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29
Sep

10 years of Android: How the best mobile OS was made


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You’ve come a long way, baby.

Step into the Wayback Machine and travel to October 2008, if you will.

I was with a small crowd of other folks at a Washington, D.C. T-Mobile store waiting in line to buy the T-Mobile G1. It was a phone that had a very limited release — in the U.S. only high-volume T-Mobile retail stores in areas with 3G deployments were selling them — and it was also a phone that wasn’t even going to work once I got it home (blame that pesky T-Mobile 3G-only thing again). But I had to have it because it was a phone that was running this crazy new Linux-based OS from Andy Rubin and Google called Android.

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A turbo-charged Sidekick?

By today’s standards, the T-Mobile G1 was a dumpster fire. It featured a 3.2-inch plasticky-feeling capacitive display, a big chin with a weird clicky trackball that didn’t act at all like the trackball every BlackBerry user was used to (and there were a lot of BlackBerry users back in 2008), a sliding horizontal qwerty keyboard, and almost no internal storage or memory. And that’s not even mentioning the weird headphone adapter you needed and that fact that multi-touch drivers had to be removed from the phone due to “legal” reasons. No matter what phone you have in your hands right now, it’s a lot better than the G1.

Nobody knew it would become so popular; we all just knew it was pretty cool.

But back then, this was a masterpiece of engineering on both the hardware and software side. The minds that brought us the Sidekick now worked for Google and we had an awesome new toy.

Look back at that phone you have in your hands again, and you can thank the T-Mobile G1 for it being the way it is. Android changed the way we all think about “mobile” as much or more than the iPhone did, and the G1 started it all.

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This was during the days before we knew what an app store was (though other companies did distribute mobile apps via the internet) and a 3 M/second download speed on T-Mobile’s amazing new 3G network rocked our socks off. It’s kind of crazy what was enough to make people actually like the G1 on the software side. You had Gmail, a rudimentary web browser, a big round clock widget and little else. You could see your contacts and calendar, and the predecessor to Hangouts — GChat — was there and crashed the entire network in some places because it didn’t know how to act nice and not send a gazillion pings every minute.

Android on the G1 would outrage any reviewer or customer by today’s standards. But we kept hearing how Android was going to keep getting better and small quick updates made us all believe it.

DROIDS and Galaxies

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Only a few people actually bought a G1. Partially because the interest was in the iPhone, and partially because it was tied to T-Mobile, which, a decade ago, was not a carrier people loved. Android saw light adoption, even though companies like Samsung and Motorola were also making Android phones worldwide. Then, Verizon and its marketing team got involved and gave us the DROID.

You remember the commercials and billboards. You remember the Super Bowl ad. You remember the DROOOOIIIIIDDDDD sound. We saw things change as Android was suddenly in the hands of millions and millions of people.

A year later, Samsung noticed, and took things to a new level with the launch of the Galaxy S. While Motorola and Verizon had about 70 million people to target, Samsung had the entire world watching and wanting the coolest new phone anyone had ever seen.

The original Galaxy S had the improvements Google made to Android — multitouch came back, turn-by-turn navigation through Google Maps was awesome, all your Google information was working together with mail, contacts, and calendar being a seamless thing — but Samsung went crazy with the software and Android looked more like an oddball version of a desktop OS than anything we saw previously. TouchWiz was born, and whether you loved it because it was over the top or hated it because it was over the top it changed everything. Everything.

10 years later

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Plenty of companies have helped make what is Android Pie. Sony, LG, OnePlus, Huawei, and more are all very important partners that have contributed to the code that makes Android work. But you can draw a simple timeline using the T-Mobile G1, the Motorola Droid, and the Samsung Galaxy S to see how we got here.

Many companies make Android what it is, even if Google’s name is on the box.

There were some other important milestones — HTC changed things again with the Nexus One/EVO 4G and their 1GHz mobile processors, the first Galaxy Note wasn’t a success by any measure but it’s why we see 5-inch plus screens and oodles of storage and memory, and LG showed how awesome two cameras could be with the G5.

