Deals: Exclusive ElevationDock 4 Sale, New Anker Discount Codes, Tile Savings, and More
We’ve got an exclusive new deal to share with our readers today, this one coming from a partnership with accessory company ElevationLab. Those interested can save on ElevationLab’s ElevationDock 4, priced at $35.97 with code MRDOCK40, down from $59.95.
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.
ElevationDock 4 is an iPhone dock that charges and cradles compatible iPhones, using micro air suction to keep itself stable on your desk. The dock is compatible with all of Apple’s own cases and any case 3mm thin, but is not compatible with thicker wallet-style cases or protective cases, like OtterBox. Both the Matte Black and Matte White colors are up for the exclusive 40 percent discount, so head to Amazon and place your order before September 21, when the code expires.
Our next exclusive sale is another partnership with Magix, offering our readers an exclusive discount on the multimedia software maker’s Sound Forge Pro Mac 3 bundle. The offer includes savings of up to 60 percent off, with Sound Forge Pro Mac 3 priced at $229.00, down from $557.00.
For those interested, Sound Forge Pro Mac 3 is an advanced audio editing suite with multi-channel recording and editing, mastering for music and dialogue clips, and support for high-resolution audio recording at 24 bits with sampling rates as high as 192kHz. The sale will run through October 31, 2018, so be sure to visit Magix’s website if you’re interested and place your order before it ends.
On Amazon, Anker has a new collection of discount codes this week, all focused on savings for its line of wireless charging accessories:
PowerPort Wireless 5 Pad – $14.39 with code 10WIRELESS, down from $15.99 (exp. 9/22)
PowerPort Wireless 5 Stand – $15.74 with code 10WIRELESS, down from $17.49 (exp. 9/22)
PowerPort Wireless 10 – $19.79 with code 10WIRELESS, down from $21.99 (exp. 9/22)
7.5W Fast Wireless Charger with QC Adapter – $41.39 with code 10WIRELESS, down from $45.99 (exp. 9/22)
7.5W Fast Wireless Charging Stand with QC Adapter – $44.99 with code 10WIRELESS, down from $49.99 (exp. 9/22)
PowerPort Wireless 5 Pad and Stand – $35.99 with code 10WIRELESS, down from $39.99 (exp. 9/22)
5W Wireless Charger Charging Pad – $8.99 with code 10WIRELESS, down from $9.99 (exp. 9/22)
7.5W Fast Wireless Charging Stand – $26.99 with code 10WIRELESS, down from $29.99 (exp. 9/22)
There are a few sales on headphones, earphones, and Bluetooth speakers as well:
Zolo Liberty Total-Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds – $79.99 with code ZOLOPRO7, down from $98.95 (exp. 9/22)
Soundcore Arc Wireless Sport Earphones – $29.99 with code ANKER361, down from $39.98 (exp. 9/29)
SoundCore Bluetooth Speaker (Blue, Red) – $25.99, down from $32.99 (exp. 9/23)
Soundcore Spirit Pro Bluetooth Headphones – $39.98, down from $49.99 (exp. 9/23)
In a new back-to-school sale, Bluetooth tracker company Tile is offering customers the chance to save on a variety of its products. These include up to 55 percent off Tile combo packs and up to 45 percent off Tile Sport. Check out all of the savings below:
Up to 45 percent off Tile Sport – get a 2-pack for $45, down from $70
Up to 53 percent off Tile Mate – get a 4-pack for $40, down from $80
Up to 45 percent off Tile Pro Combo Packs – get 1 “Style” and 1 “Sport” for $45, down from $70
Up to 55 percent off Tile Combo Packs – get 2 “Mates” and 2 “Slims” for $50, down from $100
Be sure to head to our full Deals Roundup for more information on this week’s latest sales and bargains.
Related Roundup: Apple Deals
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Apple Releases tvOS 12 With New Aerial Screensavers, Zero Sign-On, Dolby Atmos Support and More
Apple today released tvOS 12, the latest operating system designed for the fourth and fifth-generation Apple TV models. tvOS 12 comes after a months-long beta testing period that saw Apple release a total of 10 tvOS 12 betas ahead of the golden master version of the software.
Like all tvOS updates, tvOS 12 is minor in scale, but it does bring some new feature improvements to the tvOS operating system.
tvOS 12 can be downloaded over the air through the Settings app on the Apple TV by going to System –> Software Update. Apple TV owners who have automatic software updates turned on will be upgraded to tvOS 12 automatically.
tvOS 12 introduces long-awaited support for higher-quality Dolby Atmos sound, and Apple has been adding Dolby Atmos support to some of its iTunes content. With the launch of tvOS 12, iTunes is home to the largest collection of movies that offer Dolby Atmos support.
iTunes customers who have previously purchased movies that gain Dolby Atmos support will see free upgrades to their titles to add the new feature, much like Apple upgraded HD movies with the rollout of support for 4K content.
Building on single sign-on, a new zero sign-on feature further simplifies 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 an 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.
In tvOS 12, Aerial screensavers include location information for the first time, and there are new screensavers captured in collaboration with the International Space Station.
Other 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.
For more information on everything that’s new in tvOS 12, make sure to check out our tvOS 12 roundup.
Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 12Buyer’s Guide: Apple TV (Neutral)
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Apple Launches watchOS 5 With Walkie-Talkie, Apple Podcasts, Siri Shortcuts, New Watch Faces, Raise to Speak and More
Apple today released watchOS 5, the newest version of the operating system designed to run on the Apple Watch. Today’s software update follows several months of beta testing, with Apple having seeded 10 betas and a GM.
watchOS 5 can be downloaded for free through the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General –> Software Update. To install the new software, the Apple Watch needs to have at least 50 percent battery, it needs to be placed on a charger, and it needs to be in range of the iPhone.
