Cutting Edge Technology Resources
Unlock the power of technology with our comprehensive collection of resources. Stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest in tech news, insights, and guides.
Unlock the power of technology with our comprehensive collection of resources. Stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest in tech news, insights, and guides.
Most evolutions occur over eons of time. The evolution occurs so slowly that the steps in the evolution are not observable on a day-to-day basis.
The onset of remote work has led to a business world without boundaries. However, while hiring global team members is now easier than ever, you still need to know where to find the right talent, especially within the tech industry. In this guide, we unlock the keys to navigating the local tech talent shortage and highlight the emerging tech hiring hubs around the world. Find out why a global recruitment strategy is the way forward in today ́s ultra- competitive tech talent market.
It’s never been easier for companies to recruit top-tier talent on a global scale, thanks to remote working apps, platforms, and social media. However, employees are now embracing lifestyle over work – with many migrating to other jobs to find new opportunities that better align with their values and priorities.
Global events over the past several years have brought massive cultural changes to the workplace, be it the breakout of remote working, or unsettling trends like “Quiet Quitting.” As we head into a new year, what factors are likely to affect our working environments in 2023?
Leveraging the specialized skills of an independent contractor can be the most efficient route to success when looking to hire quickly internationally for a short-term solution. In this eBook, you’ll discover the intricacies of hiring independent contractors to ensure that your company handles compliance and classification correctly.
SonicWall has seen a number of organizational changes throughout its 30-year history, from its early days as an innovator in SMB network security to its decade as a public company, its five years as a part of Dell and the past five years of private ownership following divestiture.
Soyang Europe, the leading manufacturer and distributor of digitally printable wide-format and superwide-format media and surface coverings, and – through the acquisition of Josero – a supplier of leading edge wide and superwide-format print production hardware solutions from many of the industry’s biggest and best-known printer brands, is offering an insight into current industry trends by sharing a list of its best-selling materials over the past 12 months.
Building wraps are among the most striking applications in the industry, with each project requiring meticulous planning and a high level of production quality to succeed. LFR speaks with Greg Forster, Managing Director of Embrace Building Wraps, about the secrets of producing an award-winning building wrap…
While providing high quality products and solutions to the customer is of course critically important, here at Soyang Europe, we like to go that extra mile for all our clients, providing them with focused and friendly service each step of their journey.
First introduced back in the 1940s, hot melt adhesives have become a popular choice across many industries due to the unique adhesive properties that hot melt adhesives can offer.
In many cases, the only way for any business to expand and grow is to invest in new technology. Simply put, they will not be able to access new opportunities or offer a certain level of service to customers without the right sort of machinery in place.
As supply chain and logistics problems continue to impact the way companies operate, and increasing energy costs and supply uncertainty have far reaching implications for the future, it’s at times like these that reliable partners are more essential than ever.
Editor’s Pick: Advanced Composite Additive Manufacturing
Editor’s Pick: Fast resin 3D printing
Editor’s Pick: Additive Manufacturing Process Management
Editor’s Pick: Powerful CAD in the cloud
The Modi government is forcing low-paid workers to use a glitchy new digital registration system that fails in places with weak internet.
FTX’s liquidator is trying to claw back $4 billion from the estate of Genesis Global Capital, another fallen crypto business.
The mixed-reality headset is the company’s most surprising product in years. Is that a good thing?
Instead of scanning iCloud for illegal content, Apple’s tech will locally flag inappropriate images for kids. And adults are getting an opt-in nudes filter too.
The SEC alleges that the world’s largest crypto exchange and its founder, Changpeng Zhao, lied to regulators and put customers and investors at risk.
The company showed off new software and hardware—including a VR headset—at its annual developer conference today.
Sound designers have a difficult job to make otherworldly beasts and supernatural vistas seem real to gamers. Luckily, they have pomegranates.
After taking a yearslong wait-and-see approach, Apple is now all in on a new “platform.”
WIRED has partnered up with Speck and CBS Sports to give away a Samsung Galaxy S23. (Open to the US only. See rules for details.)
Data from Cloudflare's free digital defense service, Project Galileo, illuminates new links between online and offline attacks.
Taking a rational and statistical approach to a diagnosis can lead to better choices about treatment—which in some cases might mean not treating cancer at all.
Scientists just figured out that thousands of air quality stations have been accidentally gathering invaluable DNA data on local organisms.
Make, mend, and alter clothes to your heart’s desire with this device both novices and experts will appreciate.
In a world where health care in one state is a crime in another, the interconnectivity of electronic medical records puts patients’ reproductive health data at risk.
The education company is a case study in generative AI’s disruptive power. Now it's trying to prove it can beat back ChatGPT with an in-house chatbot.
The company illegally collected and retained info collected by its Xbox gaming system, the federal watchdog says.
Commentary: It's not for normal people.
The new iPhone software brings a number of fixes and additions.
I experienced incredible fidelity, surprising video quality and a really smooth interface. Apple's first mixed reality headset nails those, but lots of questions remain.
Apple's WWDC 2023 unveils fitness perks to look forward to with WatchOS 10
At WWDC, Disney CEO Bob Iger offered a glimpse at Disney and Apple's collab.
You can set photos, emoji and typography to create a personalized contact poster to represent yourself.
With the arrival of the 15-inch MacBook Air, Apple has officially lowered the price of its latest 13-inch model, powered by Apple's own M2 chip.
The biggest MacBook Air is a welcome upgrade for older eyes like mine.
With excellent steak and seafood recipes for as little as $8 or $9 a serving, Blue Apron hits the sweet spot for meal kits in 2023.
A $3,499 price tag pays for a lot of high-end hardware, including two Apple processors and high-res displays.
Apple's new Apple Vision Pro -- the long-rumored mixed-reality headset -- is on display at WWDC alongside new Macs, reveals for iOS 17, MacOS Sonoma and more announcements.
The company's power pro desktop finally gets the update we've all been waiting for.
A new watchOS 10 feature will monitor daylight time, which may be important for kids' eye development. Plus, Apple reminds you to keep your screen away from your face.
New widgets and watch faces are coming to the Apple Watch in WatchOS 10.
Mr. Kennedy, a long-shot Democratic presidential candidate with surprisingly high polling numbers, said he wanted to close the Mexican border and attributed the rise of mass shootings to pharmaceutical drugs.
The device, called Vision Pro and shaped like a pair of ski goggles, faces a skeptical consumer market and competition from others, like fellow tech giant Meta.
In internal forecasts, the company projected that ad sales would keep declining, handing a tough challenge to its new chief executive.
Nuestro columnista de tecnología personal comparte cómo mejorar muchas partes de tu vida.
An A.I.-powered version of Photoshop and the image generator Midjourney live up to the hype.
As election activists rally against new voting machines, they are drifting into territory now dominated by conspiracy theorists.
