Not put off by no-one wanting to wear the Puls smart “cuff;” musician, television personality, tech visionary, and entrepreneur Will.i.am is back with another wearable device. It’s called the i.am+ Dial, and so far it’s an exclusive to the U.K. phone network Three, and it works completely independently of your phone, because it has its own SIM card. Due to its independence, the Dial has its own operating system, rather than using something sensible like Android Wear. However, Will.i.am doesn’t want you touching the 1.63-inch AMOLED screen, he wants you to talk to the Dial. AneedA is the name of the voice-activated operating system installed on the watch, and you must bark orders at your wrist like a mad person to get it doing what you want. Related: In the future, you’ll be able to print your own Will.i.am, says Will.i.am For example, saying “dial,” and the name of the person you’d like to contact will start a phone call, while adding “play” before the song or artist of your choice will start the music app. There’s 32GB of internal storage to fill, but more interestingly, the Dial includes access to an i.am+-backed ad-free music streaming service with no additional cost. A pair of Will.i.am’s EP Bluetooth earphones will be packed with the Dial, for easy hands-free listening. The Dial also has GPS for navigation, a Snapdragon 400 processor with 2GB of RAM, an IP54 water resistance rating, plus a 2-megapixel camera. Yes, you can even tell AneedA to take a selfie. An 800mAh battery will keep the Dial operational, but it’s not mentioned for how long. With GPS, an always-listening assistant, and 3G connectivity, more than a day may be very optimistic. How much is the Dial? It’s quite a lot, thanks to that SIM card inside. Three’s only offering it with a contract, therefore pushing it as a phone replacement rather than an accessory. It’s £50 (about $73) with a two-year plan that varies from £24 ($35) to £50 ($73) each month, depending on your data needs. That means the Dial may end up costing £1,250, or approximately $1,820 in total. It’s up for pre-order now with a delivery date of May 13, if square, expensive wearables with proprietary software that you’ll look stupid using is your thing.
The New York Times is hooking up with Google again to give away 300,000 Cardboard virtual reality (VR) viewers to many of the news outlet’s subscribers. Last November the Times handed out a million of the viewers to print subscribers, while the latest giveaway sees the $15 gadget going to its “most loyal” digital subscribers. It’s all part of the Times’ continued push into VR, which so far includes six mainly news-focused productions for its iOS and Android NYT VR app, which launched last year alongside that first Cardboard giveaway. Related: Now you can try Street View in VR using Google Cardboard Digital subscribers – or at least, the really loyal ones – can expect to receive their free viewer in time for the news outlet’s May 19 launch of its latest VR film, the intriguingly titled Seeking Pluto’s Frigid Heart . No, it’s not an immersive examination of possible emotional issues affecting one of Disney’s most famous and adored characters, but instead a close-up look at the planet Pluto that’ll allow viewers to “soar above never-before-seen rugged mountains and bright plains, and stand on Pluto’s unique surface as its largest moon hovers over the horizon,” the Times teased in a release. Related: NY Times starts fighting ad blockers with a plea to users The iconic news publication collaborated with the Lunar and Planetary Institute and the Universities Space Research Association to create accurate three-dimensional virtual worlds from data gathered in 2015 by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. Google’s cheap-as-chips VR viewer, which launched in 2014, works with a wide range of smartphones. If you’re not a Times subscriber but want to try Cardboard or an alternative, this page offers a range of (mostly) low-cost viewers, which you can quickly filter by price, smartphone, and material. Cardboard users looking to try VR content other than that offered by the Times can choose from a range of apps by visiting the Play Store’s dedicated section here.
Apple is rolling out an update to its android version of Apple Music, in which the app receives support for music video, and a family billing plan. Apple music first came to Android in November 2015, providing an alternative to streaming music from Spotify and Pandora. With version 0.9.8, Apple Music for Android gives users access to thousands of music videos from the Apple servers which were previously exclusive to iOS users.
In-app ads can be pretty annoying. Sometimes all you want to do is go to the next level of your game without having to endure another Game of War ad. Starting today though, you only have yourself to blame for downloading an app with ads. Google has made a change to the Play Store that will include a label for apps that contain ads. The label will appear right next to the separate label that says whether or not an app has in-app purchases. Related: Open-source code leaks indicate arrival of Google Play Store on Chromebooks The new change was first reported by Android Authority. Of course, the change could have a big impact on app developers, many of whom rely on ads to make money from their apps. This is because customers will be more likely to avoid apps with ads if they’re aware of the ads ahead of time, especially when there are non-ad alternatives. Interestingly enough, the change could also affect Google in a negative way — Google makes a ton of its money from ads, some of which reside in apps. It’s nice to see Google putting customers first despite this. Sure, in-app ads can help developers make money, but they’re usually seen by customers as annoying. And depending on how they are implemented, ads can even impact how an app is used, for example by getting in the user’s way in order to try and cause accidental clicks. So the new Google policy is likely to be applauded, and perhaps its biggest advantage is that the new labels will allow users to see which paid apps still have advertisements before they pay for the app. Google has been working on the change for a while now — it began by asking developers in late 2015 to submit a response about whether or not their apps contained ads, and indicated at the time that its goal was to provide more transparency. Google has been separately working to promote higher quality apps in the app store, both by vetting apps manually and by launching app awards for some of the Play Store’s biggest app developers.
A new wearable may soon help people engage with electronics without having to use their hands. Users don the Glassouse like they would a pair of glasses. The device connects to electronics via Bluetooth and responds to head movements to manipulate a cursor around the screen. The mouth piece – which curves in front of the face like a headset microphone – functions as a button. Users can bite or click the button to select items on the screen. The simple looking device was created by Mehmet Nemo, a young electrical engineer who was inspired by his handicapped friend’s difficulty using technology. After positive feedback to the prototype, Nemo and his team decided to launch an Indiegogo campaign to promote their product. The first 100 devices are available at $149 plus $30 shipping – about half the price of the proposed eventual sale price. And people who don’t need a Glassouse but want to contribute to the cause can purchase “non-profit” perks. Through these donations, Nemo and his team hope to maintain an affordable price for their device while giving away one Glassouse for every $70 donated. Related : Brilliant hands-free wheelchair translates body motions into directional input At just 1.6 ounces, the Glassouse is remarkably light and can apparently work for fifteen hours off a single charge. It’s currently compatible with Apple computers and most Android, Windows, and Linux devices, including TVs. Recognizing the wear and tear that the mouthpiece would experience, Nemo and his team subjected the button to 50,000 “clicks” and imply it was still operational. Related Offer: Want hands free mouse navigation? Check out the SmartNav 4 here The Glassouse is one of many assistive technology devices available for people with disabilities. For example, SmartNav is a popular device that attaches to the top of a computer monitor or laptop screen and uses an infrared camera to track head movements. These head movements allow for hands-free control of a cursor. However, SmartNav users still need to engage with keyboard hotkeys to select options on the screen. That’s where the Glassouse bite and click button really stands out.
When Samuel Hamilton got his first cell phone at age 53, he didn’t know how to turn it on. “The only concept of cell phones I had came from magazines or TV,” said Hamilton. It was the fall of 2014, and Hamilton had just been released from prison in upstate New York.
Texting and driving is illegal in many states, but so far that's done little to keep people from doing it. In fact, the number of people texting – and using Facebook and Snapchat and taking selfies – behind the wheel seems to have increased. According to the National Safety Council, collisions involving cell phone use have risen for three consecutive years and account for more than 25 percent of all car accidents in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that distracted drivers kill more than 3,000 people each year.
Virtual reality is not killing the television star, but it sure is bringing them a lot closer to fans. Today, Radio Disney announced it has partnered with virtual reality company IM360 to live-stream the red carpet of the 2016 Radio Disney Music Awards in virtual reality before its live broadcast. The 2016 Radio Disney Music Awards is set to air on the Disney Channel at 7 p.m. EST on Sunday. The show will be filmed Saturday at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Fans who can not wait until Sunday to see what Sabrina Carpenter will wear on the red carpet will be able to live-stream it in 360-degree VR on the Radio Disney YouTube channel and website. The VR content will be viewable on tablets, computers, and mobile devices. Related: HTC’s $100 million accelerator program geared toward virtual reality startups While you watch the brightest teen stars strut around the red carpet, you’ll also be watching history. The live-stream of the red carpet in VR prior to the TV broadcast is a first for award shows. IM360 also handled the VR streaming of the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, the first awards show red carpet to be simultaneously broadcast in VR and TV. This is not IM360’s first collaboration with Disney, as the VR company worked with Disney-affiliate ABC’s Good Morning America for its GMA on Safari: Tanzania. That was the first network television program to be simultaneously broadcast in VR. The home of Mickey Mouse also recently signed a deal with Nokia to use its OZO virtual reality camera and software for future Disney films, so award show red carpets may be the proverbial toe in the VR waters before the deep dive. Radio Disney personalities Brooke Taylor and Alex Aiono will host the VR red carpet. The VR stream of the 2016 Radio Disney Music Awards’ red carpet will air from 4 to 6 p.m. EST.
