On Gear Live: Amazon Fire TV Cube hands-on review, new AirPods 2 coming soon - Geared Up!

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Amazon Fire TV Cube hands-on review, new AirPods 2 coming soon - Geared Up!

Amazon Fire TV Cube review

Amazon is trying to get its Alexa voice assistant into as many homes as possible. Its latest offering: The Fire TV Cube, which essentially turns any TV into a smart TV with Alexa voice control. We try it out live on this episode. The integration with certain apps, like Netflix and Hulu, is pretty cool. Simply saying "Alexa, play Stranger Things," opened the Netflix app and started playing right where we left off. Using voice control to fast forward, switch TV inputs and open apps also works well. But for other apps that aren't integrated, like Sling TV, the experience isn't quite so smooth. The box also doesn't work with over-the-air cable TV, as some reports said it would. In other news, Oculus announced a new virtual reality TV app this week, and some people are unimpressed. We also dive into a report that points to a new line of AirPods coming before the end of the year, including higher-end over-the-ear headphones.

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


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WWDC 2018: Apple announces iOS 12

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.


Enter our Huawei Mate 10 Pro giveaway!

Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Announcements, Cell Phones, Features,

Huawei Mate 10 Pro Giveaway

I've teamed up with Huawei to give away a Mate 10 Pro smartphone for Father's Day! The Huawei Mate 10 Pro features impeccable build quality, the 6-inch Huawei FullView display, the Mate 10 Pro camera system developed by Leica, and more! If you're looking for an Android smartphone that lives up to the term "flagship" to give to the dad in your life, you can't go wrong with a Mate 10 Pro.

To enter, just use the widget below to manage your entries. Good luck to all who enter!

Huawei Mate 10 Pro Father's Day Giveaway!


Mysterious new Hydrogen One smartphone from Red and getting hyped for Tesla Model 3 - Geared Up!

The Geared Up Giveaway is back! We're giving Geared Up subscribers the chance to win an Oculus Go headset. See the bottom of this post for details on how to enter the giveaway.

High-end camera maker Red unveiled a mysterious new smartphone this week, and Geared Up co-host Andru Edwards was there for the hands-on experience. He said the new phone has some cool and exciting features, but also some strange ones.

Plus, Microsoft is once again trying to take on Apple's dominance in the tablet market. But can a new line of Surface devices make a real change?

We also dive into the hype around the Tesla Model 3, which is now rolling out to customers. Andru ordered his Model 3 more than two years ago and is picking it up in just a few days.

Listen to the episode in the player below or subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast app.

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Win an Oculus Go VR Headset from Geared Up!


Tech spotlight on Nokia Health and the ThinkPad X1

On our Geared Up podcast, we cover all the breaking tech and gadget news of the week. But on this episode, we take a step back and put the spotlight on two technologies that Co-hosts Andru Edwards and Todd Bishop have been trying out in their day-to-day lives.

Andru has been using two devices from Nokia Health, the Nokia Steel HR smart watch and the Nokia Body smart scale. He says the devices themselves are just fine, but they show just how much an impact smart health devices can have on our behavior.

Todd has been spending a lot of time with his new Lenovo ThinkPad X1, which is his first Windows computer in a decade. He tells us how the device lured him back into the Microsoft world after a long stint as a dedicated MacBook Pro user.

Watch a video of the podcast above, listen to the full episode below or subscribe in your favorite podcast player to hear every episode of Geared Up.

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Editor's note:†Nokia's technology comes from its acquisition of Withings. After this episode was recorded, Nokia announced it is selling its health division back to Withings co-founder†…ric Carreel.


Is Oculus Go the future of VR? Plus: T-Mobile, Sprint and Trump - Geared Up!

Oculus Go, a new VR headset from the Facebook-owned company, sprang onto shelves in a surprise launch Tuesday. It's lower-powered than existing headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, but is portable and costs just $199. Is it the future of virtual reality? We debate on this episode of Geared Up.