The unique approach of the Rust programming language results in better code with fewer compromises than C, C++, Go, and the other languages you probably use. It also gets updated regularly, often every month.Where to download the latest Rust version If you already have a previous version of Rust installed via rustup, you can access the latest version via the following command:$ rustup update stable The new features in Rust 1.70 Debuting June 1, 2023, Rust 1.70 enables by default the “sparse” protocol for the Cargo package manager for reading the index from crates.io. This feature had been stabilized in Rust 1.68 but using it with crates.io still required configuration. Users should see substantially improved performance when fetching information from crates.io index.To read this article in full, please click here
MQTT is an important technology for the industrial internet of things (IIoT), building on concepts from IBM’s venerable MQ Series message queue technology. MQTT was initially designed to deliver telemetry from SCADA control systems, with IBM handing the protocol over to the OASIS standards body in 2013.The standard is deliberately intended to evolve slowly, as it’s embedded in industrial device firmware, and used in hardware that may not get updates—ever. That’s because organizations typically deploy not just tens, or even mere hundreds of MQTT-enabled systems, but many thousands. Plus, MQTT devices are often deployed in inhospitable and hard-to-reach environments, like undersea pipelines, with rollouts often lasting years. MQTT is also relatively simple, with implementations for most common microcontrollers.To read this article in full, please click here
PostgreSQL has been hot for years, but that hotness can also be a challenge for enterprises looking to pick between a host of competing vendors. As enterprises look to move off expensive, legacy relational database management systems (RDBMS) but still want to stick with an RDBMS, open source PostgreSQL is an attractive, less-expensive alternative. But which PostgreSQL? AWS was once the obvious default with two managed PostgreSQL services (Aurora and RDS), but now there’s Microsoft, Google, Aiven, TimeScale, Crunchy Data, EDB, Neon, and more.In an interview with the founder and CEO of Neon Nikita Shamgunov, he stressed that among this crowd of pretenders to the PostgreSQL throne, the key differentiator going forward is serverless. “We are serverless, and all the other ones except for Aurora, which has a serverless option, are not,” he declares. If he’s right about the importance of serverless for PostgreSQL adoption, it’s possible the future of commercial PostgreSQL could come down to a serverless battle between Neon and AWS.To read this article in full, please click here
Java Development Kit (JDK) 21, due in September as the next long-term support release of Oracle’s standard Java implementation, now has 16 features officially proposed for it, with three more features added in recent days.The latest proposals include previews of structured concurrency and scoped values and preparations to disallow the dynamic loading of agents. Other recently added features include a key encapsulation mechanism (KEM) API and deprecation of the 32-bit x86 Windows port. Three other features—a generational Shenandoah garbage collector, unnamed classes and instance main methods, and unnamed patterns and variables—also were added last month.To read this article in full, please click here
GitHub Actions is a platform built into GitHub that automates software building, testing, and deployment. GitHub, owned by Microsoft, is a hosting service for software development using Git, an open source version control and collaboration program developed by Linus Torvalds. Git and GitHub are already used by many programmers and software shops as the basis for their development practices, including the automated continuous integration and continuous delivery pipelines that carry projects through the build, test, and deploy cycle. GitHub Actions provides GitHub users with what GitHub calls an "API for cause and effect." You can use the platform to automate all sorts of behaviors based on various triggers.To read this article in full, please click here
OurX has seven products currently for tightly textured hair, and the average regimen of products offered is between $115 and $130. OurX adds tech spin to Black hair care regimen by Christine Hall originally published on TechCrunch
Greycroft, the now 17-year-old, New York and Los Angeles-based venture firm, has grown up in more ways than one. What began with three founders has evolved into a 60-person team. What began as a $30 million fund has grown into an enterprise that is today managing more than $3 billion in assets, including two funds Greycroft co-founder Ian Sigalow on investing $1B in this market by Connie Loizos originally published on TechCrunch
While cloud computing has transformed just about every industry on Earth, a burgeoning backlash has led some businesses to seek alternatives to the Big Tech-dominated public cloud. Vendor lock-in, spiralling costs, security concerns, and a lack of control over how their data is processed are just some of the reasons companies might retreat from cloud-first How Evroc plans to build sovereign, hyperscale data centers in Europe by Paul Sawers originally published on TechCrunch
French startup Escape has raised a $3.9 million (€3.6 million) funding round shortly after ending Y Combinator’s winter 2023 cohort. The company provides a cybersecurity product focused on securing APIs before they are rolled out publicly. French VC firm Iris is leading the round with Frst also participating once again after leading the pre-seed round. Escape dynamically scans APIs to find security flaws by Romain Dillet originally published on TechCrunch
Indian edtech giant Byju’s has filed a complaint in the New York Supreme Court to challenge the acceleration of the $1.2 billion term loan B, calling their demands for prepayment of the entire amount “high-handed,” and sought to disqualify investment management firm Redwood, who it alleges has conducted a series of predatory tactics. The Bengaluru-headquartered Byju’s sues ‘predatory’ lenders on $1.2B term loan, won’t make further payments by Manish Singh originally published on TechCrunch
After a roughly 30 minute demo that ran through the major features that are yet ready to test I came away convinced that Apple has delivered nothing less than a genuine leapfrog in capability and execution of XR — or mixed reality with its new Apple Vision Pro. To be super clear, I’m not saying First impressions: Yes, Apple Vision Pro works and yes, it’s good by Matthew Panzarino originally published on TechCrunch
Editor’s Pick: Advanced Composite Additive Manufacturing
Editor’s Pick: Fast resin 3D printing
Editor’s Pick: Additive Manufacturing Process Management
Editor’s Pick: Powerful CAD in the cloud
Image: Nintendo Nintendo has announced four retro games being added to its Switch Online service this month including a couple of interesting additions like the motion controlled Kirby Tilt ‘n’ Tumble and the original Harvest Moon. There are two Game Boy games, one NES game, and one SNES game, and all are available as part of a Nintendo Switch Online subscription costing $19.99 a year. First up is Kirby Tilt ‘n’ Tumble, a game originally released for the Game Boy with an accelerometer built into the cartridge that let you tilt the handheld to play the game. According to Nintendo, these motion controls are emulated by the gyro controls built into the Switch console. The release of Tilt ‘n’ Tumble on Switch was originally teased in February. Four... Continue reading…
Apple’s new don’t-call-it-a-VR-headset is the best riff on some very familiar ideas, but still searching for a purpose. Continue reading…
Illustration: Alex Castro / The Verge Microsoft is set to pay the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) a $20 million settlement over charges that the company violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The company retained certain personal information of kids far longer than it should have when they made accounts, according to a press release. Microsoft will also have to make some changes as part of a proposed order filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on behalf of the FTC. Those changes include telling parents that a separate child account comes with additional privacy protections, requiring parents to give consent for child accounts made before 2021, making systems to delete data about necessary to get parental consent for a kids’ account, and telling... Continue reading…
What does the Apple Vision Pro look like? Imagine a pair of ski goggles. The fanciest, most sci-fi ski goggles you’ve ever seen. There, you’ve got it. Apple just announced the Vision Pro headset at its WWDC developer conference, during which executives spent a long time detailing both how the hardware works and how you’re meant to use it. After the event, we were able to take a brief look at the $3,499 Vision Pro itself — we couldn’t use it or even touch it, but we could gaze upon its metallic wonders in a demo room at the Steve Jobs Theater. Based on the little bit we’ve seen, it’s a dramatically better-looking device than any other AR or VR headset we’ve seen. The actual headset itself is quite thin, and most of the device’s heft and... Continue reading…
Apple Vision Pro mixed reality headset | Image: Apple Apple revealed Vision Pro augmented reality hardware, a 15-inch MacBook Air, the new Mac Pro, macOS Sonoma, iOS 17, and more. Continue reading…
Image: Ecumene Games Last week, IGN featured a game called Ecumene Aztec — in which you play as an Aztec warrior going full guerrilla warfare on Spanish conquistadors. In the wake of this IGN profile, Ecumene Aztec’s developers have been harassed by far-right extremists, including having the website associated with the publisher stolen by far-right trolls, who then made it into a page promoting Spanish imperialism. In the initial write-up for the game, IGN named Giantscraft as Ecumene Aztec’s developer and publisher. Giantscraft is also listed as the publisher on press materials for the game that The Verge has obtained. There are no links to Giantscraft’s site on IGN’s article, but searching for Giantscraft reveals a single Instagram page. On this Instagram... Continue reading…
Sorry, iPhone X owners. | Photo by James Bareham / The Verge Apple’s just-announced iOS 17 won’t be coming to the iPhone X, the device that ushered in the era of Face ID. It was announced in 2017 along with the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, which will also miss out on the next iOS upgrade. That makes the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR the oldest devices that will be eligible for iOS 17 when it becomes available this fall, but that doesn’t mean they’ll get every new feature. Every phone that’s eligible for iOS 17 will get the biggies: the new design-driven contact cards, the StandBy display for quick info while you’re charging, and the Check In feature to notify someone that you’ve arrived home safely. But a few features are reserved for newer iPhones. Gesture-based reactions with AR effects in FaceTime will... Continue reading…
A waver holding Blue Sky Creek test chips. | Image: Intel After years of struggling to make good on its chipmaking promises, Intel is publishing two papers at next week’s VLSI Symposium detailing a new way to build chip nodes that should make for more efficient processors, according to its press release today. It’s called PowerVia, and if Intel pulls this off, it’s a pretty big deal in the race to make smaller and smaller processor nodes. PowerVia would be crucial for making the smaller, less power-hungry chips that are part of Intel’s road map debuted in 2021. It would move all power rails to the back of the chip, bringing power directly to the components that need it instead of routing it around the side and up into an “increasingly chaotic web,” to borrow Intel’s phrasing, of layered power... Continue reading…
Apple’s Optic ID as depicted in the WWDC Keynote. | Image: Apple Apple is introducing Optic ID, its latest biometric security authentication technology and the first from the company to be based on the details of your iris. Optic ID will be used to unlock Apple’s new Vision Pro mixed reality headset that was introduced today at the WWDC 2023 event. According to Apple, Optic ID works by analyzing a user’s iris through LED light exposure and then comparing it with an enrolled Optic ID stored on the device’s Secure Enclave. During the WWDC keynote, Apple’s VP of technology development group, Mike Rockwell, said the system could detect iris differences even with identical twins. Photo by Dieter Bohn / The Verge Face ID was introduced in 2017 on the iPhone X. Apple’s existing... Continue reading…
Image: Apple Apple’s Vision Pro headset will let you replace your face with a hyperrealistic avatar when you’re using FaceTime. As shown during WWDC 2023, you can scan your face using the headset to create a digital “persona” of yourself that will appear during video calls. Unlike the cartoony avatars you can make with apps like Microsoft Teams and Meta’s Horizon Worlds, it looks like Apple is aiming to create a virtual version of your face that’s accurate to how you really look. In the video Apple showed at WWDC, a user holds the headset in front of their face, allowing the device to scan it with “an advanced encoder-decoder neural network” that Apple says has been trained on a “diverse group of thousands of individuals.” GIF:... Continue reading…
Let’s face facts. The bar of quality for Transformers movies isn’t very high. Michael Bay’s 2007 original is OK and 2018's Bumblebee is solid, but in the 11 years between those, films like Revenge of the Fallen, The Last Knight, and the rest are all varying levels of crap. Five years after the last movie, coming back…Read more...
