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14
Dec

Here’s how A.I. is helping Gfycat get rid of those crummy pixelated GIFs


GIFs may be growing in popularity, but many of them are grainy, low-resolution files that make the moving memes less than stellar — but GIF platform Gfycat is working to change that using A.I. The company recently shared a new program that uses tools like facial recognition to churn out higher quality GIFs from its platform.

The tech is being used to bolster Gfycat’s library in three ways. First, the software identifies individual frames and then searches online for another, higher resolution copy of the same file. Since GIFs are often created from popular movies, TV shows, and the like, the software can often find another version that has a higher resolution than the GIF. After determining which video the GIF came from, the A.I. then has to find the exact frames included in the GIF and swap them out to provide the highest quality version.

The second step is to recognize who’s in the GIF in order to make those higher-quality GIFs easier to find. The platform uses facial recognition and a database of celebrity images to automatically tag the GIFs, making those files pop up in search results and categories even when the user who uploaded the original file didn’t add those tags. Gfycat says its facial recognition system is a bit different because it uses a larger training set which aids accuracy for look-alike celebrities. The company hopes the system will also help recognize new celebrities before they reach rock star status.

The third component of the A.I. system helps correct text that has been affected by the low resolution of the file. Rather than facial recognition, this branch of the tech uses optical character recognition to help make out the text, then replaces the grainy version with new text to match the resolution of that replaced video segment.

Gfycat isn’t as popular as platforms like Giphy in terms of user count, but it has a number of attractive options, including a mobile app for making looping GIFs. The platform launched specifically to create better GIFs and says a Gfycat can be produced around 10 times faster than a traditional GIF, along with support for interaction, more colors, and more file formats. The new A.I. program pushes the firm’s goal further by working to create higher resolution GIFs.

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14
Dec

Apple embraces VR video with 360-degree and 8K support for Final Cut Pro X


Apple has firmly embraced 360-degree video with its latest update for Final Cut Pro X that lets users edit video especially for virtual reality. The update also introduces a number of additional features for modern video editing, including support for High Dynamic Range (HDR), 8K resolutions, and advanced color grading.

As much as we love fully immersive virtual reality games and experiences, it’s likely that 360-degree video will be the first point of contact many people have with VR. As a standard, VR video may also be the future of immersive media, in much the way that color imagery supplanted black and white. Apple is keeping itself at the forefront of modern content creation with its latest update for its premier video editing suite.

The 360-degree video editing takes place within the standard 2D timeline of Final Cut Pro X, but has a number of options and tools to help manage the newly immersive video. They include new 2D and 3D effects that are compatible with virtual reality, and visual controls to straighten horizons and remove camera rings. Better yet, users can check out what they’re editing in real time utilizing an HTC Vive headset.

To help push the video content out beyond the editing platform itself, Apple’s latest update for Final Cut Pro X also adds new social networking and sharing functions that let users immediately upload their creations to Facebook, YouTube, and Vimeo.

Along with support for VR video editing and creation in Final Cut Pro X, Apple is also extending its support to its companion apps Motion and Compressor. They join new HDR and 8K video support, along with new color grading tools. This, Apple hopes, will give Final Cut Pro X the edge when it comes to competitor editing suites.

“When combined with the performance of Mac hardware, including the all-new iMac Pro, Final Cut Pro provides an incredibly powerful post-production studio to millions of video editors around the world,” Apple’s VP of app product marketing, Susan Prescott, said in a statement.

Additional changes in the latest update include new import tools for iMovie projects created on iPhones and iPads; HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) and HEIF (High Efficiency Image File) support for importing from Apple devices; updated audio effects plug-ins from Logic Pro X, and a new optical flow analysis utilizing Apple’s Metal graphics technology that was introduced in the recent MacOS High Sierra build.

Editors’ Recommendations

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  • Want Hollywood results on a budget? Here’s the best free video editing software
  • Go steady in 360 degrees with PowerDirector’s new image stabilization algorithm
  • Garmin Virb 360 gains new creative editing controls and 5.7K mode
  • Got an iPhone X? Apple’s Clips app now has a feature exclusively for you




14
Dec

Refreshed LG Gram laptops head to North America in January for CES 2018


LG Electronics said on Wednesday, December 13, that it plans to inject its super thin and light LG Gram laptops with eighth-generation Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors in 2018. The new units will make their initial appearance during the CES 2018 technology show in early January, packing 72WHr batteries promising up to 22.5 hours on a single charge. That is the same battery ballpark Microsoft and Qualcomm boast about the upcoming Always Connected PCs using ARM-based Snapdragon 835 processors.

