Spotify comes to Wear OS with stand-alone app, Spotify Connect support

Spotify standalone Wear OS app on three Fossil smartwatch screens.

Enlarge (credit: Spotify/Fossil)

Wear OS gains a popular new app today that many have been waiting for, as Spotify announced that it’s bringing a stand-alone wearable app to Google’s smartwatch platform.

Spotify’s stand-alone app lets you browse and control music from your wrist. It seems to be a lighter version of Spotify’s mobile app, allowing you to browse your tracks and playlists and quickly save songs to your library. You can also control playback from your wrist—it appears similar to Wear OS’ native music controls, just built into a dedicated Spotify app.

The Wear OS app also integrates with Spotify Connect, the company’s method of connecting and controlling playback on Bluetooth devices. Now from your wrist, you can manage connections between Bluetooth speakers, laptops, and other devices and quickly change the playback source.

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After $5 billion EU antitrust fine, Google will start charging for Android apps

After $5 billion EU antitrust fine, Google will start charging for Android apps

(credit: Aurich Lawson)

Google is adjusting to life in the EU after the $5.05 billion (€4.34 billion) antitrust fine levied against it by the European Commission earlier this year. Google is still appealing the initial ruling, which found that Google used Android to illegally dominate the search market, but for now Google will comply with the ruling and offer looser licensing agreements to Android device makers.

In a post on the official Google Blog titled “Complying with the EC’s Android decision,” Google outlined a few changes coming to the Google app licensing agreements that it offers to Android OEMs. As you might recall from the numerous times we’ve written about it, this announcement is a change to the secretive “Mobile Application Distribution Agreement” (MADA) document that is a requirement for getting access to the Play Store and other Google apps. What we think of as a commercial

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Browser vendors unite to end support for 20-year-old TLS 1.0

A green exterior door is sealed with a padlock.

Enlarge (credit: Indigo girl / Flickr)

Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla have announced a unified plan to deprecate the use of TLS 1.0 and 1.1 early in 2020.

TLS (Transport Layer Security) is used to secure connections on the Web. TLS is essential to the Web, providing the ability to form connections that are confidential, authenticated, and tamper-proof. This has made it a big focus of security research, and over the years, a number of bugs that had significant security implications have been found in the protocol. Revisions have been published to address these flaws.

The original TLS 1.0, heavily based on Netscape’s SSL 3.0, was first published in January 1999. TLS 1.1 arrived in 2006, while TLS 1.2, in 2008, added new capabilities and fixed these security flaws. Irreparable security flaws in SSL 3.0 saw support for that

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iFixit rips open the Pixel 3 XL, finds a Samsung display panel

The Pixel 3 XL is out, but even after the usual slate of announcements and reviews, there’s still a few things we don’t know about it. For some answers on the internals, we turn to iFixit, which recently ripped open the Pixel 3 XL to show the world its insides.

In last year’s Pixel 2 XL, the LG OLED display panel was a big concern. Last year LG jumped back into the OLED smartphone market after being absent for years, and it found itself way behind the competition. The display was grainy and dirty looking at low brightness, and there were burn-in issues. Others complained of a color shift whenever the phone was looked at on an angle. The smartphone OLED industry leader is Samsung, which supplies displays for its own Galaxy line and for Apple’s high-end iPhones.

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Amazon makes Kindle Paperwhite waterproof—and it still starts at $129

Amazon

Amazon updated its best value Kindle with some of the coveted features found in its high-end, $249 Kindle Oasis. The new Kindle Paperwhite announced today has a thinner, lighter design that’s now waterproof, making it the first Kindle other than the Oasis to have an IPX8 rating.

Amazon last updated the Kindle Paperwhite in 2015, giving it a better screen without raising its price. Now, the newest Paperwhite appears to be a mix of the old model and the now-defunct Kindle Voyage (the latter disappeared from Amazon’s site about a month ago). It has a 6-inch, 300ppi touch display with five backlighting LEDs, and the new screen is now flush with the black bezels around it. It’s still a black slab, but now it’s just 8.18mm thick and weighs just 6.4 ounces.

