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28
Sep

FCC Urges Apple to Protect Safety of Americans by Activating FM Radio Chip in iPhones


Amidst renewed pressure from the National Association of Broadcasters, FCC chairman Ajit Pai has now issued a statement urging Apple to activate the FM radio capabilities built into the wireless modem of every iPhone.

Pai said he hopes Apple will “reconsider its position” following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, which have devastated parts of the United States, including Florida and Texas, and Caribbean islands like Barbuda, Dominica, and Puerto Rico.

Powerful storms can leave thousands or millions of people without power or cellular service for weeks or even months, and over-the-air FM radio can provide vital access to weather alerts and other life-saving information.

Pai added that “it is time for Apple to step up to the plate and put the safety of the American people first.”

His full statement:

In recent years, I have repeatedly called on the wireless industry to activate the FM chips that are already installed in almost all smartphones sold in the United States. And I’ve specifically pointed out the public safety benefits of doing so. In fact, in my first public speech after I became Chairman, I observed that ‘[y]ou could make a case for activating chips on public safety groundsalone.’ When wireless networks go down during a natural disaster, smartphones with activated FM chips can allow Americans to get vital access to life-saving information. I applaud those companies that have done the right thing by activating the FM chips in their phones.

Apple is the one major phone manufacturer that has resisted doing so. But I hope the company will reconsider its position, given the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. That’s why I am asking Apple to activate the FM chips that are in its iPhones. It is time for Apple to step up to the plate and put the safety of the American people first. As the Sun Sentinel of South Florida put it, ‘Do the right thing, Mr. Cook. Flip the switch. Lives depend on it.’”

Pai has advocated for the activation of the FM tuner in all smartphones before, but this is the first time he has called out Apple by name.

A study by the National Association of Broadcasters last year found only 44 percent of the top-selling smartphones in the United States had FM radio capabilities enabled. 94 percent of the unactivated devices were iPhones.

Both the Qualcomm and Intel chips that enable Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity in every iPhone have a built-in FM tuner that would allow people to listen to FM radio over the air. Apple has not enabled the functionality, forcing users to use an app to stream FM radio over Wi-Fi or cellular data.

Apple hasn’t revealed why it keeps the FM radio functionality disabled. Some critics suggest it could be to avoid losing Apple Music subscriptions, but the real reason is probably deeper than that.

We’ll update this article if Apple responds.

Tag: FCC
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28
Sep

Apple Releases First Beta of iOS 11.1 for Public Beta Testers


Apple today released the first public beta of iOS 11.1 to its public beta testing group, just a day after seeding the beta to developers and a little over a week after releasing the iOS 11 update to the public.

Beta testers who have signed up for Apple’s beta testing program will receive the iOS 11 beta update over-the-air after installing the proper certificate on an iOS device.

Those who want to join the beta testing program can sign up on Apple’s beta testing website, which gives users access to iOS, macOS, and tvOS betas. iOS betas are not always stable and should not be installed on a primary device.

While Apple has promised that some major features like peer-to-peer Apple Pay payments and iCloud support for Messages are coming in beta updates, those features are not present in the iOS 11.1 beta.

iOS 11.1 seems to feature only small changes like a tweak to add multiple emoji suggestions to the predictive text options on the built-in keyboard. There’s also an updated camera icon under Restrictions, a new animation when tapping the status bar to scroll upwards, and a faster unlock animation.

iOS 11 is a major update to the iOS operating system, introducing significant design changes, a revamped Lock screen experience, a new Control Center, ARKit for developers, new app features, a new App Store, and an entirely reimagined interface for the iPad that includes a Dock, Drag and Drop support, and a new App Switcher for better than ever multitasking.

Related Roundup: iOS 11
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28
Sep

Apple Seeds First Beta of tvOS 11.1 to Public Beta Testers


Apple today seeded the first beta of an upcoming tvOS 11.1 update to its public beta testing group, one day after seeding the tvOS 11.1 update to developers and a little over a week after releasing tvOS 11 to the public.

The tvOS 11.1 public beta can be obtained by going to the Settings app on the Apple TV and navigating to the Software Updates section under “System.” “Get Public Beta Updates” will need to be toggled on, and once it is, the Apple TV will download the beta software.

No new features were discovered in the first developer beta of tvOS 11.1, so the update seems to focus primarily on bug fixes, performance improvements, and security fixes.