If a selfie stick never leaves your side, and your Instagram feed is filled with pictures of your own face, then a smartphone with an excellent front-facing camera will be high on your to-buy list. What was once a niche requirement is way more sought after today, and almost every smartphone will take decent selfies. Oppo says its new F1 phone is a selfie expert and its face-snapping abilities are the main reason to pick up the sleek device. With so many great selfie-focused smartphones out there, the Oppo F1’s camera needs to be pretty amazing to standout, and you’ll want to know if the device is worth buying in the first place. We have spent time with the phone to see if it’s up to snuff. Make yourself beautiful Front-facing cameras on smartphones used to be an after thought, but now that selfies are in vogue, the front shooter is equally important. Oppo focused on making the best selfie camera in the world, and that effort shows. Andy Boxall/Digital Trends Andy Boxall/Digital Trends Andy Boxall/Digital Trends Andy Boxall/Digital Trends The F1’s 8-megapixel front camera does an amazing job of making you look prettier, younger, and like you’ve had a full night’s sleep. The camera has a typical beautify mode with three different settings — weak, medium, and strong. The midway point produces the best effect, in our opinion. It smooths everything out, balances skin tone, brightens eyes, and minimizes shadow to create a selfie that’s still you — not some alien imposter pretending to be you. The result is just a bit more attractive than how you actually look in real life. Oppo borrows gesture controls from other smartphones, so that you can snap a selfie with a gesture instead of tapping a button, or activate the shutter by saying “cheese.” The gesture was much more useful, and it actually worked nearly every time we tried it, but the voice activation didn’t activate the camera consistently. The large quarter-inch sensor and f/2.0 aperture help suck in more light and detail, and there’s a screen flash mode that cleverly assesses the amount of available light, then adjusts the brightness of the screen accordingly. It works surprisingly well. You’re just going to have to trust me, because the selfies I’ve taken to test the F1 (and it’s more than I’ve taken in my whole life up to this point combined) aren’t going to be published without a fight. Sorry. Rear cam can’t keep up If the front camera is the F1’s big feature, its back camera should be just as good. On paper, it certainly sounds like a strong performer. The back camera on the F1 sports a 13-megapixel sensor, phase-detection autofocus, some anti-shake trickery, and a host of Oppo features. However, the f/2.2 aperture makes it less capable in low light than the front camera, and it’s not as great as the selfie cam in other respects, either. It’s not that the camera takes bad photos, but it struggles in certain situations. It’s prone to washing images out, and that aperture size means pictures taken on overcast days came out poorly. Andy Boxall/Digital Trends Andy Boxall/Digital Trends Andy Boxall/Digital Trends Andy Boxall/Digital Trends Andy Boxall/Digital Trends Andy Boxall/Digital Trends The HDR mode doesn’t cope well, either, and while it balances shadow well, it takes away much of the color and beauty from the rest of the shot. It’s probably nothing a software tweak wouldn’t cure, but it’s a shame. Other features include a panorama mode, an Ultra HD picture mode, live filters, and a manual-style slow shutter mode that operates between 1/4 and 16 seconds. Related: The next Oppo phone may end camera shake, and fully charge in 15 minutes Perhaps the most irritating thing about the F1’s camera experience is the lack of a shortcut to open the camera app from the lock screen. There’s usually one in a corner somewhere, but on the F1 Oppo wants you to use a gesture, which involves tracing the letter O on the locked screen with your finger. We had an 80 percent success rate with the gesture, which is very inconvenient when you need to capture a moment in a flash. It’s also far slower and less reliable than simply tapping a button would be. Speed is important for a camera shortcut on a phone, and the F1’s gesture is not nearly as fast as the phone’s name may suggest. Oppo means what it says about the F1, it’s a real selfie expert. It’s just a shame the expertise didn’t continue over to the rear camera. Oppo’s Android user interface disappoints The unfortunate situation with the camera shortcut button is one of several annoyances with Oppo’s ColorOS user interface, which is painted on top of Google’s Android 5.1.1 operating system. Oppo adds its own look and features to Android, in an effort to differentiate it from other Android phones, but we usually prefer to use Google’s unfiltered edition, as found on Nexus and some Motorola devices. There’s no app tray on the F1, which is bearable, but the pre-installed apps are far less acceptable. There’s the usual calendar, email, weather, contacts, and messaging client, plus a calculator, a backup and restore app, a file manager, a video player, a download manager, a compass, and so on. Right at the bottom of the usefulness list is one called Lock Now. What does it do? It locks the screen. Yes, it performs the exact same action that happens when you press the sleep/wake key on the side of the device itself. None of the pre-installed apps can be uninstalled, either, which is a real crime. The odd decisions continue when you want to close some running apps. Tap the usual menu button under the screen, and there’s a helicopter view of all the homescreens and the option to add widgets or change themes. If you want to close apps, you must long press the button. Why? At least put the expected feature first, Oppo, then correspond your own feature with the long press. What’s worse is the helicopter view still activates when you long press the home screen, just like you’d expect. It’s such a waste of time and duplicating features is unnecessary. There’s an extensive choice of themes available for the F1, and Color OS is perfectly smooth and fast to use under normal circumstances. However, swapping it out for Google’s own Launcher is a wise step, if you’re used to a more standard Android experience without the extra fuss. There are also concerns over the version of Android that’s on the F1.After all, Android 5.1.1 is already a year old. There’s no indication of any software updates coming to bring the F1 up to date, which may leave it vulnerable to security problems in the future. Now that major hacks like Stagefright and Heartbleed have hit, it’s especially important to get timely OS updates. Although no Android phone maker is really that reliable with updates, Oppo’s record isn’t very encouraging. Beautiful metal body The phone itself is an utter joy to hold. The body is made from metal apart from two plastic end caps for the antenna array, and a 2.5D piece of Gorilla Glass over the screen. The curved glass and the metal chassis blend together smoothly, resulting in supreme in-hand comfort. Oppo F1 Compared To Apple iPhone SE LG G5 Nextbit Robin Blu Pure XL Huawei Mate 8 Motorola Droid Turbo 2 Sony Xperia Z5 Huawei Nexus 6P ZTE Axon Elite OnePlus X LG V10 BlackBerry Priv HTC One A9 Lenovo ZUK Z1 Motorola Moto X Style Pure Edition The F1’s 5-inch screen makes for a compact phone, and it weighs just 134 grams. Although the back is metal, there’s enough texture to it that it doesn’t feel too slippery in your hands. The iPhone 6S is considerably smoother, and therefore more slippery, than the F1. We’d argue that the Oppo F1 is just as nice to hold as the iPhone. High performance It’s important to point out that the unlocked, contract-free Oppo F1 costs just £170/$250. Although the spec sheet isn’t mind blowing, the F1 is a desirable budget phone. Thankfully, Oppo didn’t hamper the F1 with a low-power chip. Instead, it chose an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor and 3GB of RAM. Related: 10 charming Chinese Android phones that are worth the hassle to import With that kind of power inside, the F1 is a surprisingly capable phone for mobile games. Bullet-hell shooter Danmaku Unlimited often flummoxes MediaTek phones, but it played superbly in HD mode on the F1 — even on the devilishly difficult expert mode. While playing Riptide GP 2 , the F1 didn’t stutter when we turned up graphics and shadows to maximum. That’s impressive for a phone at this price point. Putting the phone through a few benchmark tests reveals what we already know. It’s no screaming flagship phone, but offers strong performance at a sensible cost. AnTuTu gives it 36,520, 3DMark’s Slingshot ES 3.0 scores 431, and Geekbench 3 has a single core score of 604, and a multi-core of 2,621. AnTuTu’s score is considerably more than the average 26,000 for the 3rd generation Moto G, but slightly lower than the OnePlus X, which should be considered a close contender. The 5-inch screen only has a 1,280 x 720 pixel resolution, and unfortunately, it’s not all that bright. Only increasing the brightness to above 80 percent revealed much-needed detail, but jacking up the brightness had an adverse effect on the battery life. This is a slim phone, and the battery isn’t massive. The longest we ever got out of the F1 on a single charge was just over a day of use. There’s no sign of Oppo’s VOOC fast charging system — which returns a 75 percent battery charge in just 30 minutes — on this phone, either. Warranty In the U.K., Oppo provides a one-year warranty on the phone, but restricts it to six-months for the battery, and it covers normal usage. Plunge it in the bath or drop it on the street, and you’ll be out of luck. Conclusion The DT Accessory Pack OPPO Flip Cover Case $15.00 Pebble Smartwatch $77.29 Mpow iSnap X Selfie Stick $13.97 It was a refreshing change to carry around a sensibly sized, low-weight Android phone, especially when that Android phone has head-turning looks without the wallet-emptying price. The Oppo F1’s performance is first rate, it’s got a MicroSD card slot to add internal storage space, and the selfie cam is superb. However, the average rear camera, pointless software alterations, needless pre-installed apps, and mediocre battery life hold it back from being a truly great budget phone. It’s also a shame there’s no fingerprint sensor, although the new, more expensive Oppo F1 Plus adds this feature, so the F1 won’t ever support mobile payment systems like Android Pay. Related: Oppo’s F1 Plus wants to be generation selfie’s dream phone, has a 16-megapixel front cam Perhaps the most annoying aspect of all is that the Oppo F1 isn’t setup for U.S. networks. Just like the OnePlus X, the F1 has bands for the U.K. and European 4G networks, but it’s more or less unusable in North America. As such, U.S. bargain phone hunters should consider the Moto G, or the Huawei Honor 5X, which also has an excellent selfie camera and a fingerprint sensor. Both cost around $200 without a contract. For European and U.K. buyers, the slightly more expensive OnePlus X is the better choice. Perfection is unlikely for a phone with a $250 price tag, and although selfie fans may be tempted, we really can’t recommend the Oppo F1.
Multiple reports have said that Google is already working hard on a couple of new Nexus handsets, undoubtedly the successors of the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P . But rather than have LG and Huawei make them, Google supposedly hired HTC, the same company that made the iconic Nexus One. A pair of new reports bring further evidence that Google may indeed partner with HTC for the 2016 Nexus handsets – yes, two devices are supposedly in the works. DON’T MISS: How Snapchat and stupidity almost left five people dead First off, not only is HTC capable of making some impressive Android handsets – just look at this year’s HTC 10 – but the rumors come from sources who’re generally in the know about these type of things. https://twitter.com/evleaks/status/725395035022319616 Evan Blass and Android Police independently came out with details about the new Nexus handsets. Blass found out from his sources that HTC is making a pair of Android N handsets for Google, dubbed M1 and S1 internally. Meanwhile, a source told Android Police that Marlin and Sailfish are Google’s internal codenames for the new Nexus phones. The blog also dug through the available code to uncover evidence of one of the two names: Marlin. Sailfish is a weird choice for Google considering that it happens to be the name of a rival mobile operating system, but the company is known for using fish names for its Nexus devices. Furthermore, Blass and Android Police ’s reports certainly align: M1 might be the Marlin while S1 could stand for Sailfish. What about the numbers you ask? Neither source explains the detail. But an earlier report suggested that HTC may have inked a three-year Nexus exclusivity deal . So there’s that. It’s too early for specs, features or pictures. But the possibility of seeing HTC 10 variations turned into Nexus handsets is exciting. The HTC 10 is the most powerful smartphone ever and HTC'c hardware designs are always best-in-class. Add in stock Android and immediate access to software updates and you've got a pair of phones that might be unbeatable.
