Google taps Xiaomi for its most powerful Android One phone

Of course, for that price you get a lot more bang for your buck. Overall, it seems the phone is a variant of the Xiaomi Mi 5X. It boasts the same specs as its older sibling, albeit with Xiaomi’s MIUI software coating swapped out for stock Android.

For the uninitiated, the Mi A1 offers a full-metal body and 5.5 inch, full HD display. Its 7.5mm thickness also makes it slimmer than flagship devices, like the Samsung Galaxy S8. It packs a dual camera setup like Xiaomi’s own high-end handset, the Mi 6. This includes both a 12MP telephoto and wide-angle lens. The front-facing selfie snapper, on the other hand, comes in at 5MP. Inside, you’ll find a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, 4GB RAM, and 64GB storage (expandable up to 128GB). In terms of looks, Xiaomi hasn’t done away with its bezels, like it did with the Mi Mix.

Those specs wipe the floor with other Android One devices. And, of course, the phone will come packing Google’s stock OS — along with a bunch of pre-loaded software, including Google Assistant and Google Photos. Upgrades will also be more frequent (you can expect Android Oreo for the Mi A1 before the end of the year). The same goes for future versions of the OS, such as Android P.

Thanks to the release of Android Go (a special configuration of Android Oreo for low-end phones), it seems Google’s plans for emerging markets are expanding. But, as its latest partnership proves, that doesn’t mean Android One is being put to bed.

The Xiaomi Mi A1 will also be available in around 40 regions, including Indonesia, Vietnam, Russia, Poland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Ukraine, and Mexico. Although prices for those counties have not yet been announced. The device lands in India on 12 September.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/09/05/google-android-one-xiaomi-mi-a1/

Overwatch’s highest-paid pro lands $150,000 salary deal

The high salary came in the wake of a bidding war between two teams, NRG eSports and Cloud9. By the time the back and forth concluded, the offer on the table had risen by $50,000. NRG won the day, with sinatraa’s mother signing on his behalf (because he’s still a minor). The move sees him reuniting with former coach and Selfless Gaming co-owner Brad Rajani, who is now the head coach and manager of the NRG eSports Overwatch team. Neither sinatraa nor NRG have commented on the signing as of yet. Although sinatraa did retweet his fellow Overwatch Team USA teammate Russell FCTFCTN” Campbell congratulating him on the “big contract.”

On top of his wages, sinatraa will get all the benefits that come with the Overwatch league including health insurance and a retirement savings plan, and a share of at least 50 percent of all bonuses from tourneys and events. Then there’s the bonus pool of $3.5 million in the first season, and at least $1 million for the year’s champions. What did you expect from an industry that’s well on its way to banking over a billion dollars in revenue.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/09/04/overwatch-s-highest-paid-pro-lands-150-000-salary-deal/

EE’s new broadband router is a 4G MiFi for the home

The 4G router isn’t particularly cheap to run, especially if you’re an internet addict that’s forever streaming and downloading. It’s available on 18-month contracts starting at £25 per month for a 10GB usage cap, and topping out at £100 each month for 200GB of data. Should you hit your monthly cap, add-ons are available for £10 for 5GB, £15 for 10GB and £20 for 20GB.

There’s also a pay-as-you-go option for lighter users. You can buy the router outright for £130 including 10GB of pre-paid data, but add-ons thereafter are a fiver more expensive than they are for contract customers (£15 for 5GB and so on). Running all your devices on 4G data might not be very economical, but EE’s new router is pitched primarily at those in rural areas where fast fixed-line broadband infrastructure is lacking.

The 4G router is basically EE’s version of Relish, an ISP that first launched a 4G home broadband service back in 2014. Where available, Relish offers unlimited data (bound by a vague acceptable use policy, mind) through its 4G router for £20 per month. A rolling monthly contract option is also available for £22 per month and a £50 upfront payment.