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watchOS 5 is a significant update to the watchOS operating system, introducing Activity Competitions so you can compete with friends to earn points, reach fitness goals, and win awards. There’s a new Walkie-Talkie app with push-to-talk functionality for quickly communicating with the people you talk to most, and auto workout detection has been included to make it easier to start and stop workouts if you forget to do it yourself.
Siri Shortcuts, the new iOS 12 feature that allows you to create Siri-activated automations and shortcuts with both first and third-party apps, is available on Apple Watch through an improved Siri watch face that shows more information than ever.
The Siri watch face offers up predictive and proactive Shortcut suggestions based on your personal routines and the time of day, while Maps integration lets you see turn-by-turn directions and estimated travel times. Heart rate measurements like resting rate, walking average, and recovery rate are now displayed on the Siri watch face, as are live sports scores and info on upcoming games.
On newer Apple Watch models, you no longer need to hold down the Digital Crown to activate Siri thanks to a new built-in “Raise to Speak” feature that lets you speak right into your wrist, and there’s a dedicated Podcasts app for listening to Podcasts on Apple Watch.
There are several new watch faces available in watchOS 5, including a Breathe face for walking you through stress-relieving breathing exercises, new motion faces that animate when your wrist is raised (Fire & Water, Vapor, and Liquid Metal), and options to display curated moments from your photo library on the Photos watch face. There are also new complications for Podcasts and Walkie-Talkie.
iOS 12 features that include grouped notifications, Deliver Quietly, Instant Tuning, and Do Not Disturb have been expanded to the Apple Watch, and there are options for getting a notification if your heart rate falls below a specified threshold during a 10-minute period of inactivity.
Other new features include new Workout types that include Yoga and Hiking, new features for runners, WebKit support for viewing some web content on Apple Watch, metrics like UV index, wind speed, and air quality in the Weather app, an option to answer a FaceTime video call as audio on Apple Watch, and an updated interface for choosing emoji in Mail and Messages.
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.
For more information on all of the new features coming in watchOS 5, make sure to check out our watchOS 5 roundup.
Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4, watchOS 5Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)
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Apple Releases iOS 12 With Faster Performance, Memoji, Siri Shortcuts, Screen Time, Revamped Maps App, ARKit 2.0, and More
Apple today officially released iOS 12, the latest operating system designed for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. iOS 12 is available on all devices able to run iOS 11, which includes the iPhone 5s and later, the iPad mini 2 and later, the iPad Air and later, and the 6th-generation iPod touch.
The update is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the update, go to Settings –> General –> Software Update. It could potentially take a few minutes for the update to propagate to all users due to high demand. As with all iOS updates, iOS 12 is free to download.
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iOS 12 is a major update that brings several new features and upgrades to Apple’s iOS devices, along with some significant performance improvements. Apple has revamped the operating system from top to bottom to make iPhones and iPads, especially the older models, faster and more responsive.
Apps open more speedily than before, the keyboard pops up faster, and the Camera launches much quicker. Apple has also introduced optimizations for when the system is under load, making iOS devices faster when you need performance most.
On the iPhone X (and upcoming XS and XS Max models), there are new Animoji characters (Ghost, Koala, Tiger, and T-Rex) along with “Memoji,” which are customizable, personalized, humanoid Animoji that can be used both in Messages and in FaceTime, plus there are fun new camera effects in both of those apps.
Apple originally planned to introduce Group FaceTime support in iOS 12, but the feature was removed during the beta testing period. It will be reintroduced later this fall in a future iOS 12 update.
Siri is smarter than ever in iOS 12 with a new Shortcuts feature designed to let 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, which Apple is releasing alongside iOS 12.
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 by hiding notifications at night.
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 to cut down on the number of notifications you receive.
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 functionality.
iOS 12 includes a revamped and rebuilt Maps app that uses a new Apple-designed Maps engine that displays 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 lets Apple push out changes and fixes more quickly.
The updated Maps app is available in the Northern California area during beta testing and at launch. Following iOS 12’s public release, Apple plans to continue rolling out the new Maps app to additional U.S. locations.
For a complete rundown on all of the features that are included in iOS 12, make sure to check out our iOS 12 roundup. Apple’s full iOS 12 release notes are also listed below.