There’s been a fair bit of confusion about what Google Now really is. It’s easy to describe it as Google’s version of Siri, but it’s actually a lot more ambitious than that. Sure, you can use it to set reminders to buy milk or have dinner with friends, and you can ask it basic questions about the weather tomorrow or who directed The Shining , but the real attraction lies in its abilities to preempt your desires and needs. If you let Google Now learn about you and your habits, then it can throw up information that it thinks you might be interested in. News, sports scores, weather, and traffic information is served up in real time based on your previous movements and searches. Information is served up in the form of cards, which you can tap for more detail or swipe away to ignore. When it works, Google Now can give you what you want before you even know you want it. The set up You won’t get great results unless you set Google Now up with all the information it needs. This will involve some trust on your part. For heavy users of Google services it won’t be an issue, but anyone with privacy concerns is liable to think twice. Google Now is built into Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and above, and you can also now get it as a free iOS app (it’s part of the Google Search app). It’s worth spending some time in the settings before you start to use Google Now. On Android, you’ll probably have a Google search bar on your home screen and you can tap it to bring up Google Now, or you can select Google from the app drawer. You’ll also be able to hold down the Home button or swipe up from the Home button to quickly select Google Now. If you have a stock Android phone or you install the Google Now Launcher then you can simply say, “Ok Google,” on your home screen to bring it to life, or swipe from left to right. Related: 10 awesome Android 5.0 Lollipop tips On iOS, you’ll want to open the Google Search app. You should be asked to set it up the first time you use it, but you can return to the app and enter settings whenever you like, in order to tweak things. Bring Google Now to life, and you’ll find the menu at the top left. Tap the three horizontal lines and choose Settings . You can turn Google Now on and off in here, and you can fine tune how it behaves. The more data you allow it to access, the better it will perform. In Accounts & privacy, you can set nicknames, web history, and more. You can decide how the Voice settings should work, including the “Ok Google” hotword detection. You have the option to dictate what Phone search covers. In Now cards, you can check your card history, delete your preferences, decide if you want notification alerts, and define what you want to be notified about. If you choose Now on Tap and toggle it on, you can hold down the Home button on any screen and Google will search it and return potentially useful related information. Customizing Google Now Open up the menu, via the three horizontal lines at the top left, and choose Customize , which is accompanied by the magic wand icon. Start in Apps & websites to decide whether you want to get cards from supported apps and websites and to choose which ones. In Places you can set locations, such as your home and workplace. The Sports and Stocks sections let you choose sports teams and stocks that you are interested in. In Transport, you can tell Google how you usually get around and whether you drive or walk to work everyday. If you live in a supported country, then you can choose TV & Video to set your TV and Video on demand providers, and get recommendations about movies and TV shows. If you go into Everything Else you’ll find options about website updates, preferences for units of temperature, weather updates, and a few other bits and pieces. The data contained in Google Now will be collected automatically as you use your various Google services. A quicker way to edit your Google Now preferences is to tap the menu icon (three vertical dots) at the top right of every card that appears and choose your preferences from the drop down menu. If you want to check up on any reminders you have set, then open the menu again and choose Reminders at the top. It’s marked by an icon of an outstretched finger. You can add details to reminders here, delete old ones, or add new ones. When you add a new reminder you can choose to be reminded at a specific time, or you can choose to be reminded when you reach a specific location. Pre-emptive Google Now If you really want to get a feel for what Google Now can do, then you have to let it run for an extended period of time. It needs at least a week to start to get a handle on your movements and the kind of information that you are interested in. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t turn GPS on to get your location, and it shouldn’t be a major drain on your battery life. Just let it to gather intel in the background, and you’ll reap the rewards over time. The more Google Now learns about you, the more useful it potentially becomes. Being able to tie together the fact that you have an appointment across town, with real-time traffic conditions, to give you a reminder about when you need to leave and what route to take to get there on time is impressive, but it obviously won’t be useful for everyone. Much depends on the way you use your phone and what your habits are. As cards pop up, you can swipe them away to the right or left to get rid of them, tap on them to get more detailed information, or tap the menu icon at the top right to tell Google Now whether you like these kinds of updates and want to continue getting them. There’s an undo option that pops up briefly after you swipe a card away, and you can tap it to bring that card back. You can also scroll down to the bottom to request that it show More cards. You’ll tend to find it doesn’t show much at first, but over time it should display more and more interesting and relevant cards. Voice commands When it’s not gazing into its crystal ball to bring you nuggets of potentially useful information, you can also use Google Now as a good old-fashioned assistant. Think of it as the personal assistant you can’t afford. Since release, Google has been adding a steady stream of voice commands and new functions, so you might be surprised at what’s on offer. You can type traditional searches into the search box as normal, but if you tap the microphone you’ll unlock truly convenient voice search and commands. Here’s a small sample list of potential questions and commands: Who is the CEO of Google? What is the meaning of smartphone? Show me the stocks for Sony. What time is it in New York? Will it rain tomorrow? Show all hotels near me. Go to Digital Trends. What is 13 stones in kilograms? Premier league table. Play Blue Monday. Wake me up in an hour. Call Jenny. Images of the Empire State Building. When will BA 2215 land? When is my next appointment? Remind me to take out the trash when I get home. Launch Google Plus. Take a picture. What’s this song? A lot of questions Google Now will reply to out loud. When you order it to perform an action, such as calling someone, or launching an app, it will show a loading bar, so you have time to quit if it misinterpreted your request. When you ask, “What’s this song?” it will listen for a moment, and then tell you, as well as provide a link to buy it in Google Play. The voice input is generally solid, but much depends on your accent. Background noise can also cause a problem with it interpreting your speech. However, even with a retry, it’s often faster than typing, and Google is improving it with each new iteration. Now on Tap Now on Tap is an important update to Google Search that landed as part of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It enables you to dip into Google Now without leaving the app you’re in. Simply tap and hold the Home button, and the service will deliver help based on what you’re doing. You can also use the “Ok Google” voice command from any screen, or in any app. In addition to the usual array of commands, there are various contextual things it can do to help you. For example, you might get an email about seeing a movie, in which case Google Now will offer ratings, a trailer, and a link to buy tickets. Google is able to pull data from whatever you’re doing, in order to deliver relevant help. It will take an educated guess about what you want, so in most circumstances you’ll get what you need just by bringing a card up. But it understands context for follow up questions, too. So, if you’re listening to Pearl Jam on Spotify, and you say, “Ok Google, who is the lead singer?” Google Now will tell you, Eddie Vedder. What else can it do? There are lots of other features in Google Now waiting to be discovered. You can tell it to fire up the music app, play a specific track, or even choose a playlist based on your tastes. It will suggest good stories to read based on your search history, and remember where you parked the car, too. If you have a habit of falling asleep on the early morning commute, then you can employ Google Now to wake you up at the right stop. Tell it where and when you want to get off and fall asleep worry-free, secure in the knowledge that Google will wake you in time to get off. A lot of the best features come through apps that work with Google Now. The number of apps that can plug into it has been steadily increasing, and there are many different possible cards. You could have an e-ticket for your movie through Fandango, pay your bill at a restaurant via OpenTable, or a get a reminder from RunKeeper to burn off that cake you ate. Head over to Google for a look at the full range of possible cards. If you like Google Now on your Android phone or tablet, you may be pleased to learn that you can get cards in the Chrome browser, too. Sign in with your Google ID, and they’ll appear at the bottom right in the system tray for Windows users, and top right in the menu bar on Macs. Just click on the small bell icon to review your cards. We don’t know what’s in store for Google Now next, but we’ll keep you posted on anything new that emerges. Remember, half-hearted use of Google Now will not impress, it’s an all or nothing deal, if you really want to feel the benefits. Let us know how you use Google Now, and if you have any tips or questions, then post a comment. Updated on 4-27-2016 by Simon Hill : Updated for Marshmallow and refreshed text, added new screenshots, and Now on Tap section. Article originally published 5-22-2013.
If you’re the fourth richest person in the world, it’s safe to say you’re probably not taking the bus, and more likely to have a security detail. Right? So how much does it cost to keep that person – actually Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg – safe? According to C/Net, it’s about $5 million per year. Pocket lint when your net worth is almost $ 48 billion , and hey, it seems kind of like a bargain that the five mil includes your own private jet. And if it makes you feel any better, Zuck took a page out of Steve Job’s CEO book and has an annual salary of just one dollar. Investigators continue to dig into Volkswagen’s files to see who knew what and when about the company’s massive emissions cheating scandal, and they’ve made a significant discovery. Seems like the plans to actively deceive diesel emissions testing equipment got rolling in 2006. How do they know? Well, because a higher-up at VW put together a PowerPoint presentation on how to do it. According to the New York Times, an as-yet unnamed exec showed the presentation to management peoples and the green light was given to install software that could detect when the cars were being tested and automatically bring emissions results into line. Once back out on the road, the cars reverted to pollute mode, emitting 40 times more exhaust than the legal limit. In fact, even when regulators started sniffing around in 2014, VW kept installing the software for another year . The scandal cost CEO Martin Winterkorn his job and VW is facing fines and repair fees that could top $ 18 billion . Just last week, they offered to buy back half a million cars in the U.S., and the investigation is just getting started. The hottest thing in tech today is VR, and during a developer’s conference yesterday in San Francisco, Samsung’s R&D chief said a stand-alone VR headset is on the way. Samsung already makes the $99 Gear VR, which requires a Samsung smartphone to complete the package. But according to Variety, Samsung says the next iteration will be an all-in-the-headset solution, instead of having to be tethered to a PC like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. Timeline on the next generation of Gear VR? Let’s just say not this year, but given how hard companies are working to improve VR and untether it from bulky PC’s, we’d say it’ll be here sooner than later.
On the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, intrepid video game developer The Farm 51 has released a stunning 360-degree trailer for a VR project that will allow viewers to explore the abandoned city without ever leaving their homes. MUST SEE: Completely change the look of your iPhone with round folder icons, no jailbreak needed Founded in 2005, The Farm 51 is a Polish game developer that has worked on projects such as Painkiller: Hell & Damnation , The Witcher and Two Worlds II . In 2015, a separate team known as Reality 51 was established, with the intent of taking virtual reality beyond gaming, with projects such as the Chernobyl VR Project. "Chernobyl VR Project is a unique project by The Farm 51, as it combines video games with educational and movie narrative software," explains the team. "It is the very first virtual tour around the Chernobyl and Pripyat area, compatible with multiple VR headsets, such as Oculus and PlayStation VR and HTC Vive." You can watch the trailer below in a browser with Flash enabled, but the best way to watch is on your phone so you can get the full VR effect: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrivExmHYxM The Farm 51 is planning to release the movie/game/experiment in June, but you can preorder Chernobyl VR Project now through online retailer G2A . There are several different payment options, and depending on how much you're willing to spend, you can contribute up to 60% of your purchase to foundations which help victims of the disaster in the continued recovery efforts.