Even the budget space has seen some amazing evolution and every $300 or less phone would suck had it not been for the Moto G. Each one of these partners and their keystone devices are what allowed Google to transform Android into what we see in 2018.

Android is now a smart platform for connected devices, but seeing how it’s evolved on our phones is amazing. Ben Bajarin wrote in 2013 that Android was now software for commodity electronics and things like Amazon’s $29 Fire TV Stick show he was right. But on the mobile side — phones and other devices we carry every day — Android is now a powerful computer and can do just about everything one would need in a pocket PC. It’s become the base that successful companies use to build incredible software on incredible devices.

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Samsung showed us all what Android really is — just the backbone for a custom operating system — with the first Galaxy S phone. But the core parts of Android Pie provide an astounding array of features and functionality that nobody even dreamed of in 2008. Notifications that do more than let you know someone is trying to send you a message or an interface to camera hardware that the manufacturer decides is best but still works seamlessly with the rest of the software are incredible feats of engineering. Android adapts to any screen — televisions and watches running Android are commonplace — because it was designed to adapt, but on a smartphone, it shines.

The next 10 years will be just as interesting and none of us know what to expect from Google, Samsung, BlackBerry or any of the rest of the companies that make the Android ecosystem. But we all know it’s going to be really, really cool.

29
Sep

These are the best cases for travel with your PS4


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Here are some cases to help keep your PS4 safe as you travel.

There are times where you absolutely have to hit the road with your PlayStation 4. When I need to move my PS4 from point A to point B, I use the USA Gear Case because of its flexibility and storage space.

Best bang for your buck

CTA Digital Case

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If you’re looking for a case for your PS4 but you don’t want to break the bank, then you can’t do much better than this carrying case by CTA Digital. The modest exterior design of this bag is good for those who don’t want to advertise that they are hauling around a PS4. There is plenty of room inside to house your console, a couple of controllers, all the needed wires, and a handful of game discs.

$30 at Amazon

More protection

Hard travel case

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If you want a solution that offers a bit more protection and you’re willing to throw down a few extra bucks then you’re probably going to want a hard case. This Case by co2CREA offers a comparable amount of storage as the previous entry with a much more durable exterior. Another bonus is the storage compartments which can be adjusted to suit your specific needs.

$40 at Amazon

Flexibility and storage

USA Gear case

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No matter what iteration of PS4 you own, this baby can handle it. The nylon exterior is wrapped around a reinforced shell to protect your precious cargo. The inside offers plenty of storage for whatever extras you may want to bring with you and it can also be customized with adjustable dividers. Finally, when you have it all loaded up, toss it over your shoulder with the padded strap and you are good to go!

$45 at Amazon

For when you just need your controller

RDS Industries controller case

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There may be some times where you’re headed out to do some gaming and you don’t need to bring your whole console. If the only thing you need is your controller and you want to make your dual shock doesn’t take any shock then you might want to pick up this controller case from RDS industries. It’s a well-made little case which does exactly what it sets out to do.

$19 at Amazon

For some folks, traveling with a PlayStation on hand is a must. If you are one of those people, hopefully these cases — like the excellent USA Gear Case, will help you to get where you’re going without your console taking any taking any damage. I wish you the safest of travels and the happiest of gaming sessions!

29
Sep

Complex Passcode Bypass Method Exposes iPhone Contacts and Photos in iOS 12


A passcode bypass vulnerability has been discovered in iOS 12 that potentially allows an attacker to access photos and contact details on a locked iPhone.

The rather convoluted bypass method was shared in a video by Jose Rodriguez, who has discovered iOS bugs in the past that Apple has subsequently fixed.

With physical access to the locked device, the attacker first asks Siri to activate VoiceOver, sleeps the device with the Side button, and then calls the iPhone using another device. Once the call screen shows up, the attacker taps the Message button, opts to create a custom message, and then taps the plus (+) icon in the top right.