Unfortunately, LG Electronics wasn’t exactly brimming with details in its pre-CES announcement. There will be three sizes throughout the refresh delivering 40 percent better work efficiency than the previous generation, and boot times under 10 seconds. That timing partly stems from the use of a solid-state drive (SSD), which will be accompanied by a second SSD drive slot in the updated laptops.

As for the eighth-generation processors, LG didn’t provide any specifics, but here is what they may include:

Core i7-8650U
Core i7-8550U
Core i5-8350U
Core i5-8250U
Cores / Threads:
4 / 8
4 / 8
4 / 8
4 / 8
Base speed:
1.90GHz
1.80GHz
1.70GHz
1.60GHz
Max speed:
4.20GHz
4.00GHz
3.60GHz
3.40GHz
Graphics:
UHD Graphics 620
UHD Graphics 620
UHD Graphics 620
UHD Graphics 620
Graphics base speed:
300MHz
300MHz
300MHz
300MHz
Graphics max speed:
1,150MHz
1,150MHz
1,100MHz
1,100MHz
Power use:
15 watts
15 watts
15 watts
15 watts

According to the company, the LG Gram laptops will have a 20 percent increased durability over the standard laptop due to their Nano Carbon Magnesium full-metal alloy body. They passed seven U.S. military MIL-STD 810G durability tests, meaning they should withstand “extreme environments” and the torturous actions of kids. Despite the chassis, they will still remain thin and light for easy mobility.

Here are the weights and maximum battery times we pulled from the announcement:

Screen Size
Weight
Battery Life
13Z980
13.3 inches
2.13 pounds
22.5 hours
14Z980
14 inches
2.19 pounds
21.5 hours
15Z950
15.6 inches
2.41 pounds
19 hours

“We’re very proud to introduce the new Gram PCs, which have been designed in direct response to those wishing to get an all-around, high-performance laptop with maximum portability,” Chang Ik-hwan, head of LG’s IT business division, said in a statement. “The 2018 gram series can tick all the boxes for users who want versatile and lightweight laptops with faster processing capabilities.”

Other tidbits coughed up by LG include what it calls IPS In-cell touch technology, which means the display will not only have wide viewing angles and rich colors but touch input support as well. The takeaway from this detail is that touchscreens can be thicker than standard screens due to the touch-capable layer, but that is not the case with the panel used in LG’s Gram-branded laptops.

A few other hints about the upcoming LG Gram refresh include backlit keyboards, DTS Headphone X support providing multi-channel sound up to 11.1 channels, 1.5-watt speakers, fingerprint scanners, and Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. That connection can provide data transfers of up to 40Gbps, depending on how it’s hard-wired.

The new LG Gram laptops will be made available to purchase within North America in January either during the CES 2018 show in Las Vegas or shortly thereafter. Other markets will see the LG Gram refresh shortly after the North American rollout.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • HP revamps Spectre line with 8th-gen CPUs, new designs, and more
  • Benchmark spills the Intel Coffee Lake beans, including a Core i9 laptop CPU
  • AMD crams desktop performance into ultra-thin laptops with its new Ryzen APUs
  • Asus ZenBook 3 Deluxe (Late 2017) review
  • Yes — Core i7 is faster than Core i5. But what’s the real difference?




14
Dec

In just a few minutes, this software can verify your identity from a bit of DNA


Your DNA says a lot about you, but before it can divulge your deepest genetic secrets, it has to be analyzed. And that can be a pretty costly process.

Now a simple blood test can reveal your identity in just a few minutes, thanks to a new method developed by researchers at Columbia University and the New York Genome Center. With their custom software, the researchers think they’ve developed an accurate test which, when paired with an inexpensive sequencing tool, can cheaply analyze crime scenes or identify victims following a major disaster.

The new method provides an “off-the-shelf” way to perform a DNA analysis using a smartphone-sized device called the MinION.

“The MinION reads the DNA in real-time, and a DNA read that comes off can be interpreted right away,” Sophie Zaaijer, a researcher who led the project, told Digital Trends.

The most sci-fi use of this software would be out in the field, where it might verify identities at a crime scene, the most immediate — and most promising from the perspective of the researchers — is within the lab, where the new software and MinION could be used to flag compromised data in cancer experiments. In these experiments, mislabeled or contaminated cell lines is a big reason why studies can’t later be replicated.