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Paul Allen—Microsoft co-founder, Seahawks owner, and space pioneer—dies at 64

(credit: Miles Harris)

Paul Allen, who with Bill Gates founded Microsoft, has died at the age of 65. His death comes shortly after he resumed treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; the cancer had returned after being in remission for nine years.

Allen was a Seattle native and went to high school with Gates. The two kept in touch at university—Allen at Washington State, Gates at Harvard—and when Allen dropped out in 1975 to start a company to develop software for the MITS Altair 8800, he soon convinced Gates to follow. That company was Micro-Soft, which shed its hyphen the following year. In 1980, Microsoft was chosen by IBM to develop DOS for its new PC. With the success of the PC and PC compatibles, Microsoft became hugely successful.

Allen had his first run-in with cancer in 1982, when he was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma and drastically cut back his work

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The full Photoshop CC is coming to the iPad in 2019

Adobe is bringing Photoshop CC to the iPad. Set for release next year, Photoshop CC for iPad will bring the full Photoshop engine to Apple’s line of tablets.

Photoshop for iPad has a user interface structured similarly to the desktop application. It is immediately familiar to users of the application but tuned for touch screens, with larger targets and adaptations for the tablet as well as gestures to streamline workflows. Both touch and pencil input are supported. The interface is somewhat simpler than the desktop version, and although the same Photoshop code is running under the hood to ensure there’s no loss of fidelity, not every feature will be available in the mobile version. The first release will contain the main tools while Adobe plans to add more in the future.

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Palm rises from the dead as a zombie brand, launches tiny smartphone

Palm

Legendary PDA pioneer Palm is back as a zombie brand, and it’s launching a tiny smartphone.

If you recall, Palm, creator of the Palm Pilot and WebOS, bombed out of the smartphone market and was purchased by HP. Palm died at HP after a short run of tablets and smartphones, and eventually Chinese smartphone company TCL snatched up the rights to the Palm brand in 2014, and things have been quiet since then. You might know TCL from running that other smartphone zombie brand, Blackberry.

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Pixel 3 XL review—Google software deserves better than this hardware

Ron Amadeo

The Pixel 3 has been one of the wildest product launches in recent memory. The leaks arrived early and continuously, starting with the screen protector leak all the way back in May. This not only gave us the basic outline of the phone, but it provided some extremely accurate renders, too, giving the Internet a look nearly five months before Google intended to ship. The initial response to the design was brutal, but it was too late—the Pixel 3 was already in the late stages of production. From there, leaks continued, and the launch lead-up felt like a slow-motion car crash. Dread it. Run from it. The Pixel 3 design arrives all the same.

It’s now year three of Google’s hardware initiative, and some product categories are clearly going better than others. The shining example of what Google Hardware should be is probably the Google Home brand.

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Dell’s newest monitor is a 49-inch, dual QHD, curved behemoth

Valentina Palladino

Ultra-wide monitors are overwhelming yet impressive to behold, and Dell thinks it has made one that will appeal to all types of professionals. The new U4919DW UltraSharp 49-inch curved monitor nods to the massive gaming monitors made by Samsung, MSI, and others, but it adds a workplace spin while upping the resolution to QHD.

Dell describes the U4919DW as the equivalent of two 27-inch monitors stuck together, and its dual mode cements that comparison. Users can fill the entire screen with their desired programs, or they can split it down the middle so the display literally looks like a beast with two heads—two different screens sitting side by side on a single stand.

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What developers say Apple needs to do to make the Apple TV a gaming console

The Apple TV 4K and remote.

Enlarge / The Apple TV 4K and remote. (credit: Samuel Axon)

As we observed in our review last year, the Apple TV 4K has so much potential for gaming. Its hardware is actually pretty powerful given the type of device it is. It shares development tools and infrastructure with one of the most successful gaming marketplaces in the world—the iPhone and iPad App Store. But a recent announcement shows that, instead of thriving as a gaming platform, Apple TV is struggling.