The latest version of the tvOS operating system, tvOS 11 brings features like automatic switching between light and dark mode based on local time, Home screen syncing options designed to keep multiple Apple TVs in a single household in sync, and new background modes and notification support.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Buyer’s Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)
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28
Sep

Apple Releases First Beta of macOS High Sierra 10.13.1 to Public Beta Testers


Apple today released the first beta of an upcoming macOS High Sierra 10.13.1 update to developers, one day after seeding the update to developers and a few days after releasing the new High Sierra operating system to the public.

Beta testers who have signed up for Apple’s beta testing program will be able to download the new macOS High Sierra beta through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store.

Those who want to be a part of Apple’s beta testing program can sign up to participate through the beta testing website, which gives users access to iOS, macOS, and tvOS betas.

macOS High Sierra 10.13.1 appears to focus primarily on bug fixes, performance improvements, security enhancements, and other under-the-hood updates. No major outward-facing features were found in the developer beta.

macOS High Sierra is an update that’s designed to improve and refine macOS Sierra. Along with a new, more efficient file system designed for modern storage, the update introduces High Efficiency Video Encoding (HEVC aka H.265).

Many apps have small tweaks and feature updates in High Sierra. Photos features a new persistent side view and editing tools for Curves, Selective Color, and Live Photos, while Safari offers a new autoplay blocking feature for videos and Intelligent Tracking Prevention to protect your privacy.

Full details on all of the new features in macOS High Sierra can be found in our macOS High Sierra roundup.

Related Roundup: macOS High Sierra
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28
Sep

Doogee Mix review – the $200 bezel-less smartphone


2017 has been a year full of new designs. Ever since the Mi Mix burst onto the scene at the end of 2016, manufacturers have been rushing to create a unique experience capable of tempting buyers from their current device and into a new, futuristic phone. Almost all of these devices are flagships. We’ve seen the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8, the LG V30, and even the iPhone X radically shift their design language to fit into the new, bezel-less form factor of the future.

But what if you don’t have a lot to spend?

Doogee is attempting to fill the bezel-less void for the average consumer who doesn’t have as much money to blow on their phone, but who still wants something they can show off to their friends. While its specs aren’t on par with most flagships currently on the market, some of them actually come pretty close. And all for $200.

See also:Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 review

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 review

2 days ago

Design

The Doogee Mix looks strikingly similar to another phone we’ve reviewed, the Xiaomi Mi Mix, and it honestly doesn’t seem like Doogee is attempting to hide it. The front facing camera is placed in the bottom-right corner, just like Xiaomi’s option. Because of this, you actually have to flip the phone upside down to use it in selfie mode. It’s a little awkward at first, but you’ll get used to it once you realize it’s there to make room for the nearly edge-to-edge display.

There is a very small bezel on the top of the device which houses the earpiece and proximity sensor, but it’s barely noticeable. It really feels like the phone’s only bezel is its relatively large chin.

Even though this is a $200 budget device, the company is still offering a very nice chassis. It uses an all-metal unibody design and feels quite nice in your hands. You may need to use a case or carry a cloth with you, though, because this thing is one of the biggest fingerprint magnets I’ve ever seen. I’ve been using the thin black case that Doogee includes in the box, which is a soft rubberized material, and I quite like it.

The milling work on the phone seems oddly messy though. It’s not something one usually notices, but in the case of the Mix, there are scratches around the port. The port itself doesn’t even appear to be centered on the device’s Z-axis.

The headphone jack sits at the top of the device on the leftmost side. It’s milling, too, seems a little dirty. The jack is set a little too far back into the phone and even slopes down a little bit with the curve of its edge. Fortunately, it works just as well as any other 3.5mm headphone jack. And to be honest, we’re just glad Doogee left it in the device instead of removing it.

Near the micro-USB port you’ll find two bottom-firing speakers, and we’re happy to see that they both work, unlike the Pixel which only uses one of the two grills to output sound. They’re not the best speakers in the world and the bass is certainly lacking, but they get the job done.

The right side houses the volume rockers and power button, and they are both quite tactile and clicky. The dual SIM/micro-SD port mirrors the volume rockers on the other side of the device, and it creates a nice sense of consistency through the phone. The dual SIM/storage tray is another feature that many manufacturers are not utilizing, and it adds quite a bit of value to a phone that otherwise seems like a cheaper carbon copy of a major player. SD cards have become extremely affordable, and the ability to store data on an external device is very useful for those with big music libraries and other forms of media.

Below the screen there’s a fingerprint reader/home button. While the phone is on, it works as the back button, as there are no hardware-implemented back or multitasking buttons in the chin. The lack of physical navigation buttons seems like a missed opportunity though. Given the Mix costs $200, this was likely a way for Doogee to save on costs but still make more than one use for the fingerprint reader, which I appreciate.

