download entire files to sync them.

Winner: Dropbox

File sharing

File sharing is of paramount importance to many cloud storage customers, as it makes it much easier to send large files or folders to groups of people. When you pit Google Drive vs. Dropbox, how do they each fair?

Google Drive lets you share files and folders using the mobile app or in the web-browser interface, with direct links, or the option to email access to your trusted share partner. It also offers the option to give view and edit permissions to those you share with, letting you customize the power they have. The only downside is that without passwords or expiry dates on those links, they do present a potential security problem if you don’t move your shared files or folders in the future.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Dropbox offers just as much flexibility with where you can designate shared folders and files from, but Pro account holders have the ability to set passwords and expiry dates on links, which help protect your data long term. You can also set edit permissions for users.

Dropbox’s share page makes it easy to see which folders and files you’ve’ made accessible to others. Ultimately that, combined with better security protections for user data, make Dropbox the better choice.

Winner: Dropbox

Outside support

Google Drive can quickly save and store Gmail attachments, twin stored images with Google Photos, and makes collaboration easier through Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. The Chrome Web Store has more than 100 compatible third-party apps for Google Drive too, giving the cloud storage solution a lot more potential than some of its competitors.

Dropbox has some service integrations of its own. Personal users can enjoy a partnership with Microsoft that sees Office documents openable and editable from within Dropbox itself, making collaboration easier. Dropbox Business users can also use integrated PDF viewing and sharing with Adobe, and real-time messaging through Slack.

There’s also Dropbox Paper, which is handy for note taking.

As strong as Dropbox’s additional service support is, though, it can’t quite match Google Drive.

Winner: Google Drive

Security and privacy

In a world of post-Snowden revelations and regular hacks of major organizations, making sure your remote data and your privacy is protected is a major consideration for many cloud storage customers.

For its part, Dropbox encrypts your data to a 128-bit AES standard while files are in motion, and then to a 256-bit AES standard when at rest. It also offers two-factor authentication for decrypting files, to prevent unauthorized users from gaining access to them. Paying customers can also remotely wipe sync files should they lose a relevant device. Version rollback even lets you replace updated files for differing periods of time depending on your package, offering some measure of protection against ransomware.

Google Drive offers comparable security features, though uses 256-bit AES encryption with files in transit and 128-bit AES encryption when at rest. It also supports two-factor authentication.

EFF

One area where Dropbox does show a slight advantage over its competitor, is in privacy. While both protect their user’s information in many respects, Dropbox is one of only a few companies awarded a five-star privacy rating by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Google itself was given four stars, though it fell behind Dropbox in that it does not stand up to national security letter (NSL) gag orders, which prevent companies from informing their customers that their data has been requisitioned by authorities.

Dropbox does stand up to that, giving it a slight edge in this category.

Winner: Dropbox

Conclusion

Pitting Google Drive vs. Dropox was always going to be a tight race, as both offer some of the best cloud storage features available today. Both services have expansive free and paid for versions, as well as solid consumer protections and file sharing capabilities. Time and again though, we had to give the win to Dropbox, because it just offers that bit more than Google Drive.

However, your needs are dependent on what you want to use the cloud storage facility for. If you have a few files and folders or are merely giving cloud backup a try, Google Drive would be our first recommendation, as its free offering is vastly superior to Dropbox’s. Google Drive is also excellent for those that want plenty of third-party app support, but for everyone else, Dropbox offers the superior service.

With faster file syncing, better password control for shared links and the ultimate unlimited storage package if you take out a business account, Dropbox is our pick.

Overall Winner: Dropbox




16
Sep

The best iPhone X screen protectors to protect your new Apple iPhone


The iPhone X, Apple’s new top-of-the-line iPhone, has a speedy A11 Bionic processor, dual rear cameras, and a state-of-the-art facial recognition system — Face ID — that’s more secure than Touch ID. It’s by far the most advanced iPhone ever released, it’s also the most expensive: When the iPhone X pre-orders open up in October, it’ll start at $1,000 unlocked.

