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1
Aug

Apple Pay Now Available at Nearly 16,000 Cardless Chase ATMs


Chase, one of the major banks in the United States, today announced that customers can now use Apple Pay and other mobile wallet services at nearly all of the company’s 16,000 ATMs, which have been upgraded with card-free access.

To access an ATM and withdraw money, customers no longer need a physical debit card or access code for authentication, with the contactless ATMs supporting a “tap” from a smartphone to use the ATM.

On its website, Chase walks users through the steps necessary to use the new ATM functionality.

For iPhone users, after adding a Chase card to the Wallet app on the iPhone, at an ATM, customers will need to open up the Wallet app, select the virtual Chase debit card and tap the iPhone on the “Cardless” symbol on the ATM, authenticating via Face ID or Touch ID.


A PIN code will need to be entered for verification purposes, so it’s not quite as simple as a standard payment with Apple Pay, but it does prevent Chase card users from needing to pull out a physical card.

Chase says that cardless ATM access is available to all customers with a Chase debit or Liquid card that’s been added to Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay. All Chase ATMs with the Cardless symbol support Apple Pay.

Chase first announced plans to update its ATMs with contactless money withdrawals in 2016, and has since then been rolling out the technology. Today’s update suggests the rollout is nearly complete and available to most Chase customers.

Both Wells Fargo and Bank of America, Chase competitors, have also been rolling out card-free Apple Pay access to ATMs. Wells Fargo added Apple Pay support to over 5,000 ATMs last year, while Bank of America began implementing the feature in 2016.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
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1
Aug

Apple Releases Safari Technology Preview 62 With Bug Fixes and Feature Improvements


Apple today released a new update for Safari Technology Preview, the experimental browser Apple first introduced over two years ago in March of 2016. Apple designed the Safari Technology Preview to test features that may be introduced into future release versions of Safari.

Safari Technology Preview release 62 includes bug fixes and feature improvements for Intelligent Tracking Prevention, JavaScript, Media, Rendering, Dark Mode, Web API, Web Inspector, SVG, Web Animations, CSS, IndexedDB, and Accessibility.

The new Safari Technology Preview update is available for both macOS High Sierra and macOS Mojave, the newest version of the Mac operating system that’s currently being beta tested by developers.

Apple outlines a few known issues in this release for the macOS Mojave version of the browser. Text does not render properly in the Smart Search Field in Dark Mode and there is no usable WebDriver implementation.

The Safari Technology Preview update is available through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store (or in System Preferences in Mojave) to anyone who has downloaded the browser. Full release notes for the update are available on the Safari Technology Preview website.

Apple’s aim with Safari Technology Preview is to gather feedback from developers and users on its browser development process. Safari Technology Preview can run side-by-side with the existing Safari browser and while designed for developers, it does not require a developer account to download.
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1
Aug

Moto E5 Play and Moto E5 Plus review: All good things come to an end


Motorola has long dominated the U.S. budget smartphone market. For years, virtually every publication has recommended the Moto E series to those on a tight budget. It’s easy to see why. Last year’s Moto E4 offered a passable experience for just $70. Now, Motorola is back with the E5 series, so settle in for our Moto E5 Play and Moto E5 Plus review.

You’re probably wondering whether these new devices are worth your attention. Has Motorola significantly improved the E line? Has the budget smartphone landscape changed to make the E series less competitive? Sure, these phones are affordable, but are they worth it?

Don’t miss: Best budget phones ($500 and under)

About this review: Motorola’s PR department loaned us an unlocked Moto E5 Play and a Sprint-variant Moto E5 Plus review unit. I used the E5 Play with a personal AT&T SIM card and the E5 Plus with a provided Sprint SIM card. At the time of writing, our units were both running Android 8.0 Oreo with the April 1 security patch. We’ll add review scoring once we’ve run the phones through our suite of custom tests.

Design

Motorola Moto E5 Play Rear Cover Design, Moto E5 Play review

The Moto E5 Play and E5 Plus feature somewhat different designs, so I’ll cover each separately and then offer some combined thoughts. Let’s start with the less expensive model, the Moto E5 Play.

If you’ve seen the Moto E4, you won’t be surprised by the E5 Play’s design — it’s very much iterative. The only notable change is the fingerprint reader’s move to the back of the phone, now integrated with that familiar Moto dimple.

I really appreciate this change as it makes the E5 Play seem more like a single piece of hardware, though it only seems like it. The plastic rear cover is actually completely detachable from the phone. For the time travelers reading this article or those just unaware, this is basically unheard of in 2018.

Motorola Moto E5 Play Removable Battery and Cover Design, Moto E5 Play review

When everything is always on, always listening, and always watching, it’s refreshing to have the slightest bit of physical control.

