Google Assistant's Latest Powers Target the Smart Home

Google is adding a wide range of features to its AI-powered Google Assistant that focus on improving the experience at home. First, family members will be able to respond to broadcasts. The broadcast feature lets people send a voice message to their Google Home speakers or video displays from their phone. Until now, broadcasts have been a one-way feature. Moving forward, people who receive broadcast messages via Google Home speakers/displays can reply. The reply is transcribed and sent to the original broadcaster as a notification. Next, Google Assistant is targeting in-home chefs. Smart display users will now see recommended recipes on an info card. The recommendations will be based on previous recipe searches. Google says recommendations will be updated regularly based on the season and time of day. Users will be able to save their favorites for easy referencing. Alarms just became more fun for kids. Google Assistant can now set up alarms based on popular animated characters that include signature music, jokes, and other messages. The Read Along feature is being improved with more sound effects and music from select books, and the Assistant itself can read any of 25 family-friendly stories upon command. Google Assistant now hooks into more smart TVs from the likes of Panasonic and LG. It can provide a Home View dashboard for controlling media and entertainment devices. Podcast lovers have new control over playback speed. Last, Google is bringing routines to the clock app for Android phones. For example, after the user dismisses the alarm, Google Assistant can immediately begin a routine, such as reading the news, providing a weather or traffic report, or turning on pre-set lights. On the flip side, Assistant can turn on do not disturb mode on all devices with a single command. Google says these features will roll out slowly to Google Home speakers, smart displays, and Android phones over the coming weeks.

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AT&T CEO Bemoans Rise of State Net Neutrality Laws

Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, wants Congress to prevent states from enacting their own net neutrality and privacy laws. “There are a number of states that are now passing their own legislation around privacy and, by the way, net neutrality.” Stephenson made the comments in a video interview with the Wall Street Journal. “What would be a total disaster for the technology and innovation you see happening in Silicon Valley and elsewhere is to pick our head up and have 50 different sets of rules for companies trying to operate in the United States,” said Stephenson. The Obama-era FCC created a national net neutrality policy that was later torn down by Trump’s republican-led FCC. In the wake of that action, individual states have promised to create their own legislation to protect net neutrality. California was among the first to approve such legislation, though it won’t put its new laws into effect until litigation against the FCC works its way through the courts. Stephenson believes Congress should act to keep the states from creating a patchwork of rules that could tangle AT&T and other internet providers in a sticky web of compliance. Stephenson does agree with one core tenet of net neutrality: “There should be no blocking,” he said, and ISPs “should not be allowed to throttle somebody else’s content.” He said nothing about paid prioritization or zero-rating.

Source: Phone Scoop – Latest News

Samsung's Flagship Exynos 9 Mobile Processor Adds NPU to Power AI

Samsung is upping its AI game. Samsung today announced the Exynos 9 Series 9820, a system-on-a-chip for premiere smartphones such as the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series. The key upgrade for Samsung’s latest mobile processor is the adoption of a neural processing unit to bring artificial intelligence calculations onto the device. Samsung says the dedicated NPU helps the 9820 perform AI tasks about seven times faster than the 9810 by negating the need to route such calculations over the network to a server. In addition to raw speed, Samsung says this also adds a layer of security for end users. The NPU will allow camera applications to instantly adjust settings based on the surroundings, or recognize objects in AR/VR settings. Apple, Qualcomm, and Huawei adopted AI-dedicated NPUs in their premium processors in 2017. Beyond the AI upgrade, Samsung elevated the 9820’s performance across the board. It features a new, custom CPU that’s 20% faster than its predecessor in single-core mode or 40% more efficient. Multi-core performance is up by about 15%. The 9820 includes the Mali-G76 GPU for improved mobile gaming experiences. It is 40% faster or 35% more power efficient than before. The SoC supports the latest in LTE connectivity. It relies on LTE-Advanced and LTE-LAA with 4×4 MIMO, 256 QAM, and eight-channel carrier aggregation to deliver download speeds up to 2 Gbps and upload speeds up to 316 Mbps. On the multimedia front, the Exynos 9820’s multi-format codec can decode 4K video at 150 frames per second as well as render 10-bit color. Samsung says the Exynos 9 Series 9820 is expected to be in mass production by the end of this year and will show up in devices in 2019. Samsung’s Exynos processors are mainly found in global variants of its phones. Samsung phones bound for the U.S. typically rely on Qualcomm processors.

