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15
Aug

Throwboy Launches New Line of Pillows Designed to Look Like Apple Devices


If you’ve ever wanted to snuggle with your Apple devices, Throwboy has a new Kickstarter project that may be of interest. The new Iconic Pillow Collection includes a selection of plushy pillows that have been designed to look like Apple products.

The collection includes five pillows meant to mimic the Apple II, released in 1977; the first Macintosh, released in 1984; the iMac G3, which was released in 1998 and also happens to be celebrating its 20th anniversary today; the iPod, released in 2001; and the iPhone, released in 2007.

Each of the five pillows features embroidery and design details to make it look like the product it’s designed after. The 1984 pillow, for example, has a rainbow logo (not an Apple logo, for trademark reasons), a floppy disk drive, and vents at the sides.


The 2001 iPod pillow features the iPod’s two-toned body, a click wheel, and a screen, while the iPhone includes a Home button, speaker, and the silver and black color scheme from the original device.


According to Throwboy, all of its pillows are made from ultra-soft 100 percent vegan fine grain plush, with careful embroidery, woven and silk screen labels, and a poly fiber filling. Each pillow measures approximately 13 x 5 x 13 inches and weighs just about a pound.

The first backers can get a single Iconic Pillow of their choice for $27, after which prices will go up to $33. Pricing on two pillows starts at $54 for early backers, while all five can be purchased by the first backers for $135.


Specific pricing for each tier is available on the Kickstarter project site, and pricing will vary after early bird rewards run out.


Throwboy plans to begin shipping the first of the pillows out in January 2019. While Kickstarter project shipping dates are often delayed, Throwboy is an established company that’s been making quirky pillows for a decade, so it’s likely that’s a reasonable shipping timeline.
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15
Aug

T-Mobile Launches ‘Team of Experts’ Aimed at Personalizing Customer Service, Supports iMessage Business Chat


T-Mobile held a press conference today announcing a new “Team of Experts” service, which is the company’s next “Un-carrier” move that’s taking aim at the poor customer service performance of rivals like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon. During the hour-long conference, T-Mobile CEO John Legere and EVP of Customer Care Callie Field explained that customer service is “the biggest pain point” in the telecom industry today.

Team of Experts aims to nullify that customer frustration by introducing a tight-knit team that is dedicated solely to each individual user, and others in their city, with no robots or automated phone menus to navigate around. The company hopes to make Team of Experts feel more personal than traditional customer service, and even allows you to see a photo of your team in the T-Mobile iOS app.

When you call or message T-Mobile, the company will put you straight through to a member of your team. If you open an issue and have to contact T-Mobile again, the same team will still be covering the matter, making it easy to keep track of ongoing service requests and fixes.

“Team of Experts isn’t just better customer service. It’s an entirely new way of thinking about customers … one that puts your happiness at the center of everything we do,” said Callie Field, EVP of Customer Care at T-Mobile. “Some brands attempt to give high-dollar customers the kind of treatment we give everyone with Team of Experts. Because at T-Mobile, we think just being our customer makes you a rock star. Team of Experts is ‘one percenter’ treatment for the rest of us!”

Team of Experts will be available 24/7, and you can schedule calls to let the team know when you’re available. In the future, T-Mobile will also support Alexa and Google Assistant prompts that can set up Team of Experts calls.


Notably, the new customer service feature is also launching with asynchronous messaging for all T-Mobile customers in both the T-Mobile app and in Apple’s Messages app thanks to Business Chat. This means you can easily launch Messages on iPhone, iPad, or Mac, text your Team of Experts with an issue, and let them get to work on it, all without having to call.

Team of Experts is live beginning today for T-Mobile postpaid customers as a free addition to their accounts. The company says that the best way to reach the team via phone call is to dial 611 from a T-Mobile phone.

The company also had a few music-related announcements, including the reveal that T-Mobile customers will get a free subscription to Pandora Plus for an entire year. Users will be able to get a code to unlock their free Pandora Plus subscription in the T-Mobile Tuesdays iOS and Android app on August 28.

T-Mobile is also partnering with Live Nation so that T-Mobile customers can get last-minute reserved tickets to sold out shows “at first day prices.” On LiveNation.com, users will be able to look for a T-Mobile Reserved Seats icon starting 30 days before select shows, confirm their T-Mobile account, and get access to the event. Discounted tickets will also be available starting August 21 in the T-Mobile Tuesdays app for concerts including Charlie Puth, Wiz Khalifa, and more.