You can not only replace the SIM and microSD cards but also remove the battery. There are two clear advantages of this design. Firstly, you can easily swap the battery if the current one runs out of juice. It’s also a win for those of us slightly paranoid about our privacy. When everything is always on, always listening, and always watching, it’s refreshing to be able to just take out the battery.

The rest of the design is pretty standard. The texturized plastic back provides a good grip, but it’s hardly premium.

Motorola Moto E5 Plus Light Refracting Design In Hand, Moto E5 Plus review

The E5 Plus’ design is similar to the E5 Play’s design — in the same way you’re similar to your second cousin. The phones are pretty different but share some higher-level resemblance. The Moto E5 Plus review unit we got looks a heck of a lot like the Moto G6. The back is made of glossy plastic, meeting up with a disappointingly cheap-feeling sideband.

The E5 Plus is not designed to be taken apart like the E5 Play. Instead, the SIM and microSD cards are swappable via a tray on the top left side of the phone. Weirdly, my unit’s tray doesn’t fully close, making it not quite flush with the side. It’s a small detail and may only affect my unit, but it doesn’t look good.

With that said, I generally like the design of the E5 Plus. The plastic refracts light in a manner similar to Honor’s flagships. It’s a shame it collects fingerprints so easily, though.

Motorola Moto E5 Play and Moto E5 Plus Camera and Moto Dimple Design, Moto E5 Plus review

Both phones are a bit heftier than I expected — the E5 Play is 150 grams and the Plus is 200 grams. I personally didn’t mind this, but some people won’t like it. For what it’s worth, most of the added weight is due to the larger batteries.

Motorola claims both devices feature a water-repellent coating. Without any official certification, however, I would be careful about exposing them to water. Still, the added coating certainly doesn’t hurt.

The fingerprint readers are uniquely less obtrusive thanks to the Moto Dimple.

I should note that I was quite happy with the fingerprint readers on both devices during the Moto E5 Play and Moto E5 Plus review period. They’re less obtrusive thanks to the Moto Dimple and they correctly read fingerprints at a good rate and speed — something most budget smartphones don’t do.

Motorola Moto E5 Plus microUSB Port Design, Moto E5 Plus review

Unfortunately, the Moto E5 Play and E5 Plus both feature micro-USB charging ports, instead of the now three-year-old USB Type-C. I could’ve seen this as logical even a year ago, because of the target audience, but it’s 2018, people. It’s no fun having to go backward and replace cables around the home, in your bag, and in your car. As someone who has completely transitioned to USB-C, my reaction when unboxing these devices was remarkably similar to Michael Scott’s reaction to Toby’s return in The Office.

Display

Motorola Moto E5 Play and Moto E5 Plus Front Chins Navigation On Table, Moto E5 Plus review

The E5 Plus features a large 6-inch display, while the E5 Play has a 5.2-inch display. The display on the E5 Plus adopts the newer 18:9 aspect ratio. The E5 Play sticks with the old 16:9 format. The new aspect ratio may not have trickled down to all budget phones just yet, but it already has a strong foothold in the mid-range segment.

Both devices feature 720p panels. This is acceptable on the smaller E5 Play unit, but I’m not convinced it was wise for the E5 Plus. Since the display on the E5 Plus is significantly larger, the image on the cheaper E5 Play is actually sharper. Neither are especially sharp, but you get what you pay for.

Motorola Moto E5 Play Front Display, Moto E5 Play review

The E5 Play’s display is not good.

To be frank, the E5 Play’s display is not good. Colors are washed out, viewing angles are poor, and it’s nowhere near bright enough for outdoor use. The glass also feels like plastic, collects fingerprints easily, and lacks a good anti-reflective coating.

Motorola Moto E5 Plus Bottom Front Navigation Keys and Logo, Moto E5 Plus review

Although the E5 Play’s display isn’t a great baseline, the display on the E5 Plus is noticeably better. Colors feel less dead, it gets a bit brighter, and the glass performs as expected. The display is still mediocre and I would’ve liked to see a sharper 1080p panel, but I suppose this is where we once again have to take pricing into account and recalibrate our expectations.

Performance

Motorola Moto E5 Play Front Display, Moto E5 Play review

My Moto E5 Plus review unit also offers slightly better performance than the E5 Play, running a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435  vs. a Snapdragon 427 or 425 in the Play. Whether you get a 425 or 427 with the E5 Play depends which one your carrier decides to offer. Most of them aren’t disclosing their choice, but really the only major difference is that the 427 offers faster LTE speeds.

The E5 Plus uses a respectable Adreno 505 GPU, but the E5 Play is stuck with an Adreno 308. Casual gamers on a tight budget should get the E5 Plus if they can, or just opt for a different phone entirely. The E5 Plus is a better choice for gaming, but neither are very good.

