Skip to content

Posts from the ‘News’ Category

25
Sep

Xiaomi Mi A1 review: Best of both worlds


xiaomi-mi-a1-front-hero.jpg?itok=sGO9Nuh

The Mi A1 is Xiaomi’s best budget phone yet.

Of the hundreds of phones sold in the budget segment every year, a mere handful of devices stand out: the Moto G series, for instance, along with the likes of Xiaomi’s Redmi Note phones, Lenovo’s K series, and Honor’s budget devices.

In 2017, that list is dominated by Xiaomi’s phones. The Redmi Note 4 continues to be one of the best devices in the sub-₹15,000 segment seven months after its launch, and the Redmi 4 and Redmi 4A offer excellent bang for your buck in the sub-₹10,000 tier. Then there’s the Mi Max 2, which for ₹16,999 offers a large 6.44-inch display backed by a gorgeous aluminum unibody design.

Xiaomi’s aggressive positioning in the budget segment allowed the brand to catapult up the rankings, with the manufacturer now the second-largest phone vendor in India. The Redmi Note 4 and Redmi 4 are two of the best-selling phones in the country this year, and with its latest phone, Xiaomi is set to consolidate its position in this category.

The Mi A1 is a great phone in its own right, but Xiaomi’s decision to partner with Google to deliver stock Android makes it a much more compelling option. A small but vocal minority of Xiaomi fans have been clamoring for a device with clean Android for some time now, and with the Mi A1, the brand has delivered just that.

Read on to find out why the Mi A1 is the best budget phone you can currently buy in India.

xiaomi-mi-a1-16.jpg?itok=vswbXeBl

About this review

I (Harish Jonnalagadda) am writing this review after using the Mi A1 for two weeks in Hyderabad, India on Airtel’s 4G network. The phone runs Android 7.1.2 Nougat out of the box along with the August 1, 2017 security patch. The unit was provided to Android Central for review by Xiaomi India.

Xiaomi Mi A1 Specs

Operating System Android 7.1.2 Nougat
Display 5.5-inch IPS LCD 1920 x 1080 (403ppi)Gorilla Glass, 2.5D curved glass
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 6252.0GHz octa-core Cortex A5314nm FinFET
GPU Adreno 506
RAM 4GB
Storage 64GB
Expandable Yes, up to 128GB
Battery 3080mAh
Charging USB-C
Rear Camera 1 12MP wide-angle (OmniVision OV12A10) f/2.2, 1.25-micron pixels Dual tone flash, PDAF4K@30FPS
Rear Camera 2 12MP telephoto (OmniVision OV13880) f/2.6, 1.1-micron pixels
Front Camera 5MP1080p video
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 4.2IR blaster, 3.5mm jackGPS/AGPS, GLONASS, BeiDou
Audio 3.5mm headphone jackDedicated amplifier
Security One-touch fingerprint sensor at the back
SIM Dual SIM slot (hybrid slot)
Dimensions 155.4 x 75.8 x 7.3mm165g
Colors Black, Gold, Rose Gold

xiaomi-mi-a1-31.jpg?itok=yaMgJrM9

Xiaomi Mi A1 Hardware

The Mi A1 is a rebranded variant of the Mi 5X, which sports an all-metal chassis with antenna lines at the top and bottom. There’s a clear difference in the design language between the Redmi series and phones in the Mi lineup, with the latter featuring a more refined aesthetic. As a result, the Mi A1 makes recent devices like the Redmi Note 4 look outdated.

The clean lines combined with the aluminum chassis gives the Mi A1 a premium look, and the build quality is outstanding. The phone comes with a 3.5mm jack, and unlike the Redmi Note 4, there’s a USB-C charging port at the bottom. The power and volume buttons at the back provide a decent amount of tactile feedback, and there’s an IR blaster located up top.

The back of the device is where things get interesting, with the Mi A1 sporting a dual camera setup. The configuration is the same as that of the Mi 6 — a primary sensor augmented by a secondary telephoto lens — but Xiaomi is using different imaging sensors.

The positioning of the dual camera to the top left corner coupled with Xiaomi’s decision to tuck the antenna bands at the top and bottom of the device means the Mi A1 has more than a passing resemblance to the OnePlus 5. There is a Mi logo and Android One signage at the bottom of the phone to inform the world that it isn’t in fact a OnePlus 5, and the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor also makes that abundantly clear.