The reader can be used to wake the phone, but only if you use it within about a minute of turning off the display

Unfortunately, this fingerprint reader is pretty bad. It doesn’t recognize my finger about half of the time, and I find myself using the pin code to access the device more than I would on other phones. The reader can be used to wake the phone, but only if you use it within about a minute of turning off the display. If you pass this threshold, it goes to sleep, and you’ll need to use the power button to wake it up again.

In this way it functions more as a navigation button than an actual fingerprint reader, though it is nice to have the functionality in case you’re using something like Android Pay or want to log into an account using biometrics.

The back is basically a colored mirror with a Doogee logo in the center, with dual cameras and a flash at the top. Again, this is a way for Doogee to try to make a competitive device that has all the trendy features. There is no wide-angle lens on this device, but one of these cameras is 1x while the second is 2x. I actually prefer this, and it’s really nice being able to quickly punch in without losing any quality.

Don’t miss: Galaxy Note 8 vs LG V30 camera features

Display

It seems like we’ve spent the last few years debating whether or not you need a 1440p screen. While most manufacturers still haven’t made the leap to 4K, 2K seems to be the standard on flagships these days. Some manufacturers like OnePlus have fought this idea, claiming that 1080p is perfectly acceptable for most users’ needs.

Well, the Doogee Mix isn’t a 2K panel. It’s not even a 1080p panel. It’s 720p. Am I disappointed?

Surprisingly not.

The screen on the Doogee Mix was made by Samsung, and delivers some nice colors with its AMOLED tech, though it’s a bit washed out. It’s not a screen that can handle visually demanding things like virtual reality, but it gets along well enough for everyday tasks. In a $200 phone, you really have to think about how much you value the difference in resolution. Almost every application you use on this phone is going to look “good enough,” though I did notice some more obvious quality drops in things like Facebook chat heads. Still, a lower resolution screen also means better battery life.

294 ppi isn’t great, but you could do worse. The biggest thing I saw this low pixel density affecting was photo and video quality. Both look a lot more “grainy” than if you were using a higher-end option, and it left me wanting a better screen, especially after using a Pixel XL for the last year or so.

For the average consumer that cares more about their product working vs little caveats like screen resolution, it’s really not half bad.

Yes, it looks strikingly similar to the Mi Mix

Speaking of the display, it’s really the key hardware feature that makes this phone stand out. Yes, it looks strikingly similar to the Mi Mix. Judging by the name, it’s clear Doogee isn’t trying to hide it, but I don’t think they really care either.

The Mi Mix retails at over $500 for the baseline model, and more budget-conscious users are going to turn their head if they can get a very similarly-styled device for way less than half the price. Yes, it is 720p, but the Mi Mix is only 1080p. If you care about your display, you’ll probably be willing to spend a bit more on a different phone.

Performance

Even with a Helio processor, this thing can really kick. When comparing it to the Pixel XL on the PCMark benchmark, the Doogee Mix performed admirably, with a score of 4713 compared to the 5425 the Pixel XL received. While a score differential of 700 may seem pretty big, I was honestly expecting worse.


In terms of real-world usability, I found most apps run just fine. I played a few games like Super Mario Run, and didn’t notice any hiccups throughout my time with the Mix. The main thing I noticed that really bugged me was the lag that happens when you hit the home button. Often when you return to your home page the phone will show a message that reads “loading launcher”, which will then take a couple seconds to actually populate the screen.

I don’t know if this is due to their launcher being bloated, but that’s what I’d guess. The news tab that you swipe onto is constantly updating to keep up to date, and that likely causes some lag when you jump out of your apps.

 related_articleRead more15 best Android launcher apps of 2017

I think Doogee is hyper-aware of their bad RAM management as well, since when you use the multitasking button the phone will tell you how much usable RAM you’ll get back if you kill all your tasks. This is pretty nice, but I would prefer they just worked to optimize app management in the back-end instead.

For your everyday tasks, this phone runs perfectly fine, and the Helio P25 Octa-Core processor does a pretty good job of running individual tasks. Just don’t get your hopes up.

Hardware

Accessories

In the box you’ll find the regular charging brick and cable, product booklet, and limited warranty card. Additionally, Doogee has included a soft touch case for the phone, screen protector, and even a ring holder that sticks to the back of your device. These are extremely popular in markets like China, and it’s cool to see a company throwing one in for free. The packaging that the ring comes with is more than a little odd, but we’ll take what we can get. It is free, after all.