The E5 Play only has 2GB of RAM, which makes for a less than ideal multi-tasking experience. The E5 Plus’ 3GB of memory is obviously better. Just don’t expect to do much — if any — multitasking, regardless of Motorola’s marketing.

If you’re coming from a flagship experience, expect to feel like you’ve been thrown back a few years.

Your perception of real-world performance will depend on what class of device you’re currently using. If you’re coming from a flagship experience, expect to feel thrown back a few years. If you’re coming from another cheap phone, the E5 range will likely seem fine. Just know there is a significant compromise here with the lower pricing.

Hardware

Motorola Moto E5 Play and Moto E5 Plus Hardware Designs In Hand, Moto E5 Plus review

These phones will work with more carriers than their competitors

The North American models of the Moto E5 Play and E5 Plus are both single-SIM. Both offer an impressively long list of supported frequencies, meaning they will work with more carriers than their competitors.

Even after assessing everything about these phones, I’m still surprised by this level of network support. It’s difficult to deliver smartphones with wide carrier support because each added frequency means additional engineering and testing costs. Kudos to Motorola for pulling this off on such affordable phones.

Motorola Moto E5 Play speaker and front-facing camera and flash, Moto E5 Play review

Both models also support 5GHz Wi-Fi, which is essential for those like myself in areas with overcrowded 2.4GHz airwaves. It only goes up to 802.11n though (not 802.11ac), so your speeds could still be bottlenecked by the phone’s hardware. For example, my personal home internet download speed is 180Mbps. Both models showed speeds of around 25Mbps connected to my 2.4GHz network during lower-than-normal congestion. Once I switched to my 5GHz network, speeds jumped up to between 40 and 45Mbps. That’s better, but still less than a quarter of what I can access on other devices.

The E5 Play offers 16GB and the E5 Plus offers 32GB of storage. Those are pretty generous numbers given the pricing. This is especially true when you consider the microSD card expansion options, up to 128GB. It’s always nice to have that option if you start running low on storage.

As expected, there’s no NFC support with either of these devices. That means no convenient pairing with Bluetooth peripherals, no contactless payments via Google Pay, and no easy initiation of file transfers between devices.

Motorola Moto E5 Play and Moto E5 Plus Headphone Jack Tops, Moto E5 Plus review

A lot of users will appreciate Motorola’s decision to keep the 3.5mm headphone jack.

The phone keeps another legacy port users will probably appreciate: a 3.5mm headphone jack. Audio output is only of acceptable quality though.

Unfortunately, there isn’t any support for higher-end audio codecs. My pair of Bluetooth headphones didn’t sound as good when connected to either model as they did when connected to higher-end phones, despite the presence of Android Oreo.

If you’re not the kind of person who uses headphones, at least you’ll be left with earpiece audio on both devices, which also serves as a front-facing speaker. Both models perform well in this area given the pricing, mostly just because the audio faces the user — as it should.

Battery life

Motorola Moto E5 Plus Charging for Battery Life, Moto E5 Plus review

It’s easy to get a day to a day and a half of use out of these phones.

Like most smartphones in this category, both the Moto E5 Play and E5 Plus offer excellent battery life. You can get considerably more usage out of the E5 Plus thanks to its large 5,000mAh battery. Either way, it’s easy to get a day or more out of these phones.

While the E5 Play’s 2,800mAh battery is of a lower capacity, you can swap it out if needed. If you plan on camping or something, you could just take an extra battery or two and not have to worry about your phone dying. That way you can focus on preventing nature from killing you instead.

Both phones support “fast charging,” though only the E5 Plus qualifies for Motorola’s TurboPower Charging speeds, which is essentially a rebranded Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0. Thankfully, Motorola includes a TurboPower charger in the box. With this, you can start taking advantage of fast charging from day one (or two).

Camera

Motorola Moto E5 Plus Camera Lens and Moto Dimple Design, Moto E5 Plus review

It has long been the case that if you wanted a good smartphone camera, you must spend more money. Developing good cameras is complicated and expensive. I didn’t have very high expectations for either phone’s camera performance.

It should first be noted that these phones have different cameras. The E5 Play sports an 8MP camera, while the E5 Plus has a 12MP camera, both featuring an f/2.0 aperture. In practice, I found the E5 Plus outperformed the E5 Play even more than I expected.

The difference is apparent even if we focus only on daytime camera samples. Both cameras really struggle with dynamic range, accurate color reproduction, and software over-sharpening. These issues are much more visible in my E5 Play camera samples, shown below.

While the E5 Plus’ camera isn’t amazing, it produces better daytime photos, shown below.

Motorola Moto E5 Plus Front-facing Camera with Flash Demo, Moto E5 Plus review

What’s interesting about both the Moto E5 Play and E5 Plus is that they feature front-facing cameras with a flash. So you could theoretically take better selfies in dark conditions thanks to the added light source. The front-facing cameras are 5 and 8MP, respectively. Both are about average for this price point.