The speakers in flat-panel TVs today are far better than they were in years past, but for all that’s been done to improve the audio systems built into TVs, they still pale in comparison to even the most basic sound bar. A purpose-built sound solution, the sound bar is the sleekest, least-obtrusive way to get sound that’s as impactful as the premium picture on your TV. Related: Our comprehensive sound bar reviews and sound bar shopping guide The best sound bars today offer a minimalist style, dynamic power, and many of them will even let you stream audio via Bluetooth — no need to carve out room for a receiver or tower speakers. Below are a few of our current favorites that will ramp up your sound without cramping your style. The Best Yamaha YAS-203 ($350) The Yamaha YAS-203 is the perfect embodiment of a high-value sound bar. Highlight include excellent sound and a commendable feature set for the price, allowing you to experience balanced bass and fleecy treble with a pair of 2 ⅛-inch drivers and a single 6 ½-inch driver housed in the bundled subwoofer. It excels beautifully when it comes to subtle nuances and dialog, rendering it as apt for music as it is movies, and features a built-in IR repeater to compensate for its taller build — one that has an unwanted tendency to block the IR sensor on the front of your TV. Furthermore, the accompanying mobile app for iOS and Android allows you to make sound adjustments if you prefer your smartphone over the included, shortcut-clad remote. Read our full review here. Buy one now from: Amazon B&H Best Buy The Rest The mad scientist – Yamaha YSP-2500 ($1,000) The Yamaha YSP-2500 showcases an exterior design that’s as sleek as it is inconspicuous, but its true talent lies in its ability to forge very convincing virtual surround sound. The sixteen individual 1.125-inch “beam” drivers and dual 4-inch woofers allow you to differentiate sound locations with a surprising amount of ease, peppering the room with powerful bass and clear treble from every corner. Other features include DTS-HD and Dolby True HD decoding, 4K passthrough at 60 fps, and dynamic range control, which compresses audio and aids with abrupt spikes in volume. The versatile settings, accessible via onscreen menu and included remote, push the device’s capabilities even further, letting you adjust the complex layers of virtual surround sound and implement audio syncing. Read our full review here. Buy one now from: Amazon Best Buy The minimalist – Klipsch R-10B ($600) The Klipsch Reference R-10B revels in its own simplicity. The sound bar’s minimalist design is attractive — even if does take the form of a tall, plastic cabinet — and the robust MDF-enclosed subwoofer is a powerhouse of awesome all to itself. The resulting sound stage is engaging and detailed, flanked with explosive bass and pristine treble that fully capitalizes on the system’s solid stereo spacing. The R-10B doesn’t showcase much in the way of extras, but it does offer Bluetooth connection with aptX for CD-quality sound from compatible devices, and its sonic talents are well suited to a range of musical genres. The aforementioned size of the sound bar begs for mounting rather than sitting, yet, given its accurate performance and dead-simple navigation, we can overlook that. Read our full review here. Buy one now from: Amazon Best Buy The mighty mouse – Definitive Technology W Studio Micro ($800) Those looking for a bar that sounds far bigger than its ultra-slim profile suggests will want to check out Definitive Technology’s W Studio Micro. Measuring just under 2-inches tall and 3-inches thick, the Micro far exceeds expectations of a bar its size, offering thunderous sound with a smooth and supple touch that delivers the finest details with ease. And while this bar is definitely on the pricier side, Def Tech doesn’t stop there, tacking on Play-Fi wireless technology to make the Micro a perfect hub to build out a multi-room home audio solution, as well as allowing for true wireless surround sound with additional Play-Fi components. Add in a handsome design, and the Micro makes for an excellent addition to your compact TV room. Read our full review here. Buy one now from: Amazon Best Buy The whole shebang – Vizio S5451W-C2 ($300) Virtual surround sound is all well and good, but even in this brave new world, nothing beats the real thing. That’s where Vizio’s S5451W-C2 comes in. The name might not be much, but this system makes up for Vizio’s lack of inspiration in nomenclature with rich and full 5.1 surround sound thanks to dual satellite speakers that plug into the sub. Adding those pieces to the three channel setup up front, the bar provides plenty of detail to spice up movies and music, while surrounding you in sweet, room engulfing action. Bluetooth wireless connection, HDMI inputs, and an intuitive interface shore up the feature set to make this 5.1 system-on-the-cheap an enticing proposition. Read our full review here. Buy one now from: Amazon The Rest The hammer – Denon DHT-S514 ($550) The Denon DHT-S514 is a behemoth, in both size and sound. The sound bar’s simple, rectangular chassis houses a compelling arsenal of components inside, including two ½-inch tweeters buoyed by dual 2 x 5-inch drivers. A whopping 175 watts of digital amplification power the system, allowing for an accurate sound signature across the entire spectrum, one highlighted by a comprehensive upper register and sweet-sounding bass. The device lacks a traditional display, offering only basic LEDs, though it still manages to showcase a swift setup process and an array of fine-tuned listening modes for music, movies, and dialogue, as well as Dolby and DTS decoding, and Bluetooth streaming with aptX support. It also touts a variety of connection options, including optical and coaxial digital audio inputs, and an ARC-enabled HDMI output. Read our full review here. Buy one now from: Amazon The acrobat – Sony HT-CT770 ($450) Sony’s HT-CT770 is a smartly-sculpted piece of versatile technology, enveloped in a diamond-shaped design with sleek silver accents. The bevy of inputs, which includes three HDMI inputs and an ARC-enabled HDMI out, give it an upper hand over many comparable competitors, while 4K pass-through, virtual surround sound, and Bluetooth wireless connection add to a laundry list of enticing features. Moreover, the 110 watts of digital amplification and the four-pack of drivers housed beneath the mesh exterior let it achieve impressive, full-bodied sound and a sprawling stereo image that owes much to its taut upper register, subtle midrange, and ample bass response. Most interestingly, thanks to an on board gyroscope, the bar can even adjust the sound to sit up, or lay back flat to fit your setup needs (hence the acrobat title). Combine the aforementioned features with the sound bar’s appealing price tag, and you get a sweet bar for a nice price. Read our full review here. Buy one now from: Frys The aristocrat – Definitive Technology SoloCinema Studio ($1,299) The Def Tech SoloCinema Studio doesn’t come cheap, nor is it quite as impressive for music as it is for movies — but that’s really splitting hairs. The 43-inch-long bar and accompanying subwoofer make a brilliant duo, delivering powerful and refined audio that easily belie their premium construction. The system showcases excellent dynamic range and provides rich, detailed sound — particularly in regards to dialog — filling the room with thumping low-end and an upper register awash with vivid nuances. Although it lacks the ARC HDMI connection of many of its peers, the boxy package still brims with tempting features, offering everything from an intuitive interface, DTS and Dolby decoding, Bluetooth with aptX, and 5.1 virtual surround features with wild titles like Active Vector Response Curves. The price of the package will scare some away, but top-notch sound and performance beg a premium fee. Read our full review here. Buy one now from: Amazon The ringer – Pioneer SP-SB23W ($450) One of the best products of Pioneer’s collaboration with its former Chief Design Engineer Andrew Jones is this potent and musical sound bar. The SP-SB23W is a fantastic sound — err, “speaker”— bar, founded on a six pack of individually amplified drivers and a very capable wireless subwoofer. The stubby, yet high-riding bar rests in a handsome MDF cabinet lined with wood grain ripples, complementing the cubed subwoofer with a smart design. More importantly, the cabinet helps the system integrate beautifully with a host of content, producing a smooth and natural sound signature built on creamy mids, musical bass, and richly-drawn dialog. The system sets up in minutes, including analog, digital optical, and Bluetooth connection, and though the tall design might get in the way of your TV’s IR sensor, the overall performance and shoestring price justify a bit of furniture rearrangement. Read our full review here. Buy one now from: Amazon
Chromebooks are known for their affordability and lightweight, cloud-based operating system, Chrome OS. Because most Chromebooks were made of plastic and not exactly sexy, Google wanted to prove that it could build a high-end Chromebook. The result was the gorgeous, all-metal Pixel, but seeing as it costs nearly $1,000 (and more than that, when it first debuted), the Pixel didn’t sell to many would-be buyers. Now, Google has turned to HP to build a Chromebook that offers a top-of-the-line feel, but at a much lower cost. HP.com Offer: Save 25% off select configurable laptops $999 or more at HP.com We had a chance to check out the new HP Chromebook 13 at an event in New York and test out its powers. Here are all the specs you need to know and our initial hands-on impressions. Gorgeous design and lots of power The business-targeted HP Chromebook 13 was designed in collaboration with Google,and it is beautiful. It has an all-metal build, with a anodized brushed aluminum texture. The hinge is shiny to add contrast, as is the HP logo in the center of the device, and there’s light chrome beveling around the trackpad. When you flip the device over, you’ll see a black grippy surface that ensures your shiny new Chromebook won’t go slipping out of your grip. Related: Open-source code leaks indicate arrival of Google Play Store on Chromebooks It’s quite thin at 0.50 inches, which is even thinner than Apple’s 0.65-inch thick MacBook Air. It also beats out the 2.96-pound MacBook Air in weight, coming in at 2.86 pounds. The Chromebook is absolutely stunning to behold, and it feels super light. It looks quite a bit like a MacBook, which is hardly a bad thing. It’s one of the nicest Chromebooks we’ve ever seen. As the name suggests, the Chromebook has a 13.3-inch IPS display. The model we looked offered a resolution of 3,200 x 1,800 pixels, which is excellent, but is models have a more mundane 1080p screen. Both look remarkably sharp and crisp, with rich colors. You can even get a matte finish on the display if glare is a problem. You’ll get several options on what you want powering the Chromebook, ranging up to Intel’s 6th generation Core M7 processor, paired with 16GB of RAM. HP says this is the first Chromebook to use Intel’s 6th generation Core M7 processor. In our brief hands-on time, the device felt super speedy and quick. Google showed us a demo of the Chromebook running Skype, Excel, Powerpoint, Evernote, Chrome, and a handful of other programs at the same time, while powering two HD displays via HP’s Elite USB-C Docking Station, which offers 3 additional USB ports. You could also power one 4K display with it if you so chose. The programs ran without a hitch during our demo, which was pretty impressive for a Chromebook. Attention to details The Chromebook 13 doesn’t skimp on battery life. HP claims the laptop will last a whopping 11.5 hours, and thanks to a USB-Type C port, it won’t take as long to charge. We couldn’t verify HP’s numbers during our short time with the device, of course. Manufacturers usually over-estimate, so we think battery life of seven to eight hours is more likely in typical use. Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends Unfortunately, if you’re using the Quad HD display variant, your webcam will feel lackluster, as the Chromebook 13 is outfitted with a 720p one. The audio, on the other hand, is powered by Bang & Olufsen Play. The B&O branding adds some flash to the device’s design, and it ups the audio quality for listening to audio or holding a video conference. Chrome OS is better than ever Of course, the Chromebook 13 is running Chrome OS, which is built around Google’s Chrome browser. You’re limited to cloud-based apps like Gmail, but Google has been increasing the amount of offline features available. Thanks to the Chrome Web Store, you’ll also get access to apps like Netflix, YouTube, and Microsoft Office. Google’s spent a lot of time working on great apps for its Chromebooks, and you can run many Android apps on it, too. We saw the Android version of Evernote running during our demo. Related: Chromebook for Work, liquid-cooled 2-in-1 steal the show at Acer’s New York PC refresh For businesses, Citrix has also announced a new version of Receiver for Chrome. The service lets users remotely use apps from other platforms, but the 2.0 version of Receiver now “ensures Windows apps work like native Chrome apps.” There’s also a new connection center and a slicker-looking toolbar. Google demoed the Chromebook running a full version of Excel and Powerpoint at the event. Pricing and availability The HP Chromebook 13 will cost $500 in the U.S. and will launch towards the end of April. Pre-orders start now. You can check the device out on Google’s website here. Highs Beautiful design Excellent hardware options Up to 3,200 x 1,800 display Lows Chrome OS still limiting Webcam is only 720p
