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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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Beeline and Huawei Conduct the First 5G Holographic Call in Russia

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5G Holographic Call Between Vasyl Latsanych, CEO of VimpelCom, and Aiden Wu, CEO of Huawei in Russia

VimpelCom (Beeline brand) and Huawei held a demonstration showcasing the latest fifth generation (5G) mobile connection technologies. The Moscow Museum exhibition hall was used as the demonstration zone and the dialogue between the speakers was conducted using a hologram – a digitized image transmitted through Mixed Reality glasses (MR). Holographic communication technology requires high bandwidth and low latency, which will only be made possible by the mass deployment of 5G networks.

During the demonstration, the companies used frequencies between 26,600–27,200 MHz that had been temporarily allocated to Beeline. This spectrum range is within the 3GPP standardized band n258.

A commercially available Huawei 5G base station – the gNodeB – was used to make the holographic call. The base station consists of an active antenna array (HAAU 5213) and a new generation of BBU5900 digital processing module with a 5G board. The radio interface uses TDD mode in the 100 MHz frequency band and MIMO 64×64 technology. One of the first commercially available 5G CPE devices based on the Huawei Balong5G01 chipset is selected as the subscriber terminal, which includes an RF module (ODU) and 5G/WiFi router (IDU).

Beeline and Huawei also demonstrated a practical 5G virtual reality (VR) use case using an online broadcast from a 360-degree camera housed in a VR helmet. The technology can potentially be used to enhance user experience in terms of remote travel. For example, Beeline customers can visit an operator’s shop, acquire a tariff plan, or buy a smartphone, while physically located in the comfort of their own home.

Vasyl Latsanych, CEO of PJSC VimpelCom, said, “The rapid development of modern technologies sets a precedence for operators to provide subscribers with high-quality mobile communications at high speeds. That’s why Beeline is already preparing its network infrastructure and is conducting research on how to make a rational transition to 5G technologies. We simply wish to offer our subscribers an understanding of how such technologies can become an integral part of their daily lives, and how they can simplify and improve their user experience. That is why it is growing increasingly important for Beeline to test real business use cases and explore the potential client capabilities of fifth-generation mobile technologies.”

Aiden Wu, CEO of Huawei in Russia, said, “This May 2018, Beeline and Huawei signed an agreement to pursue the joint development of 5G in Russia. Our cooperation has been extremely productive, which today’s demonstration has quite clearly shown. We will continue working together to bring the implementation of a new communication standard closer to becoming a worldwide phenomenon and speed up the process of creating new technologies and services based on this standard.”

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Samsung AKG N700NC Wireless Headphones Now Available in the US

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Following the launch of a new lineup of first-class wireless AKG headphones last month, Samsung Electronics America today announced the new AKG N700NC Wireless Headphones are now available for purchase just in time for the holiday season.

Combining the best in design with AKG’s award-winning sound technology, the AKG N700NC Wireless are the ideal over-ear headphones for music lovers who want best-in-class audio.

With adaptive noise cancelling, users can control how much surrounding noise they want to let in – so they can immerse themselves in the music or keep an ear open to the world around them – all with the push of a button.

World-class audio technology eliminates echoes, striking the perfect balance between noise cancellation and ambient awareness and resulting in crystal clear voice calls. And with battery life that lasts up to 20 hours, users can listen to music throughout the day without having to worry about charging.

The AKG N700NC Wireless are now available for purchase at AKG.com, Amazon and Samsung.com for $349.95.

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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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