The Mi A1 is Xiaomi’s best-looking phone in the budget segment thus far.

The fingerprint sensor is conveniently located such that your finger automatically rests on it, and it had no issues authenticating my fingerprints.

Switching over to the front, the first thing you notice is the bezels at the top and bottom, and if you’re picking up the gold color option, you’ll get a white front plate. The side bezels are narrow, which makes it easier to hold the phone, and the back button is in the wrong position for a phone running stock Android.

Xiaomi has a long history of offering decent LCD panels in its phones, and the situation is no different with the Mi A1. The 5.5-inch Full HD screen is one of the best in this segment, with excellent colors and viewing angles. The panel gets sufficiently bright that it isn’t an issue to view the contents on the screen under harsh sunlight.

Coming over to the hardware side of things, the Snapdragon 625 paired with stock Android makes the Mi A1 absolutely fly. You’re not going to notice any slowdowns or lags in everyday usage. It’s astonishing just how fluid the phone is at day-to-day tasks, whether it’s switching between apps, quickly launching the camera, or playing visually intensive games.

xiaomi-mi-a1-battery.jpg?itok=bDkv9lpG

Battery life

Battery life on the Mi A1 is excellent. I was initially worried that the 3080mAh battery wouldn’t last a day, but I consistently got a day and a half’s worth of usage out of the battery.

Even on days when I was on cellular data throughout, I managed to get up to four hours of screen-on-time and overall battery life exceeding 20 hours. To put that into context, that’s nearly double what I averaged on the Pixel XL in similar conditions.

The one downside is the lack of a fast charging option. The Mi A1 tops out at 5V/2A, and it takes nearly two hours to fully charge the phone.

xiaomi-mi-a1-nougat.jpg?itok=vmbqxyWa

Software

The software is what sets the Mi A1 apart from every other Xiaomi phone in the market today. The Chinese manufacturer teamed up with Google to offer the Mi A1 as a part of the Android One initiative, which means that for the first time, we’re getting to see a Xiaomi phone with stock Android.

Google’s first attempt with Android One failed miserably due to a combination of several factors. The phones were underwhelming and didn’t stand out in the entry-level segment where they were positioned, and Google didn’t do enough to advertize them to the masses. By partnering with Xiaomi, it is addressing those setbacks: the Mi A1 is one of the best-looking phones in the budget segment, and Xiaomi utterly dominates the mind share in markets like India, which ensures the phone gets plenty of visibility.

The software experience on the Mi A1 is on par with the Pixels and Nexus devices.

As for the software experience itself, it is in line with what you’d get on a Pixel or Nexus device. There’s a swipe up gesture to access the app drawer, Google Now occupies the left-most pane, and all interface elements are unchanged from stock Android.

The phone runs Android 7.1.2 Nougat out of the box, and has the August 1, 2017 security patch. You get all the features built into Nougat, including split-screen multitasking, in-line notification replies, app shortcuts, granular controls for Do Not Disturb, and more. Then there’s the ability to pull down the notification shade by swiping down on the fingerprint sensor, à la Pixel. There’s also a gesture to quickly launch the camera by double pressing the power button.

Overall, it’s a refreshing change to use a Xiaomi phone with stock Android. MIUI certainly has a lot to offer, but purists looking for an uncluttered experience finally have a device they can call their own.

xiaomi-mi-a1-software.jpg?itok=MLZlgif4

Software updates

The only unknown when it comes to the software side of things is the update situation. Previous Android One devices have received updates directly from Google, but that will not be the case with the Mi A1. As the phone features a dual camera setup, Xiaomi has bundled its own Mi camera app instead of Google Camera. Xiaomi also pre-installed the Mi Remote app, which lets you use the IR blaster to control your TV, air con, or set-top box.

As a result of these additions, Xiaomi will be in charge of software updates for the Mi A1. The brand is committing to quick updates, and Google has stated that the phone will receive Oreo before the end of the year. Furthermore, the Mi A1 will be one of the first devices to pick up the Android P update next year.

xiaomi-mi-a1-22.jpg?itok=X64khe7n

Camera

The Mi A1 has two 12MP cameras at the back: the first is a wide-angle lens with 1.25-micron pixels and f/2.2, and the latter is a telephoto f/2.6 lens with 1.1-micron pixels that offers 2x optical zoom. The tagline for the Mi A1 is, “Flagship dual camera,” with Xiaomi alluding to the fact that the phone has the same camera configuration as the Mi 6.