Humans today are developing perhaps the most powerful technology in our history: artificial intelligence. The societal harms of AI — including discrimination, threats to democracy, and the concentration of influence — are already well-documented. Yet leading AI companies are in an arms race to build increasingly…Read more...
A few weeks ago Critical Role debuted its newest campaign: Candela Obscura. io9 had a chance to talk with Matt Mercer, Candela Obscura’s Game Master, and two players—Laura Bailey and Robbie Daymond—about the game, the production, and what’s next for the game at hand.Read more...
The web of life and destiny ties together the fates of many heroes—and while Into the Spider-Verse introduced us and Miles Morales to quite a few, Across the Spider-Verse throws him into the deep end with a whole super group of them. There are plenty of new Spidey heroes in the sequel, but just as many are classic…Read more...
At this year’s WWDC, Apple has announced a number of exciting new updates for its operating systems and there’s plenty to be intrigued by. Here’s a quick look at this year’s announced software updates for Apple computers and tablets. Read more...
Apple’s new Vision Pro headset is finally here, announced at WWDC 2023 on Monday, and it’s both more and less compelling than the initial rumors had us believing it would be. While Apple is claiming to have some of the most advanced augmented reality technology packed into its $3,449 wearable device, the Vision Pro’s…Read more...
Although Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference has always had a focus on software, the company always manages to include a few surprise hardware announcements during the event’s keynote address, and this year didn’t disappoint with our first look at the next chapter in Apple’s best-selling laptop, the MacBook…Read more...
Last year’s WWDC brought major updates to the Apple Watch’s hardware, including the introduction of the extra-durable Apple Watch Ultra. This year, it’s software. During today’s WWDC keynote, Apple revealed that 2023 will bring similarly major updates to the wearable’s software when watchOS 10 arrives in the fall.Read more...
It’s not unusual to have a favorite film. But it’s rare to find a movie—or any piece of art, really—that you connect with so profoundly it resonates throughout your life, exerting its influence in surprising ways. Lynch/Oz examines one notable example, burrowing into the ways The Wizard of Oz has influenced the…Read more...
A pill for lung cancer has delivered impressive results in newly published research over the weekend. The pill, called osimertinib, was found to cut the risk of dying in half over a five-year span in those who received it alongside surgery. The treatment is intended for patients whose tumors carry a relatively common…Read more...
It’s here, it’s thin, and it’s got a wider screen. Apple revealed it has a new laptop in store for 2023. It’s another entry in the popular Air line, this time with a 15.3-inch display.Read more...
Apple revealed what could be its most consequential new piece of technology in years at WWDC Monday. The Apple “Vision Pro” headset is a slimmed-down headset device meant to facilitate both virtual reality and augmented reality.Read more...
Allstate has stopped writing new homeowner and commercial insurance policies in the state of California due to rising repair costs and wildfires. The company was the fifth largest homeowner’s insurance provider in the state, according to the Insurance Information Institute.Read more...
With Apple focusing a lot of its development efforts on its long-rumored AR/VR headset, expected to be revealed at today’s WWDC 2023 keynote, iOS 17 won’t arrive with as many major feature introductions as iOS 16 did, but will still bring plenty of welcome upgrades and, in addition to new ways to use iOS 16's lock…Read more...
Team17 Group said that Debbie Bestwick, its longtime CEO has named Steve Bell as the company's new CEO.
After years of rumors, Apple finally unveiled its Apple Vision Pro mixed reality headset today at WWDC. And game devs gave their reactions.
As predicted, Apple CEO Tim Cook didn't mention the word "metaverse" when he introduced the Apple Vision Pro mixed reality headset today.
Apple's WWDC event didn't have much news for gamers, but it did reveal it's making gaming on Mac more pleasant for everyone.
Apple announced a host of new software features for its popular devices and the new Apple Vision Pro headset, many of them leveraging AI.
TerraZero's Brandon F. Johnson and Ryan Kieffer join the GamesBeat Summit to talk about the Metaverse and how to successfully use it.
Apple CEO Tim Cook ushered in a new era for mixed reality with the announcement of Apple Vision Pro.
Apple announced the M2 Ultra processor, a new chip for its Mac Studio workstation for professional users.
We must reject AI doomerism and have constructive, open conversations about potential dangers and how to mitigate them to advance responsibly.
Snowflake CIO optimistic about impact of AI on data trends, with Snowpark framework and acquisitions of search vendor Neeva and Streamlit.
Apple CEO Tim Cook is likely talking about his mixed reality headset today. But Peggy Johnson, CEO of Magic Leap, upstaged him last week.
Orange Comet announced its partnership to develop Barry Sonnenfeld’s Dinosaurs vs. Aliens into an immersive and cinematic Web3-enable game.
Emad Mostaque, the CEO of Stability AI, spoke with VentureBeat for a Q&A about the recent Forbes report and more.
Left Fielder Media has signed a deal with Web3 game studio Neon, which is making the highly anticipated shooter game Shrapnel.
Intel researchers claim to be a year ahead with breakthrough semiconductor packaging technology dubbed PowerVia.
