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printed July 27, 2017
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AT&T Boosts DirecTV Now Live Channel Lineup

Today, 9:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said its DirecTV Now television service offers more than 100 live local channels. Local affiliates of ABC, NBC, and FOX (but not CBS) are available in markets including Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. AT&T says it will soon triple the number of live channels available compared to when the service launched in November 2016. Nationwide, DirecTV Now subscribers have access to up to 120 channels, more than 25,000 on-demand titles, as well as premium channels. DirecTV Now starts at $35 per month and ramps up to $70 depending on the package. AT&T offers a $25 monthly discount to its mobile customers, who can stream DirecTV Now live television to their mobile devices without impacting their monthly data limit.

Google Turns Off Instant Search

Today, 7:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google is eliminating its instant search feature, which generated search results in real time as people typed their search queries. The feature was introduced in order to save time, but as the majority of searches are now performed on mobile devices the tool doesn't make as much sense. "We launched Google Instant back in 2010 with the goal to provide users with the information they need as quickly as possible, even as they typed their searches on desktop devices," explained Google in a statement provided to Search Engine Land. "Since then, many more of our searches happen on mobile, with very different input and interaction and screen constraints. With this in mind, we have decided to remove Google Instant, so we can focus on ways to make Search even faster and more fluid on all devices." The move makes Google Search more cohesive between desktop and mobile devices. Google will continue to offer search suggestions in the search box as people tap out their queries.

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Google to Merge Google Play Music and YouTube Red

Today, 7:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google plans to shake up its music offering and ad-free video service, according to statements made by Lyor Cohen, the head of Google Play Music. As it stands today, Google Play Music is available to a single person for $10 per month and families for $15 per month. YouTube Red allows people to enjoy an ad-free YouTube experience for $10 per month. Purchasing YouTube Red, however, gives people access to Google Play Music at no extra charge. Google also offers YouTube Music and YouTube TV, which are separate services for music videos and live TV, respectively. Moving forward, Google Play Music and YouTube Red will be offered together. "The important thing is combining YouTube Red and Google Play Music, and having one offering," said Cohen. Cohen didn't provide any details on what the merged service might look like, but he did say Google will give customers plenty of warning. "Music is very important to Google and we’re evaluating how to bring together our music offerings to deliver the best possible product for our users, music partners and artists. Nothing will change for users today and we’ll provide plenty of notice before any changes are made," said Cohen in a statement provided to The Verge. YouTube TV is the newest of these media services and is only available in 15 markets around the country. It costs $35 per month and will continue to stand on its own.

LG Pins Mobile Hopes On Forthcoming High-End Phone

Today, 7:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today reported second quarter earnings and the news was mixed. While three of its four business units saw growth, its Mobile Communications Company saw flat income and an operating loss of $117.4 million. LG blamed its quarterly performance on weaker than expected sales of its flagship smartphone, the G6, and an increase in component costs. LG showed off the G6 at the Mobile World Congress event in February and the device reached world markets in April. It's a premium metal-and-glass smartphone with a unique 18:9 display and dual cameras. LG said its mobile unit did see a 13% increase in sales across North America thanks largely to strong performance of its mass-tier handsets, such as the K20 and Stylo 3. LG hopes things will get better. "The introduction of the new Q series and the rollout of a new high-end device in the weeks ahead are expected to bolster the company’s performance in the second half of 2017," it said in a statement. The high-end device in question is likely the V30, a follow-up to last year's V20. LG has a press event scheduled on August 31 during the IFA trade show, which will take place in Berlin.

Foxconn Commits to Building Wisconsin Factory

Yesterday, 5:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Foxconn today said it will build a manufacturing facility in Wisconsin, where it will make LCD panels and employ up to 3,000 people. The company previously announced it might invest up to $10 billion in the U.S. Today's news, shared by the White House, demonstrates Foxconn was serious about the investment. The facility will be approximately 20,000 square feet and may eventually employ up to 13,000. Foxconn, based in Taiwan, is chiefly known for manufacturing iPhones for Apple, though it has other consumer electronics customers. Foxconn said Sharp will be first to use the LCD panels made in Wisconsin for its television sets. Foxconn is weighing similar investments in Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan.