Plus, T-Mobile and Sprint are finally tieing the knot with a huge merger. It will give the combined company (still called T-Mobile) a shot at competing with Verizon and AT&T as long as they can convince the Trump Administration to let the deal go through.

And in more huge news, Apple reported record-breaking iPhone sales in the first months of 2018, squashing rumors that the iPhone 10 has been struggling. Hear all that and more on this weekís episode of Geared Up, hosted by GeekWire Editor Todd Bishop and Gear Live's Andru Edwards. Watch the behind-the-scenes video above, listen in the player below, or subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app.

Subscribe to the Geared Up podcast:


Samsung Onyx: A premium 4K HDR movie theater experience

Samsung Onyx Cinema Screen

Earlier this week, Samsung invited me to spend a day in Vegas to attend CinemaCon, where the company was announcing it’s line of Samsung Onyx 4K LED movie theater displays. CinemaCon is the largest gathering of movie theater owners in the world, where seemingly anyone who’s anyone in the movie industry can be found, making this the perfect place to show off trailers and extended previews of upcoming movies, as well as movie theater tech. This made CinemaCon the perfect place for Samsung to debut the Onyx.

Formerly known as Samsung LED Cinema Displays, the easiest way to describe the rebranded Samsung Onyx is to liken it to the high-end flagship 4K HDR displays that you can buy for your home, but on a much grander scale. What this means is you get a crisp 4K picture, you get the insane dynamic range from the HDR luminance, and you get the high contrast thanks to the True Black capabilities.

Click to continue reading Samsung Onyx: A premium 4K HDR movie theater experience


HomePod bust and how Xbox’s backward compatibility gamble is still paying off - Geared Up!

Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Apple, Microsoft, Music, Video Games, Videos,

Apple’s HomePod smart speaker is struggling in the competitive smart home market, according to a new report. What led to its demise, and what can Apple do to get back into the smart speaker game?

Plus, Amazon reveals how it assigns the preferred “Amazon’s Choice” label to products; Apple is rumored to be creating a subscription version of Apple News after its acquisition of digital magazine company Texture; and we look at how Xbox’s backward compatibility has become the console’s saving grace.

Click to continue reading HomePod bust and how Xbox’s backward compatibility gamble is still paying off - Geared Up!


Tidal Force Wave 5 headphones review

Tidal Force has jumped into the headphone arena with a pair of planar magnetic headphones, aimed at providing better sound than typical driver-based models which follow the loudspeaker model of projecting sound.

If you’re unfamiliar, planar magnetic headphones use a very thin, light diaphragm in order to reproduce sound - this is instead of the traditional driver. The diaphragm is “driven” by a neodymium magnetic system consisting of a matrix double pole which ends up moving its surface evenly back and forth. The Tidal Force Wave 5 features a 56mm diaphragm, which in turn is able to produce notes between 16Hz and 50kHz. Are they worth your attention though? Let’s find out.

Click to continue reading Tidal Force Wave 5 headphones review


Shuffle readies PrivateLine app to aid in user privacy & battle robocalls

Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Cell Phones, Corporate News,

T-Mobile robocalls

A few weeks ago, I produced a video giving you a look at Shuffle and both its Shuffle app and upcoming Shuffle PrivateLine app (embedded below) while outlining the massive privacy implications of using various 2nd phone number apps, which feeds into the current robocall epidemic we’re experiencing here in the US. Now, Shuffle is back with the results of even more custom research on this topic, and it’s eye-opening. If you feel like you’ve been getting nonstop robocalls lately, you’re not alone.

In fact, there were over 30.5 billion robocalls placed in the United States in 2017, an increase over the 29.3 billion in 2016. This isn’t something that’s slowing down, either, as December 2017 saw a massive 2.8 billion unsolicited (at best) or illegal (at worst) calls - that’s an average of 89.6 million every day, or 8.6 calls for every person.

Click to continue reading Shuffle readies PrivateLine app to aid in user privacy & battle robocalls


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