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Samsung Introduces ‘SmartThings Wi-Fi’ Combination Mesh Router and Smart Home Hub

The latest offering for users looking to add mesh networking to their homes has been revealed by Samsung today, called the SmartThings Wi-Fi (via The Verge). The router includes mesh networking technology from Plume, which itself recently revealed its “SuperPod” mesh router along with a $60/year subscription.

Samsung’s SmartThings Wi-Fi isn’t subscription-based, and in addition to the usual mesh networking features, the device also acts as a smart home hub for any SmartThings accessories. Similar to Apple TV and HomePod acting as a hub for HomeKit, SmartThings Wi-Fi will allow customers to set up and manage SmartThings-compatible plugs, switches, lights, cameras, and doorbells from Philips, Ring, Arlo, Kwikset, and much more.

With Plume’s technology, SmartThings Wi-Fi learns the environment to optimize performance for consistent coverage throughout the home. The system is sold on Samsung’s website in a 1-pack for $119.99 (covering 1,500 square feet) or a 3-pack for $279.99 (up to 4,500 square feet).

The company today also revealed a new standalone SmartThings Hub priced at $69.99, for those users who already have a router but still want to implement SmartThings products into their home. As an upgrade to the previous hub, the new device does not need to be plugged directly into your router and can instead work wirelessly anywhere in your home.

There are a few other SmartThings announcements that happened today, including upgrades to the platform’s Motion Sensor, Multipurpose Sensor, and Water Leak Sensor. There’s also a new SmartThings Outlet for $34.99 and a SmartThings Button for $14.99, all available to purchase on beginning today.

The SmartThings product launches today follow last week’s Galaxy Note 9 reveal event, during which Samsung showcased its latest flagship smartphone. The company also detailed a new Galaxy Watch, Wireless Charger Duo, and Galaxy Home Smart Speaker.

Tags: Samsung, mesh routers
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‘Industry Insiders’ Believe AirPower Will Cost Around $149 and Work With All Three 2018 iPhones

Apple previewed its multi-device AirPower charging mat at its iPhone X event last September, and confirmed that it will be released at some point in 2018, but it has yet to reveal how much it will cost.

According to Chinese website Chongdiantou (via LoveiOS), however, so-called “industry insiders” speculate that the AirPower will be priced around 1,000 Chinese yuan, which is roughly $145 based on the current exchange rate. Rounding, this suggests the AirPower could cost around $149 in the United States.

Chongdiantou is the same source that recently leaked photos of what is claimed to be an engineering prototype of Apple’s faster 18-watt USB-C power adapter for 2018 iPhones, but overall, the publication lacks an established track record, so this information should be viewed with some skepticism.

According to the oft-reliable Mark Gurman, Apple aims to release the AirPower by the end of September, so there’s a good chance its pricing and availability will be confirmed at Apple’s usual September event, alongside a trio of new iPhones, Apple Watch Series 4 models, new AirPods with “Hey Siri” support, and more.

$149 would be pricy for a wireless charging mat, but the AirPower can inductively charge multiple Apple devices at the same time, including the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, and Apple Watch Series 3 models. It will also work with AirPods when placed in an optional wireless charging case, likely available next month.

Chongdiantou also recently claimed that all three iPhones expected to be released in 2018 will feature wireless charging, including an all-new 6.1-inch iPhone, making them all compatible with AirPower.

AirPower’s ability to charge multiple devices is achieved with a propriety technology developed by Apple. Apple said it will work to have its technology become part of the universal Qi standard supported by many devices, so there’s a good chance we’ll see true multi-device mats from other companies eventually.

Of note, the AirPower has yet to be authorized by the FCC, a requirement for sale in the United States, according to Apple’s website.

Tag: AirPower
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Deals: AirPods for $140, BOGO 20% Off iTunes Gift Cards, and New Anker Flash Sale

Costco today kicked off a new “5 Days of Deals” event just for its members, and one of the discounts is for Apple’s AirPods. Today only Costco members can purchase the headphones for $139.99, down from $159.99 — one of the best deals online for a new pair when compared to retailers like Adorama and Best Buy. Free shipping is also available.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

Costco has a few other sales going on this week, with a members-only savings event that includes the 2018 9.7-inch iPad (128GB) for $359.99, down from $399.99. There are also savings on the Google Home mini, LG TV sets, and more, so be sure to visit Costco to check out all of the discounts before the sale ends.

