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5
Jan

Weekly Rewind: Tech trends in 2018, what to expect from CES, an Apple refund


A lot can happen in a week when it comes to tech. The constant onslaught of news makes it nigh impossible for mere mortals with real lives to keep track of everything. That’s why we’ve compiled a quick and dirty list of this week’s top tech stories, from the best products of 2017 to the biggest failures of the year — it’s all here.

5 tech trends you’ll be talking about in 2018

2017 was a big year for tech. Twitter users finally broke free of their 140-character chains, while Tesla made good on its electric car for the people in the Model 3. The Wannacry ransomware attack became one of the most disruptive cyberattacks in history, and three commissioners on the FCC, led by Chairman Ajit Pai, repealed Obama-era net neutrality rules (at least temporarily).

Good news or not, it was a busy year in tech. 2018 looks no different, and we’re already watching some important tech trends that we expect to make waves in the new year. But first, let’s see how we did in predicting what we would be talking about in 2017.

Read: 5 tech trends you’ll be talking about in 2018

Intel CPU bug means your PC is soon going to be significantly slower

AMD has made some real progress in its battle against Intel for CPU market share by releasing the new Ryzen processors, based on the Zen architecture in 2017. Ryzen chips already provide a compelling price-performance advantage over Intel equivalents, and that advantage could get a real boost in 2018. Apparently, all Intel CPUs produced in the last decade suffer a security flaw that can only be fixed in software, with a real performance penalty.

As The Register reports, the bug is related to related how programs access memory — specifically information that should only be accessible to the operating system kernel that maintains the highest level of privileges. Thanks to the bug, user programs can access the protected kernel memory space and “see” information that should be locked away.

Read: Intel CPU bug means your PC is soon going to be significantly slower

More than 10 million Facebook users went live on New Year’s Eve

Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve may be the traditional New Year’s broadcast in the U.S., but Facebook users launched live broadcasts in huge numbers on New Year’s Eve. In fact, the number of users going live on Facebook on New Year’s Eve totaled nearly half of the viewer count for the ball drop in Times Square. According to data released by Facebook on January 3, the social media platform saw a 47 percent increase in the number of users going live to celebrate the transition into a new year.

More than 10 million people used Facebook Live to celebrate the new year, the social media platform said. New Year’s Eve is the largest day for live broadcasts, so Facebook launched a handful of live features ahead of the new year to give users additional options, including live augmented reality effects such as 2018 glasses and party hats.

Read: More than 10 million Facebook users went live on New Year’s Eve

Apple offering discounted iPhone battery replacements ahead of schedule

 

A week after it was first revealed that Apple was slowing down older iPhones (ostensibly to stabilize performance), the company has succumbed to mounting pressure. As an apparent gesture of goodwill, Apple is offering owners of iPhone 6 and later models a battery replacement for $29 — a limited-time $50 discount.

Apple originally intended for the replacement batteries to go on sale in late January. However, Tech Crunch has reported that the company has started offering the discounted batteries as of December 30. Apple did say that initial supplies could be limited, so users may want to act fast.

Read: Apple offering discounted iPhone battery replacements ahead of schedule

What kind of crazy TVs will we see at CES 2018? It starts with LG’s 8K OLED

There’s a ton of tantalizing tech to take in at CES, but let’s face it, folks: TV rules. The world’s largest consumer electronics show has seen a number of TV innovations, with several significant advances (and a few fads, too) unveiled in just the last five years: 4K, curved TVs, bendable TVs, TVs that look like wallpaper, OLEDs, quantum dots, HDR, and even 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players. Where could brands like Samsung, Sony, LG, and TCL possibly go from here? It looks like it starts with an 88-inch 8K OLED TV from LG.

We generally end up seeing more of everything we love about TV at CES — higher resolution, bigger screen sizes, better HDR, higher brightness, deeper blacks, and elevated, cutting-edge technologies. This year will be no different. LG has just announced it will be showing an 8K OLED television, and that’s just the beginning of the fanfare we can expect to see over the coming hours and days. Here’s what you can expect to see in TV at CES 2018.

