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WatchOS 5 adds powerful activity and communications features to Apple Watch

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Apple today previewed watchOS 5, a significant update to the world’s most popular watch, helping users stay healthy and connected. Apple Watch becomes an even stronger companion for fitness, communication and quick access to information with a host of new features including Activity Sharing competitions, auto-workout detection, advanced running features, Walkie-Talkie, Apple Podcasts and third-party apps on the Siri watch face.

“We’re thrilled with the positive impact Apple Watch is having on people’s lives,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “Apple Watch is helping our customers stay connected, enhance their fitness and, in many cases, detect life-threatening conditions. With the launch of watchOS 5, we’re excited to introduce new activity and communications features that will take the Watch to a whole new level.”

Activity Competitions

Building on the excitement around Activity Sharing, watchOS 5 now enables users to invite another Apple Watch wearer to compete in a seven-day Activity competition, earning points for closing Activity Rings, while receiving coaching notifications to help stay engaged and win the week.

Auto-Workout Detection

For the most popular workouts on Apple Watch, auto-workout detection provides an alert to start the correct workout and gives retroactive credit. This feature also offers a reminder to end workout sessions after a period of inactivity if the user forgets.

New Workouts

Yoga and Hiking join 12 other dedicated workout types, accurately tracking active calories burned and exercise minutes earned.

New Running Features

A brand new metric, rolling last mile, shows pace for the immediately preceding mile.

watchOS 5 delivers high-performance features for running enthusiasts, including a new cadence (steps per minute) metric for indoor and outdoor runs and walks, as well as a new pace alarm for outdoor runs that alerts users when they are behind or ahead of their designated target pace. A brand new metric — rolling mile pace — is introduced as an additional option for runners to see their pace for the immediately preceding mile in addition to their average pace or current pace.

Walkie-Talkie

New walkie-talkie feature offers quick voice communication with any Apple Watch user around the world.

watchOS 5 introduces Walkie-Talkie, an entirely new way to communicate with voice and just a tap of the wrist. A fun and easy way to quickly get in touch with friends and family, this new watch-to-watch connection is fast, personal and can be activated between any compatible Apple Watch users around the world over Wi-Fi or cellular.1

Apple Podcasts

Users can now listen to their favorite podcasts on the go with Apple Podcasts on Apple Watch and stream any podcast in the catalog by using Siri. Episodes will automatically sync to Apple Watch, and as they’re listened to on other devices, the app will automatically refresh with the latest episode. A new feature for developers allows music, audiobooks and meditation sessions from apps such as Pandora, Audible and 10% Happier to be synced to Apple Watch for playback offline without the user’s iPhone nearby.

Siri Updates

The Siri watch face will offer information such as sports scores for a favorite team or commute time with Maps.

The Siri watch face shows actionable content from favorite third-party apps such as Citymapper and Nike+ Run Club.

Using machine learning, the updated Siri watch face on Apple Watch is an even better personal assistant. It now offers more predictive and proactive shortcuts throughout the day based on routines, locations and information such as heart rate after a workout, commute time with Maps at the appropriate time of day or sports scores for a favorite team. The Siri watch face will also show actionable content from favorite third-party apps such as Nike+ Run Club, Glow Baby and Mobike.

Enhanced Notifications

Notifications from third-party apps can now have interactive controls and be used without needing to open the app; for example, a Yelp reservation notification will have the option to modify the time or change the number of guests right from the notification.

Student ID Cards

Apple Watch can now be used in place of Student ID cards.

With watchOS 5, Apple Watch replaces Student ID cards. With a raise of the wrist, students can gain access to places including the library, dorms and events, and pay for snacks, laundry and dinners around campus simply by adding their ID cards to Wallet on Apple Watch. The program launches with Duke, the University of Alabama and the University of Oklahoma this fall. Johns Hopkins University, Santa Clara University and Temple University will bring the capability by the end of the year.

Pricing and Availability 

  • watchOS 5 will be available this fall as a free update for Apple Watch Series 1 and later and requires iPhone 5s or later on iOS 12. watchOS 5 will not be available on the original Apple Watch. Features are subject to change. Some features may not be available in all regions.
  • The Pride watch face is available to add to the watch from the Face Gallery in the Apple Watch app on iPhone and requires iOS 11.4 and watchOS 4.3.1.
  • The new Pride Edition Woven Nylon band is available today on apple.com and will be available later this week at Apple Stores in the US and over 35 countries and regions, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE and the UK. The Pride Edition Woven Nylon band is $49 (US).
  • New colors of the Apple Watch Sport Band will be available to order on apple.com starting today in the US, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UAE and the UK. The Sport Band is $49 (US).

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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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