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Tech News

Google brings Chrome to Daydream VR headsets

July 30, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Google

It’s been a long time in coming, but Chrome browsing in VR is finally here. Google has released a version of Chrome that supports both Daydream View and stand-alone Daydream headsets like the Lenovo Mirage Solo. It can visit any website and includes Chrome staples like incognito mode, syncing and voice search, just in a wearable-friendly format. Google is also promising Daydream-specific features like a “cinema mode” when you watch online video.

You should see the VR-ready version when you update Chrome on Android. This make the most sense if you have a dedicated headset (where there isn’t a guarantee of phone access), but it promises a much more consistent VR experience. You could resume reading a story from your desktop, or check on a web guide for an app without having to remove your headgear.

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Fossil will sell BMW-branded smartwatches next year

July 30, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Michael Dalder / Reuters

BMW is moving into the smartwatch game, but it’s not actually making the devices itself. Instead, Fossil has struck a five-year deal to create BMW-branded watches and smartwatches, as part of its seemingly never-ending quest to offer a smartwatch for everyone’s taste.

You can expect to see the first batch of BMW smartwatches next year, and you’ll be able to pick up the wearables from BMW retail locations as well as at Fossil’s usual points of sale. Carmakers getting into the smartwatch business is hardly novel, as the likes of Ferrari, Aston Martin and Audi have all dipped their toes into the branded watch waters.

Tech News

Tommy Hilfiger tracks, rewards you for wearing its smart clothes

July 26, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Tommy Hilfiger

How do you convince everyday people to serve as unofficial ambassadors for a fashion brand? Make smart clothes, apparently. Tommy Hilfiger is launching a Tommy Jeans Xplore garment line that uses embedded Bluetooth smart tags (connected to the company’s iOS app) to provide “one-of-a-kind rewards and experiences” to buyers. The more you wear the clothes, the more points you earn — basically, you’re getting a handful of perks for becoming a walking billboard.

The Xplore line includes men’s, women’s and unisex clothes, and is available “exclusively” in the US through both Tommy Hilfiger’s website and its 5th Avenue flagship store in New York City.

There are numerous questions about the Xplore program, most notably including privacy. How much data do the tags and app send to Tommy Hilfiger, for example? And how much control do you have over that data, especially if you decide to bow out? The company didn’t directly address the scope of data collection in a statement to Engadget beyond acknowledging that there might be personal info. However, it stressed that you had to activate the tag in addition to opting in, and that you could turn it off “at any time.”

The smart tag’s info is encrypted, it added, and any personal info is both separated and encrypted so that Tommy can obtain statistics without sweeping up identifying content. You can delete data as well. This isn’t completely confidence-inspiring, but it’s clear that the firm has some safeguards for whatever it does collect.

That’s not the only issue, thouh. There’s also the question of whether or not customers will embrace the concept. Tommy is excited about the prospect of creating a “micro-community” of ambassadors, but that doesn’t mean its customers are going to significantly alter their wardrobes (and potentially share info) for a few perks. This is ultimately an experiment in connected clothing that recruits fashionistas as testers, and there’s no certainty they’ll volunteer in droves.

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Nike Training Club for Apple Watch helps you focus on your workout

July 25, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Nike

Workout-centric apps like Nike Training Club can help you refine your gym routine. There’s one main problem, though: they typically ask you to stare at your phone, which can disrupt your flow and waste time between sets. Nike, at least, knows it can do better. It’s releasing a version of its Training Club app for the Apple Watch with the aim of keeping your focus on the workout, rather than reaching for your handset. You have to start a workout on your iPhone, but after that you can concentrate on getting fit.

The watch will display the remaining time or reps left, heart rate and calorie burn. In some cases, you won’t need to look at a screen in the first place — the watch will deliver haptic feedback cues when it’s time to move on to the next set or drill. While it’s not a completely unheard-of concept, it’s a big step up from Apple’s built-in Workout app, which leaves you counting reps and rest intervals yourself. You’ll have quick access to music controls if you need a soundtrack for your fitness sessions.

Training Club should be available worldwide as of today, and it’ll support every workout available in the iPhone app. This is arguably an overdue complement to the Run Club app, especially if you have a Nike+ edition Apple Watch. A total-body fitness regimen typically involves both running and strength training, so it’s only right that Nike would cover those two areas with its wrist-oriented apps.

