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19
Jul

Three ways Android Auto drives circles around Apple CarPlay


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If you want to use your phone in the car, then Android is your best bet — and for many, it’s your only option.

Using your phone in the car is an often awkward and often downright dangerous task. No one in their right mind should be using their phone one-handed while they drive to text, call, or open up some music. With this in mind, both Google and Apple have standardized, easy-to-use car modes for their mobile platforms, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Both have been around for years now, but the gap between them has been slowly widening and widening as they drive towards maturity.

And Android Auto is leaving Apple CarPlay in the dust, thanks to three performance boosts.

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The one place Android beats Apple in apps

Third-party maps and apps

Android has traditionally been more welcoming of third-party apps, especially when it comes to setting them as the default for system actions and preferences. Nowhere is this more apparent and appreciated than in the car, as one of the biggest pitfalls with Apple CarPlay today is that it forces you to use Apple Maps over more popular navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze. Apple looks to finally remedy this in iOS 12, to the cheers of Apple users everywhere, but maps isn’t the only app category where CarPlay is lacking over Android Auto.

When you get in the car, music isn’t the only thing you might want to listen to, but Apple CarPlay is sorely lacking when it comes to media apps compatible with the service, and most of the media apps available are music subscription services. Android Auto, on the other hand, allows media apps of all kinds to work in Android Auto, from podcast apps and audiobooks to radio show apps and even police scanner apps. And of course, there are dozens and dozens of music apps that support Android Auto, both streaming music subscription services and local MP3 players.

Additionally, since Android Auto strictly regulates the layout of media apps in Android Auto, no matter which app you use, they’re all equally easy to use and navigate.

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Assistant for the assist

Voice control reliability and flexibility

It’s no secret that Google Assistant has long surpassed Siri as a voice assistant, and that dominance is just as apparent in the car as it is on the phone. Google Assistant’s AI prowess allows it better recognize commands on noisy roads, and its AI better recognizes the contexts and actions within those commands so that Google can do what you actually want instead of embarrassing you in front of your whole carpool.

Google Assistant in the car can tie into Google Assistant actions for smart homes and other devices. The Broadcast command that will let you announce that you’re on the way home with the pizza while you’re pulling out of the parking lot, and smart home controls allow Google Assistant turn down the AC so that the fan’s blowing when you walk out of the sweltering Texas heat into your apartment.

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Look, ma, no car!

Android Auto has the ultimate compatibility: Running independently

While I love having a shiny, new car with a shiny, new Android Auto-compatible radio, I had been needing a car for three years already. Most people are not, nor are most people inclined to spend hundreds of dollars on a new radio when their current radio is still technically functional. That’s okay, because this is where Android Auto’s biggest ace in the hole shines through.

You can use Android Auto independently of any car, or any other transportation device you use.

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Android Auto has been able to run natively on your phone since 2016, meaning that whether you’re rocking a car from 2018 or 1918, you can use Android Auto in your car so long as you’ve got an Android phone and a place to mount your phone in your car. Is the experience quite as seamless as using it through a car stereo with steering wheel controls? No, it’s not, but you still get the larger distraction-free UI, the hands-free map/call/music controls and you can set Android Auto to launch every time your phone pairs with the Bluetooth in your car.

To use Android Auto after your initial setup, all you need to do is turn on your car, put your phone on its designated mount, and start driving.

Read more: How to set up Android Auto on your phone so you’ll actually use it

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Are you ready for a test drive?

While Apple could start catching up with the updates to CarPlay in iOS 12 this fall, Android Auto is still the best by far today thanks to Google Assistant and the independence of being able to run Android Auto without hooking it up to one of a few hundred compatible radios.

All About Android Auto

  • Getting started with Android Auto in your car
  • Using Android Auto natively on your phone
  • Android Auto news
  • Waze on Android Auto
  • Join the Android Auto discussion!

19
Jul

What’s new in August 2018 on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu


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You read that right. It’s almost August. Here’s what’s new on Prime Video. And Hulu.