Motorola’s cameras seemed to perform a little bit above average up until I tried taking photos in low-light conditions (E5 Play above, E5 Plus below). The issues present in daytime photos become more pronounced. As the sensor captured even less light, images came out blurry and noisy. The camera’s software seems to do a good job at detecting low-light conditions, but the end result is still abysmal.

The camera on the E5 Plus performs better in low-light conditions than the E5 Play’s camera, but it’s still pretty bad. My camera samples were taken about twenty minutes after sunset in mostly well-lit areas, yet the camera still struggled.

I wouldn’t want to rely on either phone’s camera to capture important moments.

All things considered, I strongly discourage trying to use either of these phones as your primary camera. These phones may work in emergencies or for simpler Instagram photos, but I wouldn’t rely on either to capture important moments.

Software

Motorola Moto E5 Play Moto Display Always-On Clock, Moto E5 Plus review

The Moto E5 Play and Moto E5 Plus ship with Android 8.0 Oreo. Given Motorola’s historical update record, it’s very unlikely these devices will ever be updated to a future version of Android, like Android P. It’s sad, but very typical at this price.

Motorola phones have had a software experience very similar to stock Android for years, and these phones are no different. The overall user interface is pretty much the same. The big changes come in the form of a few added features.

Moto Actions are probably the most recognizable. There’s a number of added gestures like three finger screenshot and chop twice for flashlight. There’s also the ability to turn on a blue light filter or enable Moto Display, which is similar to an always-on display, except it’s not always on. The display illuminates with the time and new notifications whenever motion is detected or notifications come in.

Motorola Moto E5 Play Bottom Moto Display, Moto E5 Play review

I am sure these added features will be welcome additions for most people. The one major complaint I have about the software is that the multi-tasking view is minimized so an unnecessarily large area can be dedicated to instructions on how to use the split-screen mode. I was expecting this to go away once I used split-screen for the first time, but it’s still there even after multiple uses.

Motorola has delivered a strong software experience overall.

This added text and surrounding area is unfortunate because it means less room for the app preview cards. I personally don’t understand the reasoning behind this. Despite that, I feel Motorola delivered a strong software experience overall.

Motorola Moto E5 Plus bloatware, Moto E5 Plus review

One last warning regarding the software: expect bloatware if you’re buying from a U.S. carrier. Our Sprint-variant Moto E5 Plus shipped with a whopping 27 extra bloatware apps.

I’ll call this “Sprintware,” as Sprint appears to be the only carrier to install so many unnecessary apps. Not only is Sprint profiting off agreements to install all of these different apps (most of which can’t be uninstalled), but it’s also charging the most for these phones out of all of the other carriers. Talk about a bad deal.

Gallery

Specifications

Display 5.2-inch LCD,
1280×720 (16:9)
6-inch LCD,
1440×720 (18:9)
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 or Snapdragon 427
Adreno 308 GPU
Qualcomm Snapdragon 435
Adreno 505 GPU
Storage 16 GB (expandable via microSD card, up to 128 GB) 32 GB (expandable via microSD card, up to 128 GB)
RAM 2 GB 3 GB
Rear camera 8 MP, f/2.0, 1.12um pixels 12 MP, f/2.0, 1.25um pixels
Front camera 5 MP
LED flash
8 MP
LED flash
Software Android 8.0 Oreo Android 8.0 Oreo
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11n, 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz, Bluetooth 4.2 LE, FM radio
MicroUSB
GPS, GLONASS
Wi-Fi 802.11n, 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz, Bluetooth 4.2 LE, FM radio
MicroUSB
GPS, GLONASS
Battery 2800mAh 5000mAh
Dimensions 151 x 74 x 8.85 mm
150 g
161.9 x 75.3 x 9.35 mm
200 g

Price

The pricing and availability of these phones is remarkably complicated. Unlike last year’s Moto E4, neither phone is available unlocked in the United States. Instead, you can find the Motorola Moto E5 Play at seven different carriers and the Motorola Moto E5 Plus at four different carriers. If you’re on Cricket Wireless, the E5 Play is named the E5 Cruise and the E5 Plus is named the E5 Supra. I have no idea why Cricket rebranded them.

The E5 Play is available in dark lake, flash gray, and black. The E5 Plus is available in flash gray, mineral blue, and black. The color availability is completely dependent on the carrier though, and most carriers offer only one color. Hopefully it’s one you like.

Motorola Moto E5 Plus laying on a table and showing its home screen, Moto E5 Plus review

If this is already getting confusing, wait until you see how each carrier sets its own pricing. The Moto E5 Play can cost as little as $40 on Cricket Wireless to $70 on Verizon Wireless Prepaid to an insane $192 on Sprint. The Moto E5 Plus is only sometimes more expensive; it costs $150 on Boost Mobile, $225 on T-Mobile, and a once again insane $288 on Sprint.