Source: Phone Scoop – Latest News

Motorola, Verizon Successfully Test Data On Moto Z3's 5G Mod

Motorola and Verizon Wireless say they’ve successfully completed a 5G NR data transmission test between the Moto Z3 paired with a 5G Moto Mod and Verizon’s network. Motorola announced the Moto Z3 for Verizon in August along with a Moto Mod capable of adding 5G to the Z3. While the Z3 went on sale over the summer, Motorola and Verizon said the 5G Moto Mod wouldn’t arrive until 2019. The test demonstrates that the Mod does indeed bring 5G service to what Motorola and Verizon marketed as the “first 5G upgradeable phone.” The companies performed this test in Providence, R.I., using Verizon’s 28 GHz spectrum. The 5G Moto Mod relies on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X50 5G modem with QTM052 mmWave antennas. The companies used the publicly available Motorola Moto Z3. Motorola says the Moto Z3 will be the “first smartphone with access to Verizon’s 5G network” when that network launches. Verizon is expected to launch mobile 5G service during the early months of 2019. It launched fixed 5G in October. Verizon competitors AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile are all clamoring to be first to offer mobile 5G. AT&T recently revealed its first mobile 5G product, the Netgear Nighthawk hotspot. Sprint says it is working with LG to bring a 5G-capable phone to market.

Source: Phone Scoop – Latest News

JLab Audio introduces JBuds Air

Finding comfortable earbuds for running can be very trial and error, however, JLab Audio has launched the new JBuds Air true wireless earbud with custom EQ3 sound, which allows users to hear natural ambient noise so runners can be reassured that cars, bikes and other potential hazards can be heard clearly. The JBuds Air are available now from John Lewis and from 1st December at Selfridges for just £49.99.

JLab Audio introduces JBuds Air

With 13-14 hours of Bluetooth playtime (which will be impressive) and custom EQ3 Sound, the lightweight buds deliver clean, crisp, audio for the daily listener. Automatically turning on and connecting to each other right out of the case, they provide a hassle-free and powerful Bluetooth 4.2 connection. The earbuds features are play, pause, change tracks, and adjust volume by pushing or holding the outside buttons. Custom EQ settings can also be adjusted through the earbud and cycle through three sounds: Signature, Balanced, and Bass Boost.

JLab Audio introduces JBuds Air

A built-in microphone also allows for phone calls to be answered and hung up, as well as activating voice assistants such as Siri or Google Assistant. An IP55 sweat resistance keeps the earbuds durable for day-to-day activities whilst the ‘Be Aware Audio’ unique technology allows natural ambient noise in so users are able to run and hear important external sounds such as cars or sirens in the background.

JLab CEO Win Cramer commented “The JBuds Air are a game changer. We’ve taken years of learning and built a product that makes true wireless accessible to everyone. Not only is the connection rock solid, the fit super comfortable, and an awesome look, but they sound simply stunning. The quality of sound that we deliver is unmatched. And we back it all up with a 2-year warranty. This is the best £49.99 you can spend for earbuds. We’re thrilled to launch this product.”

We look forward to giving these earbuds a trial on one of my runs over winter! Stay Tuned.

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EE to enable sixteen 5G sites next year

Blimey. We’ve got to keep up with this one. It only seems a few minutes since EE announced that nine 5G sites, but in 2019 they’re hoping to have coverage in the busiest parts of 16 cities.

London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff and Belfast will be in “phase one”, with hotspots like Manchester Airport and the Bullring in Birmingham. Meanwhile, in London, Hyde Park will get 5G too

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, stated..

I want London to be the world’s leading smart city and 5G expansion is at the heart of this ambition – it is good news for Londoners, innovation, and business. At City Hall we are working hard right across the capital to ensure we have the network infrastructure needed through our new Connected London programme. EE’s ambitious investment in 5G sites demonstrates that our city is a great place to invest in innovative and future-facing digital connectivity.

Edinburgh Waverley train station, Belfast City Airport and The Welsh Assembly will also be included as EE starts introducing 5G Smartphones alongside a 5G Home router for 5G broadband.