Let us just put things like this: There are so many great old movies available on Amazon Prime Video in August — that is, for free with your Prime Membership — that we can’t list them all here. (We can, however, list them at CordCutters.com, so hit that link below.)

But, really, August means we’re finally going to get to see John Krasinski as Jack Ryan. OK, at the end of August, but still in August. It can’t come soon enough.

As for Hulu? Well. There’s also a ton of great content — movies, shows and more. In a word? Terminator!

Read: What’s new on Prime Video for August 2018Also: What’s new on Hulu for August 2018

Update July 19: Added Hulu’s listings for August.

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19
Jul

Instagram’s new Q&A feature is a bigger deal than you think


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Bringing the photo platform another step closer to being a full-fledged social platform.

If you’ve been on Instagram in the last week or so, you’ve probably noticed some of your friends using the new Questions feature in their Stories. You might have even tried it for yourself — it attaches to an image or video in your Story just like any other sticker, and you can add whatever you want to the text field, resize or move the sticker, and field replies to answer and post to your Story.

You might even already be annoyed with the feature and how many Story posts it encourages — every time you answer a question, it gets shared to your Story unless you choose to send your response directly to the person who asked. Some users’ Stories are longer than ever as they try to answer every question that crops up, but don’t worry. As with any new feature rollout, use will settle down as more and more people get the initial urge to try it out of their systems.

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Whether or not you like the implementation of Questions in Instagram Stories, they’re a much bigger deal than you might think. Over the last few years, Instagram has gradually been inching away from its initial positioning as a social network strictly for photos. At first, it gained support for 15-second videos, then 60 seconds, and now IGTV supports long-form video up to an hour long.

On top of adding video support, Stories completely overtook Snapchat with ephemeral images and videos, filters, and add-ons like location stickers and polls. The new Questions sticker builds onto Instagram’s empire with a more interactive and engaging nature; aside from polls, Stories have been more or less one-sided, giving your followers a peak into the behind-the-scenes goings of your daily life. Sure, you could send someone a direct message in reference to their Story, but this is different. This is entirely open-ended and public.

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While it may be a bit annoying at first that every answered question takes up a post in your Story, it fills an important role in allowing Instagram to replace even more services. At this point, It’s hard to imagine Instagram replacing sites like YouTube entirely, but a few years the same could be said about Periscope, Snapchat, and Vine. Questions obviates the need for popular Q&A sites like Ask.fm, Curious Cat, and to some extent, even Tumblr. It’s almost even like Twitter in a way. If Instagram’s goal is to keep you from going elsewhere — and it is — this takes them a step further in the right direction.

Have you tried Questions yet, or at least seen others use it? Do you like its open-ended nature, or are you tired of scrolling through endless answers in your feed? Let us know in the comments below!

Download: Instagram (free)

19
Jul

Google’s Fuchsia OS may replace Android in 5 years


The end goal is to have Fuchsia on phones, computers, smart speakers, and more.

Ever since 2016, Google’s been chugging along with the development of a new operating system called “Fuchsia.” Fuchsia’s been expected to replace Android at some point down the road, but the timeline for this has been pretty murky — at least until now.

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A new report recently popped up from Bloomberg, and according to sources that spoke with the publication:

Ultimately the team [Google’s Fuchsia team] aspires to swap in their system for Android, the software that powers more than three-quarters of the world’s smartphones, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. The aim for this is to happen in the next half decade, one person said.

Furthermore, Google also plans to have Fuchsia running on smart speakers and other “connected home devices” within the next three years.

Bloomberg’s report goes on to reiterate things we’ve already been anticipating for Fuchsia, most notably how Google wants it to eventually be the single operating system that powers smartphones, tablets, computers, smart home devices, etc. The OS is being designed to work on screens of all sizes and form factors, and to not much surprise, Google wants voice control to be at the core of Fuchsia.

It’s certainly exciting to think that we may have a brand new operating system from Google in five years time, but as it’s noted here, Google’s “yet to sign off on any roadmap for Fuchsia.”

Are you looking forward to an Android successor?

