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Apple previews iOS 12

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Apple announced iOS 12, the latest version of the most advanced mobile operating system, designed to make everyday tasks faster and more responsive. iOS 12 changes the way iOS users see the world using AR, makes communications fun and expressive with Memoji and Group FaceTime, and with Screen Time, helps customers understand and take control of the time they spend interacting with their iOS devices. iOS 12 introduces Siri Shortcuts, enabling Siri to work with any app, delivering a much faster way to get things done.

“We’re very excited about the new communications features we’re bringing to iPhone and iPad with Memoji, a more personal form of Animoji, fun camera effects and Group FaceTime,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “With iOS 12, we’re enabling new experiences that weren’t possible before. We’re using advanced algorithms to make AR even more engaging and on-device intelligence to deliver faster ways to get things done using Siri.”

Developers can now integrate shared experiences and persistent AR, which allow users to leave virtual objects in the real world and return to them, as is, at a later time.

Faster and More Responsive

iOS 12 is designed to make everyday tasks on iPhone and iPad faster and more responsive with performance improvements across the system. Camera launches up to 70 percent faster, the keyboard appears up to 50 percent faster and typing is more responsive. Even when there is a lot going on across the system, apps can launch up to twice as fast. From iPhone 5s, introduced in 2013, to the most advanced iPhone ever, iPhone X, iOS 12 brings performance improvements to more devices than any previous version.

Shared AR Experiences

iOS is the largest AR platform in the world with hundreds of millions of devices supporting AR experiences.

ARKit 2 enables developers to create the most innovative AR apps for the world’s largest AR platform, with new tools to integrate shared experiences, persistent AR experiences tied to a specific location, object detection and image tracking, making AR apps even more dynamic. Designed in collaboration with Pixar, a new open file format, usdz, makes it easy to experience AR nearly anywhere in iOS, including apps like Messages, Safari, Mail, Files and News, delivering powerful graphics and animation features.

Memoji and Fun Camera Effects

New features make communicating with friends and family from iPhone X more expressive with new Animoji and personalized Memoji characters that are customizable and fun. Create beautifully designed Memoji right within Messages by choosing from a set of inclusive and diverse characteristics to form a unique personality. The existing set of Animoji also expands with ghost, koala, tiger and T. rex. All Animoji and Memoji now feature winks and tongue detection to capture even more expressions.

New camera effects bring Animoji, Filters, Text and Stickers to Messages and FaceTime. Filters like comic book and watercolor add personality to photos and videos, new labels and shapes let users add captions and titles to highlight parts of an image, and stickers can be placed using iMessage sticker packs.

FaceTime changed the way we communicate and share important moments, and now with Group FaceTime, it’s easy to chat with multiple people at the same time. Participants can be added at any time, join later if the conversation is still active and choose to join using video or audio from an iPhone, iPad or Mac — or even participate using FaceTime audio from Apple Watch.

Siri Shortcuts

Siri Shortcuts deliver a new, much faster way to get things done with the ability for any app to work with Siri. Siri intelligence can suggest an action at just the right time — whether it’s to order a coffee in the morning or start an afternoon workout. Users can customize Shortcuts by creating a simple voice command to kick off the task or download the new Shortcuts app to create a series of actions from different apps that can be carried out with a simple tap or customized voice command. It’s easy for developers to take advantage of this new capability using Shortcut APIs.

Photos

An all-new For You tab surfaces favorite moments in one place, combining Memories and iCloud Shared Albums. A new sharing suggestions feature makes it easier to share photos with friends, and friends who receive photos are prompted to share back any photos and videos they have from the same trip or event. Search suggestions surface the most relevant Events, People, Places, Groups, Categories and recent searches, and new search functionality lets users combine multiple search terms to find just the right photos.

Do Not Disturb, Notifications and Screen Time

New tools built into iOS 12 help customers understand and take control of the time they spend interacting with their iOS devices. New modes in Do Not Disturb automatically end based on a specified time, location or action, and Do Not Disturb during Bedtime helps people get a better night’s sleep by dimming the display and hiding all notifications on the lock screen until prompted in the morning.

To help reduce interruptions, iOS 12 gives users more options for controlling how notifications are delivered. They can instantly manage notifications to be delivered quietly or turned off completely. Grouped notifications make it easier to view and manage multiple notifications at once.