Despite its simple, flexible and cheap pricing model — especially when measured against EE’s 18-month contract options — Relish never really took off. In fact, at last count, UK Broadband (the company behind the Relish service) only had 15,000 customers. Three agreed to buy UK Broadband for £250 million this past June, but not for its customers. Instead, it was spectrum the carrier was after.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/09/04/ee-4g-home-router/

The LG V30 is better for video recording than photography

Thanks to its glass lens with f/1.6 aperture, the V30 captured impressively bright, vibrant and crisp pictures at Berlin’s Tiergarten one sunny morning. My close-up shots of flowers in the rose garden came out clear, and I was taken by the striation details in the petals even when I zoomed in on the picture afterwards to beyond 100 percent. That wide aperture also helps in low-light conditions, allowing the V30 shoot in the dark with relative ease. My pictures of Berlin streets at night were accurately colored and clear, although I still noticed noise in pictures that were taken in extremely dark places.

The wide angle lens came in particularly handy when I tried to shoot all of the Victory Column and the round island it sits on. By tapping a button at the top of the viewfinder, I switched over to the 13-megapixel wide-angle sensor and immediately gained extra room on either side of the scene. The problem with the wide-angle lens is that it’s less adept at managing dynamic range than the regular camera, so my pictures often had blown-out skies and dark shadows.

In fact, I’ve found that both of the V30’s rear cameras tended to slightly overexpose. This generally happened in pictures with large dynamic range (i.e. very dark areas as well as very bright spots in the same scene), which can usually be addressed by HDR software. Auto-HDR is conveniently enabled by default on the V30. However, it caused some strange discoloration on the pictures — clouds appeared purple, while the side of my colleague’s face had green streaks along his hairline.

Dynamic range wasn’t the V30’s only weakness. LG’s software also appeared to be oversharpening pictures, causing pixelated edges in some situations. In particular, images shot in low light sometimes appear muddy. So far it’s hard to tell the conditions that are causing this artifact, and since the device I was using has pre-production software, it’s possible that this could be addressed before the phone ships to consumers.

These issues are minor compared to some of the benefits you get with the V30, though. The biggest advantage is LG’s new Cine Video mode, which lets you shoot moody, cinema-quality videos with the phone. I didn’t care very much for the filters when I first saw them at a briefing in New York, but after trying them at the majestic staircase in our hotel’s lobby, I have to admit I’m impressed. The footage of Engadget’s senior editor Dan Cooper walking down the steps looked suitably dramatic when I shot it with the “Summer blockbuster” filter applied, and took on a nostalgic tone reminiscent of an old-school mafia movie with the “Noir” option selected.

The highlight of Cine Video is the new “Point zoom” feature, that lets you pick any part of the frame to focus on. Then, when you drag the onscreen zoom slider to get close to your subject, the V30 will keep your selected area centralized. I really dug this feature for the flexibility and convenience it affords an aspiring filmmaker. Another V30 offering that’s a nice touch for videographers is the ability to save your files in Cine Log format, which gives you more room to tweak your color profiles after exporting them to your computer.

Selfie aficionados like myself may be underwhelmed by the V30’s relatively low-res front camera. Its 5-megapixel sensor is not as sharp as the competition, but it still delivered vivid selfies with adequate detail. I puckered up next to a statue of a moose in the park, and the V30’s front camera captured individual strands of my hair, as well as fur patterns on the moose.

The portraits were also exposed evenly: my selfie with the Victory Column behind me rendered a deep blue sky, puffy white clouds in the background, while my face and the golden statue were just as clear. I also appreciated the wide-angle mode on the front camera, too, which let me squeeze in two more colleagues in a group-fie from the back of a cab. In that picture, though, details like my hair and my colleagues’ stubbled faces were muddy, most likely due to motion blur.

My time with the V30 so far has left me inspired to record more video and landscapes. Its still photography is respectable, although Samsung and Apple’s flagships deliver similar, if not better, quality shots in general. Still, few devices come close to offering the suite of powerful video tools that LG does with the V30 — owning the niche it has carved out.

Follow all the latest news from IFA 2017 here!

https://www.engadget.com/2017/09/03/lg-v30-camera-hands-on/

Huawei’s next mobile chipset is ready for our AI-powered future

According to WinFuture, this chip has significantly more transistors onboard (5.5 billion) than the Snapdragon (3.1 billion). It includes a dedicated “Neural Processing Unit” that appears to consist of purpose-built silicon (as Apple is rumored to have in the works), which differs from Qualcomm’s approach on the current Snapdragon 835 (which is inside the latest Galaxy S8 / Note 8 phones as well as LG’s V30). There, a “Hexagon” DSP built for other types of number crunching works with the rest of the chip to improve AI performance.