Nope, we didn’t get a smart display during Apple’s WWDC keynote on Monday, but we did get a new iOS 17 feature that brings smart display-type features to an iPhone lock screen. Rumored just weeks ago but unveiled officially today, StandBy is an iOS 17 feature that snaps on when your iPhone is locked, charging, and positioned horizontally. The mode is essentially an expansion of the Lock Screen widgets that came to the iPhone last year with iOS 16, except the widgets delivered by StandBy offer more of a “full-screen experience,” similar to that of a smart display. Among the widgets available in StandBy mode include a variety of clock faces, calendars, weather, Apple Music playback, and photos from the Photos app. Most interesting to smart home users is a widget that shows the status of various HomeKit devices, such as smart bulbs and locks. iOS 17’s StandBy mode offers a variety of widgets, including at least one for Apple Home.Apple StandBy also supports the Smart Stacks and Live Activities introduced with iOS 16, as well as incoming calls and Siri. When StandBy is enabled, you can view the display by tapping on your iPhone’s screen, or the display can be always-on if you have an iPhone 14 Pro. It’s not clear how interactive StandBy mode is. For its part, Apple says StandBy offers “glanceable information designed to be viewed from a distance,” as opposed to a true smart display with on-screen buttons that you can tap. Still, iOS 17’s StandBy is as close as we’ve seen to an actual Apple smart display, and if the rumors are to be believed, it’s as close as we’ll get for quite some time. iOS 17 is expected to arrive this fall. Smart Speakers
Whether you want to block out a screaming siren or chat with a friend on the street, your AirPods Pro are about to get better at helping you focus on your audio. During Apple’s WWDC keynote on Monday, Apple announced a series of features coming to the latest AirPods Pro that will make the earbuds smarter at deciding which sounds to let in, and which to screen out. Due to arrive this fall in a software update, the new Conversation Awareness feature for the second-generation AirPods Pro will automatically detect when you begin speaking to someone, and will automatically lower the volume of any music or podcasts you’re listening to, focus the sound of voices in front of you, and reduce the level of ambient noise. Also coming with the update is Adaptive Audio, a feature that blends active noise cancellation and Transparency mode and will automatically “tailor” their respective levels depending on the ambient sound conditions, presumably upping the ANC for emergency sirens, jackhammers, and other transient loud noises. Next, Personalized Volume will use machine learning to automatically “fine-tune the media experience” according to current “environmental conditions” and your long-term listening preferences. We’re curious to learn more about what Personalized Volume is, and precisely how it works. Another new feature is coming to additional AirPods beyond the second-gen Pros. The Mute or Unmute feature will let you press the stem of your AirPods or the Digital Crown of your AirPods Max to quickly mute or mute yourself. The Mute or Unmute feature will work on the first- and second-gen AirPods Pro, as well as the third-ten AirPods and the AirPods Max. Finally, Apple says that Automatic Switching between AirPods and other Apple devices will be getting better, with the update making seamless switching “faster and more reliable.” All the new AirPods features will arrive this fall in a free software update, Apple says. Headphones
What took so long for FaceTime to come to Apple TV? Good question, but it’s finally happening, with Apple announcing that FaceTime calls are coming soon to Apple’s streaming box. Besides FaceTime coming to Apple TV, the upcoming version of tvOS will also bring a refreshed version of the Apple TV Control Center, along with a Siri Remote finder for iPhone and the ability to turn Memories from Photos into Apple TV screensavers. Announced during Apple’s WWDC conference on Monday, the new FaceTime app for Apple TV will work together with Continuity Camera functionality on an iPhone. When you launch the FaceTime app for tvOS, your Apple TV will wirelessly connect with your iPhone or iPad, allowing you to use the microphones and cameras on those devices to make FaceTime calls on the big screen. Your iPhone or iPad camera will be able to follow you around the living room when making FaceTime calls on an Apple TV (provided your iPhone or iPad supports Center Stage), and you’ll even be able to spawn animations using gestures, such as floating hearts when you make a heart-shaped gesture. Transferring FaceTime calls from an iPhone to an Apple TV will be easy, Apple promises, and you’ll also be able to place FaceTime calls directly over an Apple TV. FaceTime on Apple TV will also be compatible with SharePlay, the existing iOS functionality that lets you watch videos on various streaming services with friends. A redesigned version of Control Center for Apple TV will arrive with tvOS 17.Apple Besides FaceTime on Apple TV, Apple also announced a revamped version of Control Center coming to tvOS 17. The new Control Center has been “completely redesigned,” Apple said, making it easier to access your AirPod settings, tap into live video streams of security cameras, and access system controls. Also coming soon is a Siri Remote finder for the iPhone, while tvOS 17 will add the ability to turn Memories from the Photos app into screensavers for your Apple TV. tvOS is expected to arrlve this fall. Streaming Devices
You’ll soon be able to wake Apple’s Siri on your iPhone with a single word, while back-to-back Siri commands won’t require the wake word anymore. The news came during Apple’s WWDC conference in Cupertino, where the company also announced a new “Standby” mode that makes a locked iPhone screen act like a smart display. At the WWDC keynote, Apple’s Craig Federighi made the Siri announcements at the tail end of his iOS 17 presentation. Federighi noted that Siri will soon gain the ability to respond to a simple “Siri,” rather than the usual “Hey Siri.” It’s not clear whether the original “Hey Siri” wake word option will remain–hopefully it will. We’re also waiting on word whether you’ll be able to simply say “Siri” on a HomePod (a likely possibility). Another Siri-related announcement for iOS 17 is that you’ll soon be able to say back-to-back commands without having to repeat Siri’s wake word. Currently, you have to say “Hey Siri” for each Siri command, even if you’re speaking them one after the other. The new feature allows Siri to catch up (in this regard, anyway) with Alexa and Google Assistant, which have long allowed users to speak voice commands back to back without having to repeat their respective wake words. Apple’s move to drop “Hey” from the Siri wake word was predicted back in November, with Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman writing about the feature in his “Power On” newsletter. German wrote that losing the “Hey” from Siri’s wake work is harder than it sounds, with the functionality requiring “a significant amount of AI training and underlying engineering work.” iOS 17 is expected to be released this fall. Smart Speakers
Plexamp was already an excellent app for music aficionados, but now it’s even better with generative AI playlists. Using the same large language models that power ChatGPT, the new “Sonic Sage” feature allows for extremely detailed and specific playlists inside of Plexamp, Plex’s dedicated app for music playback. Some examples: “90’s grunge deep cuts, starting with Alone by Pearl Jam, no music by Mudhoney”“Just the funkiest smooth jazz you can find, lots of Jeff Lorber, Mike Stern, and Spyro Gyra” (Sorry.)“A playlist that alternates between thrash metal and classic show tunes” Tapping into this most excellent playlist generator isn’t exactly simple, though. To use it, you’ll need a Plex Pass subscription, an OpenAI developer account, and either a Tidal subscription or your own personal music collection (or both). All of this will cost you more than a basic subscription to Spotify, and each playlist itself will cost about two tenths of a cent in API fees. But that’s the price you’ll pay to punch up your music discovery and listening with state-of-the-art AI. Still on board? Here’s how to get it all set up: 1. Subscribe to Plex Pass The Plexamp app—and, by extension—a Plex Pass subscription is required for the new “Sonic Sage” feature.Jared Newman / Foundry Plex’s AI playlists are exclusive to the Plexamp music player app, which is available on iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and Linux. While the app is free to download, you’ll need a Plex Pass subscription to actually use it. That subscription costs $5 per month, $40 per year, or $120 for life. (Plex Pass is worth considering anyway if you run your own media server, as it has some extra features to improve that experience.) 2. Subscribe to Tidal Best Buy’s cheap Tidal trials are a great way to get into Plex’s AI playlists.Jared Newman / Foundry Although Plex’s GPT playlist generator can work with music on a personal media server, you’ll get the best results by plugging in a Tidal account. That way, the AI can draw from a much larger music catalog, including artists and songs you’ve never heard of. If you’re not a Tidal subscriber already, consider checking in on Best Buy, which routinely offers three-month trials for just $1. Otherwise, you can get a one-month trial directly through Tidal or through Plex. Don’t miss our in-depth Tidal review. 