Read: What kind of crazy TVs will we see at CES 2018? It starts with LG’s 8K OLED

Nissan’s Brain-to-Vehicle tech lets you control your car with your thoughts

Firefox isn’t just the name of a web browser — it’s also a 1982 movie starring Clint Eastwood, based around a fictional Russian fighter jet controlled by the pilot’s thoughts. Someone at Nissan is apparently a fan of that movie. The carmaker’s experimental “Brain-to-Vehicle” (or “B2V” for short) technology allows cars to interpret signals from a driver’s brain. It doesn’t allow drivers to fire missiles with their thoughts, but Nissan believes the technology could help improve future driver-assistance systems and make self-driving cars more human friendly by putting machines and people on the same page.

Read: Nissan’s Brain-to-Vehicle tech lets you control your car with your thoughts

Everything you need to know about Fuchsia, Google’s mysterious new OS

Google’s best-known software ventures may be Android and Chrome OS, but the company is actually working on a third operating system. It’s called Fuchsia, and when it was first discovered last year, it only popped up as a single command line. Now we know a lot more about the operating system, however.

Fuchsia looks totally different than any other mobile operating system we’ve seen, including Android, but that could be the point. The fact is that there’s currently a ton of mystery surrounding the operating system. We don’t know what it’s for, if it’s aimed at eventually replacing Android, if it’s just an experiment by Google, or if we should expect to see the new OS at Google I/O this year.

Read: Everything you need to know about Fuchsia, Google’s mysterious new OS

Apple nabs ‘Serial’-inspired true-crime drama ‘Are You Sleeping’

Disney | ABC Television Group/Flickr

The podcast Serial is being adapted to a  TV series, but it has also inspired at least one other project. Apple nabbed Are You Sleeping, a new drama series starring Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, Deadline reports.

The project is based on Kathleen Barber’s 2017 novel of the same name, which centers on a woman and her family dealing with the pain of having a true-crime podcast question the guilt of the boy who murdered her father. Barber wrote the book following the success of Serial. She admitted in a 17Scribes interview that she got swept up in the story and her first draft of Are You Sleeping was “a way for [her] to work through” her “obsession” with the podcast. Specifically, she was concerned with her lack of empathy for the people involved.

Read: Apple nabs ‘Serial’-inspired true-crime drama ‘Are You Sleeping’

The 5 biggest computing trends to watch for at CES 2018

CES is a preview of a lot of the trends we see in technology throughout the year. In the world of computing and laptops, CES 2018 is already shaping up to be an important one. While there will be plenty of surprises at the show, we have some ideas about what manufacturers will be showing off — and what they won’t be.

CES is just around the corner, and soon enough we’ll be feasting our eyes on everything the tech world has to offer us in 2018. For now, here are the five computing trends to have your eye on heading into the world’s biggest tech trade show.

Read: The 5 biggest computing trends to watch for at CES 2018

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Touchless computing, wireless power, and more trends that will define CES 2018
  • 5 tech trends you’ll be talking about in 2018
  • 2018 Polaris Slingshot: Everything you need to know
  • 2018 Ford Mustang GT First Drive
  • Nissan follows GM with plan to test robo-taxis in early 2018




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5
Jan

HP recalls battery in more than 15 notebooks to prevent possible burns, damage


There’s nothing worse than a laptop that’s on fire – literally – and HP wants to prevent that possible heated experience by recalling a specific battery pack used in more than 15 different products. Currently, there are eight accounts of the defective battery pack “overheating, melting, or charring,” one of which led to a first degree burn on a customer’s hand. Three of these incidents caused property damage costing a total sum of $4,500.

HP customers may therefore want to check their laptop’s battery to see if it falls on HP’s recall list. Here are the affected models:

ProBook:
HP ProBook 640 G2
HP ProBook 640 G3
HP ProBook 645 G2
HP ProBook 645 G3
HP ProBook 650 G2
HP ProBook 650 G3
HP ProBook 655 G2
HP ProBook 655 G3
ZBook:
HP ZBook 17 G3
HP ZBook 17 G4
HP ZBook Studio G3
X360:
HP x360 310 G2
Pavilion:
HP Pavilion x360
Envy:
HP Envy m6
11:
HP 11 Notebook PC

The notebooks listed above don’t necessarily use the defective battery, so customers will need to download HP’s Battery Validation Utility to see if their laptop does indeed rely on the recalled pack. If it’s present, the utility will instruct customers to download and install a BIOS update that will place the battery pack in Battery Safety Mode to prevent possible harm and/or damage. Consider this method as a temporary fix until you can arrange a proper battery replacement.