“We have developed an application to generate directly actionable results using the MinION,” Zaaijer said. “Our work facilitates that the MinION can be an addition to a standard lab for the routine verification of all cell lines. This will just be the start of this device being used for various rapid read-outs that would otherwise take much more time in sending it for sequencing and waiting for the results to return.”

According to a study published last month in the journal eLife, the new method is capable of determining a person’s identity in as little as three minutes. “The time it takes can vary, but will get even shorter due to the advances in speed [at which] the DNA is read by the MinION,” Zaaijer said. Accurate identification requires that a person’s DNA already be in the database, which is likely to raise privacy concerns and limit the method to laboratory use for now.

“To start, an appropriate database needs to be compiled,” Zaaijer said. “This often involves genetic privacy considerations. This is why our method will be useful for, for instance, patient material that might require house testing to comply with the privacy agreements set up between patient and hospital or clinical lab.”

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14
Dec

FCC officially repeals 2015 Net Neutrality regulations by a narrow margin


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has officially repealed the 2015 net neutrality regulations by passing the Restoring Internet Freedom declaratory ruling, which opens up potential changes to the way internet service providers (ISPs) deliver service in the U.S.

Net neutrality is a set of guidelines and principles passed by the FCC under the Obama administration that were meant to preserve an open internet. It means no ISP is allowed to show preferential treatment to particular services or websites — Verizon can’t throttle Netflix speeds if the service refuses to pay more, for example, or AT&T can’t block or slow access to a site because it doesn’t like its content.

The ruling comes despite requests for a delay in voting. The 3-to-2 decision comes after 18 attorneys general asked the FCC to delay the vote to investigate fake comments that flooded the public opinion comment period this summer. Twenty-eight senators sent a letter of their own to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, asking him to push the vote and suggesting his “proposal is fundamentally flawed.” Major tech companies, nonprofit organizations, and public interest groups have rallied against the repeal over the past few months, and a recent survey found most Americans were in favor of the 2015 net neutrality regulations.

The meeting was interrupted during Pai’s speech, on the advice of security after reports of a security threat were received. The room was evacuated, security ran a search with sniffer dogs, and people returned to their seats after a few minutes.

#NetNeutrality allowed me to invent the web. If protections are scrapped, innovators will have to ask ISPs for permission to get their ideas out – a disaster for creativity. A disaster for the internet. Tell your Reps to stop the vote. https://t.co/WlTfbe9ZNg … @webfoundation

— Tim Berners-Lee (@timberners_lee) December 12, 2017

The 2015 decision classified broadband internet access service as a utility, dubbing ISPs as “common carriers” under Title II of the Communications Act. It placed these providers under close governmental scrutiny to prevent unfair internet practices, but ISPs worried the government would potentially enforce price regulations, saying the regulatory uncertainty “undermined innovation and investment.”

Pai’s declaratory ruling will only require internet providers to be “transparent about their practices.” That means an ISP could slow down or block access to a service or website — they would just have to notify them why it’s happening.

“This plan would simply restore the successful, light-touch regulatory framework that governed the internet from 1996 to 2015,” Pai said in an opinion piece. “And importantly, it would get the government out of the business of micromanaging the internet.”

Proponents of net neutrality say the repeal could potentially transition the internet into two lanes — fast and slow lanes. ISPs could offer certain websites and services at faster speeds if companies were willing to pay a little extra — this is also known as Paid Prioritization. Major companies like Google and Facebook could afford this, but it would be detrimental to startups and growing services. Also, ISP customers could end up paying more for these services.

The repeal makes these ISPs powerful gatekeepers of the internet, but the declaratory ruling also shifts the role of protecting consumers’ online privacy back to the Federal Trade Commission.

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn issued a strong dissent during the meeting, stating the new norm at the FCC is where the majority “ignores the will of the people.”

“When the current protections are abandoned, and the rules that have been officially in place since 2015 are repealed, we will have a Cheshire cat version of net neutrality,” Clyburn said. “We will be in a world where regulatory substance fades to black, and all that is left is a broadband provider’s toothy grin and those oh-so-comforting words: ‘We have every incentive to do the right thing.’ What they will soon have is every incentive to do their own thing.”

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel echoed Clyburn’s statements, saying the decision puts the FCC on the “wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American public.”

“We’re told ‘don’t worry, the Federal Trade Commission will save us,’” Rosenworcel said. “But the FTC is not the expert agency for communications. It has authority over unfair and deceptive practices. But to evade FTC review, all any broadband provider will need to do is add new provisions to the fine print in its terms of service. In addition, it is both costly and impractical to report difficulties to the FTC.”