In Europe, the E5 Plus is priced at 170 euros (~$199), significantly less than Sprint and T-Mobile. I couldn’t find any international pricing on the E5 Play, but the variation from $40 to $192 should be enough to raise some alarm bells on carrier pricing practices. To add to the confusion, our European friends can also buy the regular “Moto E5” model, which won’t even launch in the U.S.

The lack of control that Motorola has over its own launch is staggering

This launch strategy undoubtedly will push the phone in front of more everyday consumers. However, the confusion surrounding pricing and availability of both of these phones is unprecedented. The lack of control Motorola has over its own launch is staggering.

The U.S. gets different models than Europe, Cricket gets to change the names, Sprint gets to install over two dozen bloatware apps, and each carrier sets their own pricing. There’s also no unlocked model available. This is not something I expected from a large company with nearly five decades of experience.

Conclusion

Motorola Moto E5 Plus and Moto E5 Play Front Display On Table, Moto E5 Plus review

I wish I could give a simple conclusion on whether you should buy these phones or not. However, as you probably guessed, the potential for people to pay anywhere from $40 to $288 for these phones complicates things. This is the first phone launch I’ve seen where one carrier can charge more than four times as much than another.

If we only consider these budget smartphones for what they are, the many positive attributes become clear. Both phones offer excellent battery life, great software experiences, and impressive network support. There are a bunch of compromises too, but you can’t expect a high-end experience at a low-end price. The main issues I see are the low-resolution displays, average camera quality, and the huge differences in what you might pay. In everyday use, however, I am sure both will be generally pleasant.

I don’t see why the E5 Play and E5 Plus should co-exist

However, I don’t see why both the E5 Play and E5 Plus exist. The Moto E5 Play is basically just a Moto E4 with updated software. Only the E5 Plus feels like a new phone.

Those targeting the $100-ish market will receive a poor return on investment for the marginal improvements the E5 Play offers. In a bizarre twist, it feels like the E5 Play and E5 Plus are competing with each other. The budget smartphone market needs a new $70-80 smartphone that ideally pulls from both the E5 Play and E5 Plus, not two separate and erratically priced phones.

Motorola Moto E5 Play and Moto E5 Plus Front Display On Table, Moto E5 Plus review

If your heart is set on using a Motorola device, I can see the E5 Play being a good deal at no more than $60 or $70. If your carrier is asking more than that, chances are you can get a much better deal on last year’s Moto E4 instead.

I think even the E5 Plus’ cheapest price of $150 makes it difficult to recommend. If you can spend $150, you can probably save up a little bit more and spend $200 for a better budget phone like the Moto G6 Play, Honor 7X, or Nokia 6.

Personally, I would buy a year-old higher-end device or a two year-old used or refurbished phone. You can easily find something like the LG G6, which was a flagship phone in 2017, for less than $200. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you and you’d rather have something new, try to hold out to see what happens with the E5 Play and E5 Plus — especially if your carrier is Sprint. I cannot imagine its inflated pricing will last for very long.

1
Aug

How to unpair an Apple Watch


Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

If the time comes to part with your beloved Apple Watch, you’ll want to make sure it no longer contains any of your personal data, and can no longer connect to any of your iOS devices. Apple has made the process quite straightforward, so here’s how to unpair an Apple Watch.

Step 1: Prepare your devices

Make sure your Apple Watch and iPhone (or other iOS devices compatible with the Apple Watch app) are charged and close together before you begin. The unpairing process will erase all content and settings on your Apple Watch, which is handy for preparing your Apple Watch for resale, gifting, and so on, but what happens to all that personal data?

Apple creates a backup of this Watch data and stores it on iCloud. If you pair your account with a new Apple Watch, all that data will be transferred over, so you won’t lose anything important as long as you plan on getting another Apple Watch sometime in the future. This makes the process ideal if, for example, you damaged your Apple Watch but intend to replace it.

Step 2: Navigate to the right watch on the Apple Watch app

Once you are ready, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone — this is the app you use to manage settings for your Watch. Select the My Watch tab to view all Watches that are connected to your device. Tap the Watch that you want to unpair so that it is checked (if there’s only one Watch in your iOS family this will be an easy choice).

Step 3: Unpair the Apple Watch and confirm

Next your checked Watch, you should see a small red “i” to the right of the Watch title. Select this icon, and you will be taken to another screen where you can choose to either find a missing Apple Watch, or Unpair Apple Watch. Select the Unpair option. Prepare to enter your Apple ID and password if necessary.