In other deals, Target this week has App Store and iTunes gift cards on sale with its traditional buy one, get one 20 percent off discount. While not as good as the more common 15 percent discounts for a single card, this is one of the only online iTunes gift card sales going on right now, so it could be a good opportunity to add some credit to your iTunes account.

The offer is valid on $15, $25, $50, and $100 iTunes cards, which will be delivered via email. The 20 percent discount will be applied to the lower priced item, so multiple price tiers can be added at once, and after two cards are placed in your cart you’ll notice the discount. As usual, Target REDcard members can save an additional 5 percent in the sale.

We’ve rounded up a few examples of the savings you can net with Target’s new offer below:

  • 2x $15 iTunes gift cards: $27, down from $30
  • 2x $25 iTunes gift cards: $45, down from $50
  • 2x $50 iTunes gift cards: $90, down from $100

Anker has a one-day-sale of its own today on Amazon, with up to 30 percent off car chargers, Lightning cables, and portable battery packs. Check out all of the items on sale in the list below (no codes are needed), and if you’re interested make sure to get your purchase in before the day ends:

  • PowerCore Slim 5000 Portable Charger (All 3 Colors) – $22.49, down from $29.99

  • PowerCore Speed 20000 with Quick Charge 3.0 – $41.99, down from $55.99

  • Powerline+ Lightning Cable 10ft (White) – $13.49, down from $17.99

  • Powerline+ USB C to A 3.0 Cable 3ft (Red) – $7.99, down from $10.99

  • Powerline Micro Cable (5-pack)- $9.68, down from $12.99

  • Quick Charge 3.0 39W Dual USB Wall Charger – $17.99, down from $23.99

  • 39W Dual USB Car Charger – $18.19, down from $25.99

Over at Best Buy, the company is celebrating its anniversary with an all-new savings event that includes markdowns on 4K TV sets, Bluetooth headphones, video games, and more. The new event isn’t particularly focused on Apple products, but Best Buy is providing up to $300 in savings on select iPhone X activations. Check out this deal and more in the list below:

  • iPhone X – Save $100 or $300 with eligible trade-in and qualified activation with Verizon
  • BeatsX (Black) – $99.99, down from $149.99
  • Arlo Security Cameras – Save up to $150
  • Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones II – $299.99, down from $349.99
  • WD easystore 2TB External USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive – $59.99, down from $129.99
  • Tile 4-pack – $44.99, down from $59.99
  • Philips Hue – Get 2 free Amazon Echo Dot speakers when purchasing a Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 LED starter kit

Head over to our full Deals Roundup for more sales and bargains going on this week.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals
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Apple Seeds Seventh Beta of New watchOS 5 Operating System to Developers

Apple today seeded the seventh beta of an upcoming watchOS 5 update to developers, one week after releasing the sixth beta and two months after introducing the software at the Worldwide Developers Conference.

To get the beta, you’ll need the proper configuration profile, which can be obtained through the Apple Developer Center. Once the profile is in place, the watchOS 5 beta can be downloaded using the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General –> Software Update.

To install the update, an Apple Watch needs to have 50 percent battery, it must be placed on an Apple Watch charger, and it has to be in range of the iPhone. It’s best to install the beta on a secondary device instead of a primary device as betas have bugs to be worked out.

watchOS 5 is a major update to the watchOS operating system, introducing Activity Competitions so you can compete on workouts with friends, Walkie-Talkie with push-to-talk functionality for quickly communicating with the people you talk to most, and auto workout detection to make it easier to start and stop workouts if you forget.

Other new features include an improved Siri watch face with support for third-party apps through Siri Shortcuts, a dedicated Apple Podcasts app, new Workout types that include Yoga and Hiking, new features for runners, WebKit support for viewing some web content on Apple Watch, and enhanced notifications, which will make notifications on the Apple Watch interactive.

watchOS 5 is only available to developers and will not be provided to public beta testers (because there’s no way to downgrade Apple Watch software), so non-developers will need to wait until the software is officially released in the fall to try it out.

The watchOS 5 update runs on all Series 1, Series 2, and Series 3 Apple Watch models, but it is not available for the first-generation “Series 0” Apple Watch models.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4, watchOS 5Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)
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Apple Seeds Seventh Beta of macOS Mojave to Developers

Apple today seeded the seventh beta of an upcoming macOS Mojave update to developers for testing purposes, one week after releasing the sixth beta and more than two months after introducing the software at the Worldwide Developers Conference.

macOS Mojave introduces a new method of installing software updates, so after you’ve installed the initial beta using the appropriate profile from the Developer Center, additional betas can be downloaded through opening up System Preferences and choosing the “Software Update” icon.