Screen Time provides users with detailed information and tools to help them better understand and control the time they spend with apps and websites. Daily and weekly Activity Reports show the total time spent in individual apps, usage across categories of apps, how many notifications are received and how often iPhone or iPad are picked up. Screen Time also gives parents access to their child’s Activity Report right from their own iOS devices using Family Sharing in iCloud, and allows them to schedule times to limit when a child’s iOS device can be used, such as during bedtime.

Privacy and Security

As with all Apple software updates, enhanced privacy and security remain a top priority in iOS 12. In Safari, enhanced Intelligent Tracking Prevention helps block social media “Like” or “Share” buttons and comment widgets from tracking users without permission. Safari now also presents simplified system information when users browse the web, preventing them from being tracked based on their system configuration. Safari now also automatically creates, autofills and stores strong passwords when users create new online accounts and flags reused passwords so users can change them.

Additional App Features

Availability

The developer preview of iOS 12 is available to Apple Developer Program members at developer.apple.com starting today, and a public beta program will be available to iOS users later this month at beta.apple.com. iOS 12 will be available this fall as a free software update for iPhone 5s and later, all iPad Air and iPad Pro models, iPad 5th generation, iPad 6th generation, iPad mini 2 and later and iPod touch 6th generation. For more information, visit apple.com/ios/ios-12-preview. Features are subject to change. Some features may not be available in all regions or all languages.

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The Inside Story of Hilton’s New High-Tech Hotel Rooms – And What It Will Mean For Travelers

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Imagine being able to set your favorite TV channels, optimal room temperature and turn the lights off from the comfort of your hotel room bed, all on your own mobile device. It’s not a pipe dream: Welcome to Hilton’s Connected Room.

Through the award-winning Hilton Honors app, guests can use their mobile device as the in-room remote to control their television programming, lighting, and temperature controls –personalizing their preferences just as they do at home.

Josh Weiss, Vice President of Brand and Guest Technology at Hilton, explains how and why Connected Room came to life and where it’s going next:

Q: What inspired the Connected Room concept?

Global travel is growing, and travelers increasingly expect an experience as good as, and ideally better than, what they are accustomed to at home. Hospitality companies have an exciting challenge to find new ways to offer guests the control, connectivity and personalization they increasingly want when they’re on the road. Hilton has answered the call with our Connected Room platform, which is rooted in the unique needs of each guest. Guests in a Connected Room can:

  • Click on “favorites” – and their preferred viewing channels and streaming apps will appear first in the Hilton Honors app.
  • Set their preferred temperature, so when they return to their room they’re not too cold or hot.
  • Access their favorite streaming media brands from their in-room TV to continue watching the show or movie they were streaming before their trip, for example.  Through our industry-first relationship with SHOWTIME, guests don’t need any credentials to stream hundreds of hours of shows and movies.

Q: Who came up with the Connected Room concept?

Connected Room was created by Hilton’s IT and Digital team to address a wide range of opportunities. These include delivering an outstanding guest experience, providing operational efficiencies to hotel owners and operators, and enabling better troubleshooting and support, including pushing software updates through the platform to create new experiences and offer new features.

Q: Where can I find a property with Connected Room technology?

We have deployed the technology in nearly 500 rooms to date across four hotels near Memphis, and we will soon expand to thousands of additional rooms across five more brands, in multiple locations.

While some of the features are immediately available, we’re taking a dynamic approach to identify, create, and deliver many others in the future, based on what’s most important to our guests. The platform was designed to evolve throughout its rollout and will ultimately scale to Hilton’s global operation across more than 100 countries and 14 current brands.

Q: Hilton recently announced that it will cut its environmental footprint in half and double its social impact investment by 2030 through its Travel with Purpose corporate responsibility strategy. Does Connected Room have an environmental benefit?

Absolutely. For example, when guests aren’t physically in their booked rooms – typically around 70% of the time – hotels can power down devices such as the television, HVAC, and lights, dramatically reducing energy consumption.

We apply AI and machine learning to optimize energy efficiency and guest comfort; we do not view these as a tradeoff.  We believe that through Connected Room, we can open up new, advanced ways of tracking and reducing energy consumption around the world, and continue to be a leader in sustainability.

Q: Do I need the Hilton Honors app to access Connected Room functions and features?