Step 4: Consider your data plan

If you have a later model of the Apple Watch, starting with the Series 3, you have the option to create a Watch cellular plan. If you have one of these plans, then the app will ask you if you want to keep it or remove it. Since this plan can be easily applied to a new Apple Watch, you should keep if you are planning on buying a new model. However, if you are planning on leaving the Apple Watch life, it’s best to remove any associated data plan immediately.

No iPhone handy? Do this instead

If you can’t navigate to the Apple Watch app on another device, you can still unpair the Apple Watch with a different method.

Step 1: On your Apple Watch, head to Settings. In the General section, choose Reset.

Step 2: Confirm you want to Erase All Content and Settings.

Step 3: As indicated above, you may have to make some choices about your data plan at this point. Then confirm you want to erase all content. This will unpair your Watch and restore it to factory settings.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • How to install Windows on a Chromebook
  • How to factory reset an iPhone, from X on down
  • How to connect your phone to an Xbox One
  • Switching to the ‘Un-carrier?’ Here’s a breakdown of T-Mobile’s plans
  • How to sync a Fitbit tracker or smartwatch



1
Aug

AMD B450 chipset offers Crossfire, better overclocking to mainstream Ryzen users


Motherboards sporting AMD’s new B450 chipset are now officially available and they upgrade the last generation B350 chipset with some exciting features that were previously exclusive to the X470 platform. Featuring support for multiple AMD graphics cards over Crossfire and its enhanced overclocking XFR2 feature, the new boards aren’t necessarily a worthy upgrade for those with existing Ryzen systems, but could be a new baseline for new Ryzen buyers in the future.

One of the big features of AMD’s overarching Zen platform is that the two existing generations of processors use the same sockets. Where the last-generation B350 and X370 motherboards required a BIOS update to support the Ryzen 2000 series CPUs though, the new B450 chipset — like the x470 — supports the newer Zen+ CPUs right out of the gate.

In many ways, the B450 chipset is more like its more powerful X470 cousin than it is the B350 predecessor. It does share USB support with that older chipset (two x USB 3.1, six x USB 3.0, and six x USB 2.0), and both of them only have six PCIExpress 2.0 lanes, but in terms of SATA connections (six SATA III, two SATA Express) and features, it’s more like the X470. Both have support for multiple AMD graphics cards with Crossfire (no SLI on the B45) and they also support the new StoreMI feature, which lets users with SSDs and hard drives create their own caching drives from a pair, whereby all of the regularly accessed files are placed on the SSD and less commonly used files on the hard drive.

A more exciting feature for performance-minded users though is the overclocking support that the B450 offers. Along with XFR2, the second-generation of AMD’s automated overclocking tool, the B450 chipset also supports AMD’s Precision Boost Overdrive (PBO). That allows the system to automatically adjust frequencies and voltages to push the chip to its absolute maximum speed whilst maintaining stable performance. Since that could result in quite aggressive settings, despite overall stability, not all motherboard manufacturers are likely to provide support for it themselves, but the feature is an exciting addition to what is otherwise being marketed as a mainstream chipset.

The B450 looks set to offer much of what Ryzen enthusiasts have been paying much more for with X470 motherboards and could represent a shift in what is most recommendable for Ryzen CPU owners. Expect to see at least one B450 motherboard appear on our best of list in the near future.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • AMD’s Ryzen desktop CPUs for 2019 may double the core count
  • Intel may debut a Core i9 desktop CPU for the general market in 2018
  • AMD’s next batch of Ryzen desktop CPUs may focus on better power efficiency
  • Sony’s next PlayStation may have an AMD Ryzen processor
  • AMD will only release Ryzen APU graphics drivers every three months



1
Aug

Google may reverse course and launch a restricted Google Search in China


Google is working on a censored version of its Google search engine to launch in China if the Chinese government approves it, according to The Intercept. The modified version will not allow access to government-blacklisted websites or searches related to human rights, democracy, religion, or peaceful protest.

Most internet users in China cannot currently access Google Search. The utility is blocked by China’s “Great Firewall.”

Citing internal Google documents and people knowledgeable of the company’s plans who are not authorized to speak for the company and who wish to remain anonymous, The Intercept reports Google has already demonstrated a version of the limited search engine to the Chinese government. The censored version restricts access to content Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Communist Party considers “unfavorable.”

The Intercept claims to have seen documents marked “Google confidential” which detail the filtering in the Chinese version of the search app. All websites blocked by the Great Firewall will be identified and filtered. If a search would bring up a banned website, such as the BBC or Wikipedia websites, the site will be blocked from the first results page along with a disclaimer that states, “some results may have been removed due to statutory requirements.”

Also, blacklisted words and phrases used in queries with the Chinese Google version won’t return any results. The same filtering will work with all features of Google’s search engine, including image searching, spell checking, and search recommendations.