There was no mention of T-Mobile’s upcoming OTT streaming television service during today’s press conference, which is supposed to launch in 2018.

Tag: T-Mobile
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15
Aug

Apple Expected to Release New MacBook Air at End of Third Quarter: September or October


Apple will release a new MacBook Air at the end of the third quarter, according to Taiwanese research firm TrendForce. That lines up with either September or October, depending on how the wording is interpreted.

TrendForce also refers to a new MacBook Pro in future tense, but it is surely referring to the models released in July, when the third quarter began:

The second quarter was the transition period when Apple was preparing for the releases of the upcoming new MacBook devices for the year. TrendForce therefore expects MacBook shipments to again post a large QoQ increase in 3Q18, as Apple will be releasing a new MacBook Pro at the start of the quarter and a new MacBook Air at the end of the quarter.

The report does not provide additional details, but both Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Bloomberg News reporter Mark Gurman expect Apple to release a new entry-level notebook later this year, and they are two of the more reliable sources as it relates to Apple’s upcoming product plans.

TrendForce specifically says it will be a new MacBook Air, but Kuo and Gurman have not identified what branding the notebook will have.

Earlier this year, DigiTimes claimed that Apple will release the first MacBook Air with a Retina display in the second half of 2018, and noted that it will be a 13-inch model in a separate report. This week, it said Quanta will assemble new “inexpensive notebooks” from Apple in the fourth quarter.

Whether it turns out to be a MacBook, MacBook Air, or something else, Gurman expects at least one of the entry-level notebooks, if there are more than one, to have a starting price of $999 or less in the United States.

The current MacBook Air hasn’t seen any substantial updates in over three years. Since that time, Apple has discontinued the 11-inch model, while the processor on the base 13-inch model received a minor bump in clock speed, but it’s still a Broadwell chip from the 2014–2015 timeframe.

Apple could announce availability of a new MacBook Air via press release at any point this fall, or save it for a September or October event. At this point, we lean towards an October release, as the September event should be busy, with a trio of new iPhones, Apple Watch Series 4 models, new AirPods, and more.

With refreshes to other Macs expected later this year, including the iMac and Mac mini, and a widely expected iPad Pro with Face ID, Apple may have enough in its pipeline for an October event, which it last held in 2016.

Related Roundup: MacBook AirTag: TrendForceBuyer’s Guide: MacBook Air (Don’t Buy)
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15
Aug

Apple Releases Safari Technology Preview 63 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 63 includes bug fixes and feature improvements for Dark Mode, Custom Elements, Media, Web Animations, Web API, Accessibility, Web Inspector, Internationalization API, WebGL 2, and SVG.

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 notes that Adobe Flash content does not load on macOS Mojave in Release 63.

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.

Tag: Safari Technology Preview
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15
Aug

Lenovo Smart Display review: Much more than a Google Home


When it comes to smart assistants, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are the most competitive options out there. Both platforms can do just about the same thing, but Amazon has had a leg up by offering two smart speakers with displays. With Smart Displays, Google now has a product category that fully utilizes the Assistant and competes with things like the Echo Show. 

Read our full Lenovo Smart Display review to see if this is something that you’d like in your home.

A note on this Lenovo Smart Display review: I’ve been using the 10-inch Lenovo Smart Display for roughly two weeks. Our Lenovo Smart Display is running Android Things system firmware version NIT1.180611.004, cast firmware version 1.32.127892, and Google Assistant Smart Display application version 1.2.24+prod.0.4.5.4850785.

The Lenovo Smart Display used in the video review was provided to Android Authority by Lenovo while the unit used in the written review was purchased directly.

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Design

Lenovo Smart Display Review

The Lenovo Smart Display is probably one of the most modern-looking pieces of smart tech you can buy right now. The device’s 8- or 10-inch screen is the main attention grabber, but the speaker grill on the left creates a unique asymmetrical shape. I’m a fan of this design, but others might not be.

While I’m a fan of the Lenovo Smart Display design, it’s easy to see why others might not be.

Around back, the Smart Display features an angular design to house its internal components (Snapdragon 624, 2GB of RAM, 4GB of storage) and prop the device up. The unit sits best in a landscape orientation. The product’s design allows it to sit upright, but Google hasn’t actually implemented a portrait orientation for Smart Displays — at least not yet. Currently, the only time the screen can reorient itself is during Google Duo video calls (more on that below).