Last month, users who logged in to the Apple TV version of Minecraft were greeted with a message telling them that the game’s support for the Apple TV would end. Minecraft is one of the most popular video games, and its particular resonance with families and its relatively undemanding hardware requirements made it seem like a natural fit for the platform.

Unfortunately, that fit was not to be.

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Fitbit Charge 3 review: Peppering a fitness tracker with smartwatch powers

Fitbit Charge 3 review: Peppering a fitness tracker with smartwatch powers

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Fitbit contracted smartwatch fever last year. And since the debut of its Ionic smartwatch, the company’s signature fitness trackers haven’t made as many waves as they once did. That’s due in part to users embracing the smartwatch more as the technology improves over time.

But fitness trackers aren’t dead—or at least, Fitbit hopes they aren’t—and the company’s new Charge 3 tracker is designed for users who want some smartwatch features in a fitness tracker’s simple-band package.

Even today, fitness trackers have a few advantages over smartwatches: they’re easier to wear since they have slimmer, lighter profiles. They’re less complicated because they’re designed primarily to keep you fit (not necessarily for things like emailing on the go). And, perhaps the most important distinction of all, fitness trackers are generally less expensive than smartwatches.

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The new Razer Phone 2 tries again to make the 120Hz gamer phone a thing

Razer

Razer has announced the second iteration of its gaming-focused Razer Phone. Called the Razer Phone 2, the device improves the camera, adds wireless charging, and bumps up the specs across the board compared to its predecessor.

The main draw is still its screen. The 5.7-inch LCD display has a 2560×1440-pixel resolution, HDR support (HDR-10), 645 nits of maximum brightness, and Wide Color Gamut with 98.4% of DCI-P3. But the big claim to fame is a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz with Ultramotion technology; the refresh rate is variable, going as low as 40Hz. The audio setup is also notable; this phone has stereo speakers that are Dolby Atmos certified.

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PC market flat, as Surface becomes a top-5 computer brand in the US

Promotional image of a variety of electronic devices.

Enlarge / Clockwise, from the top left: Surface Laptop 2, Surface Studio 2, Surface Headphones, Surface Pro 6. (credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft was the fifth-biggest PC maker in the US in the third quarter of this year, according to industry advisory firm Gartner.

The top spot in the US belongs to HP, with about 4.5 million machines sold, ahead of Dell at 3.8 million, Lenovo at 2.3 million, and Apple at 2 million. The gap between fourth and fifth is pretty big—Microsoft sold only 0.6 million Surface devices last quarter—but it suggests that Microsoft’s PC division is heading in the right direction, with sales 1.9 percent higher than the same quarter last year. The company pushed down to sixth place was Acer.

The current quarter should be better still; the Surface Pro, Surface Laptop, and Surface Studio have all been given hardware refreshes which,

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PC market flat, as Surface becomes a top-5 computer brand in the US

Promotional image of a variety of electronic devices.

Enlarge / Clockwise, from the top left: Surface Laptop 2, Surface Studio 2, Surface Headphones, Surface Pro 6. (credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft was the fifth-biggest PC maker in the US in the third quarter of this year, according to industry advisory firm Gartner.

The top spot in the US belongs to HP, with about 4.5 million machines sold, ahead of Dell at 3.8 million, Lenovo at 2.3 million, and Apple at 2 million. The gap between fourth and fifth is pretty big—Microsoft sold only 0.6 million Surface devices last quarter—but it suggests that Microsoft’s PC division is heading in the right direction, with sales 1.9 percent higher than the same quarter last year. The company pushed down to sixth place was Acer.

The current quarter should be better still; the Surface Pro, Surface Laptop, and Surface Studio have all been given hardware refreshes which,

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Amazon patents Alexa tech to tell if you’re sick, depressed and sell you meds

Amazon's Echo smart speaker with its blue light ring illuminated.

