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29
Aug

Former Mophie Employees Launch New Eco-Friendly Charging Accessory Brand ‘Nimble’


A trio of former Mophie/Zagg employees today launched a new accessory brand called “Nimble,” which is aimed at crafting smartphone and tech accessories that are environmentally friendly (via CNET).

Those behind Nimble include Ross Howe (Nimble CEO), Jon Bradley (creative director), and Kevin Malinowski (brand marketing), who were all originally part of Mophie when the company merged with Zagg in 2016. The creators of Nimble say they didn’t mesh with the company following the Zagg merger, and left in March 2018.

Now, the Nimble brand will sell products that are similar to Mophie’s devices, including wireless charging pads, portable battery packs, and charging cables. All of Nimble’s products will be available on Amazon and its own website, but the company is avoiding retail outlets to reduce prices and compete with budget brands like Aukey and Anker, although they won’t be quite as cheap.

Nimble products won’t be cheaper than Anker’s products but CEO Howe says they’re better. “With this model, we can make more premium accessories with premium features that cost less.” It’s something he wanted to do with Mophie but just couldn’t quite pull off.

Nimble products include a 10,000 mAh Portable Charger at $49.95, 13,000 mAh at $59.95, 20,000 mAh at $69.95, and 26,000 mAh at $99.95. Each of these support fast charging for iPhone with 18W power delivery, can charge multiple devices at once, and include a magnetic cable management system that attaches to the bottom of the charger.


The other main product line is a series of wireless charging pads, including the Wireless Pad for $39.95, Wireless Dual Pad for $49.95, Wireless Stand for $49.95, and Wireless Travel Kit for $59.95. These can wirelessly charge an iPhone at 7.5W, but Nimble gives no mention of official Qi compatibility as of yet.


Other Nimble accessories include a Dual USB Wall Charger for $19.95, USB Wall Charger for $9.95, and USB-C Cable 2-Pack for $12.95-$17.95. On the bottom of every product page, Nimble highlights how much the devices would be if sold at retail in its attempt to be as transparent as possible in regards to its pricing structure.


On its “Why We’re Different” webpage, Nimble mentions working only with “thoughtful suppliers” who share its values on workers’ rights and sustainable materials. The company also says it supports eco-friendly packaging, better materials to reduce its carbon footprint, and a “one-for-one” tech recovery project. In regards to that project, Nimble sends a pre-paid return envelope with every device you buy, allowing you to send old or obsolete electronics directly to its e-waste recycling partner.


Nimble’s website supports Apple Pay during the checkout process and offers free shipping and returns to customers in the United States.

Tags: Mophie, Nimble
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29
Aug

PlayStation Vue Expands Local Broadcast Stations With 200 New Additions Across the U.S.


Following DirecTV Now’s addition of numerous local stations for its customers, Sony this week announced the addition of around 200 new local network affiliates for PlayStation Vue users in cities across the United States. These include affiliate partners with ABC, FOX, and NBC in cities like Buffalo, Honolulu, Memphis, Austin, and many more.

ABC affiliates on PS Vue now include Cincinnati, Ohio (9 On Your Side); Columbia, South Carolina (ABC Columbia); Corpus Christi, Texas (KIII-TV 3); Lafayette, Louisiana (KATC TV 3); and Baton Rouge, Louisiana (WBRZ 2). A few Fox affiliates include Bangor, Maine (FOX 22); Denver, Colorado (FOX 31); Eureka, California (FOX 28); and Jackson, Mississippi (FOX 40). Lastly, some NBC affiliates include Alexandria, Louisiana (KALB); Anchorage, Alaska (KTUU); Fargo, North Dakota (KVLY); and Lima, Ohio (WLIO). Check out PS Vue’s FAQ page for the entire list of new local stations.

PS Vue head Dwayne Benefield made the announcement on the PlayStation Blog:

I am excited to announce that PS Vue users in select markets will gain access to local broadcast stations at no extra cost, starting today. With this expansion, PS Vue now offers more than 450 local ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC stations, in cities all over the US – from Buffalo, NY, to Honolulu, HI.