Next, on the other phone, the attacker sends a text or iMessage to the target iPhone, whose screen is then double-tapped when the message notification appears. This causes an odd behavior in the UI, since it highlights the plus icon underneath.

After a short wait, the screen goes white and the notification disappears, but the VoiceOver’s text selection box is apparently still tappable and can now be used to access the Messages interface. Following multiple screen swipes, the VoiceOver is heard to say “Cancel,” which reveals the original Messages screen.


Adding a new recipient to the message and selecting a numeral from the virtual keyboard then reveals a list of recently dialed or received phone numbers and contacts. Further, if one of the numbers or contacts includes an info (“i”) button, disabling VoiceOver and tapping the button shows the contact’s information. Performing a 3D Touch action on the contact also brings up call and message options, along with options to Add to Existing Contact or Create New Contact.

In a similarly complicated set of steps involving an invisible user menu, an attacker can eventually access a locked iPhone’s Camera Roll and other photo folders, which can then be used to add profile pictures to contact cards.

The bypass methods work on all iPhones including the iPhone XS lineup, but Apple doesn’t appear to have fixed the vulnerabilities in the latest iOS 12.1 beta. Thankfully however, all of the above can be easily prevented by disabling access to Siri from the lock screen.

Concerned users can do so by navigating to Settings > Face ID & Passcode (that’s Settings > Touch ID & Passcode on iPhones with Touch ID) and disabling the Siri toggle under the “Allow access when locked” menu.

Tag: security
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29
Sep

Does the Samsung Wireless Charger Duo work with the iPhone?


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Best answer: Yes, most modern iPhones support the same Qi charging standard as Samsung’s Wireless Charger Duo. You’ll be able to charge relatively quickly as well, reaching up to 7.5 watts.

Amazon: Samsung Wireless Charger Duo ($114)

Does my iPhone even have wireless charging?

If you’ve bought a new iPhone in the last couple of years, there’s a good chance it has wireless charging. In fact, since Apple switched from metal to glass designs on the back of its phones, every new model has supported it — that means the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, X, XS, XS Max, and XR.

If you have an older iPhone, you can still technically get wireless charging working … sort of. Some battery cases, like the Mophie Juice Pack Wireless for the iPhone 7, support Qi wireless charging for their internal battery, which in turn charges your iPhone through its Lightning port — though exactly how fast the case can charge will vary from product to product.

How well does the Wireless Charger Duo work?

Newer iPhones support Qi wireless charging at up to 7.5 watts. That’s the same speed that Samsung’s Wireless Charger Duo maxes out at, and while it’s obviously made to support phones like the Galaxy Note 9, it works just as well with iPhones.

As the name implies, the Wireless Charger Duo can charge up to two devices at once. On the left half of the charger is a vertical stand to prop up your phone, while the other half is flat; you can still charge a second phone on the flat portion, or use it to charge a smartwatch like the new Apple Watch Series 4.

To achieve the full 7.5W fast wireless charging that your iPhone is capable of, you’ll need to be updated to at least iOS 11.2 — though you should probably be on iOS 12 by now anyway. According to Tom’s Guide’s testing, the iPhone X can reach 20% from a dead battery after half an hour through fast wireless charging. That’s even faster than charging with the included wired charger (which reaches 17% after 30 minutes), though it’s still far outpaced by a fast wired connection (50% after 30 minutes).

Make it a double

There are plenty of wireless chargers that work well with the newer line of iPhones, but Samsung’s Wireless Charger Duo makes it easy to charge two phones or a phone and a watch at the same time.

Our pick

Samsung Wireless Charger Duo

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$114 at Amazon

The Wireless Charger Duo works just as well with iPhones.

Samsung’s latest wireless charger not only powers two devices at once, but it charges them at up to 7.5 watts, allowing for fast wireless charging on newer devices like the iPhone XS.