FM Radio

FM Radio! This phone has an FM radio! I might be biased, but I’ve severely missed the days of using some wired headphones in my HTC Thunderbolt to listen to one of the oldest media sources on the planet. Sure, Spotify is going to give you better quality, but especially on a phone like this that doesn’t support many bands in a lot of countries, it’s nice to be able to tap into some good old fashioned local music.

On-Screen Buttons

This phone gives you the option of using on-screen buttons or pulling them away. Since there is no way to enable the multitasking mode without it, you’ll have to enable on-screen buttons to use this function. Again, I think there was a missed opportunity in not adding capacative hardware buttons, but it was probably due to cost management.

Network bands

If you live in the United States, you probably don’t want to purchase this phone. This device works with one band on T-Mobile, and that’s it. No AT&T, no Verizon, no Sprint. And since it’s just one band (3G at that), your service is going to be both unreliable and extremely spotty.

If you’re in somewhere like the UK, it may be worth a look. This device uses multiple 4G bands on FDD-LTE, so you’ll get good speeds if you live somewhere that works with these.

Battery life

Doogee seems really focused on battery life, and it shows. The 720p AMOLED panel is already great for getting more juice out of this device, and combining that with its 3,380 mAh battery gets you a lot more useable time than many other devices on the market. I used Wi-Fi a lot of the time because there is only one network band in this thing that works in the US, so that would’ve helped as well. Your mileage will undoubtedly vary.

There are subtle things about the battery in this phone that make me happy as well. The UI is very well optimized to help you get the longest amount of life possible, and features like battery percentage are on by default. The device will also automatically go into battery saver mode when it hits 15%, and there are three different power-saving menus in the options to satisfy your specific obsession for power management.

Using the phone at half brightness got me a couple of days of power, even with the terrible service I had on T-Mobile. I am a bit frustrated that I wasn’t able to get the screen-on time values, but the phone said I hadn’t charged it in over two days, which is pretty great.

Software

Doogee uses a custom launcher called DoogeeOS, which is really not all that different from stock Android. It’s based on Android 7.0 Nougat, and actually runs pretty well considering this is using a lower-end Helio P25 processor.

On the home screen there’s a cat/robot constantly hanging down from a string, which is clearly trying to play to a different audience than the US. The cat/robot design choice is a bit annoying, but it takes you to what is essentially a theme store. You may hate this feature, but I actually found it kind of nice. There are a wide variety of themes available, and they will change your wallpaper and icons to match a specific look.

A weird thing about these themes is that they download as apps initially, and then get applied to your phone. It seems like Doogee is using this as a way to get around the Google Play Store.

See also:Android 8 review: Oreo is for everyonerelated image

Android 8 review: Oreo is for everyone

August 25, 2017

If you swipe to the left of the home screen you’ll find a news section with five different categories: Local, World, Business, Entertainment, and Sports. This feels a lot like Flipboard, but it’s got a number of pretty invasive ads in it, so Doogee is obviously just trying to make an extra buck through their operating system. Nevertheless, it’s still nice to have a news curation platform built into your phone right out of the box.

Besides this caveat, the operating system has everything you would expect out of Android Nougat. There are a few other extra features like a modified screenshot manager, which allows you to select which portion of the screenshot you actually want. You can also paint on top of it and even do a freehand crop, so you won’t have to go through a separate app to show people what they need to see.

Camera

If you want to be a trendy smartphone manufacturer these days, you have to include dual cameras. While some companies like LG have gone and added additional functionality like wide-angle to their secondary shooter, Doogee has stuck with a 1x and 2x lens. I appreciate this and actually prefer it, since the UI gives you the option to immediately jump to the 2x camera to get your shot.

The main camera is 16 MP and the secondary one is 8 MP, but you won’t see a whole lot of difference between the two. Overall I’m just really glad to have the ability to do a 2x zoom on the fly, and you’ll find a similar feature in a few other phones.

Since there are two cameras, you’ll be able to emulate depth of field like you can on the OnePlus 5 and other dual-shooter options. The way Doogee does it is pretty terrible though, as you have to hold the phone absolutely still to get anything close to a good image. If you’re one of those people who likes to stabilize your phone camera this might work a little bit better, but I personally would recommend a dedicated alternative camera if this is the phone you’re going to be rocking.


If you swipe out from the left you’ll find a number of different live filters for the camera, which are cool but don’t seem all that useful. You’ve also got a “face beauty”, “blur”, and “mono” mode, so you can have a bit of fun, even if you aren’t getting the best images out of the cameras.

