CES: Bluetooth SIG’s Low Energy Audio Slows Battery Drain

At CES 2020, the non-profit standards organization Bluetooth Special Interest Group announced that LE (Low Energy) Audio would be incorporated into its technology, improving a standard signal’s ability to manage and share wireless audio streams between devices — without stressing the batteries. In fact, since 2012, Bluetooth has incorporated LE features, dubbed Bluetooth Smart and BLE, to allow wearables and sensors to stay connected and minimize battery drain. But it has had no impact on wireless audio devices, which LE Audio hopes to remedy. Continue reading CES: Bluetooth SIG’s Low Energy Audio Slows Battery Drain

Variety of Real-Time Translation Devices Showcased at CES

Several translation gadgets made a showing at CES 2020, among them the Ambassador, released last November from Brooklyn-based Waverly Labs, an over-the-ear gadget aimed at travelers. Pocketalk is a translation device that’s popular in Japan and will soon arrive in the U.S. TranslateLive’s ILA Pro adds a subscription-based service for real-time translation. Langogo Minutes is a device that records up to seven hours of audio and provides written transcripts of what it hears. And the WT2 Plus from Timekettle is a multi-language translator in the form of earbuds. Continue reading Variety of Real-Time Translation Devices Showcased at CES

CES 2020: Holiday Smart Lights Have Multiple Applications

The Internet of Things is about to offer middle America a new creative outlet. Italian startup LEDWORKS produces strings of individually addressable LED Christmas tree lights. Twinkly’s phone app maps the location of each individual light: one camera scan to map lights arrayed on a flat surface and two or three camera scans to map the lights arrayed around a 3D object like a Christmas tree or a wall outside. The app can then wirelessly load a program into the lights’ plug to display preset patterns and images or, if you are clever, patterns of your design. The current app can control up to 10,000 lights. By the end of 2020, Twinkly should be able to control 20,000 lights. Continue reading CES 2020: Holiday Smart Lights Have Multiple Applications

Microsoft to Debut xCloud Game Streaming Service in 2020

According to Microsoft head of gaming Phil Spencer, the company will introduce its xCloud game streaming service, integrated with Xbox Game Pass, in 2020, with price and launch date to be determined. Microsoft will also bring xCloud to Windows 10 PCs, making it likely that PC games will be streamed there in the future. Microsoft head of cloud gaming Kareem Choudhry noted the lack of mouse and keyboard support for Xbox games streamed via xCloud to a PC, but said there will “be more types of content” in the future. Continue reading Microsoft to Debut xCloud Game Streaming Service in 2020

Nvidia Introduces Two Next-Generation Shield TV Devices

Nvidia just launched two new Shield TV set-top boxes, making them the third generation after the 2015 debut and 2017 update. The new Shield TV 2019 Editions are both faster and offer a new remote. The Nvidia Shield TV, priced at $149.99, is housed in a new cylindrical form factor, with HDMI and microSD on the top and wired Gigabit Ethernet and power on the bottom. The Nvidia Shield TV Pro, priced at $199.99, maintains its existing design, with an upgraded Nvidia Tegra X1+ SoC, 3GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage. Continue reading Nvidia Introduces Two Next-Generation Shield TV Devices

Amazon Ad-Free Kindle Kids Edition Aims to Boost Reading

Amazon’s upcoming $109.99 Kindle Kids Edition features a six-inch e-ink display, adjustable front light and long battery life. The device, whose hardware is identical to the entry-level Kindle that costs $20 less, offers cases and wallpapers that appeal to young people. A two-year guarantee will replace a broken unit. Amazon also provides a one-year subscription to its FreeTime Unlimited, which gives access to curated e-books within a walled garden. When the year is up, subscriptions range from $2.99 to $9.99 per month. Continue reading Amazon Ad-Free Kindle Kids Edition Aims to Boost Reading

Google’s Cloud Platform Updates Focus on Security Issues

During its Cloud Next 2019 developer conference, Google revealed its Advanced Protection Program would be widely released and Titan Security Keys will be more readily available in retail. The former, which is intended to prevent cyberattacks against high profile targets such as politicians and business leaders, will debut in beta for G Suite, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Cloud Identity customers. The Advanced Protection Program “enforces the use” of the Titan Security Key or compatible third-party hardware, blocking access to third-party accounts not approved by admin. Continue reading Google’s Cloud Platform Updates Focus on Security Issues