“If the validation process identifies a battery as being eligible for replacement, the BIOS update should be applied, and the system should be rebooted,” the company says. “’During the reboot process, an option will be presented to enable Battery Safety Mode. Accepting Battery Safety Mode causes the battery to discharge and to cease future charging until Battery Safety Mode is disabled. HP strongly recommends accepting Battery Safety Mode.”

As described by HP, the battery pack is simply disabled until it’s replaced. But for many laptops found on the recall list, that could be a problem. The battery isn’t easily removable, thus customers must send their laptop to an authorized HP technician — though at no financial cost. With a little online research, HP customers could manually replace the defective battery by removing the bottom plate, but that may violate the laptop’s warranty, and give HP’s certified technicians less to do.

By placing a battery pack in Battery Safety Mode, it will not receive a charge, forcing laptop owners to rely on the supplied power adapter. Once the laptop’s updated BIOS detects a new battery, it will disable Battery Safety Mode, enabling the new pack to receive a charge. Note that customers aren’t required to replace the defective battery, and can continue to use their laptop using only the external power adapter.  The battery is essentially deactivated in Battery Safety Mode, and supposedly won’t cause any damage in this state.

Of course, no one wants a possible firestorm residing in their laptop, even if it’s slumbering inside. For more information, here’s everything you need to contact HP:

  • Phone: 1-888-202-4320
  • Hours: 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT – Monday through Friday
  • Online 1: HP.com/go/batteryprogram2018
  • Online 2: hp.com/us/en/hp-information/recalls.html

Editors’ Recommendations

  • HP Spectre x360 13 (Late 2017) Review
  • HP Envy x2 (2017) hands-on review
  • AMD CEO shows off first laptop packing a Ryzen-branded chip at Best Buy
  • HP’s Envy x2 claims longest battery life of any detachable Windows PC
  • HP Spectre x360 13 vs. Lenovo Yoga 920: Fighting for convertible 2-in-1 primacy




5
Jan

HP recalls battery in more than 15 notebooks to prevent possible burns, damage


There’s nothing worse than a laptop that’s on fire – literally – and HP wants to prevent that possible heated experience by recalling a specific battery pack used in more than 15 different products. Currently, there are eight accounts of the defective battery pack “overheating, melting, or charring,” one of which led to a first degree burn on a customer’s hand. Three of these incidents caused property damage costing a total sum of $4,500.

HP customers may therefore want to check their laptop’s battery to see if it falls on HP’s recall list. Here are the affected models:

ProBook:
HP ProBook 640 G2
HP ProBook 640 G3
HP ProBook 645 G2
HP ProBook 645 G3
HP ProBook 650 G2
HP ProBook 650 G3
HP ProBook 655 G2
HP ProBook 655 G3
ZBook:
HP ZBook 17 G3
HP ZBook 17 G4
HP ZBook Studio G3
X360:
HP x360 310 G2
Pavilion:
HP Pavilion x360
Envy:
HP Envy m6
11:
HP 11 Notebook PC

The notebooks listed above don’t necessarily use the defective battery, so customers will need to download HP’s Battery Validation Utility to see if their laptop does indeed rely on the recalled pack. If it’s present, the utility will instruct customers to download and install a BIOS update that will place the battery pack in Battery Safety Mode to prevent possible harm and/or damage. Consider this method as a temporary fix until you can arrange a proper battery replacement.

“If the validation process identifies a battery as being eligible for replacement, the BIOS update should be applied, and the system should be rebooted,” the company says. “’During the reboot process, an option will be presented to enable Battery Safety Mode. Accepting Battery Safety Mode causes the battery to discharge and to cease future charging until Battery Safety Mode is disabled. HP strongly recommends accepting Battery Safety Mode.”