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Apple’s macOS Mojave update introduces a systemwide Dark Mode, with Mojave users able to choose between a light theme or the new dark theme, which changes the color of the dock, menu bar, apps, and other elements. Dark Mode is accompanied by Dynamic Desktops, aka wallpapers that subtly change throughout the day. Additional wallpapers were introduced in the fourth and fifth betas.

Stacks, a new desktop organization system, keeps all of your desktop files neat and organized, while Finder has been enhanced with a Gallery View, a Sidebar, a revamped Quick Look option and Quick Actions, so you can do more in the Finder window than ever before.

Screenshots can now be edited using Markup tools and a new management options that also allow for easy screen recording, while Continuity camera, a new feature, allows you to import photos and document scans directly from an iPhone or iPad to the Mac.

The Apple News, Stocks, Home, and Voice Memos apps have been ported from iOS to macOS as part of a multiyear project Apple is working on to make it easier to bring iOS apps to Macs, and Apple has introduced several new privacy protections to keep your data safer than ever.

Apple is also making it harder for websites to track you with a range of new Safari tools, and it’s also easier to make and store secure, hard-to-guess passwords for each and every website.

Apple has added an entirely revamped Mac App Store to macOS Mojave that makes it easier to discover apps with a featured section and specific categories for games, creative apps, productivity apps, apps for developers, and more.

macOS Mojave is available to developers and public beta testers to work out bugs and other issues ahead of an upcoming fall public release.

Update: According to Apple’s release notes, today’s macOS Mojave beta removes the Group FaceTime feature, which is no longer slated for release when macOS Mojave launches. Apple says Group FaceTime will be coming in an update set to be released “later this fall.”

Related Roundup: macOS Mojave
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Seventh Beta of tvOS 12 Now Available for Registered Developers

Apple today seeded the seventh beta of a new tvOS 12 operating system to developers for testing purposes, one week after releasing the sixth beta and two months after introducing the new software at the 2018 Worldwide Developers Conference.

Designed for the fourth and fifth-generation Apple TV, the tvOS 12 developer beta can be downloaded onto the Apple TV using a profile that’s installed through the Xcode software. Subsequent betas can be downloaded via the software update mechanism on the Apple TV.

tvOS 12 introduces support for Dolby Atmos sound, which was activated in the second beta. Apple says that when tvOS 12 launches this fall, iTunes will be home to the largest collection of Dolby Atmos-supported movies. Customers that have previously purchased movies that gain Dolby Atmos support will see free upgrades to their titles, much like the rollout of 4K support.

Building on single sign-on, a new zero sign-on feature will further simplify the cable authentication process. With zero sign-on, the Apple TV can detect a user’s broadband network and automatically sign them into supported apps they receive through their accompanying cable subscription.

Zero sign-on will be available for Charter Communications customers this fall and will expand to additional cable providers in the future.

Aerial screensavers now include location information and there are new screensavers captured in collaboration with the International Space Station.

Other improvements tvOS-related improvements include AutoFill passwords from iPhone, an Apple TV Remote automatically added to Control Center on the iPhone or iPad, and Apple TV support on Home control systems like Control4, Crestron, and Savant.

tvOS 12 is available for developers and public beta testers to work out bugs and other issues ahead of a fall public launch.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 12Buyer’s Guide: Apple TV (Neutral)
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Apple Seeds Seventh Beta of iOS 12 to Developers

Apple today seeded the seventh beta of an upcoming iOS 12 update to developers for testing purposes, one week after seeding the sixth beta and more than two months after introducing the new software at the Worldwide Developers Conference.

Registered developers can download the new iOS 12 beta from Apple’s Developer Center or over-the-air after installing the proper certificate.

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iOS 12 introduces several major new features, with Apple revamping the operating system from top to bottom to make iPhones and iPads, especially the older models, faster and more responsive.

On the iPhone X, there are new Animoji characters along with “Memoji,” which are customizable, personalized, humanoid Animoji that can be used both in Messages and in FaceTime. Messages and FaceTime have also gained fun new camera effects, and Group FaceTime support allows for video chats with up to 32 people.

Siri is smarter in iOS 12 with a new Shortcuts feature that lets you create multi-step customized automations using first and third-party apps that can be activated with Siri voice commands. Shortcuts can be created through the Shortcuts app, available as a beta from Apple’s Developer Center.