Although Xiaomi is using different imaging sensors, the image quality you get with the Mi A1 is on par with that of the Mi 6, at least in daylight conditions.

mi-6-camera-1.jpg?itok=Uy_tjNPfmi-a1-camera-1.jpg?itok=YM2jDGo0

Mi 6 on the left, Mi A1 to the right.

mi-6-camera-2.jpg?itok=Z53e11VXmi-a1-camera-2.jpg?itok=Wr1PbGIZ

mi-6-camera-3.jpg?itok=mjoh6cGemi-a1-camera-3.jpg?itok=ZKu7TxKN

mi-6-camera-4.jpg?itok=L6J5lS1pmi-a1-camera-4.jpg?itok=3DOA5zWb

The Mi A1 managed to hold its own next to the Mi 6, and the phone outdid its costlier sibling in a few scenarios. That said, the Mi 6 is currently on a beta MIUI build whereas the Mi A1 is running a stable version of Android 7.1.2 Nougat.

The camera app itself should be immediately familiar if you’ve used a Xiaomi phone in the past. You get toggles for filters and easy access to various shooting modes, which include panorama, tilt shift, a square mode for Instagram, and others. There’s also a toggle for enabling the watermark, with resulting images featuring a “Shot on Mi A1” watermark in the bottom left corner.

Other options include the ability to switch between the primary imaging sensor and the telephoto lens via the 2x button, toggles for HDR, flash, portrait mode, switching between photo and video modes and the front and rear cameras. And yes, it still tries to guess your gender and age when you’re taking selfies.

xiaomi-mi-a1-camera-4_0.jpg?itok=ZHjvw0Ixiaomi-mi-a1-camera-1_0.jpg?itok=FvSdTS1xiaomi-mi-a1-camera-9_0.jpg?itok=Ru35wcvxiaomi-mi-a1-camera-3_0.jpg?itok=avV_GWWxiaomi-mi-a1-camera-5_0.jpg?itok=7Dd_VhYxiaomi-mi-a1-camera-7_0.jpg?itok=OSsaFvgxiaomi-mi-a1-camera-8_0.jpg?itok=7EndClbxiaomi-mi-a1-camera-10_0.jpg?itok=T6pHEcxiaomi-mi-a1-camera-11_0.jpg?itok=_LhiaS

Portrait Mode works in a similar fashion to what we’ve seen on the Mi 6, with the camera blurring out the background to put the subject in focus. The mode needs plenty of lighting to work, and while the camera does a decent job in terms of blurring the background, it has a tough time delineating the edges.

Photos shot in daylight have plenty of detail, but those taken in low-light conditions tend to be very noisy. The 5MP front shooter is similarly decent for taking selfies. The camera on the Mi A1 isn’t groundbreaking, but it is plenty capable considering the price point the device is targeting.

xiaomi-mi-a1-front.jpg?itok=1xgsDn79

Xiaomi Mi A1 Bottom line

Xiaomi seems particularly intent on building out market share, and to that effect the brand has priced the Mi A1 very aggressively. The ₹14,999 price is astounding when you consider what’s on offer with the device: sleek design, great display, clean software experience, dual cameras, and all-day battery life.

The software experience in particular is the standout feature of the Mi A1. One of the main reasons for Motorola’s success in this segment was because of its reliance on an uncluttered user interface, and by teaming up with Google, Xiaomi is able to offer a similar experience to its customers.

Should you buy it? Without a doubt

The Mi A1 is the most uncompromising phone in the budget segment today. We’ve seen some great devices debuting in the market this year, notably the Redmi Note 4 and the Moto G5 Plus, and as an overall package, the Mi A1 handily beats both devices. For ₹14,999 you’ll be hard-pressed to find a phone that offers quite as much for your money.

Xiaomi is once again leveraging its flash sales model for the Mi A1, which means that you won’t be able to go to Mi.com and purchase the device whenever you want. The sale kicks off every Tuesday at 12 p.m., but if you don’t want to wait, you always have the option of going to a Mi Home store and purchasing the device. Xiaomi is also making the phone available at over 600 partner stores.