The Hilton Honors app is the only way to access Connected Room controls and other technology conveniences from your mobile device. For example, Hilton Honors members are already able to use the app to check in digitally before arrival, select their room from a digital map, and open their hotel room’s door with their mobile phone thanks to the app’s Digital Key function. In addition, Hilton Honors members can also enjoy instant benefits, including an exclusive member discount that can’t be found anywhere else, and free standard Wi-Fi.

However, the app isn’t mandatory to enjoy Connected Room TV features – Hilton will continue to enhance the television remote and TV user experience and build room controls into the TV so all guests can access all features of Connected Room.

Q: How does Connected Room technology influence future innovations?

Hilton began beta testing Connected Room in 2017 and it will evolve throughout its rollout. Because it is a platform, much like with an Apple or Android mobile device, we can push new features, apps, and functionality to existing devices over time without the need to deploy additional hardware. For guests, this means that in the longer term they’ll be able to do things such as upload their photos and art to display digitally in the room, or connect to new devices. They’ll also be able to enjoy new features much faster than we could roll out these capabilities today. They may also be able to use voice commands to control their room’s features or to access their content.

There’s a benefit to Hilton franchise owners too, who sometimes face challenges implementing new technology due to high costs and operational challenges. Connected Room will make it easier for them to keep pace with the rapid change in technology and easily integrate new innovations seamlessly into the guest experience.

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Stay Connected No Matter Where You Are with the New Samsung Galaxy Watch

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Samsung introduced the Samsung Galaxy Watch, a premium, powerful smartwatch for those who want to do it all — and look good while doing it. Its long-lasting battery and LTE connectivity gives consumers a true standalone experience. With advanced wellness features and fitness tracking, it helps you achieve your health goals. And with Samsung’s signature rotating bezel and more robust lineup of style options including three new watch color finishes in Silver, Midnight Black and Rose Gold, and new watch band colors, you get a smartwatch that looks like a traditional timepiece and is intuitive to use.

“At Samsung, we have a long history of providing consumers with choice, while maintaining innovation within our products, and we are excited to continue the proud heritage of our Galaxy line with our wearables,” said DJ Koh, President and CEO of IT & Mobile Communications Division, Samsung Electronics. “The new Galaxy Watch was designed for all lifestyles to help meet consumer needs, such as more efficient battery life to stay connected longer, and better wellness tracking to help users maintain their goals – we are delivering them with connected experiences, all at the touch of a wrist.”

Connected Health
Everyone has different health, wellness, and fitness goals; no matter what they are, Galaxy Watch helps you meet them. With a new stress management tracker, Galaxy Watch tracks your heart rate, and provides breathing exercises to help users stay focused. In addition, the Galaxy Watch’s advanced sleep tracking monitors all levels of sleep, including REM cycles, to help users get the rest they need to take on their day.

The Galaxy Watch’s advanced fitness tracking features keep you motivated, and on track. It automatically tracks six of the most popular exercises — walking, running, cycling, elliptical, training, rowing, and dynamic workouts — and features 21 new indoor exercises from a selection of 39 activities. And because balanced nutrition is as important as exercise, the Galaxy Watch is designed to help users track food and water intake. Input your meals and get personalized alerts from Samsung Health, or, use Bixby on your Galaxy device to automatically count calories, and get a personalized summary on your Galaxy Watch.

Personalization to Match Any Lifestyle
A watch is the classic fashion accessory, and the Galaxy Watch lets users express their own unique style. It offers more sizes and styles with a 46mm version in Silver, as well as a 42mm option in Midnight Black and Rose Gold. Users can further customize with a selection of watch faces and watch band options available on Samsung.com. The Galaxy Watch is designed with Samsung’s signature, circular rotating bezels while embracing the digital look with Always On Display, in addition to improved usability — making it easier to get the most out of the device, with the look of a traditional timepiece. And the Galaxy Watch is ready to go where you go. It is certified military-level durability with Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX+ and 5 ATM water resistance, so it can go from the swimming pool to the shower without leaving your wrist.

Stay Connected – No Matter Where Your Day Takes You
The Galaxy Watch is designed with your active lifestyle in mind and has an improved battery life that gets days of power on a single charge— as well as low-energy architecture, so users can recharge on their schedule, not their watch’s. And with LTE connectivity, Samsung Galaxy Watch users can enjoy a true standalone experience. They can answer calls, respond to text messages, use GPS mapping, stream music, and more, all from their wrist, and all without a smartphone in their pocket. Users can also start and end their day with morning and evening briefings to help stay on top of reminders, weather and their latest schedule.