Other than the size of the screen and body of the Smart Displays, the only real difference between the 8-inch and 10-inch models is the material on the back of the device. The rear of the 10-inch variant we reviewed is made out of bamboo and the 8-inch unit sports a grey soft-touch material.

Lenovo Smart Display Review

While I’m personally enamored with the bamboo look, it might not fit the style of whichever room you plan to keep the Smart Display in. My unit primarily sits up against a wall, so I rarely see its back anyway. 

The Smart Display is almost entirely controlled by voice, though there are still physical buttons on the edge of the device. The volume and mic mute buttons all feel premium and provide a nice tactile response when pressed.

Camera

One small detail on the front of the Smart Display is the 5MP camera. At the time of publishing this review, the only use for this is to place video calls through Google Duo. Overall, the video quality is pretty decent and gets the job done. 

Of course, we would like to see Google and third parties use the camera more. The search giant could at least include a camera app to let people snap selfies or shoot short video clips, or even just allow companies like Microsoft to add Skype integration.

Lenovo Smart Display Review
Lenovo Smart Display Review
Lenovo Smart Display Review
Lenovo Smart Display Review

For privacy reasons, Lenovo included a switch that moves a physical cover over the lens and turns off the camera.

For obvious privacy reasons, some users won’t love that the device’s camera is seemingly always watching you. Thankfully, Lenovo was wise and included a switch that not only turns off the camera but also moves a physical cover over the lens. We want this to be a standard feature on all future Smart Displays.

Software and performance

The Lenovo Smart Display runs on a new operating system Google calls Android Things, which is like a pared-back Internet of Things version of Android proper. By starting fresh, Google’s built an experience from the ground up for Google Assistant. 

Speaking of that, Google Assistant primarily drives everything on the Lenovo Smart Display. It’s the same Google Assistant you may already know from your phone, so there’s no additional learning curve. Most interactions with the Smart Display will be through the use of the “Hey Google” or “Okay Google” hotwords.

Touchscreen control is also a vital component of the experience once you dig into the visual response provided by the Assistant. You’ll be able manually adjusting a smart light bulb’s brightness and scrolling through a recipe, among other things.

Lenovo Smart Display
Lenovo Smart Display

The touchscreen can also navigate the Smart Display’s home screen. After tapping on the device to exit the screensaver, the gadget will present you with the weather, any upcoming calendar appointments or reminders, suggestions from services like YouTube and Spotify, and much more. I almost never visited this page, though it was handy for finding new Spotify radio selections.

Even though Smart Displays and Google Home smart speakers might have a similar feature set (ignoring the screen), they are not the same thing. You can read about the differences here, but to summarize, features like audio grouping and Continued Conversations aren’t available on the Smart Display.

Up next: Google slowly bringing smart display features to smartphones

This distinction between the two products is one Google can either minimize or continue expanding. Considering Smart Displays are seen by many as a Google Home with a screen, I think it’s wise to bring the two under one roof and avoid further confusion.

One other disappointing aspect of the Smart Display is its limited Chromecast support. I found it pretty annoying that I could cast YouTube and Play Movies to the unit, but not Netflix. While this is admittedly a pretty minor downside to the Smart Display, for those like me that watch content while in the kitchen, Netflix’s absence is noteworthy. This is more a Google issue than a Smart Display one, so maybe it will be fixed at some point.

Lenovo Smart Display vs Google Home

I occasionally found my Smart Display took longer than normal to process a command. I don’t know if this has to do with the 2GB of RAM. Sometimes I could tell the Smart Display heard what I said, but it took a good five to 10 seconds to respond. Thankfully, this didn’t occur too often, but it’s something I hope Google addresses in the future.

All software updates to the Lenovo Smart Display will be handled by Google.

All software updates to the Lenovo Smart Display will be handled by Google. The company is clearly invested in Android Things’ future, so expect additional features and support for years. 

Display quality

The 8-inch Smart Display model sports a 1,280 x 800 HD IPS panel while the 10-inch variant features a 1,920 x 1,200 FHD IPS screen. I can’t say how good the 8-inch display looks, but I have been rather impressed with the picture and video quality on the 10-inch model.

Lenovo Smart Display Review

Because I mostly use the Lenovo Smart Display to listen to music throughout the day or watch videos while cooking dinner, I am continually looking at the screen. In the two weeks I’ve used the Smart Display, I was never disappointed by the visuals and quite enjoyed what I watched. 