29
Sep

Telegram 5 Gains In-App Notifications and Swift Code Rebuild for Faster Speeds


Telegram received a major update today that includes new in-app notifications and a complete rewrite of the encrypted messaging app in Apple’s Swift coding language, resulting in all-round faster performance and better energy efficiency.

On the face of it, the Telegram 5.0 interface looks just like the previous version, but the developers say that rebuilding the app in Swift has made it “faster, sleeker and more battery-friendly,” and has also removed a bunch of persistent bugs.

The speed improvements should be immediately noticeable, particularly when viewing animations in chat threads and syncing messages across multiple devices. At the same time, the new in-app notifications allow users to keep on top of new messages without leaving conversations. From the Telegram blog:

The new expandable in-app notifications will help you focus on whatever you’re doing in the app without having to ignore incoming messages. When a notification arrives, pull it down to open the relevant chat. When you’re done with the interruption, simply close it to get right back to what you were doing.

Elsewhere, the app now includes streaming support for audio files and improved navigation for busy chats, while the app icon message counter has been tweaked so that it no longer shows the number of unread messages in muted chats, which should make it a lot more informative.

Telegram is a free download for iPhone and iPad from the App Store. [Direct Link]

Tag: Telegram
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29
Sep

Google Store adds mail-in repair service for Pixel phones


google-pixel-broken-af-dark.jpg?itok=EmB This is never a fun screen to wake up to, but it’s especially painful at 5 AM.

A broken phone is a sad phone, and Google doesn’t want to see any sad Pixels.

The customer support for Google Pixel phones is rivaled by few in the smartphone industry, especially in regards to when something with your phone goes wrong. The 24/7 chat and telephone support lines available for Google Pixel phones are a lifesaver — and I should know! My Google Pixel bricked itself at 5 AM the morning of my twin’s wedding, and a quick chat and call with support had a replacement Pixel on the way home to my apartment before I even left the venue.

That was a warranty replacement, however. If I’d simply dropped my Pixel on the crushed granite driveway, Google Support wouldn’t have been able to help me. If that happens today, though, Google Store’s nifty new repair center would.

Google Support has had mail-in repair/replacement for Google Pixel phones since 2016, and today that program is expanding into the Google Store’s new Repair Center. If your phone breaks outside of warranty, you can open a new repair order and get an estimate for your repair. Once you ship in your phone, Google techs will examine your phone and confirm that the repair and repair costs match their estimate.

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If it does match, they’ll charge your credit card, repair your phone and ship it back. If your phone arrives and the damage is more extensive than described, or the repair costs are higher than originally quote, then the Google Store will contact you to go over whether repairs can and will proceed with an updated repair order at the higher cost. Once your phone is repaired, it’s shipped home to you, usually 2 weeks or less from when you shipped it out.

It’s worth noting that Google Store repairs are not the same as Google Support repairs. If your Pixel’s problems seem to be under warranty, you’d still contact Google Support, and extended warranty holders would contact Preferred Care. Google Store’s Repair Center is for phone repairs that you have to pay for. This new option is a welcome repair option, though some may still elect to visit a uBreakiFix instead if they don’t have a spare phone to switch to for 7-10 business days.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

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  • Join our Pixel 2 forums

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29
Sep

Can’t spare time to brush your teeth? EZ Teethbrush promises to do it 4x faster


Looking after your teeth used to be hella time-consuming. That’s all changing here in 2018, thanks to new technology. Recently we wrote about an app that lets you get your regularly scheduled dental checkup simply by snapping a quick selfie. Now the creators of a new toothbrush, the EZ Teethbrush (sic), want to vastly reduce the amount of time it takes us to brush our teeth every day — by brushing all of them at the same time.

“It’s a sonic-powered ‘teethbrush’ that brushes all of your teeth simultaneously,” creator Craig Mock told Digital Trends. “To use it, simply rinse with water, add your favorite toothpaste, place in your mouth and turn on. Then while holding the handle, you use the modified bass technique recommended by dentists, which is small circular motions. A little back and forth is also required to get the back and front sides of the teeth.”