It isn’t the easiest process to get a hold of the Mi A1, but the device itself is well worth it.

Advertisements
25
Sep

‘Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture’ creator goes ‘dark’


It’s a tough time for one of the game industry’s more creative studios. The Chinese Room, the developers behind award-winners like Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and Dear Esther, has revealed that it’s “going dark” for the months ahead. The company isn’t shutting entirely, but it quietly laid off its team after finishing its new title So Let Us Melt and won’t be a “fully active” firm “for the time being.” As co-founder Dan Pinchbeck explains, it’s really a combination of factors that prompted the decision.

Pinchbeck makes no bones about Chinese Room’s bottom line: there were “financial pressures” that included keeping the full team running. Add Pinchbeck’s own health concerns and the usual stress of wrapping development on a game (many studios are all too familiar with crunch time), and it was clear that it was time to have a “good think about the future.”

Right now, just three people are working on upcoming titles like The 13th Interior and Little Orpheus. It’s not certain exactly how the move will delay those projects, but it’s reasonable to say they won’t be ready all that soon.

The news is unfortunate, but it’s not entirely unexpected. While “walking simulator” titles like Rapture receive heaps of critical praise for their storytelling and rejection of video game tropes (they’re more like dramas with a dash of non-linear narrative), they’re seldom commercial successes. A game like Firewatch is more the exception than the rule, and it’s still not going to be a blockbuster hit the way Call of Duty might be. Like it or not, these teams are bound to face uncertain futures.

Via: Kotaku

Source: The Chinese Room

25
Sep

Yale’s next concert brings your phone into the performance


Normally, bringing out your smartphone at a classical concert is a surefire way to get kicked out, or at least receive some disapproving stares from everyone in the room. Not so at the Yale Concert Band’s next performance, though. When it holds its season-opening concert on October 6th, it’ll want you to keep your phone out for a key segment. The band is performing Cody Brookshire’s “Honeycomb,” which uses any web-capable mobile device as part of the performance — what you see on stage is just one part of a much larger show.

The piece uses SynkroTakt technology to synchronize 32 audio tracks between your phone and the band’s performance with virtually flawless timing. When there’s a call-and-response section, for instance, the audience’s phones will play their part in harmony. It’s effectively adding hundreds of speakers (SynkroTakt can handle 250 or more devices) throughout the concert hall.

This isn’t a one-off use. Brookshire has been performing “Honeycomb” elsewhere, and SynkroTakt is useful for just about anywhere that synced audio could add a dramatic effect, such as TV shows and art installations. Just think of Yale’s performance as exposing this invention to a wider audience.

Source: Yale

25
Sep

TCL S405 setup and unboxing guide: How to get your Roku-powered TV running


TCL is not necessarily one of the most well-known television companies out there, but it did strike a deal with Roku to incorporate the company’s operating system into its line of smart TVs. Our TCL S405 setup and unboxing guide will help you get started with your new TV, ensuring you spend more time enjoying quality content than messing with the settings.

What’s in the box?

Out of the box, you will get the following (along with the TV itself):

  • Two plastic feet with compatible screws
  • Power cable.
  • Remote with batteries.
  • Quick-start manual.

All of this is housed above the TV panel in a small styrofoam box.

Several items are not included with the TV. You will need to buy HDMI cables to connect your TV to other devices. The easiest way to ensure you have HDMI cables is to buy the AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI cables at the same time you buy your TV. If you do not buy the AmazonBasics HDMI cable, make sure that the HDMI cables are rated as “high speed” cables so they can accommodate the large amount of data 4K HDR content requires.

Additionally, the TV does not come with any wall mounting hardware. For information about wall mounting check out our wall mounting guide video.

Hardware setup

To affix the feet to the panel, take a look at the little arrows located on the part of the feet that connect to the television. You want to angle those arrows toward the TV’s screen, then align the holes and insert the screws (four in total). You probably also want to remove the plastic liner from the bezel.

Features and design

The bezel is fairly thin, with a glossy black finish that contrasts with the screen, coated with an anti-reflective film to reduce glare. The TV is about three inches deep — so it should look pretty good if you decide to mount it — and about 35 inches from foot to foot, assuming you’re working with the 49-inch model.