If you get up close to the display and look, pixels are visible. However, this device isn’t meant for prolonged use, so most will never notice these details.

Audio quality

Throughout the Lenovo Smart Display review period, I used it for a variety of audio including music, movies, YouTube videos, Duo calls, podcasts, news, and voice searches.

Both variants of the Smart Display include a 10-watt speaker with two passive tweeters. From our testing, this is great for listening to the casual dialog of podcasts and TV shows, but the unit struggles when playing back audio with a lot of low-end and bass. Android Authority‘s own Lanh Nguyen handled our Lenovo Smart Display review on YouTube and found the speaker distorted at max volume when playing music with a lot of treble. I didn’t experience this on my unit.

Lenovo Smart Display Review

Think of the Lenovo Smart Display’s speaker as something that will get the job done but won’t blow you away.

The Lenovo Smart Display’s speaker will get the job done, but it won’t blow you away. If sound quality is the make or break feature for you, it’s probably wise to hold off until JBL releases the Link View. 

Lenovo Smart Display review: Should you buy it?

Smart Displays are an entirely new product category for Google. Companies like JBL and LG have shown off upcoming devices, but Lenovo is first to actually release one. As such, we don’t really have much to compare this to. 

Despite this, the Smart Display itself was everything I wanted it to be and more. While it’s not a Google Home, it did 90 percent of the tasks I expected it to and provides rich visual information on top of the queries and commands that I give it. I find this incredibly valuable, and a valid reason to consider replacing my collection of Google Homes and Assistant speakers — or at least some of them.

Editor’s Pickrelated article

PSA: Smart Displays aren’t a replacement for your Google Home — at least not yet

The smart assistant war has been raging on for several years now between Google and Amazon. While everyone has their preference between the Assistant and Alexa, Amazon has had a leg up in regards to …

If the screen will benefit your needs, you understand its limitations, and acknowledge this is the first product in an entirely new category, I would absolutely recommend the Lenovo Smart Display. In time, Google will roll out new features and bring more functionality to the platform — the device should only get better over time. The Lenovo Smart Display sets a high bar for any upcoming competition.

The 8-inch Lenovo Smart Display costs $199, while the larger 10-inch model will set you back $250. I enjoyed having the larger variant in my kitchen because I watch a lot of TV and movies there, but the 8-inch model makes more sense for other, less-trafficked areas of your home.

8″ Lenovo Smart Display
10″ Lenovo smart display

15
Aug

Trust us, you need to pay attention to Samsung’s new mobile modem


Samsung has announced the Exynos Modem 5100, something that would usually be a relatively uninteresting piece of equipment, but made more special here because of its 5G capabilities. Be prepared — the onslaught of 5G-related technology is only just getting started.

What makes this special? It’s almost certainly the modem that will provide 5G connectivity for future 5G smartphones and other mobile devices from Samsung and its partners. Samsung does not explicitly state which devices it will be used in or when it will happen, but does say the modem has been successfully tested using a 5G “end user equipment prototype” — that’s a phone to you and me — equipped with the modem and connected to a 5G base station.

The good news is the Exynos Modem 5100 isn’t solely a 5G modem, as it will connect to most networks we use right now, including 2G, 3G, HSPA, 4G LTE. This is essential, as 5G will take a while to become widely available, and even with a 5G phone in our hand, we’ll have to fall back on 4G LTE and perhaps even 3G regularly for a start.

Samsung also estimates the kind of speed boost we’ll get from a phone that uses the Exynos 5100 Modem. The maximum downlink, says Samsung, will be between 2Gbps and 6Gbps, depending on the type of connection it has at the time. This means the connection could be up to five times faster than Samsung’s current modems. Squeezing all this technology, both current and future, into a single chip that unlike Motorola’s 5G Moto Mod, stays hidden away inside a device is a major step towards a consumer-friendly 5G’s launch.

5G’s actual launch window is still unknown, even with Verizon’s bluster surrounding the 5G Moto Mod, and even when it does come we’ve no idea how many people will be able to take advantage of such a fast connection, or how much it will cost. Samsung has warned that the Galaxy S10, expected early in 2019, will not be a 5G phone, indicating it will be later in the year before we see a compatible device from the manufacturer. When it does come, it will likely have the Exynos Modem 5100 inside.