That’s quite an investment, and no better reason to pick up a durable screen protector for your iPhone X. Apple’s flagship is IP67 rated for water- and dust-resistance, but the company makes no claims the glass back and front will survive drops on concrete, tile, or less forgiving surfaces. Luckily, accessory makers are more than happy to fill the need. Check out our a list of the best iPhone X screen protectors and where to buy them. When you’re finished, don’t forget to check out our guide to the best iPhone X cases.

Olixar Full Glass Screen Protector ($33)

The Olixar Full Glass Screen Protector is a low-profile, anti-scratch, high-tension tempered glass cover that’s shatterproof and extremely scratch-resistant. An oleophobic coating flicks away fingerprint oils, and an edge-to-edge design covers every corner of the iPhone’s curved edges. Unlike some screen protectors on the market, Olixar’s offering is engineered not to interfere with the iPhone’s 3D Touch technology.

The Olixar Full Glass Screen Protector starts at $33.

Case-Mate Screen Protector ($30)

Case-Mate’s Glass Screen Protector is designed from the ground up to protect the iPhone X from impact damage. It boasts a 9H hardness rating and low profile that won’t mess with the touch responsiveness of the iPhone X’s screen or 3D Touch haptics. Case-mate’s anti-fingerprint technology prevents smudges, and a multi-layer design guarantees a high degree of scratch resistance.

The Case-Mate Screen Protector starts at $30.

Tozo Tempered Glass Screen Protector ($9)

Tozo’s super-thin Tempered Glass Screen Protector stretches the entire length of the iPhone X’s front, covering not just the display but the bezels around the screen. That makes it exceptionally good at protecting against falls, bumps, and scratches, and at resisting fingerprints (thanks to an oleophobic coating), and careful cutouts around the front-facing cameras and depth sensors let the iPhone X’s Face ID facial recognition see you bright as day.

The Tozo Tempered Glass Screen Protector starts at $9.

EasyACC Tempered Glass Screen Protector ($12)

The EasyACC Tempered Glass Screen Protector is tempered glass solution that’s not only shatterproof, but thin enough to avoid interfering with the iPhone’s touch responsiveness. Thanks to a proprietary weave design, it shatters “cleanly” when you drop it, meaning you won’t have to worry about cutting your finger on jagged pieces jutting from the iPhone ‘s screen.

The EasyACC Tempered Glass Screen Protector starts at $12 in a two-pack.

Tech21 Impact Shield ($35) and Evo Glass ($45)

Tech21’s new iPhone X screen protector collection has something for everyone.

Take the Impact Shield for example: It has a self-healing polymer surface layer that smooths over new scratches. Tech21’s BulletShield technology deflects forces safely away from the iPhone X’s screen, and its thin crystal layer ensures the phone’s touchscreen remains smooth and responsive. The Impact Shield starts at $35, and it’s available in an anti-glare model that makes the iPhone X’s screen easier to read in direct sunlight.

Tech21’s other new iPhone X screen protector, the Evo Glass, comprises a thick 4mm-thick tempered glass screen layer that shields the phone’s screen against accidental scratches and drops. It’s bendable, durable, and fingerprint-resistant, and thin enough to avoid dulling the iPhone X screen’s colors.

The Evo Glass starts at $45.

InvisibleShield Glass+ ($40) and HD ($20)

InvisibleShield, a brand with a long history in the iPhone accessories business, has a new screen protector designed for the the iPhone X: The Glass+. It features Ion Matrix technology, a blend of ultra-strong impact material and surface fracture-filling finish. With a thorough inspection process that weeds out imperfections, InvisibleShield claims the Glass+ is two times stronger than most of the competition.

Glass+ starts at $40.

InvisibleShield’s cheaper alternative, the InvisibleShield HD, is an all-film adhesive that won’t protect against bumps and falls. But it’s thin, lightweight, and designed with lab-grown “smart molecules” that heal scratches over time.

The HD starts at $20, and it comes with InvisibleShield’s life-of-device policy. If the screen protector ever shows signs of scratches or wear, the company will replace it no questions asked.




16
Sep

Princess Yachts 35M film blows the superyacht marketing paradigm wide open


Why it matters to you

Have you ever fantasized owning your own superyacht? This video gives you a clearer picture of what it could be like.