All the relevant ports and jacks are located on the rear of the TV, near the right side (the left, if you are facing the screen from the front). There are three HDMI ports — one ARC — along with one USB, optical, coaxial, composite, and a headphone/speaker jack.

The Roku remote offers shortcuts to a few popular apps on top of all the regular navigation features; it doesn’t have a headphone jack, but you can use the Roku app on your phone if you want to watch that way.

Software setup

Once you have connected the TV to the internet and powered it on, it will automatically apply a series of updates before prompting you to log into your Roku account (or to create one, if you haven’t already). It will also automatically download some starter apps, including Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video.

The Roku OS is just as awesome on a TV as it is via Roku’s streaming devices. All your inputs will appear on the home screen — alongside your favorite apps — so it is easy to get wherever you need to go.

We recommend adjusting your picture settings at first use to get the most out of your S405. Select the “Movie” preset unless you are watching high dynamic range (HDR)-enabled content, in which case you’ll want to pick the “Dark [HDR]” setting instead. We also moved the brightness slider down a few points and set sharpness to zero, but this is all personal preference (and depends on your viewing environment).




25
Sep

TCL S305 TV unboxing and setup: Entry-level model is ready to watch in no time


The TCL S305 TV is the entry-level model for TCL S-series TVs, which means it’s a 1080P TV instead of 4K and does not have HDR, but it does feature Roku TV. This is an exceptionally easy TV to unbox and set up. In this video, we take a look at the TCL S305 TV unboxing and setup to show you exactly what to expect when you get your new TV.

Unboxing tips

Unboxing the TCL S305 TV is pretty simple since everything is stored at the top of the box. And remember that it’s always a smart idea to have a friend help you when setting up your TV — no matter what type of TV you are setting up.

What’s in the box

  • Product and setup literature.
  • Four screws.
  • Two batteries.
  • Remote.
  • Power cable.
  • Two plastic legs.

Items not included

Several items are not included with the TV. You will need to buy HDMI cables to connect your TV to other devices. The easiest way to ensure you have HDMI cables is to buy the AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI cables at the same time you buy your TV. If you do not buy the AmazonBasics HDMI cable, make sure that the HDMI cables are rated as “high speed” cables so they can accommodate the large amount of data 4K HDR content requires.

Additionally, the TV does not come with any wall mounting hardware. For information about wall mounting check out our wall mounting guide video.

TV setup

Setting up this TV requires very few steps. First, you want to attach the silver plastic legs to the TV. Carefully invert the TV so the bottom is facing up. Then match up the arrows on the bottom of the TV with the arrows on the legs to make sure the legs are going in the correct direction. As you fit the legs into place, they should splay out to the outer edges of the TV a little. Use two screws on each side to secure the legs to the TV. Once you get the TV set up on the entertainment stand, remove the plastic covering from the bezel.

Looking at the back of the TV, you will find a connections bay on the right side. The connections bay comes with three HDMI inputs, including one that supports ARC, one USB input, one antenna/cable input, and an AV input with the three RCA cable connections present instead of a breakout cable option. There is no Ethernet jack, however, because the TCL S305 TV is a Wi-Fi only television.

Design features

The TV looks very clean when viewed from the front. The glossy black bezel runs around the outer edge and is less than three quarters of an inch thick. There is a light amount of anti-reflective coating on the screen.

The remote for the TV performs simple cursor operations. Closer to the bottom there are four keys for easy access to Netflix, Amazon, HBO Now, and Sling. Unfortunately, the remote does not have a headphone jack for private listening. However, if you do want to listen wirelessly, you can attach headphones to your smartphone or tablet and listen through the Roku app.

Set up connections

As you turn on the TV, you will immediately be directed to connect to the internet. You will have to wait a couple minutes as the TV goes through several updates. Next, enter your Roku account — if you do not have a Roku account, you will be directed to create one. Once you have followed all the instructions on your TV, it is set up.

One of the nice things about the TCL S305 TV is that all the inputs are next to the streaming services when you are looking at the screen. This makes it extremely easy to move between, for example, your Blu-Ray DVD player and Netflix on your TV.