One other thing to consider here is the use of the Exynos name. This may mean only Samsung’s phones that use its own Exynos processors — usually launched internationally — will get the Exynos Modem 5100, and Qualcomm-powered devices launched in the U.S. and selected other regions will use a different chip. The modem’s announcement comes soon after Samsung revealed a new RAM module suited to 5G mobile devices.

Samsung will make the Exynos Modem 5100 chip available to its customers, which may have different plans for it, before the end of this year.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Apple is reportedly ditching Intel for 5G chips in the iPhone
  • Flagship Android phones top iPhone X in download speed, report claims
  • Qualcomm releases new antennas that will make 5G phones a reality in 2019
  • Dell is reportedly working on its dual-screen version of the Surface Phone
  • Moto Z3 review



15
Aug

Here’s how to safely download ‘Fortnite: Battle Royale’ on an Android device


The beta for one of the world’s biggest games, Fortnite: Battle Royale, is finally available for Android devices, following successful releases on consoles and iOS. Unfortunately for many players, the game opened with an exclusivity deal for Samsung’s devices as a part of the Galaxy Note 9‘s launch.

But if you’re on a non-Samsung Android device, all is not lost. While access is still restricted, you can sign up to a waiting list and pre-download the game in order to get access as soon as it’s available. Here’s how to download Fortnite: Battle Royale on Android.

A warning before we start

Slow down before you rush off to download anything called “Fortnite” from the Google Play Store. Epic Games has not released Fortnite: Battle Royale on the Google Play Store, so you won’t find it there. That’s important to note because it means no app on the Play Store is going to be the official Fortnite app — no matter how loudly it says it is.

While some are likely to be harmless clones, others may be harmful apps that seek to steal your personal data. Be aware of what you’re downloading, and if your aim is to download only the official Fortnite: Battle Royale Android app, follow this guide and we’ll make sure you get the goods.

How to get Fortnite: Battle Royale on an eligible Samsung phone

The following Samsung smartphones and tablets are able to immediately access Fortnite: Battle Royale during the exclusivity period.

  • Galaxy Note 9
  • Galaxy S9
  • Galaxy S9 Plus
  • Galaxy Note 8
  • Galaxy S8
  • Galaxy S8 Plus
  • Galaxy S7
  • Galaxy S7 Edge
  • Galaxy Tab S4
  • Galaxy Tab S3

So if you’re rocking one of the devices listed above, then congrats — you’re able to start playing right away. The method for getting set up on an eligible Galaxy device is easy, but it requires a couple of steps, and a lot of installing.

Start by accessing your Game Launcher app, tapping the icon marked Fortnite Installer, and then click Install & Open to install the launcher. This app isn’t the game — instead, it’s a separate app that will be used to download and update the main Fortnite app in the absence of the Google Play Store.

The first time you open the app you’ll be asked to grant it permission to access your storage. There’s nothing nefarious here; it needs access to be able to download the game. Once granted, tap the big yellow Install button and let the initial files finish installing.

Once installed, open the Fortnite Launcher and hit the yellow Launch button to start the game. This will kick off the download of the main files. Feel free to leave the game for some time while it downloads the required files — it’s a big download and can take some time. Following this, Fortnite will take a little time to optimize the content to suit your device — but once that’s finished, you’ll be able to sign into your account (or create a new one) and get playing.

How to get Fortnite: Battle Royale on another Android device

If you’re not fortunate enough to have one of the Samsung devices on the previous list, then you’re stuck waiting for now. However, you can still download the game in advance and get yourself ready.

Get started by signing up for the waiting list. It’s easy to get signed up — you can do it from your PC or mobile device, and you can speed matters up by signing into an existing Fortnite account, if you have one. The process asks you to select your Android device from a drop-down box, but don’t worry if you can’t find your particular device, as there’s an “Other Android device” option at the bottom.

After signing up you’ll be sent an email from Epic Games. You’ll need to access this from your mobile device, as it’s a direct link to the Fortnite Installer — so tap the link to download it. Tap that file once it’s done downloading, and hit Install when prompted. You may need to grant Storage permissions to complete this process.

After that, you can either tap Open at the end of the installation process, or open the Fortnite Installer app from your app drawer or home screen. Like the process for Samsung phones, you’ll be asked to confirm Storage permissions for the installation, so feel free to tap Allow when prompted. You may also need to give the app permission to install the Fortnite game, so if prompted by a system message, hit Settings, then tick the box for Allow from this source. Then hit the back button and hit Install.