3. Connect Plexamp to Tidal Jared Newman / Foundry Once you have a Tidal subscription, you can link the account to Plex. Sign into Plex’s website, then click your profile icon and select “Account Settings.” Next to the Plex Pass icon, select “Other Services.” Click the option to link your Tidal account. Now, download Plexamp for iOS, Android, or your computer. Sign into the app, then choose either Tidal or your media server (if you have one) as your primary music library. You’ll be able to use AI playlists either way. 4. Set up your OpenAI developer account Jared Newman / Foundry To connect Plex with GPT-3.5, you must register as a developer with OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT. You’ll also need to set up a payment method and optionally set monthly spending limits to keep your playlist habit from causing bill shock. (Each playlist request will cost about $0.002, so 500 playlists will cost you roughly a buck.) Head to the OpenAI Platform sign-up page, and create an account.Click your profile icon and select “Manage Account.”In the Billing tab, select “Payment methods” and add a card to your account.Also in the Billing tab, select “Usage limits.” Under “Hard Limit,” set the maximum amount you want to spend on playlists per month. You can also set a “Soft Limit,” which sends an email alert when you reach it. 5. Create an OpenAI API key Jared Newman / Foundry The last step is to get an API key from OpenAI and add it to the Plexamp app. From your OpenAI Platform account page, select the “API Keys” tab, then click the “Create new secret key” button. Give the key a name, such as “Plex” or “Plexamp.” Now, you’ll see a pop-up window with your full API key, which looks like a long string of letters and numbers. Copy the entire thing to your clipboard. Once you close this screen, you won’t be able to view the API key again. 6. Connect your OpenAI account to Plexamp Jared Newman / Foundry After copying the API key, open Plexamp, click the ⚙️ gear icon, then head to Advanced > Sonic Sage > OpenAI API Key. Paste in the key from your clipboard. While you’re here, take note of a couple extra options: “Use GPT-4” generally creates better playlists, but costs more per request. “Only Server Matches” limits playlists to just whatever’s stored on your local music server. 7. Start making playlists Jared Newman / Foundry With all that setup out of the way, the fun begins. Click on Plexamp’s 🔎 search tab, then select “Sonic Sage.” In the search box, type in any playlist you can imagine. Plex provides some sample prompts that you can click on, but don’t be afraid to get specific. The AI will recognize things like “Don’t play Stairway to Heaven,” “Lots of Pink Floyd,” or “early Genesis.” You can also build sequential playlists with requests like “The evolution of Phish, from early years to their later stuff.” With a little practice, you can generate playlists that are far more nuanced than anything you’d get with the radio button in apps like Spotify and Apple Music. Learn to make the most of technology with Jared’s Advisorator newsletter. Streaming Media
First the bad news: Vimeo, the web video-hosting company and one-time YouTube competitor, is doing away with its streaming TV apps. The good news: There’s still an easy way to watch Vimeo videos on your TV. As spotted by Variety, Vimeo posted a notice on its website announcing that as of June 27, the company will deep-six its streaming video apps for Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku. That said, there is still a way to stream Vimeo videos on a bigger screen. The Vimeo mobile app supports both Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast, which means Apple TV, Android TV, Google TV, and Roku users can easily stream Vimeo videos to their sets via the app (or, in the case of Chromecast, via a web browser). Amazon’s Fire TV players don’t directly support AirPlay 2 or Chromecast, but there are workarounds for Chromecast users. In its announcement, Vimeo said that it “occasionally…retire[s] legacy products and features that are no longer consistent with our standards,” adding that “users looking to view Vimeo videos will receive a better ongoing experience by casting via our mobile app.” While Vimeo’s consumer-facing streaming apps are going away, its branded streaming apps for enterprise users aren’t going anywhere, the company notes. Vimeo’s decision to nix its streaming TV apps might be disappointing for those who used them regularly, but it’s not entirely unexpected. Vimeo first launched its Apple TV, Android TV, and Roku apps back in 2016, when it was still positioning itself as a destination site for streaming video and a viable YouTube competitor. The following year, however, Vimeo “made a major strategic shift,” pivoting away from being a streaming video destination site and focusing more on providing video-streaming services to businesses, as Digiday detailed in a 2019 profile. Streaming Media
Remember when IFTTT said it would allow its legacy users to set their own prices for the service’s “pro” plan, and that it would honor those prices “forever”? Well, it turns out “forever” has an expiration date. In a message posted on its website, IFTTT just announced that its pay-what-you-want legacy Pro plans are going away, with current users on that plan slated to be migrated to the $5-a-month IFTTT Pro+ plan at the start of their next billing cycles. In the notice, IFTTT argued that the “Legacy Pro” tier “no longer exists in our current offerings,” as the web applet service has added “nearly 200 new services, and dozens of new features” since first offering a pay-what-you-want option for grandfathered-in users. “Our decision is driven by increasing infrastructure costs that have created an unsustainable pattern for our business,” the IFTTT message concludes. IFTTT first made its “pay-what-you-want” offer back in September 2020, following the introduction of a paid Pro plan. Initially, the deal was that IFTTT users who signed up for the Pro plan before October 7, 2020 could pay whatever they wanted for a year, with a minimum monthly payment of $1.99. After an outcry from irate users, IFTTT relented and said that legacy subscribers could keep their pay-what-you-want prices “forever.” But now, it appears IFTTT is reneging on that promise, and furious users on the IFTTT subreddit are already talking about a class-action lawsuit. We’ve reached out to IFTTT for comment. The move comes just a couple of weeks after IFTTT announced that it would yank access to Twitter applets from its free users, as well as reducing the number of applets that free users could create to two, down from the original limit of three. IFTTT originally priced its Pro plans at $10 a month. After a series of changes, IFTTT paid subscription plans settled down to two: a $2.50-a-month Pro tier that (among other features) offers access to 20 applets, and a $5/month Pro+ tier that lets you create as many applets as you want. Short for “If This, Then That,” IFTTT allows users to create web-based applets that connect a wide variety of services, and IFTTT integrations have long been popular with smart home users. IFTTT was completely free to use until 2020, when the service first announced its paid “Pro” plan and began limiting free users to just three applets. Here is the complete text of IFTTT’s announcement that it is killing off its Legacy Pro tier: Nearly three years ago, we introduced a set your price option for our original Pro launch. Since then, IFTTTers have been with us as we have made many decisions about our business while maintaining our commitment to their existing price and plan. Since the initial purchase, our small team has continued to work hard. We have added nearly 200 new services, and dozens of new features, including the ability to add delays and our new AI tools. The Pro plan that we have supported for legacy users no longer exists in our current offerings.On an upcoming renewal, legacy accounts will be migrated from our Legacy Pro tier to Pro+. The Pro plan that legacy subscribers currently have is most similar to our Pro+ tier, with unlimited Applets, filter code, and access to services that are exclusive to subscribers. Subscribers will now be able to add multiple accounts per service, in addition to other existing benefits and features such as increased rate limits and faster polling times.Our decision is driven by increasing infrastructure costs that have created an unsustainable pattern for our business. It has always been important to us to have a starter tier that allows people to learn about what IFTTT can do and to keep our prices accessible for lifestyle users ever since we ended our model of being funded by partner organizations. Smart Home
At a glanceExpert's Rating ProsWorks perfectly and runs leak-freeSkips watering sessions when it rainsCreates detailed logging of each run and skipConsLimited weather intelligence featuresNo push notificationsLengthy setup for such a simple deviceOur VerdictIf you want to automate watering runs through a standard hose connection, the Rachio Hose Timer is a no-frills way solution that uses the same app as Rachio’s excellent in-ground sprinkler system controller. You don’t need an expensive in-ground irrigation system to automatically water your plants and lawn. The Rachio Smart Hose Timer can turn an ordinary spigot and garden hose into a high-tech watering system with minimal fuss, complete with an app to schedule on and off times, and enough onboard intelligence to skip a watering cycle if it’s rained recently. Rachio’s concept isn’t new, devices like the Orbit B-hyve XD Smart Hose Watering Timer have been smartening up this market for years. But if you also have one of Rachio’s in-ground sprinkler controllers—one of TechHive’s favorite in the irrigation space—this hose timer will plug right into the same app and ecosystem. This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best smart sprinkler controllers. The roughly 3 x 2 x 7-inch Rachio Smart Hose Timer couldn’t be simpler. A snug connector attaches to your water spigot, and a hose attaches to the other end. Two AA batteries (not included) are secreted under a hatch secured with a pair of bolts. (You’ll need a very small screwdriver to get them installed.) A single weatherproofed button on the top of the device lets you manually start and stop water flow through the device and is also used for initial setup. The Rachio Smart Hose Timer ships with a Wi-Fi hub that can control additional timers on up to 4 spigots. Rachio’s hose timer, like Orbit’s, is outfitted with a Bluetooth radio, but unlike that device, you can’t connect your smartphone directly to the Rachio. You must first connect Rachio’s 2.4GHz Wi-Fi hub, which is included, to your network. Rachio says the hub must be within 200 feet of the spigot you attach the timer to, but one hub can support up to four hose timers. Add-on valves cost $70 each. The Rachio Smart Hose Timer is powered by two AA batteries that fit into a compartment on the back of the unit.Christopher Null/Foundry