Adjusting settings

For picture settings on the TV, you won’t have to make many adjustments. We suggest using the movie setting in dim rooms. In terms of color temperature settings, the warm color temperature is the most accurate. Move the backlight up to maximum and the brightness down a couple notches to find the black color levels you prefer.

For more information, check out our full review of the TCL S305 TV.




25
Sep

Ruling gives FAA more power over drones than local governments


When it comes to drone regulations, the FAA’s rules trump anything local governments conjure up. That’s what a federal court in Massachusetts has proven when it ruled in favor of a commercial drone owner who sued the city of Newton over its drone ordinance. Newton resident Michael Singer filed the lawsuit in a bid to eliminate some of the city’s rules that don’t align with the FAA’s, including having to register with every municipality it has to fly over and to maintain an altitude of 400 feet and above over private and Newton city property. Two of the rules he chose not to challenge prohibit operating drones in a reckless manner and the use of drones to spy on people.

Singer argued that having to register with every municipality would make flights impossible, since an unmanned flying vehicle could cross several for a trip that takes a few minutes. In addition, the FAA requires UAVs for businesses to fly under 400 feet. US District Judge William G. Young explained that “Newton’s choice to restrict any drone use below this altitude (400 feet) thus works to eliminate any drone use in the confines of the city, absent prior permission. This thwarts not only the FAA’s objectives, but also those of Congress for the FAA to integrate drones into the national airspace.” Singer said the ruling “ensure[s] that the skies would remain open for new technology that would benefit society.”

Since we’re still figuring out which drone rules and regulations work, the judge’s decision could influence similar cases and even local authorities’ decisions regarding drone use in the future. Doug Johnson, Consumer Technology Association’s VP of Tech Policy, said the ruling “establishes a rock-solid affirmation that the federal government unequivocally holds jurisdiction over the drone industry.”

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Wicked Local Newton, Newtown’s official website, Consumerr Technology Association, sUAS News

25
Sep

Super Mario Run to Get ‘Biggest Update Ever’ and 50% Price Drop on Friday


Super Mario Run will receive its “biggest update ever” later this week, according to a sneak peek shared on the App Store this weekend.

A new gameplay mode called Remix 10 will include a set of 10 super-short sections from Super Mario Run’s existing levels in quick succession. The stages are remixed with each attempt, with rainbow-colored bonus medals throughout.

Remix 10 has no Game Over screen, and even if you fail to complete a level, you’ll just proceed to the next one without any penalty. This means new players can familiarize themselves with a variety of different levels easily and experts can attempt to collect every bonus medal for a perfect rating.

Finishing stages and collecting medals in Remix 10 mode gives players the chance to collect new items to decorate their Mushroom Kingdom, and eventually rescue the newly added character Princess Daisy.

Once rescued, Princess Daisy can be used as a playable character in all of Super Mario Run’s other gameplay modes.

Daisy’s special ability is to perform a double jump, opening up a brand new way to beat the stages you find trickiest, collect the coveted black coins, or race against other players in Toad Rally.

Super Mario Run will gain a brand new world called World Star, which has nine new levels that are unlocked once players have finished all of the existing stages in the six worlds of the World Tour.

These new levels are filled with new enemies, gameplay mechanics, and of course include pink, purple, and black coin-collecting challenges. Nintendo is promising surprises for even the most seasoned Super Mario Run players in this one.

The update will also allow Super Mario Run to be played while listening to any music in the background, rather than the game soundtrack only.

The update will be available on the App Store [Direct Link] on Friday, September 29, and on the same day, the $9.99 in-app purchase that unlocks the full game will be offered at “around 50% off” for a limited time.

About the Game

Super Mario Run is a runner designed for one-handed gameplay. Mario runs forward automatically as players tap to jump, collect coins, pounce on Goombas, avoid obstacles, and reach the flagpole at the end of each course before the timer runs out. In the end, Mario must rescue Princess Peach from the infamous Bowser.

(Thanks, Jesse L.!)