As we gear up for football season and Fall TV premieres, now over 97% of the US population has access to at least one major broadcast station from ABC, CBS, FOX, and/ or NBC.

Unfortunately, there are many local stations that are restricted from recording shows through PS Vue’s cloud DVR, including every station listed above and what appears to be every station added onto the service this week. The company says this restriction is “due to streaming rights,” and it also extends to certain on demand channels, HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax.

With the expansion, Sony says PS Vue now supports “more than 450 local stations” from ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. Like other OTT services, PS Vue lets users stream live television through apps available on iOS, Android, Apple TV, and PlayStation consoles, starting at $44.99/month. Features include being able to stream on up to five devices at once, a cloud DVR, on demand content, and more.

PlayStation Vue is one of the major live TV streaming services along with DirecTV Now, Hulu With Live TV, Sling TV, and YouTube TV.

Tags: Sony, PlayStation, PS Vue
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29
Aug

Sonos Launches New Sonos Amp and Partners With Sonance for New Architectural Speakers


Sonos today announced the launch of the Sonos Amp, a new audio hub that’s designed to replace the existing Connect:Amp. The Sonos Amp is able to connect to traditional home audio speakers and integrate them into a Sonos home sound system.

According to Sonos, its new Sonos Amp is twice as powerful as the Connect:Amp with the ability to power four speakers with 125 watts per channel, up from two. It supports AirPlay 2 and more than 100 streaming services, in addition to including an HDMI Arc port to connect to TVs and line-in ports to connect devices like turntables, CD changers and other audio components.

Two Amps can be paired together for surround sound, and using the aforementioned HDMI Arc port, it can be used to add stereo sound to a TV or wireless rears to a home-theater setup.


Sonos is pricing the Amp at $599, $100 more than the previous Connect:Amp product. It will be available to professional installers in the U.S. and Canada starting in December, with global availability coming in February 2019.


The Amp is part of a new three-prong approach to better integrating Sonos into smart homes, which also includes speakers created in partnership with Sonance and new platform APIs.

Sonos is partnering with Sonance for three new architectural speakers, including in-wall, in-ceiling, and outdoor, which will be able to be paired with the new Sonos Amp. The three new speakers will be marketed and sold by Sonos and will launch in early 2019.

Starting in September, Sonos plans to open up its developer platform to all potential partners, and it will introduce a new set of Control APIs that will make it easier to integrate Sonos products into smart homes run by systems like Control4 or Crestron.

The new Control APIs will include support for line-in switching to allow line-in components to be selected within a third-party control interface, volume pass-through for easier volume control, the ability to add Sonos playlists using a third-party interface, and as a preview option, capabilities to provide notifications and alerts from third-party devices like doorbells through Sonos speakers.

Tag: Sonos
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29
Aug

Born to hug: 6 of the weirdest, most outlandish robots humanity has ever created


Whether it’s carrying out search and rescue missions or performing life-saving surgery, there are some astonishing robots in existence that promise to change the world as we know it. But for every mainstream Atlas robot, there are plenty of other, more unusual creations — and they’re every bit as worth celebrating.

Here are six of the wackiest robot concepts we’ve covered here at Digital Trends:

A robot for ruining Where’s Waldo?

Remember how much fun you had as a kid scouring the pages of Where’s Waldo? books, looking for the elusive Waldo with his red-and-white-striped shirt, bobble hat and glasses? A lot has changed since you were a kid — and nothing underlines that fact more than “There’s Waldo.”

The brainchild of creative technologist Matt Reed, “There’s Waldo” is a robot that’s capable of finding Waldo in a packed crowd in less than 4.5 seconds. After identifying the character using its impressive image recognition capabilities, it reaches out a silicon hand and points out Waldo’s location.