Only a few hundred Google employees know about the modified search engine, according to The Intercept’s sources. Code-named “Dragonfly,” teams of Google engineers and programmers have been working on the project since the spring of 2017. Early versions of the custom Android app were named “Maotai” and “Longfei.”

Google’s search engine hasn’t been available to most people in China since 2010. In March 2010 Google announced it would no longer censor Google Search, Google News, and Google Images on Google.cn, a practice it had followed since 2000. At the time Google cited limitations on free speech, blocked websites, email surveillance, and cyber attacks as reasons for pulling the filtered version. Google was also taking heat from the U.S. Congress for complying with the Chinese government’s policies.

In 2016, after taking over as Google’s new CEO the previous October, Pinchai said at a conference in California, “I care about servicing users globally in every corner. Google is for everyone. We want to be in China serving Chinese users.”

Sources with knowledge of the project told The Intercept that development of Dragonfly sped up after Google CEO Sundar Pichai met with a high-level Chinese government official last December.

According to The Intercept, “The source said that they had moral and ethical concerns about Google’s role in the censorship, which is being planned by a handful of top executives and managers at the company with no public scrutiny.”

If the Chinese government approves the censored Google Search version and if the company is confident the search engine will perform better than Baidu, currently the dominant search service in China, then Google will launch the Dragonfly search app, according to The Intercept’s sources.

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1
Aug

Android P features you’ll love: App Actions


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App Actions can let our phones and other devices help us do something instead of just telling us how we could do it.

App Actions are a new set of tools that allows a developer to interact with Google Assistant, your phone’s Launcher (Home app), the Play Store, and other Google products like Search.

Google has always tried to help point us at the right thing or place with products like Search and Maps. App Actions take this a step further and are a way for developers to point us towards the right action we need to get what we’re looking for.

They are modeled on Google Assistant actions, which you can check out right here. And you totally should. Think of them as shortcuts to do something instead of asking about how you do it and getting the results. With App Actions, developers can tie the same sort of “smarts” into their own app and help you actually get things done instead of just telling you how to get things done.

Google has used an example of booking a car through an app action, where you simply type “I need to book a ride” into the Search bar on your phone and the Lyft app is there ready to help because it’s tied into search via an app action. The same action can be used when you talk to your Google Home; the Lyft app would open on your phone and you enter the details, then wait for your ride.

But App Actions get really smart when paired with App Slices.

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Go back to Google’s Lyft example. Now, instead of the Lyft app opening when you type “I need to book a ride” into the search bar, you get a small sliver of the Lyft app that opens right in your notifications and it’s filled with the information you need right now so you can do what you need to be done — booking a car. In the example above you see the quick action to Get a Car as well as information about taking a car home or to work, along with pricing. This is the kind of information we need when we want to book a car. This is really cool.

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Of course, we can’t forget Google Assistant. Developers can use App Actions to build out Conversational Actions for Google Assistant as a companion to their existing app or as a standalone front-facing point for their services. The idea is the same — when we ask for something, why not help us do it if possible. App Actions that open on your phone or a Smart Display could be triggered by asking Google Assistant to, for example, book a car or conversations could be had that help us decide exactly what we want and then give us a way to get it: “OK Google, tell me what toppings Pizza Hut has” could trigger a conversation that tells us what we are looking for then asks if we want to make an order, pay the usual way, and have it delivered to home or work.

As our devices gain the ability to do more things, they can become more complex. Features like App Actions — especially when paired with Slices and Google Assistant — take the complexity away and make our phones work for us, not the other way around.

Android P

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  • Will my phone get Android P?
  • How to manually update your Pixel to Android P
  • Join the Discussion

1
Aug

Do you like the use of glass on phones?


It’s all about the aesthetic.

Although smartphone materials can vary quite a bit, the one that OEMs tend to go after more times than not is glass.

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The prominent use of glass can be seen on flagships such as the Galaxy S9, OnePlus 6, and upcoming Google Pixel 3. This material (usually) allows for wireless charging to be present, but even so, results in a phone that’s much more fragile compared to metal and plastic counterparts.

Our AC forum users recently shared their thoughts about glass smartphones, and these are just a few of the comments we found:

avatar186157_5.gifMooncatt
07-26-2018 01:18 PM

It’s mostly a case of form over function that the manufacturers can charge you more for.

Reply

avatar710602_5.gifMorty2264
07-26-2018 07:57 PM

My Honor 8 is a glass phone (both sides); and it was a beautiful phone and I loved it. However, my LG G3 and my Pixel 2 felt/feel just as good. It wasn’t as if the glass made the phone feel any more “premium” – but I too would put cases on all of my phones; so I suppose it would be harder for me to comment on that. I just figured that the glass was an extra “benefit” but it was also an extra…

Reply

avatar2313781_23.gifMike Dee
07-26-2018 09:13 PM

Glass is the worst in my opinion but some swear it makes for a premium feel. I’m not even sure exactly what that means.