Commissioners Brendan Carr and Michael O’Rielly voted in favor of the repeal, and among many arguments, claimed the 2015 regulations harmed ISP growth. Comcast posted record profits in the second quarter of 2017.

Free Press, a nonpartisan net neutrality advocacy group, said in a report that it found “not a single publicly traded U.S. ISP ever told its investors (or the SEC) that Title II negatively impacted its own investments specifically.”

You can read our full breakdown of net neutrality to learn more.

What now?

The internet still works. Nothing about the way you interact online has changed — yet. ISPs like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T (and the current FCC) criticized net neutrality supporters for spreading hysteria on the subject.

“Opponents of this action have responded with hyperbole, demagoguery, and even personal threats,” National Cable & Telecommunications Association CEO Michael Powell said in a statement. “New-age Nostradamuses predict the internet will stop working, democracy will collapse, plague will ensue, and locusts will cover the land. With an ounce of reflection, one knows that none of this will come to pass, and the imagined doom will join the failed catastrophic predictions of Y2K and massive snowstorms that fizzle to mere dustings — all too common in Washington, D.C. Sadly, rational debate, like Elvis, has left the building.”

Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, and other ISPs have voiced commitment to ensuring an open internet, but it all boils down to trust. Comcast already removed its public pledge to uphold net neutrality from its website earlier this year. The company said it has not entered any “paid prioritization” agreements and said it has no plans for it at the moment, but the repeal allows it to establish these measures in the future.

This story is developing.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • What everyone’s saying about the FCC’s net neutrality plan (in GIF form)
  • No matter where you stand, this is what you need to know about net neutrality
  • The FCC will make a final vote to reverse the net neutrality rules in December
  • Comcast wants the FCC to pre-empt state net neutrality laws
  • Comcast removes part of its open internet pledge regarding net neutrality repeal




14
Dec

FCC officially repeals 2015 Net Neutrality regulations by a narrow margin


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has officially repealed the 2015 net neutrality regulations by passing the Restoring Internet Freedom declaratory ruling, which opens up potential changes to the way internet service providers (ISPs) deliver service in the U.S.

Net neutrality is a set of guidelines and principles passed by the FCC under the Obama administration that were meant to preserve an open internet. It means no ISP is allowed to show preferential treatment to particular services or websites — Verizon can’t throttle Netflix speeds if the service refuses to pay more, for example, or AT&T can’t block or slow access to a site because it doesn’t like its content.

The ruling comes despite requests for a delay in voting. The 3-to-2 decision comes after 18 attorneys general asked the FCC to delay the vote to investigate fake comments that flooded the public opinion comment period this summer. Twenty-eight senators sent a letter of their own to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, asking him to push the vote and suggesting his “proposal is fundamentally flawed.” Major tech companies, nonprofit organizations, and public interest groups have rallied against the repeal over the past few months, and a recent survey found most Americans were in favor of the 2015 net neutrality regulations.

The meeting was interrupted during Pai’s speech, on the advice of security after reports of a security threat were received. The room was evacuated, security ran a search with sniffer dogs, and people returned to their seats after a few minutes.

#NetNeutrality allowed me to invent the web. If protections are scrapped, innovators will have to ask ISPs for permission to get their ideas out – a disaster for creativity. A disaster for the internet. Tell your Reps to stop the vote. https://t.co/WlTfbe9ZNg … @webfoundation

— Tim Berners-Lee (@timberners_lee) December 12, 2017

The 2015 decision classified broadband internet access service as a utility, dubbing ISPs as “common carriers” under Title II of the Communications Act. It placed these providers under close governmental scrutiny to prevent unfair internet practices, but ISPs worried the government would potentially enforce price regulations, saying the regulatory uncertainty “undermined innovation and investment.”

Pai’s declaratory ruling will only require internet providers to be “transparent about their practices.” That means an ISP could slow down or block access to a service or website — they would just have to notify them why it’s happening.

“This plan would simply restore the successful, light-touch regulatory framework that governed the internet from 1996 to 2015,” Pai said in an opinion piece. “And importantly, it would get the government out of the business of micromanaging the internet.”

Proponents of net neutrality say the repeal could potentially transition the internet into two lanes — fast and slow lanes. ISPs could offer certain websites and services at faster speeds if companies were willing to pay a little extra — this is also known as Paid Prioritization. Major companies like Google and Facebook could afford this, but it would be detrimental to startups and growing services. Also, ISP customers could end up paying more for these services.