Still, the pictures produced aren’t half bad. You get a decent amount of quality out of those 16 and 8 MP shooters and they look a lot better off-device than on it. So if you’re taking photos and aren’t particularly happy with how your images are coming out, don’t worry too much, because they’ll probably look a lot better on your computer.

You get a decent amount of quality out of those 16 and 8 MP shooters..

There is a 5 MP selfie camera in the bottom right of the phone, which forces you to turn the device upside down to get a natural view. This camera is pretty bad, and produces extremely soft images. I wasn’t expecting much, but I was hoping these photos would be just a little bit sharper.

One of the coolest things about this camera software is the “Pro” mode. This allows you to adjust individual elements like exposure, aperture, ISO, and white balance. It’s almost funny that this is included though. The cameras aren’t terrible, but who are you trying to impress if you’re using pro mode on a budget phone? The auto worked fine for most of the shots, and if I was that worried about getting a good image, I’d be shooting in RAW with something else. It’s still fun to use though, so take this as you will.

Check out this photo gallery to see how well the three cameras did in different situations.

Specifications

Display 5.5-inch HD
1280 x 720 resolution
294 ppi
Samsung Super AMOLED
Processor Octa-core (max 2.5GHz) Helio P25, 16 nm process
RAM 4/6 GB
LPDDR4X
Storage 64 GB/128 GB
MicroSD Yes
Cameras Rear: 16 MP sensor, f/2.0 Samsung ISOCELL, 8MP additional

Front: 5MP F/2.2

Battery 3,380 mAh
Wireless charging No
Water resistance No
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
NFC
Micro USB
3.5mm Headphone jack
Location (GPS, AGPS, Glonass, BeiDou)

Network bands
2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
3G: WCDMA 900/2100MHz
4G: FDD-LTE Band 1/3/7/8/20(B1:2100, B3:1800, B7:2600, B8:900, B20:800MHz)

SIM Dual nano SIM
Software DoogeeOS based on Android 7.0 Nougat
Dimensions and weight 144 x 76.2 x 7.95 mm
193 g
Design All metal unibody

Gallery

Final thoughts

I think the biggest thing you have to keep in mind when you look at this phone is the price. Yes, it uses an old charging standard, the milling isn’t perfect, and the UI is a little bloated. But for $200, this is a very solid device.

You’re getting great battery, a flashy design, dual cameras, and some nice extras in the box, and outside of some newer specs and caveats, I can’t see anyone with their expectations in check being truly unhappy with this thing.

Doogee has removed a few newer features to make room for a lower price and great battery life, and it’s hard to fault them for that. If you want to pick a phone up as a backup, this is a great option, otherwise, you’ll probably still enjoy this as a daily driver, even if it doesn’t have all those shiny bells and whistles.

28
Sep

Skip ahead of the Fall Creators Update with Windows Insider preview build 17004


Why it matters to you

Skip Ahead Windows Insiders will be some of the first to benefit from Microsoft’s expanded Fluent Design practices.

For those who are part of Microsoft’s Windows Insider “Skip Ahead” program, you can look forward to brand-new “Fluent Design” tweaks to Windows 10 with the latest preview, build 17004. Formerly called Project Neon, the Windows 10 visual overhaul will continue beyond the Fall Creators Update and Skip Ahead Insiders can expect to be at the forefront of that with the new build.

Microsoft’s Windows Insider program has expanded a lot over the past couple of years. Now, along with its fast and slow ring insiders, it also has the Skip Ahead branch, which lets those more interested in new features play around with post Fall Creators Update improvements. For the rest, there are stability improvements and bug fixes.

Build 17004’s biggest change is the further introduction of Fluent Design features. Users will notice the biggest change in the Start Menu, which now makes use of the Fluent Design “Reveal” highlight feature. That means that by hovering over items in the Start Menu, users will be able to reveal their hidden borders, making it easier to understand the space that you’re interacting with.

Other changes coming as part of this new Skip Ahead build are improvements to Microsoft Edge. It fixes a problem with typing web addresses into new tabs, an issue that displayed black and white bars on the edges of PDF previews, and a bug that would cause tab recovery to not bring back all previously closed tabs.

Improvements to Windows 10 inputs include fixes for an issue with the enter key sometimes not working in Facebook Messenger, a problem causing the delete key on touch keyboards to randomly add periods in Universal Windows Platform apps, and a strange stutter bug that would sometimes appear in text boxes.