Why? We guess for much the same reason we spent so long as kids staring at packed crowd drawings, searching for Waldo in the first place: Because it’s a fun challenge.

Shoe-tying robot

If you don’t have time to tie a pair of laces a couple of times a day, you probably don’t have time to wait for a robot to spend four minutes tying each shoe. But that didn’t stop engineers from the University of California, Davis’ College of Engineering from building a robot that’s capable of a pair of tying shoelaces.

While it’s difficult to think of too many real world applications for a robot such as this (although we guess it could be a useful accessibility tool), it’s nonetheless an impressive example of robot dexterity. And with just two motors and an imposed budget limit of just $600, it manages this within some fairly hefty constraints.

Stone-skimming robot

Created by former NASA engineer-turned-YouTuber Mark Rober, this unusual robot was designed with one goal in mind: to skip stones better than anyone has skipped them before.

Skippa was created by modifying a clay pigeon thrower, and then adding customized wooden throwing arms and a box base to give it more stability. Rober’s niece and nephew finally stepped in to give it the final, all-important stylistic flourishes in the form of a colorful paint job and googly eye makeover. You know, the ingredients ever self-respecting robot needs!

A robot serenader

It’s every movie-loving tech geek’s dream: a ukulele-plucking robot that can sooth your tired soul at the end of each day with the theme from The Godfather. That’s what the Polish engineers behind UkuRobot have built with their latest robotic creation, and it is pretty darn awesome.

“It’s controlled via Bluetooth by software of our own design, that allows us to compose and play any song we want,” the UkuRobot team member known only as Jakub told Digital Trends. “The user is also able to play separate notes and chords — so it’s like playing the instrument traditionally, but using only your computer mouse. Excellent choice for fans of live music.”

A robot powered by… popcorn?

Call it Cornell’s kernels if you want: this unorthodox robot from engineers at Cornell University is powered by popping popcorn kernels. In a recent demonstration, the researchers showed that it’s possible to power a robot gripper by heating popcorn either with microwaves or direct contact using a hot Nichrome wire.

While popcorn kernels can’t be unpopped, thereby giving this a big disadvantage over existing batteries, they are biodegradable and cheap enough to be easily replaced. Maybe not such a wacky idea after all!

A robot that gives you hugs

A smart speaker might play you the right song at the right time, but it’s never going to give you a comforting hug when you’re feeling down. However, that feature is most definitely offered by HuggieBot, a robot created by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany.

At present, HuggieBot takes the form of a modified PR2 robot covered in softy layers of foam, polyester, and other materials. Its hugs can be modified according to the firmness of embrace you prefer (thanks to a pressure sensor), and you even have the option of a heated hug for special occasions.

The researchers think HuggieBot could eventually have therapeutic applications, and are actively investigating ways for the robot to determine how users are feeling so as to know when to make its presence felt.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Cornell’s popcorn-powered robots are far more practical than they sound
  • Forget Roomba, your most important house robot could be the one that hugs you
  • Forget flying cars: This shoe-tying robot is proof that the future is here
  • Meet Fusion: A helpful robotic ‘parasite’ that lives on your back
  • Look out, bartenders: This cocktail-making robot is coming for your job



29
Aug

The Alcatel 1 is a low-powered Android Go phone for just $80


Looking for a cheap phone that does everything you need, but doesn’t put a huge dent in your wallet? Then you might be interested in Alcatel’s newly released super-budget phone, the Alcatel 1. With a super-low price of just $80, and running on the low-impact Android Go operating system, here’s everything you need to know about the Alcatel 1.

Take a quick look and you’ll probably agree the Alcatel 1 shares a lot of its style points with the Alcatel 1X — but there are differences. The Alcatel 1 comes with a smaller 5-inch LCD screen, though it keeps the 18:9 aspect ratio and 960 x 480 resolution from the 1X. The back panel comes with the same soft touch texture, but the camera lens has been moved from the center of the phone to the top-left of the rear — and there’s no fingerprint sensor.

