On Gear Live: Google Pixel 3a Thoughts, iOS 13 Leaked Features, & Google Duplex on the Web - Geared Up!

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Google Pixel 3a

The Google I/O 2019 keynote took place yesterday, and I bring you a recap of the news, including my thoughts on the newly announced Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL mid-range smartphones. Will Google's strategy of shipping a budget phone with one of the best cameras out there pay off?

We also talk about the leaked iOS 13 features report from Bloomberg, and we've got a lot to talk about here. If you've been wondering what can we expect from Apple's next major software release for the iPhone and iPad, this is what you've been waiting for.

Google announced new features coming for Google Duplex, and we talk about how the Google Assistant will be able to help you even more in the coming months. At Google I/O, we got a demo where the Google Assistant fills in everything on the web automatically and allows you to confirm and leaves you in control of the flow after asking “Hey Google, Book a National Car Rental for my upcoming trip.” The Assistant understood the dates of the trip and the vehicle preferences based on confirmations found in Gmail and the users Google calendar. Google Duplex on the Web is coming later this year.

This isn’t something that’s exclusive to National Car Rental or anything, but apparently Google used them as the example because their back end for booking vehicles didn’t require any extra engineering work due to National’s web and mobile platforms already being engineered to allow these newer technologies to work with them now, today. That said, you can imagine in the near future doing something similar with movie tickets, restaurant reservations, or really anything where you have to fill out forms and make choices. The Google Assistant can fill out the forms and make the choices that it knows you’d like based on the context it has about you already, and all you need to do is take a look at the choice it made and confirm them in a matter of seconds. It's cool and exciting, and we discuss it in further detail. All this and more on this episode of Geared Up!

SPONSOR: National Car Rental - skip the line with the Emerald Club. Go National. Go Like a Pro.

Listen to the episode in the player below or subscribe to Geared Up in your favorite podcast app to listen on the go:

Listen to this episode of the Geared Up podcast for analysis of the latest from Google and Apple.

Gallery: Google Pixel 3a Thoughts, iOS 13 Leaked Features, & Google Duplex on the Web - Geared Up!


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Home is the Key Habitat for Humanity

I often spend time talking about smart homes and amazing smart home tech, voice assistants, and other ways to use new digital technology to control and manage your home from the palm of your hand or with the sound of your voice. It’s futuristic and fun, but it’s also a privilege. I’m fully aware of the position I’m in as a tech expert and reviewer as someone who gets to play with these fantastic toys early and often - but even more so, to be able to live comfortably without having to worry about having a place to call home, or how I am going to pay the next month’s mortgage or rent bill. However, this is not the case for many, many people, and that’s why I’ve teamed up with Habitat for Humanity to shed some light on the affordable housing crisis that we’re seeing here in the USA and to let you know about the Home is the Key campaign.

What does the word “home” mean to you? What thoughts and feelings does it bring to your mind? As I’ve been thinking about this over the past couple of weeks, I never settle on just one thought. First, I think of the home I grew up in as a kid with my family, full of love, great food, laughter, support, and plenty of harmless sibling rivalry to go around. It’s the home where I came from, and the place where I felt safe to try new things, fail at things, and plant the seeds of where I wanted to go as an adult. It was a very important place for me, especially, as a child who grew up in the foster care system to finally have a place - a home and a family - to call my own. I’d seen both sides of the fence - As a child I’d been homeless, I’d lived in poverty, I’d moved from place to place, and at the end I found that true “home.”

Click to continue reading Home is the Key: Helping America’s Housing Crisis #HomeIsTheKey

Gallery: Home is the Key: Helping America’s Housing Crisis #HomeIsTheKey


Apple TV+

Apple unveiled a host of new services at their March 25th event this week (be sure to check out my full wrap-up video of the Apple event!), and we take a look at each one in this episode of Geared Up!

  • Apple TV+ is the company's new original TV and movie subscription service.
  • Apple Card is a credit card from Apple that aims to change the way consumers use and view credit cards and their financial data.
  • Apple News+ is a new subscription news service that gives you unlimited access to over 300 magazines and newspapers for a flat monthly fee.
  • Apple Arcade is a subscription gaming service with 100 exclusive games for iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Mac.