Reply

avatar2693620_2.gifamyf27
07-29-2018 07:54 PM

Well, plastic feels cheap. Glass feels heavier and more durable, appears to have a nicer quality.

Reply

Now, we want to hear from you! Do you like the use of glass on phones?

Join the conversation in the forums!

1
Aug

What’s the ideal camera height for PlayStation VR?


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Can you improve your tracking for the PlayStation VR by re-arranging the camera set up?

Reddit user Tomathy101 battled the idea of finding better tracking for the PlayStation Eye Camera by changing the height in which it was set up. He argues that, as a man who is over 6 feet tall, that his tracking has improved since he has raised his camera well above his head level. So we did some experiments to confirm or deny this based on the heights of different people. So, if you’ve been curious go on below to see if this would work for you!

Your height makes a difference

While conducting this experiment I tested the tracking problems on the height range of three different people: an 8-year-old child, a 5-foot adult, and a 6-foot, 3-inch adult. This was to test the theory that maybe the camera doesn’t need to be at a 7-foot height for everyone, and perhaps just a little above your head in general.

This theory was proved right correct. A person of 6″3 had the best tracking performance when the PlayStation Camera was at 7″0 of height, while the person of 5″0 suffered even worse tracking with the camera at the same height. To elaborate, this means that the set-up requirement for someone of a significantly different height than you will absolutely be different.

It doesn’t have to be above the TV

When using the PSVR the camera doesn’t have to be above or below your TV, in fact, you are better off moving the camera somewhere you can use a large amount of area to play. The set up we are about to show you allows you to not only find the right height but also to choose where in the room you want your camera. Another good way to secure the camera is to use heavy duty Velcro vertically on the wall. This allows you to place the camera in different places for different heights while it still on the wall and out of the way.

Setting up your PlayStation Eye Camera for better tracking

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If you are in a home where the users of your PSVR vary in height I recommend purchasing a mic standoff off of Amazon. This will help ease the constant readjustment you will need to do to accommodate the different heights, as well as giving you a sturdy base for your camera. If all the users of your PlayStation VR are about the same height, do not worry about buying extra equipment unless you don’t have a good base to hold your camera at the new height it will now require.

For ease and peace of mind, purchase a mic stand. (Link below.)
If there is room to set up the mic stand behind your TV so that it is centered in your play area, this is highly suggested. If not, there is not too much worry about it being slightly off-center. It will, however, affect your play space.
Always ensure that whoever is playing has the PlayStation Camera above their head at a minimum of 6 inches and a maximum of 12 inches.
Have the camera at a slight downward angle. You want to ensure the Camera sees you from your head to your toes, but also have enough room to see all the inevitable movement of said head and toes.
To ensure your safety and the function of your headset, follow the instructions below to re-calibrate your play space and see exactly what your camera is seeing.

See Mic Stand on Amazon

Checking to make sure your play space is still safe, and your Eye Camera can still see you

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Press and hold the PlayStation button.
Select Adjust PlayStation VR
Select Confirm your position
This will show you what your camera is seeing. Do a run through to ensure the new setup can visualize your entire play space.
When you are confident the visual is okay, check the lighting. Bright lights will appear as dark circles. If this happens, you might need to adjust your lighting.

And viola! Go forth and play your favorite PlayStation VR games now that your tracking will stop giving you issues!

Thoughts?

Has this helped you? Maybe it made your experience worse? If you’re having any other issues when it comes to enjoying your PlayStation VR check out our PSVR Troubleshooting Guide or let us know in the comments below!

PlayStation 4

ps4-controllers.jpg

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1
Aug

Strava Premium is being rebranded as Summit and getting more flexible plans


Premium features now cost as little as $2.99/month.

Strava is one of the leading fitness-tracking apps around, and today, the company announced its Strava Premium paid membership plan is being rebranding as Strava Summit.

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With the old Strava Premium model, users could pay $59/year for personalized coaching, real-time safety features, more detailed activity reports, exclusive product discounts, and more. Any exisitng subscribers are locked into that old model, but going forward, Stava Summit will consist of three different plans — the Training Pack, Analysis Pack, and Safety Pack.

  • Training Pack — Live performance data, custom training plans, personalized goals, race analysis, leaderboards, and segment efforts.
  • Analysis Pack — Power analysis, workout analysis, fitness and freshness, live segments, and relative effort
  • Safety Pack — Beacon and personal heatmaps

Additionally, all Packs also come with Summit Support and Summit Perks.

Users have the option of signing up for just one Pack for $2.99/month or $23.99/year or go all the way by signing up for all three for $7.99/month or $59.99/year.

See at Strava

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