Mobile payments have come a long way after Apple made a huge push into the space with Apple Pay in 2014. Google introduced Android Pay last year, and Samsung has joined the fray with its own mobile payment system called Samsung Pay. Here’s what you need to know. What can you do with Samsung Pay? Samsung Pay isn’t just for typical transactions at your local grocery store or pharmacy. The Korean company continues to add new forms of payment, including everything from online payments and gift cards to taking cash out at ATMs. Of course, some of these features are only available in select countries. ATMs Sadly, American ATMs aren’t high-tech enough yet to work with Samsung Pay, but in South Korea, you can use the service at select ATMs to take out cash. At the moment, only Samsung users who have accounts at the following banks can use the service, according to the Korea IT Times: Woori Bank, KB Kookmin Bank, Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK), NH Nonghyup Bank, and Shinhan Bank. Related: Samsung Galaxy S7 review | Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge review The Times stated that Samsung pay works at 40,000 ATMs in the country, and Samsung has plans to bring its service to more ATMs in the future. You can even watch a transaction occur in the CNet video above. Online payments Samsung’s Thomas Ko, co-general manager for Samsung Pay, has said the mobile payment service will be updated to cover online payments in the U.S. in 2016. In an interview with Reuters, Ko said online Samsung Pay payments were coming to the U.S. soon, but didn’t provide an exact date outside of 2016, or mention any other countries expected to receive the new feature. Apple Pay operates online through supporting apps, while PayPal and Visa provide a more widespread online payment system already. Gift cards Thanks to a partnership with Blackhawk Network, a pioneer of prepaid gift cards, Samsung announced gift card support for Samsung Pay from 50 retailers including Babies”R”Us, Toys”R”Us, Domino’s, and Nike. The app also features a gift card store that allows users to buy gift cards from merchants either for themselves (which seems odd) or to be gifted to friends and family directly from the app. It’s a neat addition that certainly removes the need to carry multiple cards. In a nutshell, Samsung Pay allows you to purchase, store, pay with, and share gift cards. Related: Tap to buy: A complete guide to Android Pay Paying with a gift card doesn’t utilize the MST technology that paying with credit or debit cards uses. Instead, as with Apple Pay or Android Pay, it provides a code that retailers can scan or type in. The company indicated that more gift card options will be added in the coming months. Which countries support Samsung Pay? Galaxy S7 Edge Jeffrey Van Camp/Digital Trends Samsung Pay is currently available in the U.S. on all major carriers’ networks, as well as in South Korea and China. However, the service will expand to Spain, Brazil, the U.K., Australia, and Canada sometime this year. At the end of April, Samsung formally confirmed that Singapore would soon get Samsung Pay, but didn’t give an exact date, only that it would be before the summer. The announcement came quickly after Apple Pay launched in Singapore, but only for American Express card holders. Samsung will support MasterCard an Visa, and plans to make the mobile payment service available to customers of the DBS Bank, Standard Chartered, and Oversea-China Banking Corporation. On March 29, Samsung Pay went live in China through Samsung’s previously announced partnership with China UnionPay. The deal, announced in December 2015, is crucial, as UnionPay is China’s main credit provider. Driving these international launches forward is Samsung’s extended partnership with MasterCard overseas, helping Samsung Pay break into Europe, and for people to activate debit, credit, and reloadable prepaid cards. It will also support Visa and American Express, along with other major payment networks. The full list can be found here. Samsung has also signed a partnership with point of sale equipment company Verifone, helping adoption in the U.S. and internationally. Related: Read our review of the Galaxy Note 5, and the Galaxy S6 Edge here Which banks and stores support Samsung Pay? Since Samsung Pay works in different countries, the company has had to work with banks and credit card providers to ensure that the service is accessible to its users. Here’s a breakdown of the banks and card issuers that are onboard for each country. Samsung Pay in the U.S. Samsung Pay works on most major U.S. credit cards, and the company is always adding more to the mix. Samsung added 19 new issuers of U.S. credit and debit cards in December, including Visa issuers PNC, TCF Bank, CFE Federal Credit Union, Financial Center FCU, Greater Kinston Credit Union, Keypoint Credit Union, Numerica Credit Union, Utah Community Credit Union, Amegy Bank, California Bank & Trust, PenFed; and MasterCard issuers KeyBank, AchievaCU, Associated Bank, Bayport Credit Union, Bethpage Credit Union, Cambridge Savings, USCCU, and Navy Federal Credit Union. Related: Which Android heavyweight should you bet on? HTC 10 vs. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge It comes two months after Samsung added 14 banks in October, including: Citizens Equity First Credit Union, Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union, Security Service Federal Credit Union, State Employees’ Credit Union, SunTrust, Virginia Credit Union, and Navy Federal Credit Union Visa. The company also announced that Discover Cards will be supported early next year. Samsung announced that you can now use “eligible” Wells Fargo credit and debit cards with Samsung Pay — bringing its number of supported banks and credit unions up to 70. Recently, the Korean giant said its mobile payment service hit 5 million registered users and processed around 500 million dollars in its first six months of existence. The MST technology ensures that Samsung Pay supports private label credit cards (PLCC), thanks to partnerships with Synchrony Financial, Blackhawk Network, and First Data Corporation. The company also joined forces with the two biggest credit card providers, the aforementioned MasterCard and Visa, in making Samsung Pay a reality. In the United States, Samsung Pay is supported by American Express, Bank of America, Citi, and U.S. Bank, and JPMorgan Chase credit cards. The company estimates that some 30 million merchant locations worldwide will accept Samsung Pay at launch. In other words, Samsung believes that it has come up with the only mobile payment system that is universally accepted. In contrast, both Apple Pay and Google Wallet only work at select locations where NFC is accepted. Samsung Pay won’t work everywhere — credit card readers that require a physical trigger, like U.S. ATMs and gas pumps, aren’t compatible. But Samsung says the Samsung Pay will work at 80 percent of point-of-sale systems when it debuts. Samsung Pay will be secured with Samsung’s own Knox security software, which is widely regarded as one of the best security systems for mobile devices, as well as ARM TrustZone. Just like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay doesn’t store personal account numbers on the user’s device, and uses tokenization to protect your credit card information whenever you make a purchase. If you should lose your phone, you can lock and disable the device remotely to turn off access to Samsung Pay, thanks to Samsung’s Find My Mobile feature. Samsung Pay in China Samsung Pay launched in China with a healthy list of supporting banks and credit card providers in China. These include, China CITIC Bank, China Construction Bank, China Everbright Bank, China Guangfa Bank, China Minsheng Banking Corp., China Merchants Bank, Hua Xia Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and Ping An Bank. The complete list can be found on Samsung’s website here, and future compatibility with Bank of China, Bank of Beijing, and others is promised soon. Which devices support Samsung Pay? Samsung Pay is currently limited to the Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge, Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus, and Note 5, but in the near future we will see further support for Samsung devices and perhaps others. Non-flagship phones will get it soon Samsung chief executive officer of Samsung’s mobile division, JK Shin, confirmed that Samsung pay could reach non-flagship phones soon. Executive vice president Injong Rhee, who’s in charge of Samsung Pay, followed up in a November 2015 interview with ZDNet, saying: “Despite the strong push from headquarters, and high expectations for it to become a big business, our sales team initially had its doubts. But when Samsung Pay rolled out here, handset sales rose concurrently, and the sales team saw the benefits first-hand. Now our sales teams in other regions all want to do the same.” Rhee didn’t confirm any of the devices set to receive Samsung Pay support, but did confirm that the update is coming in a few months to “non-flagship” devices. Samsung’s Thomas Ko, an executive working on Samsung Pay, told Reuters in late December “low priced Samsung phones” will have Samsung Pay support in the next year, but didn’t offer any precise dates. In mid-November, a report in the Korea Herald quotes a Samsung analyst, who states Samsung Pay may come to low and mid-range phones in the first half of 2016. Additionally, an industry source says Samsung will add fingerprint sensors to some of its ‘budget smartphone models,’ an essential part of Samsung Pay integration. Related: Samsung Pay wasn’t breached in state-sponsored LoopPay hack, executives say The next Gear smartwatch may have Samsung Pay, too Samsung may not limit Samsung Pay to its Android phones, and the Korea Herald report mentions the possibility the feature may be added to Samsung’s Tizen smartphones, although the aforementioned analyst says this “would have little impact on the market,” given Tizen’s limited market reach. Returning to Samsung’s VP Injong Rhee’s comments, he also confirmed the next Gear smartwatch will feature full Samsung Pay support. Currently, the Gear S2 supports Samsung Pay in a limited capacity. It works at NFC-enabled terminals, but not at regular terminals. As such, the application of Samsung Pay with the Gear S2 is less widespread than it is with compatible Samsung phones, which have MST technology that enables mobile payments at non-NFC terminals. The next Samsung smartwatch would, in theory, have MST and work at ordinary registers, too — just like the phones do now. Samsung Pay might also be supported by other manufacturers in the future, with Rhee claiming there were internal talks on working with partners to push the payments service onto Android. That might disrupt the peace with Google — the creator of Android Pay — but would be a good way for Samsung to attain more users in the mobile payments market. Rhee followed up saying “right now global expansion is happening so quickly for Samsung Pay that we are focusing all our energy on deployment,” which means it is unlikely we will see any partnerships in the near future. It won’t work on rooted devices Now that the service is live, there is evidence that rooting your Galaxy phone will disable Samsung Pay. This isn’t surprising since a rooted device is less secure. If a user tries to use Samsung Pay on a rooted phone, they will will be prompted with a message saying, “Samsung Pay has been locked due to unauthorized modification.” Related: How to root your Android phone or tablet in 2015 (and unroot it) Rooting a device is the process of obtaining complete administrative control of the