Listen to the episode in the player below or subscribe to Geared Up in your favorite podcast app to listen on the go:

Listen to this episode of the Geared Up podcast for analysis of the latest from Apple and its new services.

SPONSOR: National Car Rental - skip the line with the Emerald Club. Go National. Go Like a Pro.

Gallery: Geared Up: Apple TV+, Apple Card, Apple Arcade and the Rest of Apple’s New Services


What is Apple TV+?

Apple finally unveiled details about its subscription video streaming service, Apple TV+, at its It's Show Time Apple Event today. There were several components to the Apple TV+ announcement, starting with an updated TV app for the Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, Mac, and even smart TVs and competing streaming sticks.

The TV app is free to use, and aims to bring in content from all of your favorite channels and apps (no Netflix, though,) all into one interface. Part of this is a new feature called Apple TV Channels, where you can choose to add free and pay services like HBO, Showtime, Starz, CBS All Access, and more and watch all content right there. Apple handles the actual video streams, guaranteeing picture quality and sound will both be top-notch. The new TV app, which drops in May, will also provide customized and personalized recommendations for shows it thinks you'll want to watch, based on your viewing habits. Apple says processing is done locally on your devices, and your viewing remains completely private.

As far as the content play, Apple TV+ will introduce a bunch of original programming that will be part of the service. Several Hollywood stars and personalities took the stage to talk about their prohects today, including Steven Spielberg, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell, Jason Momoa, Kumail Nanijani, J.J. Abrams, Sara Bareilles, Big Bird, and Oprah Winfrey. Apple is said to be spending roughly $2 billion on original content this year which it hopes will be able to set them apart from services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and similar.

Click to continue reading Apple TV+: Apple’s new video subscription service announced

Gallery: Apple TV+: Apple’s new video subscription service announced


Apple Arcade lineup

During today's It's Show Time Apple Event, Apple showed off its new video game service - Apple Arcade. Apple Arcade is a game subscription service that provides users with access to over 100 games that are exclusive to the service - that's right, the entire catalogue is not only exclusive to iOS and macOS, but exclusive to the Apple Arcade service itself. Rather than another game streaming service like Google Stadia, Apple Arcade users install their games through the App Store, so that they can be played anywhere without the need for an Internet connection.

Apple showed various games which include familiar franchises like Sonic the Hedgehog, and mentioned that we will see original titles from Will Wright, SEGA, Cartoon Network, Konami, LEGO, and more. More than just selecting games for the service, Apple is also helping with the development costs of the games as well.

Apple Arcade will launch this fall in over 150 countries, with pricing to be announced later (we assume at Apple's annual September event.)

Gallery: Apple Arcade: New video game service for iOS and Mac


Apple Card credit card

During today's It's Show Time Apple Event, the company announced Apple Card, a brand new credit card that promises to change the way consumers work with credit cards. Apple says it is focusing on simple, instant applications, no fees ever, lower interest rates, and better rewards. In order to sign up, users use the Apple Wallet app in the iPhone, and instantly upon approval they get a digital card that is ready to use in their wallet. You'll be able to track purchases, check balances, make payments, and more right from the app.

As for bonuses, Apple is introducing Daily Cash. You get 3% cash back when buying from Apple (including Apple Store, App Store, etc.,) 2% cash back when you use your Apple Card through Apple Pay, and 1% cash back when you use your physical card (and by the way, the physical Apple Card is forged from titanium!) Daily Cash is instantly accessible to be used for whatever you'd like - pay your balance, buy apps, send the cash to friends, spend it, etc.

Focusing on privacy, “Apple doesn’t know what you bought, where you bought it, and how much you paid for it,” says Jennifer Bailey, VP of Apple Pay. All the spending tracking and other information is stored directly on the device, not Apple’s servers. Apple also says “Goldman Sachs will never sell your data to third parties for marketing and advertising,” either.

Gallery: Apple Card: Apple announces its own credit card with a focus on privacy


Apple News+ subscription

During today's It's Show Time Apple Event, the company unveiled Apple News+, an all-you-can-eat subscription news service that gives you unlimited access to newspapers and magazines. Apple News+ is found within the Apple News app itself, which ships on all iOS and macOS devices. Some of the notable inclusions in Apple News+ are the LA Times, Wall Street Journal, Wired magazine, Bazaar, InStyle, Sports Illustrated, and more. In all, there are over 300 magazines that will be available with a single subscription. 