iOS 12 brings performance improvements and exciting new features to iPhone and iPad. Photos introduces new features to help you rediscover and share the photos in your library, Memoji–a new, more customizable Animoji–make Messages more expressive and fun, Screen Time helps you and your family understand and make the most of the time spent on devices, Siri Shortcuts deliver a faster way to get things done with the ability for any app to work with Siri, augmented reality becomes even more engaging with the ability for developers to create shared AR experiences, and new privacy features help protect you from being tracked on the web. This update introduces new features and improvements to:
- iOS has been enhanced for a faster and more responsive experience across the system
- All supported devices see improved performance, going back to iPhone 5s and iPad Air
- Camera launches up to 70 percent faster, the keyboard appears up to 50 percent faster and typing is more responsive*
- Apps launch up to twice as fast when your device is under heavy workload*
- New For You tab helps you discover great photos in your library with Featured Photos, Effect Suggestions, and more
- Sharing Suggestions proactively recommend sharing photos taken at events with the people who are in them
- Search enhancements make it easier to find your photos with intelligent suggestions and multiple keyword support
- Search for photos based on the place, business name, or event where you were when you took them
- Improved camera import with faster performance and a new large preview mode
- RAW support for editing images
- Portrait mode improvements preserve fine detail between subject and background when using Stage Light and Stage Light Mono effects
- QR codes are highlighted in the camera frame, making them easier to scan
- Memoji, a new, more customizable Animoji, make Messages more expressive with personalized characters that are diverse and fun
- Animoji now also include T. rex, ghost, koala, and tiger
- Make Memoji and Animoji wink and stick out their tongue
- New camera effects bring Animoji, filters, text effects, iMessage sticker packs, and shapes to the photos and videos you capture in Messages
- Animoji recordings can now capture up to 30 seconds
- Screen Time provides detailed information and tools to help you and your family find the right balance of time spent with apps and websites
- See the time spent in apps, usage across categories of apps, how many notifications are received, and how often devices are picked up
- App limits help you set the amount of time you or your child can spend in apps and on websites
- Screen Time for kids lets parents manage how their child uses iPhone and iPad right from their own iOS devices
Do Not Disturb
- Turn off Do Not Disturb after a set time, location or calendar event
- Do Not Disturb during Bedtime hides all notifications from your lock screen while you sleep
- Notifications from the same app are automatically grouped together to help you manage your notifications
- Instant Tuning gives you control over your notification settings right from the lock screen
- New Deliver Quietly option silently sends notifications directly to Notification Center without interrupting you
- Siri Shortcuts deliver a faster way to get things done with the ability for any app to work with Siri
- Add shortcuts using the “Add to Siri” button in supported apps, or in Settings > Siri and Search
- Siri suggests shortcuts on the Lock screen and in Search
- Get motorsports results, schedules, stats and standings for Formula 1, Nascar, Indy 500 and MotoGP
- Search for photos by time, location, people, topic or recent trips to find relevant photos and Memories in Photos
- Translate phrases in more languages, with support for over 40 language pairs
- Check facts about celebrities, such as when they were born, and ask questions about food, including calories and nutrient content
- Turn flashlight on or off
- More natural and expressive voice now available in Irish English, South African English, Danish, Norwegian, Cantonese and Mandarin (Taiwan)
- Shared experiences in ARKit 2 let developers create innovative AR apps you can experience together with friends
- Persistence enables developers to save and reload experiences right from where you left off
- Object detection and image tracking gives developers new tools to recognize real world objects and track images while they move through space
- AR Quick Look extends AR throughout iOS, letting you view AR objects with built-in apps like News, Safari, and Files and share them with friends with iMessage and Mail
- New augmented reality app to measure objects and spaces
- Draw lines across surfaces or in free space to measure, and tap on a line’s label to see more information
- Automatically measure rectangular objects
- Capture, share and markup screenshots of your measurements
Privacy and Security
- Enhanced Intelligent Tracking Prevention in Safari prevents embedded content and social media buttons from tracking cross-site browsing without your permission
- Suppresses ad retargeting by reducing advertisers’ ability to identify iOS devices uniquely
- Strong and unique passwords are suggested automatically when creating an account or changing a password in most apps and in Safari
- Reused passwords are flagged in Settings > Passwords & Accounts
- Security code AutoFill presents one-time security codes sent over SMS as suggestions in the QuickType bar
- Sharing passwords with contacts is easier than ever using AirDrop from Passwords & Accounts in Settings
- Siri supports quickly navigating to a password on an authenticated device
- All-new design that makes discovering and enjoying books and audiobooks easy and fun
- Reading Now makes it simple to get back to the book you’re currently reading or find great recommendations for what to read next
- Add books to the new Want to Read collection to keep track of what you’d like to read next
- The Book Store makes it easy to find your next favorite read with new and popular selections from our Apple Books editors and recommendations chosen just for you
- The new Audiobooks store helps you find immersive stories and informative nonfiction books narrated by your favorite authors, actors, and celebrities
- Search now supports lyrics so you can use a few of the words to find a song
- Artist pages have an easier to browse design with a personalized station of any artist’s music
- The new Friends Mix is a playlist of songs you’ll love from everything your friends are listening to
- New charts to show you the daily top 100 songs in countries around the world
- Apple News is redesigned to make it easier to discover new channels and topics
- The new sidebar on iPad and Channels tab on iPhone make it easy to jump straight to your favorite publications and discover new ones
- All-new design lets you easily view stock quotes, interactive charts, and top news on iPhone and iPad
- Top Stories section includes articles selected by Apple News editors to highlight the latest news driving the market
- Read Apple News stories right in the app, formatted to look great on iPhone and iPad
- Watchlist includes color-coded sparklines that let you see daily performance at a glance
- See an interactive chart for every ticker symbol, plus key details including after-hours price, trading volume, and more
- All-new design with improved ease of use
- iCloud keeps your recordings and edits in sync across all of your devices
- Available on iPad with support for both portrait and landscape orientation
- Get notified when movies and TV shows are available to watch in Up Next
- Share your favorite movies, TV shows, and sporting events with universal links
- Now supports chapters for shows that include them
- Skip 30 seconds or to the next chapter with forward and back buttons in your car or on your headphones
- Easily manage new episode notifications from the Listen Now screen
- Live Listen now works with AirPods to help you hear more clearly
- RTT phone calling now works with AT&T
- Speak Selection now supports using the Siri voice to speak text that you have selected
Other features and improvements
- Camera effects in FaceTime transform your look in real-time
- CarPlay adds support for third-party navigation apps
- On supported campuses, use contactless student ID cards in Wallet to access buildings and pay with Apple Pay
- Website icons can appear in tabs on iPad by enabling them in Settings > Safari
- Weather includes air quality index in supported regions
- Quickly swipe up from the bottom of the screen to go home on iPad
- Swipe down from the top right to access Control Center on iPad
- Mark Up includes a palette of additional colors and options to change line width and opacity for each tool
- Battery usage chart in Settings now shows your usage for the last 24 hours or 10 days, and you can tap a bar to see app use for that period of time
- On devices without 3D Touch, touch and hold the keyboard Space bar to turn your keyboard into a trackpad
- Maps adds support for indoor maps for airports and malls with indoor positioning in China
- New definition dictionary in Hebrew, and bilingual dictionaries in Arabic and English, and Hindi and English
- New English thesaurus
- Automatic software updates allow iOS updates to be installed automatically overnight
We’ve also got a long list of how tos to walk you through all of the new features introduced in iOS 12, which are available through the how to section of our roundup.