Cochlear Debuts iPhone-Compatible Cochlear Implant Processor

Yesterday, 10:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

A new product from Cochlear Limited will allow iPhone owners to stream sound from their device directly to their cochlear implant. This is made possible by the Cochlear Nucleus 7 Sound Processor, a behind-the-ear sound processor that bridges the iPhone and the implant. Cochlear says the processor makes it possible for iPhone users to not only stream audio to their implants, but to also control, monitor, and customize their hearing via the associated application. The app can help people record coil-offs time, as well as time in speech environments, including time spent listening to FM radio or streaming music. It also offers a tool for locating lost processors if they happen to fall off. Cochlear says the Nucleus 7 was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month and should be available in September for those looking at new implants. The Nucleus 7 will support some of Cochlear's older implants through an upgrade beginning in October.

Android Auto Can Now Navigate with Waze

Yesterday, 9:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made Waze available within Android Auto. The new integration means those who prefer Waze to Google Maps can take advantage of Waze via their car's in-dash infotainment center. In order to use Waze, Android users will need to download the latest version of Android Auto and Waze, and then connect their phone to their car via USB. Waze is a popular alternative to Google Maps because it provides real-time information about accidents, construction closures, and other events that may impact navigation. It relies on crowd-sourced data to provide the most up-to-date information. Google says Waze fans will be able to navigate to their favorite destinations saved in Waze (work, home, etc.), receive visual and audio alerts about hazards, check the estimated time of arrival along with alternate routes, and of course help other Waze users by sharing information about accidents and traffic jams. Google said it is working on a version of Waze that works within Android Auto directly on smartphones, but for now Waze integration is limited to in-dash access.

Apple Must Pay U. Wisconsin $506 Million Over Patent

Yesterday, 8:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple was ordered this week by a U.S. judge to pay $506 million to the University of Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) thanks to patented technology found in Apple's A7, A8, and A8X processors. The patent involves increasing the efficiency of chips by predicting what instructions the user will give them. WARF originally filed the lawsuit in January 2014 and was granted a jury victory in October 2015. The original judgement was for $234 million, but the judge more than doubled the damages because Apple has continued to use the patented technology in its iPhones (A9 processors) during the course of the lawsuit. Apple sought to have the patent declared invalid, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected Apple's bid. Apple is appealing the ruling. WARF sued Apple again in 2015 over the same patent, which it claims is being violated in newer versions of the iPhone. That second case is still winding its way through the courts. The patent, originally granted to WARF in 1998, expired in December 2016. Apple maintained its innocence.

USB 3.2 Spec Promises to Double Data Transfer Speeds

Yesterday, 7:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group this week released the spec for USB 3.2, which has the potential to boost speeds through cables. Specifically, USB 3.2 takes advantage of the multi-lane operation that has been built into existing USB Type-C cables. Now, as long as both devices support USB 3.2, end users should see data transfer speeds double. The Promoter Group says the spec allows for up to two lanes of 5 Gbps or two lanes of 10 Gbps operation. The spec makes use of the existing SuperSpeed USB physical layer, but makes minor updates to the hub specification to address increased speeds in addition to transitions between single- and two-lane operation. The USB 3.2 specification is available to developers only at this time. The USB 3.0 Promoter Group expects to release the final version of the spec in September. Devices with support for USB 3.2 will likely not appear in the market before 2018. It's unclear if or how USB 3.2 might be used with mobile devices. Some of the companies in the USB 3.0 Promoter Group include Apple, HP, Intel, Microsoft, ST Microelectronics, and Texas Instruments.

Giphy Makes It Possible to Create GIFs In Your Mobile Browser

Yesterday, 7:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Giphy recently rolled out a new tool that eases the GIF creation process. Now, there's no app to download and install because Giphy built the GIF maker into its mobile web site. People need only enter a YouTube or video URL, or capture or upload a video to begin the process of creating a GIF. The tool supports text and graphics overlays, and once the GIFs are saved online they can be shared most anywhere across the web. Giphy's new GIF maker is free to use in Chrome and Safari on Android and iOS devices.

Google's Trusted Contacts App Lands On iOS

Tuesday, 3:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today brought its Trusted Contacts app, available to Android devices since last year, to iOS handsets. Trusted Contacts lets people share their location with others during emergencies. The app simplifies the process of adding friends and family as emergency contacts. It allows those added to the list to request location at any time, and works even when offline or the phone's battery is dead. Users can proactively share their location if they feel unsafe or become involved in an emergency situation. People added to the Trusted Contacts list will see the phone's activity status to know the owner is okay. The app is an alternative to Facebook's Safety Check, which allows users of the social network to mark themselves safe during times of crisis. Trusted Contacts is free to download from the iTunes App Store.