Don’t expect a powerhouse of a phone either. The Alcatel 1 is powered by a quad-core A53 processor with just 1GB of RAM. The Alcatel 1X had a similar setup, but with slightly more power, though it still exhibited sluggish performance, so don’t expect too much of this hardware.

There’s not much room on the Alcatel 1 either, with just 8GB of onboard storage available. However, you’ll be able to expand that by up to 32GB with a MicroSD card — and since cloud storage is so popular these days, you might not need to store much on your phone anyway.

You likely won’t be storing too many high-quality snaps on the Alcatel 1, as it’s equipped with a single 5-megapixel lens on the back, and a 2-megapixel selfie shooter around the front. Alcatel’s camera tech isn’t bad, especially the Social Square option — but don’t expect this to be a phone for shutterbugs, as the lack of optical image stabilization will make it tough to get good shots without being as still as possible. Still, it shouldn’t be a terrible camera — we got some decent shots from the Alcatel 1X during our time with it, so the Alcatel 1 may surprise you from time to time.

You’ll find Android 8.0 Oreo on the Alcatel 1, but as the stripped-down Android Go. Android Go is a version of Android specifically made for lower-powered phones, and it comes with a smaller install and smaller apps to compensate for the smaller storage options on such phones. Our initial impressions of Android Go haven’t been great — but don’t rule out optimizations and improvements from Google changing that over time.

The Alcatel 1 is powered by a 2,000mAh battery that should power the phone for at least a day with these low-powered specs. It’s charged by a MicroUSB port at the bottom, and you won’t get any fancy fast-charging or similar tech.

The Alcatel 1 is currently available from Amazon for just $80, and is compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks. Don’t expect this phone to set the world on fire, but if you’re on a budget, or just need a decent secondary phone, the Alcatel 1 could be the right phone for you. Otherwise, check out our list of the best cheap phones for more options.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Alcatel 1X review
  • MetroPCS Alcatel 7 boasts a dual-sensor camera and FHD+ screen for $180
  • Asus bringing super-budget ZenFone Live (L1) to the U.S. for $110
  • Nokia 3.1 review
  • Essential PH-1 Phone: Everything you need to know



29
Aug

Google Fit and new notifications arrive in much-needed Wear OS update


Google’s Wear OS is evolving. The wearable device operating system has been crying out for an overhaul for sometime, and following the release of a revitalized Google Fit app, Wear OS is also receiving a small but meaningful update.

At the time of writing we have not tried it out, and there are a few unanswered questions over how the alterations will work at this point. Once we’ve got some clarification, we’ll update here; but in the meantime here’s what’s new.

Easier, faster access

Perhaps most welcome of all among the changes is a new notification system, which Google says makes it easier to browse, dismiss, or interact with incoming alerts. Swipe up in the new notification stream to show all your notifications in one go, with quick replies available with a tap, including the pre-made smart replies. We’re interested to see how this works, as it doesn’t sound drastically different to Wear OS’s current way of delivering notifications, but in Google’s screenshots and animations it looks a lot neater and more concise.

A downward swipe displays shortcuts to often used features including Google Pay and Find my Phone, although it’s not clear whether these can be manually added, are fixed shortcuts, or generated by usage. Google Assistant is closer to hand in the updated Wear OS. Swipe right to see contextual alerts, such as flight status and hotel details, and smart suggestions will also arrive here with updates related to these situations, like weather and directions. The Assistant will also learn your behavior and provide helpful daily reminders, plus suggest features you’ve never used.

Following on from the new Google Fit app, Wear OS also incorporates changes to Fit, which is now integrated as a swipe in from the left. You can see current activity levels based on Move Minutes and Heart Points, and it’s also possible to start a new workout from this screen too. In the screenshots, the circular progress dials seen in the new Google Fit app appear on the watch, in a similar fashion to Apple’s Activity rings on the Apple Watch.