Tag: Super Mario Run
Discuss this article in our forums

MacRumors-All?d=6W8y8wAjSf4 MacRumors-All?d=qj6IDK7rITs

25
Sep

Jared Kushner uses private email for White House business


You don’t have to be a former presidential hopeful to draw heat over using private email for work. Politico has revealed that presidential senior adviser (not to mention son-in-law) Jared Kushner has been using a private email account to conduct White House business. He has used the account since December to discuss event planning, media coverage and “other subjects” with both key White House members and advisers, including former strategist Steve Bannon, ex-chief of staff Reince Priebus and National Economic Council leader Gary Cohn, among others. The account was set up in December as part of the transition, but it’s been in use well since President Trump took office.

Some of those involved messaged him first, including from their own private accounts.

An attorney for Kushner, Abbe Lowell, has been quick to acknowledge the ongoing use but is also downplaying its scope. Kushner has sent or received “fewer than 100 emails” between his personal account and White House officials, Lowell says. These “usually” included forwarded news stories and opinion pieces, and were typically started by someone sending a message to Kushner rather than the other way around. The lawyer says that Kushner is honoring the Presidential Records Act, which requires archiving all presidential correspondence (and related material), by forwarding messages to his government account.

The problem that it’s difficult to verify that this forwarding is taking place. It also reflects a tendency of current White House staff to rely much more on private messaging instead of government supplied accounts. Unlike past administrations, it could be much harder to keep a historical record if staff are regularly using private accounts. And while analogies between this and Clinton’s private email don’t fit all that well (Clinton was using a private email server for potentially sensitive correspondence), it’s hard to escape the irony of attacking a politician for using private email only to do that yourself.

Source: Politico

25
Sep

See how that couch would look in your living room in AR with Ikea Place


Why it matters to you

Don’t want to buy that couch without seeing it in your living room first? Ikea Place can help.

Anticipating poor design choices before you ever make them can be key to ensuring that you never again bring an ugly couch into your home. With a new app with Ikea, you can use augmented reality to “see” potential pieces of furniture in your home before pulling out your credit card, and save yourself a whole lot of consternation when it comes to (re)decorating your home.

Thanks to Ikea Place, customers will be able to experience and experiment with furniture from the retailer. You can place chairs, desks, and just about anything else in your kitchen, backyard, or heck, on the street, just to see how it all looks.

“Ikea Place makes it easier to make buying decisions in your own place, to get inspired and try many different products, styles and colors in real-life settings with a swipe of your finger. Augmented reality and virtual reality will be a total game changer for retail in the same way as the internet. Only this time, much faster,” Michael Valdsgaard, Leader Digital Transformation at Inter Ikea Systems, said in a release.

All items available in the app promise to be true to scale so you can ensure that you’re seeing precisely how an armchair would look in that particular corner of your room. Ikea Place claims to automatically scale products based on a room’s dimensions with up to 98 percent accuracy. Moreover, Ikea claims that the AR technology is precise enough to allow customers to see the texture of a fabric, and even the interplay of light and shadows on potential furnishings.

To use the app, simply scan the floor of a room, browse the list of products available in the app, and select the product you’d like to place. At launch, Ikea will have more than 2,000 products available on the app, and moving forward, the company says that the app will “play a key role in the launch of new product lines.”

The app will be available in the Apple store beginning in late September, and will require iOS 11 to function.

“Now, technology has caught up with our ambition. AR lets us redefine the experience for furniture retail once more, in our restless quest to create a better everyday life for everyone, everywhere,” Valdsgaard concluded.




25
Sep

Television with built-in Fire TV makes better use of your voice


One of the Element Fire TV Edition set’s main hooks is clearly its Alexa voice control, so it stands to reason that the entire television stands to benefit the more you can use it, doesn’t it? Sure enough, Element is trotting out an update that makes better use of voice recognition. You can enter text into fields using your voice instead of the keyboard, which could take a lot of the pain out of filling out forms and certain search boxes. Also, you can rename inputs to more familiar terms and use Alexa to switch to them — you can specify that you’re jumping to your PS4 instead of “HDMI2.”

The upgrade isn’t all about verbal communication. Element went so far as to tweak the standard picture setting for higher contrast, particularly black levels, and adds customization for element like gamma and white balance. You can alter the image quality for individual inputs, too, and it’s possible to add individual channels to your favorites from the On Now row that shows what’s hot. These and the Alexa improvements won’t necessarily make you skip over a high-end set, but they could make Element’s unit a more tempting proposition if you’re on a budget.

Source: Amazon Fire TV Blog (Medium)

%d bloggers like this: