Amazon cuts $50 off the Echo in a 24-hour offer

Those of you, who might have been pondering on purchasing an Amazon Echo, this is your time! Amazon has stripped $50 off the total price of its bestselling voice-controlled speaker, making it quite attractive to bring Alexa into your home. The smart home unit now sells at $129.99, but the offer will only run until midnight tonight (ET), so you better be quick.

Amazon has sold upwards of 8 million units globally, since the device’s launch in 2015, as Echo helped the company position itself as a leader in the IoT and smart home departments. Echo was also the first device …

OnePlus 5 gets its first update, see what’s included in OxygenOS 4.5.2

OnePlus 5 is getting its very first update, a day before the handset officially hits the shelves in Europe and North America. Rolling out as OxygenOS 4.5.2, the new patch weighs in at 36MB. 

The software upgrade introduces improvements to the stability of the system, network, and Bluetooth of the phone, as well as optimizations for the camera and compatibility with 3rd party apps. Furthermore, version 4.5.2 also addresses issues with app installations and system update failures. The rather small size of the patch can be explained by the fact that OnePlus 5 comes with an OxygenOS version based on Android 7.1.1 out of the box. 

The update is available OTA, but it might need some time to reach all compatible devices. You can check for it manually by going to Settings > System updates. As always, make sure that your phone is sufficiently charged before proceeding with the patch. 

NBN wireless: everything you need to know about fixed wireless connections

It’s easy to figure out when you’ll get hooked up to the NBN by popping your address into NBN Co’s website, but that doesn’t tell you what technology will keep you connected to the internet: fibre or fixed wireless.

According to NBN Co, about 5% of Aussies will be eligible for the fixed wireless connection – that’s around 600,000 premises, mostly in rural and remote parts of the country, where the distance between properties is too large to make laying fibre cost effective. 

For a fixed wireless connection, data is transmitted from a tower located a few kilometres away to a rooftop antenna installed at the customer’s premises.

What is fixed wireless technology

A fixed wireless NBN connection utilises a series of ground stations to relay 4G radio signals (similar to how mobile broadband or LTE technology works) to deliver broadband services to a home that could be located as far as 14km away.

This type of technology requires line of sight between the antenna and the tower, hence proving inefficient in the big smoke. It’s also restricted by distance – explaining the maximum of a 14km radius – and trees and metal rooftops could degrade the signal.

NBN Co is also restricting the number of premises that will be serviced by each tower, ensuring the bandwidth per household is higher and more consistent than a regular mobile broadband connection.

Equipment required for fixed wireless technology

(Image: © NBN Co)

As mentioned above, fixed wireless technology will require a rooftop antenna at the premises to receive radio signals from the ground station. 

If new construction work has been carried out at a property after the installation, NBN Co recommends a system check to be carried out in case the direction or height of the antenna needs to be changed to ensure line of sight for the best speeds possible.

Given that the antenna will need to be connected to the NBN Connection Box (provided by NBN Co) inside the home, a small hole will need to be drilled into a wall to allow a cable to pass through. Of course, the Connection Box will also need to be fixed to a wall close to a power socket. 

Like the installation of the backup battery for fibre connections, NBN Co offers the antenna as part of its service at no extra cost. That said, you may incur a setup fee when signing up for a plan with a service provider.

You will also need a modem router that can support the speed tier you opt for, but chances are your preferred telco will provide you with one that is NBN-ready.

Broadband speeds on fixed wireless

Historically, the maximum speed achieved on a fixed wireless connection was 25Mbps, but as of 2015, that was increased to a top download speed of 50Mbps and a maximum upload speed of 20Mbps.

Starting in early 2018, NBN will offer the 100Mbps/40Mbps speed tier to fixed wireless customers as well. Customers who would like to upgrade to the superfast speed tier may require new equipment to be installed that would be capable of supporting the increase in bandwidth.

It is important to note that customers may not achieve the maximum speeds advertised, but will depend on the outdoor equipment’s distance from the ground station and the line of sight. Internally, the placement of a cordless phone could also dampen speeds on a Wi-Fi network.

Cost of NBN fixed wireless connections

There isn’t much difference in terms of cost between a fibre connection and a fixed wireless one. They are mostly on par. 

The cost will depend on how much data you want per month and the speed tier you choose. Plans currently start at $29.90 for a limited data plan of 10GB per month, and can cost up to $100 per month on an unlimited data plan on the 50Mbps speed tier.