Google plans to send the new Wear OS version out over the coming month, but has not given a precise date, and also warned that features will vary depending on not only the watch, but also on the phone’s operating system. This suggests some older versions of Android may not run all the features we’ve described. An update of Wear OS comes at an interesting time, as rumors swirl about a Pixel smartwatch, and the impending arrival of a new Qualcomm chip designed for wearables, replacing the aging Snapdragon Wear 2100.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • The Google Pixel Watch: Here’s everything we know
  • Is Google launching an A.I. fitness coach for smartwatches?
  • This is how Google will improve the quality of Wear OS apps
  • Google Assistant: Everything you need to know
  • Google Fit hands-on: Bare-bones, but effective



29
Aug

Nimble’s battery packs and wireless chargers are eco-friendly



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nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

Nimble Wireless Pad with Travel Kit. Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

Nimble Wireless Pad Travel Kit. Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

Nimble Wireless Stand. Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

Nimble Wireless Dual Pad. Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Scroll through Amazon and you’ll find a countless number of companies churning out portable battery packs and wireless charging pads. Nimble is yet another, but it stands out from the crowd for two reasons: It places a heavy emphasis on building eco-friendly products made of sustainable materials, and it’s founded by former Mophie executives.

Nimble, which launched today, August 29, is starting off with two categories: Wireless charging pads and portable battery packs. The products are made of “plant-based bioplastics,” with the wireless chargers utilizing 100-percent organic hemp and recycled polyester. There’s also recycled aluminum involved, no paint or toxic substances, and the products have “natural mineral crystals” mixed in with the thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), which delivers a unique pattern to every device. Even the packaging is made of 100-percent recycled scrap paper, and the company said it’s completely compostable.

Nimble co-founders Ross Howe, Kevin Malinowski, and Jon Bradley — all ex-Mophie executives — wanted to introduce a new aesthetic into the accessory category, with designs that blend into the home and don’t look too “tech-y.”

“In addition to the best specs available out there right now and the considered approach for the packaging and materials used — and the responsible ethical approach we took — we also focused on unique feature sets, like little things that other people making similar products haven’t really thought about that adds value for the customer,” Malinowski, head of brand and marketing at Nimble, told Digital Trends.

Here’s a look at the first products from the startup.

Wireless charging pads

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

  • 1.
    Nimble Wireless Pad with Travel Kit.
  • 2.
    Nimble Wireless Pad Travel Kit.
  • 3.
    Nimble Wireless Stand.
  • 4.
    Nimble Wireless Dual Pad.

The wireless charging pads are wrapped with a 100-percent hemp material that looks elegant, with TPE bases that are quite grippy. They come in either charcoal black or gray — the latter color is what’s pictured. All of them support the Qi wireless standard, and come with a Quick Charge 3.0 USB wall charger, as well as a USB-A to USB-C cable.

The Nimble Wireless Pad is a small rectangular pad with rounded corners, and it’s the cheapest on the list at $40. It’s capable of charging compatible iPhone devices at 7.5 watts, and Android phones at 10 watts. The fast-charging USB Type-C port is what you’ll use to plug the pad to the wall outlet, but there’s also an additional USB-A port in case you want to charge a second device.

In the Nimble Wireless Travel Kit, you get the same Nimble Wireless Pad as well as a dual USB wall charger. With the wall charger plugged in and connected to the Wireless Pad, you’ll now have two extra USB-A ports to charge other devices. The wall charger has space to store one cable, and it magnetically attaches to the Wireless Pad for carrying convenience. The Travel Kit includes the Wireless Pad and costs a little more at $60.

Then there’s the Nimble Wireless Stand, which lets you prop up your device vertically or horizontally while charging. It has the same specs and ports as the standard Wireless Pad, and it costs $50. The Nimble Wireless Dual Pad is the more interesting device of the lot, allowing you to wirelessly charge two devices at once. They’ll have to lay flat, though, unlike Samsung’s new Wireless Charger Duo.