When that’s done, hit Open or open the app from your apps, and Fortnite: Battle Royale will begin downloading. This can take a little while, so grab yourself a refreshment and settle down to wait. Once it’s complete, you’ll be able to sign into your account, but unless you’ve received an email confirming your access, that’s as far as you can go for now. But at least the hard part is done, and you’ll be able to get going that much faster when your account is allowed access.

That’s all we’ve got for you for the moment — but we’ll update this article when access is available for more people. Until then, brush up on your skills with our Fortnite tips & tricks article and get ready to hurl yourself out of a bus.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • ‘Fortnite: Battle Royale’ review
  • Stop killing in ‘Fortnite’ and explore nature with new Playground mode
  • ‘Fortnite’ Season 5 heats things up with a new desert region
  • ‘Fortnite’ Playground mode to go offline July 12 — but it will return
  • The best ‘Fortnite: Battle Royale’ weapons



15
Aug

No, your cell phone won’t make you blind


Rommel Canlas/Shutterstock

Forget cancer: That devilishly useful smartphone in your pocket is likely to blind you before killing you – at least, if the latest round of breathless hype is to be believed.

Relax. Neither is true, despite what you might read in the headlines.

A new study from the University of Toledo reveals the process by which blue light impacts the photoreceptors in our eyes and leads to age-related macular degeneration, an incurable eye disease that can cause a loss of central vision. The fact that blue light does this is hardly revelatory, the authors state plainly, despite the headlines.

“We are being exposed to blue light continuously, and the eye’s cornea and lens cannot block or reflect it,” wrote Ajith Karunarathne, assistant professor in the UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, in a press release about the study. “It’s no secret that blue light harms our vision by damaging the eye’s retina. Our experiments explain how this happens, and we hope this leads to therapies that slow macular degeneration, such as a new kind of eye drop.”

That’s right, he’s proposing a way to possibly prevent this problem: Alpha tocopherol, a molecule derived from Vitamin E, may prevent the cellular death everyone is fretting about. You wouldn’t know that to read the headlines, however:

“Smartphones speed up blindness,” writes U.S. News and World Report. No, that’s not what the study says (although the U of T’s press release does suggest this by using the word “speed” in their headline. I’m not sure why. “Cause” would have been far more accurate.)

“Your phone is blinding you, scientists warn,” the New York Post wrote in a typically breathless Postian headline. Not quite.

“Blue light from smartphones accelerates blindness,” frets High Snobiety. Again, that’s not the conclusion the scientists drew. It’s not accelerating blindness, it’s the potential cause for one form of macular degeneration that may lead to some loss of vision. (For what it’s worth, Daniel Pearson who wrote the Snobiety article is the “life editor,” who recently wrote about WTF hairstyles at the World Cup and the 13-year-old skateboard prodigy who won the X Games.)

Look, macular degeneration is a fact of life. Our eyes are wonderfully complex devices that aren’t built to last forever, which is why nearly all human beings need eyeglasses and experience some form of eye disease in their lives. Karunarathne’s study details exactly how that eye disease happens, and blue light is part of that. And given that cell phones and other mobile screens do give off blue light (among other colors), is he running off to pick up special polarized sunglasses? Has he tossed out his deadly iPhone before blindness robs him of his vision?

Hardly.

“When we’re in the dark, our pupils are dilated and can take a lot of light …. But when you have some ambient light in the room, that will help your pupils contract a little bit and that will reduce the amount of light entering, which may bring down the light entering below the threshold [for damage],” he told host Larry Mantle and myself during a segment on 89.3 KPCC radio yesterday afternoon.

Read that again. Karunarathne said that the actions of the pupil may be enough to prevent an egregious volume of blue light from reaching your eye, except for at night – when we now have blue light filters that should help you sleep better and may prevent your cell phone from robbing you of your sight. And part two of the press release includes a quote from another one of the study authors, Dr. John Payton, visiting assistant professor in the UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry: “Some cell phone companies are adding blue-light filters to the screens, and I think that is a good idea.”

That blue light filter is called Night Shift on your iPhone, Night Light on a Pixel, Comfort View on LG, and so on. Here’s how to turn it on and how to use it.

Still worried? Technology may have offered a way to put blue lights in front of us at the very worst time, and a solution to that problem in filters, but it also offers options that go even further. Consider Republic Wireless’s Relay, essentially a cell phone replacement for children that has no screen at all. Think of it as the anti-cell phone. And Light makes a phone that demand you use it as little as possible.