Related Roundup: iOS 12
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Apple Debuts Updated Software for HomePod With Call Support, Multiple Timers, Find My iPhone, Lyric Search and More
Alongside the release of iOS 12, the newest update to the iOS operating system, Apple has also released new version 12 software that’s designed for the HomePod.
The new HomePod software will be installed automatically on the HomePod after you update to iOS 11.4, but you can also manually update and check your software version by following the instructions in our HomePod software how to.
As Apple CEO Tim Cook said during the company’s “Gather Round” event last Wednesday, the software update introduces several new features that HomePod users have been hoping for since the speaker was first released back in February.
The update lets you use Siri to search for your favorite songs using song lyrics, and it lets you create multiple timers. It also allows you to make and receive phone calls right from the HomePod.
The HomePod could previously be used as a speakerphone, but after the update, it will be able to be used to place and answer phone calls without the need to transfer a call from the iPhone.
HomePod will be able to ping your iPhone or any of your other Apple devices so you can find them in your Home, and it works with Siri Shortcuts, a new feature introduced in iOS 12. Apple’s full release notes for the HomePod software update are below:
iOS 12 includes support for multiple timers, music search by lyrics, telephony and Find My iPhone.
– Conveniently search for a song using the lyrics if you can’t remember the title (English only)
– Create multiple named timers
– Make and receive phone calls directly on HomePod, or simply ask Siri who is calling
– Similar to Apple Watch, Find My iPhone on HomePod allows you to quickly locate any of your iOS or macOS devices with an audible ping
– Calendar support to include all languages
– View the network name in Settings
For more on the HomePod, make sure to check out our HomePod roundup.
Related Roundup: HomePodBuyer’s Guide: HomePod (Buy Now)
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Apple Releases iOS 12 Shortcuts App for All Users, Update Replaces Workflow
Alongside the release of iOS 12, watchOS 5, and tvOS 12, Apple today officially launched the Shortcuts app for iOS devices.
On iPhones and iPads running iOS 12, the Shortcuts app can be used to create multi-step shortcuts using first and third-party apps that can be activated by Siri voice command.
So, for example, you can create a shortcut to do something like turn on the thermostat at home using the Nest app, text your roommate that you’re on the way with Messages, and open up the Maps app with directions home all with a single “I’m going home” Siri command.
Shortcuts are deeply customizable, with third-party apps able to expose a series of quick actions to Siri that can be incorporated into your Shortcuts recipes. Starting today, thousands of apps are releasing updates with Siri Shortcuts support, giving us our first real look at all of the things that shortcuts can do. Apple’s release notes for the Shortcuts app are below:
Siri Shortcuts deliver a quick way to get things done with your apps with just a tap or by asking Siri. The Shortcuts app enables you to create personal shortcuts with multiple steps from your favorite apps. Start from hundreds of examples in the Gallery or drag and drop to create your own.
Shortcuts includes over 300 built-in actions and works with many of your favorite apps including Contacts, Calendar, Maps, Music, Photos, Camera, Reminders, Safari, Health as well as any app that supports Siri Shortcuts.
Use the Shortcuts app to:
– Get directions home, send your ETA and start listening to the news, just by asking Siri
– Add a home screen icon that calls a loved one
– Make animated GIFs
– Make PDFs from Safari or any app with a share sheet
– Get directions to the nearest coffee shop in one tap
– Tweet the song you’re listening to
– Get all of the images on a web page
– Send a message including the last screenshot you took
– And so much more…
Shortcuts can be launched from the Today widget, from Search or by asking Siri. You can even add an app icon to your home screen for your favorite Shortcuts.
Shortcuts opens up incredible possibilities to automate things you do regularly on your iPhone and iPad.
The new Shortcuts app was based on the Workflow app that Apple acquired last year, and the Workflow app been replaced with Shortcuts. Shortcuts can be downloaded from the App Store for free starting now. [Direct Link]
Related Roundup: iOS 12
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OnePlus’ ‘Crackables’ includes puzzles in both the digital and physical worlds
Well, this is a little new for OnePlus. The company has announced a new game, called Crackables, which has been developed in partnership with Google and will be available to play straight from a website.
The game is set to begin on Tuesday, September 18, at 8 a.m. (ET), and according to OnePlus, is “comprised of a series of compelling puzzles that need a combination of skill and speed to complete.” The puzzles are “both digital and physical,” and players will progress through the levels until OnePlus selects winners.