Experience the Best of Samsung’s Galaxy Ecosystem
The Galaxy Watch is more than a smartwatch, it’s part of the Galaxy Ecosystem. Users can enjoy a seamless experience with Samsung Health, Samsung Pay, Bixby, SmartThings and select third-party partnerships such as Spotify and Under Armour. Easily access and control your IoT compatible devices on the Galaxy Watch with SmartThings — turn on the lights in the morning or adjust the temperature before bed. Samsung makes music and multimedia control even easier on the Galaxy Watch with Spotify, allowing users to listen to songs offline or without a smartphone. It’s also easy to keep information secure thanks to Samsung Knox, and unlock PCs or tablets using Samsung Flow.

Preorder and Availability
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Bluetooth 42mm version will be available for $329.99, and the 46mm version will be available for $349.99 in the US at Amazon, Best Buy and Samsung.com starting August 24, 2018.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch LTE version will be available at AT&T, Samsung.com, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon, along with select major national retailers later in 2018.

Pre-orders begin on August 10, 2018, and run through August 23, 2018 on Samsung.com. Consumers who preorder or order Galaxy Watch before September 8, 2018 on Samsung.com will receive a free Samsung watch band.

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Ready to switch wireless carriers? Answer these 6 important questions first

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Changing your wireless carrier is an important (and potentially expensive) decision. Before you make the switch, answer these simple questions to make sure you make the move that’s right for you.

1. Are you free to go?

While carrier contracts in the U.S. are quickly becoming things of the past, you still have to make sure you’re free and clear of obligations to start up somewhere new without getting hit with penalty fees. If you’ve bought a phone from another carrier, double-check to make sure you’ve paid it off in full, or else you may need to pay the rest of what you owe before you can cancel your service.

2. Will you need to buy a new phone, or do you have one already?

Unless you’re bringing your own existing cellphone to your new network, you’ll need to buy one, which means you’ll be paying for the whole thing up front, or via monthly installments. These are payments you’ll need to factor in as you calculate how much you want to pay your new carrier each month.

If you plan to bring your own phone, make sure it’s unlocked and works on your new carrier’s network (GSM, such as AT&T and T-Mobile versus CDMA, like Sprint and Verizon). When in doubt, give their customer service departments a call.

3. Individual or family plan?

Are you looking for yourself or for a group? A shared plan or family plan, which splits a monthly allotment of data among multiple phone lines, usually winds up being cheaper per month than going solo. The downsides? You get a smaller amount of data for yourself, and you can’t predict how much everyone else on your plan will use. Carriers can also vary widely on how much they charge for adding extra lines to your account, so be sure to compare to find the best price.

4. Is low price something or everything?

How important is price to you? If you simply need the lowest rate, look for seasonal sales or promotional offers. Some carriers will cut you a better deal if you bring your number over from a previous carrier or trade in your old phone. Occasionally, you’ll find a deal that pairs a specific phone model with a particular rate plan. And sometimes you’ll flat out find a great overall deal: Consumer Cellular, for instance, regularly receives top recognition in independent consumer surveys for its low-priced, no-contract service, as well as its outstanding customer support.

5. How flexible do you need to be?

Carriers have largely done away with two-year contract pricing, but you can still get it if you want, which often comes with a free or reduced-price device. You can also buy your phone outright in a lump sum, or through monthly installment pricing. As a benefit of this, the dreaded early termination fees of yesterday are gone, though you’re still on the hook for paying off the hardware before you switch (see number one above).

It’s also a good idea to find out if the new carrier offers a grace period, just in case things don’t work out. Many provide a 14- to 30-day trial, so if it turns out the service doesn’t meet your needs, you can cancel without penalties.

6. How good is carrier coverage in your area?

The fanciest phone on the market won’t get you anywhere if you can’t get data or voice service. Ask your friends, colleagues and neighbors how good their reception and signal strength are where you work and live.

There’s no shortage of competition for your cellphone dollars these days. By finding the right answer to these questions, you’re sure to find a carrier that fits your needs, and at a price you’re satisfied with.

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