The EU Antitrust case against Android sucks for everyone, especially you

19
Jul

Aukey’s mini Bluetooth speaker is down to its lowest price ever right now


Big sound from a small package.

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Aukey is well-known for making great accessories for our gadgets, including charging gear and Bluetooth add-ons. This mini Bluetooth speaker is no exception, and right now you can pick one up for its lowest price ever, just $14.99. It normally sells for almost double this.

Don’t let the small package fool you, though. It has a 5W speaker inside and offers 10 hours of playback per charge. If you don’t want everyone connecting their phone to your speaker via Bluetooth you can opt to use the Aux connection or microSD card slot instead. It also has a built-in mic which allows you to not only listen to music on it but also take phone calls when needed.

This speaker is backed by a 45-day money back guarantee and a 24-month warranty from Aukey.

See at Amazon

19
Jul

LG V40 ThinQ: News, Rumors, Release Date, Specs, and More!


This is LG’s most powerful phone of 2018.

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Last year saw a big shift for LG’s V series. Unlike the V10 and V20 that experimented with metal designs, removable batteries, and secondary ticker displays, the V30 introduced a slick glass back, incredibly slim bezels, and a pOLED screen made by LG itself.

We’re anticipating the V40 to share a lot of similarities to its predecessor and this year’s recently announced LG V35, and as new information trickles in, we’ll be regularly updating this guide to help keep you up-date on everything that’s going on.

Without further delay, here’s everything we know about the LG V40!

The latest LG V40 news

July 19, 2018 — LG to launch the V40 on October 5, reported to have a 90% screen-to-body ratio

A new report from ETNews recently broke, and if you weren’t already excited about the V40, this just may change your mind.

Following last month’s rumor of the V40 having a total of five cameras, ETNews says that three of these will be on the back of the phone and consist of 20MP primary, 16MP wide-angle, and 13MP telephoto sensors. The remaining two cameras will be on the front and allow for a 3D facial recognition system.

Speaking of the V40’s front, it’s said that we’ll be met with an impressive screen-to-body ratio of 90%. LG will apparently have a “different from the conventional” method for keeping bezels so small, suggesting that the company might have found an alternative solution to the notch.

Lastly, LG will reportedly announce the phone during IFA late next month and then begin sales on October 5.

June 26, 2018 — The V40 will reportedly have a total of five cameras, a notch in its display, and face unlock system

News dump alert! Our friends at Android Police recently spoke with a source that’s apparently familiar with the V40’s development, and as such, we’ve got some juicy new details about the phone.

First and foremost, it’s reported that the LG V40 will ship with a total of five cameras. We can’t say with 100% certainty how these will be positioned on the phone, but it’s likely we’ll get two on the front and three on the back. Speaking of cameras, LG’s working on a new face unlock system that could feature 3D mapping technology, not unlike the iPhone X’s Face ID.

Something else to take note of is the fact that the V40 is said to come with a notch in its display. LG will allow you to use software to hide the notch just like it does on the G7, but as expected, this is a trend you just can’t escape for the time being.

Other reported features are the Snapdragon 845, rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, and a dedicated Google Assistant button next to the volume rocker.

What specs can we expect?

Talk about the V40’s specs is still relatively quiet, but even so, we can make a few guesses about what it’ll come equipped with.

At the heart of the V40 will likely be Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 processor. This has been the chipset of choice for most 2018 flagships, and as we’ve seen before, the 845 is a beast when it comes to performance, camera processing, battery life, and more.

Something else the V40 will likely carry is an OLED display. In May, LG confirmed that it reserves its OLED panels for entries in the V series. Unless something has radically changed since then, this is a sure bet that the V40 will be graced with an OLED screen.

Lastly, the V40 will come with at least two cameras on the back. We don’t know what kind of sensors will be used or what the aperture rating will be like, but similar to past LG flagships, we should get a primary lens with a regular focal length and a secondary, wide angle one.

When will the LG V40 be released?

According to one source, the V40 is scheduled for a release in either the late summer or early fall of this year. If accurate, this will see it launched during a similar window compared to the September 21 release of the V30.