Meanwhile, ARM’s updated Core-A75 platform (that Qualcomm and Huawei, among others, rely on) should start rolling out next year and bring with it another boost in AI power.

However it works, the Kirin 970’s 8-core CPU and 12-core GPU claims “up to 25x the performance with 50x greater efficiency” than a quad-core Cortex-A73 processor alone. Thanks to its new design, the chip can chew through data faster while using less battery power — something we can all appreciate. There’s no word about the phone or other mobile devices we’ll see this inside, but the Mate 10 seems like a sure bet, and there are rumors that device (or one like it) could show up in the US on AT&T early next year.

Follow all the latest news from IFA 2017 here!

https://www.engadget.com/2017/09/02/huaweis-next-mobile-chipset-is-ready-for-our-ai-powered-future/

Trump’s pick for NASA’s new leader sparks mixed reactions

Bridenstine has been a vocal proponent of the privatization of space, to the point where he introduced a bill (the American Space Renaissance Act) that would have created “minimal” and “certain” regulations to foster private participation in US space initiatives. It never became law (a revised bill is expected later in 2017) but his focus was clear: he wanted to rely more on commercial partners than government programs. He has also been an advocate of a permanent robotic presence on the Moon to harvest its resources (which could further the White House’s goals) and help drive down the costs of space flight. Private space companies are reportedly fond of him, and he could accelerate the already-growing role of the corporate crowd in space exploration.

The expected nominee will have to go through a Senate confirmation process to be accepted, however, and that’s where he could face serious resistance. Both Republican senator Marco Rubio and Democrat senator Bill Nelson have jointly criticized the Bridenstine pick as needlessly injecting politics into NASA, which is supposed to be devoted to the pursuit of science. His “political baggage” could hold NASA back by throwing in accusations of partisan bias, Rubio tells Politico, and he might not command respect from an organization that values its scientific mission.

That question of respect stems in part from Bridenstine’s lack of directly relevant experience. While he’s clearly enthusiastic about space and did lead a museum devoted to it, most of his non-political experience is as a combat and counter-drug pilot. That raises concerns that he might not value or understand science as well an ex-astronaut like Bolden. While he might jumpstart private spaceflight, he might also downplay important scientific studies (especially climate science) in the process.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/09/02/trump-picks-nasa-administrator/

The Morning After: Weekend Edition


Not worth the squeeze.Juicero is shutting down

Surprise, a $700 WiFi connected juicer and DRM-restricted packs of pulpy fruit aren’t the future of fluid delivery. Juicero owners (are you out there?) have 90 days to contact the company for a refund.


It’s official.Windows 10 Fall Creators Update lands October 17th

The next big Windows 10 update has a release date, plus more details about what it will contain. Microsoft exec Terry Myerson confirmed it would mark the debut of Windows Mixed Reality, along with several compatible VR headsets; however, it will not include the anticipated Timeline features.


Already?Sharp is ready to sell 8K TVs

Scratch that 4K upgrade (not really) since Sharp is planning to roll out the first 8K displays fit for consumers. So far, launches have been announced for Japan, China, Taiwan and Europe, with no word about the US. Of course, there are no 8K broadcasts for you to watch yet, either, so maybe relax a bit.


Google, Apple, Microsoft, and then Google and Apple again.Engadget Podcast Ep 40: This Is Your Night

After a summer-long hiatus, The Engadget Podcast is back, starting with a five-episode run through the month of September. This week Dana Wollman and Chris Velazco chat about Google’s augmented reality push on Android with ARCore and the big news out of IFA.


Step into a world.Classic board game ‘Catan’ is coming to virtual reality

VR developer Experiment 7 is collaborating with the Catan Company to create a version of its board game for Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear. You can expect its arrival this holiday season, complete with multiplayer and cross-play support. Creator Klaus Teuber says “I never imagined actually stepping into the world of Catan when we first started making cut-outs and dreaming about exploring new lands.”