As Apple noted on stage, none of the publications get your personal information. Privacy is paramount, and even Apple doesn't know which magazines or articles you choose to read.

Apple News+ will cost $9.99 per month, and in a great move, it is available for families for no extra charge which means that same $10 allows you and up to 5 other family members to access the service. You can access Apple News+ starting today, and the first month is free.

What do you think? Will you be giving Apple News+ a shot?

Gallery: Apple News+: Unlimited access to magazines and newspapers


WWDC iOS 12

During today's WWDC 2018 keynote, Apple announced the next generation of its mobile software in iOS 12. Here are the biggest points of news for iOS 12:

PERFORMANCE

  • Apple is doubling down on performance with the aim of making devices faster and more devices
  • iOS 12 will be available on all the same devices that support iOS 11 - this includes devices that shipped back in 2013.
  • Apps launch twice as fast on devices running iOS 12 on even the oldest devices

AUGMENTED REALITY

  • A major update in iOS 12 is more AR support. Adobe took the stage to introduced simplified tools that will allow developers to create better AR experiences.
  • There's a new file format for AR, called USDZ, created in collaboration with Pixar.
  • A new app, Measure, will allow you to take measurements in real-time using an iOS device with AR. A demo was shown measuring a suitcase using just an iPhone X.
  • Support for shared experiences is announced - multiple users can see the same AR environment in real-time. This allows developers to create worlds that people can all see simultaneously.
  • LEGO took the stage to demo a shared AR LEGO app

PHOTOS

  • The Photos app gets new updates and features, starting with search. Search Suggestions will highlight things like key moments, places you've taken photos, business names, and events like concerts and sporting events. You can search for multiple terms, like surfing and vacation, to drill down into your library.
  • Effect suggestions give you reccomendations to edits you can make to your photos to make them even better.
  • Sharing suggestions will find people in your photos and allow you to share them with the folks who are in them. Shared photos are full resolution.
  • When you share, the receiver will also be given a suggestion to share photos from the same event with you.

SIRI

  • Siri Shortcuts allows you to pull in specific tasks from your apps. An example given was "I lost my keys" to have Siri activate your Tile hardware.
  • You can create your own Siri Shortcuts as well, so you can put together your own shortcut phrases.
  • A demo was shown using Siri Shortcuts - the user said "travel plans" and got their hotel reservation with an image, address, and check-in time from Siri
  • A "Heading Home" shortcut is able to set the home thermostat, play a podcast, send an ETA to a contact, and turn on a HomeKit fan. Very impressive stuff.

APPS

  • The News app gets an updated sidebar to make navigation easier
  • The Stocks app gets more granular vision to see stock performance. Apple News stories are now integrated into the Stocks app as well, giving you business news on the stocks that you follow.
  • The Stocks app now comes to iPad with iOS 12.
  • Voice Memos app also comes to iPad with iOS 12, with iCloud support built-in for syncing across devices.
  • iBooks becomes Apple Books with a redesigned app.
  • In iOS 12, CarPlay will support third-party navigation apps.

DIGITAL HEALTH

  • Do Not Disturb is updated to hide notifications at night, and in the morning hides notifications until you specify that you want to see them.
  • Do Not Disturb allows you to choose much more granular timeframes rather than just optimized for overnight.
  • Notifications can be turned on or off on a per-app basis right from the lock screen
  • Notifications can now be grouped by app, topic, or thread. With a swipe, you can dismiss an entire group of notifications.
  • A new feature called Screentime offers reports, giving a weekly summary that shows how you used your iOS device. This shows how much time you spend in each app, how often per hour you pick up your phone, and which apps are sending you the most notifications.
  • App Limits allows you to set a limited amount of time that you'd like to use specific apps per day. 
  • Kids get activity reports too, and parents get reports on their own devices of their kids usage. Parents can also create downtime periods and app limits. This is setup through the Family Sharing interfaces.