operating system, which can make it more susceptible to hacking, and less secure. There are some advantages to rooting, but the security concerns more than outweigh them for the average person. If you’re wondering if your Galaxy phone is rooted, it most likely isn’t. Samsung (and most other) phones aren’t rooted out of the box, and you would have needed to go through many complicated steps in order to achieve root, of which you would probably remember. Will it work on Smart TVs? Samsung’s positioning Samsung Pay as a platform , not purely contactless forms of payment. To that end, the company has announced Samsung Pay on TV, a feature coming to select Samsung smart TVs that’ll expedite the process of paying for content. Samsung The service, which Samsung said was developed in partnership with PayPal, ties your credit cards, debit cards, PayPal account and other billing options to a personal identification number. After you complete an “initial registration setup,” Samsung says buying a TV show, movie, or app on your TV is as easy as entering your PIN and hitting the “Pay Now” button that subsequently appears. That first-time setup could be a headache. (You’ll have to add each funding source individually to Samsung Pay on TV.) If you’ve got a Samsung mobile account with saved billing details, though, they’ll transfer automatically. Owners of the electronics giant’s 2014 and 2015 smart TVs will begin to see games that integrate Pay on TV. The list of supported titles will be quite small initially — about seven — but Samsung says it’ll add content “within new and world-renowned games” in the near future. How do you set it up? Samsung Pay first became available on the Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus, and Note 5 devices, and required an over-the-air update to work. In 2016, the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge were added to the list. Once you’ve added credit, debit, and loyalty cards, you open the Samsung Pay app with a swipe, choose the card you want to use, and authenticate the purchase with your fingerprint. Just like most forms of mobile payments, Samsung Pay will use Near Field Communications (NFC) to make payments at point-of-sale systems that accept tap-to-pay. However, unlike Apple Pay and Google Wallet, Samsung Pay will leverage the same technology standard credit cards use, called Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST), which will let the system work at most cash registers, regardless of whether or not they accept NFC payments. So long as the register accepts mag-stripe credit cards, which is something that nearly every single cash register can do, Samsung Pay should work. Our article changelog: Updated on 4-27-2016 by Malarie Gokey: Added news that Samsung pay works at ATMs in Korea0. Updated on 04-22-2016 by Andy Boxall: Added that Samsung Pay will launch in Singapore. Updated on 03-29-2016 by Andy Boxall: Added news Samsung Pay has launched in China. Updated on 03-01-2016 by Julian Chokkattu: Added news of Samsung Pay adding support for Wells Fargo customers. Updated on 02-20-2016 by Julian Chokkattu: Added news of Samsung Pay hitting about 5 million registered users. Updated on 01-05-2016 by Julian Chokkattu: Added news of Samsung bringing Samsung Pay to Australia, Brazil, and Singapore, in addition to Spain, China, and the United Kingdom. Updated on 12-29-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added news Samsung intends to add U.S. online payment support to Samsung Pay in 2016. Updated on 12-18-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added news that Samsung struck a deal with UnionPay to bring its mobile payment service to China in early 2016. Updated on 12-15-2015 by David Curry: Added news that 19 new Mastercard and VISA issuers are now supported. Updated on 12-10-2015 by Julian Chokkattu: Added in news that Samsung Pay now supports gift cards. Updated on 11-23-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added in news that Samsung Pay now supports Chase cards and cards from a number of credit unions.Jump to the list of supported banks for more. Updated on 11-18-2015 by David Curry and Malarie Gokey: Added in news that Samsung Pay might launch in China, Spain, and the U.K. Also updated formatting and added a table on contents. Updated on 11-18-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added further rumors Samsung will add Samsung Pay support to low and mid-range devices, and its Tizen phones Updated on 11-09-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Corrected post with info about the Gear S2 smartwatch’s support for Samsung Pay. The Gear S2 smartwatch does support Samsung Pay in a limited capacity — It offers NFC-based payments, but not MST -based payments. Ergo, it will work at terminals that support NFC payments, but not at normal registers in the same way that a Galaxy S6 smartphone with Samsung Pay would. Updated on 11-05-2015 by David Curry: Added in news that Samsung plans to support payments on low and mid-range devices. Updated on 10-27-2015 by Robert Nazarian: Added news that Samsung Pay added 14 new banks and gift card support is coming soon. Updated on 10-21-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added news Samsung Pay will fully launch for Verizon phones on October 21. Updated on 10-19-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added news Verizon may have started to send out its Samsung Pay update. Updated on 10-07-2015 by David Curry: Added Verizon Wireless support announcement. Updated on 09-28-2015 by David Curry: Added news about the official launch in the United States and bank/carrier partners. Updated on 08-27-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in Samsung Pay Beta program news, and information on how you can join in. Updated on 08-13-2015 by Kyle Wiggers: Added launch dates for the U.S. and South Korea. Updated on 08-05-2015 by Kyle Wiggers: Added details of Samsung Pay for TV. Updated on 07-30-2015 by Kyle Wiggers: Added news of a Samsung partnership with MasterCard in Europe. Updated on 07-24-2015 by Robert Nazarian: Added in news that rooting may disable Samsung Pay. Updated on 07-16-2015 by Williams Pelegrin: Added details of Samsung Pay trial program in South Korea. Update on 06-03-2015 by Kyle Wiggers: Added details of Samsung Pay’s delay until September.
Samsung said it's working on "wireless and dedicated VR devices," which could put it on a collision course with the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR.
This has got to be one of the coolest iOS bugs we've seen in a long time, and we're keeping our fingers crossed that Apple doesn't fix it anytime soon. Little glitches are common to find here and there in iOS, as is the case with any other software platform. Sometimes they're serious bugs that compromise the security of your iPhone or iPad , but sometimes they're harmless little glitches that offer some unexpected side effects. The latest bug found in the iOS platform thankfully falls into the latter category, and it gives your iPhone or iPad an awesome new look typically reserved only for people who jailbreak their phones. MUST READ: Making sense of Apple now that everything has changed Apple's iOS platform doesn't support very many customization options in terms of the appearance of the user interface. Apple loves nothing more than simplicity and consistency, so it doesn't support any kind of themes on the iPhone or iPad. Android, meanwhile, lets the user manipulate the UI in any number of ways. You can even install a third-party launcher and change everything about your phone's interface. On the iPhone... you can change the wallpaper. Users looking for a bit more freedom often jailbreak their phones, which allows them to install third-party apps with far more capability than the apps in Apple's official App Store. This way, they can install theming apps that can change an iPhone's layout, icons and more. But now, thanks to a glitch discovered by YouTube user "videosdebarraquito" (via Cult of Mac ), anyone can give their iPhone or iPad a quick visual overhaul in just a few seconds. Here's how it works: Visit this webpage and download one or more of the tiny wallpapers seen there To save them, simply tap and hold on any image, then choose to save it In the Settings app, navigate to Wallpaper > Choose a New Wallpaper > Camera Roll and choose one of the new photos you downloaded That's it — you're done. You'll now find that some or all of your folders will display nifty round icons instead of the slightly rounded squares you're accustomed to. If some icons remain square, you can often manipulate them by rearranging your home screen. Check out the video below to see how it works.
Nearly a year ago, Amazon opened its SDK to developers, allowing them to put Alexa’s AI into their own devices. That means you’ll someday be able to ask Alexa the weather on your non-Amazon alarm clock, instead of through an Echo speaker. The family-oriented speaker Triby is the first device not made by the retail giant to incorporate Alexa. Related: See here for more about Alexa on Amazon Echo The portable, magnetic speaker, made by Invoxia, is meant to live on your fridge and has big, child-friendly buttons. One of its main functions is its ability to let kids call their parents using voice-over-IP with the push of a button, as long as said adults have the iOS app (Android is available in beta starting today) installed. It can also stream internet radio from Prime Music, iHeartRadio, or TuneIn. Now with the addition of Alexa, it can also tell you how tall the Empire State Building is, what the weather will be like, and when Bran’s next violin lesson is. After spending a couple days with Alexa on Triby, I’m not sure it’s a total Echo replacement. It has four microphones to the Echo’s seven. And while its 15-foot range (Echo’s is 25) should work in most mortal-sized kitchens, I still found myself occasionally having to say “Alexa” over and over, like I was disturbing a sleeping child. Alexa was able to turn off my SmartThings-connected lights, tell me the number of ounces of in a cup, and set a 10-minute timer. These were all useful things to have in the kitchen. The Triby also used the voice assistant to play me NPR and the latest episode of RadioLab. But when I asked Alexa to play my Kevin Devine Spotify playlist, she told me, “Spotify is not supported for this device.” Now, I was able to pull up Spotify on my phone and because my phone was paired with the Triby, I could play the music through the device’s speakers. I could also say, “Play Kevin Devine” and get some songs through Amazon Prime. However, Spotify is supported through the Echo, so this could be one very convincing argument as to why the Triby isn’t for you. Related: Amazon voice assistant Alexa moves beyond Echo And if you’re listening to more than “The Wheels on the Bus,” you might find the sound-quality lacking. “The Triby is a shallow device with relatively little space for speakers, and that makes achieving robust sound a significant challenge,” Digital Trends senior editor and A/V expert Caleb Denison told me after giving the Triby a listen. It doesn’t hold up to many $100 Bluetooth speakers he’s tested. “At first, the speaker’s overall volume of sound is surprising; robust, even. But it doesn’t take an audiophile to quickly learn the Triby lacks clarity and definition. I think a little too much emphasis was put on the midbass region for the sake of getting that ‘big’ sound from a small device. And the tradeoff is vocals that sound a little recessed, and treble that fails to shine. There also seems to be a ‘click’ around bass drum hits that sounds artificial,” he adds. While it’s not a terrible experience, it’s just not going to do your Mariah Carey playlist any justice. Bill Roberson/Digital Trends Bill Roberson/Digital Trends Bill Roberson/Digital Trends Bill Roberson/Digital Trends The Triby has some adorable features. You can make little doodles or notes in the app and send them to the speaker’s e-Ink screen. When you do, a plastic yellow rectangle pops out from the side of the device. Your kid can pop it back in, so you’ll know your message was received. They can also hold down a button below the rectangle scroll through some emojis to let you know how they feel about your work of art. The Triby feels like what it is: a speaker made for communicating with smartphone-less kids and providing some entertainment — and now it has some Alexa functionality tacked on. If you already had a $199 Triby, then the new voice assistance will be a welcome upgrade, but if you care about using your speaker to actually play music, you may want to look elsewhere. Updated 4/28/2016: Updated to include the news that the Android app is available in beta today.