Since there are only two charging coils inside, you’ll need to make sure you place the devices correctly to ensure they are charging — something you won’t need to worry about with Apple’s upcoming AirPower charging pad, which we may see at the company’s September event. The Dual Pad also costs $50.

Battery packs


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nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

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nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

nimble eco friendly battery packs wireless charging pads

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The battery packs are a little more versatile, as they allow you to charge a wider variety of devices, and they’re easy to carry on the go. Nimble has four portable chargers at varying capacities, all housed in recycled aluminum: The smallest is the 10,000mAh battery, followed by a 13,000mAh, 20,000mAh, and 26,000mAh capacity.

The 13,000mAh and 26,000mAh chargers have three USB-A ports, whereas the other two only have two — but all of them have at least one that supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 fast-charging technology. All come with an 18-watt USB-C PD port that you can use to recharge the battery or another device as well.

What’s unique are the LED lights — they not only tell you how much juice is left in the pack, but an extra LED light confirms when a device is utilizing fast charging. Most Android smartphones let the user know on the lock screen, but there’s no way to tell on other products like iPhones; this makes it handy when you want to make sure the device is charging as fast as possible. All the battery packs also come with a cable management strap that magnetically attaches to the bottom of the battery, which helps keep things tidy.

The 10,000mAh battery costs $50, and pricing ramps up all the way to $100 for the 26,000mAh battery.

The Tech Recovery Project

The choice to use these eco-friendly materials wasn’t easy, as Howe said manufacturers pushed back, suggesting they use materials everyone else is using.

“How come no one is sourcing better materials, low-impact materials, thinking about the environment?”

“How come no one is sourcing better materials, low-impact materials, thinking about the environment?” Malinowski said. “They’re doing it in shoes, they’re doing it food, they’re doing it in clothing … every other industry has taken a more ethical approach except consumer tech. So we’re like, ‘Wow this is a gaping hole and somebody has to enter and kick-start the new way of doing things.’”

Doubling down on the company’s goal of reducing electronic waste, every product you buy from Nimble comes with a pouch you can use to send any used electronics lying around. Nimble claims it will “recycle up to one pound of e-waste for every product sold,” and it has partnered with Homeboy Electronics Recycling to make it all work. Shipping is covered, too; you just need to nab a label from Nimble’s website.

While Nimble is starting out with battery packs and wireless charging pads, it’s planning on unveiling products in completely different categories early next year — and they will still maintain a heavy focus on using sustainable and recycled materials. The new portable batteries and wireless charging pads are available from Nimble’s website, and they’ll be available through Amazon soon.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • The best portable chargers of 2018
  • The best wireless phone chargers for your iPhone or Android
  • Mophie vs. Belkin vs. Anker vs. iOttie: Finding the best wireless charging pad for iPhones
  • Samsung’s Wireless Charger Duo can charge two devices at the same time
  • Nomad creates a wireless charging pad just for the Tesla Model 3



29
Aug

Get Freesync working on Nvidia graphics cards with any AMD GPU


Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

It turns out you don’t need to shell out a couple of hundred dollars extra to enjoy frame synchronizing support with Nvidia’s G-Sync — you can simply force your Nvidia card to run Freesync instead. You will need an AMD card or chip (like an APU) of some description to make it work, but once you have the hardware in place, the process for getting Freesync working is relatively painless.

Of the two frame-syncing technologies, Freesync is the more open and affordable standard, with G-Sync monitors often requiring extra expenditure to enjoy the feature. However, typically you need an AMD graphics card to run it and as great as those cards can be, the best graphics cards are almost all Nvidia branded. Fortunately, a new workaround to give you the best of both worlds has been discovered.

Redditor Survfate was the first to post up the full guide on how to do it, showing that it was possible to get Freesync running on a GTX 1060 graphics card. It’s not the most convoluted process, but there are a few steps to adhere to, so following along with Survfate’s instructions is your best way to get the desired end result. Suffice it to say though, it involves having the display itself run on the AMD GPU, be that a dedicated graphics card or an APU, but rendering the game you’re playing on it is done through the Nvidia card instead.