While the idea of reducing an average tooth clean from two minutes down to 30 seconds might sound unnecessary (after all, who doesn’t have time to spend two minutes on personal hygiene?), it may actually prove to be an important step. Studies show that most people don’t brush for the full two minutes, and a large percentage of the U.S. population only brushes once a day. A device such as this may help.

The EZ Teethbrush looks slightly different to your traditional brush, more closely resembling a retainer or sports mouthpiece, mounted on an electric toothbrush handle. The bacteria-resistant mouthpiece contains rows of ultra-soft silicone bristles, which promise to give your teeth the brushing they deserve — only four times faster.

“One of the dentists [who saw the EZ Teethbrush] was so impressed that he sent us data on abfraction lesions and how he thinks our product is cutting-edge in helping to prevent [them],” Mock continued. “Abfraction lesions affects more than 80 percent of adults and causes recessed gums. Our antimicrobial silicone bristles are softer and safer than traditional bristles, but brush efficiently.”

As ever, we offer our usual warnings about the risks inherent in crowdfunding campaigns. If you’re nonetheless keen to get involved, however, head over to the EZ Teethbrush project page where you can pledge your hard-earned bucks. Prices start at $79 for an EZ Teethbrush in your choice of black or white, along with a wireless charger. Shipping is set to take place in March 2019.

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29
Sep

Art or science? This mesmerizing video shows the development of neurons


Scientific discovery can be an artistic one too — like the intricate pattern of lines in this video that’s actually a zebrafish embryo growing an entire nervous system. Nikon Instruments Inc. unveiled the winners of the Nikon Small World in Motion on Thursday, September 27. A time-lapse of a zebrafish embryo took first place, not just for the intricate beauty of the developing nervous system, but because the work could also help provide more information about Alzheimer’s and other similar diseases.

The first-place video, created by Dr. Elizabeth Haynes and Jiaye “Henry” He, compresses 16 hours of development down to seconds, using a 10x magnification. The researchers captured the zebrafish embryo in 3D high-temporal resolution. While most zebrafish embryos are immobilized in a gel for similar studies, the researchers were able to capture the embryo in water, which is closer to the fish’s natural development.

“I hope people see this video and understand how much we share with other organisms in terms of our development,” Haynes said. “A neuron is a neuron, and it’s really amazing how most of the time development goes right when so much could go wrong. There is so much art occurring within science and nature, and it’s really special to watch.”

Haynes uses the data to study kinesin light chain genes, while He specializes in microscopic technology. The research into kinesin light chain genes could help scientists better understand axon growth, which could, in turn, fuel additional research into neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. 

The second-place prize shows a microscopic colorful pattern — and its’ actually a laser moving through soap. The video, by Dr. Miguel A. Bandres, captures several different physical phenomena, besides just being captivating to watch.

The third-place video captures the intricate movements of a microscopic polychaete worm magnified to 20 and 40 times. While the movements may look like a dance, the researcher says that the polychaete worm is actually digesting, a process that displaces a dorsal blood vessel. The detailed video is raising new questions on the understanding of the microbe.

The competition recognized the top five videos as well as 18 honorable mentions. The complete set of videos can be viewed at the Nikon Small World website.

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  • Forget nausea and sweating — a side effect of this drug is lucid dreaming



29
Sep

Editing mosquito DNA could help wipe out malaria and Zika — here’s how


From creating malaria-resistant mosquitoes to building “photonic fences” able to shoot down the blood-sucking insects with deadly lasers, there are a whole lot of exciting, cutting-edge ways that science is trying to deal with the mosquito problem. Researchers from the United Kingdom’s Imperial College London have developed a new, promising approach to add to the toolset: A “gene drive” which disseminates a genetic modification that stops female mosquitoes from reproducing.