Superyacht marketing may never be the same following the release of the new Princess Yachts 35M marketing film. The Plymouth, England-based superyacht company recently released a short video that shows real people enjoying their own yacht while anchored in the Spanish island of Mallorca.

Unlike most big boat videos, the Princess 35M video doesn’t include a feature walkthrough with models in swimsuits on every deck. Instead, you see glimpses of an extended family with three generations interacting with each other and their crew and enjoying the yacht. They also eat and drink a lot, but that gives the barefoot crew members a reason to walk around as the cameras follow. Check out the video below to get a tour of the 35M. You will quickly realize this is not your everyday smartphone video shoot.

Nice, huh? This cinema-standard mini-movie entailed an award-winning production crew. Craft Films’ cinematographers used lightweight cameras and lenses, equipment, often attached to handheld gimbals. The film crew followed family and yacht crew members up and down stairs, through multiple passageways and rooms, and even underwater. Extensive cable and pulley systems enabled the cameras to track the yacht exterior. The crew also used a high-end video drone.

All parties involved were aware they were taking yacht marketing to a new level. “When we first embarked on this project, the word ‘ambitious’ felt like an understatement,” Craft Films cinematographer Nick Brown said. “We wanted to follow the interaction of the family and crew moving through every space, and that could only be achieved by rigging up the cameras to move from deck to deck seamlessly.

“From a technical point of view,” Brown continued, “our major challenge was moving smoothly through different rooms on the boat to truly capture the feel of continuous motion. And an added layer of narrative complexity entailed creating the sense of an experience moving through time, to emulate an entire day aboard within just a few minutes.”

Princess Yachts Marketing Director Kiran Haslam gave huge props to the film’s crew and cast. Haslam also noted the significance of this film beyond its depiction of life on a luxury superyacht.

“We are enormously proud of this original film, and it is a testament to the fantastic team involved both in front of and behind the lens. It was one of our most ambitious projects to date, and is a sign of things to come as we now plan our next epic cinematic experience to further propel the Princess brand, and raise the bar on audiovisual production in the marine industry.”

The 35M is a magnificent vessel. The yacht was a World Superyacht Awards 2016 winner and you can check its specs on the Princess Yachts website. The point of the new video, which the film makes so well, is that you don’t have to check specific details for a fully realized sense of what life could be like on your own 35M.




16
Sep

The Essential Phone is a remarkable product released as a beta


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This beta should have stayed in testing a bit longer, but now that it’s out, the Essential Phone is turning into a good phone.

It’s not uncommon for people to accuse Google of treating its users as beta testers, but that notion — release fast and broken, and fix problems later on — is, in fact, an entrenched part of the startup culture as a whole. It just looks unbecoming of a company with a market cap approaching $650 billion USD.

But year after year, Google gets away with it because it releases dozens of pieces of software for various platforms and ecosystems, and usually, over time, improves the reliability and performance of each one. It also gets away with it because Google as a company is an indelible part of our culture’s fabric, and its core products — search, Android, Docs, and increasingly hardware like the Pixel, Home, and Chromecast — are used by millions of people every day. The occasional buggy software release stings, but does not linger.

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The Essential Phone is not finished. It shouldn’t have been released until later this year.

Other companies don’t have the luxury of such inconsistency. Essential, the nascent hardware startup run by former head of Android, Andy Rubin, has been embroiled in this kind of controversy — if you can call it that — over the past couple of weeks. Essential committed the worst sin a new company can make: it released a product before it was ready.

The Essential Phone is a remarkable achievement. It’s dense and compact and beautifully made. Its screen goes right up to the edges, and the camera cutout forms a cyclops that, to me, enhances its visual appeal, mainly because in every other way it is the quintessence of minimalism.

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But the hardware was finished long before the software. And Rubin, after announcing the product in May to enormous support and an uncharacteristic amount of anticipation from an industry cynical of new entrants and their ability to compete, likely felt a disproportionate amount of pressure to put this thing out into the world, to give the people, few as they may be, what they want.

After three big software updates, the phone has gone from almost unusable to almost amazing.