Apple dominates wearable market in Q1 with 53% of sales in the sector

First quarter market share figures for the global wearable market have been released, and they show that Samsung is now in second place after surpassing Fitbit. Sammy’s latest smartwatch release, the Gear S3, helped the company garner 12.8% of global wearable sales during the three months from January through March. Fitbit, known mostly for its fitness bands, was responsible for 12.2% of wearable sales in the period. On top of the wearable market for the first quarter of 2017 was Apple. Thanks to the Apple Watch, the tech titan was responsible for 53% of the sales recorded in this sector.

The Samsung Gear S3 has proven to be popular thanks to its long battery life, support for mobile payment service Samsung Pay, and a dedicated GPS capability. There are actually two different variants of the watch; the Gear S3 Frontier features LTE connectivity. The Gear S3 Classic is a stylish watch without cellular connectivity, and both models run on Tizen. 

Looking at actual shipping data instead of sales, Apple remained on top for the first quarter, delivering 16% of the products shipped in the wearable market during that period. Xiaomi, which sells the cheap Mi Band 2, was second in shipments with 15.5% of the market. As we pointed out, Fitbit finished behind Apple and Samsung in wearable sales during the first quarter. The company also finished third in global shipments, with 12.3% of wearable deliveries made during the period from January through March.

The wearable market is still relatively new and it is way too early to pick winners and losers in the sector. But at this point, the numbers don’t lie, and it would seem that Apple has taken early control.

source: Yonhap via AndroidGuys

Amazon Echo price drop: $50 cheaper today only

There’s a temporary Amazon Echo price drop going on right now, and today isn’t even the online retailer’s famous Amazon Prime Day. 

It’s on sale for $50 off today only through Amazon, making the popular Alexa-enabled smart speaker just $129.99 in the US. It doesn’t appear to be on sale anywhere outside of America, however.

This is the cheapest Amazon Echo has been all year, and it’s already the No. 1 best-selling home automation product on Amazon. It could break records today.

There’s been a surge of interest in smart speakers, but Amazon had a head start vs the Google Home and the forthcoming Apple HomePod. 

This is a 24-hour Amazon Echo sale, according to Amazon. After that, its flagship Alexa speaker will revert to the normal price of $179.99.

Amazon Echo ahead of Amazon Prime?

We don’t officially know when Amazon Prime Day will be, but it’s not today. 

Yes, this is the biggest Amazon Echo discount this year, tying Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals last year, but the Deal of the Day is limited to this deal.

The fact that a full-on Amazon Prime Day isn’t happening right now lines up with our thinking: Amazon Prime Day is closer to mid-July, like last year’s July 12 date.

We’ll let you know when more Amazon mega-sales happen, and we’ll keep asking Alexa to fill us in on the details. Alex is our best source these days.

For now, enjoy the Amazon Echo smart speaker price drop that doesn’t happen too often. At least until Apple HomePod launches and competition heats up.

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi can be set to stay on when Airplane Mode is activated in iOS 11

Apple introduced iOS 11 at WWDC earlier this month. One of the changes coming with the new build of Apple’s mobile operating system has to do with Airplane Mode. This is the switch that requires one tap (or toggle) to shut down the radio on your iPhone, thus eliminating all connectivity options so that it can be used on an airplane in flight. That means no Wi-Fi, no cellular signal and no Bluetooth.

Now, let’s say that you are using Bluetooth to pair your Apple Watch with your iPhone. Using Airplane Mode would traditionally eliminate the Bluetooth connection and your timepiece would no longer receive data from your phone. You would have to manually turn on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to use either or both without a connection to your carrier.

With iOS 11, this is going to change. Users will be able to set Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to remain open in Airplane Mode. That means even with Airplane Mode on, Bluetooth connected accessories like AirPods and Apple Watch will still be connected to the iPhone.

The 2017 iPhone models will come with iOS 11 pre-installed when they launch later this year.

source: RedmondPie

The best free iPhone apps 2017

The Weather Underground app (or ‘Wunderground’ to your iPhone, which sounds like an oddly dark Disney film) is one of those products that flings in everything but the kitchen sink yet somehow remains usable.

Whatever your particular interest in the weather, you’re covered, through a slew of ’tiles’ (which can be moved or disabled to suit) on a huge scrolling page.

At the top, you get a nicely designed tile detailing current conditions and showing a local map. Tick and cross buttons lurk, asking for input regarding the app’s accuracy. During testing, we almost always tapped the tick — reassuring.

Scroll, though, and you find yourself immersed in the kind of weather geekery that will send meteorological nuts into rapture. There are rainfall and temperature graphs for the next day and hour, along with simpler forecasts for the week.

You get details on humidity, pressure and dew point. Sunrise, sunset and moon timings are presented as stylish animations. You can investigate local and global webcams and photos, and then head to the web if not satisfied with that deluge of data.