“If this genetic modification can have the ability to incapacitate the female mosquito’s ability to reproduce it could be an incredibly powerful tool to suppress the mosquito population which transmits diseases, such as malaria, Zika, yellow fever, and so on,” Andrea Crisanti, professor of Molecular Parasitology at Imperial, told Digital Trends.

Gene drives are the name given to fragments of DNA that can be inserted into an organism’s chromosomes to trigger certain changes — in this case, stopping mosquitoes from reproducing. In a demonstration involving a caged population of Anopheles gambiae, the group of mosquito species which spread malaria, the gene drive was able to stop further reproduction after seven to 11 generations of mosquitoes. This marks the first time that scientists have been able to use genetic engineering to stop the reproductive capacity of complex organisms in a lab setting.

The gene drive technology alters a section of the doublesex gene, which triggers female development. Introduced in a small number of mosquitoes, the genetic modification is then spread through breeding. Males who carry the gene don’t show any overt changes, while females with just one copy of the modified gene are also outwardly unaffected. It is only when a female with two copies of the gene is born that the population crashes, as the female does not lay eggs or bite.

“With our previously available technology, it has been estimated that it would take something like 40 years to eliminate malaria from the world,” Crisanti continued. “This highlights the need to come up with alternative technologies.”

We’re still a way off from this approach being rolled out in the wild, but research such as this certainly holds an enormous amount of promise for the future.

A paper describing the work was recently published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

Editors’ Recommendations

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  • CRISPR gene editing creates cocaine-proof mice, aims to crack addiction puzzle
  • Genetically modified bacteria may be the key to plants that fertilize themselves



29
Sep

Exclusive: BMW to introduce ‘safe’ fully autonomous driving by 2021 with iNext



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BMW may be trying to reinvigorate its future lineup with more electrified vehicles, from plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to full-fledged all-electric cars. But the automaker isn’t limiting its new initiatives and R&D to just electrification. BMW also wants to be a leader in developing autonomous driving technology, fitting into the company’s other ethos besides building the ultimate driving machines: technological innovation.

“For us, electric mobility is already the new normal. Therefore, with BMW, we take on the next challenge,” said Klaus Frolich, BMW Group’s chief executive of development during his introduction of the BMW Vision iNext Concept. “With the BMW iNext, you will soon see, we will offer safe, autonomous driving for our customers, by 2021. And our vision is clear, we want to be a leader too.”

Even though most automakers won’t admit it, autonomous driving technology really came into the spotlight when Tesla Motors introduced its semi-autonomous capable “Autopilot” system for its production electric vehicles. Not without controversy, Tesla’s Autopilot and its electric vehicles made electrification and autonomous driving technology the two biggest current trends in the automobile industry.

“We have been researching autonomous driving since 2006. But the challenges to overcome in autonomous driving are enormous,” Frolich continued. “What’s available with our offerings, especially level four and level five, will strongly depend on legal and regulatory premises worldwide. Despite this development, the joy of self-driving remains a part of our brand’s core.”

Over the past few years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration adopted a scaling system to rate how intensive and involving autonomous driving technology is when functioning. Created by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the rating system helps classify autonomous driving tech.

On a scale of zero to five, zero means there’s no autonomous tech and a full need for driver involvement, while five means fully-autonomous and no driver involvement whatsoever. The stages in between represent semi-autonomous driving technology, such as driver and safety assistance systems.

Because the advent of the self-driving car is so revolutionary, it essentially turns the concept of personal and individually driven transportation upside down. Before self-driving cars can takeover as mainstream, there’s a lot that needs to be done from both a political and regulatory standpoint. Additionally, the technology isn’t quite there since the success of self-driving transportation is highly dependent on the development of vehicle infrastructure, which is already a huge struggle in itself.

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  • Exclusive: BMW will offer up to 25 electrified vehicles by 2025, 12 all-electric
  • The 2019 BMW X5 is here to replace that aging family SUV



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