To progress, however, you have to be quick. Only the first 1,000 people to get through the first three challenges will be eligible to continue playing the game. Players will then be sent an actual microcontroller, which they can use to finish the final puzzle, and ultimately win the game. According to OnePlus, the prize for winning will be the “ultimate gaming setup.”
Not much else is known about the game just yet — though it’s likely more details will emerge once it launches. There is a teaser for the game, which can be found below — but it doesn’t really shed much light into what to expect either.
The game was developed by Sleep Deprivation Lab and it is certainly an interesting concept. With a mix of physical and digital puzzles, it could be one of the first games of its kind. It’s also interesting that the game was developed in partnership with Google, though it’s not currently known how involved Google was.
It also comes soon before the expected release of the OnePlus 6T — which is expected to be announced sometime in the next few months. In general, the phone is expected to boast a new design with a smaller notch, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, at least 64GB of RAM, and, according to rumors, a tri-lens camera. The phone will likely be priced far cheaper than other flagship phones for the year, as OnePlus phones often are, and will come with a relatively stock Android experience, too.
We’ll have to wait and see exactly what Crackables ends up looking like, but we’ll update this article when we hear more.
- The 6-inch OnePlus 5T: Everything you need to know
- OnePlus 6T: Everything we know
- The OnePlus 5: Everything you need to know
- Warp Charge is coming to OnePlus
- OnePlus 6 review
Sound Search in Google Assistant is slowly but surely getting better
There’s a lot going on with the Google Assistant — let’s break down the important stuff.
In May 2016, we got our very first taste of the Google Assistant with the debut of Allo. The Assistant was a big draw to Allo at the time, with Google marketing it as a helpful bot that could make restaurant reservations, search the web, and more within your conversations.
Since then, the Assistant has gained heaps of new features and expanded to smartphones, tablets, speakers, and more. Google’s shown no interest in slowing down development for the Assistant, meaning that it’s likely here for the long-haul.
Whether this is your first encounter with it or you just need a quick refresher, here’s everything you need to know about the Google Assistant.
The latest Google Assistant news
September 16, 2018 — Google details improvements made to Sound Search
Now Playing was a nifty little feature when it debuted on the Google Pixel 2, and Sound Search through Google Assistant paled in comparison to it. Google AI knows there’s still plenty of work to be done with Sound Search, but have shared some of the steps they’ve undertaken in the last several months to try and improve the Sound Search on Google Assistant and the Google app, including:
- Detailing of Now Playing’s musical fingerprinting system through embeddings to match a sound sample against a vast database
- Leveraging server-side resources and procession power for Sound Search to increase accuracy and speed of song matching
- Weighting the song sample catalog by popularity so that popular songs match quicker and obscure songs need higher levels of embedded matches to trigger a result
Google AI admits that trying to replicate the accuracy and success of Now Playing, which matches on-device against a small database, against a Sound Search sever-side database that’s 1000 times bigger, is not without difficulties that they’re continuing to work through, but they claim that they’ve already seen marked improvement to Sound Search in the last year. The challenges of identifying sounds in noisy environments like a crowded dance floor or sporting event are still being worked through, but knowing Google, it can only get better.
Read Google AI’s full Sound Search journey
September 11, 2018 — Google Assistant now supports Danish and Norwegian languages
Increased language support is always something we love to see with the Google Assistant, and most recently, everyone’s favorite AI can now speak in Danish and Norwegian.
The official Assistant pages are now live in both languages, but as we see with all of these rollouts, it may take some time for it to reach your devices. To check and see if the Assistant’s arrived for you, simply hold down the home button on a phone that’s set to either language and see if you’ve got the Assistant UI instead of the old Google voice search one.
September 10, 2018 — Disney doubles its Google Assistant content with three new games
Google Assistant can help your kids with questions about their homework or the universe, can help remind you and your kids when you need to get going for soccer practice, and it can even tell them a bedtime story. Disney is bringing a little more magic to the Google Home and beyond with three new Google Assistant activities.
- Maui’s Music Game lets kids help Maui defeat monster and reunite with Moana after getting separated from his hook in Lalotai, the Realm of Monsters. While playing, you’ll be rewarded with musical conch shells that play music from the film. You’re Welcome!
- Disney Princess brings you along on a daily adventure with one of your favorite princesses. Help Ariel learn what human world objects are called, navigate Jasmine through a horse race, and hear fun stories from Cinderella and Tiana. You can also get nerdy with Belle answering her questions about your favorite books.
- Toy Story Freeze Dance gets active with an interactive dance game that initiates you as one Bonnie’s new toys. Learn the moves and the meaning of being a toy, but make sure you pay attention, because at any moment, you could have to FREEZE! to avoid exposing the biggest secret in toydom.
These games are designed for Google Home, but you can also play them on phones and Google Assistant-enabled Chromebooks and TVs, as well as those nifty new Smart Displays. These games join Disney’s current Google Assistant offerings:
- Mickey Mouse Adventure
- Cars Adventure
- Belle’s Castle Adventure
- Star Wars Trivia Challenge
August 21, 2018 — “Hey Google, tell me something good” now dishes out “good news”
Staying up to date on all of the current news is important no matter who you are, but with everything going on in our world, sometimes it’s easy to feel like nothing good is happening. In an effort to bring “good news” to light, Google’s launching a new Assistant command in the U.S.
When talking to the Assistant on your phone, Google Home, or Smart Display, you can now say “Hey Google, tell me something good” to hear about how people are solving real issues all around us.