Apple built comprehensive time management and monitoring tools into iOS 12 with Screen Time, allowing you to keep track of how much time you’re spending in apps on your iPhone and iPad. App limits can help you cut back on iOS device usage, and robust parental controls are included for families.

Updated Do Not Disturb options make activating Do Not Disturb more intuitive and simple, and a new Do Not Disturb at Bedtime feature cuts down on nighttime distractions and sleep interruptions.

Grouped Notifications make incoming notifications easier to view and manage, while a new Instant Tuning feature lets you tweak your notification settings right on the Lock screen on a notification-by-notification basis.

Apple News has a new Browse feature, the Stocks app has been redesigned and brought to the iPad, iBooks has been overhauled with a new look and a new name — Apple Books — and Voice Memos has been revamped with iCloud support and an iPad app.

ARKit 2.0 introduces new capabilities like shared experiences that let two people see the same AR environment on separate devices, and persistence, which allows AR experiences to be saved across multiple sessions. There’s also a new Apple-built Measure app for measuring objects using AR capabilities.

iOS 12 includes a revamped and rebuilt Maps app that uses a new Apple-designed Maps engine that will display foliage, pools, buildings, pedestrian pathways, and other map elements more accurately. The new Maps also includes significant improvements to traffic, real-time road conditions, construction, and more, plus it will enable Apple to push out changes and fixes more quickly.

The updated Maps app is available in the Northern California area during beta testing. After iOS 12 launches, Apple will continue rolling out the new maps to additional U.S. locations across late 2018 and 2019.

Tons of other small tweaks and features have been added to iOS 12, so make sure to check out our dedicated roundup for additional detail on what’s new in iOS 12.

Early betas of new operating system updates always introduce tweaked features and new functionality, and we’ll be outlining what’s new in the seventh beta below. We also rounded up all of the changes that were introduced in the previous betas: beta 2 and beta 3, beta 4, beta 5, and beta 6.

iOS 12 is available for developers and public beta testers, with a public launch planned for September alongside new iPhones.

Update: According to Apple’s release notes, today’s beta removes the Group FaceTime feature, which is no longer slated for release when iOS 12 launches. Apple says Group FaceTime will be coming in an iOS 12 update “later this fall.”

Apple has removed some Screen Time workarounds that children were using to get around app limits, and after updating to the new beta, Apple suggests parents change the Screen Time passcode to prevent children from signing out of iCloud or changing the system time.

There is a bug with Apple Pay in iOS 12 beta 7, which could cause Apple Pay to become unavailable. Apple recommends retrying Apple Pay or restarting the device to fix it.

Related Roundup: iOS 12
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Less glitz, more tech for Michael Kors and its new Access Runway smartwatch

Michael Kors is back with a new smartwatch, and it sees the return of a name it has used in the past. The Michael Kors Access Runway is a full-fledged touchscreen smartwatch with Google Wear OS, and continues the stylish Access Runway name from when we last saw it in 2016, when it was attached to a slim Michael Kors hybrid smartwatch. The new watch is less glitzy, and more effortlessly stylish than previous watches from the designer brand, potentially making them more attractive to more people.

Let’s start with the good news that one of our favorite Michael Kors smartwatch features is included in the Access Runway: The My Social App. This lets you use Facebook and Instagram pictures as your watch face, and it now comes with special Michael Kors stickers to customize the look further. Changing the watch face on a Wear OS watch is one of the biggest attractions, and the more personal customizations there are, the better. The My Social app gets it exactly right.

The new Access Runway is also the first Michael Kors smartwatch to come with the option of an 18mm silicone strap, joining three stainless steel options. They’re attached to a sleek gold or stainless steel body that measures 41mm, making it suitable for smaller wrists. The silicone strap comes in either black or pink, while the metal link strap has a two-tone matte and polished look in gold and stainless steel combinations. We really like the cool muted, darker gold model.

A 1.19-inch screen sits in the center of the body and has a 390 x 390-pixel resolution, with Wear OS powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 2100 processor and 512MB of RAM. There’s just 4GB of space inside, which should still be enough to store some music of offline use. Using the watch without your phone is easier with the new Access Runway, as it has its own GPS system and heart rate tracking — features we haven’t seen on previous generations.