William Henry Furman, a convicted murderer whose objections to the death penalty once suspended executions across the United States, is finally a free man. The 73-year-old has been living in a Salvation Army shelter in Macon, Georgia since late last month, when he was released from state prison after a quarter century behind bars. Without a cell phone, and limited access to news, Furman spoke tersely about capital punishment that is most actively applied today in the U.S. South, while 31 states still have a death penalty on the books.
Virtual reality has (justifiably) been the biggest story in the tech world over the past few weeks. Oculus launched the Rift , HTC launched the Vive and gamers are finally getting the chance to see how much potential VR has. But you don't have to spend $600 on a headset to digitally alter the world around you. DON'T MISS: Police are investigating a death at Apple’s headquarters this morning Augmented reality (AR) has been around in various forms for years, allowing consumers to see what furniture might look like in their homes, or to bring virtual figures into the real world, where they can interact with the environment. Not long ago, an app called INK HUNTER launched on the App Store. Using AR technology, the app allows users to see what a tattoo would look like on their body before they actually make the decision to get inked. You can choose from dozens of premade tattoos in the gallery or upload your own sketches. In order to make the tattoo appear on your body, you simply need to draw a smiley face on yourself where you want to see the tattoo. Once the app detects the smile, it'll digitally place the tattoo on you, at which point you can take a picture and see how the tattoo looks. Simple, yet effective. If you want to try it out for yourself, INK HUNTER is free on the App Store .
By Matt Siegel and Swati Pandey SYDNEY (Reuters) - Apple Inc expanded its Apple Pay digital wallet in Australia on Thursday after ANZ became the country's first bank to support the mobile payment service, executives at the pair told Reuters. Apple Pay allows users to register credit cards on devices such as iPhones, and pay for goods and services by swiping the devices over contactless payment terminals. Apple charges card providers for transactions via the service, which it introduced to Australia last year with American Express Co. The latest partnership extends the service to ANZ customers and represents the culmination of months of talks with the bank and three bigger peers, all of which had already agreed to support rival Android Pay from Alphabet Inc unit Google.
What could be more terrifying than subjecting your fledgling startup idea to the scrutiny of a panel of ice-blooded venture capitalists? Doing it on stage, in front of other entrepreneurs hungry for the same money. Yet 50 eager startups stepped up to the plate at the much-anticipated debut of PitchfestNW, the entrepreneurial arm of Portland’s annual TechfestNW festival. Pitting 50 different startups from the United States, Europe, and Canada against each other, Pitchfest gave these exclusive companies the tremendous opportunity to quickly pitch their business plans to a panel of experienced venture capitalists. Think of it like a marathon episode of ABC’s Shark Tank with a lot less Mark Cuban — in fact, no Mark Cuban. Over the course of the two-day conference, each startup applicant had five minutes to essentially sell their companies to seasoned venture capitalists like Maveron investor Anarghya Vardhana and Horan Mediatech Advisors venture capitalist Peter Horan. In addition to getting a few minutes of valuable facetime with a who’s who of VCs, the 50 startups were vying for PitchfestNW’s ultimate prize: a one-hour consultation with a VC, exclusive media coverage, a strategic consulation meeting with the AKQA advertising agency, a stay at a three-bedroom vacation home of their choosing, $120,000 in no-strings-attached cloud credits from IBM’s Global Entrepreneur Program, plus $2,016 in cash to commemorate the year. After a grueling first round for both the presenters and judges, just five startups were selected to square off during Day 2’s PitchfestNW finals. The judging panel also narrowed to just five panelists: Elevate Capital’s Nitin Rai, Voyager’s Diane Fraiman, Portland Seed Fund’s Angela Jackson, Phoenix Venture Partners’ Zach Jonasson, and Madrona’s Tim Porter. So who made the cut? Before we reveal the winner, here are the five startups from five wildly different industries, and a little about each of their pitches. TripGrid TripGrid co-founder Jake Hoskins explained how his app can simplify travel booking for small to mid-size businesses. Instead of fumbling through email chains or handfuls of website tabs, TripGrid allows businesses to centralize each step of the planning process into one application. Booking flights and hotels, building itineraries, and keeping in touch with traveling employees is all done via easily organizable cards. The employee even has the ability to peek at their complete itinerary via a clearly laid out smartphone application. Hoskins’ goal in the first year is to have roughly 166 small to mid-size businesses (those with 25 to 500 employees) using TripGrid for all their travel needs. StandTall LLC Launched by three high school students, StandTall is a company that hopes to bring the standing desk phenomenon to the classroom. In an effort to help improve the health and learning efficiency of students who potentially sit upwards of 10 hours per day, StandTall has developed an inexpensive, lightweight standing desk module capable of converting typical desks to standing desks in a matter of seconds. Standing in front of the Pitchfest NW judges, Catlin Gabel junior Angela Liu (StandTall’s COO) said the modules would cost schools just $50 per unit, which is a far cry from the hundreds — and sometimes thousands — of dollars standard lifting desks often cost. Citing no direct competition and an intent to go after the financially flexible private-school sector first, the 17-year-old Liu appeared incredibly confident not just in her pitch delivery, but in the future success of StandTall. Cartogram Like Google Maps for indoor navigation, Cartogram is an indoor location service for businesses boasting large venues. Founder and CEO Will Clausen said his company’s next step is to go after businesses and show them exactly how they can help customers find specific products in their stores. Cartogram can continuously update a businesses indoor map, because as Clausen explained, an out of date map would be “completely useless.” During his pitch, Clausen also detailed a few of the unique features native to Cartogram like multi-venue wayfinding, Another feature, NearView, changes a user’s ads based on their personal data, and Indoor Delivery allows someone to have products and services delivered to them while actually inside one of the venues supported by the app. Despite its startup status, Clausen did say the Sacramento Kings have decided to use Cartogram in their new stadium, which is no doubt a massive win for the company. Chroma Fund As Chroma Fund CEO Marcus Estes took to the PitchfestNW stage, he shared a bit of investment information much of the audience had likely never heard of. As of May 16, 2016, people investing into a 401k can legally invest in privately held companies for the first time. In light of this, Chroma Fund has set out to help create a new stock market for the small business economy. Basically, the company helps connect people with resources (and brokers) that will help them make smart local investments. Once the new regulations kick in, anyone investing into a retirement account has the ability to invest up to $2,000 into local businesses. If they choose to work with Chroma Fund, the startup will automatically diversify that money over many vetted investment strategies. So why go local? Instead of funneling money into Wall Street, Estes says investing into one’s local economy can help change the type of access to capital in the U.S. If this sounds confusing, Estes’ site Chroma.Fund plans to teach people about the new small business economy it’s planning. Poda Foods Poda Foods is a Portland, Oregon-based startup that raises and harvests crickets to create a cricket-based protein powder. Yes, you read that correctly, a cricket-based protein powder. While certainly odd, Poda Foods co-founder and CEO Yesenia Gallardo shared with the PitchfestNW judges just how beneficial crickets are to the food industry. After citing the many downsides of the meat industry — like methane production and excessive water consumption — Gallardo pointed to crickets as a reasonable solution. Not only do they require little food to stay alive, but crickets quickly convert their food into mass, allowing them to boast a higher protein value than chicken, eggs, salmon, or beef jerky. We know what you’re thinking, but how does it taste? According to Gallardo, crickets are delicious. Tasting slightly nutty, she said many people believe crickets to almost have a dark toast-like flavor. If you’d believe it, many food manufacturers already use cricket protein to produce chips, bars, and even cookies. To Poda Foods’ credit, it’s currently the only supplier of cricket protein on the West Coast, but due to rising demand, it’s looking to increase its warehouse space and needs capital for better machinery — hence the PitchfestNW showing. And the winner is… After deliberating for nearly an hour, the five judges emerged from backstage with an overall winner: Yesenia Gallardo’s Poda Foods. Along with co-founder and COO Kenny Cloft, Gallardo (grinning from ear-to-ear) accepted the victor’s spoils as PitchfestNW’s inaugural grand prize winner. Now $120,000 richer — in IBM Global Entrepreneur Program cloud credits, that is — and promised an hour with a venture capitalist, Gallardo and Cloft looked every bit the part of humble winners. “It’s incredible to see support like this in a tech-heavy place like Portland,” Cloft tells Digital Trends. “Getting recognition in an area where you don’t expect it is what’s really great about this competition.” Yesenia Gallardo and Kenny Cloft Rick Stella/Digital Trends According to Gallardo, the inspiration to create Poda Foods came from her mother. While visiting Oaxaca, Mexico one summer, Gallardo recalls eating small grasshoppers called chapulines and says she was immediately drawn to their inherent nutritional benefits. After seeing the kind of health benefits her mother enjoyed by eating chapulines, Gallardo thought extensive research on eating insects would be a perfect project to undertake during her time at Yale. “My mother ate them to help with her anemia and I thought ‘why not bring this idea back to Yale?'” Gallardo explains. “I partnered with Kenny and we decided to concentrate on manufacturing cricket protein. From there, Poda Foods was born.” So what’s next for Gallardo, Cloft, and Poda Foods? With demand for cricket protein continuing to rise, a bigger production facility and superior machinery is the first priority. Cloft acknowledges that while the edible insect business is still in its infancy, it’s a “growing industry” and the company is keenly focused on meeting the increasing demand. Now, with a PitchfestNW victory under their belts and the sky seemingly the limit, Poda Foods is poised to bring its cricket protein powder to the masses.
Scheduling meetings can be a real pain, especially if you’re on the go and only have access to your calendar on your phone. If you use Google Calendar on Android, however, scheduling meetings is about to get a little easier, thanks to the new “find a time” tool. The tool essentially looks at the calendars for each participant of the meeting, and gives a few possible meeting times, ranking them by how convenient it thinks they’ll be for those involved. Related: Google Calendar wants to help you make time for yourself for a change To be clear, this feature is already available on desktop, but it’s now available on Android as well. Similar to the desktop version, Google says the feature will work across time zones, and if it can’t find a time to schedule the meeting, it will figure out which of the conflicting meetings could be most easily rescheduled. “‘Find a time’ makes suggestions, but you’re still in control. You can tap to see everyone’s schedule at a glance — perfect for making sure the timing works for all,” wrote product manager Stella Schieffer, in a blog post. “And if you manage someone else’s calendar, you can use the feature to schedule meetings on their behalf as well.” It’s also important to note that the feature is only available to Google Apps for Work and Google Apps for Education users, so unfortunately, casual users of Calendar won’t be able to take advantage of the feature just yet. Of course, this does make sense — the feature will obviously only work in organizations where employees share their calendars with each other. While it’s currently only available on Android, Google says it will be available to iOS soon. Of course, bringing this feature to mobile certainly makes sense. People are increasingly using their smartphones as a way to organize their day, and features like this make it easier and easier.