Google partnered with Solutions Journalism Network for this feature, and per Google, solutions journalism, “highlights how problems are solvable and that doing better is possible.”
If you’re in the U.S., you can try out this command starting today.
August 14, 2018 — Pandora Premium now supported by Google Home and Smart Displays
Users have been able to stream Pandora through Google Home speakers for quite some time now, but starting today, you’ll be able to link your Pandora Premium account so you can listen to specific, on-demand songs/playlists in addition to the service’s popular radio stations.
Pandora Premium costs $9.99/month like the majority of its competitors, but if you own a Google Home, you can get a free 90-day trial to test out the service before handing over any of your hard-earned cash.
You can start listening to Pandora Premium on the Google Home, Home Mini, Home Max, Lenovo Smart Display, and other Google Assistant speakers right now.
August 9, 2018 — Deeper, more specific news coverage is now rolling out
Pretty much since the Assistant’s inception, you’ve been able to say “Hey, Google, what’s the news?” to get a quick overview of all the big headlines for any given day.
Starting today and rolling out to users across the U.S., you can now ask the Assistant about news for specific topics, such as “What’s the latest on NASA?” or “What’s the news on the women’s national soccer team?”. Asking these questions on a Smart Display will pull up related YouTube videos while audio-only speakers such as Google Home will read out excerpts from news articles.
Additionally, this command will also be available for Android Auto, Android phones, and Assistant-powered headphones like the Bose QC35 II.
August 3, 2018 — Google Home can now understand what room it’s in for contextual light controls
That title might make this not sound all that exciting, but this is actually pretty cool.
Up until now, asking your Google Home to “turn on the lights” or “tune off the lights” without specifying a certain room would result in every single connected light being turned on/off. However, a new update now allows the Google Home to only control the lights in the same room as it when this command is issued.
For example, if you have a Google Home assigned to the same room as the smart lights in your living room, asking that Google Home to turn on the lights will only activate the bulbs in the living room. You can still specify rooms with your voice, but this update should make these interactions a lot more natural.
Following numerous Redditors discovering this feature, Google confirmed to Android Police that this is indeed rolling out to users and will be making its way to everyone over the coming days.
July 27, 2018 — You can now schedule custom routines for specific times/days
Building upon Custom Routines that were added to Google Assistant earlier this year, users can now schedule these routines to go off at a certain time/day. Previously, custom routines you made could only be used after saying a specific command.
While creating a routine, you’ll now see a new “Set a time and day” option under the “When” section. Here, you can choose the time you want it to play and what day(s) it should repeat.
There are a lot of ways to take advantage of this, with one example being to have your coffee pot turn on, crank up the AC, and hear about the weather as you’re waking up without having to ever speak to your Google Home. Neat!
July 26, 2018 — Dutch is now an officially supported language
Good news, Dutch speakers! As of July 26, 2018, Google’s confirmed that the Google Assistant now speaks Dutch as one of its official languages.
Assuming you’ve got an Android phone running Marshmallow or later, you can now access the Assistant to ask it questions about the weather, create calendar appointments, control smart home devices, and more.
In addition to your phone, you’ll also be able to use Dutch on the Google Home later in the year once the smart speaker goes on sale in the Netherlands.
July 17, 2018 — New Google Assistant page shows commute times, packages, upcoming flights, and more
Starting today, the Assistant on your phone is getting a big visual overhaul. After prompting the Assistant, tap the icon near the top right that previously opened up the Explore page for finding new Assistant actions and it’ll now show a visual overview of your day.
Similar to old Google Now cards, this page shows things like your commute to work, the current weather, upcoming flights, packages that are on their way from recent online orders, calendar appointments, and much more.
In the near future, Google says it’ll let you see a quick overview of notes/lists from Google Keep, Todoist, Bring!, and more, a discovery page that’ll help you find nearby events/activities, reminders of where you last parked your car, and recommendations for songs and podcasts the Assistant thinks you’ll like.
This new interface is rolling out today and is available on Android and iOS for all languages the Assistant supports.
July 10, 2018 — Google updates the UX for selecting the Assistant’s voice
During Google I/O this past May, four new voices were added to the Assistant’s existing male and female voices to help give it some more personality. Starting today, English users in the United States will see a new user interface when changing the voice.
With the new UX, users will now see a horizontal row of colors that denotes each voice rather than a vertical list of Voice 1, Voice 2, etc. The colors are entirely random and consist of Red, Orange, Amber, Green, Cyan, Blue, Purple, and Pink.
Google says the new look should be live for everyone by the end of the week!
July 10, 2018 — Deezer Premium is now supported on Google Homes in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Italy
Deezer may not be as popular as rivals like Spotify and Pandora, but for subscribers of the paid Deezer Premium service, you’ll be happy to know that you can now listen to all of your Deezer songs and playlists through your Google Home.
Deezer Premium streaming has been available through Google Home since August 2017, but it was initially only live in France and Germany. This was later expanded to the United Kingdom in April of this year, and with this latest rollout, Deezer Premium now works on Google Homes that are in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Italy.
To link Deezer Premium to your Google Home, open the Home app, go to Music, and link your Deezer account.
The service regularly costs $9.99/month, but if you’re a new member, Google’s offering three months for just $0.99. If you want to take advantage of this offer, it’s good until September 20.
June 26, 2018 — All Google Home speakers now support Spanish
While users have been able to talk to Assistant in Spanish on their phones, we’re just now getting the ability to do the same on Google Home speakers.