Although this release branch is different from the ones that are leading up to the Fall Creators Update release, that’s not to say it doesn’t benefit from changes in its partner branches. The Skip Ahead build 17004 includes a number of fixes and improvements from those branches, too, and it adds a new color wheel to help users understand the benefits of different color filters.

Looking to the future, Microsoft promises greater integration with LinkedIn after its purchase of the résumé publication and job search network last year. That began this week with LinkedIn giving away tutorial classes on how to use various Microsoft Office tools.




28
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. 

Dangle Time

DangleTime is your private stickhandling coach on your phone. Anytime you want to work on your stickhandling, just pull out your phone and get training.

Available on:

iOS

Holidays 2017

Insert the holidays of the countries listed below into your iPhone calendar with one tap. The holidays will be added as all-day events, you don’t need any subscriptions.

Available on:

iOS

Ruler

Through MovieSpirit, you can combine all media elements such as video, photo, music, text, and voice with your creative ideas. What’s more, you can add various effects to them, including scene-switching effects, text animation, and more.

Available on:

iOS

Universal Doctor Speaker

Universal Doctor Speaker is a multilingual app providing key medical phrases translated across 17 languages, with audios to facilitate communication between patients and healthcare professionals who don’t share a common language.

Available on:

iOS

SOS QR

The SOS QR app will help you be prepared and stay safe during an emergency, with unique features available at home or when traveling around the world.

Available on:

iOS

Edge Music

View the top artists from major music labels side by side with emerging indie artists, all in one place. Edge Music is your source for an unrestricted music video experience.

Available on:

iOS




28
Sep

JBL SoundBoost 2 speakers feature surround sound-quality audio


Why it matters to you

Dirac Audio’s Panorama Sound technology make the JBL SoundBoost 2 speakers sound like a multi-channel system — a boon for movies and music.

Let’s face it: Portable speakers aren’t don’t usually make great substitutes for home stereos. That goes double for ultra-compact peripherals like the Anker SoundCore and UE Megaboom, which fall short of the range and depth full-sized systems can deliver. But thanks to a collaboration among Swedish engineering firm Dirac, Motorola, and JBL parent company Harman, JBL’s new SoundBoost 2 come close.

The JBL SoundBoost 2, a modular accessory that fits to the Lenovo Moto Z2 and Moto Z’s Moto Mods mount, looks like an ordinary, off-the-shelf Bluetooth speakers from a distance. But the magic lies in the JBL MySoundboost2 app, which taps Dirac’s patented Panorama Sound technology. When audio plays from the phone to the speaker, it is filtered through a cross-talk cancellation algorithm that isolates the left and right stereo channels and optimizes their frequencies. When the two channels reach your ears, they are separated — the right channel hasn’t been affected or compromised by the left channel, and the left channel hasn’t been muddied by the right.

The net effect is stereo feedback that mimics a muli-channel, surround-sound home theater setup.

“Through this collaboration, we are changing what the world thinks is possible from their mobile devices,” Erik Rudolphi, Dirac’s general manager of mobile, said in a statement. “This isn’t just more volume or a fake surround sound gimmick. […] Your brain hears far more than it expects or is used to hearing from a such a small device.”

As good as Dirac’s algorithmic filter sounds, though, it won’t work miracles. The laws of physics dictate that all else being equal, larger speakers produce crisper, clearer low frequencies than scaled-down counterparts like the JBL SoundBoost 2. And until we have a chance to put the Soundboost 2 through its paces, the jury is out on its raw performance.

But we were impressed by Dirac Audio’s Panorama Sound when we listened to it on a modified Nexus 6P smartphone at Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. It sounded just like wearing a pair of headphones, but without the headphones — during a scene from space disaster movie Gravity, dialogue from the speakers sounded as though it was coming from earbuds.

“As the smartphone increasingly becomes a primary device for entertainment consumption — both while on-the-go and at home — consumers are demanding audio that’s equally as hi-res as its visual counterpart,” Rudolphi said. “By teaming up with these two market-leading pioneers to develop the Soundboost 2, we’re providing Motorola Moto Z smartphone users across the globe with a complete entertainment experience that’s both portable and immersive.”




28
Sep

These are the best touchscreen gloves to keep you warm while you tap away


Whether you’re forced to weather the harsh winter elements at home or work in an icebox of an office building, you’ve probably been faced with these dilemmas: Comfy gloves that don’t work on your phone’s touchscreen, or frozen fingers as you tweet in the cold. Thanks to the advent of touch-friendly fabrics, you won’t have to suffer anymore. Here’s our guide to the best touchscreen gloves for smartphones.