Weather Underground is funded by non-intrusive ads (which you can disable annually for $2.99 if you feel the need), and is easily our favourite free iPhone weather app; in fact, it even rivals the best paid fare on the platform.

WhatsApp seen as major news source in many markets

WhatsApp became part of the Facebook family in October 2014 when the latter closed on its deal to buy the messaging app for $21 billion. It is now more than two and a half years later and the Social Network is losing its place as a source of news in many markets. Ironically, taking its place is none other than WhatsApp. The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism released the results of a study made up of 71,805 respondents from 36 different countries. The survey revealed that in more than half of the 36 markets, the percentage of people that rely on Facebook as a source of news has declined.

Despite that slippage, 47% of survey respondents still head to Facebook to learn what’s going on in the world and locally. At first glance, the 15% of those in the survey who said they rely on WhatsApp for information seems like nothing. But when these figures are broken down by country, we see that 51% of those in Malaysia, 46% of Brazilians and 39% of Chileans get their news from WhatsApp.

Getting news from a messaging app doesn’t seem intuitive. However, in some locations where talking trash about the government can result in jail time or even death, the encryption employed on the app means that criticism of the administration in charge can be posted without fear of retribution.

Reuters’ survey also showed that in the U.S., the number of people who rely on print media as the source of their news has dropped in half from 2013 to 2017. There is an obvious correlation between a person’s age and where they get their news from. For example, in all markets, 33% of those 18-24 depend on social media to find out what is going on. That tops online news sites (31%), television (24%) and newspapers (5%). On the other hand, those 55 years of age or older rely on television (51%), online news sites (28%) and newspapers (11%) for the majority of their news. Only 7% in that age group turn to social media to find out what is happening.

Still, if current trends continue, if you’re comfortable with social media and want to know what’s up, the source of your news could be WhatsApp. This could happen in the U.S. if the current administration continues to exclude the media from briefings and other such news generating meetings that have traditionally been open to the credentialed press.

source: ReutersDigitalNewsReport via Engadget

10 years ago, the Apple iPhone was on everyone’s tongue

On January 9th, 2007, Steve Jobs introduced the Apple iPhone. And as exciting as that was for many, it also meant waiting nearly half a year for the phone to be released. The launch date of June 29th was circled on many a calendar, and in the days leading up to the actual launch, it seemed as though the iPhone was being mentioned everywhere. One example of this, which you will find in the video slideshow below, is an amusing clip put together by David Pogue, who now writes about tech for Yahoo.

Exactly 10-years ago tomorrow, the New York Times released a video showing how hard it was for its tech scribe (Pogue) to keep faithful to the non-disclosure agreement Apple had him sign in exchange for a review unit of the Apple iPhone. Apple had already run some ads for the phone (we included one in the video slideshow for your viewing pleasure) and the hype machine was on full throttle (“I’ve seen the commercials and it looks really cool,” says a young woman waiting in a long line on launch day).

A decade ago, the whole world was just four days away from being changed forever by a smartphone. Television networks covered the impending launch and analysts spoke breathlessly about the device and how many units it might sell. Even so, most people probably could not see what the future would hold, not just for the iPhone or for Apple, but for smartphones in general. We now have apps and app stores, phones that can be submerged and live on to tell the tale and handsets that last a full day without requiring a charge.

People now shop, make payments, deposit checks, lower their thermostat, get turn-by-turn directions to anywhere, and watch live television on their phone. And most handsets feature a virtual personal assistant to help make reservations, set alarms and more. You can’t go anywhere without seeing a large number of people with their heads down, looking at the screen on their handset as they navigate their surroundings. All of this was still in the future a decade ago.

Keep in mind that the OG iPhone did have some flaws. It ran on AT&T’s slow as molasses EDGE network, it did not support MMS or stereo Bluetooth. But not too many knew, or cared about these things which were all eventually taken care of in future versions of the phone.

June 25th, 2007 was a Monday, the start of a new work week that would end with the forces in motion that would soon change the world. Relive those days by clicking on the video slideshow below.

source: NYTimes, CBSNews, PopularScience

For $19.99, you can add wireless charging to your Apple iPhone 6 and up (charging pad required)

If the rumors are right, wireless charging is a feature that will finally be offered to iPhone users later this year. Wireless charging should be available on the 10th anniversary edition of the iPhone, and possibly the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus models. That is why glass is being used on the back cover of all three phones. The technology won’t work through a metal rear cover. And while that is all fine and dandy for those planning on purchasing a new iPhone once they become available, what about those who have an older iPhone unit?

If you own an Apple iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, …