As described by HP, the battery pack is simply disabled until it’s replaced. But for many laptops found on the recall list, that could be a problem. The battery isn’t easily removable, thus customers must send their laptop to an authorized HP technician — though at no financial cost. With a little online research, HP customers could manually replace the defective battery by removing the bottom plate, but that may violate the laptop’s warranty, and give HP’s certified technicians less to do.

By placing a battery pack in Battery Safety Mode, it will not receive a charge, forcing laptop owners to rely on the supplied power adapter. Once the laptop’s updated BIOS detects a new battery, it will disable Battery Safety Mode, enabling the new pack to receive a charge. Note that customers aren’t required to replace the defective battery, and can continue to use their laptop using only the external power adapter.  The battery is essentially deactivated in Battery Safety Mode, and supposedly won’t cause any damage in this state.

Of course, no one wants a possible firestorm residing in their laptop, even if it’s slumbering inside. For more information, here’s everything you need to contact HP:

  • Phone: 1-888-202-4320
  • Hours: 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT – Monday through Friday
  • Online 1: HP.com/go/batteryprogram2018
  • Online 2: hp.com/us/en/hp-information/recalls.html

Editors’ Recommendations

  • HP Spectre x360 13 (Late 2017) Review
  • HP Envy x2 (2017) hands-on review
  • AMD CEO shows off first laptop packing a Ryzen-branded chip at Best Buy
  • HP’s Envy x2 claims longest battery life of any detachable Windows PC
  • HP Spectre x360 13 vs. Lenovo Yoga 920: Fighting for convertible 2-in-1 primacy




5
Jan

Fluance Fi70 Bluetooth sound system review: A gorgeous conversation piece


It’s big, it’s beautiful, and it sounds like heaven.

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I don’t like to gush in reviews; it comes off a bit tacky, and this is supposed to be an objective look at a piece of technology, but heed this warning: I’m going to gush (#phrasing). Like the lovechild of a vegan and a CrossFit enthusiast, I’m telling everyone about this thing and no one has asked. The Fluance Fi70 is an all-in-one sound system that’s big, full-featured, and it sounds amazing. Also, the fact that Fluance is a Canadian company makes me super proud of the quality we produce here in the Great White North.

Without further ado, this is the Fluance Fi70 Bluetooth sound system.

I’ve been using the Fi70 for around two weeks after being sent the review unit (brand new) by Fluance.

See at Fluance

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Get the look

Let’s start this off by talking about the elephant in the room, and I do mean that somewhat literally. The Fi70 is HUGE. It’s about 30 inches wide by about a foot deep, and if you attach the included stand and pedestal, it’s about 18 inches at the base and around 3 feet tall (knock just over a foot off in height if you don’t use the stand). It’s 81 pounds. Yeah. 81. As far as I know, it’s the biggest Bluetooth speaker in the world, and it’s certainly the loudest.

I have many leather-bound books, my house smells of rich mahogany, and I have a Fluance Fi70.

This is by no means a system you put in the corner and hope it blends into your existing setup; it’s a conversation piece unto itself and a fashion statement. It comes in three wrap options: black, walnut, and “lucky bamboo” (I have the bamboo version). Though it’s a faux-wood wrap, it doesn’t look it. In fact, I legitimately thought it was a real wood cabinet, and the center hole is wrapped as well, giving the Fi70 an all-over retro look with a very modern feel.

When I first took it out of the box, I imagined myself telling everyone “I have many leather-bound books, and my house smells of rich mahogany, and I have a Fluance Fi70.” It’s a perfect blend of old, new, and sophistication.

The front speaker cover is magnetic, featuring the smallest of Fluance logos on the bottom, giving this large sound system a minimalist feel. The display is perfectly positioned and big enough that you can see it from across the room, and the addition of a clock is a little bit of icing on this scrumtrulescent cake.

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You can take the cover off to reveal the six-speaker setup: two 1-inch tweeters, two 5-inch midrange drivers, and two 8-inch woofers, and watch the woofers vibrate along with your tunes. The black and walnut version have a black face, while the bamboo flavor has a white face, just adding a little bit to that retro 60s/70s feel.