So don’t worry so much about light cooking your eyes — and spend your time cooking with light instead.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • How to use a blue light filter on your PC
  • Felix Gray gears up for summer with blue-light filtering, stylish sunglasses
  • The best computer reading glasses for eye strain
  • How to use a blue light filter on your phone
  • Repainting a room sucks, so I tried to see if tech could make it any easier



15
Aug

Should you buy the Galaxy Note 9 unlocked or from a carrier?


Where you buy matters more than ever, especially when it comes to how your phone performs over time.

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There are a lot of important questions when it comes to choosing a Galaxy Note 9. You need to be sure you’re ready to drop $1,000 (or $1250 if you decide to really go all out on the 512GB model) on a phone in the first place. You need to make sure you’re choosing the right color to show off your new phone to your friends. You need to find a case you’re comfortable using for a while. But it’s also important to think about where you’re going to be buying your phone, which is something that doesn’t always get as much thought as it maybe should.

Carrier controlled or unlocked, that’s the big question you should ask before dropping cash on a Note 9. And unfortunately, the answer isn’t quite as clear as it should be.

Financing a Note 9

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The obvious first reason to buy a locked phone from a carrier is not needing to pay for the whole phone up front. U.S. carriers have largely moved away from making the phone purchase a direct part of a long-term contract, but plenty of folks still pay month to month for their phones through these financing plans. If you can “buy” a Note 9 from carriers for $40 per month, you may not care quite as much about that phone being locked to that carrier until you’ve paid it off, which is what happens with most U.S. carriers.

While Samsung does offer financing option on its website, you’ll find it is much easier to get a financing deal from your carrier. That means, for the most part, if you don’t want to buy your phone outright you probably want to buy from a carrier. Additionally, you can buy from Best Buy and other retailers which offer their own financing systems, but overall none are quite as openly available as what is on offer from carriers.

Updates for your Note 9

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Samsung makes the updates for its phones and sends those updates to carriers for approval before they’re available on your phone. Truth be told, Samsung’s updates have never been particularly fast. That should mean Samsung phones which are not locked to a specific carrier would be easier to update, but historically that has not been the case.

On multiple occasions, Samsung’s unlocked Galaxy S9 has gone months without a software update while the carrier versions of the exact same phone enjoyed regular security patches and software tweaks from Samsung. There are a couple of legal reasons for this, the first of which being that Verizon and others pay Samsung for their time to get those updates ready in a timely manner, but what it means in plain English is Samsung’s unlocked phones don’t get updates as quickly or as frequently as the locked versions.

Where should you buy the Galaxy Note 9?

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There’s a certain amount of freedom you get with an unlocked phone. You don’t have to worry about consequences for switching carriers, or deal with any restrictions carriers may put in place at a later date. Your phone, out of the box, 100% belongs to you. That concept has value and is worth keeping in mind.

See at Amazon

But if you are concerned about dropping that much money up front, or if you want to make sure you get updates on your phone the day a security patch is available, Samsung’s unlocked phones are probably not for you. In those cases, it is probably best to buy directly from the carrier or from a retailer willing to sell you a carrier model on a financing agreement you are happy with.

See at Samsung

Where are you buying your Note 9? Sound off in the comments!

Where to buy the Galaxy Note 9: Best deals for your new phone

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15
Aug

Madden Overdrive brings a fresh football experience to your Android phone


Build your squad and compete on your Android phone.

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With the NFL preseason well underway, the NFL’s premier mobile football game is showing life today. Madden Mobile has been updated for the 2018 season, but don’t panic if you can’t find it in your phone — it’s now called Madden Overdrive.

What it is, what’s changed, and what you can expect when you fire it up. We’ve got everything you need to know about Madden Overdrive.

What is Madden Overdrive?

Madden Overdrive is the annual NFL game made by EA designed specifically for smartphones and tablets. The series used to be called Madden Mobile, but EA is touting its biggest leaps forward yet for the series this year, so much so that there’s an edgy new name to go along with it.

While previous Madden games have tried to emulate an accurate NFL gameday experience, such as tasking you with playing a full four-quarter football game by controlling offense, defense, and special teams, Madden Overdrive aims to make a more mobile-friendly model that’ll offer quicker and more intense action. It’s also emphasizing tactics and strategy more than mechanical skill, so those whose thumbs don’t work quite as well as the next person’s will have a chance to win.