The hub plugs into wall power and is ready for configuration in less than a minute. From here, you just use the Rachio app to scan a QR code printed on the device and walk through a few basic steps to make the connection to your network. After a firmware update—which took about 10 minutes—the hub was up and running and ready for the next step. A similar, but slightly shorter, process is required to connect the timer to the hub, along with another firmware update that takes another 10 minutes or so. Once that final step is completed, you’re ready to start watering. If you’re familiar with Rachio’s irrigation controllers, you’ll immediately note that the hose timer offers much simpler operation, eschewing questions about soil type and shade levels, letting you quickly get down to business. Just give the timer a name and set up a schedule: daily, weekly, or somewhere in between. The hose timer can interact with Rachio’s most basic “rain skip” feature—letting you skip that day’s watering if a preset amount of precipitation has recently occurred in your area—but it does not include the more advanced Rachio weather intelligence features, lacking options to skip watering based on wind, freeze, or soil saturation conditions. Rachio’s well-designed app makes this hose timer easy to set up. Once the device is in operation, the app will log each watering session and each skipped session.Christopher Null/Foundry Once your schedule is set and your hose is aimed at whatever you want to water (you can also use it with a drip irrigation system), you can largely forget about it, just like you would a standard irrigation system. In my testing, the unit didn’t skip a beat, successfully watering at prescribed intervals and skipping days appropriately when it rained. Manual runs are easy to kick off through the app (or you can just press the button on the device, as noted), and detailed logging chronicles every successful and skipped run watering session. The hardware offers a snug fit to your spigot and hose. I experienced no leaks whatsoever, throughout weeks of testing in a variety of weather conditions. (Rachio says not to leave the unit outside in freezing conditions but that it can withstand a maximum temperature of 158 degrees Fahrenheit, which it sometimes feels like here in Texas.) You can manually turn the valve on and off by pressing this button on the front of the unit.Rachio What’s missing? Aside from the aforementioned limitations to weather intelligence, I longed for a way to control the water pressure, as the Rachio timer is either 100% on or 100% off, though perhaps that is asking too much for a basic hose controller like this. A more notable miss: There’s seemingly no way to receive push notifications when watering events are logged (either runs or skips), a foundational feature that really needs to be present as part of any smart watering system. For what it’s worth, my Rachio 3 system abruptly stopped sending me all push notifications recently, and no amount of troubleshooting has been able to correct this; Rachio clearly has some technical work to do on that front. Rachio’s system is decidedly basic. You can connect only one hose, for instance, where Orbit offers its B-hyve XD in configurations with one, two, or four hose connections. It’s also pricey compared to Orbit’s offering, which gives you the option of buying just the hose timer and performing basic programming directly via Bluetooth (you won’t get any smart functions, such as rain delay, without a broadband connection). But if you’re already using a Rachio device to control your primary sprinkler system, and you’re just looking for a solution for your garden hose or drip-irrigation system for your flowerbeds or vegetable garden, the Rachio Smart Hose Timer will keep you in the same familiar ecosystem. Smart Gardens, Smart Home
Watering our lawns and gardens is a thankless chore, and it can be particularly wasteful when done with a hose in one hand and a beer in the other. Irrigation systems have made home watering simpler and more efficient, and while the bulk of any sprinkler system revolves around plastic pipes (hoses and drippers with a drip irrigation system) and a set of motorized valves attached to the water supply, the brains of the operation has always been in the controller. For decades, sprinkler controllers have hardly been elegant devices. They typically consist of a rotary dial, a handful of switches, and perhaps a crude monochrome LCD. This is rapidly changing, as smart sprinkler controllers enter the market. These have come from two angles: Startups looking to disrupt the market with brand-new devices, and old-guard irrigation companies that have upgraded their gear with smart innards. Both approaches to date have shown some merit. Here are our takes on the best gear on the market today. Updated June 2, 2023 with a link to our Rachio Smart Hose Timer review. The best smart sprinkler controllers Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller — Best smart sprinkler controller Pros Better Water Intelligence features improve conservation Revamped wire connectors make setup even faster Onboard controls offer easy access to manual runs Cons High-pitched squeal emanates from device Old Rachio units don’t get access to the same software treatment Expensive Best Prices Today: £436.62 at Amazon The world’s best smart sprinkler controller gets even better, with new features, better wireless connectivity, and smarter water management. (Note: There is also an 8-zone model that sells for less). Read our full Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller (16 zone) review Orbit B-hyve XR — Best smart sprinkler controller, runner-up Pros Lots of scheduling options, fairly easy to understand Onboard display is handy for at-a-glance status updates Dual-band Wi-Fi support Can be mounted outdoors without an accessory (though not fully waterproof) Cons Wiring leads might require some finagling to successfully connect Quite bulky in size Onboard hardware controls are far from intuitive Best Prices Today: £231.53 at Amazon Orbit might be a graybeard in the world of irrigation, but it’s giving Rachio a run for its money in the smart home market. Orbit’s second-generation B-hyve smart sprinkler controller has lots of bells and whistles, and it can even withstand being mounted outdoors without needing an accessory (although it’s not completely waterproof). Read our full Orbit B-hyve XR (8 zone) review Wyze Sprinkler Controller — Best budget-priced smart sprinkler controller Pros Cheap, a third the price of most other controllers on the market. Easy setup, especially if you just need the basics. Cons Limited to 8 zones Weatherproof housing costs extra Read our full Wyze Sprinkler Controller review Irrigreen Digital Sprinkler System — Most promising new contender Pros “Water printing” technology keeps water from going where it isn’t needed App is easy to navigate DIY is an available installation option Cons Must be installed from scratch, you can’t retrofit an existing sprinkler system Weather-driven automatic watering may not be fully baked A little rough around the edges; the Irrigreen controller, for example, is a circuit board in a box This recommendation comes with some caveats, but the Irrigreen system is so unique and innovative that it earns a qualified thumbs up. By adapting technology originally developed for inkjet printers, Irrigreen’s sprinkler system can “print” water onto your landscaping with a degree of precision that must be seen to believe, following the contours of your lawn and flowerbeds so that no water goes where it’s not needed. Tired of your sprinklers spraying water on your driveway, sidewalk, or the outside unit of your air conditioner or heat pump? That won’t happen with Irrigreen’s system. And where a conventional system would need 40 sprinkler heads to achieve full coverage of a given area, Irrigreen’s system can get the job done with just five. Now for those caveats: You can’t retrofit an existing sprinkler system, you must replace all of it. Also, Irrigreen’s controller hardware looks a little rough, and its app needs a few improvements. All that said, we’re enthusiastic about where this product is at today and what’s in store for its future via inevitable software and firmware updates. Read our full Irrigreen Digital Sprinkler System review Orbit B-hyve XD — Best hose-based smart sprinkler controller Pros Very inexpensive Smart functionality greatly eases the headache of scheduling via hardware Reasonably easy to use Cons We encountered headaches getting the Wi-Fi bridge to work properly Smart Watering features require the added-cost Wi-Fi bridge Best Prices Today: $34.98 at Lowes If you water your landscaping with a garden hose or a simple drip irrigation system, as opposed to an in-ground sprinkler system, Orbit’s second-generation B-hyve XD is vastly superior to conventional non-connected timers, and Orbit’s app can control several of them independently when you add the optional Bluetooth-to-Wi-Fi bridge, which we heartily recommend. Read our full Orbit B-hyve XD review What to look for when shopping for a smart sprinkler controller Do you have a sprinkler system already? While there are a few smart irrigation controllers that will work with garden hoses or other off-the-rack equipment, most are designed to work with true irrigation controllers that connect to their own water supply and which feature motorized valves and dedicated tubing to control the flow of water. Installing a real sprinkler system can be a big task that requires professional help—particularly if you have a large yard or garden—but upgrading to a smart controller from a “dumb” one isn’t difficult. Consult with a landscaping expert first if you are installing a sprinkler system from scratch, in order to plan out your zones in advance. On-device controls: Probably the biggest single decision you need to make with a controller is whether you want a device that includes onboard controls, i.e., buttons and a readout directly on the controller that allow you to use it without an app. This can be handy if you have multiple people using the system or, especially, want to give a gardener access to the controller without having to set him or her up on the app. Systems without on-device controls generally lack any kind of display whatsoever