EE to enable sixteen 5G sites next year

Throughout 2019 EE will also be introducing 5G across the busiest parts of Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry and Bristol. Plus if you’re a geek like me, you’ll be interested in knowing that the BT Technology team are going to be virtualizing the core network, in line with global 5G standards, on a cloud native infrastructure. This means that the back-end network will be smart and fully converged with a BT 21CN Petabit-class backbone. The transmission network will have 10Gbps links at each 5G site, and EE have already tested these new links – the fastest in use anywhere in the UK.

(It’ll be very quick, put it that way)

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer division, told us..

Adding 5G to the UK’s number one 4G network will increase reliability, increase speeds, and keep our customers connected where they need it most. This is another milestone for the UK and for our network journey – we’ll keep evolving as we move to one, smart network for our customers. We have an ambition to connect our customers to 4G, 5G or WiFi 100% of the time.

The roll-out phasing is based on the areas that are in most need of high-capacity and high-speed internet. As an example, in the last three months, more than 2.1 million individual customers connected around Waterloo station. The first 1,500 5G sites will be carrying 25% of all data across the whole network.

Meanwhile, they’ve not forgotten about 4G, and there’s still 4G upgrades happening, with 3G signal being switched up to 4G to enable more spectrum for a better network experience. EE is also expanding 4G coverage into rural parts of the UK as we’ve seen before.

Now all we need is the 5G smartphones!

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Your smartphone can now warm you up

Your smartphone can now warm you up
What’s that you say? a new knitted wearable tech that heats up? That’ll keep you warm for up to 8 hours? That you can control with your smartphone? Well, sign me up for that baby.

This one has just been launched on Kickstarter and is called SKIINCore. It’s a self-heating and wire-free wearable base layer for cold weather. No, no wire – this is classed as “conductive yarn” – so.. a bit different. This conductive yarn holds 18 watts of heating power and, get this, “is programmed with machine-learning to adapt to your optimal body heat based on your movement and the outside temperature”.

It’ll automatically switch on and turn off if it senses the body is about to get too warm. It’ll also provide heat only to the areas on the body that are most sensitive to cold, like your hands, thighs and feet. It’ll basically warm you up but won’t make you sweaty in the wrong places.

There’s a USB-C outlet so that you can power your phone too. When you’re done, just chuck it in the washing machine as normal.

Your smartphone can now warm you up

Best of all, the guy in the promotional shots looks like that Kryptonian supervillain in Superman II (from the ’80s). Even the super-clever warming clothing looks the same. Me thinks that the people behind this were Superman fans! BUSTED!!

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iPhone X – Get one for £699

I’ve just done a bit of research (which basically means I Googled it) and Black Friday isn’t until November 23rd. Pffff.. that’s ages away, but it’s not stopped wowcher getting in touch about this particular deal. To make things even more confusing it actually only lasts for about a day, so you have to get it … like… now.

Anyways. It’s reconditioned, which explains why it’s cheaper than normal. This 64GB iPhone X is classed as in “Good” condition, and they tell me that this means it’s got “a few visible signs of wear-and-tear but, overall, in good shape”.

Could be worth a punt as a gift (after all, you’d struggle to tell the difference between this and one of the new iPhone models).iPhone X   Get one for £699

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Essential's Magnetic Headphone Adapter Now Available

Essential Products today said the magnetic snap-on headphone jack it announced over the summer is available for the Essential Phone. Like existing Essential Phone accessories, the 3.5mm headphone jack is a modular attachment that affixes to two small poles on the rear of the phone. With the mod attached, Essential Phone owners can plug in and enjoy their favorite pair of wired headphones. The Audio Adapter HD features a high-resolution ESS Sabre DAC with hardware rendering and an audiophile-grade amp that can power high-end headphones. Essential updated the Essential Phone itself earlier this year to deliver higher-quality audio through support for Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) for studio quality sound. The Audio Adapter HD is available from Essential’s web site for $149.

Source: Phone Scoop – Latest News

Spotify Introduces App for Apple Watch

Spotify today revealed a new way for people to manage their music. The company developed an app specifically for watchOS and the Apple Watch. Once installed, people will be able to play, pause, or skip to the next track; instantly set tempo-matching songs for runs; connect to home speakers; as well as access and manage playlists. The wrist-born controls also make it possible to favorite tracks and rewind podcasts on the go without reaching for your iPhone. The controls are built into the Spotify watch face. Spotify says its new app for the Apple Watch will be rolling out to users in phases over the coming weeks. Apple Watch owners will also need to update Spotify on their iPhone. The app is free. Spotify charges for some subscriptions.

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