Along with this, another publication claims that the V40 will be announced during IFA (late August / early September) and then go on sale about a month later on October 5.

How much will it cost?

We have a pretty good idea as to when the V40 will be released, but what about its price?

Details on this are still few and far between, but to make an educated guess, let’s first look at past retail pricing for other entries in the V series.

  • LG V10 — $600
  • LG V20 — $830
  • LG V30 — $800
  • LG V30S — $930
  • LG V35 — $900

LG’s been steadily increasing the price of its V phones with just about every release, and based on the most recent V30S and V35, I think it’s safe to say that the V40 will cost around $900 and possibly cross that $1000 threshold.

The V series has never been cheap and the V40 won’t be an exception to that rule.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 rumors: Release date, specs, price, and features!

LG V30 + V30S ThinQ

  • LG V30S hands-on: A 2017 phone with 2018’s buzzwords
  • LG V30S specs
  • LG V30 review: The no-BS flagship
  • Top LG V30 camera features
  • Full LG V30 specs
  • Join our LG V30 forums

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19
Jul

Comcast Bows Out of Competition for Fox, CEO Congratulates Disney as Bidding War Ends


After a summer of back-and-forth bids between Comcast and Disney for select entertainment assets owned by 21st Century Fox, Comcast today confirmed that it is bowing out of the bidding war for Fox. The company says the move is to instead focus on acquiring European satellite TV provider Sky, another much-sought-after entertainment company that is seeing interest from the likes of Comcast, Fox, and Disney (via Variety).

For the purchase of 21st Century Fox, this means that Disney is now expected to finally win the bid and close out the acquisition deal in the near future. The most recent steps in that process saw Disney and Fox agree to a $71.3 billion cash and stock deal, which has now also been approved by the Department of Justice on the condition that Disney sells off 22 regional Fox sports networks.

In the announcement confirming that it will not place another bid on Fox, Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts congratulated Disney and its CEO Bob Iger:

“Comcast does not intend to pursue further the acquisition of the Twenty-First Century Fox assets and, instead, will focus on our recommended offer for Sky,” the company said in a statement Thursday.

Brian L. Roberts, Comcast chairman-CEO, added: “I’d like to congratulate Bob Iger and the team at Disney and commend the Murdoch family and Fox for creating such a desirable and respected company.”

Disney originally announced interest in acquiring 21st Century Fox last December, starting its bidding at $52.4 billion in stock before Comcast forced it to increase the amount and introduce a cash component. Once the acquisition is final, Disney will own Twentieth Century Fox Film and Television Studios and Fox-related cable and international TV businesses.

At the time, Disney leadership said that the new Fox assets will build on the company’s “commitment to deliver the highest quality branded entertainment,” as well as fuel its ability to “create more appealing content.” The company also referenced its intent to deliver a “more compelling” entertainment experience to Disney consumers “whenever and however” they choose.

Disney said that the Fox assets would accelerate its use of certain technologies, including the recently acquired BAMTech platform, which it aims to use for its solo-streaming service. With the acquisition, Disney will immediately gain a large stable of old and new television shows and movies to populate its upcoming streaming service, expected to launch in 2019 and compete with Apple’s own streaming TV service.

Tags: Disney, Comcast, Fox
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19
Jul

2018 13-Inch MacBook Pro With Touch Bar Has Four Full-Speed Thunderbolt 3 Ports


Apple has confirmed that the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is equipped with four full-speed Thunderbolt 3 ports.

2018 models ship with Intel’s eighth-generation Core i5 or Core i7 processors, which both support up to 16 PCI Express lanes, providing enough bandwidth for maximum data transfer speeds up to 40Gb/s on all four Thunderbolt 3 ports.

2016 and 2017 models of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar could be configured with sixth- and seventh-generation Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors, which supported up to 12 PCI Express lanes, limiting full speeds to the two left-side Thunderbolt 3 ports, with reduced bandwidth on the right-side ports.

Now, users have the freedom to plug higher-performance peripherals into any Thunderbolt 3 port they desire without compromise.