Given its size and weight, you’ll want to have room for this beast, and it’ll definitely stand out in your setup, but being self-contained, it’s an awesome one-stop shop for all of your audio needs.

It also comes with a lovely remote that controls power, volume, and can even control Bluetooth playback, as well as treble and bass. The only thing it’s missing is a mute button, which would be quite handy.

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What’s under the hood

There is a 280-watt amp in the Fi70. It’s a three-way speaker with (as mentioned above) two 1-inch tweeters, two 5-inch midrange drivers, and two 8-inch woofers, with a frequency response of 30Hz-20KHz. I’ll get to how that sounds in a bit, because that’s where the money is.

In terms of input, you have Bluetooth that supports Qualcomm’s aptX codec, which offers high-resolution audio wirelessly. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack, a 2.1A USB charging port, an Optical port, and FM/AM radio tuners built in. The only thing it lacks to make it complete, in my opinion, is RCA input for a turntable. The touch playback controls on top are elegant and effective, and there’s a satisfying click of the amp when you turn it on and off.

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The Bluetooth range is excellent. I have a pretty small house, but I can walk around the whole thing with my phone in my pocket and audio doesn’t cut out. I even went down into my basement the other day, forgetting I had my phone on me, and the audio only stuttered once (granted, my basement is unfinished).

This unit just plugs into a conventional 120V outlet, and you get a two-year parts and labor warranty, as well as lifetime customer support.

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The sound: Like being kissed by thunder

I’m not being hyperbolic when I say that this is the best speaker I’ve ever heard. I put it together, waited it for it to warm up in the house for a couple hours, and then fired it up, put on one of my favorite songs (via Bluetooth on my Galaxy S8), cranked it, and was blown away. No joke, I got chills. I have a fairly small house (about 780 square feet), and when the bass kicked in, the whole thing rumbled. I actually had to turn the bass down to -4 and turn the treble up just a bit, and then what I heard was perfect. Every aspect of every tune shines through, and I actually heard vocal harmonies in one of my favorite songs that I’ve never heard before.

I was always skeptical of Bluetooth speaker sound quality until I started testing out some great ones, and the Fluance Fi70 sounds better than wired speakers I’ve owned throughout my life. The best part is that you hear the full sound spectrum no matter what the volume is, and there is absolutely no distortion at its highest volume. I don’t usually just sit and just listen to music; I have it on while I’m cleaning or cooking or whatever, but when I first started using the Fi70, I actually just sat on my couch for over an hour, just listening. I have it on right now while I write this review.

When I first started using the Fi70, I just sat on my couch for over an hour, just listening.

Just to make sure it wasn’t a one-trick pony, I went out to Best Buy and grabbed a digital optical cable and hooked the Fi70 up to my TV. I have an LG smart TV from 2015, and when I plugged it into the Fi70, it became complete. My wife has been playing Horizon: Zero Dawn since she got it for Christmas, and day one we cranked up the Fi70 and were floored. The stomping, roaring, and rumbling of the robotic animals and the delicacy of terse dialogue were both captured and presented beautifully. Even regular cable TV audio sounds amazing on this speaker; the big board hits in hockey games actually rumble, and the balance between the announcers and on-ice audio comes through perfectly.

You probably wouldn’t normally use this as a home theater audio solution, since it has to sit beside your TV instead of right in front, but after a few minutes, you stop noticing that the sound is somewhat directional, especially if you have the volume up a bit.

Basically, everything you hear through the Fi70 is how everything should sound.

My wife surreptitiously snapped the picture below. One of my favorite bands covered my all-time favorite band for a re-release of an album, and every single note sings and touches your soul when it comes out of the Fi70. Basically, everything you hear through the Fi70 is how everything should sound.

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Should you buy it? Hell yes — if you can afford it

Being a complete soundsystem of this quality, the Fluance Fi70 doesn’t come cheap. It’s $500 ($650 CAD), so it won’t be for everyone, but believe me when I tell you that this is not just a Bluetooth speaker. It’s a complete sound system that replaces your multi-piece setup; you don’t need a separate amp, subwoofer, and tower speakers — you only need the Fi70.