Now, users in the United States, Spain, Mexico and other countries can choose to speak to Google Assistant in Spanish. If you want to change what language Google Home uses, open the Home app on your phone. The tap Settings -> Preferences -> Español.
All Google Home Speakers now support Spanish
June 12, 2018 — Google Home can now handle up to three commands at once
It can get old trying to ask multiple questions to our smart speakers — “What’s the weather” and “How’s my schedule” — but nowGoogle Home can understand up to three commands. Now, you can get your calendar, find out the weather and start playing music by only saying “Okay Google” once.
Another new feature is support for Multiple Actions. So now, instead of asking, “What’s the weather in New York and the weather in San Francisco?”, you can ask, “What’s the weather in New York and San Francisco?” This is a subtle change, but it makes conversing with Google Assistant much more like conversing with a human.
Google Home can now handle up to three commands at once
May 9, 2018 — Google announced a heap of new features at I/O
To little surprise, the Google Assistant was the star of the show for a good chunk of I/O’s opening keynote this year.
A lot of new features were announced for the Assistant, including new voices, the ability to ask follow-up questions without having to say “Hey, Google” each time, and an option for making your own custom Routines.
However, the most exciting thing was a system called Google Duplex. With this, the Assistant can call businesses and make appointments/reservations on your behalf. It’s wickedly cool and definitely one of the wildest things to come out of this year’s conference.
What’s new in Google Home and Assistant at Google I/O 2018
All the important details
Google Now paved the way for Google Assistant
The Google Now page compared to the new Google Feed.
Before there was the Google Assistant, we had Google Now. Google Now was introduced to the world all the way back in 2012, offering contextual info through the Google Now page and helpful answers to random questions with an “OK Google” voice command.
A lot of what made Google Now so great can still be found in the Google Assistant today, with the exception of the Google Now page. The Google Now page used to be home to cards showcasing the weather, information on packages that had shipped from online orders, boarding passes, and more. It’s since been replaced by the Google Feed – a collection of news stories Google thinks you’ll be interested in – and it’s definitely the biggest departure between the two services.
The Google Assistant as a whole is still more powerful than Google Now ever was, but long-time Android users like myself are still mourning the loss of that Now page. RIP, old friend.
Read more: Google Now is being left to wither and die as Google Assistant takes the focus
It’s available on just about everything
In just a few short years, the Google Assistant’s gone from being exclusive to a now-failed chat app to being integrated into just about anything you can think of.
You’ll find Google Assistant built right into most Android phones, it’s the star of the show for the Google Home lineup, and it’s even making its way into sound bars.
Here’s the full list of devices with Google Assistant
Setting up the Google Assistant is as easy or complex as you want
When you set up a device for the first time that has the Assistant, getting started is pretty simple. Accessing it is just a voice command or tap away depending on what gadget you’re using, but if you want to really fine-tune your experience, Google’s got you covered.
Take a quick dive into your Assistant settings and you’ll find options for just about everything – including your weather preferences, changing the Assistant’s voice, retraining your voice model, picking out preferred news sources, and much more.
How to set up and customize Google Assistant
Google Assistant is available in multiple regions and languages
Of course, a smart voice assistant isn’t any good if you can’t actually use it. Fortunately, Google Assistant will be available in 52 countries —adding 38 countries this year — and 17 languages by the end of 2018.
More: Google Assistant will expand to 38 countries and 17 languages in 2018
Google Home’s the premier way to get the Assistant in your house (at least for now)
It’s great to have the Google Assistant on your phone, but if you want to truly experience just how helpful it can be, you’ll want to consider picking up a Google Home.
Google Home is Google’s line of smart speakers that put the Assistant on full-display, allowing you to control smart devices, ask random questions, set timers, play music, and more by just using your voice.
You can spend as little as $49 for the Google Home Mini, $129 for the original Google Home, or a whopping $399 for the Google Home Max.
However, as great as the Home series is, don’t forget that Smart Displays are just on the horizon.
Announced at CES 2018, Smart Displays are essentially smart speakers with the Google Assistant and a touch screen display that can show you helpful visuals when talking to them. It’s basically Google’s answer to the Amazon Echo Show and Echo Spot, and we can’t wait to see more from them.
Everything you need to know about Google’s Home speakers
Then again, is an always-listening speaker the right fit for your home?
However, the convenience of a Google Home (or any smart speaker for that matter) does come at the cost of privacy. Speakers like the Google Home are “always listening”, meaning they’re constantly on the lookout for a hot word to know when you’re talking to it (such as “Ok, Google” and “Hey, Google”).
This means the microphone on a Google Home is always active, but it’s not necessarily storing all the audio it hears when it doesn’t detect its hot word.
Most all speakers allow you to restore some privacy by being able to mute the microphone, but if you want to start asking the Assistant questions, you’ll need to unmute it first.
To learn more about these “always listening” speakers, I’ll pass the mic over to Jerry
Big upgrades are coming to the Assistant on Wear OS
Switching gears for a second, the Google Assistant on Wear OS (formerly Android Wear) is about to get a big upgrade.
In the near future, the Assistant on Wear OS will support Assistant Actions (basically apps for the Assistant) and give you the option to hear its responses through your watch’s speaker or a pair of connected Bluetooth headphones.
Along with this, Google will be adding something called “smart suggestions.” After asking the Assistant for the weather, for example, you’ll see little bubbles for “weather tonight”, “use celsius”, and more so you can continue the conversation with just the tap of your finger. Google Assistant on Android offers something similar, and it’s a great tool to have.