Madden Overdrive will be a free download, with in-app purchases largely driving the gameplay model.

What do you do in this game?

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Madden Overdrive is all about building up a team of players and competing against others. You acquire players and coaches via several different means, and you’ll take that team into real-time head-to-head matchups against real opponents.

Players will have a variety of ways to earn in-game items, including daily and weekly events, challenges, and by acquiring players through an auction house or from player packs.

Aside from an all-new head-to-head mode, Madden Overdrive will see the return of League Play, which allows you to play a full season of games against other players’ teams. Take your team far enough and you could win the Super Bowl for big-time rewards.

How do you play?

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Madden Overdrive’s head-to-head play is vastly different compared to Madden Mobile. Instead of a turn-based system where you and your opponents trade drives, you’ll be playing against them in real-time in a new game mode based on fantasy points.

The way it works is that you each get three minutes to execute an offensive drive, and within that drive you can earn fantasy points for various actions, whether that’s gaining yards, making a catch, and of course, scoring. The player with the most fantasy points wins. You won’t be able to play defense in the same way that you can control your offense, but that’s where a new mechanic called Tactics come in.

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As the game progresses, the fantasy points you earn will go toward building your Overdrive meter. This meter allows you to execute a Tactic, which is a gameplay wrinkle that serves to make things more difficult or uncomfortable for your opponent. For instance, I can activate a Tactic that says you only get half of the points you normally would for scoring a rushing touchdown, which would compel my opponent to think about going for a passing touchdown instead.

The idea here is to throw them off their game. If they seem more comfortable running the ball than throwing it, that Tactic would help you tilt the game in your favor. You can activate these Tactics multiple times throughout a game, and they are separated by tiers so you could spend all of your Overdrive meter to go for a big swing or use a smaller portion of it if you’re only concerned with annoying your opponent a bit.

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The Tactics you have access to are based on your coach, with each coach in the game having unique bonuses and effects. As far as which plays you can run on offense, those are also affected by your coach and the team captains on your roster. You’ll have access to four styles of offense depending on your composition:

  • Smashmouth: You’ll favor running the ball, and your players will be more effective when doing a play-action pass.
  • Vertical: Go deep! This style is for those who like driving the ball down the field on long passing plays.
  • West Coast: It’s all about short, quick passes and letting your receivers pick up the yardage.
  • Spread: Throw your opponents off balance by throwing lots of misdirections and route combinations at them.

Alongside determining your playbook, these styles will also boost choice attributes on your players. And the more you upgrade your captains, the more powerful these boosts will be.

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This new style of gameplay sounds pretty exciting, but if you prefer the ways of old, you’ll be happy to know that League Play will retain the traditional turn-based style of gameplay that Madden Mobile has become known for.

EA says there’s no guarantee that this will be the case forever, as it’ll be monitoring feedback of both modes to determine whether any changes will be made down the line. That means that — for now, at least — there’s a little bit of something for everyone to enjoy with Madden Overdrive, new or returning player alike.

Are there microtransactions?

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There are premium points in Madden Overdrive that you can purchase for various reasons, the biggest of which being to acquire premium player packs. Of course, these in-app purchases are entirely optional and the game can be enjoyed fully without spending a dime.

In fact, EA will offer more to start in Overdrive than in any version of Madden Mobile, with players getting a free coach and team captain from the start. You can add more players to your team by acquiring them through events or spending the non-premium in-game currency in the auction house.

To go along with that, the stamina mechanic — which limited you to a certain amount of play per hour unless you paid to recharge your stamina meter — is no longer a thing. Play as much as you want for as long as you want.

Does Madden Overdrive have anything to do with Madden NFL 19?

Madden Overdrive does not feature any interconnectivity with the Madden NFL games for consoles. You may see the two games share names for certain promotional events such as Team of the Week, but the programs are run slightly different and may feature entirely different content. As such, don’t use the events of one game to try and predict goings-on for the others. For all intents and purposes, these games are completely unrelated.

Madden 19: Everything you need to know

Download it today

Madden Overdrive is now available to download worldwide. Be sure to grab the download at Google Play here, and if you already have Madden Mobile installed on your Android phone or tablet then it should hit as an update.

Stay tuned as we’ll be diving into Madden Overdrive to experience all it has to offer and providing extended coverage accordingly. See you on the football field!

Download: Madden Overdrive (Free w/ IAP

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