If you’re not looking for something that stands out so much, then this certainly isn’t for you. But it’s perfect if you’re in a smaller space where a full audio setup might not work, and it’s even better if you want something stylish. And if you want something that sounds absolutely fantastic, then it’s definitely for you.

This is hands-down my favorite piece of tech of 2017 and unless something astounding comes my way in 2018, it might just be my favorite for a long time to come.

See at Fluance

5
Jan

Amazon Alexa will be available on headphones, watches, and more in 2018


More Alexa for your life.

Although Amazon Alexa is most prominent on smart speakers, we’ve seen the AI expand to the likes of smartphones, thermostats, and more over the past couple years. However, one frontier that Alexa’s never been very prominent in is that of wearables. A handful of smartwatches have launched with Alexa built-in, but for the most part, these have been few and far between. Starting in 2018, Amazon wants to change that.

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On the official Alexa blog, Amazon announced its new Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit. The main goal of the Kit is to make it considerably easier for developers to integrate Alexa into their wearable devices, and the way this is done is actually pretty ingenious.

Rather than making developers load Alexa directly onto their gadgets, the Kit allows wearable tech to seamlessly connect to the Alexa Voice Service on the Amazon Alexa app on Android and iOS phones. Essentially, voice commands you issue on your wearable are sent to your phone, the response from Alexa is obtained, and this is then relayed through your watch, headphones, etc. This does require your phone to be connected to your wearables in order for Alexa to work, but it makes adding the AI to these devices much easier.

The Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit won’t be launching until “later this year”, but Amazon’s already working with the likes of Bose, Beyerdynamic, Jabra, and iHome to release future products with this tech. In other words, it won’t be too much longer before we start seeing Alexa-powered headphones, watches, and fitness trackers flood the market.

Amazon Alexa will start helping out in the kitchen with microwave controls

5
Jan

MrMobile goes hands-on… with a cell tower


Fun fact: when I was selling mobile phones back in 2004, I would spend the store’s slow days taking online training courses reserved for my employer’s engineers, fascinated by the networks that made mobile phones work. 14 years (and a change of careers) later, my network curiosity still burned strong. So I asked AT&T to let me go hands-on with a cell site – and to my great surprise, the carrier said yes!

Come along as I scope out not one, but two cell sites: one hidden in the steeple of a church, the other perched high atop the tallest mountain in the Northeast. In the process we’ll learn about RF energy, what happens when the power goes out, and why the term “tower” isn’t always accurate. Click the video above for the MrMobile Tower Tour!

Stay social, my friends

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5
Jan

Google sold about 6 million Home speakers during the holidays


More than one Google Home was sold every second.

This past holiday season, there’s a good chance you either bought or received a smart speaker of some sort. Amazon’s been dominating this space since the first Echo Dot came out in 2016, but with the launch of the Google Home Mini in late 2017, Google finally had its own ultra-cheap speaker to get inside as many people’s homes as possible.

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Google recently shared a post on its blog outlining the success of Home products and the Assistant throughout the past year, and perhaps the most surprising bit of news is that more than one Google Home product was sold every single second in 2017 after the Home Mini started shipping in October.

Google doesn’t really say if it started counting these sales on the Home Mini’s launch date (October 19) or later in the month when it actually began shipping to consumers, but even so, we can estimate that about 6 million Home speakers were sold. Google doesn’t say which of its three speakers accounted for the most sales, but seeing as how you could buy the Home Mini for just $29 throughout most of 2017, this is what we’re guessing was the most popular.

In addition to this, Google also says that the Assistant is now available on over 400 million devices and can control more than 1,500 smart home devices from over 225 different brands. Usage of Google Homes increased by nine times this past holiday season compared to the one in 2016, making it more apparent than ever that Google is coming at Amazon and its Echo brand with full force.

Now that we’re talking about it, did you buy or receive a Google Home during the holidays?

