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Project Fi just launched a highly competitive $80 unlimited plan called ‘Bill Protection’

One less caveat to deal with on Google’s carrier.

Project Fi has always been a great solution for those who use less than about 4GB of data per month, but now Google’s giving the nod to people who want more. A new feature called “Bill Protection” effectively gives Project Fi users an unlimited data option, taking on the big carrier competition that has swung back to heavily promoting unlimited data plans.


So here’s how it works. From the start, everything is the same as it always has been. You pay $10 per month for each gigabyte of data you use, and any data you don’t use you aren’t charged for. But with Bill Protection, once you hit 6GB of data, or $80 for the month ($20 “Fi Basics” + $60 of data), your bill is capped — but you continue to get data service, just like a flat-rate unlimited plan from other carriers.


Really, it’s the best of both worlds. In months when you use less than 6GB of data, you only pay for the data you used — and your bill is going to be lower than it would be with an unlimited plan from any other carrier. If you have a heavy month of usage and you crest over 6GB, it’s all included and billed as a flat $80. Not only does that $80 figure line up nicely with the competition, but it also is effectively much lower since most unlimited plan users don’t actually use over 6GB of data per month every single month. For group plans, the throttle threshold varies as you add more people.

The only catch, as is always the case with “unlimited” plans, is that Project Fi does start to throttle speeds once you’ve hit 15GB of data usage for the month. At that point, your speeds drop to 256kbps. Somewhat counteracting that is the ability to switch back to full speed if you want to start paying again, at the usual rate of $10 per gigabyte. Other carriers start to throttle in the 15-25GB range (save for T-Mobile, which is even higher), and often don’t offer any sort of full-speed buyout option, so it seems like a fine compromise to me. That 15GB of data usage on Fi used to cost you $170 for the month, too — and now it’s just $80.

Now you don’t have to be scared to use ‘too much’ data on Project Fi.

For anyone who regularly uses lots of data, say 10GB per month, Project Fi is now merely competitive with the big four U.S. carriers — and even a tad more expensive, depending on what promotions and how many lines you have. But I say that Bill Protection is “highly competitive” because no matter what you may think, a majority of people don’t actually use that much data. They may use 6GB+ a couple months out of the year, but the rest of the time they’re using less but still paying the same amount for an unlimited plan. In these cases, Project Fi is cheaper than the competition, and now with Bill Protection those people also won’t be scared of using data when they need to.

Bill Protection is rolling out starting today for both individual and group plans — just keep an eye on your Project Fi account.

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Honor 9 Lite launching in India on January 21

Pricing starts at just 10,999 INR.

In late December, the Honor 9 Lite was unveiled as an updated version of the Honor 9 that was released last summer. The phone was first launched in China, but now it’s expanding to India as an excellent budget option for those that want a quality phone without spending too much cash.


Nothing about the Honor 9 Lite has changed since we talked about it last December, and that’s a good thing. There’s a 5.65-inch 2160 x 1080 display on the front with an 18:9 aspect ratio, and like a lot of phones coming out right now, it has very slim bezels. A fingerprint sensor can be found on the back, and above it are two rear cameras consisting of a primary 13MP sensor and a secondary 2MP one.

The Kirin 659 is powering the Honor 9 Lite, and this is accompanied by a 3,000 mAh battery, expandable storage up to 256GB, and Android 8.0 Oreo.

India will get two versions of the phone, including a 32GB storage/3GB RAM variant for 10,999 INR (about $172 USD) and a slightly more powerful one with 64GB storage and 4GB RAM for 14,999 INR ($235 USD).

If you’re interested, you’ll be able to purchase the Honor 9 Lite from Honor’s website starting January 21.

See at Honor


Google Clips likely launching soon as it passes through FCC

Google hasn’t forgotten about Clips just yet.

Alongside big announcements like the Pixel 2 and Pixelbook at Google’s October hardware event, we also got our very first look at Google Clips – a new camera from Google that uses AI to automatically capture moments for you. We haven’t heard any follow-up news regarding Clips after its initial announcement, but it looks like it may be launching any time now.


Variety recently spotted that Google filed for a new FCC listing, and although the name “Clips” isn’t directly mentioned, its model number of G015A is. The listing doesn’t reveal any new information about Google Clips, but it does suggest that we’re nearing its official release.

Clips have been on the Google Store since early October, but there’s only been an option to join a waitlist until Google decides to let people buy the thing. The price is set at $250, and it’ll be interesting to see just how well it actually sells.

The idea of having a camera that you place just about anywhere to automatically capture photos and videos (albeit with no audio) is certainly interesting, but with phone cameras being as good as they are (especially on Google’s own Pixel 2), I’m thinking Google’s going to be faced with an uphill battle trying to convince people to shell out $250 for a camera that’ll probably take worse photos than the one in their pocket.

Or I could be completely off base and people will love the thing – who knows?

This is the Google Clips, a camera that uses AI to take photos


Google says fix for WiFi bug on Cast devices is coming tomorrow

Just a day after reports of users losing WiFi connections due to Google devices with the “Cast” feature, the company has responded. According to an entry on Google’s support page, the company has identified the issue and will release a fix to roll out as a Google Play service update tomorrow January 18th.