An Amazon Echo. (credit: Adam Bowie)

Amazon has patented technology that could let Alexa analyze your voice to determine whether you are sick or depressed and sell you products based on your physical or emotional condition.

The patent, titled “Voice-based determination of physical and emotional characteristics of users,” was issued on Tuesday this week; Amazon filed the patent application in March 2017.

The patent describes a voice assistant that can detect “abnormal” physical or emotional conditions. “For example, physical conditions such as sore throats and coughs may be determined based at least in part on a voice input from the user, and emotional conditions such as an excited emotional state or a sad emotional state may be determined based at least in part on voice input from a user,” the patent says. “A cough or sniffle, or crying, may indicate that the user has a specific physical or

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Apple boosts chipmaking efforts with $600 million Dialog Semiconductor deal

iPhone XS and iPhone X front view

Enlarge / The iPhone X in space gray (left) compared to the iPhone XS in gold (right). You can barely tell the difference from this angle. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Apple struck a huge deal that will push its chip-making ambitions forward. The tech giant agreed to pay $600 million in total to Dialog Semiconductor, a UK-based chipmaker that has been working with Apple since the first iPhones came out.

That large amount of money will go towards two things: $300 million in cash pays for a portion of Dialog’s company, including licensing power-management technologies, assets, and over 300 employees who will now work for Apple. The company will pay the remaining $300 million to Dialog in advance for products to come out within the next three years.

“Dialog has deep expertise in chip development, and we are thrilled to have this talented group of engineers who’ve long supported our

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HBO, CNN, DC Comics, and more could join a streaming video service under AT&T

Article intro image

Enlarge / Time for another streaming service! (credit: HBO)

According to a report from CNN, WarnerMedia plans to launch its own streaming service in the fourth quarter of 2019, adding to growing list of OTT (over-the-top) services that bypass cable providers and bring television series and movies directly to viewers—most of them for a monthly fee.

The organization (formerly Time Warner) has several TV-content networks under its umbrella, including HBO, Turner, and Warner Bros. Turner’s assets include CNN, TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies, and others. Warner Bros. produces series such as The Big Bang TheoryThe Voice, and The Bachelor for distribution on other networks, as well as feature films like Crazy Rich AsiansWonder WomanBlade Runner 2049Ready Player One, and Dunkirk. Warner Bros. also owns DC Comics.

And of course HBO produces original series like Game of

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Google Home Hub—Under the hood, it’s nothing like other Google smart displays

Ron Amadeo

On Tuesday, Google announced the Google Home Hub, the first smart display hardware made by Google. While the Home Hub is the first hardware from Google, it’s something like the fourth Google smart display to be announced—third-party OEMs actually launched the Google smart display platform earlier this year. On the surface, the Home Hub seems identical to these third-party devices; under the hood, though, they couldn’t be more different.

First, let’s talk about what the third-party smart displays run. When Google created its smart display software, it also came up with a turnkey solution for OEMs. So far, we’ve seen Lenovo, LG, and Samsung’s JBL all produce devices on the same basic platform. Just like with smartphones, these devices are all an extension of the Android/Qualcomm partnership—they run Android Things on Qualcomm’s SD624 Home Hub Platform. Android Things is Google’s stripped-down version of Android that is purpose-built for

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Microsoft promises to defend—not attack—Linux with its 60,000 patents

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Enlarge (credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft has made billions from its extensive library of software patents. A number of Android vendors, including Samsung, pay the company a royalty on each phone they ship to license patents such as the ones covering the exFAT file system. But that situation may be coming to an end with the announcement today that Microsoft is joining the Open Invention Network (OIN).

The Open Invention Network is a group of about 2,400 companies around the world that have agreed to cross-license their patents on a royalty-free basis for use by the “Linux System,” a collection of projects including the Linux kernel, many tools and utilities built on top of Linux, and large parts of Android. Member companies also promise not to assert their patents against the Linux Community.

This move should put an end to the lingering threat of patent lawsuits from Microsoft that many Linux

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