That was Rubin’s biggest folly. The Essential Phone is not finished; it should have been kept under wraps until the late summer, and released in October or November — yes, later than he would have liked — so the team could iron out the enormous number of issues with the software. To the degree that public availability has given Essential’s software engineers additional vectors to find and quash bugs, it has also marred what could have been a flawless release from a company that had 10 years of missteps by other manufacturers to use as guidance.

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I’ve been using the Essential Phone for the better part of two weeks, and after three sizeable software updates peppered throughout the testing period, it has gone from unreliable to unbelievable. After the most recent (and largest) update, I have yet to experience a single hangup within the software itself — an approximation of “pure” (not stock) Android that wastes no time on extraneous features or bloat. There are features from other phones I miss, like the ability to pull down the notification shade with a swipe of my finger over the rear fingerprint sensor, but overall I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with the device.

That wasn’t the case for the first few days with the Essential Phone, and that metronomic leap between frequent slowdowns and seamless performance shouldn’t have taken place at all. Given that these updates are being pushed on a fairly regular basis not just to the press but to buyers (early adopters, natch) of the phone is what gives me pause; this is an egregious overstep of the trust placed demanded from a company selling a $700 computer that one relies on all day, every day.

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But here we are — we’re over the hump. If you’re a Sprint customer or just late to the party and are just picking up the phone today, all of this drama merely passed you by on the way to smartphone bliss. But the disproportionate amount of press coverage for a company this small speaks to the influence Rubin has over the wireless industry in general, and it doesn’t look good for the Father of Android. This, however, will pass.

So that brings us to the Essential Phone of today. For a company of its tiny size, it has done a tremendous job fixing the majority of the phone’s software problems. Using it today is largely like using any other phone running mature software, except it’s doing so in a body covered tightly with titanium and ceramic. The white version I have, which isn’t widely available yet, is eye-catching and tasteful.

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That brings me to the single remaining sore spot of the Essential Phone, and one that Rubin says his team is furiously working to fix: the camera. It’s been stated and restated that the Essential Phone’s camera hardware is top-notch and that the company is trying to figure out how to improve photo quality on the software level. To this, I will say, “sure, that could happen,” but more realistic is that this generation of Essential Phone will be remembered, once the dust settles, as the first-generation phone with the terrible camera.

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It takes three or so of these…

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…to produce one of these (which isn’t even that good).

That’s really unfortunate because the camera is actually quite good in many environments. I’ve taken some stupendous shots, both still and action, in the light of day — photos that would stand up to most other high-end cameras on the market right now. Given those results, I was shocked by how bad the camera performed in poor lighting. It’s abysmal.

I’d wager that Essential will get it from abysmal to just plain bad at some point down the line, but that improvement is also going to have to mirror improvements to the camera app itself, which, as Andrew pointed out in his review, feels like “a programmer’s first camera app.”

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The same is true of the 360 camera accessory, which slickly attaches to the two magnetic power ports on the back of the phone. The accessory works most of the time, but its quality is pretty low, even compared to comparably-sized competitors like Motorola’s 360-degree attachment for the Moto Z. Essential likely deserves credit for the audaciousness of its gamble, but credit doesn’t sell phones.

At the end of the day, Essential built a beautiful phone with a lot of great ideas without the engineering talent to reinforce its vision. It’s clear that many entities, perhaps even Essential itself, underestimated what went into building and optimizing a “pure” version of Android that resembles Google’s own vision for the platform.

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Perhaps Google, with its tendency to release software that, too, always seems to be one step away from stable, shouldn’t have been the model for Essential’s house of cards.

But no phone is perfect, and the Essential Phone is a fundamentally solid and approachable piece of hardware that, while expensive, does a lot of things really well. I actively and enthusiastically recommend it to anyone who doesn’t need to take great photos in every lighting condition, because once you get past that, there’s a hell of a lot to like here.

I’ve been using the phone on TELUS’s network (which is helpful, because it’s a TELUS exclusive) and while there’s no VoLTE yet, it performed beautifully in all network-related affairs, from calls to big downloads.

See at TELUS

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