Google says the culprit is a bug on Android phones that sends too much network traffic, which then slows down your WiFi network. Depending on the router, you may see slowdowns or have your WiFi go down. Devices affected include any Chromecast built-in device, like Google Home or Chromecast. While TP-link has also issued a patch for its own affected router, it’s good to see Google jumping on the issue so quickly.

Via: Android Police

Source: Google


YouTube snags the rights to Eminem-produced satirical film ‘Bodied’

YouTube has acquired the rights to Eminem-produced Bodied, a satirical film that takes place within the Oakland hip-hop scene. It’s co-written and directed by Joseph Kahn — director of 2004’s Torque as well as music videos for everyone from Taylor Swift to Eminem — and follows a grad student who decides to jump into the rap battle scene. The student, played by Calum Worthy (Austin & Ally, American Vandal), is successful, which doesn’t sit well with others in Oakland’s underground hip-hop world.

Bodied premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year and won the Grolsch People’s Choice Midnight Madness award. YouTube now holds global rights to the film and will preview it at the Sundance Film Festival this month. Bodied will then see a theatrical release later this year and will be accessible on YouTube Red.

This is a notable move for YouTube, especially since Amazon has been raking in festival films left and right. Last year, Amazon began recruiting festival filmmakers to its Video Direct platform, offering cash bonuses and larger-than-typical Video Direct royalties for the rights to their films. It extended those offers to filmmakers with movies at the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, SXSW and the Toronto International Film Festival. At the Toronto festival, where Bodied debuted, Amazon snagged the rights to over 100 films.

Bodied stars Jackie Long, Shoniqua Shandai, Walter Perez and Rory Uphold. It also features Charlamagne Tha God and battle rappers such as Dizaster, Dumbfoundead and Hollow Da Don.

Via: Deadline


Apple Plans $350 Billion Boost to U.S. Economy Over 5 Years, 20,000 New Jobs, and a New Campus

Apple today highlighted its plan to to bolster the U.S. economy through job creation, existing investments, and new investments, with the company on target to contribute $55 billion to the economy in 2018 and $350 billion over the course of the next five years.

Along with its $350 billion contribution through direct employment, investment with domestic suppliers, and the App Store economy, Apple will increase its Advanced Manufacturing Fund from $1 billion to $5 billion.

The Advanced Manufacturing Fund is designed to create jobs in the United States through investments in Apple suppliers. Apple has already invested $200 million in Corning, maker of Gorilla Glass, and $390 million in Finisar, a supplier that makes vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) components found in the iPhone X’s True Depth camera.

“Apple is a success story that could only have happened in America, and we are proud to build on our long history of support for the US economy,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We believe deeply in the power of American ingenuity, and we are focusing our investments in areas where we can have a direct impact on job creation and job preparedness. We have a deep sense of responsibility to give back to our country and the people who help make our success possible.”

Apple plans to repatriate much of its overseas profits and expects to pay taxes of $38 billion when doing so, which Apple says is likely to be the largest payment of this kind ever made. That tax payment, combined with its U.S. investments and planned capital expenditures, will account for $75 billion of its projected $350 billion contribution.

Apple will be paying 15.5 percent in taxes to repatriate its overseas cash, suggesting the company plans to repatriate approximately $245 billion, or nearly all of its foreign money.

Apple will create 20,000 new jobs and spend $30 billion hiring new employees at its existing campus and opening a new campus. Apple has a new campus in the works that will “initially house technical support for customers.” Its location will be announced later in the year.

More than $10 billion of Apple’s planned capital expenditures will be investments in data centers across the United States, with Apple breaking ground on a new facility in Reno, Nevada starting today.

Apple’s final plan to bolster the economy is through education. The company will expand its current coding initiatives that are designed to help people learn how to create iOS apps using Swift and it will increase funding for ConnectED to help students in “historically underserved communities” learn coding skills.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.
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Lyft and Aptiv will partner on self-driving cars beyond CES

This year at CES, ride-hailing app company Lyft partnered with Aptiv, an autonomous tech company, for a pilot program involving self-driving cars. Modified BMWs were available for on-demand rides to up to 20 destinations within Las Vegas as part of the demonstration. Now, it appears that this program was so successful that TechCrunch reports that both companies have announced they will extend their partnership.

We don’t have many details about this, though we’ve reached out to Lyft for further clarification. Right now, all we know is that the companies are in talks to do a second pilot program, similar to what they demonstrated at CES, somewhere else in the U.S.

You can take a look at the Aptiv/Lyft cars in the gallery below, and read about our own experiences taking a ride in the cars. It will be interesting to see how the two companies develop their partnership and how they choose to move forward with their second pilot program.