All three generations of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar have always had four full-speed Thunderbolt 3 ports, while the 13-inch MacBook Pro with function keys has only two Thunderbolt 3 ports, both full speed.

Related Roundup: MacBook ProTag: Thunderbolt 3Buyer’s Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now)
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19
Jul

Apple Confirms 2018 MacBook Pro Keyboard Has ‘Membrane’ to ‘Prevent Debris From Entering the Butterfly Mechanism’


In an internal document distributed to Apple Authorized Service Providers, obtained by MacRumors from a reliable source, Apple has confirmed that the third-generation keyboard on 2018 MacBook Pro models is equipped with a “membrane” to “prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism.”

Image Credit: iFixit
The relevant excerpt from the service document:

Keyboard and Keycaps
The keyboard has a membrane under the keycaps to prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism. The procedure for the space bar replacement has also changed from the previous model. Repair documentation and service videos will be available when keycap parts begin shipping.

In its teardown of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar last week, the repair experts at iFixit were first to discover the thin, silicone barrier underneath the keycaps, and theorized that it was to prevent dust indeed.

Publicly, Apple has only confirmed that 2018 MacBook Pro models feature an “improved third-generation keyboard for quieter typing,” but many suspected that the silicon membrane was actually to prevent “contaminate ingress,” fancy speak for the crumbs from your sandwich that you ate at your desk for lunch.

Following years of anecdotal complaints from customers, and a few class action lawsuits, Apple initiated a worldwide service program last month, offering free repairs of 2015-and-later MacBook and 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro keyboards, which are equipped with low-profile butterfly switch mechanisms.

We’ve already reported about the service program in more detail, but the gist is that those particular MacBook and MacBook Pro models can experience issues with sticky, unresponsive, or inconsistently functioning keys when small particles like dust or crumbs get stuck underneath the shallower keycaps.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment.

More details to follow…

Related Roundup: MacBook ProBuyer’s Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now)
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19
Jul

Apple Highlights Upcoming Retail Grand Openings in Milan and Walnut Creek


Apple this week has begun highlighting the impending grand openings of two new retail locations in Milan, Italy and Walnut Creek, California.

Apple Piazza Liberty in Milan will see a grand opening on Thursday, July 26, and in celebration Apple has put together a collection of colorful pieces of art and photographs created by twenty Italian artists and designers.

On a new webpage on Apple.com, the company highlights the artists and the Apple products they used to create their works. These include product designer Valerio Sommella (iPad Pro, Procreate, and iMac Pro), musician Charlie Charles (iMac), illustrator and animator Stefano Colferai (iPhone X and MacBook Pro), and more.

Every day in Milan, artists and designers reinvent the future. Twenty of them asked what they will do tomorrow, and here are their answers: a snapshot of the city’s creative energy.

Apple discovered the artists and incorporated their creations into the tagline of the new store ahead of the grand opening, which visitors can see on nearby barricades: “Cosa farai domani, Milano?” or “What will you do tomorrow, Milan?”

Colferai’s project (left) and Apple Piazza Liberty (right) via @stefanocolferai on Instagram
Of course, Apple Piazza Liberty will host a variety of Today at Apple sessions, including live music in the location’s amphitheater on opening night by musician LIM, a “crazy self-portraits” session with Olimpia Zagnoli on July 27, a photographic laboratory with Piotr Niepsuj on July 28, and a “draw the summer” class on July 29. Local customers can begin signing up for these sessions on July 20.

In the U.S., another Apple retail location will be opening around the same time as the Milan store, this one on Saturday, July 28 in Walnut Creek, California. Opening at 10:00 a.m. local time, the relocated store is taking the place of a former California Pizza Kitchen and will now be named Apple Broadway Plaza.


The former location lacked many of the modern features of Apple’s new retail store initiative, so Apple Broadway Plaza will debut with an emphasis as a local community gathering space that can be used for Today at Apple sessions. The building is located in the Broadway Plaza outdoor mall in Walnut Creek, and has been under construction for over a year.

For more on the latest of Apple’s retail plans, be sure to visit our Apple Stores Roundup.

Tag: Apple retail
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