The repeal makes these ISPs powerful gatekeepers of the internet, but the declaratory ruling also shifts the role of protecting consumers’ online privacy back to the Federal Trade Commission.

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn issued a strong dissent during the meeting, stating the new norm at the FCC is where the majority “ignores the will of the people.”

“When the current protections are abandoned, and the rules that have been officially in place since 2015 are repealed, we will have a Cheshire cat version of net neutrality,” Clyburn said. “We will be in a world where regulatory substance fades to black, and all that is left is a broadband provider’s toothy grin and those oh-so-comforting words: ‘We have every incentive to do the right thing.’ What they will soon have is every incentive to do their own thing.”

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel echoed Clyburn’s statements, saying the decision puts the FCC on the “wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American public.”

“We’re told ‘don’t worry, the Federal Trade Commission will save us,’” Rosenworcel said. “But the FTC is not the expert agency for communications. It has authority over unfair and deceptive practices. But to evade FTC review, all any broadband provider will need to do is add new provisions to the fine print in its terms of service. In addition, it is both costly and impractical to report difficulties to the FTC.”

Commissioners Brendan Carr and Michael O’Rielly voted in favor of the repeal, and among many arguments, claimed the 2015 regulations harmed ISP growth. Comcast posted record profits in the second quarter of 2017.

Free Press, a nonpartisan net neutrality advocacy group, said in a report that it found “not a single publicly traded U.S. ISP ever told its investors (or the SEC) that Title II negatively impacted its own investments specifically.”

You can read our full breakdown of net neutrality to learn more.

What now?

The internet still works. Nothing about the way you interact online has changed — yet. ISPs like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T (and the current FCC) criticized net neutrality supporters for spreading hysteria on the subject.

“Opponents of this action have responded with hyperbole, demagoguery, and even personal threats,” National Cable & Telecommunications Association CEO Michael Powell said in a statement. “New-age Nostradamuses predict the internet will stop working, democracy will collapse, plague will ensue, and locusts will cover the land. With an ounce of reflection, one knows that none of this will come to pass, and the imagined doom will join the failed catastrophic predictions of Y2K and massive snowstorms that fizzle to mere dustings — all too common in Washington, D.C. Sadly, rational debate, like Elvis, has left the building.”

Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, and other ISPs have voiced commitment to ensuring an open internet, but it all boils down to trust. Comcast already removed its public pledge to uphold net neutrality from its website earlier this year. The company said it has not entered any “paid prioritization” agreements and said it has no plans for it at the moment, but the repeal allows it to establish these measures in the future.

This story is developing.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • What everyone’s saying about the FCC’s net neutrality plan (in GIF form)
  • No matter where you stand, this is what you need to know about net neutrality
  • The FCC will make a final vote to reverse the net neutrality rules in December
  • Comcast wants the FCC to pre-empt state net neutrality laws
  • Comcast removes part of its open internet pledge regarding net neutrality repeal




14
Dec

Spotify is testing a sleeker and less cluttered UI for its Android app


The Spotify app has a new now playing page, search menu, and more.

Spotify is one of the most popular music streaming services around, but as great as its library of content and many features are, one thing has always left me wanting a bit more – its Android app. Spotify’s Android app is perfectly functional, but it can sometimes be a pain to navigate if you don’t know exactly where to go for what you’re looking for.

Damien-Rice-Spotify_0.JPG?itok=iIdzYFdA

Thankfully, it looks like Spotify is testing out an updated look for its Android app that’ll make the interface less cluttered and introduce a more modern aesthetic.

In its current state, Spotify’s Android app has five navigation buttons at the bottom – Home, Browse, Search, Radio, and Your Library. With the new design, this is reduced to just three options of Your Playlists, Home, and Search. Your Playlists now shows a large button for making a new collection of songs and a list of existing ones, Home showcases recommend tunes for you to listen to, and Search now shows recommend genres and moods to browse through.

new-spotify-now-playing.jpg?itok=ilOdIUJnew-spotify-playlists.jpg?itok=gvaUga1ynew-spotify-search.jpg?itok=WDwS9UXx

The new Spotify app on Android.

Along with this, Now Playing has also been updated to show the album cover of the song you’re listening to in full screen with larger text and tweaked placement of playback controls.

There’s no word from Spotify in regards to when these changes will be pushed to all users, but we certainly hope that this happens soon. I personally think the new design looks fantastic, and I’m interested to hear your thoughts on it. Drop a comment down below!