IFTTT supercharges the Assistant’s usefulness
IFTTT (If This Then That) is a powerful online tool that allows you trigger something (that) if a certain event (this) happens. You can connect IFTTT to the Google Assistant to create your own recipes using this formula, and it can allow for some incredibly helpful combinations.
Some of our favorite uses for IFTTT and the Assistant include adding contacts to your Google account, setting your Google Calendar status to Busy for a certain period of time, and much, much more.
Getting started with IFTTT can take some time and patience if you’re new to it, but once you’re all set up and ready to go, it can prove to be a lifesaver.
How to connect Google Home and IFTTT to do amazing things with your connected tech
You’ll get the same experience no matter what devices you use
With so many devices capable of running the Assistant, it’d be easy to think that the experience you get on one gadget would be different from another. This is something that Google struggled with for a while at first, but we’re finally in a position where the Assistant experience you get on a smart speaker, for example, is the same you’ll get on your phone.
There are a handful of features here and there that still create for some discrepency, but for the most part, the Assistant you use on your Pixel 2 is the same one found on Google Home.
Google Home and Google Assistant finally offer the same experience
Google Duplex is actually going to be a thing
Google showed off Duplex — Google Assistant making natural-sounding phone calls on your behalf — at I/O 2018, but quickly noted that it was just an experiment. Flash forward a couple months, and Google announced that certain users have started testing Duplex, and a public release will be here in the next few months. Before you know it, Google Assistant will be able to book hotels, dinner reservations, hair appointments and more without you lifting a finger.
More: What is Google Duplex?
Updated July 2018: Added the Google Duplex and language support sections, as well as links to recent Assistant news.
Where to buy discontinued limited edition PlayStation 4 consoles
On the hunt for a limited edition PS4 that is no longer available? Try looking here.
The PlayStation 4 has been out on the market for quite a while now. This means there has been a vast multitude of special edition, limited release consoles put out on to the market. There have been so many that it’s honestly a bit hard to keep track of.
What if you found out about a limited special edition console after it was no longer available? Or maybe you just didn’t have the money to pick one up at the time.
If you are in the market for a limited edition PS4 console that is no longer available, here are some of your options when it comes to buying after it’s too late.
When it comes to buying used technology of any flavor, Swappa is a great option and that is certainly the case for PlayStations. You buy directly from sellers so there is no middleman. In addition, you can be sure that you are buying a functioning item and if anything goes wrong with your transaction there is plenty of protection built into the process for buyer and seller alike.
See at Swappa
eBay has long been reigning supreme over the online resale market. If you are looking for just about anything that can no longer be found in a store, eBay probably has it. Just cursory glance and the consoles they have available, it would seem that any PS4 could possibly hope for could be had here. Just make sure to always check the sellers rating. You don’t want to give $500 for a discontinued console and get nothing in return.
Discontinued consoles at Ebay
The old trusty standby Gamestop is always there for you right? In all likelihood, you are not going to find an unopened console that has been discontinued. However, Gamestop does offer used and refurbished systems so you might be able to find one there. You can also call around to your local shops and ask if they have what you are looking for.
Used consoles at Gamestop
This is actually one of the places where Amazon does not excel. They do actually offer quite a bit of options when it comes to consoles that are no longer available. Unfortunately, these are most often offered by individual sellers with exorbitant markups. If you absolutely have to have it and you have money to burn, fire away. However, I would suggest the previous two sellers first.
Finding consoles that are no longer available on store shelves can be a bit difficult and times but it can be incredibly rewarding when the hunt is difficult. I can still remember how excited I was when I finally found a TurboGrafx 16 in good working order for a reasonable price.
I wish you the best in your hunt and hope that you come home with the trophy you have been looking for!
Which limited edition PS4 would you want?
Let us know in the comments.
- PS4 vs. PS4 Slim vs. PS4 Pro: Which should you buy?
- PlayStation VR Review
- Playing PS4 games through your phone is awesome
How to manually add activities in Google Fit
Keep track of your progress, even when you forgot to turn tracking on.
Just because you forgot to start a workout from your phone or wrist means that data is gone forever. It’s super easy to add past activities to Google Fit!
Products Used In This Guide
- Any Android smartphone
- Google Play Store: Google Fit (Free)
- Amazon: TicWatch Pro ($250)
How to add a workout you’ve already completed
If you’ve already completed your workout but forgot to turn on tracking, no need to fear! It’s easy to manually enter a workout you’ve already finished:
Open the Google Fit application.
Tap the Plus Sign in the lower-right corner.
Tap Add activity.
By default, Google Fit will use the same workout that you last tracked. If you need to change this, tap the drop down menu near the top.
Tap the activity type you’re entering.
Fill out the form with your activity title, duration, any notes, calories burned, steps taken and/or miles completed.
The app will automatically calculate your Move Minutes and Heart Points.
Tap Save at the top of the screen.
Your activity will be added to your journal, just as if you tracked it it the first place. And that’s it!
Our top equipment picks
If you’re all in on Google Fit, it’s worth getting a Wear OS watch to track your workouts right from your wrist.
The best watch for Google Fit
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro
$250 at Amazon
The best Wear OS watch is also the best for tracking your workouts.
The Ticwatch Pro features a GPS tracker, heart-rate monitor, and NFC payments.
The Ticwatch Pro is a genuinely good watch even if you don’t care about fitness tracking. If you do, it’s even better. There’s a GPS chip to better track your jogs, a heart-rate monitor for keeping your beats in check, and an NFC chip so you can leave your phone at home and still use Google Pay.