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Snap has lost its Spectacles division chief

July 25, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Evan Rodgers / Engadget

The head of Snap Lab, the hardware team behind Snap’s camera-equipped Spectacles, has recently left the company following a restructuring that affects his division. Cheddar got its hands on the internal email Mark Randall sent, wherein he revealed that the company decided to “realign the team as a distinct group under Snap’s SVP of Engineering, Jerry Hunter.” Snap Lab was created to be a separate entity from the rest of the company’s engineering organization, and this shakeup could mean Snap’s hardware plans aren’t headed in the same direction as it originally envisioned.

Randall used to be Snap’s VP of Operations until he took on the newly created role back in 2017, around a year after the company released the first version of its eyewear. The hardware lab released Spectacles 2 under his leadership back in May, and while the new version fixed a lot of the old one’s issues, it’s not entirely clear if it’s doing better than its predecessor. Snap said it moved more than 150,000 first-gen units by the end of 2017, but it also took a $40 million loss due to hundreds of thousands of unsold devices. As Cheddar notes, though, Snap sees Spectacles as a core element to its augmented reality efforts, so it’s probably not giving up that easily. It’s also believed that the team is working on other projects, including a camera-equipped drone.

Here’s Randall’s email in full:

“Hi team,

When Snap Lab was first established, it made sense for our group to be completely separate from the rest of Snap’s engineering organization. But from our customers’ perspective, these separations will become less and less distinct over time — as the pillars of Snapchat, Lens Studio, and Spectacles continue to converge. As a result, we’ve decided to realign the team as a distinct group under Snap’s SVP of Engineering, Jerry Hunter.

To best facilitate this transition, I also made the decision that now was the right time for me to leave Snap and focus on growing my own company. Sahil Sharma, VP Hardware Development, will serve as acting lead. The rest of our organizational structure remains the same, and Jerry, Sahil and I are all committed to making sure this is smooth and seamless for all of you.

We will be holding an All Hands tomorrow (7/10) at noon in the Grotto area of 606 (calendar invite to follow + questionnaire form), to share more and answer any questions that you may have.

While this may feel sudden, please know we have been carefully discussing these decisions at the senior leadership level for several months. I’m confident that this is the right next step — both for me and for this team. The potential here within this group is huge and the world will be so excited over the next decade to see all of

Tech News

Motiv ring is ready to track your activity on Android

July 24, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Motiv

Motiv’s Android app is now out of beta, and the full version comes with features its iOS counterpart had upon launch. It can track your activity, sleep and resting heart rate, it works with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant and it has the ability to share the data it collects with your friends and family. In addition, the full application now supports Google Fit, giving you a way to see Motiv’s data with the info collected by your other apps and devices.

The waterproof ring can serve as an unobtrusive option for activity tracking if the other wearables out there just aren’t your style — helps that it doesn’t look bad either. It used to be compatible with iOS devices only until the early version of the Android app became available in April. The beta app was unfortunately compatible with but a handful of Android devices, though, mostly Samsung phones.

We wish we could say that the full application will allow you to pair the ring with any Android device, but that’s sadly not the case. Motiv did add a number of other models to its list of compatible devices, though, bringing the total number of supported phones to 12: Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, S8, S8+, S9, S9+, Note 5 and Note 8, Google Pixel and Pixel XL, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

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Samsung leaked the upcoming Galaxy Watch on its own website

July 23, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Engadget

Samsung has dropped multiple hints that the Galaxy Watch is on the way. If there was any doubt that the likely Gear S3 successor is on the way, however, the company just removed it: CNET and Twitter user @sugabeticme have discovered a product listing for the Galaxy Watch (since pulled) on Samsung’s own site. The link took visitors to a dead page, but it showed both an image of the watch and revealed that there would be 42mm and rose gold case options.

The design wouldn’t be a radical departure for Samsung, at least based on the one available image — it’d look somewhat like the Gear S3 Classic, at least in this particular variant. The mention of a Bluetooth model hints at cellular-equipped versions, although there’s no guarantee they’ll be available. It’s not clear what the Galaxy Watch would offer over the Gear S3, for that matter.

Samsung is believed to be launching the Galaxy Watch alongside the Galaxy Note 9 on August 9th. Whether or not it’s a good deal will depend on its functional upgrades and price. It could be a tempting option if it provides meaningful improvements over the S3 at a comparable price, but it may be a tougher sell if it’s an evolutionary update or carries a significant premium.