Apple Makes Third iOS 11 Beta Available to Public Testers

Tuesday, 2:37 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today released iOS 11 Public Beta 3 to those testing the platform. The release follows closely that of a new build for developers, which was made available earlier this week. This third beta is much more stable than the first or second. iOS 11 targets the iPad more than the iPhone, but both devices gain expanded Control Center tools, a refreshed App Store, new camera features, Siri improvements, as well as updates to iMessage, the Keyboard, files, and more. The final version of iOS 11 isn't expected until the fall.

Adobe to Retire Flash In 2020

Tuesday, 2:35 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Adobe today said it will stop updating and distributing the Flash player in 2020. The web plugin is widely used across the web to power experiences such as video and gaming. Adobe says new, open standards such as HTML5 and WebGL have already begun to replace Flash in web browsers. Adobe is working with partners including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla to help with the end-of-life process. Adobe will update and patch Flash up until the end-of-life moment arrives in order to ensure users are protected. It is already encouraging content creators to adopt the new open standards ahead of the change. Flash was once a flashpoint in the mobile space after Apple debuted the iPhone. Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously penned a blog post entitled "Thoughts on Flash" in which he explained Apple's reasons for not supporting Flash within iOS. It was a major point of contention, as it prevented the iPhone from accessing some web content. Apple is now helping Adobe with the transition away from Flash.

Motorola Offering Free Projector Mod with Moto Z2 Force Purchase

Tuesday, 2:14 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today said consumers who purchase the new Moto Z2 Force at any time between now and September 10 will receive a free projector Moto Mod. Consumers can buy the Z2 Force via any channel, such as a wireless carrier, electronics store, or Consumers then need only send the phone's IMEI number to Motorola, which will ship the projector free of charge. The Insta-Share Projector, released last year, is capable of projecting 70-inch images and video in high definition onto any flat surface. The projector includes its own battery and kickstand for finding the right angle. The projector normally costs $299.

Motorola Shows Off 360-Degree Camera Moto Mod

Tuesday, 2:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola today revealed a new modular accessory along with the Moto Z2 Force: an attachable 360-degree camera. The camera can capture 360-degree images and 4K video, as well as 150-degree shots from either the front or back. The 360 Camera Moto Mod comes with its own photo-editing software so people can customize the images to fit their particular sharing needs. The camera can also stream live 360-degree video across social media channels, such as Facebook and YouTube. The snappable mod goes on sale with the Moto Z2 Force on August 10. It costs $299.

Qualcomm Makes Good On Promise to Release Neural SDK

Tuesday, 1:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Qualcomm today made its Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine SDK available to all developers. The SDK was first announced in May 2016 and has been in limited testing with select partners since the third quarter of 2016. Today signals the wide release of the SDK. The SDK will allow smartphone and other hardware manufacturers to add their own machine learning programs to devices with Snapdragon 600 and Snapdragon 800 series mobile platforms. Qualcomm says it is ideal for applications in industries including mobile, automotive, healthcare, security, and imaging. The Neural Processing Engine SDK relies on Qualcomm's Zeroth Machine Intelligence Platform. Zeroth is already baked into the Snapdragon processors. Qualcomm says the SDK will enable typical deep learning behaviors such as scene detection, text recognition, object tracking and avoidance, facial recognition, and natural language processing.. The SDK includes a bevy of tools to help developers create and add such learning behaviors to their devices.

Hands On with the Moto Z2 Force

Tuesday, 12:32 PM   by Eric Zeman & Rich Brome

Motorola today announced the Moto Z2 Force, the company's newest flagship phone. The phone sports a durable ShatterShield display, thin metal design, dual cameras, and of course supports the company's Moto Mods system of snap-on accessory modules. We took it for a quick spin and have some first impressions to share from our hands-on time with it.

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Moto Z2 Force Drops 'Droid' Branding On Verizon

Tuesday, 11:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Motorola announced the Z2 Force today, which replaces both the Z and Z Force from last year. The phone will be sold by most U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. Motorola said the Verizon variant will not include the "Droid" branding that was found on last year's phones. Motorola is sticking with a single device name across carriers. Verizon did not provide comment on the name change. Motorola plans to sell the phone unlocked from, but there is no single unlocked model, according to Rudi Kalil, vice president and general manager at Motorola. Kalil said Motorola will offer unlocked variants for each carrier due to the specific cellular radio requirements for forthcoming 1 Gbps service that's under development from the carriers. The Moto Z2 Force is available for preorder today and will ship starting August 10.

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