Just when you thought it was safe to take that call, the first trailer for Cell arrives — and it will make you reconsider your attachment to one of the most ubiquitous devices in the modern age of communication. Based on the novel of the same name by horror maestro Stephen King, Cell stars Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson ( Django Unchained , Pulp Fiction ) and Golden Globe nominee John Cusack ( High Fidelity , Say Anything ) as two survivors of an apocalyptic event where a mysterious cell phone signal has turned people into bloodthirsty, savage animals. Related: Watch Cusack and Paul Dano play Beach Boy Brian Wilson in the Love & Mercy trailer Directed by Tod Williams ( Paranormal Activity 2 ), Cell casts Cusack as Clay Riddell, a man determined to cross the country in search of his son after the bizarre event turns nearly everyone around him into killers. He’s joined by Jackson and Isabelle Fuhrman ( Orphan , The Hunger Games ) on his journey. The film is based on a script co-written by King and Adam Alleca (the 2009 version of The Last House on the Left ), which was inspired by King’s 2006 novel. “I enjoyed working on Cell and love the way it turned out,” said King in a statement accompanying the initial announcement of the project. “Kip Williams has made a scary and thoroughly entertaining movie. But you may want to put your cell phone in the freezer after seeing it.” Cell is a reunion of sorts for Cusack, Jackson, and King, who previously collaborated on the 2007 film 1408 , which was also based on a story penned by King and starred both Cusack and Jackson in the lead roles. That film cast Cusack as the author of a series of books that debunked haunted house myths, only to discover that the hotel he’s currently investigating might indeed be home to some supernatural — and deadly — phenomena. The film is scheduled to have a limited theatrical release July 8, simultaneous with a release via Video On-Demand that same day.
Want to turn a TV into a Ubuntu computer? The very orange MeLE PCG02U just might be what you’re looking for. This tiny stick computer costs only $70, meaning you can add a desktop to any TV for very little money. It’s the first Ubuntu device from Mele, a Chinese manufacturer that until now has focused on Android and Windows devices. Of course, $70 doesn’t go far, so you can’t expect premium performance. This fanless PC stick features an Intel BayTrail Z3735F processor, which is outdated and not exactly zippy. There’s only 2GB of memory and 32GB of internal storage, so don’t expect to multitask much or store your video collection. Even compared to the Intel Compute Stick, there’s not a lot of power to be found. Related : Intel Compute Stick (Cherry Trail 2016) review But the Compute Stick costs $160 in its cheapest Windows 10 configuration, so that’s not entirely a fair comparison. And there are some features offered by Mele that Intel doesn’t bother with: an external antenna for Wi-Fi 802.11n/g/b connections, and a 10/100 ethernet port for wired connections. Unfortunately, there are other downsides. There’s only one USB port, meaning plugging a separate keyboard and mouse in at once is impossible. Even worse: the USB port is 2.0, not 3.0, so file transfers to external drives will be really slow. Related: Ditch the desktop and hit the couch with our favorite stick PCs But maybe the weirdest thing here is the choice of operating system. Ubuntu 16.04 just came out last week, and is a long-term support release. Why is this computer shipping with the two-year-old Ubuntu 14.04? Users can easily upgrade, sure, but it seems like an oversight given the timing. Overall, the Mele isn’t a powerhouse, but at $70, it doesn’t need to be. We’re sure many Linux users will be excited to see more devices shipping with their OS of choice, and a few other potential buyers might want something they can quickly install media center software on. For those people, this could be an interesting little buy.
There’s no argument about it — Adobe Photoshop remains, hands down, the best photo-editing software on the market. But unless you’ve undergone formal training, Photoshop proves a difficult program to master, and is expensive to use. Related: Adobe brings new Lightroom features to Android in version 2.0 For the home user, Photoshop isn’t necessary for basic and semi-advanced tasks, such as resizing, cropping, and exposure correction. Downloadable photo editing tools have advanced way past MS Paint, and you really can do almost anything you could do in Photoshop–and sometimes more. The best part? Many of them are completely free. Desktop options GIMP Often heralded as the best free alternative to Photoshop, GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is an open-source application that relies on a community of volunteer developers who maintain and improve the product. Available for Mac and PC, you get a lot of professional-level editing and retouching tools – perfect for designers who can’t or won’t shell out hundreds of dollars to Adobe. Once you launch the program, you’ll find a dedicated window that displays the image, and separate windows to organize the toolbox and layers.When using a large display, or two displays, you have a nice, big workspace to play with your images. Icons in the toolbox represent actions such as the crop, lasso, paint and brush tools, and you can apply various effects to your photos. It may seem like Photoshop, but GIMP has its own look and feel. Download it now for: Windows Mac OS X Linux PhotoScape Besides image editing, PhotoScape also lets you create slideshows and animated GIFs, capture screenshots, and combine and split images. You can customize your toolbar, so you can organize the features you use most, and then revert to the default toolbar when you want to dig deeper into the software’s offerings. Free comes with a price, however. PhotoScape software is free to download. But it’s part of the Open Candy network, and runs ads for other “recommended” software. This is isolated to PhotoScape, and won’t infiltrate the rest of your computer with adware, but worth noting. Download it now for: Windows Mac OS X The Nik Collection The Nik Collection is a full image-editing suite offered by Google… and it’s now totally free. This is one of the most powerful and complete online photo tools at the moment, and Google providing it all for free was pretty big news. The Collection includes seven total plugins, each with a different focus. Analog Efex Pro focuses on effects that produce vintage looks or make digital photos appear more natural, while Color Efex Pro provides a ton of filters. Silver Efex Pro, on the other hand, is tailored for black-and-white images, while Viveza allows you to alter specific colors in the photo without using filters. Sharpener Pro allows you to improve clarity and Dfine gives you noise reduction capabilities, and so on. This allows you to either download whatever tool you need at the time, or download them all and use them interchangeably. The tools may take a little time to learn, but by separating out the different functions, the software makes it easier for people to pick and choose what they need in any given moment. Related: Google’s advanced desktop photo editing software are now free downloads The only downside here is that the Nik Collection is basically one-and-done. It doesn’t look like Google will be offering patches or updates to these tools, so they may not have much longevity. Get them while they still work! Download it now for: Windows Mac OS X Paint.NET This is a case where the apprentice becomes the master. Paint.NET was originally developed as an college undergraduate senior design project mentored by Microsoft and it continues to be maintained by alumni of the program. It was originally developed as a free replacement for Microsoft Paint, which comes as part of Windows. Paint.NET has surpassed Microsoft Paint in functionality and has some advanced features. Paint.NET features an intuitive user interface that supports layers, an “unlimited undo” to back out of any mistake no matter how disastrous, various special effects, and other tools. Where Microsoft Paint was able to do little more than resize images, Paint.NET is able to handle more advanced photo editing that you’d expect from Photoshop and other paid programs. Download it now for: Windows Serif PhotoPlus Starter Edition Serif created Photo Plus Starter Edition as a free version of its paid software suite to give users elementary tools for editing photos. The software has the basics covered, with tools that let you re-size, apply filters and effects, and reduce red eye, among other functions. Because it lacks certain features of the paid version — the goal is to entice enough that you’ll upgrade — it will only get you so far in your photo editing. It does however, provide tools in an easy-to-use format that allows you to polish photos for your albums. Take note of Cutout Studio, in particular, which is a toolset designed to help create collages and similar scrapbook-style products. Download it now for: Windows Online alternatives Don’t want to download and install software on your computer? If you have a reliable connection, here are a few Web-based programs that will never see the spinning the disc of your hard drive. Pixlr.com Pixlr.com has a tiered offering that is entirely free. The site separates its photo editing into Pixlr Editor (advanced) and Pixlr Express (efficient). The site also offers a mobile suite so you can edit photos on a smartphone or tablet – both iOS and Android versions are available. The Pixlr Editor is more like Photoshop: It’s a straightforward photo-editing tool that lets you crop, size, and tweak the image. It has a red eye tool that eliminates those devil eyes that appear when the flash goes off. Express, on the other hand, lets you put creative overlays on your images – this is really for playing with your photos. You can put a stain on a picture to make it look like you rested a coffee mug on the photo, for example. Note that Pixlr straddles the line between Web-based and desktop image editors: There are both mobile and desktop versions of the software that you can download. However, it’s usually easier to just pop open a browser tab and load up the online version. Try it now, courtesy of: Pixlr Sumopaint Sumopaint is one of those “Photoshop lite” image editors that has sprung up in recent years – but it stands out by being truly good at what it does. This web-based software (there’s a download option as well) has a layout very familiar for Adobe users, a tool set that’s easy enough to understand and use, and a minimalistic feel that concentrates on getting the job done. This option is better suited to more serious photographers who don’t want to give up any editing options…but also don’t want to pay for their editing software. Try it now, courtesy of: Sumopaint iPiccy If you use Microsoft Paint rather than Photoshop, iPiccy might be for you. The site lets you edit photos with an automated process. Rather than using wands and tools to actively edit photos, the effects are applied to the whole photo in most cases. Click a button to fix images, resize, crop, rotate, flip, change the exposure, and other settings. While iPiccy may sound like a simplified app, there is complexity in its wide offering of editing options. Many settings have a slide rule that let you adjust brightness, contrast, and other functions. The one complaint might be that there is no undo button. What we would like to see is a reset-to-zero button on the slide rule, because it’s difficult to get the bar back to the beginning if you decide you want to return to the starting point. Several tools including a blemish and wrinkle remover help clean up photos. Then you can do a few cosmetic fixes like apply a sun tan, blush, or mascara. Try it now, courtesy of: iPiccy PicMonkey PicMonkey is a favorite editing tool for amateur photographers who want to quickly edit their images and turn them into mini-masterpieces. There are four primary tools in the PicMonkey holster: Editing, Touch Up, Design, and Collage. Editing probably provides the most functionality, allowing you to apply effects, advanced filters, spot correction, and so on. However, Touch Up is also a popular choice for selfies, profile pics, event photos, and so on. As you can see, this suite is designed more for the average person, or those who want the best picture possible for social media or sharing and aren’t afraid to work on it with more advanced tools. There are ads in the free version, though, so get ready to ignore them. Try it now, courtesy of: PicMonkey This article was originally published on April 16, 2015, and updated on April 27, 2016, by Tyler Locoma to include the Nik Collection, PicMonkey, and other offerings.