With Freesync, enabled gamers are able to enjoy frame syncing for a smoother gaming experience without shelling out for a more expensive G-Sync monitor. WCCFTech reports that there is almost no performance overhead from using such a workaround, but does suggest that if you’re using an APU rather than a dedicated CPU, you won’t be making the most of your gaming experience. Fortunately, Survfate seems confident that you can use any supporting AMD graphics card, too.

Since Nvidia may end up patching this hole in its exclusivity deals, it’s probably not advisable to go out and buy a Freesync display or any of the other required hardware to make this happen. But if you happen to have an older AMD GPU doing nothing and are otherwise using an Nvidia card on a compatible display without Freesync, it’s certainly worth giving it a go.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • G-Sync vs. FreeSync: Refresh technologies vie to up gaming experience
  • Nvidia’s RTX 2000 GPUs look like A.I. hardware dressed up for gamers
  • Cryptocurrency may be why you still don’t have Nvidia GTX 11 Series graphics
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 11 Series’ arrival is uncertain after Computex remark
  • Everything you need to know about the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2000 series



29
Aug

New Intel CPUs bake in gigabit wireless and Alexa support


Intel isn’t quite ready to release its 10nm Cannon Lake chips just yet, but it does have some mid-generation upgrades for its eighth generation chips in the works. The new Whiskey Lake U-series CPUs integrate a gigabit wireless controller, potentially opening up much faster Wi-Fi speeds to midrange laptops. Y-series CPUs will introduce native support for smart assistants like Cortana and Alexa.

The release schedule and lineup of Intel hardware from the past year and the year to come have been shaken up dramatically by AMD’s stellar Ryzen CPU lines. The stiff competition encouraged Intel to up core counts and push out refreshes of eighth-series CPUs to stay competitive and that’s great for consumers. We’ve seen six-core Core i5 CPUs, and the super-fast ninth-generation CPUs which can hit clock speeds of 5GHz on a couple of cores aren’t far away now.

In the meantime though, Intel is also bolstering its eighth-generation lineup of Kaby Lake R hardware with the new Whisky Lake U-series and an Amber Lake Y-series. Both are based on the same underlying Kaby Lake architecture but do include a couple of new features which could make them attractive to system builders and potential buyers. The U-series CPUs have a powerful gigabit Wi-Fi module built in, and this should lead to far faster wireless internet access for the lower-end laptops that these chips are targeted at.

The new chips include: the Core i3-8256U CPU with two cores, four threads, and a clock speed of 3.9GHz when boosted; the Core i5-8256U with four cores, eight threads, and a boost clock of 3.9GHz, and the Core i7-8565U with four cores, eight threads, and a boosted clock of 4.6GHz, as per The Verge.

Joining the new U-series CPUs are an additional three in what’s being called the Amber Lake Y-series. The big new feature of those chips is the baked-in support for smart assistants. Alexa recently made headway in specific laptop brands, but with support built right into the hardware itself, we could see this expand into many more laptops in the future.

The Y-series includes the Core m3-8100Y, with two cores, four threads, and a boosted clock of 3.4GHz; the i5-8200Y with two cores, four threads, and a boosted clock of 3.9GHz, and the Core i7-8500Y, with two cores, four threads, and a boosted clock of 4.2GHz.

Expect these chips to begin showing up in entry-level and midrange laptops in the coming months.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Dell’s refresh of the XPS 13 2-in-1 series dips its toes into Intel’s Amber Lake
  • Intel’s 9th-generation processor could launch next month with 8 cores
  • Intel may debut a Core i9 desktop CPU for the general market in 2018
  • The MacBook Pro may finally get updated with faster processors
  • Intel 9th-generation CPUs are refreshes with slight clock speed bumps



29
Aug

What are the Android Support Libraries and why are they important?