But wait, there’s more…

The Morning After is a new daily newsletter from Engadget designed to help you fight off FOMO. Who knows what you’ll miss if you don’t subscribe.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/09/02/the-morning-after-weekend-edition/

Alphabet finalizes restructuring with a new company called XXVI

Back in 2015, Google announced that it was restructuring its company into multiple parts, with a new giant company called Alphabet to oversee all of Google’s various businesses. The reasoning behind the move was to essentially separate out some of Google’s “Other Bets” projects into their own entities, so that they would be valued separately from the core Google business. Today, Alphabet is finally wrapping up the reorg with the invention of a new company, called XXVI Holdings Inc.

XXVI Holdings will be the umbrella encompassing those aforementioned “Other Bets” projects, which include Waymo, which comes up with self-driving tech, and Verily, which specializes in digital health and medical devices. Google, on the other hand, is changing from a corporation to an LLC, because it’s now part of a holding company instead of a listed public company. As a reminder, Google is still home to the business’s bread-and-butter units like Gmail, search and YouTube.

Despite the changes though, it’s really just a formality. “We’re updating our corporate structure to implement the changes we announced with the creation of Alphabet in 2015,” said Gina Weakley Johnson, an Alphabet spokesperson. It won’t affect shareholder control, operations, or management.

As for why it’s called XXVI? Well, it’s 26 — the number of letters in the alphabet — in Roman numerals.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/09/01/alphabet-finalizes-restructuring-with-a-new-company-called-xxvi/

Tesla hit with unfair labor complaint from US watchdog

Workers say Tesla security stopped and interrogated them when they tried to hand out flyers, and threatened firing if the practice continued. Furthermore, they say Tesla forced them to “sign an overly-broad confidentiality agreement that could bar them from talking about their working conditions and safety issues at the facility.”

The UAW (United Auto Workers) is a party to the NLRB complaint, and has reportedly been working to unionize Tesla, something Elon Musk has railed against in the past. Tesla said the charges are “without merit,” and replied to the complaints with a screed against the UAW, sent to Jalopnik.

On or about November 5, 2016 and ongoing [Tesla] … violated the Act by implementing and maintaining, and repeatedly requiring compliance with, a company confidentiality agreement that coerces and intimidates employees from freely exercising their rights to engage in concerted and union activity. –NLRB complaint

“For seven years, the UAW has used every tool in its playbook: misleading and outright false communications, unsolicited and unwelcomed visits to the homes of our employees, attempts to discredit Tesla publicly in the media, and now another tactic that has been used in every union campaign since the beginning of time – baseless ULP (unfair labor practice) filings that are meant only to generate headlines,” the statement reads in part.

Tesla has said in the past, via an employee letter, that the UAW is allied with entrenched automakers. “Forces arrayed against us are many and incredibly powerful. This is David vs Goliath if David were six inches tall!” It adds that it has recently reduced forced overtime by 50 percent and that, if you take stock equity into account, its employees are paid better than other auto workers.

Despite those protestations, Tesla has been accused of exploiting cheap labor to build its factories and overworking employees to the point of illness. Another Musk business, SpaceX, was forced to settle with employees after complaints they were underpaid and forced to work through breaks. A hearing on the NLRB complaint against Tesla will be held on November 14th in California.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/09/01/tesla-hit-with-unfair-labor-complaint-from-us-watchdog/

Twitch streamers will soon customize their page with new tools

Twenty extensions are available now, ranging from overlays and follower leaderboards to those specifically built for games like League of Legends, Hearthstone, Overwatch and Destiny. Savvy followers might have seen their favorite content creators demo the new tools in the last few months (like Hearthstone streamer Trump in the pic at the top of this post).

Other extensions benefit creators directly: ‘Gear on Amazon,’ for example, earns Twitch Partners and Affiliates (aka streamers) commission through Amazon’s Associates program when fans buy stuff promoted by their favorite content creator (see example below). This one is the first, but not last, extension to use monetizations: In a press release, Twitch noted that they will share more ways developers can make money through extensions at TwitchCon’s Developer Day on October 19th.

Users can make their own extensions by heading to the updated Developer Portal, which will freely provide both asset hosting and fanout messaging to help promote their software. Developers can showcase their finished plugins in an Extensions Manager, which will act as a directory for creators to peruse. Twitch didn’t announce when exactly all the extensions features will go live, but noted they will be available soon.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/08/31/twitch-streamers-can-customize-their-page-with-new-tools/