except for a status light indicating whether it’s working, so remember you’ll need the app on your smartphone or tablet to do anything with it. Indoor/outdoor mounting: Are you mounting the unit inside or outside? If outside, you’ll need a weatherproof enclosure for the system. Some vendors sell separate indoor and outdoor versions of their controllers. Others sell an outdoor enclosure as a separate add-on. Number of zones: In irrigation parlance, a zone is an area controlled by a valve and its connected irrigation tubing. If you have four valves, you have four zones. Your controller needs to have enough capacity to support all the zones in your system. Eight zones is common, but units supporting as few as six zones and as many as 16 zones are currently on the market. Scheduling flexibility: How often do you want to water? Every day? Every other day? On specific days of the week? Not every controller can handle complex schedules, so look closely at your options before buying. A few controllers can even import legal watering restrictions information for your zip code, to ensure you aren’t watering on prohibited days. Notifications: It’s helpful to be notified when your watering system is running, but different products deal with the mechanics differently. Push notifications are common, but many only notify you when the watering has completed, not when it starts (which is arguably more useful). Other forms of notification (email, text) aren’t common, so consider a unit that supports IFTTT if you want to get fancy with notifications. “Smart” scheduling: Once of the great promises of smart watering systems is that they can take into account your local weather and environment to optimize your water delivery. We’ve found that these don’t work all that well (they have a tendency to over-water), though options that skip watering when it rains can be a bonus feature. Otherwise, there’s not too much of a need to put weight on so-called “smart” scheduling features. Smart-home hub support: Want to tie your sprinkler system into your smart-home hub? Sounds great, but the reality is that most smart sprinklers exist as islands today: Only a few connect to anything at all, though Amazon’s Alexa has a modicum of support. Expect this to change as these products mature. Smart Gardens
The Miami Heat will face off against the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday, June 1 at 8:30 p.m. Eastern, 5:30 p.m. Pacific. The Nuggets had the better regular-season record, so the 7-game series will start in the mile-high city of Denver. ABC has the exclusive rights to air the NBA Finals, so you’ll be able to watch the championship series for free if you have an over-the-air TV antenna that’s capable of pulling in your local ABC broadcast affiliate; otherwise, you’ll need need a streaming subscription if you’ve ditched cable. You’ll find our top antenna picks here. Read on for your other cable-free options. Sling TV offers one of the least-expensive alternatives to cable, but you’ll need a TV antenna to watch your local broadcast channels. Over the air Winegard’s Flatwave Amped antenna (model number FL-5500A) is one of our favorite indoor antennas. Martyn Williams/IDG You can watch the playoff games with some combination of the following services. DirecTV Stream DirecTV Stream will give you access to ESPN, TNT, TBS, ABC and NBA TV through its Choice package for $100 per month. Currently, the service is offering $10 off the monthly rate for the first three months of your subscription. You can try the service for free for five days. Fubo Fubo’s $85-per-month Elite package includes ABC and ESPN, and NBA TV. None of its packages include TNT or TBS, though. A 7-day free trial is available. Hulu + Live TV Hulu + Live TV gives you access to ABC, ESPN, TBS, and TNT. As with most other services, however, the exact channel lineup varies by market. The service costs $70 per month, and there’s a 7-day free trial available. Sling TV Sling TV’s “basketball bundle” is one of the least-expensive ways for cord-cutters to watch the NBA postseason. Sign up for the Sling Orange package plus the Sports Extra add-on and you’ll get $20 off the usual $51-per-month price for the first month. That will get you ESPN, TNT, TBS, and NBA TV. Add a TV antenna to catch the ABC broadcasts, and you’ll have everything covered. Sling TV offers a 7-day free trial when you sign up through a Sling-compatible streaming device . YouTube TV YouTube TV is our top pick in TV-streaming services overall, and it includes local ABC stations (in 99.5 percent of the homes in the U.S.), ESPN, TNT, TBS, and NBA TV. Subscriptions are $73 per month, but the service is currently offering the first three months for just $63. A 7-day free trial is available. Entertainment, Streaming Devices, Streaming Media
TP-Link says the ColorPro night vision technology in its all-new Tapo C325WB needs just 0.05 lux of brightness—the equivalent of a moonless midnight—to capture full-color images in 2K resolution with HDR. That’s a neat trick, and it’s in stark contrast to outdoor security cameras that rely on activating onboard spotlights or floodlights to deliver color night vision. This news is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best home security cameras. Available now at Amazon for $119.99, the Tapo C325WB features a 1/1.79-inch image sensor and an F1.0 lens with a 127-degree field of view. Onboard AI can differentiate between the appearance of people, pets, and vehicles and will send push notifications accordingly when their presence is detected. Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, the TP-Link cam offers two-way audio, along with an onboard siren to deter intruders. The weatherproof camera offers wireless network connectivity, with an ethernet port providing a dependable cable option, but it depends on a 3-meter cord for power. Video recordings can be stored locally on a microSD card (up to 512GB, not included) or in the cloud with a Tapo Care subscription. The cloud subscription offers a 30-day clip history, with prices starting at $3.49 per month or $34.99 per year. Look for our hands-on review soon. Correction: This article was updated to report the correct minimum lux requirement and maximum capacity of a microSD card. Home Security, Security Cameras
Want to browse through live TV channels without jumping through a half-dozen different apps? Google wants help with that. With the Live tab on Google TV devices, you can view a unified grid guide for live channels from free streaming services (such as Pluto TV and Tubi) and some pay TV services (such as YouTube TV and Sling TV). It’s ideal for when you want to quickly get to one of your favorite channels, or when you’re not sure what to watch in the first place. (The feature is also rolling out to Android TV devices.) To make those most of this feature, consider taking a few minutes to set it up with your favorite channels and streaming services. Here’s how: Which apps support the Live tab? Jared Newman / Foundry On Google TV and Android TV devices, you can use the Live tab to browse free channels from Haystack News, Plex, Pluto TV, and Tubi. You’ll also get more than 70 built-in free streaming channels from Google. Google TV devices can also show live channels from YouTube TV, Sling TV, and Philo if you have a subscription to those services. Their channels won’t appear in the Live tab on Android TV devices. For smart TVs with Google TV software built-in, you can plug in an antenna and view free over-the-air channels through the Live tab as well. Add or hide channels in the Live tab Jared Newman / Foundry To control which streaming services appear in the Live tab on Google TV, scroll to the ⚙️ Gear icon at the far right of the home screen, then head to Accounts & Sign-In > (your profile name) > Your services. Now, use the toggles to control which services appear on the home screen. For services that support the Live tab, they’ll be hidden from the guide as well. (Unfortunately, there’s no way to hide channels from the Live tab without removing their home screen recommendations as well.) Keep in mind that you’ll need to use this menu to hide channels from the guide even after you uninstall its corresponding app. Otherwise, the channels will continue to appear in the guide, and selecting them will prompt you to download the app. Set up favorite channels Jared Newman / Foundry To add a channel to your favorites list, scroll over to the channel icon, then click on it. A star will appear under the icon, and the channel will appear in a “Favorites” list at the top of the guide. Browse by genre Jared Newman / Foundry Google TV’s Live guide also lets you filter its free channels by genre, such as News & Opinion, Movies, and Classic TV. To find these filters, just scroll down through the left-hand column in the Live tab. (Filtering options are not available for paid services such as YouTube TV.) Find local news channels Jared Newman / Foundry Scroll to the bottom of the genre list, and you’ll find a “Local” section. You might think this would be tailored to where you actually live, but no, it’s just a big list of live channels from local news outlets around the country. Scan through this list for any channels in your area, and consider adding them to your favorites list. That’ll make them much easier to access in the future. Use the mini guide Jared Newman / Foundry After tuning to one of Google TV’s built-in free channels, click down twice on the remote to view the mini guide. This lets you see what’s on other channels without exiting the current one. Get back to the full guide Jared Newman / Foundry For other streaming sources, such as Pluto TV and Tubi, launching a channel will take you into the corresponding app, which will have its own, separate guide. To return to Google TV’s channel guide, press the back button—once for some apps, twice for others. Hide channels with mature content Jared Newman / Foundry To keep the Live tab family-friendly, scroll to the ⚙️ Gear icon, then head to Accounts & Sign-In > (your profile name) > Content restrictions > Google TV channels. From here, enable “Hide channels that may play content for mature audiences.” Get more streaming TV advice with Jared’s Cord Cutter Weekly newsletter. Cord Cutting, Streaming Devices, Streaming Media