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Android is a fragmented mess. There is no getting around this simple fact, and because of what Android is and how it’s distributed, it’s never going to change.

Once you face the simple truth that fragmentation is here to stay, you’re left with trying to find ways to mitigate it so that device makers can keep the freedom they currently have while app developers can build the newest, coolest things to install on them. That’s why Android is as popular as it is, and if you go fiddling with that formula, you might do more harm than good. Getting a turn-key suite of productivity services and a giant application marketplace on showcase hardware it develops in-house is what keeps Samsung making Android phones and not slapping Tizen on all the things.

Google works hard to make the whole fragmentation thing a non-issue. Some ways are successful — Play Services allows some features to be almost version independent and offers a few extra protections for devices without the latest security tweaks. Some are not as successful; Material Design was supposed to make all apps look great on all devices. Some will be successful in the future, like Project Treble. But one of the things Google does transcends success and turns into amazing, especially if you’re an app developer: the Android Support Libraries.

Nobody blames you if you have no idea what they are and haven’t ever heard of them. Unless you’re a developer, you don’t need to know anything about how they work or how they are used, but they are one of the more interesting things Google does so that fragmentation is only a thing smartphone nerds care about instead of a real issue in the real world for real people.

What are the Android Support Libraries?

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The Android Support Library is a set of code libraries — resources that can be used to build features and/or functions into an app — that provide things like features or widgets that would normally require an actual Android framework API to include in an app. Android framework APIs are the core features available to developers provided by a specific version of Android. For example, Android 7.0 APIs enabled multi-window support for every app on every device. Support Libraries can provide similar features independently of the operating system version.

More: Here are the Android Pie features that work on earlier versions

There are generally two types of support library packages. One set enables features of new versions of Android on devices running an older version and the other provides standalone features for all versions of Android. Because these aren’t part of Android proper, they can be improved and updated without waiting for a major Android platform release.

At Google I/O 2018, we learned about Android Jetpack, and one of its features is a new way to include library support — meaning we should see the even faster adoption of new features into the Support Libraries because of it. That means small but cool ideas and tweaks can be available for app developers long before next August when Android Q (not Quiche Lorraine) comes around.

Why are the Android Support Libraries important?

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There is one specific thing that makes them important to you and me — we don’t have to wait for the next version of Android to get an update if a feature is provided by the Support Libraries. This allows developers to add and improve how their apps work, especially on phones that don’t run the current version of Android, whenever the libraries are updated. We saw that when Android Messages kept seeing improvements in the notifications before those features were bundled into Android 8.0 and it means that phones running Android 6.0 or higher can have apps that use the changes without getting updated to Oreo.

Modularity means faster updates; this is true for code libraries as well as operating systems.

Updating Android from one platform version to the next is a difficult task. It takes a long time, and currently, we only see a major platform update about once per year. Mobile is an incredibly competitive space, and a company’s phones will live or die based on the features it has and how marketable they are. Mobile enthusiasts like to argue about who copied who, but consumers only care that the phone they saw advertised has a cool feature and wants their next phone to have something similar. Apple (and Microsoft when it made a phone OS) can update every single phone to have every possible feature because they control how the software is written and distributed. Google doesn’t have that luxury.

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Some phone makers, like Samsung or Huawei or LG, can mitigate this a bit on their own. These companies are big enough and have a mobile development team with the resources to build things like dual-camera support or animated avatars into the operating system. Others, like Motorola (Lenovo), aren’t yet ready to spend billions each year — so they depend on Google to provide new features in a timely manner so that apps can fill in for OS features. That’s why Google had to do something in this space; most phones aren’t running the latest version and many never will. Something had to be done to get cool stuff onto those phones if anyone expected us to buy them.

It’s always a good idea to have the latest version of any software whenever you can. If for no other reason than security tweaks, the newer software has been improved. But since fragmentation is never going away, embracing it and then doing something about it was the smart move.

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