Best Music Streaming App for Android

14
Dec

Custom Snapchat Lenses can now be made on Windows and Mac with Lens Studio


Get ready for even more AR Lenses.

Snapchat’s seen more than a few updates over the years, but one of the more entertaining features it’s gained are Lenses. Lenses allow users to add 3D characters and models to their photos and videos to integrate augmented reality into their snaps, and with the launch of Lens Studio, Snapchat is allowing just about anyone to create and submit their own Lens creations.

snapchat-hayato-dancing-hotdog.jpg?itok=

Lens Studio is available as a free desktop application for Windows and Mac, and it’ll enable designers, students, and developers to create their own custom models and submit them to Snapchat so that other individuals can use them in the app.

After you create and submit your own Lens, you’ll be given a Snapcode that you can share digitally or physical so that other Snapchat users can scan it and then use it for themselves or share it with their friends.

If Lens Studio sounds like something you want to try your hand at, you can download the app for free here.

Snapchat’s redesigned app is here and much easier to use

14
Dec

Deal: Daydream View VR headset on sale for $78


Available now at Best Buy.

Google’s Daydream VR platform has grown quite a bit since its launch in October of 2016, and the best way to experience it is still with the Daydream View headset. Google released a slightly updated version of the Daydream View alongside the Pixel 2 this October, and while it came with a few new features, this also resulted in a slightly higher price of $99.

daydream-view-2017-hero.jpg?itok=P72rToD

Our own Russell Holly said the new Daydream View headset was well worth its larger price tag, but if you’ve been waiting to pick one up, you can now purchase one from Best Buy for just $78.99.

That’s a saving of $20.01, and it brings the price down to the regular cost of last year’s model.

The 2017 version of the Daydream View still works fundamentally the same as the previous version, but it comes equipped with less light leak, a heat sink to keep your phone as cool as possible, a comfier head strap, and quite a bit more.

We aren’t sure how long this deal will last, so if you want to pick up a Daydream View for yourself or someone on your holiday shopping list, click/tap the button below.

See at Best Buy

Google Daydream

Amazon Echo Dot

  • Daydream View review
  • The ultimate guide to Daydream
  • These phones support Daydream VR
  • Every Daydream app you can download
  • Catch up with Daydream in the forums!

Google

14
Dec

Reminder: Project Fi doesn’t offer simultaneous voice and data when connected to Sprint


Yes, this is still a thing you have to remember.

Project Fi offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to networks, with seamless switching between T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular and Wi-Fi for calling, texting and data needs. While we’ve established that the switching isn’t much to worry about and actually works quite well, the one shortcoming arrives when you go to make calls and use data at the same time when your phone is connected to the Sprint network.

project-fi-phone-call-data-drop-pixel-2.

Just like other modern phones that are running on Sprint proper, there’s no simultaneous voice and data support when your Project Fi phone uses the Sprint network. So if your phone is connected to the Sprint network (which by design isn’t made clear to you) and you connect a phone call, your data connection will cut out — so you can’t search for that restaurant you’re trying to book, grab tickets to the show you’re discussing, or perhaps more importantly use your laptop that is tethered to the phone at the time.

This really is only a problem because your phone won’t tell you what network you’re on.

While this isn’t any big revelation to those who have used Sprint for any length of time, it can catch Project Fi users off guard. Without the assistance of a third-party app, you don’t know whether you’re on T-Mobile, Sprint or US Cellular at any given time — and you’ll only find out that you’re about to drop your data connection for a call right when you make or receive it. That can be frustrating and confusing if you’re not aware of this limitation.

If you’re connected to the T-Mobile network the phone will keep a data connection (using VoLTE or dropping to HSPA+) during a call, but if you’re on Sprint it’ll drop out immediately. US Cellular is actually more proactive about rolling out its simultaneous voice and data, so if you happen to be connected to its network you have a good chance of not losing your data connection — but the US cellular network is dramatically smaller than Sprint’s, making it a much smaller issue to begin with.

It’s a hurdle that Google can’t really do anything about so long as it continues to let your phone automatically switch between networks — which is kind of a tentpole feature of the service. And Sprint’s sluggishness of moving to VoLTE (Voice over LTE), which would rectify this situation, isn’t helping. For now, your solution is to either make VoIP calls using the Hangouts app (yes, you can still do that), or be ready for phone calls to potentially put a pause on your data consumption.

Google Project Fi

  • What is Project Fi?
  • Get the latest Project Fi news
  • Google Pixel 2 review
  • Moto X4 review
  • Discuss Project Fi in our forums
  • Sign up for Project Fi!

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