Google Home

  • Google Home review
  • Google Home Max review
  • These services work with Google Home
  • Google Home vs. Amazon Echo
  • Join our Google Home forums!

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5
Jan

Spotify tries using video loops as song artwork


Usually when you tap the now-playing bar while listening to Spotify on your phone, it brings up a static image related to the song you’re playing. But today, Music Ally noticed that one song on the New Music Friday playlist, Superorganism’s “Everybody Wants To Be Famous,” instead featured a looped video in the background rather than the typical artwork. The video, which multiple Engadget reporters have also now spotted on their Spotify accounts, lasts through the entirety of the song and is credited to Superorganism.

We reached out to Spotify to see if this is something we might be seeing more of, but a spokesperson for the company said that they had nothing to announce at this time. So it appears this is just a test. None of the other songs on the New Music Friday US playlist currently has an accompanying video and the feature doesn’t seem to extend to the desktop app.

Spotify has been pretty proactive in its efforts to engage its users. Its various personalized playlists and the multiple ways it brings new music to its listeners have been popular features for the music streaming service. Adding some video to songs could be another way to draw in users.

Spotify, which recently hit 70 million subscribers, has made some interesting moves of late. It acquired Soundtrap in November and has shaken up its own video and podcast strategy following a change of leadership. It also just took steps towards becoming a publicly traded company. So interesting new features might soon become even more valuable to the company as it continues to face mounting competition from rivals like Apple.

Via: Music Ally

5
Jan

Apple Orders ‘Home’ Docuseries Featuring Extraordinary Houses


Apple has inked a deal for yet another television show, this time a docuseries called “Home,” reports Variety.

The series will offer a “never-before-seen look inside the world’s most extraordinary homes” while also delving into the imaginations of the visionaries who dreamed them up and built them. Based on the show’s description, it sounds a little bit like MTV’s “Cribs” but with more of a design and architecture focus.

Apple has ordered 10 one-hour episodes of the “Home” docuseries, which is produced by Matt Tynauer and Corey Reese of Altimeter Films.

“Home” is the first documentary-style series that Apple has ordered thus far under the leadership of Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, two former Sony executives Apple brought on last June to run a new video content division within the company.

Apple is working on several other shows in addition to “Home,” including a revival of 1985 Steven Spielberg sci-fi series “Amazing Stories,” an untitled space drama developed by Ronald D. Moore, known for “Battlestar Galactica,” an untitled “morning show drama” starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, and “Are You Sleeping,” a psychological thriller starring Octavia Spencer that focuses on a podcast that reopens a murder case.

It’s not yet clear when the first of Apple’s original TV shows will premiere, but it’s possible at least one series will debut later in 2018.

Related Roundup: Apple TVTag: Apple’s Hollywood ambitionsBuyer’s Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)
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5
Jan

Fitbit could add glucose monitors to future health-monitoring devices


Fitbit just invested over $6 million in a company called Sano that’s working on a coin-sized patch that monitors blood sugar, CNBC reports. The wearables-maker already incorporates other glucose-tracking devices’ data into its Ionic smartwatch, but this investment suggests that the company might be looking to more directly incorporate a monitor into its devices. “This fits into our strategy of looking beyond the device and thinking more about (health) solutions,” Fitbit CEO James Park told CNBC. “I think the complete solution comes in the form of having some monitoring solution that is coupled with a display, and a wearable that can give you the interventions at the right moment.”

Fitbit isn’t the only one interested in a built-in blood sugar monitor. Reports surfaced early last year that Apple was working on one itself, but while Sano’s product uses tiny needles to take its measurements, Apple has reportedly been chasing a device that has so far proved unattainable — a non-invasive, continuously monitoring device. For Fitbit, working this kind of feature into its products could be a smart move as some of its competitors have started to move past them in the wearables field. While Fitbit previously dominated the market, it lost quite a bit of market share to Apple and Xiaomi last year, both of which took turns leading the market last year, quarter to quarter.

Park stopped short of saying future Fitbit devices will have built-in blood sugar monitors, naturally, but this investment shows the company is at least interested in that direction. Sano’s tracker won’t be available to consumers for at least another year.

Via: CNBC

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