Well, so much for the Boston Bruins setting a new single-season win record, and for the second-year Seattle Kraken clinching their first playoff birth. It’s going to be the Florida Panthers and the Las Vegas Golden Knights battling for the Stanley Cup in 2023, with Game 1 of the NHL championship series getting underway Saturday, June 3 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 p.m. Pacific. TNT has the exclusive rights to air–and stream–the 2023 Stanley Cup Final, but that doesn’t mean you need to pony up for a cable or satellite TV subscription. You can stream the series using any of the services listed below: Sling TV Pros Lower base price than most other live TV services Easy-to-navigate app and grid guide Video quality settings help avoid data caps and buffering Cons DVR storage is frustrating to manage 60-frames-per-second channel support is limited Multiple base packages and add-ons can cause confusion Best Prices Today: $35.00 at Sling TV Sling TV offers ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, and TBS, and you can get them together in the Sling Orange package for $40 a month. Currently, you can get 50-percent off your first month. Read our full Sling TV review DirecTV Stream Pros Familiar remote for cable converts Great grid guide and fuss-free cloud DVR Smooth video and surround sound support Cons Optional streaming box doesn’t support Amazon Prime or Hulu More latency and less reliability than cable Best Prices Today: $69.99 at DirecTV Stream DirectTV Stream also offers ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, and TBS, and you can get them all in its Entertainment package for $65 a month. You might also be able to get ABC, but availability varies by package and location. You can enter your Zip code on the DirecTV Stream website to see if ABC is available in your area. If your sports viewing extends beyond hockey, DirecTV Stream might be the best streaming service for you year round. Over the last few years, Sling TV, FuboTV, YouTube TV, and Hulu + Live TV have all dropped regional sports networks like Bally Sports Networks and NBC Regional Sports Networks from their product offerings. Not only is DirectTV Stream the only one to stream these, but it’s also the service with the most regional sports network coverage overall, including the NBC Sports regional networks, Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, New England Sports Network, YES Network, and Spectrum SportsNet LA. It also offers FS1 and MLB Network. Read our full DirecTV Stream review Hulu + Live TV Pros Excellent value for Disney bundle subscribers Expansive on-demand catalog Recommendations and staff picks make the app fun to explore Cons Live TV can be inefficient to navigate Hard to figure out which programs allow ad skipping Can’t watch on TV devices while traveling Best Prices Today: $69.99 at Hulu.com Hulu’s live TV streaming service is available as a single, flat-fee package that includes more than 75 live and on-demand channels—including ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, TNT and TBS. You get them all, in addition to Hulu’s original content, its streaming library, and ad-supported Disney+ for $70 a month. Read our full Hulu + Live TV review YouTube TV Pros Simple interface makes live TV easy to navigate Unlimited DVR allows for a huge on-demand library (with skippable ads) Broad selection of local, news, sports, and entertainment channels Cons Can’t delete recordings or mark them as watched on TV devices One-off recordings only work for live sporting events Menu doesn’t clearly separate DVR and on-demand video (with unskippable ads) Best Prices Today: $72.99 at YouTube TV YouTube TV also offers a flat-fee package of more than 85 channels that includes ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, TNT and TBS. Subscriptions are $73 per month, but the service is currently offering the first three months for just $63 per month. If you’re also a football fan, YouTube TV is now available with NFL Sunday Ticket and NFL RedZone as added-cost add-on subscriptions. Read our full YouTube TV review Streaming Media
If you’ve been using Google Assistant to manage your notes and lists with help from third-party apps like AnyList or Bring, you’ll need a new workflow starting next month. Google Assistant will drop its integrations with “non-Google” notes and lists apps beginning June 20, according to a notice on a Google Assistant help page. After that date, those who want to use Google Assistant to create notes and lists via voice commands will have to settle for Google Keep, or–if they want to use AnyList, Bring, or another third-party app–switch their allegiance to a new voice assistant like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri. In a blog post signed by AnyList founders Jeff Hunter and Jason Marr, the developers called Google’s decision to yank Google Assistant’s notes and lists integration with third-party apps “frustrating and disappointing.” “We are continuing to communicate with Google and hope to be able to support Google Assistant on Android devices again in the future, but we don’t have anything to announce at this time,” the AnyList developers wrote, adding that AnyList users who still wanted to use a voice assistant with the app should consider jumping to Alexa or Siri. Google Assistant has had a rocky history when it comes to integrating with notes and lists apps. Google’s voice assistant originally integrated with Google Keep for notes and lists before switching over to the bare-bones Google Express, later known as Google Shopping. In 2019, Google finally switched the Assistant’s native notes and lists app back to Google Keep. Even better, it rolled out a Google Assistant integration for third-party notes and lists apps, opening the door to the likes of AnyList, Bring, and Any.do. Now, just four years after rolling out its Google Assistant integration for third-party notes apps, Google is unceremoniously shelving it. While Google Keep is a powerful tool when it comes to creating and managing both notes and lists, it lacks some of the key features of third-party notes apps, such as AnyList’s database of recipes and meal-planning functionality. Google’s yanking of third-party app integration for notes and lists through Google Assistant comes on the heels of Google I/O earlier this month, where the Assistant was largely shoved aside in favor of Google’s AI-powered Bard. Smart Speakers
Amazon is about to pay the piper, with the e-tailing giant agreeing to pay more than $30 million to settle a pair of U.S. Federal Trade Commission complaints over its handling of data from Alexa kid profiles as well as its sharing of Ring video recordings with third parties. In a pair of filings released Wednesday, Amazon has agreed to fork over $5.8 million to settle the FTC’s Ring complaints, while the Alexa settlement will cost Amazon a cool $25 million. As CNBC reports, the Alexa settlement concerns the FTC’s accusations that Amazon illegally gathered information from the Alexa profiles of children, including voice recordings and other data. The Ring settlement, meanwhile, calls for Ring to do a better job of disclosing to its users the information it shares with company employees and third-party contractors, according to Reuters. For its part, Amazon fired off a pair of responses to the twin FTC settlements, pledging that it had–in both cases–already implemented policies to protect customer privacy, while also denying that it broke the law. But while Amazon took issue with the FTC’s Alexa and Ring complaints, the company chose to settle, adding (in the case of the Alexa complaint) that “this settlement puts the matter behind us.” In its Alexa complaint, the FTC alleged that Amazon violated COPPA–the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act–by storing the data of children, including voice recordings, that had been gathered in Alexa profiles without proper consent. Amazon’s handling of the data of children would naturally be a cause for concern, particularly given kids versions of Amazon’s Echo Dot speakers and Echo Show smart displays. As part of the settlement, Amazon must wipe inactive child accounts, and it is forbidden from using any data collected from kids to tweak its algorithms, according to the CNBC report. Amazon pushed back in its response to the FTC’s Alexa complaints, saying that it “work[s] hard to protect children’s privacy” and that it has “built robust privacy protections into our childrens’ products and services.” Amazon also denied that it had violated COPPA, noting that it had “collaborated directly with the FTC” about the act before launching its Amazon Kids service on Alexa. In its second complaint, the FTC slammed Amazon-owned Ring for its “dangerously overbroad access and lax attitude toward privacy and security,” which allowed “employees and third-party contractors…to view, download, and transfer customers’ sensitive video data for their own purposes.” In a response to the settlement, Ring argued that it had “promptly” addressed such privacy issues prior to the FTC investigation. The Ring statement also claims the FTC “mischaracterizes our security practices” and “ignores the many protections we have in place for our customers.” Ring has long been dogged by criticism over its handling of user videos, including how it shared them with third-party contractors as well as law-enforcement officials. Those complaints came to a head in late 2019, as reports emerged of hackers managing to crack Ring’s security and spy (or even taunt) unsuspecting users, while the Electronic Frontier Foundation accused Ring of using third-party trackers in its Android app. Ring has also been criticized for handing over video footage to law enforcement, sometimes without a warrant. For its part, Ring says it has already taken steps to address the FTC’s concerns. In 2020, Ring began rolling out two-factor authentication to help prevent hackers from breaking into the accounts of Ring users. A year later, Ring began to implement end-to-end encryption, allowing users who enable the feature to ensure that they’re the only ones with access to their stored videos. Finally, Ring noted that it now has “strong policies and controls” that prevent its employees and third parties from viewing, accessing, or controlling Ring livestreams. Home Security, Smart Home, Smart Speakers