NFC is also present for mobile payments, the 300mAh battery takes just an hour to recharge and should last for a day, while the entire watch is water resistant to a degree where you can take it swimming. Google Assistant is on board, and Wear OS smartwatches will work with both Android phones and iOS phones.

The new Michael Kors Access Runway smartwatches will be available globally through the company’s boutique stores, and online, starting Monday, August 13.

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The MetroPCS Alcatel 7 has a dual-sensor camera and FHD+ screen for $180

It looks like MetroPCS customers are about to get one more option to choose from. The company has announced the launch of the new Alcatel 7, a midrange phone that aims to offer excellent value for money. Specs aside, the phone seems to have a lot to offer, from a great design to relatively up-to-date software. That’s good news for those who want a phone that looks premium and has some premium features like a dual-sensor camera.

Let’s start with that design, which, as mentioned, looks very nice. On the back of the phone, you’ll find a vertically aligned dual-sensor camera, under which can be found a fingerprint sensor — and that’s about it. It’s a nice, minimalistic look, which we quite liked. On the front of the phone is a 6-inch display with what looks to be slightly rounded corners, and while it doesn’t quite look like a flagship-quality device, it still looks quite nice. The display boasts a resolution of 2160 x 1080, and an aspect ratio of 18:9.

Under the hood, the phone features a MediaTek MT6763T chipset, which is a decent chip, though decidedly midrange. The chip is coupled with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. Thankfully, the device also boasts a MicroSD card slot, through which you can expand the storage by up to 128GB.

The aforementioned dual-sensor camera boasts one 12-megapixel primary sensor and one 2-megapixel secondary sensor. The secondary sensor is really built for depth sensing, so don’t worry too much about the lower resolution. The front-facing camera comes in at 8 megapixels. Last but not least is the 4,000mAh battery, which is actually a pretty large battery and should help ensure the phone lasts at least a day on a charge.

The phone boasts a few extra features too. For example, according to Alcatel the Alcatel 7 comes with “Face Key,” which is a facial recognition system. We doubt Face Key is of a similar quality to the likes of the iPhone X, and it can probably be easily fooled, so we recommend sticking with the fingerprint sensor as much as possible. Still, Face Key may be convenient for some users.

The Alcatel 7 launches on Metro PCS on August 13, and comes at $180. That’s actually a very good price for a phone like this, so if you’re a MetroPCS customer, it may well be worth looking into.

Editors’ Recommendations

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  • LG V35 ThinQ: Here’s everything you need to know about LG’s newest flagship


Bloatware could be putting millions of Android devices at risk

Millions of Android devices could be vulnerable from the moment they’re taken out of their boxes, thanks to a combination of manufacturer skins and carrier bloatware added to the Android operating system’s firmware.

The news comes from a study by mobile security firm Kryptowire. It tested 10 devices sold across the U.S. by a variety of carriers and discovered that various additions made to the Android operating system by manufacturers and carriers could leave users open to being hijacked and hacked. According to Wired, these vulnerabilities ranged from getting unfettered access to the microphone to being able to completely lock a user out of their phone.

A particularly disturbing example was the Asus ZenFone V Live, which was discovered to have security flaws that could lead to the entire system being taken over. From there, a hacker could take screenshots, screen recordings, tampering with text messages and phone calls, and more. Asus is aware of this issue and is working to seal the hole.

Android’s open-source nature is one of its major strengths, and that accessibility has allowed manufacturers to put their own spins on Google’s operating system, whether that be the light changes made by Motorola, the larger changes made by Samsung, or the vast overhauls made by Huawei to the core Android systems.

While these changes allow each company to use Android while still being individual, tampering with such core code always comes with risks. In addition, having to make big changes to Google’s code often means that vital security patches and major updates can be much slower on phones with significant UI changes. Carrier bloatware — apps added after manufacture by networks — is often unremovable, can also add to security problems if delivered with security issues at the time of release.

In order to avoid possible security issues, it’s best to always make sure your phone is fully up-to-date and only ever install apps from the Google Play Store. Updates can commonly be found in Settings > System > Updates, though that may change from phone to phone. We’ve also put together a guide on how to remove or disable bloatware, as well as some of the best antivirus and security Android apps available, so you can ensure your security is in tip-top shape.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • What is Android? All your questions about the operating system answered
  • Android 9.0 Pie: Everything you need to know
  • Android 8.0 Oreo usage doubles, now on 12.1 percent of active devices
  • When is your phone getting Android 8.0 Oreo? We asked every major manufacturer
  • Switching from an iPhone to an Android device

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