Different types of touchscreen gloves, and how they work

The reason you can’t use a smartphone with an ordinary pair of gloves has to do with the way touchscreens work. Capacitive screens — the type in popular phones like the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S8 — are blanketed with electrodes. When a conductive material like human skin comes into contact with them, it completes the circuit; an alternating current in the smartphone’s touchscreen induces a current in the conductor, bridging the gap between the touchscreen’s electrodes. Those circuits register as taps, touches, and swipes on your screen.

Skin isn’t the only great electrical conductor, of course, and touchscreen-friendly gloves take advantage of that fact. The gloves are made in part or in whole from fabric that emulates skin’s conducive properties, similar to capacitive styluses like the Apple Pencil and Microsoft’s Surface Pen.

But touchscreen gloves aren’t all cut from the same cloth. Here are the different types of touchscreen gloves, and the best touchscreen gloves in each category.

Fingertip gloves

Fingertip gloves don’t mimic the whole of your hand’s conductivity. Rather, a few individual fingertips are woven with a special yarn or tip that completes the touchscreen’s circuits.

The advantage is price. Because fingertip gloves don’t need to be woven with a pricey conductive material, they can be made of cheaper variety of fabrics, from acrylic and wool to faux leather.

Nacodex Iglove touchscreen gloves ($6)

The Nacodex Iglove gloves may not turn heads and raise eyebrows, but it boasts a classic design that pairs well any outerwear. The knitted, solid-pattern gloves have conductive material embedded in the index finger and thumb, and a stretch cuff that fits snugly around your wrist. At $6 for two pairs of gloves, the Iglove is one of the cheapest knitted options on the market.

Nacodex’s Igloves come in black, gray, green, pink, red, and sky-blue, and one stretchable size.

Winter Hot WaitingU touchscreen gloves ($20)

The Winter Hot WaitingU are knitted gloves for the fashion-conscious. The lined wool and acrylic gloves come in patterns like khaki, rose red, and coffee, and feature three conductive points of contact — one on the thumb, the index finger, and middle finger. The Winter Hot is a little thicker than most fingertip gloves, which makes it a little less stretchy. But it’s also designed to withstand colder weather.

WaitingU’s Winter Hot touchscreen gloves come in light gray, rosered, khaki, navy, green, black, red, rose red, purple, orange, coffee, deep blue, light blue, and yellow, and one stretchable size. A pair costs from $20.

Fosman Touchscreen Gloves ($8)

Fosmon’s touch-sensitive gloves checks every box at a price that doesn’t break the bank. The stretchy, unisex design provides firm grip that won’t damage your phone’s screen, and features three capacitive touch points — one on the thumb, index finger, and middle finger.

Fosman’s touchscreen gloves come in black, blue & white, green & orange, light pink & hot pink, rainbow, and red & white, and one stretchable size. A pair costs $6.

Full-glove knitted touchscreen gloves

Full-glove knitted touchscreen gloves are fully conductive. By incorporating materials like silver or copper into the weave, they take on the conductive properties of your hand’s skin. That means you can use a knuckle, pinkies, or your palm to control your phone’s screen instead of just a finger.

The added flexibility comes at the cost of choice. Full-glove knitted touchscreen gloves are available in fewer styles than fingertip touch gloves, and tend to be more expensive. But if you’re looking for touchscreen gloves that won’t get in the way of your texting, a full-glove knit is the type for you. Here’s a list of the best full-glove knitted touchscreen gloves.

Mujjo Double Layered Touchscreen Gloves ($15)

Mujjo’s distinctive wool touchscreen gloves feature a leather securing strap that snaps shut with a magnetic button, a double soft-touch insulating lining, and black leather cuff dots that match the gloves’ black-and-silver pattern. Anti-slip silicon grooves in the palm prevent accidental slippage, and stretchable, silver-coated nylon fibers make the entire glove (including the knuckles and palm) touch-sensitive.

Mujjo’s double-layered touchscreen gloves comes in one color, black and gray, and in small, medium, and large sizes. A pair costs from $34.

GliderGlove Touchscreen Gloves ($14)

GliderGlove’s mix of acrylic, nylon, and copper warm your hands and work on touchscreens. A thick, double-lined brushed interior provides ample insulation, and an extended cuff area provides grip and padding around the palm area. It’s slim-fitting and lightweight, and available in two styles: Urban and winter.

GliderGlove’s touchscreen gloves comes in small, medium, and large sizes. A pair costs from $14.