Nintendo Reveals $199 Switch Lite With Built-In Controllers

Nintendo just unveiled the Switch Lite, designed as a handheld version, priced at $199 and due out September 20. The new unit, which will cost $100 less than the original, won’t be able to connect to the TV and its Joy-Con controllers are built-in. According to Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser, the two systems “complement each other and co-exist in the marketplace.” The new unit is also much lighter and, with built-in controllers, feels more robust. A d-pad replaces the original directional buttons. Continue reading Nintendo Reveals $199 Switch Lite With Built-In Controllers

WWDC: Apple Unveils iOS 13, iPadOS and Project Catalyst

At this week’s WWDC, Apple unveiled its latest mobile operating system for iPhones and iPod touches, iOS 13, which includes faster performance, upgraded Siri, Dark Mode, advanced Photo and Camera tools, and new privacy features. The company also announced a separate iPadOS for its tablets, which features the same upgrades as iOS 13 in addition to multitasking improvements and a redesigned home screen. Apple is encouraging developers to create new apps that work across all its devices, including Macs. The company announced Project Catalyst (formerly code-name Marzipan), a set of tools that make it simple for developers to make their apps accessible on the Mac. Continue reading WWDC: Apple Unveils iOS 13, iPadOS and Project Catalyst

Social Listening: Spotify Developing a Shared Music Queue

Spotify is working on a new feature called “Social Listening” that would allow multiple people to add tracks to a social queue so they could all listen to the same songs from different devices in different locations. According to screenshots shared by an app researcher, users can add songs to the real-time playlist for a communal listening experience after scanning their friends’ QR-style Spotify Social Listening codes. The feature, not yet released, is essentially a jazzed-up version of Spotify’s Collaborative Playlists for now, but in the future Spotify could possibly upgrade it for synchronized playback. Continue reading Social Listening: Spotify Developing a Shared Music Queue

Google, Anker Debut Device for In-Vehicle Google Assistant

Google debuted the results of a partnership with Anker, releasing the $50 Roav Bolt, that brings Google Assistant to automobiles. Previously, consumers who wanted Google Assistant in their cars could purchase a vehicle with Android Auto or install the Android Auto app on their phones. The device fits into a car’s 12-volt port (the cigarette lighter) and features USB ports on the side for charging a phone, with an AUX jack as well. The user activates the device by saying “Hey Google” or pressing a physical button. Continue reading Google, Anker Debut Device for In-Vehicle Google Assistant

Analyst Predicts Apple’s AR Headset to Launch in Mid-2020

According to a recent note to investors written by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who is known for frequently having inside information on Apple’s product plans, Apple could begin mass production of its augmented reality headset by the end of 2019 and unveil it as early as mid-2020 — although he admitted the timeline is optimistic. In May 2018, however, Loup Ventures founder Gene Munster predicted we wouldn’t see the Apple AR headset until late 2021. Kuo stated his belief that Apple’s first AR device will only be a display, with the iPhone performing all the rendering, data connection and GPS. Continue reading Analyst Predicts Apple’s AR Headset to Launch in Mid-2020

Google Adopts Open-Source, Secure Password-Less Logins

The FIDO Alliance, a consortium for open source authentication standards, is trying to make passwords obsolete, expanding its secure login protocols. Its efforts were boosted by Google’s announcement that it added certified support for the FIDO2 standard, impacting the vast majority of devices running Android 7 or later. That means owners of these Android 7-based devices should be able to log in seamlessly without passwords on mobile browsers such as Chrome. Websites can now be designed to interact with FIDO2 management. Continue reading Google Adopts Open-Source, Secure Password-Less Logins

HTC Unveils Its First 5G-Ready Smart Device in Barcelona

At this week’s MWC Barcelona (formerly Mobile World Congress), HTC is showcasing its new 5G Hub — a smart device with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor that acts as a smart display, Android entertainment device and 5G hotspot for up to 20 users. It connects to 5G networks and enables low-latency gaming, 4K video streaming, and more. Pricing has yet to be revealed, but the company says it will be available Q2 2019. Currently compatible with the Sprint network, the device will likely run on other networks in the future. Continue reading HTC Unveils Its First 5G-Ready Smart Device in Barcelona

Streaming Audio Gets Better with Free Lossless Audio Codec

The quality of digital audio has waxed and waned since storage migrated from physical media to files stored on devices or in the cloud. Up until now, large technology companies such as Apple have been the ones making audio developments, such as taking MP3 mainstream with the iTunes Music Store in 2003. Increases in bandwidth have helped improve the quality of streaming audio. Consumers have pushed for better audio, and now some music services have adopted FLAC, a Free Lossless Audio Codec that is changing the game. Continue reading Streaming Audio Gets Better with Free Lossless Audio Codec

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