MESSAGES

  • Animoji now support tongue detection for sticking tongues out
  • New ghost, koala, tiger, and T-Rex Animoji characters
  • Apple announces Memoji, allowing you to create your own customized 3D emoji character that looks like you
  • Memoji has a slick creator app to design your character
  • The Messages camera now includes effects, filters, stickers, and even Animoji and Memoji right in the camera

FACETIME

  • Apple announces Group FaceTime, which allows you to chat with up to 32 simultaneous participants
  • You can use both audio or video
  • FaceTime is integrated into Messages, allowing you to quickly do a Group FaceTime right from a group chat
  • A demo is shown, and as people speak, they become bigger on screen, or you can choose who to bring front and center
  • The same effects mentioned above in Messages also applies to the FaceTime camera

Improved performance, new AR experiences, digital health, improved Messages, Group FaceTime, and more. That's iOS 12.

Gallery: WWDC 2018: Apple announces iOS 12


macOS Mojave

At WWDC 2018, Apple announced the next version of its desktop operating system for Macs, macOS Mojave. Here's what's new!

MACOS MOJAVE FEATURES

  • Apple starts by showing off a new Dark Mode for macOS. It changes the color of the app windows, toolbars, dock, and more.
  • Dynamic Desktop is a feature where your desktop wallpaper subtley changes throughout the day based on the time.
  • Desktop Stacks is a feature that groups all of the files, folders, and tags to auto-organize your desktop. Stack icons are also scrubbable.
  • The Finder gets a new view called Gallery view. Makes it easy to preview images, videos, PDFs, documents, etc.
  • New Finder sidebar to see the full metadata of any file(s) you have selected, along with quick actions along the bottom of the sidebar.
  • Markup has been added to Quick Look
  • New screenshots functionality - similar to iOS, the screenshot appears in the bottom corner of the screen, and when you click on it, you get a Quick Look with a bunch of readily-available tools
  • A new screenshot tool also allows for quick video recording
  • New Continuity Camerea feature allows you to use your iOS device as a camera to insert photos into Mac documents. This can also be used for document scanning from an iOS device into a Mac doc.
  • Enhanced eGPU support

APPS

  • The Apple News app is coming to the Mac in macOS Mojave
  • The Stocks app is also coming to the Mac in Mojave
  • Voice Memos will be part of Mojave as well, with iCloud syncing
  • Apple's Home app will ship with macOS Mojave, allowing you to control your smart home devices, along with Siri support

SECURITY AND PRIVACY

  • Apple is extending protection to Cameras, Microphones, Backups, Message history, and much more
  • In Safari, Apple is auto-hiding even more tracking scripts connected to like buttons and comment fields
  • Safari is also making it harder for trackers to create a fingerprint of your device, so your Mac appears to look like everyone else's Mac, making it harder for ad companies to track you

MAC APP STORE

  • Apple has completely redesigned the Mac App Store
  • Similar to iOS, the Mac App Store will feature editorials and stories
  • Videos of apps are built in to give a better idea of how the apps look and feel
  • More categories like Create, Work, Play, and Develop to easier find groups of apps
  • Microsoft is bringing Office 365 to the Mac App Store
  • Panic is bringing Transmit
  • BareBones bringing BBEdit
  • Adobe is bringing Lightroom

Apple also answered the question of whether they are merging macOS and iOS - the answer is "No!" However, Apple will be allowing iOS apps on the Mac through a new set of UI instructions. It starts in 2018 with News, Stocks, Home, and Voice Memos. In 2019, developers will have access to these tools as well.

Gallery: WWDC 2018: Apple announces macOS Mojave


At its WWDC 2018 keynote, Apple announced tvOS 12. Here's what's new!

  • Dolby Atmos support for Apple TV is coming
  • Free Dolby Atmos upgrades for any content you own that gets the newer sound format
  • Live News and Live Sports comes to the TV app on Apple TV
  • In the US, Charter Spectrum service will be available on Apple TV. 50 million homes have access to Charter Spectrum.
  • Single Sign-On becomes Zero Sign-On. If you are on your TV providers broadband network, all TV apps are unlocked immediately. Charter Spectrum is the first to support this feature.
  • Home control systems like Creston and Savant will be integrated into Apple TV.
  • Aerial screensavers will now show you locations, and allow you to swipe to change the screensaver location.
  • New aerial screensaver above Earth, filmed on the International Space Station.

That's tvOS 12!

Gallery: WWDC 2018: Apple announces tvOS 12


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