Moshi Digits Dual-layered Touchscreen Gloves ($30)

Moshi’s Digits gloves are woven with a conductive fiber that makes each fingertip responsive to touchscreens. It’s got a thick, hand-washable microfleece lining that provides enhanced comfort, palms studded with grippy material, and a dual-layer knit design is specially engineered to shield against cold wind.

Moshi’s Digits come in in two colors, dark gray and light gray, and small, medium, large, and extra large sizes. A pair costs from $30.

Full-glove leather touchscreen gloves

If you aren’t afraid to shell out a few extra bucks on touchscreen gloves, consider a pair of full leather models. They’re made of genuine or faux leather that’s been treated with a conductive solution, making the glove’s surface responsive to touchscreens.

Leather touchscreen gloves require a bit more work than knitted gloves, though. They’ll wear if you don’t care for them properly, and the conductive coating can rub off over time. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better balance of fashion and utility. Here’s a list of the best full-glove leather touchscreen gloves.

Kent Wang ($95)

If you’re dead set on a premium leather, consider Kent Wang’s Deerskin touchscreen gloves for men. The design, a wrinkle-resistant combination of calf leather and deerskin, is about as classic as they come. The inside is lined with soft cashmere that’s thick but dextrous, and five fingers are coated with touchscreen-responsive nanotechnology that’s resistant to wear and tear.

Kent Wang’s Deerskin touchscreen gloves are available in black, and are available in small, medium, large, and extra large sizes. It’s pricey at $95.

Harrms Touchscreen Italian Nappa Leather Gloves ($30)

It’s tough to find quality leather touchscreen gloves on a budget, but Harrms fits the bill. The Italian Nappa touchscreen gloves for men are professionally stitched with genuine, water-resistant leather, and pack a cashmere inner lining that insulates against chilly winds. Harrms claims its touchscreen technology offers more precision than most gloves, and that it’s longer-lasting too.

Harrms Italian Nappa touchscreen gloves come in black and brown colors, and small, medium, large, extra large, and 2x extra large sizes. A pair costs $30.

Elma Touchscreen Texting Gloves ($10)

Touchscreen leather gloves sometimes struggle to achieve the flexibility of their knitted counterparts, but Elma’s touchscreen texting gloves solve that problem by combining nappa leather with a stretchy material. They feature a grippy outside that prevents your smartphone and tablet slippage, and a tight-fitting, fleece or cashmere lining that keeps your fingers warm and toasty.

Elma’s touchscreen leather gloves for men come in black and brown, and in small, medium, large, extra large, and 2x large sizes. A pair costs $35.




28
Sep

Bio-inspired robot can snap itself upright when it’s upside down


Why it matters to you

The spring-like mechanism offers a unique solution for keeping robots on the right foot.

Robots can be clumsy. They bump into and trip over things. And while companies like Boston Dynamics have developed some sophisticated machines, even those have been known to stumble off stage.

Now, researchers at the University of Illinois have turned to nature to design a bio-inspired robot that can turn itself upright if it ends up on its backside. To right themselves, the robots don’t use their legs but instead snap themselves upright using a spring-loaded mechanism similar to that found in the click beetle.

“Robots inspired by animals are not really new but they usually focus on improved stability and balance,” Aimy Wissa, lead investigator of the project, told Digital Trends. “But falling is inevitable. Rather than creating legs that can locomote, balance, and get help with self-righting we think that looking at nature to find ways of self-righting that do not involve legs would make the robot’s design simpler and more robust. Examples among insects that jump without using legs are springtails, trap-jaw ants, and click beetles. The details of how a beetle is able to jump are still unclear, and that has been our main focus until now.”

Click beetles have hinge-like mechanisms in their bodies which click, vault them into the air, and flip them upright. The researchers’ creation of a robotic form of this behavior is a product of collaboration between two, seemingly unrelated fields: etymology and mechanical engineering.

The spring-like mechanism offers a unique solution to the task of getting robots up off the floor, and may be integrated into future robot designs to help them integrate more effectively into our everyday world.

“In the future robots will be deployed in various environments,” Wissa said. “For instance, they will be used to autonomously monitor our greenhouses, survey dangerous areas, and explore other planets. These uneven and sometime not well-known terrains make robots susceptible to falling and humans may not want to or be able to assist them.”

Wissa and her team presented their study at Stanford University during Living Machines 2017: The 6th International Conference on Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems. The team later won second place in the BIOMinnovate Challenge, a research expo showcasing biologically inspired designs.




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