Source: TechCrunch


Google tool lets you train AI without writing code

In many ways, the biggest challenge in widening the adoption of AI isn’t making it better — it’s making the tech accessible to more companies. You typically need at least some programming to train a machine learning system, which rules it out for companies that can’t justify a data scientist for the task. Google may have a solution: it just unveiled an alpha release of Cloud AutoML Vision, its first in a set of tools that trains AI without requiring code. This first service trains image recognition systems using a drag-and-drop interface — you just have to load photos, tag them and start the training process.

As mentioned at AutoML’s preview back in May, Google is actually using “baby” neural networks to build these systems. It iterates the mini nets with reinforcement training and picks the best one from the bunch.

Not surprisingly, this costs money: you have to apply for access, and you’ll be charged fees for both training the models and accessing them. You won’t be using this to indulge in a hobby. However, this promises to make AI, and image recognition in particular, much more accessible. While there are already custom AI options (Microsoft can fine-tune its trained AI models for you), Google’s approach is simple and hands-on enough that your favorite website or device maker could roll AI into their products with relatively little effort.

There are already some practical examples. Disney, for instance, is using Cloud AutoML to help you search for products on its store based on what they look like, not arbitrary tags. You can find that Buzz Lightyear toy even if it’s been miscategorized. Conservationists at the Zoological Society of London, meanwhile, are hoping to automatically categorize animals that pass by wildlife cameras. While there will still be a need for advanced, manually programmed AI, it won’t be as essential as it used to be.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Google


Google’s Project Fi now offers unlimited data (with a catch)

Google’s Project Fi can make sense if you only use a smattering of data and want to save money, but it hasn’t been an especially good deal if you consume gigabytes like they’re going out of style. Thankfully, there’s now an unlimited option… of sorts. Google has introduced a Bill Protection feature that caps your data bill at $60 if you use over 6GB in a given month. In other words, $60 (plus your base bill) gives you as much data as you need. It’s not quite an unlimited plan in the strictest sense, though — it’s more of a bridge between Fi’s original approach and what incumbent US carriers offer.

If you run over 15GB in a month as an individual user (the number is different for group plans), you’ll be throttled to “slower” speeds. We’ve asked Google if it can say what those speeds are. If you’re determined to use your service at full speed, you can pay for your individual data use above that 15GB threshold at $10 per gig. This is stricter than the potential slowdowns you typically face with major US carriers when running over the limit, but this at least gives you a way to avoid slowdowns entirely if you have the budget.

Bill Protection also applies to international use and data-only service, Google adds. It’s rolling out now to both individuals and groups, and should kick in with your next billing cycle.

Google is betting that this represents the best of both worlds for most users: you can get effectively unlimited data if you want it, but you don’t have to pay for unlimited data in those months where you’re using only a couple of gigs. You’ll still want to consider one of the incumbent networks if you hate the very thought of guaranteed throttling, but you don’t have to turn to them if you’re more interested in keeping costs down than ensuring full performance.

Update: Google tells us the slowdown after 15GB cutoff drops you to 256Kbps. That’s usable for basic tasks, but you definitely won’t be streaming Netflix at that speed.

Source: Google


GAO expects delays in SpaceX and Boeing astronaut flight certification

It’s no secret that NASA is pretty far behind schedule when it comes to returning to human spaceflight. Currently it’s working with two contractors, Boeing and SpaceX, for eventual crewed flights. Today, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology asked NASA some hard questions about the delays, and it turns out the setbacks aren’t over yet. Cristina Chaplain from the GAO, who testified at the hearing, said, “We’ve found that the program’s own analysis indicates that certification is likely to slip into December 2019 for SpaceX and February 2020 for Boeing.” Both companies are currently scheduled to be certified in the first quarter of 2019, and both companies maintained during the hearing that they are confident in their current schedules.

According to William Gerstenmaier, the associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Directorate at NASA who also testified at the hearing, the US is currently covered through fall of 2019, thanks to seats we’ve purchased on Russian Soyuz rockets. After that, though, it becomes a real problem. If there are additional delays to either of these schedules, Russia can’t build more Soyuz capsules in time to accommodate the US, and there are no more seats reserved for U.S. astronauts. While Gerstenmaier said that NASA is brainstorming about how to find additional flights if such an action becomes necessary, that doesn’t change the constraint here. There’s currently one vehicle able to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS. It’s not clear where NASA expects to find more choices there.

It’s important to note that certification is different than a first flight. While SpaceX and Boeing are both scheduled to send their first crewed flights into space by the end of 2018, it’s likely they will slip into early next year. Human-rating certification, on the other hand, is a rigorous process to ensure that the system (crew capsule and launch vehicle) is safe to regularly carry astronauts.

The delays are certainly frustrating, and we can add to that the fact that the ISS is currently only scheduled to be in operation through 2024. It’s looking like we’ll be getting very close to the end of the space station’s life before the US has a regular method to send astronauts there and bring them home. That being said, NASA’s certification program is rigorous (it will require seven flights of the Block 5 Falcon 9 before it allows the system to be certified to carry humans), and safety comes first. At the hearing, Gerstenmaier said, “NASA is aware of the schedule, but not driven by the schedule.” This is an incredibly complicated process, and it’s important to get it right, with a minimum of risk for astronauts.

Source: YouTube

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